Wet Hair

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Last days of summer in the Outer Banks, NC.

A surfer flips her hair after doing some long board surfing. The Outer Banks is one of the best surf spots on the East Coast and the locals hope for hurricane waves this time of year. Let’s just hope the hurricanes stay offshore…

60 Responses to “Wet Hair”


  • How can one systematically define authorship in photography? I can easily recognise many a great guitarist just by a couple of notes. The choice of notes, the sound of their picking, how and the style with which they bend a string. I could go on and on same with many drummers… but I can’t see this in photography. What are the tell-tale signs, where to look?

  • PUAL

    “systematically” ??? hmmmm..that word would not come to my mind in this context..

    the way you describe identifying a guitarist is the way i would describe photographers with authorship…..you are talking about GREAT guitarists, you are not talking about all the GOOD guitarists of which there are many and for sure you cannot identify them…right? all of the thousands of good guitarists are also pleasurable to listen to ..yes? yet only the very few have broken ground and hv “authorship” and the others just key off of them…

    i am quite sure that given 10 walls of pictures to view of say 20 pictures from each iconic photog, you would know exactly which was which in exactly the same way you know different guitarists…

    yet not everyone has an ear to do as you do and hear a few notes and KNOW which guitarist…i sure as hell could not….and not everyone has an eye either….

    with the guitar or with the camera it is the subtleties that are the revelation…

    oh sure the genres get you to a certain point…for example you know that Keith Richards is not even going to TRY to sound like Segovia yet you might hear a bit of Muddy waters or Robert Johnson in there…and you know if you see a shot from Barrow, Alaska probably Alex Webb did not take it!! Nor did Anders….once you are INSIDE a genre , then it is the subtleties that give us the clues…and some “authors” move around and mix it up a bit like Ben Harper or Chris Anderson and still they are distinct if you have the right ear or the right eye…

    there is always a “tip off” or a subtle giveaway ..could be the subject matter as described above, or could just be the mood or the moment or the “message”….

    great authors are gonna leave behind a little fingerprint…they just cannot help themselves…and you can see it a mile away…

    cheers, david

  • ::smile:: I still suffer from multiple personality disorder with my work but I like to think it’s fewer personas as time goes on and as they start to merge.

  • David…

    Thanks!
    I completely understand Tom Hyde’s post. I’m “everywhere” photographically. I shoot too many styles and subjects. I don’t know if that’s just too bad, although I’ve got a hunch it probably is. The thing is I’m 41 years old tomorrow and I’m getting impatient with myself. I want to take the next step…making choices about what to photograph and what not to photograph. I spend the day visually over whelmed , and it’s so easy to make work that’s “all over the place” like I’m doing right now. So I’m going to try and find my vision.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Happy birthday PAUL !!!…may the spirits be with you …your vision is in YOU !!!

    BURNIANS,I LOVE YOU ALLLLLLLL !!!

  • CIVI!!

    Thank you very much. How you’re doing these days?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    PAUL,

    we are trying to coordinate our moves for the Revolution here in Grecolandia…All these years with my chickens I realized that I became one of them…(probably I am the rooster) calling :

    Ain’t found a way to kill me yet
    Eyes burn with stinging sweat
    Seems every path leads me to nowhere, Mmm
    Wife and kids household pet
    Army green was no safe bet
    The bullets scream to me from somewhere, Mmm

    Here they come to snuff the rooster
    Yeah here come the rooster, yeah
    You know he ain’t gonna die
    No, no, no oh, you know he ain’t gonna die…
    Alice in Chains

    and life goes on…we are ALL One and I believe in the Universe !!!

    Now, let’s celebrate and bring the cake and the wine…oime,so many pictures,so many stories to see and “feel”…I missed you ALL MY BURNIANS …feels good to be home

    VIVAAAAA…may the party begins!!!

  • Paul, I’ve been a newspaper shooter all my life, so I’ve always been paid to “be all over the place.” The stuff I shoot outside of that context, though, has, for good or bad, “Jim” written all over it. I can’t get away from it. I didn’t work to establish a “look”…I just shot a hell of a lot of photos for a lot of years.

    I think if you want to achieve come kind of clear authorship, you are going to have to decide where your interest is. It’s an old saying, but it is true, that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. That’s certainly true where authorship is concerned. There is no simple answer, though. YMMV

  • JIM POWERS

    yes, that is IT….thank you

  • a civilian-mass audience

    You
    Make
    Me
    Vulnerable…is that it?…hmmm…

  • Jim…

    Thank you very much for your wise words…
    Here’s a video I hope you like it:

  • Jim…

    Here also a pretty candid interview…

  • THE MARVELLOUS THING IS THAT IT’S painless,” he said. “That’s how you know when it starts.”

    “Is it really?”

    “Absolutely. I’m awfully sorry about the odor though. That must bother you.”

    “Don’t! Please don’t.”

    “Look at them,” he said. “Now is it sight or is it scent that brings them like that?”

    The cot the man lay on was in the wide shade of a mimosa tree and as he looked out past the shade onto the glare of the plain there were three of the big birds squatted obscenely, while in the sky a dozen more sailed, making quick-moving shadows as they passed.

    “As the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment, man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”

    “Few buildings are vast enough to hold the sound of time, and now it seemed to George that there was a superb fitness in the fact that the one which held it better than all others should be a railroad station. For here, as nowhere else on earth, men were brought together for a moment at the beginning or end of their innumerable journeys, here one saw their greetings and farewells, here, in a single instant, one got the entire picture of the human destiny. Men came and went, they passed and vanished, and all were moving through the moments of their lives to death, all made small tickings in the sound of time–but the voice of time remained aloof and unperturbed, a drowsy and eternal murmur below the immense and distant roof.”

    “Beside her her father sat, his hands crossed on the head of his stick, the rigid bar of his moustache beaded with moisture like frosted silver. She closed the compact and from beneath her smart new hat she seemed to follow with her eyes the waves of music, to dissolve into the dying brasses, across the pool and the opposite semicircle of trees where at sombre intervals the dead tranquil queens in stained marble mused, and on into the sky lying prone and vanquished in the embrace of the season of rain and death.”

    How can you determine authorship in anything? De Buffon was right: the style is the man himself. How the man tells the story, how he plays the instrument, how he takes the photograph, how he paints the picture, tells you what you need to know. Can anyone really confuse Frank with Cartier-Bresson, El Greco with Zubaran, or Hemingway with Faulkner, or Fitzgerald with Wolfe? I don’t think so. Authorship begins with the author trying to say something. His success as an author comes when what he is trying to say and what he does say come very close to one another. Dissatisfaction with the space between what was imagined and what is created is what drives the author to keep trying until he gets the thing right.

  • David, Jim Powers… Speaking (as we sometimes do) of the old newspaper days, I’ve recently had the privilege of working with JBruce Baumann, who I think you recall as a photographer and/or picture editor at National Geographic. He was also a longtime photographer and editor at the Evansville Courier and Press, a smallish town midwestern newspaper and journalism professor at SIU and IU as well. In essence, Baumann is a quintessential old-time newspaper guy, very traditional, and probably very much like Jim Powers. Anyway, as luck would have it, he retired to the rural county where I was raised and started a photo magazine. My second story, a feature on my old high school history teacher, for the magazine appears in the current issue.

    http://www.poseymagazine.com

    You know my photography trends subversive, both in style and content, but I’ve greatly enjoyed doing this kind of traditional photojournalism. And somehow, now that anything goes in photo essays, both in style and substance, it feels somehow more subversive to do an old style spread about a small town high school teacher than yet another abstract exposé about transgender prostitutes in Iquitos.

    Anyway, David and Jim, if you get a minute, check out Posey Magazine. It may bring back memories of a dying art, the Life Magazine type spread, the way, at least a way, we were taught to do it in J-School at the Mizzous and IU’s.

  • 7 of 11 in this spread are of the same old guy….is that the subversive thing???
    hmmmmm!
    ….. So those iquitos ladyboys.. they still wanna make clicky clicky with the camera?? might be an idea.

    or maybe the waltons are on the comeback trail.
    goodnight jim-bob
    goodnight john-boy
    goodnight mary-sue-ellen-emmmylou

    ……continues ad-nauseum.

  • MW

    J Bruce Baumann is an old friend…who used to be a “young guy” and a bit of a progressive at that…we worked together on a couple of stories at NatGeo, and our main intent at the time was to “shake em up”…so that is how i remember J Bruce….i like Posey…does harken to the “good old days” in style and substance, yet it has its place at the table…

    AKAKY

    you said it way better than did i…as usual

    cheers, david

  • Well John, to answer your question about the subversive angle requires a bit of contemplation about the history of photojournalism, as well as a consideration of what “subversive” means. What, exactly, does a particular work or genre subvert?

    The photo essay itself was originally subversive. It subverted the idea that photography could only be used to illustrate a story, not to tell one. Then with emergence and evolution of Life Magazine and iconic photo essays such as Eugene Smith’s “The Country Doctor,” that once subversive idea became conventional. As the photo essay’s conventions solidified, it got to where one had to conform to them. Same old song and dance.

    Then of course people began to resist conformism, to subvert the conventions. DAH was a pioneer in that regard. But there were many conventions that needed subverting. Blurry photos, skewed horizons, cutting people’s heads off, the idea that photojournalism was a craft, not an art; the belief that a photograph should only show what’ actually there, not attempt to communicate what something feels like. That it should be always objective, never subjective. All of those conventions were successfully subverted.

    But the record goes round and we are now in the stage where what was once subversive is now conventional. For example, when three accomplished photographers tackle a subject as vast as the Amazon, or 50 cover the post Soviet realities of eastern Europe, or 100 explore the lives of children living underground in Ulan Bator, and they all come back with nearly identical stories, both substantively and visually, that’s a pretty good indication that new conventions have been established. And new ways to conform mandated.

    And now these new conventions that dictate photography be art and photojournalism subject have brought us to a place where photojournalism has lost, or is certainly in the process of losing, all credibility with the general public. Witness the travesties of fakery that were exposed at the recent POYI awards. You just can’t trust that a picture from a top photojournalist is real.

    So in that context, I think a small magazine like Posey with the old-time photojournalism sensibility is a bit subversive. I’m sure if the 100 photographers moved on to Posey from Ulan Bator, nearly all of them would produce grainy, high contrast faux black and white photos of meth casualties, with maybe a few side trips to poverty in the African American community and strip clubs. It’s likely none of them would see, or at at least produce a photo essay about anything positive in the place.

    And perhaps that brings us to the most subversive idea in the conversation. The “Country Doctor” ethos that the kind of photojournalism that succeeds at making a small difference in a particular community may be just as valuable, if not more so, than 100 photographers failing to change the world with dramatic photographs from the Ulan Bator underground or the whorehouses of Iquitos.

    David, I’m glad to hear that about JBruce. I don’t know him personally, only as an editor and photographer. Hopefully some day I can learn more about his previous work.

  • MW,

    It could be subversive as you say…your argument has value but me thinks this is just remaining conservative….
    Playing it safe.

  • I should add that I see nothing wrong with staying conservative as long as you don’t use this as an excuse to being complacent or worse….getting stuck on your ways.
    Change is good….on the other hand like the saying goes a change is not always and improvement.

  • Semantics are a bitch. I never used the word “conservative.” I was discussing the difference between “subversive” and “conventional.” I would describe Erica’s project, which I know quite well, as subversive and very much so as it subverts the conventions of traditional documentary photography. But I guess if you want to bring “conservative” into it, I’d say “Sherpas of Brooklyn” is extremely conservative. It was shot on a medium format film camera, followed a strict set of rules and is generally consistent with classical composition strictures. Its very basic conservative nature very much enhanced its subversiveness, imo. So you see? “Subversive” and “Conservative” are not necessarily antonyms. A work can be both.

  • mw
    Thanks for the link to Posey Mag. Love you piece. I’m a fan of well done traditonal, no bullshit work. Edgy is over-rated and gets boring fast.

  • You wrote:

    “it feels somehow more subversive to do an old style spread”

    in no way shape or form do I say this in a negative way…but I do not see subversion….I see conservative.
    I do get your point. It’s not hard to understand….I just disagree.
    What I’m saying isn’t hard to understand either.
    Yours and mine are just opinions in the end. Semantics as you put it.

    BTW…the opening shot of your published article is a great shot.

  • DAH – Please check you email asap…

  • Hey Carlo, no worries. It’s certainly a question about which reasonable people can disagree, though most reasonable people would probably agree with your argument more than mine. Sometimes I indulge in a bit of hyperbole in order to make a larger point.

    I do find the semantics angle endlessly interesting, though, and most often frustrating. In photography, assuming we’re not talking about the actual subject photographed such as Occupy Wall Street or CPAC, I really have no idea what is conservative or what is progressive or any other political type description. It’s difficult enough using the conventional, unconventional, subversive framework of looking at it but I can’t think of a group of words more apt. Then we get into terms like photojournalism, documentary photography, photo essay, and based on a true story. As someone with traditional photojournalism training and experience, I have a pretty solid notion of what that should be, which is to depict observable reality as objectively as possible. Documentary photography, on the other hand, seems to open the door for a more subjective, even propagandistic approach, though what it depicts should still be objectively real. Then you have a few examples like Erica’s Sherpas of Brooklyn or my Bunker Mentality that take it to an entirely metaphorical level. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of that as long as it’s honestly labeled, or at least not dishonestly labeled. Where Pellegrin and the POYI went wrong was in labeling metaphorical documentary photography as photojournalism. It’s just not.

    Where does that leave the old feature, the community interest/service photo essay that was popularized by Life Magazine, perhaps epitomized by Smith’s Country Doctor, and carried on by a few relatively obscure outlets like Posey Magazine? Perhaps they are still everywhere and I’m just missing it, but it seems that the profession has mostly given up on the telling of simple tales in order to save the world and/or make some kind of splash in the art world. Personally, I’m all for saving the world and/or producing and exhibiting fine art, but it was nice to take a little time out from all that and provide a small public service the old fashioned way.

  • If I had photographed the story you did for Posey magazine it would look different. That is easy to understand. Same subject matter, different visuals. Same story….not really.
    It’s hard for me to understand objective reality. There is not ONE objective reality and it goes without saying that one is better than the other. It’s akin to arguing about a shade of yellow.
    I think of Elliot Erwitt’s Nixon vs Khrushchev photograph.
    It shows you what happened but how funny how it was misconstrued.

    I’ll quote from one of the articles I posted yesterday:

    “De Middel went one step further with The Afronauts, which tells the story of Zambia’s failed space programme in 1964. The fictive narrative is based on true accounts de Middel found of that programme. “For me, it’s the most successful documentary story I’ve made in my life. If you go back to the definition of photojournalism, it’s all about telling a story with images, and in this case I’m telling a story that happened in the 1960s. There were no images available, so I had to create these images. I wasn’t deliberately playing with fiction, I was using what I could use.”
    De Middel is adamant that The Afronauts is documentary photography. “If not, then what is it? Why does photography have to be either documentary or an art piece? Why do we feel the need to classify? And why is one better than the other? It’s about telling the story with images, and the story about these Afronauts is true. In a sense, I was working as a historian – rebuilding what happened and documenting it,” she says.”

    Of course Christina De Middel herself calls her work “documentary” and puts it in that category but it was based on truth not fiction. This is not photojournalism……of course….but in the end it’s the story that matters….what you want to say about a particular topic, subject…whatever you want to call it.

  • MW…

    I’m surprised you chose those images for publishing…

  • PAUL. Many many thanks for the Henry Jacobson link. I just spent a very happy hour or so going through his stuff, both still and motion, and I find that it resonates very strongly with me. So very strong visually (and thats what the medium is all about right?). For sure not to everyones taste (what is?) but no denying the impact. As soon as I have some disposable money I will buy the book and a print or two.
    …the other link I wasnt so keen on.

    Did you finish the book yet??

  • John Gladdy…

    Yes, I’ve finished the book, in fact I read it three times in a row. Found his whole life highly interesting, so far removed from anything I’ve ever lived. Thoroughly enjoyed it and those paintings, oh wow I fell in love with them the first time I saw them on that video with you wandering round your house. Great thing is the book has a happy ending, nice that. I saved it for my summer hols which ended last Monday. I’ll get down to writing my review tomorrow, too busy this last week with work and kids.
    I’m pleased you liked that link, I also loved the stuff reminded more of paintings than photography. The stuff has soul…

  • its funny but now after the benefit of some breakfast and a few coffees I am less struck by the work than I was earlier. The fashion reportage stuff I love, and that is what caught my eye most, the motion stuff is interesting, but on second at look some of the ‘contemporary’ work it does not grab me as much.
    Just goes to show I guess.

  • John…

    Well the important thing point is you had some fun before breakfast, even though it was a false impression!

  • John Gladdy…

    I’m very curious to hear your reaction to this woman’s work. Rarely these days am I attracted to photographs without the physical presence of humans or animals, however I like this work a lot…

    http://jessicabackhaus.net/movie.html

  • Paul.
    My contribution to the world of instacrapstagram. Mostly without people and quite frequently of the banal
    Some are taken with eyes shut. all are cropped to make a frame. all are given whatever skin works best.none take more than 3 minutes to make. and I could hit the delete button on all of them without any feeling of loss at all…….because they are essentially…crap. A painting by numbers rembrandt kit from walmart.
    http://instagram.com/crapstagram_man#

  • John Gladdy…

    Actually I liked a few of those images, so much so I’m your first follower. Should I be worried about my crap tastes? Don’t know, perhaps you just underrate your talent too much…

  • I’m finding Instagram to be a wonderful kick-in-the pants to get me shooting again just for the fun of it.

    As I think I’d said here a couple of weeks ago, I’d lost my zest for photography. I’m sure it had a lot to do with all the time and effort spent on preparing stuff for the publishing of my book, but whatever the reason, I had gotten so I only took photos for projects. That meant I only carried my camera around when I planned to work on one of those longterm projects. And I didn’t even know how to use my iPhone to take pictures.

    For the first several years after getting serious about photography in 2006, I never went anyplace without my camera and was always on the lookout for things to shoot. Well, now I am back to feeling that way again, this time using my iPhone and posting pics on Instagram. I have no expectations and pure delight in the process. And I am seeing some amazing photos taken by people who find and follow me, people who live all over the world. They are opening my eyes to things I’ve never seen before as well as to familiar subjects seen from unusual perspectives.

    It has gotten me out of my rut and given me a lot of joy. I don’t expect these Instagram images to go anyplace or do anything…and that’s the very best part of all. Now I go around “seeing” again. It’s like I’m on a scavenger hunt every day looking for new subjects and different ways of shooting.

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with simply having fun with photography!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I am going to buy a smartphone!!!…I want to follow you,FOLLOW ALL of YOU…I am a civilian after all…
    shhh…don’t say that to the Greek government…shhh

    I love you ALLLLLLL…viva OUR PATRICIA !!!

  • Hey Civi, dear Burnian, it’s so good to see you again. We missed you at LOOK3. See you in 2015!!!

    Mug love from Patricia

  • Hey everybody! Nice write up for Anton’s Yakuza work here:

    http://www.sickchirpse.com/yakuza-photos/

  • CIVILIAN

    yes, you on Instagram would be so so much fun to follow…and get Vissaria on there too…yes?

    cheers, david

  • a civilian-mass audience

    OUR PATRICIA,

    “Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” we are going to dance again with WENDY,AUDREY …and ALL OUR BURNIANS…oh,and thank you for the “sweet light”…!!!
    We are a BURNING Family!!!

    Love,Peace and Photography
    your civi

  • a civilian-mass audience

    MR.HARVEY,

    hihiiihiiii…you are amazing,such a jokester….hiii, I am a follower !!!
    hmmm,now,about the young Lady,let’s see…so many locks,so little time;)

    YES,YES,YES !!! Reporting from Broken Grecolandia(former Greece) soon,soonest …you have been warned !!!

    oime, MR.HARVEY… pandora’s box…

    P.S THANK YOU from ALL the civilians of the Universe!

  • “I do think of photography as a perfectly legitimate artistic language, but I believe it is underused or misused most of the time. The world is not made out of what we see but from what we do. Photographers who ignore this state of things—and today, as in the past, most of them do—reduce photography to its capacity for recording reality. They don’t take responsibility for their position while looking at the world and end up assuming voyeuristic, sociological or aesthetic stands”

    Antoine D’Agata

  • “Nan Goldin has taught me is to stand up, against all odds, in a political and existential struggle for survival. I don’t feel close to her because of some similar experience of marginal communities, or some alleged obsession with sex and drugs, but because she never gave up. She never hesitated to compromise her health or sanity for the sake of her work and I am just grateful to her for her courage and stubbornness, for staying faithful to her own pain, fear and desire.”
    A.D’Agata

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