This Week in Photography Books: Nina Berman

  I’m not feeling very creative at the moment. The sky is gray out my window, and the dreary light is making me lazy. In a perfect world, I’d get back in bed, pull the covers around me tight, and take a big fat nap. But we don’t live in a perfect world. I bitch and complain as much as the next guy, but in general, I’m aware of how good I have it. While life can turn on any given day, I’m healthy, have a beautiful family, and live in a wonderful place. If I feel hunger, I go to the refrigerator and make myself some food. So in the grand scheme of things, I have little to complain about. Living with comfort and security is the root of the American Dream. Without question, we take it for granted. It’s hard not to, as the micro-stresses of daily life add up, and in the aggregate make it difficult to maintain perspective. As artists, we have a built-in stress relief mechanism, as long as we have the energy to use it. I’ve written many times that I taught abused teenagers for 10 years, and was able to see firsthand how creative outlets allowed them to channel the powerful emotions they have, in response to their tragic circumstances. Art is its own form of therapy. I knew my students had undergone horrific situations. As I wasn’t their therapist, I never asked for details. (It didn’t seem appropriate.) My wife, who is a therapist, and works with the same population, has heard frightening stories that would make most people reach for a bottle of whiskey. Or a big fat joint. She doesn’t tell me the details, because she’s not allowed. (It’s all confidential.) So she keeps it inside, and sometimes
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Nina Berman"

This Week in Photography Books: Nina Berman

  I’m not feeling very creative at the moment. The sky is gray out my window, and the dreary light is making me lazy. In a perfect world, I’d get back in bed, pull the covers around me tight, and take a big fat nap. But we don’t live in a perfect world. I bitch and complain as much as the next guy, but in general, I’m aware of how good I have it. While life can turn on any given day, I’m healthy, have a beautiful family, and live in a wonderful place. If I feel hunger, I go to the refrigerator and make myself some food. So in the grand scheme of things, I have little to complain about. Living with comfort and security is the root of the American Dream. Without question, we take it for granted. It’s hard not to, as the micro-stresses of daily life add up, and in the aggregate make it difficult to maintain perspective. As artists, we have a built-in stress relief mechanism, as long as we have the energy to use it. I’ve written many times that I taught abused teenagers for 10 years, and was able to see firsthand how creative outlets allowed them to channel the powerful emotions they have, in response to their tragic circumstances. Art is its own form of therapy. I knew my students had undergone horrific situations. As I wasn’t their therapist, I never asked for details. (It didn’t seem appropriate.) My wife, who is a therapist, and works with the same population, has heard frightening stories that would make most people reach for a bottle of whiskey. Or a big fat joint. She doesn’t tell me the details, because she’s not allowed. (It’s all confidential.) So she keeps it inside, and sometimes
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Nina Berman"

This Week in Photography Books: Paul Gaffney

  Any idiot can deny something. It’s takes no effort at all. What could be easier for a lazy person? Here.
I’ll show you. I hereby deny that gravity exists. Even though the book I just dropped fell, and hit the couch, still, I insist there’s no such thing as gravity. Here’s another. I deny that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is an inherently conservative institution, founded by the famously anti-leftist J. Edgar Hoover. Who cares that he assassinated Black Panthers? And that as recently as 2016, we all thought James Comey was a conservative fascist who ruined Hillary Clinton’s chances of getting elected. Now, these stiff-suited-corn-fed-white-boys are suddenly smoking weed with Jerry Brown? It’s ludicrous. But I didn’t mean to get off on a political rant today. Rather, I was thinking about all the people out there who deny that human activity is changing the Earth’s climate patterns. Theoretically, that should not be a political statement. There is vast empirical evidence supporting the idea that gas emissions trap heat within the planet’s atmosphere, which affects different places in different ways. “An Inconvenient Truth,” a movie now almost 12 years old, predicted an increase in the incidence of extreme weather events. In addition, traditional weather patterns were meant to shift as well. Any sentient person can see that in America alone, we’ve been hit with massive floods, hurricanes, droughts, mudslides, and wildfires. (Hell, we even have man-made earthquakes these days too.) Here in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah are having their worst winter in recent memory. There’s almost no snow at all. (Though here at Taos Ski Valley, our new billionaire owner has certainly been willing to pay for man-made snowmaking. Until the water allotment runs out…) It was so warm in December, January and now
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Paul Gaffney"

This Week in Photography Books: Carolyn Marks Blackwood

  I never get homesick. Not for New Jersey.
(Where I’m from.) It never happens. But lately, my home state has crept back into the dark recesses of my consciousness. It began recently enough, when I found myself reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. My son, Theo, was writing his first term paper, and chose Franklin as his subject. I saw the book sitting there, and picked it up out of curiosity, more than anything else. When I read that old Ben first landed in New Jersey at Amboy, not 10 miles from where I grew up, it definitely piqued my curiosity. The book was a bit of a tease, if I’m being honest, because as fascinating as it was to be inside Franklin’s mind, he died writing it, before he got anywhere near the Revolutionary War. The man spent pages and pages describing a system for removing dust from the streets of Philadelphia, but never thought to speed it up so we could hear what he thought of George Washington, or the Revolution in general? Mind-melding with Ben Franklin, straight out of the 18th-century, reminded me of the feeling I had walking the Monmouth Battlefield, or going on school field trips when I was young, and being told that Washington had slept there. At the moment, I’m deep into binge watching an AMC show about the Revolutionary War, with the awkward title of “Turn: Washington’s Spies.” (Seriously, for all the money these people make, nobody thought to come up with a better title?) The show is exceptional, so you certainly have my recommendation to watch it yourself, but it’s also been feeding the odd homesickness as well. (As an aside, the show gives good evidence that the New Jersey/Long Island Island rivalry goes back to the old days,
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Carolyn Marks Blackwood"

The Best Work I Saw at Photo NOLA: Part 2

  If you live long enough, you’ll see all manner of science fiction come to life. Like right now, for instance. My busted hand is healing more slowly than I might like, so I just figured out I can dictate my column on my new-ish computer. It’s blowing my mind. So many of us use technology, these days, to take us out of our everyday world, away from the thoughts that clutter our minds. Whether we’re looking at computers, phones, tablets, watches, or television screens, digital reality transports us away from our mundane lives. I’m getting a rush, at the moment, because I’ve had the same way of writing for the last nine years, (you know, typing…) and it feels like the 21st-century has finally come in earnest to my remote little horse pasture in the Wild West. If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you’ll know there are some themes I return to again and again over the years. One idea I like to consider, from time to time, is the way art functions in the very manner I’m currently discussing technology. Art can expand our minds. Like the perfect psilocybin trip, movies, paintings, books, photographs, (etc.,) help us understand more about the world we inhabit. Art can definitely make us smarter, which is why some people find it so threatening. But art can also make you forget the world. It can wipe your mind clean, and leave you feeling all sorts of emotions, as your neurons blaze with bio-electrical energy. Last year, during my travels, (which I reported on extensively here,) I had a couple of art experiences that transcended what I normally get out of looking at objects on the walls of a museum. Each time, I got swept up in the music. I
Continue reading "The Best Work I Saw at Photo NOLA: Part 2"

The Best Work I Saw at Photo NOLA: Part 1

  I’ve been to New Orleans four times in my life. Each visit, I’ve gone in December. It’s not entirely a coincidence, as that’s when the Photo NOLA festival takes place. (I’ve attended in 2012, ’14 and now ’17) Despite the fact that New Orleans is situated on the Gulf Coast, and is reputed for its lovely winter weather, two of my visits were met with freezing-rain-ice-storms that made me want to cry in a pillow. (The other two times I was met with humid, sunny, 70-80 degree weather, so I guess it all depends on luck.) The fact the weather was awful this year was mitigated by the fact that I’d planned the trip with little time scheduled outside the International House Hotel, where the event is held each year. (It’s just a few short blocks outside the French Quarter.) Mostly, I was either in the hotel or adjoining conference center, or safely ensconced inside a bar/restaurant/museum/gallery/party/Uber. So any whinging I now provide is mostly for comedic effect. There was a brief moment, the first night, when I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the heat in my hotel room, and I actually did cry into a pillow, but beyond that, I had a smashing time at Photo NOLA last month. Like many portfolio review events these days, Photo NOLA is run by a non-profit, in this case the New Orleans Photo Alliance, which is a member-supported organization. (We did an interview on the subject years ago with Jennifer Shaw, if you’d like to learn more about it.) So Photo NOLA is imbued with a sense of mission, and everyone clearly loves being a part of such a vibrant local photo community. Like Filter in Chicago, another of my favorites, this festival puts
Continue reading "The Best Work I Saw at Photo NOLA: Part 1"

This Week in Photography Books: TBW Books Subscriptions Series No. 5

  Taos is a famously spiritual place. Our mountain is sacred, and considered one of the world’s energy vortices, if you believe that sort of thing. So people around here are pretty open to seeing the hand of fate, rather than ascribing any and all oddities to coincidence and chance. As such, last summer, I chose to take a different route home, which I never do, and drove past my former Kung Fu teacher, walking a dog with a little girl by his side. (I hadn’t seen him in years.) Not believing it was a coincidence, I parked the car, walked across the street, and said “Hello.” It felt like a sign, so I decided to start studying again, and have been training now for nearly 5 months. Wing Chun is not for everyone, but I’m enjoying myself immensely. It’s exercise, self-defense, and Buddhist/Daoist philosophy all rolled into one. The downside, though I hadn’t really contemplated it, is that you can get hurt. Fighting, apparently, can lead to injuries. (Who knew?) My left hand is strained at the moment, as I hurt it punching a bag a couple of weeks ago, and re-injured it during training last week. Typing right now hurts like hell, and I have to keep it to a minimum, so I can get better and drop 1200 words on you next week. As such, I”m going to keep it short today. Like super-short. Shorter than DJT’s attention span. Shorter than the line at Chipotle. (You get the picture.) But to counteract the effects of an abbreviated review, I’m going to show a 4 book set, called “Subscription Series No. 5,” put out last year by our friends at TBW Books in Oakland. (We hate the Warriors in my household, but love Oaktown.
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: TBW Books Subscriptions Series No. 5"

This Week in Photography Books: Naomi Harris

  I haven’t been skiing yet this year. Mostly because we don’t have any snow. As I’m writing this, the East Coast is under a blizzard watch, and the American South just got more snow in a day than we’ve had in a month. But I’m not going on a Climate Change rant today. Rather, I’m moping because I miss flying down the white mountain while the snow falls all around me. It’s magical, standing on top of a white peak, frozen conifers dotting the landscape. I’ve been skiing in Taos Ski Valley since I was 14, and now I’m 43, so the place is like a second home. Furthermore, one of my wife’s good friends is a Blake, the family that owned the resort for 60 years, so that always made it more special. Though Taos is famous for our adobe-style architecture, most of the buildings in TSV were designed in a Swiss Alpine style, and feature European names like the Edelweiss, or the Bavarian. And there are trails named after the men who engineered a failed coup against Adolph Hitler, for crying out loud. (Stauffenberg, Fabian, Oster, Tresckow) To be clear, Taos Ski Valley sits on land once “owned” by the Taos Pueblo Native Americans, which was then appropriated by colonists from the Spanish Empire, before being taken as war spoils by the United States in the 19th Century. So where does the Euro-centric architecture/culture come from? Well, Ernie Blake, the founder, came to America as Ernie Bloch. He was a Swiss German Jew who left Europe, founded a little ski area at the edge of the world, yet still wanted to create an atmosphere like home. Pretty weird, right? Well, yes and no. Because all of contemporary America was founded by European expats who came over here
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Naomi Harris"

This Week in Photography Books: Corinne Vionnet

  Well, 2017, it’s time for you to go. Sure, we had some memories.
You were nothing if not dramatic. You’ve given us natural disasters aplenty, (Harvey/Irma/Maria) political intrigue so unwieldy it could choke a coked-up giraffe, and now, apparently, you’ve frozen the entire Eastern half of the United States. But as I made my 2017 jokes a few weeks ago, I’ll spare you here. Rather, I’ll settle into that other tried and tested trope: the New Year’s resolution. Next year, I plan to spend less time looking at screens than I did in 2017. And I hope you do too. It’s shocking, how much of my day is spent staring at a screen. Unlike many of you, I’m no phone junkie. But between my laptop and my television, I clock hours and hours each day in a mediated existence. I’ve been fighting back lately, having replaced some social media time with a hike up the hill each day, as I previously told you. (Such genius! The daily walk. Perhaps I’ve invented something new?) In general, though, I’m as much a screen-freak as anyone. Sometimes, if I’m lying in bed watching Netflix on the computer, I’ll look above the screen, to the mountains outside my window, and then pause the show for a moment, and close the laptop. Something innate in me recognizes the need to see what’s before me, what’s real, rather than the entertainment I’ve jacked into through the Matrix. And then I’ll raise the screen again and press play, leaving contemplation of nature for another day. (Or art, food, cars, music, books: there are so many treats in the analog world.) So I’m planning to give myself a screen-free-day over the next few weeks. There will be piles of books and magazines. Lots of food
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Corinne Vionnet"

This Week in Photography Books: Orestes Gonzalez

  I don’t know from Miami. I may have had lunch there with my grandmother and her husband, driven in an 80’s Cadillac, but if so, I was just a kid at the time. I’ve heard all the Florida jokes, and told a few myself. My cousin, the comedian Ken Krantz, has made me LOL on Twitter several times, with Florida as the butt of his humor. But Miami has a different reputation. It’s less about the con men, and the illiterate meth-dealing hookers, and more about glitz, glamour, and a stylish, Pan-Latino global elite. Even so, I’m not sure most people would say they have a positive impression of Miami’s culture, and likely know little of the Cuban community at its heart. (True story, when I pitched Miami as a potential vacation destination, my wife said, “No, I don’t think I’d like the people there.” I said, “But you’ve never been there.” She replied, “Yeah, just from everything I’ve ever read or seen on TV.”) I told her that it was probably just a stereotype, but then again, I don’t know for sure. Because as I said at the beginning, I know jack squat about Miami. I can tell you one thing, though. If I had gotten to party at Uncle Julio’s house, back in the day, I can state with high confidence that I’d be a Miami lover for life. But who is Uncle Julio? It’s a fair question. I’ve just put down the stellar “Julio’s House,” a new book by Orestes Gonzalez, recently published by Kris Graves Projects. I don’t do the best-of, end-of-year lists myself, and don’t read other people’s either, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ended up on some of them. I know that no one, except for
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Orestes Gonzalez"

This Week in Photography Books: Jason Reblando

  My son is studying American history in 4th grade. Benjamin Franklin.
The Revolution.
“Give me liberty, or give me death.” His little sister, all of five, misheard Patrick Henry’s quote, and apparently she and her best friend were chanting “Give me America, or give me death,” on the school playground. (You can’t make this shit up.) I pointed out to my son, however, that while that was the history I learned in school… The Stamp Tax.
The Boston Tea Party.
The shot heard round the world.
Washington crossing the Delaware. …That it was really only one part of American history. There were the Native Americans, of course, but our very own New Mexico had a Spanish Colonial history I was never taught. New Orleans, where I went last week, came from a French colony that also gave roots to the America we know today. (And a hedonistic set of roots, at that. If you can’t have fun in NOLA, you’re not trying hard enough.) I’ll have a set of review articles from Photo NOLA for you guys in the coming weeks, but for now, I want to share some advice I often give to people at the review table. (In particular, photojournalists and documentary shooters.) There are two elements of the “fine art aesthetic” I identify for people who are shooting in a looser, camera-tilted, or just-grabbed sort of style. First, I talk about formalism, geometric compositions, and balanced image structures that come from a Germanic tradition, like the Bechers. (#RIP) I think a solid structure, (mixed with great light,) allows a viewer to really sink into what you’re visually communicating. Secondly, sharpness and clarity are the ultimate cheats, in great fine art photography. People use big cameras, and super-sharp lenses, because our eyes inherently
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Jason Reblando"

This Week in Photography Books: Jason Reblando

  My son is studying American history in 4th grade. Benjamin Franklin.
The Revolution.
“Give me liberty, or give me death.” His little sister, all of five, misheard Patrick Henry’s quote, and apparently she and her best friend were chanting “Give me America, or give me death,” on the school playground. (You can’t make this shit up.) I pointed out to my son, however, that while that was the history I learned in school… The Stamp Tax.
The Boston Tea Party.
The shot heard round the world.
Washington crossing the Delaware. …That it was really only one part of American history. There were the Native Americans, of course, but our very own New Mexico had a Spanish Colonial history I was never taught. New Orleans, where I went last week, came from a French colony that also gave roots to the America we know today. (And a hedonistic set of roots, at that. If you can’t have fun in NOLA, you’re not trying hard enough.) I’ll have a set of review articles from Photo NOLA for you guys in the coming weeks, but for now, I want to share some advice I often give to people at the review table. (In particular, photojournalists and documentary shooters.) There are two elements of the “fine art aesthetic” I identify for people who are shooting in a looser, camera-tilted, or just-grabbed sort of style. First, I talk about formalism, geometric compositions, and balanced image structures that come from a Germanic tradition, like the Bechers. (#RIP) I think a solid structure, (mixed with great light,) allows a viewer to really sink into what you’re visually communicating. Secondly, sharpness and clarity are the ultimate cheats, in great fine art photography. People use big cameras, and super-sharp lenses, because our eyes inherently
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Jason Reblando"

The Best Work I Saw at Review Santa Fe, Part 2

  Everyone I know hates this time of year. People get sick.
It’s cold and gray.
The dried grass is brown, outside my window, taunting me for lack of snow. Trying to turn my SAD upside down, I recently started limiting my time on social media, and replacing it with a strenuous 45 minute hike up the hill that rises above our family farm. It sounds like a headline from the Onion, I know: “Bougie artist discovers exercise is better then sitting on your ass!” But seriously, I’ve decided to trade the incessant internet chatter for bird calls, and the occasional barking dog. (Until it’s frozen and icy, I’ve made myself a good trade.) Not sure it would work for you, but since when have I been shy about giving advice? Today, on the hill, there was a moment that took my breath away. A raven, (we have many) was soaring in the sky when all of a sudden, in an instant, he tucked his wings in and dove down. It was straight free-fall, but he/she was totally relaxed. It was only for a couple of seconds, and then the wings were out again, but it was so graceful, the nosedive. Falling, effortlessly, because it’s much more energy-efficient than doing anything else. I thought immediately about falling into this, the hardest part of the year. Then end, when my family is always crisper than a bagel that’s been left in the toaster for too long. (Translation: very crispy.) There are so many jokes we could make about 2017, this endless year, but Twitter, (which I’m cutting down on, wink wink,) has been ablaze with them. Here are a few of mine. 2017 has been longer than Donald Trump Jr’s collective community college transcript. If 2017 were a
Continue reading "The Best Work I Saw at Review Santa Fe, Part 2"

The Best Work I Saw at Review Santa Fe: Part 1

  When I go to a portfolio review these days, I’ve got to get on an airplane. It’s a big deal. The packing.
The planning.
The 3 hour drive to the airport. I’m not complaining, per se, as getting to travel to great cities is a pleasure, not a problem. But heading to Review Santa Fe last month, it was quite a different experience. I woke up at a normal hour.
Made breakfast for the kids. Then I went to two parent-teacher conferences at their school. And I ate in a gas station burrito joint. Then I went to visit a furniture store, all before I joined the photo festival on a Friday afternoon in late October. (Quick sidebar, before you scoff, for whatever reason, there are a ton of great little taquerias in gas stations throughout Northern New Mexico. My favorite is run by a couple of ladies from Chihuahua in an Alon station on the North side of Española.) But back to Review Santa Fe. It was no great drama to get there, just an average day. And as it was my 5th of 6 portfolio reviews this year, (I’m going to Photo NOLA next week,) it’s all began to feel a bit normal. Shortly after I checked into the Drury Suites hotel, where the event is held, I walked across the street to try to find a cocktail party at Radius Books. It seems straightforward, but you’re wrong. I bumped into Brian Clamp, a friend of the column, and two other women who were scratching their heads trying to find the place. I took the lead, as a local, but really had no idea where I was going. We ended up in a musty, 2nd-story-carpeted-hallway, chatting about what to do next, when a heavily-plastic-surgeried older woman
Continue reading "The Best Work I Saw at Review Santa Fe: Part 1"

This Week in Photography Books: Patrick Nagatani

  It’s Thanksgiving day, and unfortunately I’m working. Weekly-column-deadlines being what they are, it was time to sit down and write. But don’t feel too bad for me. It’s work, yes, but writing for you guys is not exactly like digging ditches. And I should know, as one day a year, I have to hook up with my neighbors to clean our acequia system. (Ditches, that is.) But once I’m done here, I get to turn my attention to the festivities. There’s gravy to make, Brussels sprouts to wash, nephews to enjoy, football to watch, and plenty of turkey to eat. Here in America, Thanksgiving is the one day a year that we all agree to eat a giant, dead bird. (And typically a flavorless one, though my Mom’s brining technique at least keeps it moist.) It used to be my favorite holiday, growing up in New Jersey. We’d get together at my Aunt Lynda’s house each year, in East Brunswick, and playing football in the yard with my cousins was Just. The. Best. As a grownup though, (particularly one who has to host the feast, having been anointed by the grandmas a few years back,) I tend to focus more on the obligation of it all. Each year, I like it less. And to top it off, I had to be honest with my 10-year-old about the fact that while the Pilgrims and Native Americans might have gotten along at one point, (however briefly,) after that, our ancestors killed them all and took their land. Yay!
Let’s eat. But seriously, the holiday is called Thanksgiving. The idea of giving thanks, of sharing appreciation, of taking stock and being grateful for what you have, it’s baked into the title. If we divest ourselves of any necessary connection to
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Patrick Nagatani"

This Week in Photography Books: Kathy Shorr

  It’s hard to know the future. To be aware of what’s coming, but unable to stop it from happening. It’s not a hypothetical situation, though. It is hard, and I speak from experience. In the United States of America, tomorrow, or maybe next week, there is going to be a shooting rampage that kills a bunch of innocent people. I know it will happen.
And so do you. That these tragedies cannot be prevented, even though we’re certain they’re just up ahead, is a special kind of torture. It’s our own national nightmare, and by now, many of us have given up on finding a solution. Just like subjects from the Aztec empire, slowly ascending the temple steps, waiting to have our hearts ripped out “for the greater good,” we’re all sitting here, paralyzed, unable to believe the problem can ever be solved. Some weeks I’m funny, and some weeks I’m optimistic, but on this subject, I’m neither. The scope of the horror is too great, and the reality of each tragedy is too sad to contemplate. Better to embrace denial, like a long-lost friend, and hope the grim reaper raps on another door when it’s time to collect the souls. These days, you can get shot in the head while you’re praying to God in Church, dancing at a country-music concert, or cowering under your desk at school. A bullet might rip through your car window while you’re waiting at the drive-thru, or maybe your assailant will point a gun in your face, stare coldly into your eyes, and then pull the trigger. We all want to make it stop, but we simply can’t. Isn’t there anything anyone can do? I’m not hopeful, but then again, the world is populated with do-gooders, as well as killers, so there’s
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Kathy Shorr"

This Week in Photography Books: Jim Herrington

  As I sit here, on my Ikea leather couch, there’s a grizzled-old-white-dude staring at me from the cover of a photo book. I can’t tell you which book yet, as that would break the implicit rule of this column. You know, I talk about other stuff first, and then review a photobook later on. It’s a system that works.
Simple.
Clean. So obviously, I’m trying to stay away from naming the book just yet, but this guy’s creeping me out, drawing my attention away from the computer screen. (Pause) OK, I’m back. Since I wrote my column addressing the various wrongs that men have committed towards women, the monster-slug Harvey Weinstein among them, things have only gotten more out-of-control. Kevin Spacey, who so believably played a sociopath on the excellent, if soapy, “House of Cards,” has been outed as a serial molester, and peodophile. He’s so toxic, that today it was announced that Ridley Scott would re-shoot EVERY scene featuring Spacey, in a movie that was already complete, and still try to release the thing in 6 weeks. Countless executives have gone down, at magazines, radio and TV stations, and film studios. And the most bizarre story of them all, which I read today in a reputable publication, is that Charlie Sheen reputedly statutory raped Corey Haim, on the set of “Lucas,” for god’s sake, when they were 19 and 13 respectively. What the fuck is going on here, people? Nasty men crave power because it lets them do what they want. If you want to hurt people, if you’re a “bad guy,” the only way to get away with doing what you want, if you’re smart about it, is to make sure your victims don’t talk. Some monsters kill their prey, to make sure they stay quiet. Others
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Jim Herrington"

This Week in Photography Books: Misty Keasler

  Think back to your earliest memories. They’re always the same, no? We have so few memories of our youth, and it’s not like we can make more. There is what there is, and we re-scan them from time to time, like popping your favorite DVD into the machine. (For those of you under the age of 20, DVDs are round, plastic discs that play movies and music. I know you’ve never heard of them before, but until recently, they were good tech, and Netflix used to send them in the mail.) The few memories we do retain have an outsized role in representing our childhoods. All my memories, until I went to college, probably tab up to a few seconds of brain time; less than .000000000001% of what actually transpired. So our memories become the Mt. Rushmore of our childhood. One of my favorites is about the time my Uncle Keith, (who’s due to visit this weekend from New Jersey) came to pick me up at Oakhurst Day Camp, down the shore. I must have been 5 or 6. Our big plan was go to the Haunted House nearby at the Long Branch boardwalk. It was open part of the year, jutting well over the Atlantic Ocean. We were so fired up. “Those guys, Uncle Keith, they don’t know what’s coming. I’m not scared of them. No way.” “That’s right, Buddy,” he replied. “You’re not scared of them.” We’d talked about doing this for a while, and the day had finally arrived. It was a big thing for him to pick me up, so I was super-psyched. We got the boardwalk, and my anticipation only grew. He was carrying me on his shoulders, so I could see above the crowd, and it felt safe and secure.
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Misty Keasler"

This Week in Photography Books: Kevin O’Connell

  I’m going to keep it brief today. No, really.
It’s true. After a month of long, intense articles about my experience in Chicago, I kind of need a breather. Frankly, we all do. There is an ocean of underlying anxiety that we’re all passing around these days. It’s like a twisted, evil game of hot potato, in which we’re all bouncing our fears off each other. (“I don’t want to feel like shit. Here. You take it.”) And social media is the perfect vehicle for our existential angst. Just now, I tweeted a Guardian article I’d just read that confirmed what I know in my daily life: there is less and less money flowing through our normal economies, as so much of it has been hoovered up by the Billionaire class. So not only do we have to worry about working harder for less money, or watching our jobs in the creative industries disappear, but it’s all happening while a heartless, idiot man-child runs around with his finger on the “kill everyone” button at all times. Everything just feels so… tumultuous.
Chaotic. Every day, we tap into the swirling current of our collective discontent. (And if you happen to waste your time on Twitter or Facebook, the effect is amplified exponentially.) But we have so little recourse, beyond just getting on with it all. Stiff upper lip. That sort of thing. As artists, of course, we can make our work, and allow our emotional reality to become sublimated into the images and objects we create. I’ve always argued, here, that it’s the best possible response. And I’m not sure if it’s the motivation behind “Inundation,” a new self-published artist book by Kevin O’Connell that turned up in the mail recently, but it’s certainly how I responded to
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Kevin O’Connell"

The Best Work I Saw at the Filter Photo Festival: Part 3

  It’s a tough week to be a man. My gender has not come off well recently, what with the “me too” movement proving that almost every woman in America has been groped, molested, raped, or abused in some way during her lifetime. Totally disgraceful. As my own wife typed those words into Facebook, in conjunction with so many friends and colleagues, there’s not much I can do but shake my head and wonder how we got here. Because where we are is pretty fucked up. (I should also mention the recent, horrifying news about the murder and dismemberment of Swedish photojournalist Kim Wall, which is the worst story I’ve heard this year.) Then today, in the very same week, Women Photograph came out with a set of statistics that show just how few gigs at the major news organizations are going to women. The numbers are awful. I’ve said many times I’m a strong feminist, as my wife went to Vassar and Smith, and educated me since I was 23 on the ways of the patriarchy. As I’m now 43, you can imagine how many times I’ve been schooled on the depth of misogyny here in America. I may have morphed into a super-liberal, highly conscious male in 2017, but I grew up a suburban-Jersey-boy, obsessed with sports and girls, so it was no given that I’d get where I am. It took a lot of intervention from the Smith posse, and I’m forever grateful. In fact, I can still remember what it was like, visiting Northampton back in 1998, partying with all those lesbians. I knew nothing of “butch” and “femme,” or “top” and “bottom,” and was seriously insecure to be in a crowd I didn’t understand. In the beginning, I struggled with how to handle it.
Continue reading "The Best Work I Saw at the Filter Photo Festival: Part 3"