Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Children of war

I saw this photo (above) recently as Web sites were beginning to publish their end-of-the-year and end-of-the-decade slideshows. It struck me for a moment due to its disturbing juxtaposition with a photo I took of my own son this summer (below).

I see images almost everyday of children from far off places in the world engaged in what would frankly not be considered normal activity in "civilized" societies. Playing with a toy gun certainly isn't the issue here -- I shot a lot of friends and my brother dead many times with toy guns during my childhood. What's unsettling about this image is that it's of a child in a war torn nation like Afghanistan. It's like it's all he'll ever know, or at least all he's known for much of what he can remember in his short life thus far. Playing "war" in a nation at war must happen all the time. I've certainly seen other photos from Iraq, for instance, of children acting menacingly with plastic toys.

I didn't feel the same discomfort when I shot several frames of Henry on a kiddie ride at the Puyallup Fair near Seattle. I just thought it was silly and in now way reflected his reality as a small child. I guess I forget that he's a child of a nation at war. No doubt he has no understanding of that yet. But I certainly do, as his father and as his photographer.

Top photo: Anja Niedringhaus / AP

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Every now and again someone posts a link on Facebook to something that interests me. Rarely is it something that blows my mind like these images . I'll let the photographer's intro take care of all the explanation that's needed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As seen in The New York Times

As a person who grew up delivering, reading, working in and then leaving newspapers, I'm more than guilty of a certain reverance toward the paper of record -- The New York Times. But I only get the print edition on Sundays and I confess that much of what I love about the paper now is what I see of it online. And their Lens blog is among the content i love.

Recently, Lens put out a call to readers to submit their personal cell phone images for a planned gallery. I was never a big fan of cell phone photos and always sort of mocked people who I saw on the street trying to capture meaningful moments with an inferior piece of technology. A lot of that changed after I got an iPhone and started playing with some of the "cameras" available in assorted apps.

So I when I saw the Lens call-out, I looked through my iPhone set on flickr and picked out four images that I liked and sent them off to the New York Times through the wonder of the Internets. Several days later I received an email telling me that my work had been selected to run in a gallery going live online the next morning.

Friday, July 10, I couldn't wait to look at the site and see what was used. Lens received 1,500 submissions for its cell phone project, and the editors cut that crop to 350 images. Two of my photos were selected. There's some very good work in here and some very mediocre work in here. And the comments are kind of interesting because some people have a real problem with iPhones and iPhone apps, especially.

I'm just happy to have had something published by the New York Times. It would be cool to have had it be in print, but those days are gone, I imagine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Film in the digital age

I think little kids are spoiled by the digital age and are definitely not taking the time to understand what photography is -- the process, activity and art of creating still or moving pictures by recording radiation on a sensitive medium, such as a photographic film, or an electronic sensor (thanks wikipedia!). Kids look at images on the backs of cameras now and assume that's how they've always been made. Parents don't make prints or fill photo albums, they fill memory cards and flickr pages.

But Polaroid, in its last gasp on earth, is showing me that some kids still find wonder in the taking of photographs on film. And seeing those photos develop over a few minutes rather than instantaneously is a magical experience. They love to pose in a trance when they know the white piece of paper is going to shoot out of the blocky camera with all kinds of associated noise.

Dig these pictures of Henry, Ella and Calvin, mesmerized by a 40-year-old photographic process unfolding before their eyes in the digital age.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's in their jeans

There's a new billboard in New York's SoHo neighborhood causing a bit of controversy, because -- oh, heaven! -- sex is being used to sell something.

Here's an image of an image that I love because the woman in all black staring at the billboard appears to be caught in a trance. Maybe she's waiting for the light to cross the street. Maybe she remembers a time in college when she had drunken sex with three men. Maybe she just needs new pants.

Photo: Chris Hondros / Getty Images

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sticky subject

Of all the anti-war bumper stickers I've seen over the last 5 or 6 years, I really appreciate the design of this Iraq/Iran one best. It's pretty simple and even gets the point across (with the odometer design) about some people's concerns about warring over oil.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

David Carradine: 1936-2009

Bless Quentin Tarantino, five or so years ago, for bringing back yet another forgotten actor from the brink of extinction. Having just watched "Kill Bill" again last week, and as a big fan of "Kung Fu" in the '70s, I'm saddened by David Carradine's passing today. Here's a great scene from "Vol. 2" of the Tarantino saga.

And how many TMZ videos have I watched of dipshit photogs interviewing jet-lagged celebs? Too many. And this is another. But I love Carradine's spunk at the end of this clip. And the kick to end the shot is a fitting final frame.

Tanks for the memories

I'm a day late on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Everywhere I looked on Wednesday I saw the famous photo of "tank man," the protester who defiantly stared down the approaching Chinese military.

The next day I was interested to read a New York Times Lens posting about a never-before-published image of the same man from a different angle. Go there to check it out. It's a cool, ground-level perspective.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From Russia with love

The Guardian has a wonderful little 10-picture slideshow keyed to a London gallery opening for Russian photographer Boris Savelev. I've never heard of him, but I was attracted to his images. And you should be, too, right here.

Photo: Boris Savelev; Broken Slide, 1982

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Go ahead and shoot

So, I think my friend Katherine Dynes has one of the best eyes for photography of anyone I know. She loves William Eggleston and Stephen Shore and other folks who I have blahgged about here. She loves my work, gives me compliments and says I inspire her to shoot more. And then she doesn't.

You can cruise quickly through the couple hundred photos Katherine has posted on flickr. You'll see inspired trips by plane, train and automobile. You'll hitch a ride with a couple rock bands and a fun grandma and you'll be in more than one bar and more than one bar bathroom. And through it all you'll admire the composition and attention to color from someone who might share only one or two photographs a month.

I told her I would post an item with a couple of her photos, provide a link to her site and tell my vast audience to urge her to take more pictures.

So go check it all out right here ... and encourage more of the same.

Stephen Shore

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

American made

There's a beautfiul photo project by Tadd Myers linked off a site I visit regulary, A Photo Editor.

The project is A Portrait of the American Craftsman, and it's really beautifully laid out and captures the true essence of quality craftsmanship. There are portraits of a ballglove maker, a guitar maker, a cowboy boot maker and more.

It's just a nice little project to reflect on as American auto companies, spewing out inferior products for decades, continue to look for government handouts.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Eggleston and the Book Review

I'm not much of a blogger, I guess, if I have to link to other blogs that are blogging about something I would like to have blogged about. But, it's my blog, so, I'll link to whatever I want.

The New York Times never ceases to amaze me with the nuggets of goodness put forth everyday online and every Sunday in print, on my doorstep. I noticed the photo on the cover of the Book Review this past week and was pretty sure I knew who took the image, but didn't bother going inside to check the credit. My friend Eric took care of that for me and forwarded this link.

I certainly count William Eggleston as one of my favorite photographers and am not shy about admitting that I try to recreate a lot of what he does when I frame my own photographs. It's nice to see that other people out there, including Eric, appreciate his eye.

Photo: William Eggleston, “Los Alamos Portfolio” (1965-74).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Helen Levitt: 1913-2009

In my job as an entertainment producer for msnbc.com, I read a lot of stories about a lot of meaningless people. I don't have to name the celebrities -- you see their faces every week on the magazines staring back at you in the grocery check-out line.

But every few days I get to read about someone who was a true artist. More often than not it's in the form of an obit. Today, that person is legendary New York street photographer Helen Levitt. Read for yourself.

I chose the image above because, frankly, it reminds me of something I'd shoot myself. But for a truer sense of her legacy from the earlier part of the century, my friend Jeremy sends this link.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eat, sleep, cry

Bryan Schutmaat is a Houston photographer who I found through flickr. He shoots everything I wish I was shooting when I'm not shooting my family -- which seems to be a lot of what I shoot since the birth of Henry. Nothing wrong with that. I just like Bryan's stuff -- a lot.

If you love the vacant, often depressing beauty of the American West as much as I do, please visit his Web site and his flickr.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Museum quality framing

Mary McIntyre show :: Greenwood, Seattle

Is it weird to try to make art when viewing other people's art?

I have a thing for taking pictures of people observing artwork. Or at least I like the idea of people being in the same frame as a picture in a frame (or a picture spray-painted on a wall, for that matter). Sometimes it's about scale. It's hard to get a read on the size of a sculpture, for instance, if the only thing in the photograph is the sculpture.

The problem is that museums and galleries that display art more often than not frown on you taking pictures of their art. I've been in some pretty killer museums in several different countries and I can't remember ever being encouraged to take photographs. Not that that stopped me. I wasn't being a total scofflaw and ignoring the museums' wishes, but I had a hard time not sneaking a few here and there to capture the spirit of places I thought I might never make it back to.

At art shows of a less grand scale, like those put on by your friends at coffee shops or what-not, there's a little different vibe than that projected by the scowling museum rent-a-guard. I feel like there's a tiny invasion of privacy going on when you photograph someone looking at art. Not sure it's valid, but if you're into getting lost a little in an artwork and some jerk is popping pictures, the moment may be ruined.

With all of that in mind, check out some photos that I find artworthy because they contain worthy art.

Floralis Gererieca :: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Public photo display :: Paris

Getty Museum :: Los Angeles