Monthly Archive for July, 2008


Sally Mann had, early in her career, been accused  by some of shooting child pornography for making photographs of her naked children at home …the FBI raided the studio of Jock Sturges and confiscated his lifetime of work often concentrating on naked pre-pubescent teenagers on a public beach in France…and Antoine d’Agata will, at some point, have to explain to his 3 young daughters why daddy takes pictures of prostitutes….

there is no explanation needed of course at the fine galleries who represent these photographers works…and, of course, even the conservative lawmakers no longer chastise these artists for what they do…maybe they now even want to invest in a print or two!!!

these artists quite simply photograph their own lives….

one of the leaders in self documentation is of course Nan Goldin…her eloquent "Ballad of Sexual Dependency" is a landmark testament to the concept of  "my life is art" with sexuality as just a part of everyday life…Duane Michaels and  Robert Mapplethorpe certainly felt no need to "stay in the closet" and their work often reflects an inner peace…and the remarkable love story by Jacob Sobel, "Sabine," is a newer addition to the collection of fine personal essays…

so, how does one determine when a photographer is making "art" or stepping over the line to indecency???

last week, right here on our squeaky clean forum, controversy arose….our man Panos, never one to be called shy in the first place, took us all down his road of "discovery" with a new woman in his life….the revelations in his new work shocked some, rocked some, and made some readers here fire off charges that Panos had just gone too far this time..

now, wasn’t Panos supposed to be photographing his life??? no holds barred….to stick tight to his assignment ,yes this "event" should have happened at Venice Beach!!! not up in the mountains somewhere… but isn’t it all a part of his rather irreverent self exploration of his California lifestyle???

now, the other photographer who is doing self exploration here is Patricia….she is just as stylistically free as he….Patricia’s hypothetical "immobilization" keeps her from doing absolutely nothing…Patricia knows no bounds… she is as "liberal" as they come…and where some would see storm clouds, Patricia sees clear to the blue horizon…

i am mentoring both Patricia and Panos  towards book projects…these two photographer’s works  quite literally "look in the mirror" perhaps more than any two essays we have going here….these two have much much more in common than whatever differences may be apparent…i think i may be the only one here who has met them both and i see the irony of their similarity…

in critiquing much of the work here from you, i usually ask most of you to "loosen up" a bit…let yourself go…be who you really are….this does not mean i want to open Pandora’s Box and have you spin totally out of life control …but frankly, i would rather mentor a photographer  who is "too loose" rather than one who is "too tight"….."too tight" is hard to unwind …"too loose" can be guided to lead to the "edge" and it is right along this "invisible edge"  where the real magic of creativity lies…..

what do you think about this???  not just the right of photographers and artists to explore sexuality , but the deeper value of documenting their own lives for its own artistic sake…



Mike waiting for me to finish this post..the boy wants to hit the road!!!!!!


i must check out of my Iowa motel right now….heading for Chicago or somewhere near Chicago…i was reading comments, looking at links and made the comment below….i decided this might make a good post , so here it is:


do any of you ever go look at the links posted by forum readers under "student work/workshops"??? 

there are a lot of photographers here who never write, but who do
have some very interesting work…right now there are about 175
links…please check them out…

for those of you who have posted links, please be assured that I DO
LOOK….it is from this "pool" of work, as well as photographers on
assignment here, that i am looking for photographers to fund with the
Emerging Photographer Fund this fall….

my only problem with some of your links posted is that there is no
contact information for some of you…i cannot review the work of all
of you, but when i see someone with very interesting work, i would like
to make contact…

maybe what i should do is look at all links and then post the names
of photographers with whom i would either like to see more or make
contact…make sense??? just as an example, i randomly clicked on the
link of Sofia Quintas and saw some Polaroids of hers that were very
very interesting and nothing like the work she had submitted for the
EPF last fall..but, i have no way to contact her…

yes, yes, i am very busy shooting…and i hope all of you are as
well..but, i do pay attention to what is happening here … because i
am doing my own work it does mean there are "lapses" in my posting
here, but this forum has taken on a life of its own, and i do not
intend to let it slide away…..

only a very small percentage of what is going on in my head ends up
in print on this forum, but do not for a nanosecond think that i am not
aware of your work…

I KNOW WHO IS DOING WHAT…but, if you think i have missed something of yours , please tell me so….

i cannot review every link nor edit all of you…but, i will see
your work and remember your work and "bookmark" your work.. i want to
make sure that all of the best will have a very fair and equal chance
at being considered for my jury this fall…

in the next month or so i want to have a very clear head about all
of the amazing work that is being produced by readers of this
forum…there is a lot going on and it is sometimes difficult for all
of us to keep up..but, i intend to keep up….and i will…

right now, i am waiting for assignments to be finished from
Bob,Cristina, Marcin, Erica, Jonathan, Kyunghee Lee, Audrey,Panos,
Sébastian, Eric, David M, and Patricia… as far as i know, i think
only James is finished…this is right off the top of my head, so
please correct me if i am wrong or have missed someone who is shooting
right now on assignment…

i will clear a space under Emerging Photographers on this site to
publish your essays when they are complete…and , of course, i am
ready to make new assignments when appropriate…

it is basically from these assignments that the EPF jury will choose
photographers for funding this fall….a photographer who posts a link
under "student work/workshops" will also be totally eligible, but
naturally photographers who are developing here before my "eyes" are
just going to have a better chance i think…

please do not think of this EPF as a contest….a contest is a one time award for a good picture or essay..goodbye…

do you not think i am still tracking very carefully the China essay of Sean Gallagher, last year’s recipient of the EPF???

our forum and EPF is about LONG TERM development and
RELATIONSHIP…think of this more like a relationship with a
traditional print magazine where photographers present their work and
editors decide "who will do what" based on the work and the editor’s
judgment on who is capable of completing any particular
essay…subjective yes, but it will all happen right in front of you as
it has in the past..

yes, we are traveling together into totally new territory…the "old
territories" are either gone or going away….fast…so, what have we
got to lose??? nothing that i can see…

your ideas, thoughts and most importantly YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS have a
place right here…A HOME….there are no "bosses"…this is just me
driving down the highway, taking my own pictures , looking at yours,
and having a jolly good time doing both….

peace, david

p.s. i am still reading and responding to  comments under the previous post "how the west was won"

how the west was won….



around 30,000 years ago the descendants of the Navajo and Apache tribes of New Mexico crossed the Bering Sea from Siberia and became nomadic tribes hunting freely in the fecund mountains and desert where the trendy town of Santa Fe now sits….

Europeans whose culture was far more "advanced" by the 16th century and were looking for "expansion", religious freedom and gold, rather quickly conquered with horses and guns… they killed and dispersed the indigenous tribes of the American West….precious few remain now on reservations and some sell "traditional" Indian handcrafts to the upscale tourists who now stroll the streets of Santa Fe…now Cowboy and Indian culture exist side by side happily trading with each other and both mostly forgetting the rather bloody and often sordid past…

Carlan Tapp (above right)  has not forgotten….he documents the current plight of the Navajo tribe with the modern day  incursion by the "white man" … this time  armed with oil and gas rigs and dynamite  often destroying the land and lives of modern day Native Americans …..Carlan is a Native American from the Wicomico tribe of Virginia, but has spent his life here in the Southwest using  his camera as a weapon to fight back….his powerful black and white imagery is a testament to the once dominant culture of this region…

every existing world culture today has, at one time or another, "replaced" another existing culture….it is the way of mankind…a part of human nature that has moved us all "forward" ….in the "big picture", war and conquering has given us tools and science and "advances" that would not have happened otherwise…but men and women like Carlan who write, paint, and photograph  also recognize the loss, the sadness and the poignant nature of what seem to be historical inevitabilities…

Carlan, Jerry Courvoisier (yes, Mike’s father) and i are now in Santa Fe teaching students how to think about photography…ways to use their cameras for something other than documenting their family vacation….photography as art, photography as reflection, and perhaps photography as a tool for social awareness….

i am curious where many of you "stand" with regard to photography as a "weapon"….there is a deep history in our craft of photographers who have devoted their lives to "saving the world"….what do you think??

since our species seems to move  forward  at a pace few of us can comprehend, does the work of Carlan and others have any effect, or are cultural events just pre-ordained and we all "saddle up and ride" ahead with no control of our fate??? 

“goin’ to hell”….

"I just don’t know how long I can take it down here anymore. Too much traffic nowadays, too many tourists. They have overbuilt the beach. When I came down here, things were different.The place is goin’ to hell"   

the look on Michael Halminski’s  face when he says this, reflects both pain and confusion…..the old days were better….i guess maybe they always are….or, so we "remember"….

i have known Mike and his wife Denise for about 20 years…we met on a fall day when i was down here in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX) shooting fishermen pulling in their seine nets…we were both jockeying for position…we were the only two photographers shooting this classic fishermans reward…a full net, right up on the beach and the light early and warm….long shadows of the fisherman and Mike and of me…

local photographers often give me a "look" when they first see me in "their territory"….i mean this was Mike’s beach , not mine…he could tell i was from "out of town" and the local folks down here suffer no fools….meeting the "local photographers" is something i always do right away…make friends and they will help, make enemies and they will..well, i do not know, because i have always enjoyed the companionship of photographers who reside in the places where i am just passing through…

Mike keeps up with what is going on in the "biz"…he shows up in New York every now and then for a trade show or in D.C. for the Natgeo seminar, but mostly Mike sticks around OBX and photographs whatever the hell he wants…Mike sells prints….to tourists and passersby and folks who just  know his work..Mike’s work is of old boats, seagrass, summer storms and nesting birds…he has worked with 4×5 (made his own prints in his darkroom) , but now chooses digi and makes his own inkjets and frames them and hangs them with his own two hands in the gallery that he built with his own two hands…

you must note that Mike started out doing what so many of us strive for…he left a cosmopolitan upbringing , and at age  22 picked a place to live that he loved…surfs up….he took  pictures of things that interested him and hoped that somebody would buy them….they did……end of  lifestyle and commercial business strategy story….

now on this forum and in "real life" too, i have introduced you to mostly to my photoworld friends from New York, Paris or wherever…Mike  chooses  another life….he does not seek for one single second any aspect of my world….he appreciates it, but he does not covet it….

when my whole family shows up down here for two weeks in August, Mike
and Denise will be sitting on the back deck for the "required" sunset
happy hour chatting with my whole family…they have become , in fact,
part of our family…of course, Mike and Denise "get in" by showing up
with a bushel of crabs and a steamer!!

so, i introduce you to Mike…a man who lives his own  "photographic life"…so so valid and surely to be treasured …if you are ever down OBX way, stop in and say howdy to my friends Mike and Denise…

i guess "grumbling" is what people do who live "out there"…away from the crowds….things could be better…summertime traffic is pretty bad….but, what do you think? 

is everything "goin’ to hell" down here, or is Mike living in paradise????


self-portrait selection…..








Suryo Wibowo

ok, we have the three best forum self-portraits as curated by Magnum photographer Chris Anderson….Chris said he chose these because of "their overall photographic quality, sense of humor, and the intelligence that went into them"…..there is  a link below to the 37 photographs from which he chose… these were from a "first edit" that i made yesterday….

for those three of you whose photographs are here, please confirm that you made these within the time frame i set up….honor system….and also, please give me your full name and address  so we may send out your "prizes" soonest….

Les gets an archival signed print, David a signed book, and Suryo the much coveted used camera bag!!

Chris made the same comment i made when he first saw all of the work…"impossible to judge…they are all very interesting"….but, a decision had to be made, so here you have it….

i will incorporate all of the self-portraits into a new slide show as soon as there is time…there were several others that i really think are very fine photographs, so i think it prudent to make an overall presentation of your work….

thanks again for participating….i seriously enjoyed looking at all of these portraits…the revelations were endless!!!

sunset over Manhattan….



i am having the most amazing afternoon…the sun is setting over
lower Manhattan..such a cliché…Mike and Marie are here and we are having a
rollicking good time….i asked them to do a "screening" of the self
portraits you submitted, none of which i had seen before….as you know,
i have been pretty busy since setting up this lighthearted  judging..

always have more going on than i can possibly do, but that leads me to get
done more than i would do if i did not take on just a bit more than i
can actually do…get it??  probably not..well , in fact ,i am a lazy procrastinator by nature….so, i have to "trick myself" in many ways to "get motivated"..can any of you relate to this????

anyway, what fun!!!!  you guys really did it..each and every picture  is a treasure one way or the other…YOU ALL GET FIRST PRIZE!!! (metaphorically)..  but, i have no clue how this can be judged…hmmmm, time to "pass the buck" i reckon…

but i promised a judging , so i guess i (and others)have to do it…but i want to publish a bunch…

so thanks to all of you for giving me so many inner smiles this
afternoon and, more importantly,  no small amount of inspiration….this is my ultimate compliment to you as, in this case, a spontaneous collaborative "whole"….

ok, i gotta get back to seeing all of your work….i want to narrow the whole set down to about 35-40 for the  curators…i just cannot lean on my friends to take the time  to  judge from 175 photogaphs!!! so i will make the "first cut"….

so so sweet the light right now….

cheers, hugs et al…david