The Digest – July 8th, 2012

©Andres Gonzalez – via ‘Andres Gonzalez Takes a Journey Somewhere’ [New Yorker]

Greetings from the NYC inferno. Fortunately for the first time in three years of living in New York I finally have air conditioning. I feel a bit guilty about staying inside due to the heat but I have work to do and walking for three hours taking photographs when it’s 100 degrees seems like a recipe for cardiac arrest.

Conscientious Turns 10

Congratulations to my friend Joerg Colberg on a great milestone.

Ten years ago, looking for photography online was a tremendous pain in the neck, which had me start this website. It sometimes doesn’t take much to contribute to some change; and if I may add that, little contributions, done every day, easily add up in all kinds of ways.

Photography on the internet is not being handed down to us by powers beyond our control. Instead, it is being created by each and every one of us, one photograph (or article) at a time. I’m looking forward to ten more years of that.

There are very few blogs that can make it 1 year, let alone 10. What’s even more remarkable is the consistent output. In terms of photoblogs, and people writing about photography online, there’s really Joerg and then the rest of us. When I first started following blogs and reading Conscientious, I’d often have rage blackouts after reading something he wrote: “Can you believe this guy?! The nerve! The nerve! He’s wrong, wrong, wrong!”

Naturally, I rarely had a reasonable counter-argument in most cases. All I could do was rant and rave and look for people that would nod their head in agreement.

I’ve always kept reading Conscientious though, and as I’ve continued my education in photography I’ve come to realize that in many of those arguments he made much more sense than I did at the time. A good writer makes you think. If you always agree with what they say, then you really need to question whether they’re pushing you further intellectually. I now realize that part of my frustration with Joerg’s writing at times was because I simply didn’t know how I felt or thought about the issues he was raising. He made me think about photography and confront my own ignorance. That’s not always fun, especially if you’re immersed in trying to learn about the subject matter.

Most blogs come and go and nobody really cares. I think Conscientious might be one of the few where there would be a noticeable absence if it were to disappear. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon. Congratulations again Joerg. Thanks for making me think and sharing all that exceptional photography.

©Marisa Portolese – via Fraction Magazine Issue 40

Links of Note

‘Does Magnum Photos still make sense?’ A report. – BJP looks at Magnum at 65. Some good tidbits, but I’m more excited that Zoe Strauss is a new nominee! Wow. Think about it. She started seriously making photographs about 12 years ago (from what I understand) and now she’s a nominee in the most renowned photography collective. Congrats to Jerome Sessini and Bieke Depoorter as well. I also like this quote from Abbas:

I know that some photographers have big egos, but photography is simple. In the morning, you put a roll of film in your camera – and today, you don’t even have to do this with digital – you take to the streets, you come back home, edit your photographs and show them. It’s that simple.

‘On the Wall: Rineke Dijkstra at The Guggenheim’ – A nice article and gallery from American Photo Mag.

It is obvious, now, how her subjects, even in their vulnerability, are at ease in front of her camera. “In order to see something, you have to open yourself up and you have to create circumstances where things can happen,” she explains of her process working with strangers. “I try to be myself. In the end it’s all about trust.”

‘Bruce Haley: No regrets’ - A short article on Bruce’s work, but still worth perusing. One of the more interesting moments I’ve had with LPV was when Bruce sent me an email after reading an article I wrote about photographers writing.

“One thing I have always lived by is you don’t ever want to live with regrets. The worst thing in world is thinking, ‘If I had only…’ Those thoughts – they will kill you one day.”

‘A Few Words About Joe Klamar’s Viral (and “Obviously Terrible”) Olympic Portraits’ – Michael Shaw dives into the controversy in typical BAG style.

Looking at the whole 35 photo edit, I don’t know if Klamar prompted certain athletes to defy the hero, macho, up-close-and-personal drill with a particular prompt or some just took the liberty, but given the Olympic coverage is like one long series of saccharine personality profiles interrupted at points by an athletic event or two, I can only imagine some of these Olympians welcoming the opportunity, for a moment and subtlety, to turn into people. the question is: did some of these Olympians welcome the opportunity, for a moment and subtlety, to turn into people, or was Klamar (either consciously or unconsciously) editorializing?

©Ramsay de GiveThe Weight of Objects

The Weight of Objects is a portrait project by Ramsay de Give and Kristen Joy Watts. Each diptych features a portrait of an individual and an object with a story.

‘Award-Winning Project Documents a Fractured Serbia’ – Pete Brook interviews Matt Lutton over at Raw File.

It has taken five years to get this far in my project. I arrived in the Balkans for the first time in 2007 and traveled in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo. There are pictures from that first trip that are still in some of my edits. There are also pictures from 2008 that are in the portfolio with which I won the Emerging Photographer Fund award.

The idea of the project though did not coalesce until 2009-2010, and I’ve been working on it since then, re-editing the pictures I had shot before and going out to find new pictures that would help tell my story. Some pictures have come from time spent on other assignments, but most are the products of trips I’ve made with the idea that they would help fill in the gaps of my experience in the Balkans. I won’t be done with this project until I am able to visit and spend time in all the corners of the region that I think are important to the idea of Unity, places where that word has ramifications.

‘A follow up to the “shitty photographs” post‘ – Michael David Friberg wrote a post about how pro’s sometimes make crappy photos while on assignment. It made it to A Photo Editor where he received some snarky criticism. Here’s part of his great response.

Somebody on the comments of the quote on A Photo Editor went so far as to call me “so naive”. Well, that’s fine but here is my response to that. I LOVE photography. I don’t just love being a photographer. I love looking at other people’s work, I love that my friends are doing super cool stuff. I love talking about photography, I love helping other people out in photography. Other people who have the same passion, have done the same for me. For me, this isn’t some sort of bullshit rat race where i’m trying to steal assignments from the next guy, this is who I am. So, if that’s naive, that’s fine.

‘Looking Back at “New Documents” – A nice post looking back on the seminal show.

Photojournalism was socially responsible and served to report, inform and affect change. Arbus, Friedlander and Winogrand had no such goals. They selfishly photographed for themselves. Szarkowski wrote in his introduction to “New Documents”1, “In the past decade this new generation of photographers has redirected the technique and aesthetic of documentary photography to more personal ends. Their aim has been not to reform life but to know it, not to persuade but to understand. The world, in spite of its terrors, is approached as the ultimate source of wonder and fascination, no less precious for being irrational and incoherant.” His egalitarian view that anyone, anywhere, anytime could create a great photograph worthy of comparison to the masters shaped the future of photography and has become commonplace within the photo sharing websites of today’s digital age, where stars are born and die every day.


“Famed artist Chuck Close claims he rejected most of the “essential” teachings of grad school. He outlines the three behaviors that have helped him become a successful artist.”