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May 9, 2011

The Social, 2011, by Gabriela Herman

I got blogged-out last month and skipped a post for April. There is so much blogging, tweeting and Facebooking going on that I just couldn’t bring myself to add to the torrent. Gabriela Herman just uploaded a portfolio of blogger portraits to PhotoEye Galleries. These computer lit views represent the reality of internet life. Social networking as contemporary contact.

I’ve been sitting around reading The New Yorker, roasting coffee beans and renovating the apartment in our house. I’m not really doing much work. I watch Rigden and Janelle sand and paint.

Rigden and Janelle, May 4, 2011

Janelle has made better pictures on  her cell phone than my portrait of them (above). More about cell phone cameras below.

Portrait by Gustavo Romero, 2011

This is also the last week of classes. My student Gustavo is legally blind and makes the most powerful portraits of his friends and family.

From Family Portraits by Gustavo Romero, 2011

I did want to remind people about the approaching deadline for the Call for Entries.

The life after 9/11 subject matter is both challenging and inherent in every picture we now make.

by Hin Chua

A good example of the all-pervasiveness of our post 9/11 world are the pictures in Hin Chua’s series After the Fall. This is a link from the NYT Lens blog. It’s funny that they make a fuss about how the photographs were made on a medium format camera. Photography is changing, but it is still true that much of the world’s “fine art” photography is being done on film with cameras bigger than 35mm. The reality of this is that the rest of us are using digital. My student Gustavo uses a small point and shoot. I’m using my iPhone.

Fuzzy-eyed river view by Frank Ward, 2011

Much to my personal embarrassment, I seem to be influenced by the romantic grip of my iPhone camera. There are about 1000 apps that make one’s photography look like it was made a century ago. Here is a recent NYT report on the best camera apps for iPhone.

After two and a half years of participating in the blogosphere, bloggo-fear is striking me. I’m not clear about whether it has something to do with the “it’s all about me” blogging process or if it is about something bigger. To paraphrase a concept from John Szarkowski‘s days as Photography Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, a photograph is either a mirror or a window. This is an idea he put forth in support of a 1978 show called Mirrors and Windows. The concept seems insufficient for the current century. I’m going to think about it in relationship to digital practice and get back to you.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill Arduser permalink
    May 10, 2011 1:30 pm

    Not sure what to do about your bloggo-fear, but I’d be interested to see more of your shots, what you were thinking as you shot them and any other analysis you wanted to add. I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you given how much I enjoy critiques.

  2. May 10, 2011 5:01 pm

    I do not think it matters how images are produced any more; it is the intention behind them. That is the key to their creation and how the creator wants them to look, no matter by what means.

    It’s like the feel of developing the photo: is that element of surprise when the image comes out of the chemistry that is important or what the photographer did in order to get it there?

    Can’t the same thing hold true for whatever medium is used today, digital or otherwise?

    Examining digital photos on large screens depending on MB changes everything, doesn’t it?

    Susan Mikula at Baczek’s uses a pinhole camera with polaroid film. In this way, she creates a certain effect of the subject matter.

    The medium is the message but the intention commands the medium.

    • May 10, 2011 8:48 pm

      Lyn, Of course, you are spot-on with what is really important in picture making. A camera is just the tool, but there are more tools than ever using cameras 😉 I guess I’ve just reached end-of-the-semester saturation. I’ve certainly seen more than enough digital saturation :-] OK, even my students commented about my stand-up routine during crit today.
      There is one curious thing I love about digital. It is what I hated about it a few years ago. That is that so many pictures don’t make it off of the computer. Lately I’m happy to see my pictures perish into a little hard drive, rather than grow into a print to store in a much larger drawer. Digital imaging is getting more like Jazz. A musician plays the improv and it vanishes the moment it is created. Beauty bound for the sky. Imaging takes a bit longer to vanish, they get caught in the “cloud.”

      • May 11, 2011 8:35 am

        “A musician plays the improv and it vanishes the moment it is created. Beauty bound for the sky. Imaging takes a bit longer to vanish, they get caught in the “cloud.””

        Frank, this is a beautiful conclusion in itself. Be happy that you have reached this evanescence and sense of present time. Perhaps a cyclical moment in the world of your teaching.

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