The Digest – September 2nd, 2012

©Joseph Rodriguez‘A Photographer’s Journey from Behind Bars to Behind the Lens’ via [LightBox]

My general routine for Sunday morning involves a big breakfast (french toast, sausage links, hash browns), slamming a few too many Red Bulls, and putting together The Digest while playing my classic rock playlist on Spotify. As I read that back, it sounds kind of awful, but whoever said publishing was fun?

I’ve wrapped up the interviews for Issue 5. Now it’s off to the designer (Alexi Hobbs). I’m not sure when it’ll be ready, but hopefully sooner than later. It never ends though. I’ve already started thinking about Issue 6.

I also have some general grievances about behavior on the internet, but instead of making you suffer through my complaining, I’ll just move onto The Digest.

Dear Young Photographer

I don’t envy the predicament of the young photographer. It’s brutal out there and at some level it must be a bit annoying to take advice on the internet, but sometimes it’s pretty good.

I picked up a few links from Steve Giralt this week, one old, one new, that I thought offered some good advice. From ‘Photography Jobs Grow on Trees:’

Young photographers especially assistants spend way too much time thinking about making new pictures and not enough time making new pictures. Photographers are like athletes in that photography is a muscle that needs to be exercised. You know what it’s like when you go to the gym for the first time in a year. You realize you are out of shape, that you should come more often, and that the people who spend a lot of time at the gym are so much better than you. The same thing goes for taking pictures. If you’re only shooting pictures for yourself once every few months, you’ll never be as good as the people who are always shooting pictures. Everybody wants that perfect beach body, but we all know it takes lots of hard work, and the same goes for a good body of work. Yes, if you’re a fashion photographer it’s a lot of work to put a test together; you need models, hair, makeup, location, lighting gear, etc. This is where meeting lots of people and building a good team of people is important so that it isn’t that hard to do.

From ‘What 15 RIT Photo School Alumni Have To Say To Current Photo Students:’

I think I would have pointed out that there are a lot more jobs out there than just shooting jobs. You can still be involved in the photography/art world without being a shooter. I didn’t realize that until our senior year and I wasted a lot of time. Also, mention that there are a lot of different kinds of photography. My personal work is a lot more fine art-ish but that’s not what I studied.

My last semester I took all the art direction classes and the copy writing classes and that kind of thing and that was great. I realized way too late that I didn’t enjoy shooting what other people told me to shoot.

I would have loved to intern for an ad agency or a magazine publisher for a summer. I think that would have helped me find direction a lot sooner.

Joerg Colberg wrote about ‘Photography and Writing,’ a topic that I’ve addressed in the past as well. I particular enjoyed this excerpt from Joerg’s piece:

Photographers, I believe, should write to become better photographers, to understand what they are doing better. There is no need to publish any of the writing. There is no need to have the writing next to the photographs. That’s not the point. The point really just is to expand the horizon, to struggle with a different medium’s restrictions, to see how the restrictions are where the real fun, the real art is to be had.

In writing about Neil Armstrong, Michael Johnston (The Online Photographer) talks about the importance of access.

Part of taking good, meaningful, important photographs is access—you’ve got to be there where the relevant events are happening. Parents often take the best photographs of their children because they’re there all the time (Sally Mann made a career of it). War photographers and photojournalists go to great lengths to be where the action is. Luck plays a part; why was Sebastiao Salgado with Reagan when John Hinckley shot him, or why was Jim Nachtwey in New York City on 9/11? Sometimes, insiders are the ones with access—Danny Lyon was accepted among the motorcycle gangs he photographed, Larry Clark was part of the drug community in Tulsa, and Shelby Lee Adams photographed his own people and friends in Appalachia. “Access” is important in the time domain, too—whenever students would try to assert that they could take pictures of anything, I’d just say fine, go take a portrait of Winston Churchill.

And finally, Alex Sinclair, himself a young photographer, has some criticism for his peers.

What has gotten lost in the shuffle of talented youth is the value of shooting around one subject, of actually using photography to create a study of an idea. When it comes down to it, even people who strongly oppose conventional narrative structure, such as Harmony Korine, have a central idea at the heart of their work. The current trend is to post work as it’s created and that each shoot stands alone as it’s own idea.

I suppose all of this applies to photographers of any age, but you know, the youth angle was a more marketable angle.

©Andrew Querner – via Fraction Magazine Issue #42

Links of Note

PDN published an article about the recent shake up at LUCEO. Here’s what Matt Eich had to say:

“Something that I am sure is true for cooperatives of any age is that they require an enormous amount of love, attention and upkeep,” Matt Eich told PDN after the LUCEO announcement. “It is a challenge for anyone, no matter how organized or motivated, to keep up with your own individual business, your own personal projects, a cooperative business, cooperative projects and of course some time for family or a personal life.”

Blake Andrews hates Lee Friedlander’s latest book, Mannequin: 

If I seem to come down especially hard on Friedlander it’s only because I hold his earlier work in such high esteem. He is probably the single most influential photographer for me. For many years he has been as prolific, unmoored, and curious as any shooter out there. But what attracted me most to his earlier work was its playfulness. There was a sense of absurdity and deeply surreal humor which revealed a wise soul behind the lens. Time and again he injected that playful spirit. It’s so vital and so rare! Try to find a playful spirit in any contemporary art photographs. Go ahead. I dare you. But sadly Friedlander offers no respite. His new work does not show the old spark.

Jen Davis was featured in O Magazine: 

When Davis was 23, her work took a turn: Reading through her old journals, she was struck by the fact that her grievances—being overweight, missing out on romantic love—had been the same for years. Maybe, she thought, if I turn the camera on myself, I might shake loose whatever is holding me back. In the first self-portrait she ever snapped, Davis sits on a bamboo mat on the sand, on spring break in Myrtle Beach, her one-piece bathing suit concealed by a green cover-up and black shorts; the friends around her are slender in their bikinis and swim trunks, and the uneasiness on her face is palpable.

Malcom Brown, who made the iconic photo of a self-immolating monk died recently. In commemoration, LightBox re-published an interview from last year: 

I was thinking only about the fact it was a self-illuminated subject that required an exposure of about, oh say, f10 or whatever it was, I don’t really remember. I was using a cheap Japanese camera, by the name of Petri. I was very familiar with it, but I wanted to make sure that I not only got the settings right on the camera each time and focused it properly, but that also I was reloading fast enough to keep up with action. I took about ten rolls of film because I was shooting constantly.

photo-eye interviewed Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt on B-B-B-Books: 

The idea of doing a number of images of a certain place, a state of mind or whatever catches the interest is a rather intuitive thing. The design gets intertwined with this intuition and from this meeting, something new comes. It’s a call and response kind of situation. It’s a continuous dialogue between us and the designers. The methods we use for saying the similar thing are different, but one gets to learn how to put words on conveying these things to creating an object.

©Marc Mcandrews – via ‘A Fresh Take on the Oldest Profession’ [LENS Blog]


Ed Templeton: A Professional Skateboarder Turns Artist from Leica Camera on Vimeo.