Welcome to my blog. I use this mostly to toot my own horn but occasionally am inspired to write something about photography. Although I photograph regularly, I no longer write according to a schedule, so new posts here happen when the spirit moves me. Thank you for visiting and come back soon.
I recently entered a photography contest, and although I didn't win, I was fortunate enough to have had a portfolio review of the images I entered. It was nice to hear my work discussed by someone for whom it was new and who understood what I was trying to achieve. The contest was through Lensculture and the reviews were not by the contest judge but supposedly by a Magnum photographer although the reviewer's name wasn't provided. I will never know who it was but I appreciated the fact that he or she got it when it comes to my street photography. The review follows.
Greetings Karen, and thank you for submitting your work to LensCulture’s Magnum Awards!
This is a lovely group of street images you have here. I really appreciate the poetic and thoughtful text.
I think that this dark and grainy aesthetic you’ve developed really goes a long way towards evoking the emotional response you speak to in your submission statement. To me you’ve created undercurrents of deep dramas that exists within even the most mundane aspects of life.
In Blow, I think it’s particularly effective in reversing the celebratory mood of the two central figures, and placing your audience in a space to consider a moment like this from an inverse perspective. There is also a bizarreness to the two floating faces in the background, and it’s hard to come to terms with the logic of this image, which I think makes for a vastly more interesting picture because it leaves open so much space for interpretation and speculation on the part of your viewer.
Much of the same thoughts are seen in Three Faces of Steve. The inclusion of the two faces, again with little grounding of reason or logic, to me allude to a kind of fracturing. In this case, as you directly point towards a protagonist, I read this as an image of personality, or personalities. There is a lot of tension in this image created by competing visual elements, and I can’t help but read the image as a psychological portrayal of this character, as more of an internalized portrait rather than externalized.
For me, Takeout is the least successful image of this group. The bright “Sandwich-Man” text forces a sense of specificity into the image, and moves it away from the ambiguity that I think is central to the other images here. This scene to me is too grounded in reality to allow for speculation, and it makes me aware of this space as an actual existing place, rather than a metaphorical one.
The foreground element in Closed for Business has a certain type of violence to it in its abrupt gestures. As it overlays the rest of the image it defines the scene in its terms. The distant figure in the window is indecipherable, and I think that adds to the sense of uneasiness and uncertainty that you’re depicting throughout this group.
At any rate, keep up the good work! It was a pleasure to spend time with your work and I hope to get the chance to see more form you here in the future!
Recommended Books & Photographers
June 1, 2016
The State Museum of Pennsylvania Announces Finalists for Annual “Art of the State” Exhibition, Awards Set for June 26
Harrisburg, PA – Finalists have been announced for “Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2016,” an exhibition showcasing the talent, creativity and diversity of Pennsylvania’s established and emerging artists. The 49th annual exhibit opens to the public on Sunday, June 26 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania with an awards ceremony at 1:00 PM and an opening reception immediately following. Admission to The State Museum will be free that day. The exhibit runs through September 11 and includes 123 works of art by 117 artists from 34 counties. This year’s exhibit attracted 1,778 entries from 775 artists.
First, second and third-place honors are awarded in painting, photography, sculpture, craft and work on paper. Cash awards for each category are $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third.
Although I am not an award-winner, I'm pleased to be one of only 22 photographers to be accepted into the exhibit. The photography juror was Marc Duke, Fine Art Photographer, Leesburg, Florida
I got word yesterday that my photo, Shoshone, which I took at a small restaurant in Death Valley won first prize at the Millersville University Expanded Visions show at the Ware Center in Lancaster.
Joel Meyerowitz offers a pretty good description of the personality of a street photographer:
“Street photographers tend to be gregarious in the sense that they can go out on the street and they’re comfortable among people, but they’re also a funny mixture of solitaries at the same time as being gregarious. You embrace and you take in, but you stay back and try to stay invisible.” (John Maloof documentary: “Finding Vivian Maier,” Ravine Pictures, 2013)
When I heard him utter this description, I felt as if he knew me. I’ve always been more of an observer of people than a participant; able to go into a crowd yet be invisible, aware but separate and detached; those are pretty good attributes for a street photographer – someone who can be conscious of people’s interactions without becoming a part of them; who can be aware of moments that occur quickly or expressions that are visible for only a split second then disappear; and ultimately to be able to react to it and describe it with a camera.
I have loads of photos though of people who have caught me taking their picture, some in good humor at having been caught in the act, others giving me the evil eye. When someone does notice me, I try to engage them in conversation, offering explanations as to why I took their photo. Two middle-aged women in NY on Halloween who had their faces made up posed after I took the initial photo then spoke to them after they noticed me. Another gentleman in NY was sitting outside a shop looking totally bored and tired. I suspected his wife was inside shopping. As I lifted the camera up he saw me and began to laugh. I didn’t get the photo I wanted in that case, but I think I made his day.
I no longer buy a lot of books preferring to read on my Kindle. The exception, of course, is photography books which I feel should be read and appreciated in hardcover or paperback editions. I have the very first Kindle which does not display photos very well.
One of my all-time favorite photographers, who is still living, is Robert Frank whose series of photos The Americans, (Steidl; Revised edition May 15, 2008) transformed the nature of photography.
A great read for the street photographer is Eric Kim’s blogpost, Robert Frank’s “The Americans”: Timeless Lessons Street Photographers Can Learn. http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2013/01/07/timeless-lessons-street-photographers-can-learn-from-robert-franks-the-americans/
To see the trailer for the 2016 Robert Frank documentary, Don’t Blink, visit Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yZAzXzS47E