Wrrphoto's Blog

August 9, 2009

So what next?

My documentary on Nathan Huf and his family was my first real body of work.  Now that I’ve finished it I’m left wondering…what next?

Obviously the first thing to do is try and get as many people to see the work as possible.  The entire point, in my mind, of doing this type of work is to give a voice to those that have none.  That said, if their voice isn’t heard by anyone what’s the point?  With that in mind I will start submitting the Nathan work to museums, galleries, and online venues.  I am also working on a  book and exhibitions, which will hopefully all work out.  I’m not convinced that traditional print outlets have much value anymore in this regard, and certainly won’t for much longer if they do, although I may still pitch it to one or two.  Besides, I’m not a photojournalist.  I am a documentary photographer with a fine art twist.  One thing I learned from Alec Soth was that you have to be honest with yourself about who you are and what kind of work you do.  I have no desire to bounce from story to story, showing the world what is happening at every given second.  I prefer, in fact, need, to work on projects over a long period of time. Part of the reason for this is I am not typically attracted to “hot” news stories, or those that are considered breaking news for CNN or whoever.  Rather, I prefer to find my stories after the journalists have left and start digging into the why of the story, as well as show how people continue to deal with life’s problems after the newsworthiness has gone.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect those who do this type of work, I just realized a long time ago it wasn’t how I could work.  So I’ll let the news guys do what they do and I’ll do what I do…world’s big enough for both of us!

The entire point is simply to expose as many people as possible to Nathan, his family, and their situation.  My hope is that someone will see it and possibly want to help them out.  Caring for Nathan is a 24 hour a day job that has extreme costs involved, and they must do so largely on one below average salary.  Anyone who doesn’t believe in universal health care ought to have a conversation with the Huf’s and have a look at the stack, yes, stack, of rejection letters for coverage from various agencies.

This desire stems from why I became a documentary photographer in the first place.  After having tried to be Ansel Adams for a few months and taken more than a few crappy pictures of trees, a friend (James Koo to be exact) showed me Paul Fusco’s “Chernobyl Legacy” and I knew immediately what I needed to do with my life.  If you haven’t seen it, grab some Kleenex and check it out:


I was moved so powerfully by this essay that I decided that if I could make even one person feel the way that essay made me feel, then I will have been a success.   So my hope is that someone will see it, be moved, and take some sort of action to help.  Naive?  Probably, but I’ve always felt that if man were exposed to the struggles of his fellow person, then he would do something to help.  If this happens even once in my life because of something I’ve done I can be happy…but I’m hoping for more than once right?!?!?

Which leads me to the other “what next?”, the “What project is next?”.  This is the tougher what next in my mind.  Anyone in any creative field has to go through a process of finding their next piece of work, and I think the beginning of that process is the most challenging aspect of being an artist, or a creative, or whatever.  You’re not certain what to do, and you have to ignore the desire to compare it to the last project (which is silly after all since you haven’t even started the new one!).  For me, I think it’s important that I not try to force anything.  I need to make sure my mind is open, and that I’m listening to what the world wants to tell me.  I make lists of things that interest me, chew on them for a bit, and if something ends up stirring my soul…I go shoot it.  Then hopefully it continues on and develops into a workable documentary.  If not I go back to my list!  The most important part for me on any given project is it has to stir my soul and inspire my curiosity.  Without that it’s rare that I can do more than a half-ass job, and I owe it to the people who let me into their lives to give them everything I have.  I’m working on a few things right now, and if any of them develop into something serious ‘ll be sure to let you guys know!

In the meantime, I think I’ll start doing some kind of picture of the day or week type thing.  Keep me shooting, and more importantly EDITING, you know?  Also, I’ve been doing a photographer of the week type thing on my twitter.  For those of you who missed the first three, they are Shiho Fukada, Dorothy Hong, and Matt Lutton.  I’m trying not to focus on people you may have heard of and rather show you those up and coming talents that I truly believe you WILL hear about soon.  These three are incredibly talented individuals who make amazing images.  Enjoy!  Ah, and here’s that pictur eof the day/week/whenever…






August 8, 2009

Anne Tucker is awesome and so are you!

Filed under: Thoughts — Tags: , , , — WRRPhoto @ 12:20 AM

So some of you already know this and some do not.  This week I dropped off prints to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for their permanent collection!  This was the first time I had shown my images with any hope of a sale and it just  happened to be to legendary curator Anne Tucker!  Those of you who know me know that quiet is not a word associated with me, but when she said she wanted to buy some of my prints I almost passed out!  Seriously, I do not know that I have ever been so excited.  To me it is the most amazing feeling that someone else appreciates your work, and I honestly don’t think I will ever grow tired of it(If I do I need to hang up my lenses).   I honestly make my images to express something going on within me, and to have it resonate, even a little, with another person is just plain incredible.

More importantly, a major part of my mission as a photographer is to give a voice to people who do not have one in this world.  It is mind-blowing to me that some of those who have let me into their lives will have their story told again and again, long after I am gone.  I think it is an important first step in getting their voices heard.  People make change slowly, and I think that it is important that images remain in society for as long as possible in order to continue to remind people where we came from and where we need to go.

To those of you who don’t know Anne Tucker, allow me to enlighten you as to her awesomeness.  Anne has worked for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston since 1976 and is pretty much single-handedly responsible acquiring their now prestigious collection.  When she arrived there were few images in the collection, and she has overseen its growth to now possessing over 24,000 images (as of 2008).  It is a collection that rivals any in the world, and has earned her the distinction of being one of the most respected curators in the world.  Personally, I would have to throw her name in there with John Szarkowski, Nathan Lyons, and Beaumont Newhall (All of whom she studied under interestingly enough) as one of the best curators ever.  Seriously.   She’s just that good.

I had the unique pleasure of interviewing Ms. Tucker last December.  An amazingly kind person, she allowed what was to be a 20 minute interview surpass 2 hours!  During that time I was in constant awe of the knowledge she possesses.  If there is a photographer out there who has taken a picture worth talking about, she knows the image, and probably the photographer.  She is also largely responsible for bringing Japanese photography to American eyes, having penned the incredibly thorough, and quite massive, History of Japanese Photography, as well as curated its exhibition.  She is about to do the same for Korean photography with her upcoming exhibition and accompanying book, Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography.  For more info., check out the MFAH site:


Her contributions to the field of photography are seemingly limitless, and for her efforts she has been awarded a laundry list of achievements and awards that this poor blog couldn’t begin to list.  If this was your introduction to her and her work, then I would highly recommend googling her name and spending a few minutes looking at her career.  I obviously have a tremendous amount of respect for the work she has done, and hope she doesn’t stop anytime soon!

I’d also recommend making the trip to Houston to have a look at the Korean exhibition.  To my knowledge it is the first time a major show has been done on contemporary Korean photography (although I may be wrong here), and I’m sure it will be amazing.


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