It takes a long time, but I enjoy writing with found words,
and I am working on ways to incorporate them into photographs.
The wall next to my desk has one example of a step in the process, but it’s missing something yet.
I have always loved photographing sculpture, since those first assignments in my Jane Addams Community Center photo class in Chicago. It was during that time that I shot this photo, early one morning on my way to an office job in the Loop.
I’ve always liked this photo, and have given it as a gift, but it’s spent most of the last decade hidden away in a box. Last week, while hanging some photos at home, I needed a vertical print to fit in my ensemble and went searching for the one print I knew I had of it, on a soft matte fine art paper, which is just as it should be.
Now all I can say is, I love living with it on my wall. It is grounding, regal, quiet and confident. And, it merits being printed bigger than the A4 I modestly permitted it.
I am getting much inspiration from Odilon Redon today.
Tout se crée par la soumission docile à la venue de l’inconscient.
Everything is created by quietly submitting to the arrival of the unconscious.
- Odilon Redon, 1898
I had a great time in Arles this year. Most of us have likely read the reviews by now, and while the “In” festival may have been underwhelming, Arles was, as always, a great place to network and spend time with people I don’t often get to see in person.
And the “off” festival is getting bigger and better every year. This year I decided to continue in Arles, the work I began last October during les Rencontres Photographiques du 10e in Paris.
So on most nights, after vernissages, dinners, projections, and parties, I took my broom and bucket out and pasted up my street exhibition in the off-off festival. In the process, I met Isabelle Chapuis and Alexis VI, who were pasting up (with admirable precision) their series Blossom (love it) and watched the evolution of Delphine Henry and her group’s series “Parade,” titled after François Hebel’s name for this years festival. I loved the silent collaboration, placing my work among theirs.
Ironically, a few years ago, when I showed an early version of DesCollages (before it had this name) in the portfolio reviews, one of my reviewers advised that I never show this work again, ever. It may sound brutal and I won’t go the details of the consequent discussion we had, but he was genuinely enthusiastic about one body of work and decidedly less so about this one. And while I had several other very positive responses to this work, his rejection of it hit me rather hard.
Just before leaving for Arles this year, I remembered our conversation and it made me laugh to think of what I was doing with this series now. Then, I admit, I had a moment’s pause and asked myself the healthy question, “am I crazy?” But I knew I wasn’t. You cannot please everyone, and trying to do so is a loser move, as my mother would say, so you must check in with yourself to know your path forward and focus on the task at hand. And find the right people to guide you when needed. I appreciated this person’s honesty, and understood it just wasn’t meant for him.
I offer this story because it can be challenging to know what to take away from a series of portfolio reviews with so many different opinions and suggestions. All I can say is be bold and keep going in the direction that makes your heart beat faster.
It seems to me that these photos ask to be shared in this way. It’s a natural step in the process. And in giving them this freedom, I am also liberated.
I don’t imagine these photos will live long lives in the streets of Arles. Let me know if you see them hanging around.
Last night in Arles.
The Rencontres festival did not take risks, it largely stuck to the usual suspects,
this is a shout out to the festival-off, and off-off.
It’s the most labor-intensive business card I’ve ever had, but I really wanted to make some mini cyanotypes. Printing cyanotypes is at times frustrating. For example, I can have three identical negatives in a row, exposed under the same light, and the three resulting prints will not be identical. There are many variables, which I won’t get into, but just to say that it liberates me from seeking perfection and re-aquaints me with happy accidents. And it will be fun to give a unique gift as a business card in Arles this year.
Happy July 4th! Before I go buy some sparklers to put in my tarte citron, I want to share this magazine I just finished making with Blurb (it’s so fun to make a magazine!). You can preview some of the pages below. And if you’re in Arles next week for the festival, you may see some of these photos as you’re walking from café terrace to photo exhibition!
While still processing last week’s classical music fest photos, this weekend I’m photographing Jazz Pas Grave, the 3rd edition of a festival at 59 Rivoli that brings some really fabulous musicians together. Some highlights while I’m waiting for the next concert to start…
And our energetic team of volunteers passing out the program in sidewalk traffic…
I spent day two of the classical music festival at 59 Rivoli filming and real-time editing the live stream. My ambition was to be photographer and videographer at once, but that really isn’t possible. Taking 25 photos a second on five different cameras, with my 6D around my shoulders, I photographed the screen in front of me. We had placed the cameras better than I was able to place myself. Here are some highlights of the Quoatuor van Kuijk and the Collectif Warning.
Yesterday a 3-day classical music festival, which thinks outside of the box of what we might expect “classical” music to be, kicked off at 59 rue de Rivoli in Paris. This is the 3rd edition that I’ve photographed for them. This year two concerts were performed in the St Merri church, and the last concert of the night, Le Cabaret Contemporain, an electronic-dance-classical-move-your-body hybrid, transformed the 59 gallery into a nightclub.
When I was a kid I thought our family photographer was the same guy I heard singing on the radio. His name was Ron Stewart. I was only 3 or 4 and I thought it was incredible that he had these two different jobs.
I loved going to see him because he had this vast space (for a toddler) with a bunch of strange things in it, like bird cages, old stuffed animals, fancy kid-sized furniture, and soft lamplight on dark walls that made it feel cozy.
His method was to let children wander in this cabinet de curiosités and photograph them while they did it. Distracting parents waited outside (in today’s paranoid times that probably doesn’t happen much). At some point he would pose you, I know because we have the photos, but in my memory it was the time I spent wandering and discovering that stayed with me. In one session I found a teensy toy chick that I held in my hand the entire time. It was so soft. I wanted to keep it forever. I don’t know if he let me take it with me. That must have happened a lot.
I thought about Ron Stewart recently when I was photographing children hiding in the studios at 59 rue de Rivoli here in Paris. They were participating in making a clip for the Pharrell Williams song Happy. Observing the boy below, and his reaction to the disco ball sparkling in the sun reminded me of that little chick. If it were my disco ball, I would let him take it home.
There’s a bookstore in paris, le 29, where I always get inspired. I could easily spend 300€ in a blink each time I go. But I don’t. I browse, I get inspired, my heart grows.
And, each time I look for that Andreï Tarkovski book. I know exactly where it is, and like an old friend, I greet it on every visit, but for whatever reason, I never buy it.
But the other day I went to the bookshop window to check out their display and was draw inside by a new book from the photographer JR. Once inside, having just opened the book, I thought of the Tarkovski. I put down JR and went straight over and bought it.
Why is this book special? It consists of Polaroids – mostly landscapes, his wife Larissa, son Andreï and dog Dak – and bits of text, which seem to hold hands across the page like dear friends, each saying different things and together arriving at something more. His sensitivity touches me deeply and I can spend time with each photo, I want to wander into them. They’re not two dimensional. And neither is his writing. His thoughts on where ideas come from, what a photo is or isn’t, and where we are in the universe resonate with me like the title, in a flash of light.
Nous sommes crucifiés dans une seule dimension,
quand l’univers, lui, est multi-dimensionnel.
Nous le sentons, et souffrons
de ne pouvoir connaître la vérité.
Mais connaître n’est pas nécessaire.
Ce qu’il faut, c’est aimer.
Car la foi, c’est la connaissance par l’amour.
This week blue is my favorite color. I mixed twice as many chemicals as I needed, so I’ll be coating a lot of paper and printing several new negatives, starting with printing the DesCollages series in blue.
Deep in the sea are riches beyond compare.
But if you seek safety, it is on the shore.
-Saadi, Rose Garden
Francesco has such an expressive face,
and you never know what to expect when you photograph him.
DesCollages on rue des Déchargeurs.
It’s a short street in front of 59 rue de Rivoli, named siége des Déchargeurs in 1300, for the workers (déchargeurs) unloading stock for Les Halles market. You can’t see it here in the dark, but on the left at number 3 is the Théâtre des Déchargeurs. Built in 1708, the wiki page has photos of the façade by Eugene Atget. How wonderful it would be to have an Atget app for smartphones. Someone must be working on that. I hope someone is working on that.
Tonight Arthur LeCaron projected his film on the history of the artist squat at 59 rue de Rivoli in Paris. He was there in November 1999 when it was first occupied by the KGB (Kalex, Gaspard & Bruno) and has a feast of rare footage. The film is narrated by Gaspard Delanoë, who was there tonight in the gallery to present it to us.
This is the greeting card I’m sending out for 2014, taken at the Théâtre de la Pleine Lune this summer, on a full-moon night when Malavika Klein danced Bharata Natyam for us. It is a dance I had no experience with, a dance so rich in imagery, a real poetry expressed through the human body.
I look at it and think about what I want from my photography, what I want it to contribute to the world. Magic comes to mind. Moments of magic. Like when Robert Frank, in the November 1951 issue of Life said, “When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.”
And when Jay Maisel said, “There was a phrase that Arthur Miller used – ‘I’m trying to create the poem from the evidence.’ I’m not trying to change anything that’s in front of me, I’m trying to give it respect and I’m trying to call attention to it.”
I want my photos to be a place you want to spend time. A space of grace and light. And if I see these qualities where someone else does not, I hope I can be an effective translator.
For the 2nd year, one of the cutest towns in the United States, Kirkwood, Missouri, sets off holiday fireworks. Last year they were left-overs from a 4th of July that was too dry. It was such a hit, it has become a new tradition!