Friday Inspiration: Susan Bein

From ‘Slightly Bonkers’, Susan Bein

Susan Bein is a teacher, graphic designer and photographer based in Portland, Oregon. I first came across her work on Instagram, although how I found her there I’m not sure. I think I was following links from one person to another to another. On Instagram Susan is @Wizmosis – check out her work!

In her bio she says:

I was an art kid who began photographing as a teen because I couldn’t paint or draw what I could see in my mind’s eye. I took classes from many of the photo giants of the time; Ansel Adams, Minor White, Aaron Siskind, and Paul Caponigro. I used black and white film and large format cameras.

What an amazing opportunity to learn from the masters of photography a veritable who’s who.

Susan drifted away from photography and into graphic design and teaching. Falling in love with photography again with the advent of the iPhone.

I love her iPhone work that is on Instagram and featured in her book Slightly Bonkers. The book is more magazine-like which gave Susan an opportunity to include a large number of the images that she made during the craziness that was 2020. I’m glad she did. Take a quick look in the flip through below.

Check out Susan’s presentation in the video below and learn more at her website here.

Friday Inspiration: Josef Sudek

In my poking around on the web I recently came across the photography of Josef Sudek. Sudek was based in Prague and actively photographed until 1976 when he was 80. He had lost an arm to shrapnel in the First World War which makes his work produced with a large format camera all the more impressive.

Prague was occupied in World War II which meant that Sudek’s photography business ground to a halt. During this time he continued photographing mainly shooting from his studio. These images and more from later years can be found in the book ‘Josef Sudek: The Window of My Studio’.

Sudek is often referred to as the poet of Prague and I can understand that. I find his images to be quiet and contemplative. I get a sense of loneliness or melancholy from many of the images. Perhaps that’s just me. The images shot in and around his studio reminded of Saul Leiter’s photographs – largely because of shooting through the condensation on the windows.

Learn more about Josef Sudek in the videos below.

Friday Inspiration: David Carson

I’ve been taking a wander through the world of book making which has led me into book design and graphic design. It’s not a world that I’ve deeply explored previously and I’m learning a lot.

On this journey I came across David Carson on the Masterclass website. Check out the class trailer below.

David was not formally trained as a graphic designer but as a sociologist and taught high school sociology before making the leap into graphic design. This means he doesn’t have formal training but a great instinct for design and a willingness to go with what feels right.

This approach manifests itself in work that is free and unstructured. Work that has really challenged my notion of what is ‘correct’. It clearly has worked out for him. Starting with magazines such as Surfer and RayGun he’s worked with an ‘A’ list of clients as diverse as Microsoft and Nine Inch Nails.

David is an advocate of putting yourself into your work, an ethos that all of us should embrace since this is where the innovation lies.

Check out more of David’s work at his website here and get a sense of his work and the fun he brings to his work in the Ted Talk below.

Friday Inspiration: Gerry Johansson

Bridgeport, Nebraska: Gerry Johansson

I’ve been enjoying finding photographers that are new to me and exploring their work. I recently came across Gerry Johansson, a Swedish photographer known for his black and white photographs of what would otherwise be unremarkable places.

Gerry has a ‘geographic’ focus have produced books of work from photographs taken in America, Sweden, Germany, Antarctic and Tokyo. I like his thinking in that the book is really the tangible product of his work because exhibitions are too fleeting. Gone after a couple of weeks.

He clearly has a love of photography books as you can see in the video below of Gerry in his studio going through some of his photo book collection.

I wonder whether the books that he selected to discuss influenced his decision making about his own books which are often relatively small by some standards. I think that these smaller books, smaller prints and images call for a closer engagement with the work and for a more intimate experience.

Gerry talks about his work in the video below. The audio is in Swedish, if you don’t speak Swedish there are captions in English so that you can follow along with the conversation. Check out Gerry’s website here to learn more.

Friday Inspiration: Do Lectures – That Crazy Dumb Idea

Stay Curious – How we created a world class event in a cowshed Clare Hieatt

I’ve been thinking a lot about community recently – how do you build it and how do you sustain it. Even harder as we live through the challenges thrown our way because of COVID-19.

David and Clare Hieatt seem to have built a great community with the ‘Do Lectures’. I was flicking through the book ‘Stay Curious’ about the first 10 years of the Do Lectures in search of inspiration.

Clare and David started the Do Lectures with the simple goal:

‘To gather together the world’s Doers – disruptors and change makers, experts and pioneers – to share their stories, and encourage others to go and Do.’

Looking through the list of speakers by year I was curious to see when they hit the mainstream and ‘big names’ started to appear. I recognized some of the names – Tim Ferris right there at the start, David Allen of GTD fame in 2010 and others that I think I know from the Do Lectures themselves.

Rather than make the Do Lectures a huge circus they’ve stayed true to their core values and purpose, kept the event intimate and made a good deal of positive change in the world.

I couldn’t resist finishing up with the video by Andrew Paynter ‘A Visual Language’ about his journey as a photographer and the recommendation to check out his book Do Photo.

Friday Inspiration: Peter Dombrovskis

I love hearing who inspired you as a photographer. Not only does it provide insight into who you are as a photographer but also provides me with a jumping off point for a new exploration. I can then share the results of that exploration here.

Peter Dombrovskis was one such photographer that I heard about during an interview with Joe Cornish. Down the rabbit hole I went.

Peter Dombrovskis was an Australian photographer most well known for his photographs of Tasmania. His photographs of the Tasmanian wilderness were instrumental in conservation efforts, most notable was his contribution to the campaign to prevent the damming of the Franklin river.

Looking to dig into Peter’s work I was keen to get a hold of some of his photobooks. They are hard to find and often very expense. Perhaps because of his geographic location there isn’t a big pool of his books on the used market here in the US. Fortunately there is a relatively recent book of his work ‘Journeys into the Wild’ that can be be found with a bit of effort. I ordered a copy and had it shipped from Australia. It arrived a little battered but I’m pleased that I was able to get a copy. Take a look at the book in the video below.

I very much enjoyed hearing Joe Cornish talking about Peter Dombrovskis’s work – take a look below. To learn more about Peter please visit his website here and also see the article at On Landscape here.

Friday Inspiration: David Gentleman

The view from Primrose Hill, by David Gentleman.
The view from Primrose Hill, by David Gentleman

When I took a dive into the world of Urban Sketching over the Christmas break I came across David Gentleman. Actually having grown up in the UK I had seen David Gentleman’s work many times before, on stamps and also on Charing Cross Underground Station in London. David has been incredibly prolific over the course of his career – working in watercolors, wood engravings, illustration and design. He’s created stamps, coins, cards, books of his own work, illustrated books for others, murals it goes on and on. Impressive and something for us all to aspire to.

Primrose Hill   David Gentleman 'My City

David lives in a part of London called Camden Town and his studio is at the top of the house. Check out a tour through his studio here. Most of David’s books are out of print, some of which go for a shocking amount of money used. I’m fortunate enough though to have a couple of his books – the most recent one is ‘My Town: An Artist’s Life in London.’ Check out Danny Gregory talk about David’s Book Britain in the video.

Finally listen to David himself talk about his life and his book ‘London, You’re Beautiful: An Artist’s Year’ in the video below. To find out more about David Visit his website here.

Friday Inspiration: Erik ‘The Viking’ Aanderaa

Gadda Stack, Foula 2, Erik Aanderaa

The first time I came across Erik Aanderaa’s YouTube channel I must admit I thought it was some yahoo macho nonsense. I mean who sails solo in the North Sea in Winter? ‘The Algorithm’ at work again. Although how this was related to Sailing Zatara is beyond me.

The sailing was riveting ‘Encountering Storm Force 10’ and I quickly found myself having watched all the videos and eagerly waiting for the next one. What I came to appreciate was that Erik was slowly building up his skill set and taking slow steps towards a bigger journey. A solo circumnavigation of the Norwegian Sea.

Erik was trained as a professional mariner and currently works as an instructor at a marine safety center. He clearly understands the risks of being around the ocean and uses that experience to prepare for his offshore adventures in his Contessa 35, Tessie.

Between Jan Mayen and Iceland
by Erik Aanderaa

If you listen to interviews with Erik you will soon learn that his sailing adventures haven’t been incident free. In 2011 he ran aground just outside of his home port of Haugesund. Sailing in sub-zero conditions he became hypothermic and disoriented. He went down below to warm up forgetting how close he was to land. Tessie ended up on the rocks, sustaining damage that took six months to repair. That experience would have been enough to end sailing for some of us but Erik learned from the experience and was back out sailing as soon as Tessie was ready.

Erik’s winter sailing in the North Sea is epic but equally remarkable are the videos. He has some of the most amazing sailing footage I’ve seen – captured using a drone that he is controlling while sailing single handed! Stunning!

Erik’s epic voyage around the Norwegian Sea was completed just as the world was entering lock down. Check out the multipart series below. To learn more about Erik check out his YouTube channel and don’t miss some of his photos here.

Friday Inspiration: Miho Kajioka

I’m sat here trying to work out how I came across the work of Miho Kajioka. It took me a few minutes but I think that I’ve reconstructed it. I tend to hopscotch around from a photographer I read about in this book to digging into who else did the book publisher work with and on and on.

I recently came across IIKKI, a collaborative project between a visual artist and a music artist. IIKKI publishes books and pairs them with music releases. What a cool idea. Their latest release is a book from Miho Kajioka paired with music from Ian Hawgood and Craig Tattersall. And we’re off to the races.

Miho was born in Japan and then moved to San Fransisco to study fine art painting, where she was introduced to photography as one of her classes. Miho returned to Japan where she was working as a journalist when the Tsunami devastated the Fukushima area. Miho returned to art and photography to help her process what she was seeing. I’m glad she did!

I have seen her photography described as ‘snapshot’ photography which struck me as odd, since her photographs look nothing like my snapshots! Working in the traditional darkroom to make silver gelatin prints she works her negatives, some more than others, to reveal her vision. I’m fascinated at the moment with trying to reverse engineer Miho’s technical process. How does she achieve those creamy whites and the delicate blacks?

Her work is also giving me insights into my own tastes and how my work could evolve. I like the simplicity in her images. They are frequently paired down to just the essence, often juxtaposing contrasting elements. For me this makes a stronger statement and gives me space to think.

Check out more of Miho’s work at her website here and listen to her describe her journey and her work in the interview below.

Friday Inspiration: Stephen Voss

After digging back into Masao Yamamoto’s work recently his bonsai pictures caught my attention which reminded me of the book of bonsai photographs that I have in my collection. Published in 2016 In Training is a book created by Stephen Voss. I’m surprised that I didn’t know much about Stephen until I looked him up this morning and boy was I surprised. Stephen is a DC based freelance photographer, take a look at his website and you’ll see many faces that you recognize. It’s somewhat incongruous that his book, his first as he notes in the video below, is a book of bonsai trees.

To support the book Stephen created a website, that has additional videos of the trees and a behind the scenes video of him at work. The bonsai trees are at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington DC. If you’re interested in learning more about photographing bonsai trees Stephen now writes regularly for the museum’s website. His blog posts are well worth checking out for both the new photographs as well as the insight into photographing bonsai.

For more information about Stephen Voss check out his website and instagram page and the bonsai focused website for behind the scenes information on the In Training book project. As I write this the book is on sale at his website making it even easier to get a copy of this great book.