In looking to see how other people have documented the Pacific Northwest I came across the book ‘Beneath Cold Seas‘ by photographer David Hall. While this is not the kind of photography I usually gravitate towards the photographs are undeniably compelling. I particularly like the juxtaposition of what’s going on below and above the surface as in the photograph of sockeye salmon above. Photographer Hall completed this body of work over a period of 16 trips to British Columbia between 1995 and 2010. I can only imagine how technically challenging this type of photography must be, managing both scuba gear and bulky camera equipment that’s made even bulkier by the underwater housings that you need to protect them. Then of course the water’s cold.
What is striking to me is how colorful much of the marine life is. Something I thought that you had to go to the tropics to see. To see more of David’s work visit his website – www.seaphotos.com and watch the gallery of his images below.
I’m continue to enjoy watching the 1983 BBC tv series ‘Masters of Photography’. This week I’ve been watching the interview with Andreas Feininger. Not surprisingly I was blissfully unaware of Feininger’s experimental photography, much of which we take for granted now. He is perhaps best know for his photographs of New York taken with a telephoto lens. Telephoto lens, what’s the big deal with that you say – I certainly did.
He started working with a telephoto lens in Stockholm. There, in order to get the images of the waterfront that he wanted he shot from over 3 miles away using a telephoto lens. At that time, around 1938, telephoto lenses were hard to come by and expensive, so he made his own camera. In New York working for Life magazine he used a 40-inch Dallmeyer telephoto lens, equivalent of ~1000mm,the compression of perspective that he got with this was quite remarkable. The image above is a good example of it.
In addition to his work outside with the telephoto lens, he took the idea inside to photographed close ups of nature, things that he found on walks on the beach. These are quite interesting in that they are not just records of what is in front of the camera, but he goes to some effort to stage the object in an effort to record what he feels about the object.
Take a look at the interview with Andreas Feininger in the video below:
My intersection with Bill Brandt came by way of Michael Kenna. In a number of places I’d read that Michael Kenna was deeply influenced by Bill Brandt and yet when I looked up his work, much of what I found was nudes. Being very English and uncomfortable with all that nakedness, I left it at that. More recently I steeled myself for another look and found, in addition to the nudes, an eclectic collection of photographs from portraits to a look at society life to miners of the North of England to landscapes. It seems to me that Brandt’s later photographs became darker and more extreme in contrast, something that I assume he pushed in the darkroom. A good example of this is shown below:
For fun click here to see Michael Kenna’s rendition of this image.
Many of Brandt’s images can be found on his website under the licensing section. Well worth a look. Also worth a look if you’re in or around New York is the exhibition of Brandt’s work at the MOMA ‘Shadow and Light’ that runs until August 12.
To hear Brandt talk about his work check out this 1983 BBC interview:
Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish photographer who has lived in the US since 1951 and currently is a Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I first came across Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s work through a documentary on PBS. I can’t find this program online but it is worth checking out to watch Arno in action. His photography has a sense of whimsy to it and is often slightly surreal, reminding me a little of Jerry Uelsmann’s work. His photographs are largely self-portraits: A naked Arno (or at least the part you can see is) integrated into the landscape. What is quite interesting to me is that all of his images are captured in camera on a single frame of film. No digital hanky panky here! In looking at his work I find myself trying to work out the ‘trick’ to how he pulled it off. His camera has a cable release and a 9 second timer, which allows him to get in position before tripping the shutter and throwing the cable release out of the frame. Even so, some still leave me wondering.
Check out the video at this link to hear Arno talking about his work.
When I was planning to go to the pacific northwest, and particularly the Olympic National Park, last year I began casting around for inspiration and to see what others had done in this area. Art Wolfe was obvious since it was his workshop that I was going on. Jay Goodrich too since he was also one of the workshop leaders but who else. That was when I came across Johsel Namkung, a photographer who some have suggested is ‘Seattle’s answer to Ansel Adams‘. I think I would disagree and suggest that Namkung has more in common with Eliot Porter than he does with Ansel Adams. When I think of Ansel Adams I think of the grand landscape captured in black and white, whereas when I think of Eliot Porter I think of more intimate images captured in color. For me Namkung’s most powerful images are color studies of shape, line and texture.
A restrospective of his work was published by Cosgrove Editions in 2012. You can browse the book here and find out more about him at johselnamkung.net. Check it out, it’s worth a look.
I’m reading a book of Gerhard Richter’s letters at the moment. It’s imaginatively called ‘Gerhard Richter: Writings 1961 – 2007‘. I’m not sure what the best way to read a book like this is and I’ve found myself reading whatever catches my eye rather than sticking to strict chronological order. Having read pieces from the early ’60s and also the early 2000’s it’s interesting to see that his interviewers still tie him back to statements that he made as a younger artist and that while he still supports his original position he has clearly moved on, become more sophisticated and nuanced in his thinking. I suppose it’s natural for people to continue the connection to who you were, even when you’ve moved past that stage but it would drive me insane.
I also recently came across what was to me at least a new documentary of Richter at work. His abstract work particularly appeals to me and I found it interesting to see how they’re are created, destroyed, reworked and made over again. I must admit that there was a point where I was happy with the painting that he’d created, would have been quite happy to see that hanging in my office, and then he was off again with the squeegee. Nooo!
The video has it’s own website: http://www.gerhardrichterpainting.com
I was browsing through the local Barnes and Noble store last week when I came across Joyce Tenneson‘s book Shells: Nature’s Exquisite Creations which caught my eye because I’ve been accumulating photographs of shells, rocks and other pieces of stuff I’ve found at the beach. In looking at her work I realize that the still life work isn’t generally representative of her work. Check out Joyce talking about her work and the creative process in the videos below.
On my regular trawl looking for interviews of photographers talking about the creative process, the future of photography etc. I found an interview with Cary Wolinsky, a 30 year veteran of National Geographic and one of the founders of the Center for Digital Imaging Arts from the Press Pause Play Project. Check the interview out below. I’d be interested in your thoughts and comments about Cary’s view of where things are headed for today’s photographers.
The relationship between creator and publicist is something that struck me as a little weird when it was first spelled out that there may be a real need for this dynamic – how will anyone know what you’re done if you don’t tell them or can’t communicate with them effectively?
I was thinking about this again recently in the context of architects and the photographers that photograph the resulting buildings. A good architectural photographer is able to understand the buildings design and show it in a way that reinforces the design. Perhaps the most famous of architecture photographers is Julius Shulman. While I didn’t know who Shulman was until recently I did recognize some of his photographs and particularly the one shown above, “Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, 1960. Pierre Koenig, Architect.” One of the distinct features of Shulman’s work was that he often included people in his photographs, something that was unusual at the time and still isn’t terribly commonplace. Check out the videos of Shulman discussing his work below. A full version of the documentary ‘Visual Acoustics‘ is available on NetFlix or you can buy a copy here.
Sarah Moon’s name came up in conversation this week as a photographer to take a deeper look at. At the time the name was unfamiliar and it wasn’t until I saw the video below that I realized that I had been down this road before. All too often it takes couple of times to internalize and connect the name and the work. Sarah Moon lives and works in Paris, and is one of the great icons of fashion photography. While her work falls under the umbrella of fashion it’s not the slick, glossy, over produced fashion work that immediately comes to m mind. Instead, much of her work is black and white (I haven’t been able to find much of her work in color at all) that has an ethereal quality to it. Captivating. I don’t know the original source of the video below but I do hope that this is narrated by Sarah Moon herself. It gives a real insight into the mind of the photographer as they go through the process of finding the image.