I constantly receive emails from photographers commenting on the photographs on my member page and those that run with my column. Some try to give me tips on how to improve my photos. Some tell me my snaps suck. The most recent email suggested I give up working in black & white. The writer said it was a cop out. He suggested I challenge myself more so my work has room to progress.
Now… I am not some kind of prima donna who thinks his sheeot does not stink. I am also not above taking constructive criticism about my photography. And I might be a full-time photo editor because I am not good enough to be a full-time photographer. But even so, some of us ol’ timers are getting a little pissed off about the total lack of respect the Internet affords you punk kids.
Several photographers I’ve talked to commented on the Internet and how it opened the gateway for photographers with little or no experience to become experts on everything from lighting techniques and lens selection to business practices and copyright law. If you have ever heard the expression “the long arm of the law,” I want you to know the new version of that saying could be “the long arm of the Internet.”
I got out of the office to clear my head and shoot another small town feature. When I find myself getting frustrated with work, and the photography stops being fun, I just wonder out and shoot something completely useless. And somehow after this type of exercise everything seems new, and holding a camera is fun again.
Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for the spontaneity of life. Every shooter hits their highs and lows during a shoot. It’s a given. The low came for me on the very first day. It wasn’t justified since at that point I didn’t even have a single frame in the bag. The key for me was to start shooting and a bag of Red Vines. Discouragement can come easy if you’re looking for it. It’s a roller coaster that’ll take you to the highest of highs and darkest of lows. The low serves as a reminder that nothing comes easy. The high tugs at my heart and reminds me instantly why I do this.
We are still not sure when photog John Harrington sleeps. Between last night and this morning, he managed to shoot John McCain’s victory speech in Virginia, interview other photogs about how they shoot and transmit their pix on the campaign trail, and turn that footage into an insightful seven-minute video.
If you have seen any of Jacob Riis’s photographs, you have probably never forgotten them. Riis was the Danish-born police reporter who in the late 1880s brought magnesium-flash photography into some of the darkest and most troubled spots in New York City — the tenements near Mulberry Bend, where Columbus Park now stands. New immigrants were crushed together there in some of the worst squalor and highest population densities ever recorded on this planet.
Driftless: Photographs from Iowa (Duke University Press, 2007) by Danny Wilcox Frazier came out with Frank’s words of praise as the forward to the book.
I stumbled across a copy of it a few weeks ago in the Harvard Book Store and was drawn to the images before I read anything about Frank’s role in making them known. Frazier’s decision to consider the effects of people and resources migrating from failing rural economies to the coasts and to cities was very interesting in itself but the images made the topic all the more severe. It is “as though the heart of America were being emptied.”
We have fun, don’t we?” Douglas Kirkland calls from downstairs after a long day of working on this book, arguing and laughing. Editing thousands of images to create “Freeze Frame” was both an emotional and exhilarating process, watching our life through the work, discovering images we didn’t remember existed, seeing ourselves through the 40 years of our marriage.
Our relationship began in 1965 in Paris on the film set of “How to Steal A Million,” with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. I was a 21-year-old student at the Sorbonne; my mother worked for the film company. Douglas came to take pictures of the movie stars and romanced me by the Seine. We fell in love, continued our love affair while meeting in London, Rome, Venice and Madrid. It was my first taste of working together and it was wonderfully exciting and romantic. We eventually got married in Las Vegas late one night.
The Sixties and early Seventies were a period of abundance for photojournalism and we enjoyed the best of it. We lived like millionaires without the responsibility of being rich, staying in the best hotels of Europe and mingling with the “aristocracy” of the cinema. It was all very unpretentious, full of joie de vivre, and we embraced it heartily.
In the climate of fear surrounding Bhutto and Pakistan in general, due to the deteriorating security situation and massive double suicide bombings that marred her homecoming in October, the days of hundreds of thousands of supporters attending political rallies were a thing of the past. On my way to the rally both my hotel concierge and taxi driver had warned me of the dangers of attending Bhutto’s rally as there had been another suicide bomber apprehended before detonating his explosives at a rally the previous day in Peshawar. With the benefit of hindsight, it seemed like the writing was on the wall.
The security at the gates into the park was very thorough and once inside the security seemed much better organized and the rally went ahead as expected. There were a handful of local wire photographers there along with John Moore of Getty Images and myself. We were leaving after the rally, assuming Bhutto would make a quick exit for security reasons, but hundreds of supporters managed to break through the barriers in the park and surround her convoy as she tried to make her departure. Once again she came out of the sunroof and started greeting her cheering fans as her vehicle crawled along the road. I was about 20 meters from her vehicle and started shooting with a long lens as it turned and came towards me.
I first heard of the misery enveloping the Central African Republic last year when CAR was chosen by numerous organizations as one of the world’s most underreported and neglected stories. While Darfur and the Congo seemed to generate ample media attention, the situation in CAR was unknown to all but a few. Located in the center of Africa and sharing borders with Chad, Sudan, the D.R. Congo and Cameroon, CAR is nearly the size of Texas with a population just over 4 million people. Since gaining independence from France in 1960 the poverty-stricken nation has experienced a succession of coups and attempted coups. In the last decade alone it has experienced almost constant rebellion, leading to a state of anarchy in most of the north of the country. CAR is one of the world’s poorest nations with an average life expectancy of only 39 years. With no electricity outside of the capital and virtually no paved roads, it is a land abandoned.
I needed some time to recover from my marathon road/plane trip covering the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani before posting anything here. I spent a week from sunrise to sundown with his campaign criss-crossing every corner of South Florida, where he spent most of his campaign rhetoric and dollars trying to secure the state, which he lost.
People always ask if it’s fun work following around a campaign, and to be honest, as tough as it was physically and mentally, it was fun. There is an aspect of witnessing history that I truly respect and admire I have the opportunity to do in this field.
My first day on the ground in Kenya, I went into Mathare with a group of photographers after hearing that there had been some problems. Two mobs were facing off on the main street leading into the Nairobi slum. Once the dust had settled, I met an Italian photographer by the name of Enrico Dangnino. He was pretty shaken up. He had blood stains on his clothes and told me that earlier in the day they had witnessed a near lynching but were able to save the man’s life.
this modern day “revolution cliche” also hangs (or rather hung) on my living room wall….mine is an original, signed, full-frame fiber print given to me by Korda himself after we had both consumed i do not know how many Havana Club mohitos…we went long into the night after the opening of my “Cuba” exhibition in Havana in 2000..Alberto died just a few months after our Havana “all-nighter” , in Paris during the opening of his own retro exhibit…
Alberto Korda was a motivated photographer…..”my main aim was to meet women”, Korda confessed in a New York Times interview towards the end of his life…and his second wife (but not his last) was a top fashion model……hmmmmmm… well, motivations aside, Korda is represented by prestige galleries throughout the world and was Fidel Castro’s personal photographer for 10 years after the revolution…you may see an interesting film by Hector Cruz Sandoval titled “Kordavision” which was released after Alberto’s death..this film and the above photograph are not so popular in Miami where many of the “non- recipients” of the Che/Fidel revolution have lived for the last 40 years…
The Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) jury has chosen Daniel Cima’s entry, 2006 Drought in Ethiopia, as a winner in in the Human Condition competition.
Select winning photos, curated by the director of the Farmani Gallery, will be exhibited at a group show in Los Angeles from March 6-31. The show will travel to New York later in the year, and potentially overseas.
Ask photographer Arlene Gottfried if she thinks the New York characters she’s shot for 40 years from Coney Island to Times Square and Harlem are freaks, and she bristles. “I don’t think they’re freaks, because then I’d be a freak, too.” With her little-girl Coney brogue (she and her brother, manic comic Gilbert, grew up there), old-soul eyes, and longtime avid membership in the Jerriese Johnson East Village Choir (she occasionally solos, she boasts), she’s a quiet defender of the grimily vibrant denizens of an older New York that’s disappearing daily. Now she’s their enshriner, too: Due out this week from powerHouse Books, Sometimes Overwhelming compiles images Gottfried took of the city in the seventies and eighties. An exhibit of Gottfried’s later work is also opening March 5 at the Alice Austen House Museum on Staten Island.
We interviewed Gottfried about some of her most striking images. An exclusive preview of photos from her book, and her memories of taking them