The Digest – September 23rd, 2012

©Amy Lombard – via ‘Style Tribe: Football Femmes’ [The Cut]

Creating stuff, especially with other people, can be a complicated process. It takes patience. All the content for Issue 5 is ready to go, now it just needs to be put together. The problem is that my collaborator for the design element is tied up traveling around the country getting paid to make photographs. Can’t blame him! So that means it’s going to be a few extra weeks before we publish the issue. No big deal. I’m the boss, and I say that’s fine. You people are just going to have to wait. I’m sure the internet will keep you sufficiently busy until then anyway. Speaking of, here are a few items I noticed this week.

New Ideas in Photography

I’m sure avid readers of photography blogs have noticed the initiative by Joerg Colberg and Colin Pantall to highlight new ideas in photography. You can find a nice round-up on Conscientious. And here’s my contribution. 

While this is a fun game to play I don’t take it too seriously. Same goes with contests or any other type of hype. It’s nice to recognize photographers for their achievements but the focus on status infects the medium in a way that I don’t think is very healthy. We had an interesting discussion in ‘Galata Bridge’ (a private Tumblr of photography bloggers) about trying to create a career as a fine art photographer. It’s an extremely difficult and I think there needs to be more honesty about the prospects of developing a financially viable career. But that’s a conversation for another day!

I believe there’s still plenty of work out there to be discovered and I hope to see more blogs emerge that cultivate their own unique sensibility, excavating this work from the depths of the internet. This is one of the reasons I enjoy Tumblr. It’s essentially chaos, which isn’t for everyone naturally, but if you have the temperament for it, I encourage you to dive in. I’m active on Tumblr every day, with a steady flow of photographs.

©John Gossage – Books: John Gossage’s Careful Look at Japan [American Photo]

Links of Note

On The Verge, Maria Bustillos writes about our obsession with documenting our lives. Naturally Instagram makes an appearance.

Recordings are proliferating in part because the cost of special equipment and the time and expertise required to make films, books, images, songs, have all shrunk by an astonishing amount in just the last two decades. That means, among other things, that culture is no longer made for us by others. Increasingly, ordinary individuals are able to roll their own, each of us creating a world that is increasingly the fruit of our own experiences: our own videos, books, blogs, and images made from the materials of our own lives. Increasingly, we own our own worlds.

Rob Haggart on ‘What Happens When Photography Becomes A Commodity?’ 

Not too long ago your personality mattered little in photography. You could be the most abhorrent dick-wad and land all the work you wanted if your photography was awesome. I see plenty of evidence now that this is not longer possible. An art director I sat on a panel with even said “the top 5 photographers for a car shoot are all qualified to do the job. it comes down to personality as to who will get the job” Personality is one tiny part of the value chain, but it’s now more important than the photography. That’s astounding.

Jerry Saltz has 10 pieces of advice for artists. 

4. You can’t think your way through an art problem. As John Cage said, “Work comes from work.”

5. Follow your obsessions. If you love the Cubs that much, maybe they need to be in your work.

6. Don’t take other people’s ideas of skill. Do brain surgery with an axe.

7. Don’t define success by money, but by time.

Blake Andrews reviews Warwick Mountain Series by Philip Perkis. Some great quotes.

A simple camera, black and white film, natural light, no particular subject. Perkis’ work harkens back to a simpler time in photography, perhaps the 1970s, before the rise of color and before thinking had completely superseded seeing. The possibilities of the visual hunt still topped the list of motivations. Fans of that hunt and of that era’s b/w tricksters —Friedlander, Dane, Wessel, et al— will enjoy these photographs. Not all are of trees. Humans and animals appear here and there.

©Michael Sieben – via ‘I finally got an iPhone [Vice]

Jin Zhu wrote an excellent piece on Cinday Sherman.

I don’t think that it’s as simple as that she wants to make fun of rich old ladies or wants to bask in the ugly or is trying to be funny. To me it doesn’t really matter what she’s trying to do, but she’s certainly hit on a type of image that makes people react. I think all her later work does have a consistent sensibility of that’s not devoid of humor but makes most people recoil. The common thread in her later work for me is that she has chosen subjects that we are afraid to express love for. Clowns? Pornography? Old women? It hits straight at our conceptions of what should be art, our taboos about sex and our ideals of female beauty. I don’t know that she has any in particular to say about those things, but I do think she creates a visceral experience of these internal tensions. To bandy about feminism as a theory, rather than an emotional conflict within a woman herself makes little sense when it comes to Sherman’s work.

‘Magnum Irrelevant?’ asks the Wall St. Journal. No but nice trolling!

For more than half a century, Magnum photographers showed us the importance of picturing the human condition alongside reporting the news. An unintended consequence of their success has been to reduce news stories to a strikingly similar set of images: brave soldiers, weeping mothers, hungry refugees, dirty children, happy election conventioneers, candidates reaching for a wall of hands.

That’s not the fault of Magnum. What does photojournalism mean now when everybody with a cellphone can upload pictures for the world to see, or when surveillance cameras provide the most reliable way to document a crime?


ALEC SOTH: An American Photographer from Evan Spencer Brace on Vimeo.