Category Craft

A Visual Discussion on the Human Condition

One of my long-time favorites is Peter Turnley. Early on in my studies, I saw something in his work that resonated deeply with me, but I’m not sure I was able to articulate it then.

There was a warmth, a connection. The people in his images were never just subjects, there was something more in the relationship separated only by some shards of glass.

The below video was made to coincide with an exhibit in Cuba. It is full of gems, but there’s one line that, at last, explains his work to me:

… the only thing that empowers everyone is love.

And that, from the joys of his Parisian street scenes to the horrors of war, is what I’ve seen for decades. Every image, no matter the destruction it may show, is about that which empowers all of us.

This is well worth your time.

A Documentary film about Peter Turnley – MOMENTS OF THE HUMAN CONDITION from Peter Turnley on Vimeo.

Would HCB Use a Cellphone?

It’s an interesting question, whether Henri Cariter-Bresson would convert from his Leica to a smartphone were he alive and working today. William Dalrymple believe he would have and, as much as I adore the craft of photography … I guess I agree HCB would be wielding an iPhone 6s. But definitely not a 6s Plus, that would be too big.

I do make images with my phone, but it still doesn’t give me the level of control and separation I want. It’s all about the sensor size – and not for the pixel count, but the focal length equivalents.

Photography Without Vision

Om Malik has a wonderful piece up at the New Yorker, triggered by Google’s announcement it is making the Nik Collection of software tools free.

This idea that we are photographing everything, never seeing anything and, perhaps worse, not remembering anything is troubling to me. I have a very large collection of family photos, somewhere in excess of 20,000 images, made by myself, my father and my grandfather. And that may seem like a massive amount of images, but it dates back more than 60 years. Each one of those images is a trigger for actual memories – they bring back the emotions of the moment for those who were there. (Or, for me on the older ones, the emotions of having heard the stories behind them.)

My grandfather and I shared a concern for describing the images individually, he in notebooks and me with captions embedded in the files. My father, as methodical a man as ever wandered this earth, not so much … there are images that I don’t understand because the one who was there has been gone for nearly 30 years.

Now, you can accuse me of having this same insatiable desire to make images as I’m some 1,600 days into a photo-a-day project myself. But I’m not photographing everything, and I’m certainly not posting everything. To me, it’s a visual journal – but one that hits the highlights of a day, not every moment of it.

Billy Weeks on Gordon Parks

Next Tuesday, February 16, my dear friend, mentor and guide Billy Weeks will be here on campus to talk about Gordon Parks. Parks was the first African American photographer on the staff of Life magazine and his work has resonated for generations. Weeks is a two-time Gordon Parks International Photography award winner.

This 2:30 p.m. event at UGA’s Special Collections Library is not to be missed.

The Why Behind the NY Times’ Year in Pictures

James Estrin put together an interview with The New York Times’ Meagan Looram and Jeffrey Scales, the photo editors who selected this year’s Year in Pictures.

Q: What is a Pictures of the Year photo? How do you define that?

Jeffrey: A masterfully crafted photograph. Use of frame, focus choices, compelling drama, the things that define great photography. Photojournalism, specifically.

Meaghan: There is a lot of variety in the collection, so it’s hard to isolate exactly what that iconic picture is. But it really needs to stand alone rather than in the context of some greater story or presentation.

There are other good nuggets in there as we all start looking towards the stories we will show in 2016. The final collection of images is broken down month by month, worth spending time on.

Failing 719,999 Times

This is persistence – Alan Mcfadden took six years and 720,000 frames to get one photo.

But, wow … so worth it.

Walter Iooss, Jr., on College Football

Nice collection of images by the legendary Walter Iooss, Jr., from his early days covering college football. This was pre-autofocus, pre-14 frames per second, pre-64 GB memory cards, pre-histogram. Old school – manual focus, manual exposure, shooting on chrome film so the exposure has to be perfect in the camera.

Ahh, those were the days …

And if you scroll down, there’s another Iooss piece with him talking about his Super Bowl photos that’s worth a look.

What you notice about the photo is the facial expressions. With those single bar masks, you can see so much more of the humanity of the game. You don’t see anything today. It’s all covered up. The other thing that’s striking is the natural light. Playing an outdoor game in daylight gives you such a sense of place. When you play in a dome in Dallas or New Orleans, it kind of sucks the reality out of the game.

(Thanks to Cody Schmelter for the link.)

The Legacy of King Cotton

Really nice package from Reuters photojournalist Brian Snyder on how little cotton is being grown in the south now. A very elegant presentation and a nice slice of life in the former land of King Cotton.

How Do You See Someone?

Canon did a little experiment …

Emotional Rollercoaster

Peter Turnley has spent decades moving us from love to sorrow, friendship to famine, hope to hate in his images. How he does it, I have no idea. But if you’re not moved by his work, you may just be dead:

Now I may have to go buy another book … just when I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more until I got caught up on reading all the others piling up on the desk.