My intersection with Bill Brandt came by way of Michael Kenna. In a number of places I’d read that Michael Kenna was deeply influenced by Bill Brandt and yet when I looked up his work, much of what I found was nudes. Being very English and uncomfortable with all that nakedness, I left it at that. More recently I steeled myself for another look and found, in addition to the nudes, an eclectic collection of photographs from portraits to a look at society life to miners of the North of England to landscapes. It seems to me that Brandt’s later photographs became darker and more extreme in contrast, something that I assume he pushed in the darkroom. A good example of this is shown below:
For fun click here to see Michael Kenna’s rendition of this image.
Many of Brandt’s images can be found on his website under the licensing section. Well worth a look. Also worth a look if you’re in or around New York is the exhibition of Brandt’s work at the MOMA ‘Shadow and Light’ that runs until August 12.
To hear Brandt talk about his work check out this 1983 BBC interview:
I was quite excited to find out that the image above ‘Three Beach Pilings’ was selected to be included in the South Shore Art Center exhibition ‘Photography Now‘ curated by Karin Rosenthal. The exhibition opening is April 12 from 6pm – 8pm. Please do stop by and say hello if you’re in the area.
The last few weeks have been more hectic than usual for a number of reasons, not least of which being getting reading for the exhibition at the RMSP gallery. I basically had a list of things that needed to get done and worked my way down the list until I was done. If I’d wanted to do anything evenly vaguely creative in that time I couldn’t have because I didn’t have the space I need to think. I find that I need some breathing room to have and to develop new ideas, that if I’m flat out busy I just don’t have. How to get that space can require a shift in thinking and attitude. For me whenever I’m feeling that I’ve lost balance and perspective I rely on David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
to get back in control. Typically this involves taking an inventory of all that I have going on, all the projects that I have underway and the associated ‘next actions’. More often than not once I’ve done that I realize that I have more going on than any sane person would commit to and begin saying ‘No’ to any new things that show up until I’m back in a place where I have some time to catch my breath. That’s where I am now, enjoying a break until my next adventure. I’d be interested in how you get back under control and in a place where you can create.
With thanks to the guys at RMSP for pulling it all together, one of the things we did during the opening of ‘Going Coastal‘ was to prepare a timelapse video of the first hour or so of the opening at the RMSP Gallery. I had a fun evening buzzing around talking to people about the photographs as you can see in the video below.
Jerry Uelsmann is well known for his masterful photo-composites that are achieved in the traditional darkroom. While it is true that this kind of composite can now readily be created with the help of Photoshop, for me, few are able to create the kind of surreal masterpieces that Jerry has been able to produce over the years.
I plan to visit the exhibition of Jerry’s work ‘The Mind’s Eye: 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann’ at the Peabody Essex Museum in the coming weeks. Check it out on-line here and read the Boston Globe review here.
Listen to Jerry talk about his photographic process in the video below:
When it comes to looking at other photographers work, books are a major resource for me. I find it easier to get catalogs of photographers shows than I do to actually get to the show. I know that I’m missing out here because scale dramatically impacts the viewers experience of the photograph. I’m trying harder to get to more exhibitions but that does little for my weakness for books.
The tools that are available to us now make book production very simple and the on demand book printing services such as Blurb, put book production within reach of ordinary mortals. With that as a back drop, I decided to put together a book/catalog to support my current exhibition at the RMSP gallery. It includes all of the photographs that are in the show and some that didn’t make the cut because of space constraints. The book is now finally available on the Blurb website. Check out the preview below.
I’m back home after a cool and crazy time in Missoula last week. Hanging my show ‘Going Coastal’ went relatively smoothly, Alyssa and Melanie from RMSP were a huge help in getting the prints up on the wall and in dealing with the problems that cropped up along the way. I even got my name on the window out front. The RMSP staff are terrific and I’m looking forward to having a chance to go back later in the summer.
As I gear up for the exhibition at the RMSP gallery, whether to limit the edition size of the prints displayed and how to appropriately price them has been something I’ve been giving some thought to.
Let’s start with limited editions. I struggle to understand the physical reason to limit editions of photographs. When prints were made from an object, such as a metal plate or a wood block or a potato then that object would wear and as such the quality of the print would degrade. In that case limiting the number of prints to the number of good prints that could be made makes sense. For a photograph and particularly a digital photograph this argument doesn’t hold water and so the reason to limit an edition is to help control the price. Buy now before they’re gone for ever! Buy one of the first 10 before the price steps up. That kind of thing. I have little experience with this kind of motivation to buy from a sellers perspective, as a buyer it doesn’t interest me. If what I’m buying is reasonably priced then I’ll buy it, otherwise I won’t. Limiting the edition doesn’t impact that choice for me. Brooks Jensen has an excellent piece on what size an edition should be. You can find the pdf of that here.
It seems common practice even amongst early career fine art photographers to both edition work and also to charge what one could argue are significant prices for their work. I’m not against making a living from photography, far from it but I do wonder whether the price prohibits any work getting sold at all. For instance are you more likely to sell 10 prints priced at $25 or one at $250? Perhaps when you have an established customer base that you know will support your pricing it makes sense but until then what to do? I’m not much of a salesman and as such what is important to me is not wringing every last dollar out of the transaction but making people feel like they got something that was worth at least the dollar amount that the paid.
The actual price should be dictated in part by your fixed costs – this will be different for everyone, but if you’re having someone do the printing for you then you ought to at least cover that cost, if you’re printing yourself then the base price will be fixed by the materials, paper, ink etc., your time and any other overhead – the cost of keeping the lights on and the printer running. How much beyond these costs you want to go is largely dictated by how much do you want to make and how much do you think the market will pay. I think that the answer is that there’s not one answer but to have something that will work for people with a variety of budgets from $20 to $1000 and more.
The scheme that I’m circling around has, I hope, something for everything. Paper sizes from 8×10 to 24×36 with options for print only, ready to frame and framed. The pricing scheme that I have in mind at the moment would give me a range of ~$20 to ~$1500. As I said above I don’t see a reason to limit editions and so for now I don’t plan to limit my prints.
So what do you think – reasonable or crazy? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.
I’m sure that David Hockney is a familiar name to all. Some have told me that he’s the most famous painter alive today, perhaps that’s true but it’s not what I find interesting about Hockney. I first came across Hockney’s work in the late ’80s when he was making photocollages which I thought were interesting and set me on a path of doing ‘joiners’ whenever I had the chance. I stopped paying attention to what he was doing as life got busy and it wasn’t until when one of my friends recently mentioned that her work was moving close to the Hockney Gallery and Museum that I looked him up again. I was surprised to see that he’d relocated from Los Angeles to Bridlington, a small seaside town in East Yorkshire, and was busily painting the Yorkshire Wolds. This is very familiar territory for me and was a bit of a home coming to see the video and resulting pictures. What is particularly noteworthy is that he’s painting very large paintings outside. He really does manage to capture the essence of the place. If you’re in the UK his yorkshire landscape paintings are being exhibited at the Royal Academy from Jan 21 – April 9, 2012. Check out the video below.
I’ve had an extended break from blogging in a vain attempt to catch-up with all of my other responsibilities and draws on my time. I’m not fully caught up but I’m back.
I know a lot of people look forward to the new year with a list of resolutions. I do something similar to that too, although my list is usually a combination of the pragmatic and the impossible. Things that I absolutely need to get done and things that only in my wildest dreams would come true. Usually there’s not a lot of stuff in the middle. In no particular order here are a few of the things from my list:
1. Publish a book of my photographs
It is becoming easier and easier to self-publish. The recent announcement of the Beta version of Lightroom 4 includes integration for Blurb. One can only imagine that a raft of self-published photobooks will ensue. Makes me think that if everyone’s going to be doing it then I’ve missed the boat but then I could say the same thing about photography too!
2. Complete the planning for a trip to Shikoku in early 2012
3. Learn Japanese in anticipation of my Japan trip
While languages are certainly not my forte Shikoku appears to be far enough off the regular visitor trail that some Japanese could come in handy. The Rosetta Stone language immersion program looks like it would be a good way for me to get started.
An exhibition of my photographs will be up at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography gallery for 3 months starting the first week in May. Very excited about that. Please stop by and say hello if you’re in Missoula the first Friday in May.
5. Live more sustainably
I’m not much of a tree hugger but when I see things such as the albatrosses that Chris Jordan shows with his work it makes me want to be more conscious of the things I buy and how I get rid of it. Quality over quantity has to be a good thing.
Still on the sustainable living theme – the image below is taken from Azby Brown’s book ‘Just Enough Japan’ which is a look at how the Japanese in the 1600′s facing a lot of the same problems that we face to day dealt with them. Very interesting reading.