Tag: history

Memory and photographs in the “twice promised” land

I am winding up my time in Israel and the West Bank. Having spent time in both places, I can safely say I am more confused then ever. So much so, that I will not be blogging about the politics of the conflict. I am not sure I can add anything to what is already a very heated and complex debate. I will be blogging this week about the one topic that I can speak about comfortably, photography. I want to think out loud about the interesting role that images and memory play for both “sides” here. My thinking is derived from my recent experiences here, my years working here as a photojournalist and my larger interest in the history of photography. Read More

Remakes in film and photography

Having studied history of photography in college, I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that many (most) of my photographs, to this day, are shaped, consciously or unconsciously, by the work of photographers I have previously seen. On the other hand, photographers rarely, if ever, do conscious remakes of the work of the predecessors, unlike musicians who are known for “covering” or performing the work of their predecessors. Filmmakers are perfectly comfortable doing remakes. The new movie, True Grit, is just the latest example of artists revisiting a story and reinterpreting that in their own way. I recently encountered a couple prize-winning photo projects that were remakes of sorts, which resonated very strongly with a project I did twenty-eight years ago. Read More

Musings on developing a style

I have been back in India for a few days after a week in Singapore. Returning reminds me how the chaos of India contrasts dramatically with the order of Singapore. As a street photographer, that same unruliness is one thing that makes India so compelling. On the other hand, as a person who thrives on efficiency and order, Singapore holds an equal attraction. I wrote in the first of these three blog entries about the “journey” that Singaporean society as a whole is trying to take as it moves up the economic ladder. As I see it, such progress will only be made when individuals embrace the more unruly aspects of the creative processes. In this blog entry, I will answer the query of one Singaporean who has taken on that challenge. Read More

The power of paper

If all goes well, this will be the last blog entry prompted by the discoveries that I made during my recent spring-cleaning. As I was reviewing, editing and purging old documents, files and papers, I had a few more flashes of wisdom worthy of one last blog entry. Those insights reminded me of the value of my having studied the history of photography in college. Although I make my living as a commercial photographer, that education, focused on the liberal arts, rather than on a specific skill, continues to serve me well, thirty-odd years later. Read More

Technologies, necessary and otherwise (part three)

This is the last of three blog entries, for the moment, exploring my thoughts on technology. The entire set came from things swirling through my head lately. Events, especially e-mails, prompted me to organize those thoughts into the first two e-mails. This entry explores the starting point for all three posts, which was the fairly non-technical process of spring-cleaning. Read More

Critics and controversy

There is a new exhibition of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. I look forward to seeing it in person in the near future. I have long been a fan of Cartier-Bresson’s work. His was some of the first important work I saw when I was studying the history of photography. The work showed me how photography could be so much more than just a representation of the scene in front of the camera. Up to that point I had learned most of what I knew about photography from a commercial photographer turned photo teacher. Starting from that point, Cartier-Bresson’s work was a paradigm shift for me. In the recent review in the New York Times of the new Cartier-Bresson exhibition, the reviewer is attempting to similarly shift the paradigm of how we should consider the work of Cartier-Bresson. His approach struck me as almost absurd (and his review had factual errors.) Read More

Problems and possibilities: Considering photography’s limitations

I was reading the New York Times recently and encountered an article, with photos, that really struck a chord with me. The article was interesting but the photos were unexceptional. It took me a while to figure out why I was so moved, but once I did, it also lead me to think about the power and the limitations of still photographs. I am not sure that still photography (or today’s multi-media) can ever fully get past those limitations. But the more I understand the question, the better equipped I will be to at least try to address it.

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Covers in music (and photography)

I have often pondered the similarities, differences and connections between music and photography. The former is something I have no talent for, other than the ability to enjoy it. The latter is something that I continually find both challenging and rewarding. I have considered these two media throughout my life, initially, as a toe-tapping teenager and now as a working, creative professional. Some recent reading spurred me to sit down and try to make some sense out of the jumble of ideas that I have about photography and music. Some of what I settled on is more philosophical and some is more practical, resulting in two separate blog entries, of which this is the first. Read More

My long-time “project” on Communism

During my recent trip to Vietnam, I put to rest the lingering anxieties, stereotypes and misconceptions that I had held on to concerning that country. On that same trip, I also “finished” a long-standing (and rather informal) “personal project” that I had been working on for a couple decades. Since I was eighteen I have been subconsciously trying to “understand” Communism. The project was not an overtly photographic one, but photography certainly helped me in my pursuit of better understanding of that ideology. Read More

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