Interesting Stuff Last Month – March 2014

Amy Powell’s Family Album
“As a teenager, I photographed my parents discussing their divorce, the dirty kitchen, and my mom waving away the car as it was being taken by the repo man. To me, that’s what my real life was. I long to see things, taken by insiders, that are unabashed. Beautifully unabashed.”

Lauren Greenfield Commercial About Skier Heidi Kloser
Photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield made this short commercial from green light to broadcast in just a few days. It is the human story of an athlete injured just before the start of the Olympic games in which she was to compete. Greenfield continues to show she can tell meaningful stories in different formats, even commercial ones.

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss, Unless It’s an Ad for a Clothing Company
A clear look at the video that went viral and the backlash that followed it. Irregardless of it all, the video was fascinating to watch and well-crafted. This wired, social world longs for connection even if it is fleeting, even if we are pushed just over the edge of our regular lives.

Room with a View
Joe McNally selfies are the best. Ahead of the cultural trend, he took his in October 2001 from the very top of the Empire State Building. Beat that.

National Geographic’s Women of Vision Exhibit
A spotlight on several of the women who have contributed exceptional photography to the pages of National Geographic. No doubt you’ll recognize several of the images on display. I certainly did.

14 Female Photographers You Should Know Now
A starting point for looking at some of the best photographers working today. The range of styles and subject matter are linked by the quality of their craft.

Jo Ann Callis’ Color Work
A part of the movement that forced color photography to be taken seriously, this photographer was inspired by Paul Outerbridge and shows the same instinct for personal expression.

Ruven Afandor Photographs Paul Taylor’s “Cloven Kingdom”
Dance photography in black & white that becomes almost abstract yet remains figurative. And there is a wonderful sense of confrontation that must come from the choreography and performance of the piece.

Dreaming of the Pacific, part 2
Steve Lippmann shows light through the ocean waves. The power and rhythm and repetition and variety and constancy of the ocean creates a life long fascination with it.

Instagram Knows More About Photography Than You
“The emergence of data mining in photography is certainly going to change a lot of what we held as golden rules for maybe too long. It will not replace genuine talent, obviously, but certainly help some create better- as in more effective – images. What social media photography is teaching us is to start breaking down the walls of convention and accepted wisdom.”

How SVA Lectures in iTunes U Inspired a Photographer in Kenya
The graduate program in Digital Photography at the School of Visual Arts, regularly invites professionals in the field to give a guest lecture to the students. These lectures are filmed and shared for the rest of us to enjoy and learn from, too. The breadth and depth of the guests involved is staggering and addictive, even for those far from New York.

Spectacular Celebrity Portraits by Victoria Will
It’s nice to see Victoria’s photography getting showcased more and more. Her body of work has been building for years. She is a star finding her voice in a tough field.

Mark Seliger’s Portrait Studio at the Oscars
Even behind the scenes, those celebrities involved seemed to be having fun. Seliger’s simple portrait studio provided a canvas for them to express a range of emotions for his camera and us.

Creating the Photograph: Jenna Martin’s “Purple Cabbage Dress”
Another making of video from photo-illustrator Jenna Martin. This time she is building a dress made of leaves from a purple cabbage. Her results and these short videos continue to impress.

Tim Berners-Lee by Nadav Kander
The creator of the World Wide Web is photographed for Wired by one of the best portrait artists working. The stuff of vision.

Interview with Fashion Retoucher Nick Leadlay
An interview with a photographer that fell into retouching as a profession. Career paths are rarely straightforward in creative fields. Often one thing leads to another.

Fascinating Video Explore’s Wes Anderson’s Masterful Use of Symmetry
By the same guy that did the video of Stanley Kubrick and 1-point perspective. This and other videos like it are really teaching about the effectiveness of composition. There is more to life than the Rule of Thirds.

American Public Libraries Great and Small
The great institution of the American public library has a bumpy relationship with communities that fund and benefit from it. But the libraries are everywhere, expressing the variety of the American character with these familiar buildings.

A Unique Look at New York Architecture
“I’m drawn to the majestic details and materials of classical historical buildings, many of which are hidden from view, tucked behind new architecture. In these instances, a mere sliver of old, of history, is there to be photographed, leaving me to recreate the rest of the building to make it whole again.”

Interesting Stuff Last Month – February 2014

In a Walker Evans Photograph, Author Barbara Scheiber Saw Her Family
A woman chances upon a photo, taken decades ago by Walker Evans, and recognizes her father out with his mistress, the woman who became her stepmother. The photo opened a door to understanding events in her family history.

Seeing Themselves – Photographers’ Self-Portraits
“[I]n general, we ask more from a self-portrait than we do from a selfie: more consideration, more composition, more psychological insight and aesthetic care.”

Emmet Gowin: A Photographer’s Path to Seeing
A rare glimpse of a photographer’s thinking at the beginning and end of his celebrated career. The first is an excerpt from Emmet Gowan’s master’s thesis. The second is from a lecture he gave 42 years later as he retired from teaching photography at Princeton. Innocence and experience and insight and intuition.

A Thousand Words – Writing from Photographs
“Writing from photographs seems as though it should produce the same effect, sharpening the way we convert experiences and events into prose. I suspect that it also changes not only what we write but how we write it. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the selfie coincides with the age of autobiography.”

Sarah Moon in Color
A few images from the painterly fashion photographer showing some of the elegance she created. Bordering on abstraction, these illustrate how less can be more effective.

Annie’s Big Book
Taschen is publishing another huge book of photographs by a well-known and prolific photographer. Annie Leibovitz has a large body of work, mostly of celebrity portraits, some simple and some very elaborately staged. This new book is a retrospective that is also a piece of furniture. It comes with a custom designed display table. Most of us will never be able to afford to buy a copy of this marvel, so it is refreshing to see a few photos from it and from the book’s release party.

A Contemporary History of the Nude Body by Chuck Close
Chuck Close has been exploring ideas in portraits and nudes for nearly 50 years across a variety of mediums. Here are a few of the pieces, mostly photographs including daguerreotypes and polaroids, created during that time.

Platform Magazine #8 – Nudes with work by C. Bay Milin
A few photos from a classmate’s ongoing project “The Adorned Body” are included in this online magazine. The nude figure continues to be a subject of open-ended interpretation. Lots of good work by many photographers here.

The Evolution of the Mesa Arch by Moose Peterson
Revisiting a subject can sharpen your ideas about that subject, how you apply your craft, and how you change as a person. Even if that subject is a landscape object that changes very slowly and even if the photographer is very experienced.

Portraits of Kiev’s Protesters
Last month, protests in Kiev led to violence, death, destruction, and awareness. The events are still happening, much like they are in Venezuela, and much like they have in other countries the past few years. Here are a few of the human faces of those in Kiev trying to change things.

The Rockabillies by Jennifer Greenburg
Portraits of people living in the styles of the American 40s and 50s. Everything from mid-century modern to tiki to tube TV sets. This is not a political movement, but an aesthetic one. There is nostalgia for a time that may not have existed. It is a fantasy in the same way steampunk is a fantasy. Yet this colorful dream continues to thrill many.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – January 2014

Tintypes from Sundance by Victoria Will Jackson
My favorite photo series from Sundance. Victoria Will does something very different and brave, bringing more reality to an industry not known for it.

Photographer Memorializes Her Grandfather Through Objects He Left Behind
Andrea Tese created a portrait of her recently deceased grandfather. “An often daunting and melancholic task to surviving relatives, Tese sorts through her grandfather’s property with an acute anthropology, compiling like objects into various still lifes and displays.”

Russian Mother Takes Magical Photos of Her Kids On Her Farm
Elena Shumilova makes you want to live on a farm, even in a Russian winter, if it is as magical as these photos of her son’s life make it seem.

Art of the Title – True Detectives
The Art of the Title is one of my favorite websites. It is dedicated to admiring and examining and celebrating the art of the short sequences that can be vital in establishing the mood of a film or television show. The title sequence for HBO’s True Detective looks like a haunting combination of the ads Nadav Kander did for Morgan Stanley and the beautiful toxicity shown in the photos of Richard Misrach’s Petrochemical America.

xkcd: Photos
The perfect, humorous response to a familiar conversation every photographer has dealt with. And probably every parent, too.

Sketchbook 36 – Graham Smith
I am obsessed with sketchbooks and notebooks. They offer a look into the creative process. There is beauty in those rough gems that ends up shining in a finish product somewhere. Or only in this personal book waiting to be realized or to spark other creative ideas. Illustrator Graham Smith shares some pages and thoughts on his sketchbooks in this short film.

The Journey Women of Mexico – Alejandra Regaldo interview
Alejandro Regaldo, a classmate from SVA, continues her project documenting on women who have immigrated from Mexico and an object she brought with her in her move.

Conceptual Photography with Jenna Martin
“When in doubt, risk it.” Absolutely. Push yourself. This photographer does. Here she shares how she did and what her results are.

Water Wigs by Tim Tadder
You have wonder some times, where do creative people get their ideas? What made Tim Tadder wonder what people look like with exploding water balloons on their heads? Whatever it was, the results are surprising and funny and look like a blast to do.

Interesting Stuff Last Month – December 2013

Gracie Hagen – Illusions of the Body
Body language contains many subtle cues for interpretation. Our brains are very tuned to these small gestures. Here’s an interesting series that contrasts two poses by a subject to show how we can view a person differently, just based on body language.

Tender and Playful X-Ray Portraits of Couples
Here’s a great concept that is well executed. I imagine using an x-ray machine to create art of people requires you to really think it through before making the actual capture. The results are stunning.

A Reluctant Subject – Portraits of Samuel Beckett
Perhaps it is that the writer had such character in his face. Perhaps it is because he did not care much about the images. Perhaps it is because he was a very private man so there are so few of photos of him. Whatever the reason, portraits of Samuel Beckett can be very engaging.

Patrick Ecclesine on A Photo Editor
“Personal work. It is an absolute must. It is how you develop a point of view and find your visual integrity.”

Vivian Maier and the Hidden History of Women’s Photography
Here’s a good introduction to a recently discovered photographer, who has been making big splashes in the photo world the past few years. Viviane Maier went from obscurity to celebration very quickly. Unfortunately this all happened after her death.

15 Wise Quotes Every Artist Should Take to Heart
Great quotes from the celebrated art critic Jerry Saltz of New York magazine. Entertaining advice giving insight into the art world’s onion layered looking glass.

Grand Canyon Completely Flooded with Clouds
A rare weather inversion layer caused the Grand Canyon to fill with clouds. For two days, lucky visitors were able to capture this strange event.

Best Space Photos of 2013
Photographs of objects in space and those from space just keep getting more and more interesting. Even scenes that seem common get fresh new takes as the technology improves. The wonders never cease.

Golden Ratio on Film: The Math in There Will Be Blood’s Cinematography
Continuing my own explorations and study of composition, this short film is a marvel. It explores scenes from Paul Thomas Anderson’s film with an eye to explaining the mathematics behind how each are constructed.

How to Make a Globe-Spanning Short Film Using Instagram
A very clever use of Instagram images to make a short film from the posts of over 800 users. Filmmaker Thomas Jullien shows how perspective and lighting can make familiar objects dynamic combing the images of multiple photographers. These kind of short films seem like great starting ideas for more interesting commercial ideas.

Red by Jenna Martin
A short, time-lapse film from an SVA grad as she builds up her photo illustration layer-by-layer. This provides insight into how different photos can be shot, then put together to form a single whole. I love the refinements that happen at the end.

Christopher Walken is the World’s Weirdest Tailor
Imagining Christopher Walken being strange is not hard to do. But someone took his magnificent character and put it in some ads for clothes. If all commercials were this engaging, they would have their own cable TV channel. The stare alone is worth watching all four.

Remembering the Photographers We Lost in 2013
“For photographers, the camera is a tool of existential negotiation. Regardless of the genre in which they work, they use the camera to mediate what is before them with what lies within. The best pictures are not a statement of fact, but a fully formed and articulated opinion.”

Julieanne Kost – Year in Review Video
One of my favorite photographers and people puts together another video showcasing her photos from the year. “I would strongly encourage you to create a collection of your own images for the year -I have found both the process and the results to be very insightful.” I could not agree more and try to do something similar each year.

Time’s Best Portraits of 2013
“In a year when the still image maintained its unparalleled power to inform, to shock and, at times, to delight, TIME’s portraits once again put a human face on many of 2013’s most relevant and gripping stories… as powerful as the grand gesture might be, it is often the quiet, unfiltered gaze of a fellow human being that makes for the most intense, and the most revelatory, of all pictures.”