--a blog about: art, photography, design, new york, food, books, humor, travel and more.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Amanda & Sandra

Glimpses at India & Death Valley © Amanda Marsalis

Amanda Marsalis has a beautiful eye for light and atmosphere and her Polaroid blog always makes my mind travel and lifts my spirits. Find it at: www.amandamarsalis.tumblr.com.

Sandra Juto has fallen hard for the current equivalent of Polaroid: Instagram. See her wonderful captures at: www.web.stagram.com/n/sandrajuto

If you'd like to read more about these artists, check out these interviews: www.ninacorvallo.blogspot.com and www.nymphoto.blogspot.com.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Early Morning This & That

Eating Out w/Friends © Corvallo

I apologize in advance to my fabulous dentist Dr. B for the intense aura of garlic he will encounter tomorrow while working on my teeth. But I could not resist the roasted garlic at Joseph Leonard. I heart that spot (Yeah, yeah - I know Gabe is opening a lot of restaurants). My only beef is that the music wasn't so great, but the food was good, as was the company and we had our favorite waitress again. JL -- always a good time. The later you go the better. A bit like Lucky Strike.

Jeremy is collecting more awards - well deserved, I say. McArthur next, I hope. Don't know who Jeremy Heimans is? Check out www.purpose.com and TEDx.

If you follow this blog you know how much I care for the work of Jason Florio. So reading Stella Kramer's excellent May 5th post left me feeling miffed. The photography biz is hard. Life is hard. So people: Just stop with the short cuts. It's whack.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Documenting History

As my last post(s) indicated I have been thinking about photography a lot. One of the jobs I still think would be amazing is to be one of the photographers who follow the President of the United States everywhere and document everything.
I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but my sister's former neighbor worked as a staff photographer to a president and I was simply impressed when seeing her work. I photograph things I see every day but documentary has never been my focus. However this is one job I think I would love and agree to do in a heartbeat and I think I would be good at it too. I do :)
The White House has a Flickr stream where you can see the photos by Peter Souza, current official White House photographer and others. Find it at: www.flickr.com.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Democratic Image (Giddy Up)

As I was discussing with my friends and artists Ida and David over brunch Sunday, Photography is in crisis. Photography has always been a medium in debate and apart. It is true, with luck (and especially with today's cameras) anyone can end up with a good picture. Taking consistently good pictures however is a different story. Producing imagery meeting commercial standards is also a different story. And creating good photographs beyond aesthetic consideration is again another matter.
However because anyone can take a picture, the world is flooded with photographs. In the past editors and curators mostly controlled what imagery would be published, the net has changed this. Obviously technology has not just altered photography. Journalism faces similar issues. The 24 hour (news) cycle has changed everything. Content is constantly needed. Same in the photography world. Whether it is a daily blog about photography or a site offering affordable prints weekly, content is needed at an accelerated rate.
The net is great, don't get me wrong. I do like that it is easier for people to show their work, speak their mind and reach a large audience. But at the same time I also know that the pressure to constantly make & release new content dilutes quality. It also drives down compensation. It decreases, in my opinion, the appreciation of the work. There is image fatigue. (Hey, I love champagne, but I do not want to drink it at every meal).
What we value most in life, remains that that is particular and unique. You love your husband, your wife, your child, your family, your friends, your cat, your dog, your house, your city, etc. That that cannot easily replaced is what we cherish. And what is essential is what we will always be willing to pay for (food, water, medicine, shelter)
I started out in painting, but I liked the commodity & non-exclusivity of photography. I liked that I could keep a print for myself and give or sell a copy to others. I liked that photography had commercial applications. I liked the blurry line between art and commerce. I liked that a magazine, and therefor the imagery in it, was easily affordable. Like so many of my friends, my bedroom growing up was covered with images from magazines.
Magazines, I might add, I paid for.
Much as the music industry before, the business of photography has completely changed. Of course if you are on top you still make money. And if you are good live and are willing to tour you can still make a very very good living as a musician. So I wonder what is the equivalent of a live performance in photography?
The practice of editions for art photography has always been around as an artificial counter measure to the very thing that made photography such a sensation to begin with: reproduction. I am not against it. It is a practical measure. Just as copyright is. Creatives cannot just live of passion & satisfaction, as much as we would like to.
There are many efforts to educate the public about intellectual property rights. At the same time commerce erodes those efforts and in all honesty I fear it might be useless anyway, because instinctively most do not grasp or are willing to accept the legitimacy of copyright. My husband likes to say that a law is only as good as its enforcement. I agree.
If you are Disney or even Getty you have the means to go after offenders. And if the offender has deep pockets you might even be able to go after them if you are just an individual. But if you are just your average photographer you soon will end up spending even less time creating work and instead spend more time on paperwork pursuing infringers.
And maybe there is the rub. Maybe my problem lies within just being an average photographer.
My nephews are both at Ivy league schools. One is studying engineering and the other is teetering between engineering and veterinary medicine. I would be proud of them regardless of what they were studying or where they would be studying. I am ecstatic however that for them no doors have closed. Hard work and luck has put them in extraordinary positions. Which means they will have choices. And choice is true freedom.
Where am I going with all this? Well, I am trying to figure out where my place is and what is next. It is easy to just blame and not take responsibility.
The market has changed. It will not revert. But what about my part in all of this?
Stock photography was the cushiest of jobs. Especially if you actually had talent. The past decade produced a golden moment for stock photography and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Technology made it so that you could shoot affordability and deliver your work from anywhere. You traveled and make beautiful pictures, agencies sold them for you. And you didn't even even have to bill. Your royalties were simply transferred to your bank account. However the easy days are over. You can still make money in stock for now. But you have to be very organized, produce a lot more and let go of a lot. Working harder is fine by me, but letting go of ownership while staying liable and without proper compensation, I might not be ready to do. Nothing is black and white. There is lots of gray. We all have different boundaries. I might just have tapped one of mine.

Michael Schmelling once said to me that he would never want to shoot stock. Many people I went to school with thought of stock as beneath them. I never saw it like that. But maybe I should have. Because today's market tells me that photography is not something you can do casually. Ego is probably a prerequisite for success. There is no room for the middle anymore. And maybe in the end this is how it should be. Not everyone can or has to do extraordinary things in life. But art should be extraordinary or at the very least strive to be. If you do photography and do not see it as art, that is fine. Adapt to the market conditions, don't forget to stand up for yourself and make it work. And if you can't, learn a new trade. Many people have to do this. Few people spent their whole lives in one profession anymore. And if you cannot think of your work as just a commodity, well then it is time to seriously giddy up.

Ok, I am getting off my high horse now and getting back to work. I might even giddy up ;)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ólöf Arnalds

At the Film Anthology benefit at City Winery (great food BTW) the other night, enchanting Icelandic singer Ólöf Arnalds performed. What a treat! Get introduced to Ólöf Arnalds' music at: