Part of the crowd gathered for my opening at Abba Fine Art during Art Basel/Miami

48 Responses to “Miami”

  • This Miami stuff is all very well and good, and I hope everyone (especially Roberta and Renata)had a good time, but I have a question: when you are in a low light environment and using an external flash, do you ever just put the camera on Program (or its Nikon equivalent) mode and just concentrate on the framing of the shot? I ask because this was the situation I was in on Saturday night and I kept missing things because I was in aperture mode for most of the night. I missed a great shot and then decided to forget about doing it myself and let the camera do it; that is, after all, what all the bells and whistles the camera comes with are for. I was just wondering if anyone else has had the same reaction to this sort of situation.

  • Akaky. The most important thing is getting the shot, not proving you can work the camera expertly in every mode there is. If switching to Program mode made the evening less stressful and you were missing less shots… that’s all that matters.


  • The whole art scene is so bogus. An alternative universe.

  • ha, yeah the alternative universe where people actually have money.

  • Yeah, and spend it on digitally altered photos of rivers.

  • “Yeah, and spend it on digitally altered photos of rivers.”

    As apposed to images altered in an analog fashion?

  • most of the artists in the art world do not have money…or no more than most…but those that swan down for Miami Basel (i hate Miami Basel, from first hand experience, been to it 3 times, in an exhibition during it once) generally do….the collectors, the gallerists, the socialites…the drunken boat rides…occasionally, i found an artist there who blew up my head and heart,…but its become like the Hamptoms of the Art Fest circuit….but, there are lots of great parties during the week and well, a good party is a good party no matter where or for what cause….

    digitally altered photos of rivers make infinite more sense to me that wealthy (by anyone’s standards) journalists flying around the world and snapping suffering and returning to comfort…much less hypocritical,

  • Chien-Chi Chang’s video from the Rochester “Road Trip” is now up:

    Akaky: How exactly did your image get cocked up? Was the shutter speed too fast for the flash synchronization? The camera reads the situation to set aperture and shutter speed for 18% grey. In low-light situations that may be too bright – exposure values have to be dialled down accordingly. Manually set exposure to capture ambient light, then let the flash do its work to my taste is the way I approach it.

  • I gather that Basel is a combination of well-known photographers showing their work alongside the emerging. Why shouldn’t the wealthy pay big money for something they like, and why shouldn’t both types of artists benefit from that? I hope David sold a bucketful of prints and can live off “the fat of the land” for a little while at least, given the effort he made for this show.

    David has often stated that good photographers eventually receive the acknowledgement they deserve. Why view Basel so cynically? The ten Magnum photographers tasked with each making 100 photographs of Rochester this spring had a pop-up show on their last night. Tacked onto display boards were cheap prints, not for sale, but to show in a thankful, respectful and grateful manner the people of Rochester what they had accomplished. This was the type of show we as emerging photographers may have appreciated more, only because it was about the work as work, not the price of the work. Both venues are value-added approaches, and are fine with me.

  • Art Basel Miami consists of a large number of venues (Convention Center Miami Beach, Scope, Street Photography Festival, etc.) showing all types of art on all levels, in all price categories. It was heartening to see the excitement and commitment especially among young people, particularly in the Wynwood District, where Abba Fine Arts is also located. Other cities should do so well!

  • Akaky, speaking as someone who is apparently too dumb to get decent images with Canon’s automatic flash system, I’ve given up and turn the dial to M. Don’t get every shot right the first time, but when you figure it out and it works, it works really well.

    Art Basel looks and sounds like a nightmare, but of course some people’s nightmares are other people’s dreams. Personally, it’s more the Paris show I see when I close my eyes.

  • JEFF:

    i’m not a cynic and my criticism of Miami Basel has NOTHING to do with David or his show or selling prints. I mean, anytime a friend is happy and does well, that’s all good for me (i send him love on the show’s opening). Miami basel is an Art Orgy increasingly defined by the same ridiculous sensibilities that defined Art World in the ’80’s. I speak from first hand experience (though that’s one humble opinion, or not so humble). Miami B is not about photography, but about Art and it combines galleries (big and small) museums, parties, artists, collectors, galleriests, jet setters, fashion, film, wealth, all walks of life. it really isnt much about the art, so much as being seen and or being sold or getting discovered, etc. it’s become like what the Whitney Biannale use to be (especially for aspirants). it is absolutely defined by hordes.

    What Miami Basel does well is bring $$ to the city and does also well to help young or new or struggling galleries and districts get some eyeballs and maybe some backing and loyalty. THIS is what i always loved about it. but Miami B can’t really be defined by a ‘singular’ idea: it’s basically a city event and like all big events has great stuff and insufferable stuff. to live in miami and spend time there athat week is to see what is really great about it and what it depressing.

    all that said: any time photographers (artists of any walk) can put together shows, can do work, can share with each other and have fun and celebrate their life and other’s life and the profession is always righteous by me :)….my disdain for Miami Basel is the Miami Basel (with a capital M and B) and not about the photographers, the event, the happenings, the people…

    remember, i lived there…participated, have friends who show every year, friends who avoid…its all whatever one wants, fun and riches and social stuff and community empowerment and also the other end of the spectrum…

    maybe, i am just not interested in that kind of big thing anymore…done it…now, something more, um, private and essential…

    hope that makes sense

  • I agree with Gerhard and Bob Black and other’s views of Art Basel Miami…I too hope that DAH’s event was successful on many levels. But where else can you get a such a selection of Art, Artists, Curators, Dealers, Collectors, fan boys and fan girls and all the others that attend to see and show at such an event? Deals are made…Museums buy…Collectors buy …new work gets shown and seen by everyone. While having a good time and/or to have a party is an option available to all who want it.

    Chien-Chi Chang’s video:

    I am from Rochester, NY the city where the 10 magnum photographers landed to do what exactly? I am not sure why… but it brought up a lot of old feelings and unanswered questions about photography that I had while a student at RIT many years ago. While Jim Powers is against digital manipulation and others are ok with that…why then is it Ok for a Magnum photographer to ask his subject not to smile…or is it? Is it just to manipulate and articulate a Sociological or Anthropological artistic point? Isn’t that a form of manipulation or artistic freedom? Where is the dividing line that is more honest?

  • James,

    I don’t believe there is a solid dividing line. Everybody has one, it’s just in different places.

    Honesty? Don’t know what that means photographically. Were Ansel Adams’ prints honest? Are rivers manipulated digitally more or less honest? Saturation, contrast, sepia, ND grad filters (actual and digital) Velvia, Kodacolor, flash, no flash, wide angle lenses, 85mmm with f1.4 aperture, telephoto lenses, directing your subject (“don’t smile”, “say cheese”, “look over there”), being a fly on the wall or getting to know your subjects so they supposedly act normal around you, and so much more…

    It’s all manipulation and somewhat less than honest, or at least something less than “real” isn’t it?

  • Akaky, Canon’s ttl flash system pretty much sucks no matter what mode you are in. I use Jeff’s method, but even then, sometimes it just fails completely, usually on the over-exposed side. Mine are a few years old, maybe the newer ones are better.

    Ehh, not a big fan of the “fine” art world either.

  • Michael Kircher:

    I am not disagreeing with your argument or continuing that old argument, but rather question the direction given to a photojournalistic subject…to change or make an arificial emotion i.e. from a smiling face to a non-smiling face with the subject…I believe it changes the receiver’s emotional response in that “objective” photojournalistic context making a situation sadder than it actually is. It is not of the same context as saying “cheese” where there is a fun atmosphere created such as a wedding of which I’ve photographed way too many. My guess is that a kiss just a kiss and smile is just a smile wherever you are on an emotional scale…anywhere…even in Rochester, NY.

  • BOB,

    I just read this – I think you will get a kick out of it:

    “I went to Art Basel and Tried to ‘Get’ Art”

  • JUSTIN! :)))))))))))

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!…that’s what i’m talking about!…and i’m a fucking silly, artist who loves fucked up shit and conceptualist projects and has been represent by galleries (some of which go to Basel each year)……but, i gotta be honest, each time i went to Basel, i was left depressed…just as with most of these big ass Art Fairs (including the ones here in toronto and in nyc)…even when i showed a piece (a conceptual installation with picturres/words/boxes), i thought ‘why did i do this’….this piece, is pretty much on target (again, nothing related to DAH and co, i’m sure they’re having fun and doing great things)…

    on bit of irony. A good friend of mine, a young photogrpaher who i’ve mentored for 5 years and graduated from Art school, just back from the Real Miami Basel; ))…he went on a Heavy Metal Boat cruise (the anti-Basel) from Miami …40 metal bands play 24/7 for 10 days…and finished right before Basel kicked off….including tours to the Bahamas etc…now THAT is what I wish i had done…

    ok, must run

    thanks Justin: great and funny read…and yes…pretty much my impressions of that scene


  • Yea, have a little chuckle at that article, then go down the comments and read what Adam Lipstadt writes. Great and well-deserved evisceration of the dude that wrote the article.

  • Akaky…

    Don’t obsess with Canon’s TTL flash system, I’ve been trying to tackle it for years, just does strange things. Try getting a Metz flash like I’ve got, my experience with them is they are absolutely infallible. I put my camera in M mode and just play away with shutter speed and aperture whilst all my Canon flashes gather dust.

  • pauL

    i’m i guess i’m mensching now ;))….i too once (seems like an eternity ago) had a VIP/Artist ticket (blushing)…i agree with much of what adam wrote, but he does fail to understand the spirit of VICE in general, which is to take the piss out of folk, including themselves…and my entire life as an artist (christ I hate how that wobbles and drips) as well as someone for whom life who be squalid without art, i’ve worked to not only commune and appreciate and mentor and write about art and help out artists/friends/family, i gotta say that part of Adam’s commentary (beautifully insightful and smart and generous) is still caught in the limelight of the spectacle…part of the VICE bit is to get a rise out of the readers who will get all pissed…and ‘art fag’ is so, ummm, pastitsprimeitsoundstransgressive hipster…wannabedfw…anyway…he makes some fair and well thoughtout points…but he’s young…

    headcheck in 10 years…

    not really an evisceration…just a rounding out of the fair and what should be a more insightful way to approach…

    but tell me, how is it possible for anyone to look at 1,000’s of artists in such a short time…it is NOT ABOUT the art…Adam fails to understand or recognize that one cannot properly see anything in those kinds of numbers, cannot fairly react, digest, reflect, takeupon…its a lie…adam suggests doing that (which everyone should do when they look at work, my biggest bitch about much of the commentary, eg, at BURN is just like that, quick digestion/words spit out)…but does one really go, for example to the MOMA, and see everything and swallow it….

    the fair is about $$ plain and simple and the marketing/commodification of it, which doesnt bothter me at all, but arguing that the fair is ANYTHING but that is both delusional and patronizing…honestly, the VICE bit is much more honest…

    now, at the VICE bit been about one gallery or a show, i’d agree completely with Adam…

    but, fair world, it isnot…

    and so be it, who cares…
    ok, gotta split

  • Yay, dialogue is back!

    Bob: Yeah, those shows can be mentally exhausting; I can see why you choose to bypass them. The Vice article was funny (thanks, Justin); Adam’s comments struck a chord with me. It reminded me of a quote I read recently: “Those who know what they like tend to only like what they know”. Giving some long, slow thought to a piece of work is fairly impossible surrounded by the offered aesthetic and material riches of Basel.

    James: About that smiling issue. Proust said: “One’s social personality is written in the minds of others”. Portraitists really don’t want to record the social personality, do they? It’s the inner character they desire to reveal. It’s interesting that Wylie asks his subject to “not smile”, then breaks the feedback loop by looking downward. The subject drops his social face, gets serious, then gets revealed. Some photographers carry it a step further, wanting no interaction with their subjects and definitely no eye contact with the camera. Alex Webb takes it to an extreme, and most often has no interaction between his subjects, or at least interactions between the groups within his images.

  • “40 metal bands play 24/7 for 10 days…”

    Bob, yah, really, wish I could’a been there…..not.

    Justin, thanks for the link, yup, sounds about right to me.

  • Jeff, yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what I did wrong. I should have practiced a bit with the flash before I used it. I have them, but I don’t usually need one, largely because unlike some people I could mention I don’t make a habit of photographing people dancing in a dark and crowded room. Next time I’ll know better.

  • As for putting the flash on M, well, that’s something I’ll have to try because, to be honest, I’ve never even thought about doing that. The learning curve will start at the bottom line of the y axis on that one, assuming that the y axis is the line on the bottom of the graph. I’m not sure; I made a point of flunking math after the nuns terrorized me into learning the multiplication tables.

  • a civilian-mass audience


    What not to love…I hope you are all healthy and kicking…

    I will be going through your posts,comments…and I will do the necessary editing:))) back in few hours…I guess this is my aisle?!

  • Akaky, what external flash are you using?

  • Put the camera on M. Set aperture for the foreground, shutter speed for the background. Flash on M as well. Set power accordingly. There, saved you $300.

  • Stay in AP mode, set the flash to high speed sync and dial the flash compensation -1 stop. The HS sync won’t kick in unless your shutter speed goes over the flash sync speed of you camara.

  • Jim, Mike, Paul, thanks for the advice.

  • I’ve gotta stop hitting submit before I’m done. Anyway, the next time I’m in that situation, which probably won’t be until this time next year, I’ll use what you guys said.

    AKAKY_IRL: If you remember it.

    AKAKY: Shut up, you.

  • Mike,

    Thanks for pointing our Lipstadt’s counterpoint to the article in the comments. I hadn’t bothered to read them and was glad that I went back read his.

  • As Lipstadt said, the writer wasn’t talking about art. He was talking about a small, superficial segment of the art community. I did not get the impression that the writer cares (or understands) the least bit about art. Good on Lipstadt for pointing it out.

  • Akaky:

    Bad news…it’s the x-axis on bottom.

    Good news… the picture you posted on Facebook used the flash seamlessly. Really, I don’t know what you’re complaining about. :)))

  • Akaky, lookin’ at your facebook photos with flash, yuh done good.

  • Akaky – I just sent you a friend request. I want to see your pictures…

  • Program mode is a wonderful thing, folks, it surely is.

  • P is for perfect, professional, or maybe Press here dummy

    Anyway, I’m a big fan of Program mode. Wham bam thank-you ma’m.

  • Thanks Akaky! I enjoyed looking at your pictures and I’d say the flash worked okay.

  • Am I the only one who found the 12/12/12 Sandy relief concert absolutely awful? I personally think it’s time the Boss retired, he couldn’t sing a single line without sounding out of breath and the band just obliterated volume wise is voice. Interesting to see Bon Jovi hasn’t aged and still hasn’t got a voice, those high notes were bad enough twenty years ago! I would of liked to have has the guts and stamina to hold on to see the Stones but it was just too much for me. Very noble idea and I hoped they raised load of money but honestly music wise I was expecting a load more.

  • Japan Society / An Evening with DAIDO MORIYAMA 2011.11.3
    The video quality at beginning is pretty bad but it gets better as it goes on.

  • Just noticed “Based on a True Story” made the New Yorker list of best books of 2012. Not best photo books. Best books.

  • MW, I brought Teju to one of David’s parties. He’s a photog in addition to being a novelist.

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