Monday, December 26, 2016

Annual Report...

Its Sunday morning, December 11, 2016, coming upon the end of a long, challenging, and eventful year.   Jackie is down in NYC with her sisters viewing the tree at Rockefeller Center, and I'm sitting here on the couch procrastinating about heading out into the cold to do whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing today.  Seems like a good time to get going on the annual report.  First off, thanks to all my loyal viewers for tuning in over the past year.

Last year was an exceptionally good year for travel and some great pictures.  As I said during the annual report of 2015, the pictures were good, and it would be a hard act to follow.   I was almost right.  But it turns out that while Jackie was in Hong Kong last month on business, she took one of the great photographs of all time from her hotel room of Victoria Harbor at sunrise, a photo that could be easily mistaken for a Canaletto, which more than a few people have alluded to.  All else pales in comparison.  She has taken our ongoing project of "Room with a View" to new heights.

Her uncropped photo is a master class in composition starting with the placement of the ship in the lower righthand corner which is the organizational lynchpin that holds everything together.   Could say more, but "res ipse loquator", as they say.  The rest of the pictures are mine and pale in comparison, but the show must go on.

The post office is the only government agency we have no reason to fear.  Buy stamps, send postcards, support the post office.  They still care about you. 

As I reflect on my own photographs for the year, and for all previous years, for that matter,  I must confess my long standing awareness of the fact that I keep taking the same photograph over and over and over again.  Same organizing principle, different location.  Always symmetrical, and organized around a central figure.  Maybe the title of the blog should have been Monomania.

Jackie's photo is a good example of her ability to see the big picture and to shoot what's there.  I see what's there and then try to squeeze into the tight, compulsive constraints of how I obviously need to see the world, symmetrically organized around a simple but compelling idea.  Maybe I'm not the free thinker I like to think I am. 

Peace on Earth and a Happy New Year!!!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Paul Strand's "Wall Street" revisited...

Paul Strand's photo "Wall Street", shot in 1912,  continues to be one of the most powerful and iconic images in the history of the field, and with good reason.  The impact is visceral and haunting and needs no words of explanation to amplify its effect.  Like all good photographers, the camera was an extension of his soul.  If you don't feel it, its not him, its you.

I'm no Paul Strand, nor do my photographs carry the power of his images.  But I was raised on the images of Strand and Weston and Evans and Brassai and Atget and the Photo League, et al, and when I finally had my chance to get out there and shoot, I was more than disappointed to find that their world, the world  I dreamed  of, the America of my mind, no longer existed.  In fact you can only live in the world you have inherited and work with the tools available and it takes time to realize this and come to terms with it, if at all.  If you do come to find interest and revel in the visual environment of which you are a part, and shoot it in that spirit,  it will work out.  I persevered, and have been fortunate to find America on my own terms.

When I shot my photo "'Humans of New York' or are they bugs", all I saw was the two oversized posters, but when I printed it and became more acutely aware of the people at the bottom, I was struck by the similarities between it and Strand's photo in terms of the metaphor. While my photo lacks the dark, menacing power and haunting moodiness of Strand's it does convey a similar idea in the context of my world, the world I work in, and the fact that some things never change.  We are still bugs, negotiating our small lives through the corridors of power.  My familiarity with his photo may well have unconsciously informed the composition and sense of insignificance the city fosters in the photo "bugs".