Wrrphoto's Blog

January 27, 2010

John Francis Peters show to benefit Haiti – NYC

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 11:18 PM

Another post about a show in NYC, but this one is extra special. Friend and phenomenal photographer John Francis Peters (http://www.jfpetersphoto.com/) is having a show this Friday to benefit Haiti. The YES Gallery in Brooklyn, NY will be hosting the benefit show this Friday January 29th, with the Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti (http://www.hashaiti.org/) being the beneficiary.

John is a tremendous photographer and has a sincere concern for the people of Haiti. I urge anyone in the NY area to check it out. Drop me a line if you have any trouble getting there.

wrr

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I’m Back! Almost!

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 3:36 AM

I haven’t been able to post in a bit due to a combination of several interesting shoots (which I will talk about in my next post along with images!), school starting, and a near-crisis with my file server. I’ve had a rough day and won’t do a full update now, but will be back tomorrow!

wrr

January 16, 2010

Luceo and MJR to exhibit in NYC

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 8:39 PM

For those of you who don’t know, Luceo Images and MJR are two agencies/collectives whose memberships represent some of the finest up and coming talent in the photography world today.  They are partnering up with each other for a one day only exhibit in NYC.  If you happen to be in town I highly recommend checking them out!  Here is the invite/press release from the Luceo Images website:

Luceo/MJR

Luceo is proud  to announce our upcoming group show for one night only, featuring photographers from Luceo and our partners in crime at MJR.  The show will feature a limited edition fine-art print publication that will be distributed to the first 200 attendees.  Large-scale reproductions of the publication pages will be displayed on the wall.  The show will coincide with Luceo’s upcoming business meeting in New York City; our photographers will be on hand for the event so, please, come out, have a beer and join us.

Where: 25 CPW

When: Thursday, Janaury 21, 2010

Time: 6-10pm EST

Address: 25 Central Park West at the intersection of 62nd Street.  New York, NY

***

A word from the show’s curator, Gillian Tozer

The role of the documentary photographer has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. No longer emblazoned in funding and dispatched to remote surroundings adjacent to ‘the action’, the photojournalist must now explore their own environment. This exploration of the familiar is perhaps what best aligns the two photography collectives of MJR and LUCEO. Issue One of Make-Do captures the cultural struggle within America as it embraces a ‘new’ era of change while desperately clinging to that which made it solid. Among the degradation and disarray, there are traditions, habits and memories that call out to be salvaged. What you will witness is a dialogue between the America that was and the America that is now. For those working outside of America the same theme pervades. This collection documents the youthful and local meanderings of each photographer. While each series is strikingly different to the next, what remains ubiquitous is a sense of stoicism in the face of an inescapable and united collapse. This subject of human resilience is not uncommon to photojournalism, but it is never cumbersome, nor can be disregarded due to the warmth and significance it emanates. These are everyday, fleeting moments, often stumbled upon, now marked in print.

Best,

wrr

January 15, 2010

Jacohb Aue Sobol at Yossi Milo Gallery

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 7:08 PM

Good friend and Magnum photographer Jacob Aue Sobol of Denmark has an exhibition at the Yossi Milo Gallery that opened last night and runs through February 20th.  Anyone in NY during this time should pop in and check it out.

Jacob is a great guy and an even better photographer.  His work is intensely personal and deeply introspective.  It isn’t for everyone, but those who like it will love it!  His career essentially took off with his Sabine series, which chronicled 3 years of his life with his then-girlfriend Sabine in Greenland.  He has since done bodies of work in Guatemala, Tokyo, and Bangcock.  His book on Tokyo, I, Tokyo, won the prestigious Leica publisher’s award last year.  I’m one of he ones who loves his work, so go have a look!  Here is the press release from the Yossi Milo Gallery:

Jacob Aue Sobol

Sabine and I, Tokyo

January 14, 2010–February 20, 2010

Reception

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 6:00–8:00 pm

Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of two bodies of work by Jacob Aue Sobol, Sabine and I, Tokyo. The exhibition will open on Thursday, January 14, and close on Saturday, February 20, with a reception on Thursday, January 14, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

Jacob Aue Sobol’s series Sabine (1999-2001) chronicles three years the artist spent in the settlement of Tiniteqilaaq in Greenland, his life as a fisherman and hunter, and his intimate relationship with Sabine and her family. The series of black-and-white photographs is a visual diary of a love story and daily survival, capturing private moments with Sabine contrasted with the harsh arctic environment of the east Greenlandic coast.

Photographs from the series I, Tokyo were taken between 2006 and 2008 while the artist lived in Tokyo. Overwhelmed by loneliness and isolation due to the unfamiliar culture and large city, the artist used the camera to find “individual human presence” in a swarming metropolis. The photographs offer a personal view of Tokyo, a result of the artist’s need to connect to the people and the city.

Jacob Aue Sobol’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark, and Rencontres D’Arles, Arles, France. In 2006, he received the First Prize, Daily Life Stories, World Press Photo. Jacob Aue Sobol’s recent book,I, Tokyo, was awarded the Leica European Publishers Award 2008. The book Sabine was published in 2004. Aue Sobol studied at the European Film College and Fatamorgana, Danish School of Documentary and Art Photography. He was born in Denmark in 1976 and grew up in Brøndby Strand south of Copenhagen. He currently lives and works in Copenhagen.

Best,

wrr

January 13, 2010

James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, bikers, hippies and more. AKA Dennis Stock I miss you…

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 7:38 PM

Dennis Stock is one of the most iconic photographers of our time. Unfortunately we lost another legend as Dennis passed away this morning. In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, here is an image almost everyone has seen at some point and time:

Dean in NYC

First of all, all images in this post are used without any particular permission other than fair use, and will be taken down if requested to do so. All images are copyright Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos.

Dennis was more than a legendary photographer to me. To me he was also a friend and valued mentor. I first met Dennis about 3 years ago when he came to speak at the University of Texas. I knew of the Dean image and asked Eli if there was any way I could meet Dennis outside of the presentation. Eli being who he is hooked me up as Dennis’ driver and I was able to hang out with the guy almost non-stop for 3 days. Despite a several decade age gap we clicked and spent those three days talking life and photography. I even got my first ever portfolio review from Dennis, which went something like this. “No. No. Nope. No. Almost. No. No. No.” and then handing it back to me and saying “I don’t like any of it”. That stung more than a bit to say the least! He then graciously signed a book for me and this poster of Audrey Hepburn for my fiance Sue before leaving:

Audrey

After he left he surprised me by hooking me up with my choice of Dean prints. I chose the following, which now proudly hangs in my living room:

Dean Print

He asked me why I chose this one out of those he had offered and I told him that when I looked at this image, I felt like I was looking at James Dean the person and not James Dean the actor. He started laughing and told me the story of the photo. He said that he and “Jimmy” were wandering around New York and came across this coffin store. Jimmy wanted to go in and while Dennis was uneasy about it, followed him in. Dennis took a series of photos of Dean playing and goofing off in the coffins (Which you can see, along with most of Dennis’ other work at http://www.magnumphotos.com), all the while waiting. He knew he didn’t care about the photos of Dean being a goof, but he also expected Dean to give him something real. After awhile Dean sat up in the coffin and just looked at Dennis, which resulted in the photo above. Dennis told me he knew it was the right picture because Dean finally gave up, and when he looked at Dennis he looked in a way that showed a man who knew his life was about to change, knew that he may not see his family again (although he believed that due to his career being about to take off, and not the reason we all know now), and was unsure about life. He was a man in a place of transition and confusion, and this image summed it all up.

After that we continued to speak in a series of emails and phone conversations in which he gave me some of the best guidance and advice I could have ever asked for as a photographer and as a person. He was open, honest, and blunt as could be, but most importantly he always had your best interests in his heart. I truly loved that about him. For example, his telling me that he didn’t like anything in my portfolio pissed me off and caused me to work twice as hard as I had before (even though I had only been shooting for a few months at this point). I later asked him how hew knew that telling me that would motivate me. He said he just had a feeling it would get my goat and push me to be better. He also said that he did like a few of the images, but felt he needed me to think otherwise in order to get me going. Touche’ Mr. Stock! I could go on for hours about the insights he imparted to me…

As a photographer Dennis was an idol of mine for one reason: he shot what he wanted to shoot. He called himself the “self-assigned” photographer because he did the work he wanted to do. He would find something that interested him and chase after it with his camera until he was satisfied with what he had done. I asked him once how he chose his projects and he said it was different every time, but that each time his subject moved him in some way. He told me once of going to Provence and falling in love with it. So he stayed for SEVEN years and did a book. (Speaking of books, Dennis was amazingly prolific in that he had either a book or exhibition nearly every year since 1950.) I asked him how he could afford to shoot whatever he wanted, to finance these projects, and his answer was “I shot a lot of bullshit. Whatever I had to shoot to be able to do what I wanted, I would shoot it.” It’s advice that I think many of today’s photographers should heed. Some of his subjects included jazz:

Jazz

Bikers:

Bikers

and of course hippies:

Hippie

Unlike so many other photographers out there, Dennis never stopped loving the evolution of photography. He wouldn’t allow himself to be called a photojournalist because he felt it too limiting, and preferred to call himself an essayist. Later in life he photographed flowers, Provence, and recently classic cars. Whatever caught his fancy. He also enjoyed the technological evolution of photography. When I first met him he had a Ricoh GRII slung around his neck and he was telling us how amazing the images were. He had no qualms about dumping film, and was excited about what was to come next. In fact, just a few months back he called me all excited about something he had just done. He had made a video of his classic car stills coupled with jazz music that he had found the rights to and posted it to youtube. The youtube part was most exciting to him as he loved the ability to show people something new in a different way. If you would like to see the video he posted, please go here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq2rVrVJi-U

Several times over the past few years Dennis had asked me to assist him on workshops that he gives, and every time I had some odd conflict some up. Today more than ever I regret not having made it out to one. Recently I had been helping him with a business project, and we were planning to have me meet up with him in March. It tears at my soul that we won’t make this meeting either.

Dennis loved many things in his life, but mostly he loved his wife, author Susan Richards. They had a wonderful relationship, I know that he loved her deeply, and my heart goes out to her on this day.

I loved, and still love for that matter, Dennis’ amazing spirit. He was always trying things, always exploring, and always looking for what’s next. I’ll close with a portrait of Dennis taken by Andreas Feininger in 1950, when Dennis won the Life Young Photographers Contest.

Dennis

I miss you buddy, and the world is a little darker today with you gone…

January 5, 2010

I’m creative and so are you! The art of just do…

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 9:23 PM

Do.

If I could say that there is any one major key to creativity, it can be summed up in the word DO. You have to do something, do anything, do it now, do it often to be a creative. I think a large percentage of us feel like we aren’t creative. Heck, despite being a creative professional (allegedly!), I often worry that maybe just maybe I am not really all that creative.

That’s garbage. Humans are by their very nature creative, and we all have it within us to create something amazing. We just have to do. The problem is that society in general has started to lose respect for the creative arts, and our education system teaches us in a way that is counter-productive to fostering creativity. Creativity is not something quantifiable, and our methods of education hate that. Our system wants 1+1 to equal 2. Creativity wants to know what 1+1+a green truck equals.

Most people who know me know that I primarily shoot social documentary type work as it is my passion. Just to be different I’m going to randomly post some of my studio work into this post, like here!

Danielle

I’ll start talking about the more academic side of creativity in a second, but before I do if I could give you any one piece of advice on becoming more productive it would be to close your internet browser, turn around and go do something. If you’re a photographer go make pictures, a painter paint, a musician make music. We have a tendency to sit behind our computers for hours on end either looking at new gear or reading about how to be better at whatever it is we do. The truth is we only get better at these things by doing them over and over and failing and failing until we finally hit something that feels right. So go do something! Chase Jarvis has an excellent post here about creating in today’s world:

http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2009/12/create-share-sustain.html

It essentially boils down to this formula: Make something, put it out there, and then do whatever kind of work (flip burgers, sweep floors, whatever), in order to sustain yourself and your ability to make your art. His main point being that prior to the internet if you were a creative you needed someone else’s permission to do your art. A magazine publisher, museum curator, gallery owner, record label, whatever. In today’s world the only permission you need is your own, and you can publish yourself to billions of people if you choose to, so go make stuff, put it out there, and find a way to sustain it!

Still here? Ok, lots of people smarter than me have done a lot of research on what goes into creativity. There are two main concepts that I will talk about here, the creative process and flow. But first another randomly inserted picture!

Lena

The process that people generally go through was first presented by Graham Wallas way back in 1926. Graham said that we go through stages, and that those stages are: preparation, incubation, intimation, illumination, and verification. Preparation is the stage where we are focusing all of our energies on our problem, and are gathering as much information as possible. You read, watch, study, talk to people, and basically do everything you can to get to know your problem as thoroughly as possible. At some point we then either become too tired, frustrated, or whatever to continue and we take a break. Trick is, our brain isn’t taking a break because that 8 pounds of gray matter between your ears is using the subconscious to continue to mull over your problem. This is known as incubation. Incubation is a stage we don’t like because we feel like we aren’t doing anything, but it’s a stage that’s necessary as it is the time our mind can truly work some magic. Intimation is where we start to get a feeling that the solution is coming. You know this one. It’s where your body starts to tingle a bit and you feel like the answer is there, but you just can’t quite get it. But you know it’s there. Then we have illumination, which is also known as the “A-HA!” moment. This is when our solution magically pops into our head and we feel like we just conquered the world. Finally verification is where we put our solution into action and prove that it does do whatever it is we thought it would, in other words that 1+1+a green truck = a Hawaiian pizza. Since Graham put this out there, several academic types have removed the intimation and/or verification stages, but you get the general idea. Get as much information as possible, focus, take a break, and A-HA! Of course it isn’t always that simple. Sometimes it takes an enormous amount of time to get our idea, but it’s always worth it in the end. How about another picture?

May Ying

So what about when we hit a creative rut? Those times when no matter how much studying we do, no matter the amount of incubation, we still feel a lack of inspiration, a lack of A-HA? Those are the times it is most important to just do. You have to just do something, anything. I’ve hit this point a number of times in my life, and it usually results in my getting bummed about not having a clue what to do, no idea of what I want to work on, and so I just sit there feeling sorry for myself. Trouble is, sitting there won’t fix this problem, only work will. So you have to dig down deep, pull your ass off the couch, and go do something. Initially it isn’t even important what you do, only that you do it. As a creative you can be inspired by any number of things, art, music, your neighbor, almost anything! For some reason our subconscious digs on this and as you start to work it will find itself getting cranked up and eventually lead you to something. Then it’s all roses as you’re back on track! Until the next rut…at which time you have to get to do it all again.

So the secret is to just do. As a creative your work is inspired by what you know and what you do. Feed what you know by reading more books and poetry, watching cinematic genius, listening to music, or whatever gets your juices going, and then go do what you are passionate about. Let your work and your passions guide you.

More photo?

Leslie

Flow is the next concept, and I promise this is short and sweet. Flow (known to athletes as the zone) is that state of intense concentration that we can achieve when we are truly absorbed by something. It’s those times where you lose track of where you are, have no concept of time, but are utterly absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. Flow is the state where optimum creativity is achieved, and anyone can get into this state. The trouble is, every person gets to flow differently. For me, I listen to music (specifically jazz…good jazz like Miles, Coletrane, or Bird), and do a bit of meditating to clear my mind. This will usually get me to the state of mind I want pretty quickly and I can get to photographing. So what do you need to do? I can’t answer that, but if you play with it you should be able to find it.

So that’s it for my sermon on creativity! I know this was a long post, but when talking about the business of being a creative professional it’s important to understand that the most important thing is to be creative! It’s what you sell, so you have to be good at it! So why then have I been posting random studio photos? The answer is because I have found one of the best ways for me to break my creative slumps is to go into the studio and do a shoot that has nothing to do with my passion of social documentary photography. It forces my mind to think differently about the camera, which in turn spurs new ideas for my documentary work. Additionally, it forces me to focus on connecting with a person, and that is what I truly love most about photography, so I find it tends to get me fired up again. How about you? How do you break the slumps? How do you get inspired? How does your creative process work? I’m curious to know. Also, I thought the images in my previous posts were a big large, so I hope the smaller ones work for you!

Let me finish with one of my first studio shots ever:

Lauren

And a shoot I later did with Lauren:

Lauren Part 2

Lauren part 2

And finally, a creative at work…

Crazed Artist

Crazed Artist

Thanks for reading! As always comments and feedback appreciated!

WRR

January 2, 2010

Gettin’ my new year on…

Filed under: Uncategorized — WRRPhoto @ 10:57 PM

Isn’t it funny the energy and excitement that can surround your life around the new year?  For me personally I get all optimistic about what’s to come, and start trying to put into motion as many plans as I possibly can.  I also tend to get it in my head that I need to start the new year off “right” for it to truly go the way I want it to.  What is “right” anyway?  Who knows, but here’s what I’ve been doing to get ready for 2010…

To begin with I looked into the spare bedroom, which is also known as my office and my studio, and noticed that it was a certifiable disaster area.  I had enough stray papers to replenish the rain forest, and so many random doo dads and whatchamahickey’s that I honestly couldn’t see straight.  So item number one on the list was to get organized and clean up the office/studio.  I am proud to say that after two and a half days (seriously) of cleaning, my office is now organized and spotless.  Keep in mind, however, that I am a photographer.  This means that I almost certainly have a massive case of ADHD, and that my idea of organized is probably somewhere just above what FEMA would deem necessary to intervene in.  Joking aside, I can now see my floor and my desk, everything has its place, and I can get to work in my shiny new space.  Not sure how long it can last though, after all us creative professionals seem to love our cluttered desks.  I think Albert Einstein said it best though when he said “If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

So with my desk and office clean and primed for work, its time to get down to it…um…so now what?  As I mentioned in my previous post, there are no road maps to becoming a successful creative professional, and thus we cannot wake up to a nice and tidy task list of things to knock out.  We have to plot our course on our own, and that can sometimes flat-out suck.

First things first, we all need a plan.  Without a plan we can’t take our first steps, and without the first step taken, we go nowhere.  The plan has to have a goal, and so I think we all need to sit down with ourselves, look into our heart and souls, and ask ourselves what we truly want to get out of this.  My goal is to try to use my images to help people, to affect change in our society.  In looking at the current media landscape, I have chosen to work on my projects utilizing grant money, then create books, sell to museums and galleries, and exhibit in ways that can truly get the word out for my subjects, and hopefully create the desire for change that I seek.  I’m not so much interested in newspapers, which is typically a delivery method for stories like those that I do, at the moment for two reasons.  First of all, I’m not very excited about spending my day doing assignments that I didn’t choose.  Selfish I know, but I have a hard time producing images of things I’m not excited about.  Secondly is I no longer believe this medium is the best vehicle to send my message.  Advertising research on imagery in newspapers show that people spend less than a second with each image on average.  Less than a second. In my mind this isn’t enough time for people to truly be moved by an image.  On the other hand, if I put my images into a book, or hang it in a gallery, then people spend anywhere from minutes to hours looking at the image, and can be moved if I have done my job.  Further, people viewing the work this way tend to be in good shape financially, and if I honestly want people helping my subjects, then they need to be in a position to do so.

I also do not want to restrict my work to those with money, despite my previous quote.  I want to as well find ways of exhibiting to an audience not used to seeing photography, and if they don’t have money, maybe they have time and can help in some volunteer fashion.  It’s all very naive I know, but I sincerely believe that people want to do good by their fellow man, they just don’t always know what’s going on.

One last note on newspapers.  Please don’t take this as a knock on them,  simply my reasoning as to why they won’t work…for me.  I believe they are valuable to our society and people need to be doing this work.  Just not me.  We all have our path, and mine doesn’t appear to head that direction, if yours does then by all means chase it and good luck!  I assure you we are all rooting for you.

So for my plan to work, I need a few things to work with me: grants, publishers, curators, and gallery owners.  It would also be nice to have some editors and art buyers like what I do and hire me for some interesting jobs…I wouldn’t complain about that for sure!  What makes this entire strategy somewhat nerve-wracking is the fact that I should be working on each of those areas at the same time! I need to be writing grants while editing my current work, pushing to publishers, presenting to curators and galleries, and generating new ideas all at once.  What the hell?!?!  I signed up to take amazing images, not do all this other stuff!  Sad news is folks, the minute you choose to make your passion a vocation, you added a whole new dimension to your work load.  But it doesn’t have to be bad!  We just need to stick to the plan…

So those are the components of my plan, what are yours?  Each creative should have a different goal in mind, and thus a different set of needs to get there.  I urge you to take the time to sit with your heart and figure out what you really want to accomplish.  Then start to work backwards in developing your plan and things will begin to crystallize.  Will the plan work?  Who knows, but what I do know is you cannot become so attached to it that you are unwilling to change it, and change it often.  Life has a funny way of not going the way we thought it would, and we need to be able to adapt.  Make your plan as fluid and organic as possible, like water.  That way when you flow into a boulder you simply slide around it, rather than pound your head against it for days!  So develop a plan, but a flexible plan.  Your plan should put you in a position to achieve your goals, and be flexible enough to not drown you when things don’t work out.

In my next post I’ll talk about the most important part of any creative professionals life and career: generating ideas.  As always, comments and feedback are appreciated!  Until then, how about another picture?  This one is of Sue and my friend Heather…

WRR

P.S. – Anyone want to help me figure out how to make this blog a bit more fun to look at?

Heather

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