Monthly Archive for May, 2008


most of you are right now either working on personal essays or are trying to think of a suitable project…we chat so much here about essays, connecting pictures, editing for either concept or story, and are generally thinking of a "whole"….

me too…just like many of  you, i am  right now trying to get a handle on my "Off For a Family Drive" project …i do this, of course, by photographing…thinking without shooting does not work for me …now i am in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and photographing "random" families over our holiday weekend….working on my family too…but i  drive , have coffee, think it all over, get confused, get clarity,  let my mind wander off into space while someone is talking to me about the waves for surfing, think about giving it up, think it is the best idea i have ever had, or maybe worst idea ,and generally torture myself to death!!  what fun…..

when i was in college, and probably before, when i went to the school library i would read every book in sight except the ones i was assigned to read…my education came from those "random" books i think…it was always more fun doing something i was not supposed to be doing!!! human nature i reckon, and certainly dah nature…

what about random pictures??  i shoot them all the time (as below) and they end up usually "going nowhere"…but i can’t help myself….if i see something interesting, for whatever reason, i will take a picture…i always have my camera…perhaps even most of my pictures are "random"….what about you…what do you do with your offhand "random pictures"?  are these pictures merely an "escape valve" ,as was my library reading, or are they an integral part of your work as a whole???




ok, please, no more phone calls or e-mails to Karen Mullarkey!!!  the woman is overwhelmed…Karen  says her e-mail is on total overload…her computer is smoking!!! she cannot handle any  more portfolios or inquiries from us  at this point…

from now on , if we get a request like this, i think i will have to select a few of you to submit…an "open call" will just create chaos…. this should now lead to a discussion on how to approach an editor, how many pictures to show, etc etc….actually, i know Karen’s frustration….most of you have websites with just way way too much to view…maybe this is terrific for your friends etc., but busy editors trying to see what a photographer can do, just is not going to "edit" for you…

there should be a big difference between your web presentation and your archive…two totally different animals….many fail to see the difference…..

rather than really seeing the good pictures you do have, many editors will just exit in frustration over just too too much miscellaneous material…they do not want to go on a treasure hunt…they want to see the really best work …fast, concise, clear…period…

this will lead me now to interview two or three professional editors for you, so you can hear it directly from them…

this is a topic that comes up from time to time…or maybe even all the time…EDITING, PRESENTATION….
do most of you feel that editing/presenting is your most formidable task???

pro work…..

i just got a call from my old friend Karen Mullarkey, formerly picture editor at Newsweek, Day in the Life projects etc etc…she has been impressed with the community here and is ready to perhaps hire a few of you with qualified portfolios….

i am NOT acting as an agent, just as a friend, but Karen assured me that these assignments were well paid,  photojournalistic in nature, black & white, and photographers would retain all copyrights and use (i would endorse nothing less)…

the locations for shooting are: Shanghai, London, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Memphis..if you live in or near one of these cities and are interested please contact: ME!! 

it would give me pleasure if even one of you was chosen for this work…but, i have no stake in it whatsoever and will NOT be able to answer any questions that you might have…..i am just a messenger….i will say that i trust Karen and have known her for many years as a highly qualified picture editor….

our profile is obviously growing here which is flattering to all of us…the fact that a working picture editor would use this forum now as a potential assignment  source is pretty amazing…. of course, i will always pass on any freelance work that i may know about which i think would be appropriate for you….


i have gone over everyone’s suggestions for a month long project ….some ideas are fairly complete and some are in "development"….it would be nice to have all photographs  "in" by around june 15 for our first "go around" of completed assignments…..

ok, here is how i see it right now…..i chose these photographers based on their ideas and my opinion of their ability to "make it work"….


James Chance ……………"Living in a Cemetery"

Jean Sébastien Bréault….."Mixed Heritage"

Cristina Faramo …………."Women’s Recovery House"   

Panos Skoulidas………….."Venice Beach"   

David McGowan ………….."Garage Sale" 

Jonathan Hanson…………."Crime Scene"

Marcin Luczkjowski ………"Hometown"

Bob Black …………………"Bones of Time"

photographers with projects in development, but not yet totally "realized" include  Erica McDonald , Eric Espinosa, Audrey Bardou, and Kyung Hee Lee….discussions with these photographers and others will go on this week and assignments could be made at any time…but, i do not want to have more than 10 photographers on assignment this month….even that is probably too many, but let’s see how it goes.

there are no requirements or expectations on "quantity" of work …there will, of course,  be high expectations from all of us regarding the "quality"…i will publish here the best pictures from each set of assignments  along with a short story written by the photographer or a writer of the photographer’s choice…i will discuss and work with each photographer on the picture selection process…this will be a collaborative effort between thee and me…..

some of you may enjoy posting "as you go" for group critique….others may want to wait until the end before showing your final selection….

if you feel that i somehow missed the point of your proposal or if you want to re-submit your idea , please feel free to do so….this is totally a "work in progress" and i am running this in the same way that i would run a workshop assigning process and the way many "real world" assignments are given…

i also plan  to have my colleagues in the "real world" help to edit your work….iconic photographers and editors alike…so, now is your chance to show what you can do ……

if you feel your story cannot be done or is not going well, please say so….we can give an assignment to someone else and wait for you to re-think or re-structure….you definitely want to use this time and this space to your best advantage….


i am not always proud of my country…..well, let’s just say that i am not always pleased with the "official side" of things….but, of course, it is my right to not always approve of decisions made by those who have been elected to high office….so, i have my vote and i use my vote…but, the one thing of which i have always had a sincere appreciation for is  most of the folks who live here….the 99% who just want to take care of their personal lives, support their families, and live as good and simple a life as possible…

the Mississippi River Delta is flat country….not a hill in sight…often way too cold or way too hot….there is a beauty to it, but it is subtle…..large plantation owners used to rule this delta country…..having often hundreds of slaves to pick cotton which was barged down river to New Orleans and then shipped all over the world….people all over the world wore shirts made from the cotton coming from the fields all around the small house where i am now staying…sitting here, i can feel the history….my fantasy for "time travel" would be to go back in time…..i try to imagine now what it may have been like 100 years ago  in the spot where i now sit…..i can almost  "smell" the history  as a thunder storm rolls loud and black  across the flats, creating waves in the wheat fields resembling now a green tumultuous sea….

from these former cotton fields and cotton pickers came art….out of commerce, out of slavery, out of greed, out of necessity, out of Africa, came art…yes, the one pure contribution from my country of which i am very proud is the MUSIC….yes, the music; blues, jazz, rock n’roll and , yes, rap , came from these cotton fields… all of the arts , music, sculpture, painting, photography, filmmaking, opera, ballet etc. no one country or culture "owns" all of it….but, out of these cotton fields and out of these little one room churches came the voice of an enslaved people….and the voice of the music that came from the fields where i now write to you, is…yes,  the BLUES…. this art, this voice, is still heard around the world….and an art form no other country can claim…think Robert Johnson,  Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker….

i am here to photograph families on my cross country project…..and it is all about the "blues"….i almost feel like never leaving here….i would like to meet more families…the folks i have photographed this week have been so so gracious…way way beyond the cliché "southern hospitality"…..i will deliver quickie prints today to the family i photographed yesterday…the family of 84 yr. old blues singer  T Model Ford…my pictures have him in front of  his  humble home …but in this modest house is a photo gallery….T Model’s wife Stella has curated this "show" and has lined the walls with snapshots of his life and performing  travels bringing  these "cotton fields back home" to his international fans…

often here we  discuss a multitude of factors that make up  a "life in photography"….most of you are young ,and the rest  of you young at heart, but  every once in awhile someone on this forum  mentions their age…..says something like "well, at my age it is probably too late to start a career in photography"…….yesterday, T Model told his story… took another sip out of his ever present bottle of Jack Daniels…sang a bit…just for fun…he always has fun….grinning  he told me that he did not even pick up a guitar until he was 58 years old…T Model  said " yes, my  fifth  wife brought home a guitar one day and ordered , you gonna be a blues man…well, i was born in a ditch…i been shot, stabbed and poisoned…i cannot read or write… but i picked up that guitar she brought  and taught myself how to play"…, people from all over the world come to hear T Model……he is one of the most popular singers on the blues circuit …so, listen up…any live performance now by the likes of B.B.King, Jimmy Burns, Mississippi Slim ,Honey Boy Edwards, Willie King,  and T Model  should be savored….there ain’t gonna be any more comin’ quite like these boys….

so, my question to you today should be obvious…do you let your age (either "too young" or "too old") influence how you think about your work, or are you oblivious (as i am) to your "calendar age" and move forward  with gusto???


T Model photographed by Michael Lloyd Young




like most freelance photographers, i end up trying to do too many things at
once…we sort of have to, because juggling our schedules and our time
is definitely an art in and of itself..we must try to make sure the balls do not all hit the
ground at the same time…

now i am trying to get to California for two reasons….work on my family project and see a gallerist…there is a possibility that i could do a weekend seminar with the Julia Dean Workshops on the weekend of  May 30… this  would finance my trip to the wild wild west since i am self funded on my family essay…

so, this would be a last minute weekend jam..Julia needs 15 students to sign up to make it possible…she cannot market this class this fast….so, i thought i would mention it here to see if there are enough Californians here that could make this happen…if you think so, call Julia Dean…if a few of you were to show up for this class, which is smack in the middle of Venice Beach, yes Venice Beach,  then you might just imagine the weekend we would have…hmmmmm..

if this works , cool…if not, i have plenty to keep me busy…i just thought the timing of this was fortuitous.

for those of you who freelance, are you often pre-occupied with juggling your schedule, as i am possibly doing here, or do you stick to an original plan???

your thoughts, your work…

i think it might be easier if you post your suggestions for an assignment right here, along with a link to your work…of course, i will also be reading the comments  and your suggestions on the previous post…i think i have seen all of the links sent so far, but i will double check…in two or three days i will finish making all assignments for this month,  but will be  out there ahead thinking  about future  projects all  the time…i look forward to your ideas and your new work….please remember: keep it simple, doable…



good idea??

ok, i might have a good idea….but, i will leave it up to you to decide right here and now…

it is based on the premise that all of us on this forum are struggling with how best to showcase your work…yes, we do a lot of talking and there is some brilliant writing here always, but why not really "show our photographic hand" in the most provocative way…

this idea also does not conflict at all with my own photographic work which will flow right along with yours…that has always been the potential danger of this forum, that either i would "lose" myself to you by sacrificing my work to on-line time,  or you would get lost in the same way by not shooting because you were spending too much time here…..i think this idea solves both potential problems…it should also ramp up creative vibes for all..

so, here is my idea:

i give out short assignments or projects….on an individual basis …..maybe i choose two or three photographers per week or per month or whatever…at the end of the week or month (we can decide) each photographer presents this work right here for us all to see and critique…

for example, i ask Erica if she has time to shoot 5 portraits of people  next week that somehow reflect the election process in the U.S.; i suggest to Glenn that he give us whatever he can on a "ringer" bar life; find out if Katia can follow just one of her "lost" teenagers for a few days to see a parent; have Rafal do something very special with his wife and new son; see if Marcin can photograph his wife with her work; make Panos stay in one place for a week, like Venice Beach, and do self-portraits either literally or figuratively….

these are just examples, perhaps not viable ones, but i think you get the idea…and the photographer would either agree or modify or choose not to do it or whatever…but each assigned photographer would go out for several days, personal time permitting,  and do something as per announced to this group in advance..sure, the pressure would really be "on" because we would all be waiting and, more pressure still, we would all know the intent of the photographer in advance…….anybody up for this??

we would all be doing  this  just as an excercise…no dinero for any of us…an all volunteer army….my fund for emerging photographers is growing, but i want to figure out the best way to distribute these funds among the photographers who are members of this forum…this seems like a great way for you to get to know each other better and for me to see you produce in a relatively short period of time..but quantity of pictures would never be the yardstick…one truly fine photograph is always enough..

in the coming weeks i will be selecting members of my jury of peers to help me select future photographers to be funded here by EPF….this will be a way for all of us to get to know you  better and in a realistic way…this is not a contest…there will be no "winner"… ..all of you will see all of the work just as it is presented by the photographer…the only burden will be on the photographer personally….

any photographer who thinks i do not know their work can send me a web link….since i would only assign perhaps two or three photographers  at a time, i would have plenty of time to see incoming new links, as would all of you as well…

i can feel it in my bones already that some of you may suggest the old tried and true notion of giving everyone the same assignment…this is always a nice little "game" but does not really tell a curator or an editor what you can really do with a subject that really "fits" you individually… my inclination is not to go for the "group assignment" concept…

when the time comes for me to be  able to give funded projects here and also continue an annual Emerging Photographer grant , all of us  will have a very good idea of the "pool of resources" from which jurors chose…various details will need to be worked out later…now i just want to get your opinions on the basic concept…

i think this sounds like fun….i would want it to be fun for you…otherwise there is no point to do it at all….i cannot see any downside to it, but maybe you do…i will only go forward with a full fledged mandate from you….

please let me know….good idea??