March 20, 2006

Heads Up Street-photographers

Thanks to Brud over at Digital Labrador I was sent a link to a New York Times article that probably won't be available online for long. Nevertheless it stirred many thoughts and memories in me. The article addresses a legal case surrounding the "Heads" project by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. In that project he secretly photographed people on the streets of New York as they walked under a scaffolding.

I remember that project getting lots of press and gallery attention right around the time Stephan and I were busy trying to get attention for out New York portraits. I remember, and to be honest, am still frustrated by all the attention Lorca diCorcia made off his clandestine, and in my opinion, wimpy portraits. Sure I'll get some heat for saying that but after shooting 20,000 New Yorkers and actually speaking with them during the process (or at least acknowledging them if I didn't speak hindi), it's fascinating and maddening to see an afternoon's work get gallery shows and a book published. Jealous is just the beginning of what one feels. Seeing him sued for one of the shots was obviously bittersweet news.

I find the work invasive, stupid and ultimately unsatisfying yet I had and have a vested interest in seeing the case side in his favor because his work is undeniably artistic. (His earlier "Streetwork" project is much much cooler by the way). The points raised in the article are fantastic and the historical precedence is dead-on. I don't need to get into it here. So as the appeal makes its way through the courts we can all keep and eye out for it in the news. Or come back here and Brud will keep us all informed.

Take pictures, stay out of the courts.

March 19, 2006

A Couple More

Here's another two from St Patrick's Day. With my new site design being a little more conservative in terms of audience focus I'll try to post more pictures here. Until I find time to deal with the personal side of my site, this is going to be a better place to see new pictures.

The guy on the left was hammered but still standing. At one point his friend gave him a hug and they both fell to the ground. It wasn't pretty. I just missed the shot as he leaned over and started to spit a little bit of puke from his mouth right there at the bar. I was hopeful that it would end up being a full-fledged vomiting but alas he regained what little composure he had left and within five minutes had left the bar. I got distracted with something else and didn't notice his departure or I would have followed him out as I'm sure he lost it on the sidewalk.

This is a variation on the image I was looking for that night. Knowing that there'd be lots of green booze around I was interested in playing with color. What I like about this shot is that the green tequila is a subtle part of the overall action. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.

About ten minutes later I shot this same woman after she'd lost her shirt. I'm not showing it here but for the record, whenever there is public nudity I try to ask if they mind me taking pictures. Looking at my shots later I could see the little orange light that comes from other people's point-and-shoot focus-assist light on her body so clearly I wasn't the only one taking pictures. For sure I was the only one who asked. So be it.

Take pictures.

March 18, 2006

Motivate Me I'm Irish

It took a whole lot of motivation on my part to head out last night. I had never shot St. Patrick's day stuff but for whatever reason my head wasn't in it. I had spent a few hours earlier in the evening making little iPhoto books of my night and travel stuff which was good fun but sapped my energy for making new pictures. I cleaned my living room/office and showered to delay things just a little longer but soon enough the choice was to either go to bed or shoot. I opted to shoot.

I'm sure we all get in funks when it comes to shooting. I find that I just have to push on through. I tell myself that there is no other choice. I am a photographer. Nothing else will do. If I don't shoot, I am nothing. It's like those times when you just don't want to go to a party but when you do, you have a great time. That happens enough to me that I've learned. Go, do it, it'll be worth it.

Take pictures.

March 14, 2006

Big Changes

I made some major changes to my site. Prompted by my rep's need for a more simplified and focused presentation I have made a first pass at cleaning up It still needs some things here and there which I will get to shortly.

The part of the site labeled "personal" is really just the old site for now. I'll get to cleaning that up later. Ultimately that will just be a place for the streetstudio galleries, new night stuff, a link to my blog and some miscellaneous stuff.

Hopefully none of the changes throw off the search engines. I think I've been carefull to keep links consistant but who knows. And since I do my own site maintainance, bear with me as it comes into shape.

Take pictures.

March 09, 2006

Air Enos

Once in mundane mode it's easy to stay there. Yesterday I continued perusing some recent shots of airports. In this case JFK. On the left is a detail of American's Terminal 9 and on the right is a jetBlue jet-way. I have a small fascination with jet-ways which I don't need to get into.

Some folks do know that I am always challenged to make good pictures at airports. Something about their uniformity and utility gets me. It's hard but I keep trying. Also, the more airports are in my life, the more work it becomes. It forces me to keep looking at them with a fresh perspective. That's good practice for when its really going to count.

Take pictures.

March 08, 2006

Hotel Motel

Just goofing around on the plane I made this diptych of my deluxe Santa Cruz accommodations. Boy do I love hotel rooms for the mundane series. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some pretty pictures from Puerto Rico. I'm not really in blogging mode over here.

Take pictures regardless.

March 07, 2006

A Quickie

I got out of the car the other day and was struck with the bland palate of colors in front of me. Snap. One lovely boring photo. I barely broke my stride. Fun.

I want to respond to some of the comments left on my last post but I haven't had time. When I get back from Puerto Rico, I'll do so.

Take pictures.

March 05, 2006

Retouching Rant

Ok, I'm back from tracker school and a bit heated about retouching again. It's fricking everywhere. Just before leaving for CA, I was over at a friend's retouching house and was amazed at the level he and his ilk have taken things. A recent issue of People magazine featured Brtiney Spears on the cover and he did the retouching of the photos. Let's just say that a monkey, on a good day, could have taken the photographs and his retouching did the rest. This isn't photography folks. It's photo-illustration. She's a pinup girl. Nothing more. She sells magazines filled with ads. Ads that the 2006 media kit quotes at $228,275 for one full-page ad in a regular national issue.

When I was in my retoucher friend's office, he was busy with a lovely black and white portrait for New York magazine. There he was changing reality for some unknown reason. What in the world is going on? Where is the journalistic integrity of the photo editors? Is New York Magazine (a bargain at just over $30,000 a page) kissing publicist's asses for some reason? Is New York or even celebrity drivel like People not being held to journalistic standards? Are we as a culture so afraid of our imperfections that we can't even see wrinkled faces in the most beautiful medium of all, black and white? It seems black and white is now just a code for authenticity that a good retoucher and editor will exploit.

It gets me wondering. Is my little Coyote Ugly calendar the last hold-out of un-retouched beauty made for the masses? ;-)

Forgive this rant but it bugs me. I just spent a week in the woods and now I come out and end up watching the sycophantic extravaganza that is the Oscar pre-show and it dawned on me that we have some backwards-ass priorities and they have broken down the door of photography and moved my art into some intermediary step of mass consumption. Celebrity trumps photography and retouchers rule. That's no good.

Reality is flawed. Flaws are beautiful. Irregularity is what distinguishes us. Imperfections define us. I dare anyone to prove me wrong. And look, I have seen some flawlessly beautiful people in my day but that's subjective. I like something someone else thinks is too this or too that. For example, I think wrinkles rock.

Even my rep, whom I love bunches (xoxo), tells me to "fix" things in my pictures. I don't have dozens of Coyotes in my portfolio because they aren't retouched and "prety enough." I know what she's getting at and i understand where she's coming from but isn't it a shame that these women who arguably possess twice the femininity of your average supermodel aren't appropriate for Maxim and FHM editors. Why? Because they haven't been retouched! Because they are really truly bad-ass and sometimes that doesn't show up in photographs? Who knows?

So that's that. I'll do my best to hold the line. It'll be me and Tyra Banks.

Take pictures, adjust levels, burn, dodge and be happy.