Month: August 2013

A Portrait of the Artist

Here are some images that I’ve been collecting for a number of years; portraits of artists, mainly in their studios or work spaces, although I managed to capture a few of these amazing creatures in the Wild as well. By “Artist” I mean anyone that primarily lives by their creative work, or feels this their reason for being. I even included a couple of portraits of an athlete, middle distance Olympian Lopez Lomong, who lives his life with creative flair, largely in service of others. Obviously I’m not hewing to any sort of strict definition of the word. Many of these pictures are not in their final state of polish, but I wanted to get these online as examples of the sort of thing I’ll be trying to do in the upcoming week, when I’ll be in New York City with my 8×10 view camera in hopes of adding a few more creative faces to the series. If you would like to be immortalized in this sure to be iconic series of images, Please contact me ASAP. I’ll be available to shoot between Friday August 9 and Thursday August 15.

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Estrela Brilhante

Yesterday I ventured out to photograph the Syracuse Peace Council’s march commemorating the US bombing of Hiroshima. This was a spectacular and moving piece of street theater, well executed by the veteran organizers. Unfortunately, as a photographer I felt a bit off my game, and didn’t feel as if I’d made many good pictures. That’s not what this story is about, however.

Just as this sombre event was wrapping up, we were surprised to hear a rising flood of raucous music with drums, whstles and a tropical Samba flavor. I followed the sound to catch the last moments of a few of the members of Brazillian Carnival band Estrela Brilhante blowing off some steam in an impromtu street performance before their scheduled recording session at Sub Cat Studios down the street. I tagged along with their surprise procession, to be rewarded with a fascinating view of the dancers and musicians shedding their elaborate costumes and relaxing a bit before they started recording. I tried unsuccessfully not to be too obtrusive with my camera & chatted with their very tolerant American tour manager, Anne Kogan, who told me that the whole group has more than 350 members, only a few of whom are traveling in the US. They are visiting from the town of Recise, where they practice a unique carnival tradition derived from ancient African roots. The group is actually known as a “Nation”, which is a sort of community, music and performance group all in one, led by the beautiful Queen and President Morizalda Dos Santos, shown in the photos wearing her spectacular red and white regalia. In addition to her role as the Nation’s leader, she is also in charge of hand sewing and decorating the entire troupe’s elaborate costumes. Their next stop is to play a free music festival this Saturday at the Silver Mine Art Center in New Cannaan, CT. at 3 PM. Their tour is a collaboration organized with Scott Kettner of the Brooklyn based band Nation Beat. More information about them and later tour dates are here: I’m not going to be able to make any of the performances, but at least I feel somewhat blessed by Saint Veronica for Tuesday’s encounter.

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Sometimes the best project idea is the one right under your nose.

This picture from the spring came up in last night’s film developing frenzy. I was on my way to school with my “new” 8×10 Burke & James in the car when I ran into former student Olivia Bosies, fresh off the boat from a morning training session with the crew team she coaches. I hadn’t had much chance to test out the camera, so she was nice enough to stand still long enough for me to expose a few sheets of film. If you know Olivia, you will know what a favor standing still for anyone is for her!

Making Olivia’s portrait got me thinking about all the interesting things that recent BFA grads end up doing once they leave school. I know that my own journey has been full of surprises, as the world I was trained for in college pretty much imploded as I was walking off the graduation platform. My 20’s were marked by struggle and turmoil. In those pre digital days, I rarely had the extra cash to buy film, so a lot of those adventures went unrecorded in photographs. Now I’m watching my students go through similar adventures.

After 10 years of teaching photography full time, I feel that the time is right for me to take a serious look at the lives I’ve been trusted to influence as a teacher, and to reflect upon the efficacy and outcomes of that effort. As an educator I think it’s pretty tough not to teach to the world we knew growing up, even as it’s changing all around us. Should I get the chance to continue this vocation in the years ahead, I want to know what needs to change, and what still works. As an artist, I can’t help but want to make pictures about it.

So If you’ve ever been a student in one of my classes, I want to hear from you. Don’t be surprised if I ask in the weeks ahead to stop by for a visit, make some pictures and record your thoughts on video…. and feel free to offer your thoughts even if I don’t ask!


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