Monthly Archive for May, 2007

please come….


we just got this exhibit hung yesterday….honestly,  this was not really so difficult to hang because we literally tacked  the  44" x 32" pigment inkjet prints to the wall…no frames…raw like the subject…loose….experts hung five of my pictures, 8 feet x 6 feet prints, by wires from the ceiling…

as each print went up, i remembered back at the 2 years of  sweat that went into this one…hip hop….the culture…..unknown territory for me before National Geographic funded most of this project…this was surely one of the most challenging  stories to shoot i have ever faced…i will write about this for you under "work in progress" soonest…




now my friends, if you can prove  you are one of my readers, you are invited over to my place for the "AFTER PARTY" following the reception…and because of this difficult and unique collaboration by so many people , i promise you there will be one!! 

let’s see, we will need a good "code word" to substantiate your authenticity….hmmm, ok got it…how about "eyesight"…well, that is it for now anyway…i might change it, which means you will have to keep up with things…to avoid folks who will skip the show and just come to the "after party", you must whisper this word in my ear at the opening itself!!

seriously, it would really be cool if a bunch of you actually showed up…now that would turn computer time into "real time"….this whole project was in very real time….



somehow i have been spending my whole life trying to put together my "portfolio"….it is almost a joke really because i still do not really have one…if someone asks to see my portfolio now, i just send them a book, but for 20 years or so i honestly did not have a real "portfolio"…just never could  figure out how to make a good one…or exactly what was supposed to be in one….

ironically, i review portfolios for others all the time…i have looked at  so many that i do know what the pitfalls are and what makes a strong portfolio that will move you forward….and what will "strike a chord" for editors, art directors and publishers….for sure , your portfolio should reflect your style and your professional expertise if you are looking for editorial work or fantasizing your first book.. ..

for sure you do not want to show how many different kinds of things you can do … you should present  a singular vision.. you do not want to show how "many" good pictures you have made or really cool trips you have taken…..30 works which  show "you" are what most reviewers what to see….unique artistic  vision  , heartfelt involvement,  or  powerful  documentation  are the things that separate the "nice portfolios" from the "great" ones….

i mentioned in an earlier post that i had been drafted by my Magnum colleagues to help initiate an educational program for Magnum starting now  with the Magnum Festival celebrating our 60th "barely surviving the whole time"  year….but we HAVE survived 60 yrs……and i must say, survived on principle….we have survived because  we have  such unique, difficult, talented, multi-cultural, brave, renegade,individualistic, stylistic, unrealistic, pessimistic, optimistic, organic, egotistic, crusading, naive, all-knowing, not one like the other, photographers in our midst….

here in new york on june 17 we will have our first portfolio review program, "First Impressions"…go to the Magnum link here and check out the specifics…..this is not a recruiting program at all, but a program designed to help some of you think about your personal "next step"….tap into the accumulated knowledge of larry towell, alec soth, jim goldberg, susan meiselas, trent parke, mark power and yours truly….we all might just learn something….   

ann curry


energy….wow…wow…so much energy…..anyone who meets ann will feel this blast of energy in a split second…and you had  better hang on, because this woman is moving at the speed of light….and, in my opinion, for the purest reasons of better communication…..

for those of you in europe, south america, asia and africa you may not know ann….she is an american icon and an NBC News anchor for the Today Show…sometimes those of us in the print media really do not know if the "faces" on television are really reporters or just "reading the news"….i just met ann last night at a  Memorial Day gathering over at rob clark’s studio (read about rob "family/friends")….if you talk to ann, you will quickly realize she is the "real thing"….a true journalist and reporter….

"i like to do stories about people who have nothing…no political power, no voice….i want to give them a chance to speak" says ann, who was with her husband and two children at rob’s  and lei ling’s  "first day of summer" holiday barbecue….sure, ann is obligated to report whatever is happening each day, but she digs and pushes her crew and goes to battlefields like lebanon recently  and has no fear….she reaches a lot of people on television and she is totally a "real person" off camera…

and guess what else??  she loves photographers!! ann seems to know about everyone and everything in our print business …amazing really…when she speaks about photography she knows what she is talking about…she is seen above yesterday with her friend david turnley (and under "work in progress" with her two children)…she also shoots digi stills when she is on assignment…..

meeting ann was a nice way to start off the summer….positive energy turns into more positive energy…

who are these guys???

this is a tough one….you do not need to give me names, but just who they are in a generic sense…what  they do or what they have done…

hint: they are not photographers…

the winner here receives a signed copy of my "Divided Soul"…..



yesterday i posted a story about william albert allard under "family/friends"….in that story i mentioned his "healthy ego"….

we have already discussed the role "talent" plays in your work…

but now, i have a maybe more interesting question for you: how large a role does "ego" play in your work??

full moons etc……

i am such a romantic it is really sickening actually….full moons kill me……i am looking at a half-moon out my window right now and that is not bad either…cliche romantic that i am,  i like the wine and candlelight mood for "communicating" to someone with whom i am interested…jack johnson playing and my lights turned on in all the right places and reo-stated and tweaked just perfect…yes, i need the lighting just so so  so …

perhaps not oddly, one of the things that got me into writing in the last two years was that i had to "convince" the woman i was interested in by e-mail…yes, the worst…long distance "get to know you" mode….no tools…none of the above at all….only my keyboard and my thoughts…..we had long wonderful conversations about everything…seeing her name on my e-mail list, lit up my day….in addition to these often long missives , i started writing at least a poem a day and sometimes three or four…all this from just a 1/8th of a second of eye contact!!!

after three months of intense writing we finally "met"…..even after all of this, she  was not particularly "convinced" and after two years now of international drama,  i still do not think she totally  buys "my story"…but, i am working on it hard  and she surely "plays me" like a violin….and, of course, she says i do the same with her….but, two people could not have had a better time just enjoying each other than we have….good friends for one thing….and never mad for more than a few minutes… overnight anger or drama….no slammed doors…well, one…but always fast "kiss and make-up"…

but , alas, the worst again ….long distance "staying together" mode ….text messaging as a thread….chat line the high point of the day…unlike many photogs , my schedule is pretty flexible and assignments can often take me exactly where i want to go…and we have so much in common…. but an ocean or two in-between the two of us for long periods of time totally tests the veracity of the relationship…..only trust and friendship can bring you through….memories of the most romantic moments of all time are not enough to carry the weight of separation….

we met recently again in london….this was after a very long separation…..somehow we still "had it"…maybe even more….but now, real moves must happen….now or never….a poem and a moon  will not take me very far….


sorry, this was  a very long lead-in to my "relationships and work" story….or maybe this is the story….

it is often said that photographers lives make it very difficult to have a meaningful personal life……i do not believe this and it  has not been my case….

i am divorced, but not because of my  work….my ex-wife was such an amazing supporter of my work that i would not have made it at all without her gumption and spirit….and we were blessed with two amazing boys who make us both very proud…..she has re-married and we are all friends….my sons traveled with me on assignment all through their early years, so i had  a  relatively  normal  and even  particularly  special family life…and still do…so i am not "by the book", but i do have a very meaningful personal life…

but, successful marriage has eluded me … i "hard wired" all wrong?  i do not know. .. will i  always be too "independent"???  well, i would only be interested in a very independent woman… these are personal rhetorical questions really because there are no "answers"…

from all of your comments we know one thing… and listening and sharing and friendship and  mutual  respect  are the keys…and, for sure, romance had better be in there in a big way too!!!  full moons will always kill me….

relationships take work regardless of work done….i know many divorced photographers….i also have many friends in this craft  with thriving marriages , like bruce and emily davidson;  alex webb and rebecca norris  webb;  nick nichols and reba peck;  eugene richards and genine altongy;  to name four  just right off the top of my head….

none of us should make our work an excuse for a failed relationship… surely , we do need partners who "understand us" and  just as surely we must reciprocate by "understanding them" as well…only fair….

i did not plan on writing this story tonight…pretty sleepy….morning is usually better for me…and i might decide to delete this story at any moment…..i can only "blame"  that half moon out there pulling away….yes, yes, of course i will write a poem before falling asleep!!



last night i sat in the audience and listened to a master….a man i have respected my entire photographic life….humbling…..the man does not stop……and for  most of his work he never really left home….

bruce davidson’s lecture was concurrent  with his  exhibition "Time of Change"  at the Aperture Foundation  …bruce gave an "old fashioned" slide show with a carousel projector…ka klunk, ka klunk…each slide had to be focused….remember that??  but once the pictures were focused, all became "clear"….bruce is from chicago and started taking pictures when he was 10, but most of his work revolves around new york city where he and his wife emily and their two daughters have made their home for 50 years….

"East 100th Street" , "New York Gang" , "Subway", and "Central Park" are classics to be reckoned with.. and all photographed within 20 minutes of his home….his  current exhibition and  book "Time of Change" is  retrospective work from  the  50’s  to  the 70’s  and took bruce "out of town" to document  a changing time in the U.S. mostly involving the civil rights movement….but, last night he showed everything….his whole "portfolio"…his show flowed by in about 45 minutes….perfect…left us wanting more, left us realizing what a talent he is….i will publish some of this work in "family/friends" soonest…

bruce says he is going "retro"….he spends 6 hours in his darkroom everyday making black & white prints….the man is a machine……marathon man…..driven……a quiet renegade……yet a man who truly loves his wife of 40 years  ….when bruce stood up to speak, the first words out of his mouth were,  "does emily have a seat??"

when i first moved here 3 years ago , bruce and emily brought over food and wine to welcome me to the city….and i cherish the print on my wall (below)  he gave me from "East 100th Street"…i am proud to have bruce and emily as a friends…

oh yes, i almost forgot to tell you….i went extra early to Aperture,  hauling along my copy of "Subway" for him to sign…i have had that book for 20 years and have known bruce most of that time….what in the world took me so long??




"ruck" was always in the back…."uptown" was always in the front…i met both men at the same time in the bronx river project in the south bronx, but uptown usually did most of the talking…he is more the showman, ruck the perfect sidekick…

but on june 14, it is ruck who will be on center stage….the star…..the reluctant star because his  lifelong buddy uptown is in jail (see earlier story)……"razor ruckus"  will perform at my exhibit at the Powerhouse Arena solo… of nelly, snoop dogg, l.l. cool j, kanye west, and ice cube will be on the wall….but ruck will be the star….the real story of my hip hop work revolves around ruckus and uptown…two unknowns from the bronx..

ruck is the father of two daughters, litte deja photographed here with ruck on the 18th floor of his bronx projects…this little girl, his oldest, was not even born when i met ruck…

ruck came over to my loft yesterday….he brought some hand written lyrics on crumpled paper  which will serve as "living proof" text…ruck is pretty quiet in person, but what he has to say comes out in his rhymes…

it suddenly dawned on ruckus  just yesterday , when he saw the invitations and the layout on the wall, that he was going to be in the same book as the famous super-stars listed above….there are more pictures of ruck in the book than of snoop dogg….to see the look in ruck’s eyes at this realization was worth  all the sweat or whatever that i put into this project or any project beyond anything i could ever describe….i can only say that it was one of the most poignant moments i can ever remember between me and someone i had photographed ..

i have had show openings before and perhaps i will have a show opening again…but, not like this one…never…this opening is not for me… is  for ruck…..this will be ‘his night" of all nights in his life…..and i will be there for him…..

in flight magazines

flying can be kind of a pain sometimes, but i get in a "zen" kind of mood when i travel and so the whole process is relatively painless for me…besides, i look at the upside…i try to do things when i travel that i cannot possibly do any other time….like expense accounting… making my "to do" lists….like taking stock of my life….but mostly, like reading….that is all i do when i fly besides sleep….read and read….the movie is never good..

the next book i must read is al gore’s new book "The Assault on Reason"….there was a cover story on al in the current issue of "Time" which i read on the flight back from boston this morning….The Last Temptation of Al Gore"….a story all about whether al should run for president again, written by eric pooley who i had shot some pictures with many years ago when i was doing some freelancing for "Time", my first professional magazine work….al gore’s new book is evidently about awareness and action and a democracy that needs an overhaul…i will say no more because i have not  read the book….

al gore is not a close personal friend, but his wife tipper is…..or rather i should say, she is a really close personal friend of jodi cobb and i am often in social scenarios with jodi….tipper is a photographer…she was in my class as a student  at rich clarkson’s workshop program in jackson hole, wyoming just last fall…tipper worked with jodi at the newspaper in nashville way back when…i will do a story on tipper under "family friends" soonest…

anyway, we all remember al gore’s famous gaff about being the "inventor of the internet"….i do not remember the details of that statement , but he did take a lot of good natured "heat" for the comment….however, al gore may not have invented the internet, but he is one of the internet’s strongest supporters…..he feels we have lost touch with each other…that democracy is being hurt because we no longer talk to each other…

both print and television fail us in interpersonal communication…"letters to the editor" is as close as it comes….gore  sees the net as a community builder….interchange…chat…conversation… doubt, one to one chat in the living room #1…..internet exchange of ideas #2….the other media fall way way behind in this regard… is just not their nature….not interactive…

traditional media offer  "presentations and packages" by editors and producers who are trying to figure out what their audience wants…with the net, the "speaker", writer or photographer goes  straight to his or her audience and builds the  audience with "personalized" content….the author’s content…a story…a stream of conscience tale ….if nobody likes this  content they go somewhere else…but if you do have an audience, you have an audience… period     .. built with your content….print magazines at their peak had "voices"….henry luce….melville bell grosvenor


i do not know whether al gore will run for U.S. president or not….he is in such a respected position right now as a sincere alarmist for our fragile environment and as a champion for the net …he claims we may have to fight sooner rather than later for freedom on the net as  we had to fight for a free press….and the man has been a major environmentalist since he was in college..gore  has spent his whole adult life with global warming as his major concern….al gore might just be better off  staying right where he is….

but i think he is right about the community building power of the net….those of you who are still reading now know exactly what i mean…look at us right here…pretty cool right???  how else could we be doing this??  nice for me because it helps me keep my thoughts "organized" and is becoming the same kind of "diary" of life i did as a 14 yr. old photographer….and hopefully, this is nice for you because i try to put myself "in here" only to the extent that it will be useful information for you…mostly to let you know that i have the same problems as you or have had the same problems as you  or certainly will in the future  have the same problems as you ….the only thing i really have to "offer"  is  my current experience in the publishing world… both  magazines and books…. and  my long term friendships with so so  many people in this biz….and mostly  with the shared experiences i live  every time  i teach a workshop….i believe my students will tell you…

if i can keep this audience, we can do some really amazing things….here i am dreaming again, but sometimes my dreams happen…actually, they usually happen!!! once i focus, i am on the case!!

i am not a "plan oriented" person…i act spontaneously , recklessly, passionately…instinctively….for this i pay a price……i scramble with finances always…total disaster…..i must have some kind of organization wired into my hard-drive or i could not possibly have been a professional photographer all this time…but, you would never know it by looking….i mean really really i am a nightmare on this front….

i pay this price…but, i also receive this reward…..freedom….real freedom…feels good….so why not take this special time in my life and move it forward in a meaningful way??….what i want to do is create some production money for you… that a selected few of you would be able to go work on a project of your choice….i would have to go find money….from corporations , from generous funders…this is not anything i have ever done…..but imagine if these donors ended up endorsing some truly creative photography  that would be printed in an annual super quality magazine format where the photographers had all the control..with just a little help from me maybe!!!   and an exhibit of course…..

the sponsors would get terrific press, prestige and a positive long lasting image with a young audience of serious photographers which is exactly who you guys are….there would be no direct product advertising in this annual…but, sophisticated logos front or back or whatever but with a "museum quality" look to it…

we use the net to "community build" and then take that to reality…to print…

another piece of this corporate funding i would want to go for free photo workshops in  developing  countries where the emerging photographers cannot  possibly afford one of the current workshops ….another major piece of good press for our donors…even patch it in with some worthwhile ngo projects and build a workshop around an issue….have part of this mythical magazine use these pictures too…

now anybody can have an idea like this….there must be better ones around…i only have one thing going….a voice, a personal voice… are the ones who have told me that …that is not my claim….those are the claims from the letters i receive from you…i do not edit those letters and i am still waiting for some "hate" mail of some kind….but honestly , the best part of this blog is "inside"….the comments….i can’t believe it sometimes when i read your letters…heartwarming, clarifying, philosophical and often poignant……it is only because of your comments that i even had the, perhaps unrealistic, perhaps doable, ideas laid out above….i sense my audience here….i think you sense it back…

this is definitely a "we" thing…an interesting experiment and  a new kind of collaboration….i certainly cannot do this without you….it would be fun if we even just could pull off one issue….so, let me know what you think…straight up….let’s face it, this seems like an exciting  thing to think about and if nothing comes of it, what have we lost???

all you have to do is be here….all i have to do is make it worthwhile…

quick trip

rushing out the door for a quick trip to blogging for  24 hours….i will be presenting my work via  a 15 minute slide show for a media buyers event…i am there to represent National Geographic…yes,a  freelance job and an easy one for me to do….i have no problem describing the virtues of the Geographic which has given me so so much….there will also be presentations by editors steve fine from Sports Illustrated and from amy koblenzer from Gourmet Magazine….

but, the best part is that i get to see my brother gary who lives with his family near boston in a classic little new england town by the sea…..when i took this job, i had my brother in mind….now there is a man with a relationship…..

gary and his wife becky have been married for over 30 years….3 children, all totally different from each other…… gary and becky  hold hands walking down the street….i asked becky last summer how it was being married all that time….she said " well, of course, we need our own space….but, when gary goes out to run an errand or goes to work or whatever, i am always so so happy when he just walks back into the room"

sounds like love to me….