This Week in Photography Books: Patrick Nagatani

  “If fiction has given more to us than fact, then this is the greatest truth.” Ryoichi/Patrick Nagatani   There’s no such thing as truth. That’s what they teach you in college or grad school, anyway. Ever beholden to the French Philosophical titans Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, endless professors teach countless students that each piece of information is inextricable from the power dynamics that created and disseminated it. It is the ultimate example of occupying the intellectual high ground, because the idea can’t be attacked. If you try to undermine the principles, your counter-argument can be dismantled more easily than an Ikea Lack table. (Unscrew the four legs and you’re done.) No matter what you say to critique the core essence of Post-Modern theory, your words will be deflected by attacking the vessel that hosts them: you. Only a person from a very specific cohort, gender, or culture can critique that group, so if you’re not one-of-us, your words are too much a construction of your gender/status/culture for your opponent to give them credence. (Each word must be parsed for its deeper social construct, like Bill Clinton musing about the definition of the word “is.”) Unlike a few weeks ago, I’m not actually writing about the powers that be today, nor the intersection of varying levels of privilege. Nor even will I attack Donald J. Trump. (Well, maybe just a little… for a laugh.) Rather, I want to poke at some dead French guys, and the manner in which their very important ideas have come to undermine the collective fabric of society. (Since they’re dead, and French, we can mock them all we want. C’est vrai?) There was something truly revolutionary in Post-Modernism, as it opened the door for various perspectives to be assimilated
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This Week in Photography Books: Alice Garrett-Jones

  I’ve lived through three seasons in the last ten days, and it’s making me crazy. It was 80+ degrees here in Taos until October 1st, when fall arrived in earnest, with yellow trees and cooler days. (Nothing too bad, but definitely not summer.) Then we drove into Colorado at the beginning of this week, and some freezing rainstorms blew in at 7000 feet, where we were staying. It was the worst of cold-wet-nasty-late-autumn for sure. It snowed at the higher elevations, so on Tuesday, we drove over the Rockies, near 10,000 feet for two hours, and there was a blanket of thick snow covering everything. Sub-freezing temperatures.
Icy roads. Total winter in every way. You’re not supposed to experience three seasons in ten days. That’s not the natural order of things. It’s like living in a jet-lag bubble. And to top it off, I just got out of the car after a six hour ride, coming back across to the Western side of the Rockies yet again. More storms. Cold rain this time. There were sections of slick road where the slightest misstep would have meant peril. We passed chunks of the landscape that had been ripped through by wildfire in June, and already green things had grown up in between. What I’m saying is, I’m in one of those mind-spaces where I’m a bit bleary, or punch drunk. I’d be willing to consider almost any strange idea with an open mind, because I’m a tad woozy. Almost boozy.
You know what I mean? I remember one time when I was jet-lagged, just back from Rome to NYC, and I got hired to scan an old, highly damaged piece of nitrate film. (The kind that could spontaneously combust.) I’ve never before or since seen a negative as
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This Week in Photography Books: Marina Font

  There was a dead rabbit hanging from our fence yesterday morning. (I saw the ravens picking at it.) I only noticed as I looked in the car’s rear view mirror, ready to drive the little ones to school on an otherwise drab Tuesday. It was pretty high up there, so I figured a bird had gotten its prey stuck, but then I made the mistake of telling Theo about it. In a flash, (I have no idea how he covered ground so fast,) he was standing below it, and came back reporting it was stapled to the wood. Not good. Not good at all. It’s twenty-five minutes to school each way, plus the drop off, so I had the better part of an hour to stew on the horror of someone stapling a dead rabbit to our fence, not 100 feet from my house. I called my friend Ed, who was my mentor at a school for at-risk youth for many years. He understands the community, and what it might mean for someone to do that to us. He thought we should call the cops, and alert the neighborhood. I agreed, and thinking about it made me so angry as I tore into the driveway at high speed. But as soon as I exited the car, with my Iphone ready to capture the evidence, I saw the rabbit was gone. Gone?
Gone! I ran inside, yelling at Jessie, “Why did you take it down? We need to show the cops!” “I didn’t take it down,” she said, still in her robe. “I didn’t even go out there.” I was stunned. The culprit returned to the scene of the crime to steal the evidence? Oh my god!
This was a big deal now. I ran, frantic to
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This Week in Photography Books: Fred Lyon

  The future is scary, and the present is complicated. That’s the truth. As I write this, the United States Senate is holding hearings about whether a man who’s been accused by three women of sexually inappropriate conduct should be given a life-time appointment to the highest court in the land. Mind you, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by a President whose administration is currently under investigation, and there is a not-insignificant chance that the Supreme Court might at some point have to weigh in on things. To a vast chunk of America, this is one more example of crony capitalism at work, in which corruption masquerades as party discipline, or shared principles, or MAGA. What it really comes down to, though, is that for almost all of America’s history, Non-ethnic White Christian men ran the country in every way possible. They got the jobs, they got the girls, the nice cars, the best houses. The stock options, the secretaries who’s butts they repeatedly patted, the second home at the beach, the three-martini lunches. It was always thus, as the American colony was essentially founded by Non-ethnic White Christian men, and as we’ve discussed in this column in many ways over the years, those with all the power never, ever give it up without a fight. Andrew Sullivan wrote just last week that to the Woke Left, white men are at the bottom of the social hierarchy, which is the exact opposite of where they stand in MAGA-land. Of course a shift that radical, coming in a relatively short period of time, was going to cause a backlash in the world of White People. (And of privileged, Washington DC-area prep-school Yalies in particular.) How could it not? The reality is that America was never the meritocracy it claimed to
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The Best Work I Saw at the LACP Exposure Portfolio Review

  Almost everything I write is available for free on the internet. There are a few exceptions, though. I’ve written essays for two of Alejandro Cartagena’s recent books, the companions: “Santa Barbara Return Jobs to US,” and “Santa Barbara Shame on US.” These are limited-edition, fine art books in which the photography was obviously the main draw. The only people who read those pieces bought the book, and then also took the time to read the insert. (Meaning, not everyone who bought the book. Let’s be honest.) The ideas in those essays went up behind a paywall, essentially.
So I’m going to pull a few out today, as I think of sunny, hot, alluring California. Beautiful, majestic, diverse, cool-as-shit California. You’ll find few bigger fans of the Golden State than I, especially among those that don’t live there. I’m biased towards CA for sure, having lived there for 3 years, and visited more times than I could count, even if I tried. (Maybe 20? 30?) The Bay Area is amazing, LA totally rocks, and SoCal beach towns are among my favorite anywhere. (They put the Jersey Shore to shame, I’m afraid.) But writing for Alejandro in 2017, (in parallel with his critical agenda,) I questioned whether California, the laboratory of new American culture, was becoming a 3rd World Country? As I wrote about several years ago here, and for Lens, the homelessness problem is so bad there are essentially permanent public tent encampments now, mini-neighborhoods, and is that really going to un-happen? Do we believe that any great new public policy will find homes for this increasingly large underclass? Or build fancy new shelters for them, as nice as Trump’s immigrant-kid-jails? Will a sane drug policy all-of-a-sudden find ways to treat every heroin or oxy-loving
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The Daily Edit – Los Angeles Magazine: Steven Simko

 

Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Stephen Banks
Photographer: Steven Simko

Heidi: What was the cover direction?
Steven: The cover brief was “LA’s most iconic places for tourists to be locals ” so Steven Banks (design director LA mag) came up with the concept of photographing a model at the Paul Smith Wall on Melrose #paulsmithpinkwall Is the cover a painted set?
I scouted the location the day before in the morning and then in the afternoon using the iPhone app LightTrac to figure out the Sun’s best timing for a deep shadow off the model on to the ground (this detail was the most important to Steven’s design). did you simply tell her to jump? what type of direction did you give her?
We were very fortunate that Kari Michelle (model) used to do the long jump in High School but this was the direction I gave her as seen in this  BTS shot …pretty good jump right ? Is that the sun or a did you light this? is that her true shadow on the wall?
With the sun’s optimal light between 4:00- 5:30PM the PS store gave us an hour to shoot. We shout non tethered on a Leica Sl with 24-90mm 1/1250 at  f/ 4.5 ISO 100 Did you need a permit, was there a crowd since it’s so iconic?
Yes, we need an LA city permit and Paul Smith allowed us to use the wall as long as we used Paul Smith clothing for the model which worked out perfect for everyone. What was the fashion story direction?
The Fall Fashion Story brief was based around a mood board of the clothes that style director Linda Immediato pulled for this shoot. We were able to find a perfect Mid Century Modern location on Peerspace.com How many Continue reading "The Daily Edit – Los Angeles Magazine: Steven Simko"

This Week in Photography Books: Tod Seelie

  Last week, I told my parents to fuck off on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
(Metaphorically, not literally.) It was not my proudest moment, and I admit it looks bad upon the surface. But there was more to it than all that, and it just so happened I reached my breaking point on a ceremonially important day. C’est la vie. We can’t control the way life plays out, and normally the most we can control is our own reaction to the hand we’re dealt. (Even then, it can be difficult.) I never planned to have a weekly column here at APE for the last seven years, but that’s what’s transpired. I’ve been reviewing photobooks, and sharing my life story with you guys each week since I was 37 years old. (Back when I had a wife, a mortgage, and a toddler in the eye-teeth of the Great Recession.) Yes, folks, we’ve made it to the anniversary column, as it all began in mid-September of 2011. Now I’m 44, and I’ve got a wife, two kids, (6 and almost 11,) a refinanced mortgage, two car payments, a new photo retreat, and a global platform here, at the New York Times, and through my artwork, which has been seen by many. Though I keep banging away at the keyboard, the person doing the tapping is essentially different from the guy who began here seven years ago. All my cells have turned over, as have yours. (If you’ve been reading the entire time: a group that likely includes Rob, my wife, and the father I just pissed off at the beginning of this column.) One way I know I’m different is that things that used to bother me, or make me insecure, no longer do. As I grew up relatively-suburban-normal,
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This Week in Photography Books: Ron Koeberer

  I almost cut off my thumb in 2001. It’s true. I was making dinner for my girlfriend, and almost sliced it off on the jagged-lid of a Muir Glen tomato can. (Sorry for putting that visual in your head.) After the blood spurted on the wall, and after I called my landlord who told me to go to the hospital, and after I almost got driven across the city by a couple of drunk-guys, luckily, Jessie got home and drove me the half-mile to the closest ER. It’s 2018 now, and I’m only just getting my range of motion back in my hand, after the surgery. Most of us know it’s the difficult times in life that make us better and stronger. We grow though challenges, even though most people will go pretty far out of their way to take the easy route. (Go with me here.) I never, ever would have chosen to almost cut off my thumb. But doing so meant that I had to defer graduate school a year, and move to NYC in the summer of 2002. (Rather than July 2001, if you catch my drift. 9/11.) Not only that, but Jessie told me she wasn’t ready to move in 2001, (even though she’d previously agreed to go if I got into art school,) so had I not sliced through my thumb-flesh, I would have been forced to choose between my education and my girlfriend. (Now wife.) Instead, we both stayed on in San Francisco another year, and then went East to get bitch-slapped by Gotham City for three years. (Again, growth through difficulty.) In retrospect, from the vantage point of a 44 year old with two kids and a mortgage, those years when Jessie and I were in our
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This Week in Photography Books: Clare Benson

  Autumn comes early in the mountains. It’s true. The East Coast may be boiling under a late-August heat wave, but my next-door-neighbor’s trees are already turning yellow, and we had to add an extra blanket to the bed last night. It always fucks with my head, realizing that late-August isn’t entirely summer around here. But you get used to it. One minute, you’re swimming in the Rio Grande river, sunning yourself on the rocky beach like an over-grown lizard, and then, just a few weeks later, you’re dreaming of ski season. Sure, the knees will be another year older once you buckle up your boots, and the freezing cold might penetrate your bones a bit more each season, but that’s the way it works. Fall follows summer, and winter comes next. Unless and until the Earth’s weather patterns are well and truly screwed, (a likely future scenario, we’re told,) rural humans will follow the seasonal cycles, and repeat the habits they learned from their parents. Out here in New Mexico, there are plenty of people who grew up hunting with their Dad, uncles and cousins. (Or maybe a Mom or an aunt?) It’s deeply engrained in the local Hispanic and Native American cultures, for sure, to the point that camo is an acceptable form of fashion in the local burrito joints around town. Not surprisingly, there is not a massive overlap between the hunting/4-wheeling/fishing culture, and the more bougie, gringo pursuits like skiing, snowboarding, rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. Some, of course, but not much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone from Taos who’s never skied before, but could chop down an Piñon tree and cut it up for firewood blindfolded. (Not that I’d recommend anyone operate a chainsaw without looking. Very bad idea.
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This Week in Photography Books: Caleb Cain Marcus

  I keep it real hear at APE. Always have. In a 7-year-weekly-column, (and 8 years of service overall,) you’re bound to repeat yourself now and again. I know I have. One story that maybe doesn’t come around often enough, though, is how I came by this philosophy of honesty. (By now, perhaps I’m equated with it.) The truth is, it wasn’t my idea. When Rob first hired me, in 2010, and then proposed sending me to NYC to cover the PDN Expo, he gave me one particular piece of advice. “Be as honest as possible,” Rob said. “Sure, it will turn a few people off, and maybe you burn a bridge or two. But you’ll gain far more than you lose by being honest, and most people will really respect you for it.” Despite the quotation marks above, I admit this is a paraphrase, but I have a good memory, and this was a seminal conversation in my life. I’ve had more than a few people approach me over the years and say they felt like they knew me, because of the way I write this column. I take that as a compliment, and don’t intend to change any time soon. So here’s the fresh news: I just finished a two week run in which I was working 12-18 hours a day on Antidote. Every day. I’ve worked non-stop, dating back to my workshop in LA last month. Basically, I’ve never been challenged as much professionally, and thankfully it all seems to have come off well. So after I write this column, (and do an interview for the NYT,) I’m calling it a day, and taking a long-deserved rest. My major lifelines at the end of Antidote, when I was REALLY dragging, were my two buddies, Caleb
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This Week in Photography Books: Max Sher

  There’s a sameness in writing a weekly column.
Each week, another book. Each week, another deadline.
And another.
And another. It’s gone on like this for nearly 7 years, and you’d think I’d resent it. The sameness.
The monotony.
The routine. Lather.
Rinse.
Repeat. Surprisingly, though, I don’t resent it at all.
I enjoy my routine immensely. At the moment, in-between Antidote retreats, with a chicken and corn mole to make, and some bison bolognese to prep, I’m fully out of my daily grind, and out of my comfort zone. As of next week, though, with the kids back in school and Antidote behind us, I’ll revel in the sameness of it all. Get up.
Make the kids breakfast.
Get them off to school.
Go for a hike.
Do my work.
Pick the kids up from school.
Make dinner.
Watch tv. And then do it again and again, until Xmas break. There’s a beauty in this routine, in that it’s life. It’s what we do. It’s the structure through which we share moments and meals with our loved ones. Everyday life may not be where we make our most vivid memories, but it’s the meat and potatoes of the days of our lives. (If that’s not the cheesiest sentence I’ve written in this column, maybe somebody can find a better example?) The truth is, I’m punch drunk at the moment, which you can probably tell. My earlier paragraphs look like a succession of William Carlos Williams poems. Or maybe ee cummings? Regardless, even now, half-useless as I may be, there’s always a point. (I’m keeping it short today, given my life constraints, and the likelihood you’re on vacation anyway.) “Palimpsests” is a new book by Max Sher, published by Ad Marginem Press, that was sent all the
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This Week in Photography Books: Hinda Schuman

  Have you ever seen “The Godfather Part III?” Be honest. Have you ever sat through the whole thing? I didn’t think so. (I watched it back in the day, but that was a long time ago.) Well-before Sofia Coppola became known as the director of such films at “The Virgin Suicides,” and the excellent “Lost in Translation,” she appeared as a vastly under-qualified actress, playing a lead role in the final film in her father’s trilogy. Sometimes, as Americans, I don’t think we grasp the reach of our culture. Our cinematic and television history has impacted kids growing up across the planet. Take Norway, for instance. I’m currently binge-watching the brilliant “Lillyhammer” on Netflix, starring all-time great Jersey guy Steven Van Zandt, also known as Little Steven from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and as Silvio throughout the entirety of “The Sopranos.” Like his buddies Bruce and Jimmy Iovine, he’s become a full-fledge superstar in his own right. I’ll spare you any further, in case you want to catch up, but there are Sopranos and Godfather references sprinkled throughout, even though the entire production was Norwegian, beyond Mr. Van Zandt. (Who also served as writer and producer.) But back to my original question. The reason you have likely NOT watched “The Godfather Part III” is that before the internet, someone mentioned that they heard from their cousin that it was long and terrible. (Or maybe just terrible.) “The Godfather Parts I and II” are rightfully known as masterpieces of 20th Century Art. They were as good as the medium of celluloid cinema can get. So why make Part III? Sometimes, you’ve got to know when to quit, people. You want to leave the stage while they’re still screaming your name.
(Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!) That’s what
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This Week in Photography Books: Ira Block

  In life, the only constant is change. (If that isn’t a hell of a koan, I don’t know what is.) Life moves in cycles, as do orbits. The wheel of karma turns, and eventually makes its way back around for everyone. What was once young becomes old, and then dies. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but most of us avoid contemplating our mortality. Denial works for Climate Change, sure, but also for the slow decline of our mental and physical faculties as we push the boundaries of aging. Take baseball, for instance, It was once considered America’s pastime.
Mickey Mantle.
Babe Ruth.
Hank Aaron.
Willie Mays. These were the most famous guys in the country. A generation of Baby Boomers grew up idolizing their favorite ball players; rhapsodizing about the mythical Ebbet’s Field in Brooklyn, a Mecca for the fuzzy memories of a generation. (Including my own father.) Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I followed baseball on par with football and basketball. I liked the before-and-since-putrid New York Mets, who were briefly good, and won the World Series when I was 12. I stopped watching baseball in earnest about 15 years ago, during the steroid crisis. Something about seeing smug Barry Bonds get away with it, and cynical San Franciscans defending his awful behavior, soured me on the sport. That was about the time the Mets choked their way out of contention two years in a row under Willie Randolph, and again, they’ve only been good two or three times in 30 years. Now, it seems the Mets are cursed by the ghost of Bernie Madoff. The team owners, the Wilpons, profited heavily from his schemes, and were forced to pay massive fines that have since crippled their team. But really,
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This Week in Photography Books: Tara Wray

  I saw the greatest Kung Fu movie the other day. New stuff.
Nothing vintage. Netflix had been nudging me to watch “The Bodyguard” for a long time, as Chinese action movies are strong in my personal algorithm. (I don’t know why I resisted.) Oh, sweet algorithm.
You know me so well. “The Bodyguard” not only features living legend Sammo Hung, but it was the first film he directed since the seminal “Once Upon a Time in China and America.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.) Sammo plays a fat, old, retired super agent, but his weight is not his biggest problem. Unfortunately, Sammo’s character, Old Ding, is suffering from serious dementia. Like, so-bad-he-lost-his-own-granddaughter level dementia. (And they never found her, setting up his tragic backstory, some of which was unspooled in a short, wonderful, animated sequence.) What’s that?
Have I ever seen a fat, old, senile action hero before? No.
I have not. I mention all of this because the final battle scene takes place between Sammo and three massive, nasty-looking, fully-tatted-up Russian gangsters, presumably trained in Sambo and jail-fighting. One had a knife as big as a sword, and in fairness, Sammo did take them on one at a time, but then he (SPOILER ALERT) kicked each of their asses and killed them individually. I mention this here because last night night, after dinner, I was telling my son about all this, and how cool it was that Sammo beat up three Russian bad guys. (An old guy! Who knew?) Theo looked at me like I had a fork sticking out of my ear. “It was in the movie, right? I mean, it was staged.” Then my wife piped up, trying to save me embarrassment.
“I think he means the choreography was really good, honey.
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This Week in Photography Books: Steven Bollman

  The internet’s out, so I’m grumpy. Yesterday, it was the electricity. That’s life here in the Rocky Mountains. (And in New Mexico in particular.) You learn quickly that everything is a trade-off. On the one hand, we have the nature and the culture, both among the most unique and astonishing in the US. On the other, we have the poverty and incompetence, which compete daily in a twisted dance of darkness. If you study ancient religion and philosophy, it’s clear that different groups of humans, in disparate parts of the planet, came to an understanding of the power and ubiquity of opposites. In places as widely spread as Far East and Southern Asia, the Middle East and Peru, iconography or words developed to specifically describe the phenomenon. We’ve all seen cheesy tattoos of the Yin Yang symbol, but that doesn’t strip it of its import. We Jews have the separation of Earth and Sky in the opening of Exodus, and the Chavin de Huantar culture, in the Andes, made art in which graphic lines had two purposes: strands of hair also functioned as snakes. These days, when someone wants to discuss dualistic thinking, without any nuance, they describe it as being black and white. (We’ve all said it: he or she doesn’t understand complexity, and only thinks in black and white.) Ironically, as any photographer knows, black and white photography is all about shades of gray. Tonal range is defined by it: how many different gray tones have you produced to create a rhythm with your whites and blacks? Black and White photography was the gateway for almost all art students, before the 21st Century. It was the first language you learned, before moving on to color. These days, only a tiny percentage of photographers learn one
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This Week in Photography Books: Sigrid Ehemann

  It’s cool to be funny. Funny has power. It’s why a female comic with frizzy hair and a high-pitched voice went from little-known, to globally famous a few months ago. As I don’t regularly watch The Daily Show, (despite what a recent column suggests,) I certainly hadn’t heard of her before the Huckabee-Sanders-Kerfluffle of 2018. (Try saying Huckabee-Sanders-Kerfluffle five times fast. I could only make it to four.) Anyway, I was re-watching “Back to School” with my son last night, and unsurprisingly, it held up. (As did “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which we saw last month.) Rodney Dangerfield, a fellow Jew, was a genuinely strange-looking guy. From our contemporary vantage-point, there is no f-ing way that anyone who looks like THAT would ever be the romantic lead in a comedy. Ever. But still, Rodney pulled it off, bug-eyes and all. (Seriously, he bugged out his eyes A LOT.) And Sam Kinison, another not-looker with very strange style, (and crazy hair,) also held his own on the screen. (They don’t make them like that anymore.) Funny has gravitas because it is often a coded way of speaking truth to power. (Or in Ms. Wolf’s case, not-so-coded.) Funny allowed Donald J Trump to become the third most powerful man in the world. (Xi Jinping, Putin, then Trump, if we’re counting.) Trump uses funny to disarm, but also because it allows him to say and do terrible things, and then deny he meant them. “I was only kidding. Locker room talk.” “I didn’t openly mock a disabled person, even though they caught it on tape.” “God, why are you so serious. Can’t you take a joke?” Funny is entertaining, and Trump honed his entertainment skills on NBC for ten-ish years before being famous
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This Week in Photography Books: John Divola

  Growing older isn’t sexy. (And it isn’t always fun.) I rolled my eyes in deep mockery when I heard the millennial term “adulting” for the first time. As a bona fide adult, (with two kids, a mortgage, student loans and car payments,) I thought it was a cheeky way to trivialize how hard it is to keep all those balls in the air at once. But as I thought it over, I realized it was kind of an absurdist word for an absurd concept. Growing up. Most people stop growing, physically, by the time they’re 18. Just yesterday, in the newspaper, I saw an 18 year old referred to as a “man.” Personally, I’d say an 18 year old boy, or a kid, but the Santa Fe New Mexican obviously disagrees. People can grow, physically, by getting fatter or building muscles, but we mostly use it to refer to the process by which we get taller, and then it stops for a while, before we begin to shrink. But growing, emotionally, is a process that need not be bound by age. Rather, in my experience, it’s a mentality. Are you willing to look carefully at your flaws and weaknesses? Are you willing to admit when you’re wrong and apologize meaningfully? Are you curious about how your life might look if some of your flaws became strengths? It’s that kind of attitude that allows people to grow, no matter their age. And it can take positive forms too, of course. What have I always been dying to learn?
What would I like to try before I die?
Where am I desperate to visit, and am I willing to move mountains to make it happen? You get the point. Personally, I like being 44. Since I turned 40, I
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This Week in Photography Books: Kristine Potter

  “I would argue that Manifest recapitulates the dehumanizing role of division in the conquest of the Frontier, by divorcing agency from lifeworld.” –Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, November 2017, in the official essay for Manifest   You might need to read that quote a couple of times to understand it. I’m pretty bright, (so they tell me,) and I’m still not sure what it means. In effect, I’m tipping my hand about the book I’m reviewing today, but we’ll get to that later. (As always.) Rather, I’d like to focus on the use of language itself up above. One of the things that distinguishes this column from other spaces that investigate photography is that I endeavor to come across as a “regular” guy. We talk about big ideas, sure, but I wrap them in jokes, or Pop Culture references. There was a time when I was a fan of flowery similes, but after the NYT got a hold of me, I began writing clause-packed sentences dense with information. (Like this one.) Even so, it’s important to me that the language I use is accessible, as I want people to understand what the fuck I’m talking about. In the tradition of the great inscrutable Frenchmen, (Derrida, Foucault,) some writers, and their attendant writing, rather aim to create barriers around their concepts. They utilize words like solipsistic, tautology, hermeneutics. I’m sorry, but most Trump voters, the populi to his populism, would get angry reading a sentence like the one I lead with today. (And in fairness, the sentence that followed it DID include the word solipsistic.) It makes people mad to feel like they don’t understand something. That they’re dumb.
That you’re smarter than they are, and you know it. I think that feeling, that sense of inferiority, of being
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This Week in Photography Books: Donald Weber

  Hi everyone. How’s it going? Did you miss me? I took last Friday off, as you may have noticed, as once a year Rob gives me a break from the weekly deadline. This time out, I wisely eschewed email and social media, got in the new family cruiser, and headed North with the wife and kids to Colorado for a little R&R. Or that was the plan, at least. We had a great vacation; maybe the best ever. It was fun, and filled with lots of family QT, (including swimming in pools and springs,) but relaxing it was not. As it happens, my 10 year old son has become addicted to basketball over the last six months. At first, he was just watching it on TV, LeBron James in particular. Then, about three months ago, he got interested in playing, and has been insanely obsessed ever since. It’s all he talks or thinks about, and if he’s not practicing at the court, he’d like to be. (Just so you can visualize, our local hoops are behind the volunteer firehouse, next to an irrigation ditch and a goat/sheep pen.) Luckily for Theo, there was a great park across from our motel, with a pristine basketball court, and another in the tourist district of the town we visited, so we played there too. I dragged my tired, 44 year-old-carcass to the court three times a day, including in the blazing Rocky Mountain mid-day sun, to make him happy. Also, because it seemed karmically appropriate. I learned about sports from my Dad, and as I’ve written over the years, it has been a massive passion since childhood. I played three sports going up, (one per season, including basketball,) and watched endlessly on TV. (Which I still do.) I even blog
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This Week in Photography Books: Claire Rosen

  Imagine an alien planet, teeming with life. There are plants, trees, rivers, oceans, and lots of creatures. Bunnies, of course, but also lizards, horses, orangutans, beetles, rhinoceros, and thousands of other species. (Or their alien-planet equivalent.) Then, all of a sudden, (in geo-time,) a new species emerges, called the Krackstock. These Krackstock are rapacious, and begin churning through the planet’s resources. Soon, they enslave the chicken, cow and pig-like creatures, and set up death camps for each species. After the ritualized killing, at massive scale, the Krackstock would then eat their victims. Eventually, most of the existing species were in peril, as was the health of the entire eco-system of the planet. (I don’t know, let’s call this fictional planet Narcinon.) If you were watching a movie, a great early-George-Lucas-style sci-fi flick, wouldn’t the Krackstock be the bad guys? They’d have to be, right?
Devouring an entire planet? We’d hate the Krackstock, and actively root against them, as some Super-Bunny came along to save the day! (I’m guessing you’re on to my sly metaphor by now…) According to all science, we, humanity, are living in a burning building of our own making, yet many actively deny it’s even happening. (Frog, meet pot.) As Climate Change seems so enormous, yet not-sinister, it’s a menace that might make Earth uninhabitable for almost any life. How is this not a greater priority for people? I think it’s exactly because the problem is immense but faceless. It seems like there’s nothing to be done, but that’s not true. Sure, you can install LED lights and save electricity. Put in solar panels. Eat less meat. Buy a more gas-efficient or electric car. Minimize your use of packaging. Recycle.
Re-use. But there’s one, concrete maneuver that you don’t hear enough about… Planting
Continue reading "This Week in Photography Books: Claire Rosen"