Friday, May 4, 2012

Monday, half and half

     As I've said 80,000 times, it's hard now that the Workshops are two hours shorter...especially hard on the last it's probably a good idea to divide the class in half...and show half the work from 2-3:30 and the other until 5...I'll be there at 1 so if you're early and want to put up work, that would be great...   Please think about how you want to sequence the work...

We won't have a huge amount of time to talk about the work, so what's important is that each of you talk about what you wanted to do, think you did, might have wanted to do more of, are pleased with, disappointed with, etc...                

It went fast, I must say...   and I assume the semester went especially fast for those of your who are graduating....    

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why did I give up?

     I can't now imagine why I gave up blogging since I was very clear that this was going to be my primary way of communicating. And, when you think about it, it's not all that difficult to look up a blog!!!!
    So, here we are, one week to go...and two people will present work tomorrow...I think..and then everyone will present next week which will be a big crowd of work that won't have enough space to be seen nicely. Which is why it's good that Ashley wants to put it up tomorrow.....
    As you know, you needed to have a notebook or a blog...      and that the work is due on the last day of class...and that many of you are graduating...huge congratulations go your way...  And many good wishes..

     I'm sorry that our renegade exhibit didn't happen. I did give friends 25 copies of a one-page fold different cities...175 small books, and got 6 responses, most from Buffalo where a friend basically handed them to friends at different events. That definitely enhances the chances for response. One was found in Wellfleet..
    And I finished 100 4x6 drawings with text from "Bread & Roses: Mills, Migrants and the Struggle for the American Dream" that will be included in an exhibit at the Essex Art Center for the centennial celebration... And did a number of interviews of Lawrence residents or people connected with Lawrence that I still have to edit...


Thursday, March 29, 2012


I had lunch with Margaret yesterday and found out that she had everyone's e-mail addresses and sent e-mails twice a week as reminders.  So, I will get  your e-mail addresses on Monday...

And also I found out that she had small groups every week, each student having at least 6 digital or black and white prints each week. I'd prefer 10. So we'll start that Monday........and continue on the next Monday. I used to have small groups all the time, but the fact that folks hadn't been doing digital work prints had stopped me...but now that you're doing that, we'll start small groups.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just to reassure you....

I want to say that don't give myself any credit if you produce really interesting projects.

During a critique I might remind someone, as I reminded Carrie, that I prodded her to  do something more with her Arizona photographs --- but I did that only because some of you clearly don't like my nagging and I want to prove that it's possible to live through my telling you, "This isn't enough, no, not enough work," and come up with a really interesting solution...  

And I won't really kill myself if you don't come up with a really interesting final project or if you stop working on a really interesting project to focus on shadows or if you don't commit yourself to two clear ideas and stop fussing around. No, I'm not going to to that, no matter how much I enjoy trying to tease you into action.

I do suffer for a couple of hours during grading. I hate to give grades and would prefer that this was the sort of school where no grades were given. But it isn't. So, I suffer briefly. But, unfortunately I do have to give grades. And unfortunately some folks don't do enough work for a B. So, I suffer a bit.

But you are adults and can make your own choices.

And you might decide to go to Boston College, tomorrow, Thursday, at 10:15, to hear three important war photographers the Murray Function Room, 4th floor in the Yawkey Center.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zoe Strauss Introduction

I'm assuming that each of you will read the Xerox copy of the introduction that Zoe Strauss wrote about the I95 project to accompany her mammoth book and the huge show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

You might borrow a copy and return it after a few days....or read it in class. (WHICH LEADS ME TO THE FACT THAT YOU MUST HAVE WORK TO DO IN CLASS, ALL CLASS...and not forget some important gadget or whatever, please, or leave class early. It ends at 5.)

We'll discuss her writing next week. I admire this piece and am particularly interested in your take on why she conceived of this enterprise as taking ten years. I imagine that's a hard concept for students in a university who are taking 4 or 5 subjects, at least one of which is a studio course, and taking 20 rolls of film or 500 digital pictures a semester.      I, on the other hand, find it a remarkable and refreshing way of planning a long-term adventure.

And I'm interested in what categories you might chose to photograph if you were to start on such a would you think that out.

And I'm interested in your general ideas/reactions/thought.....about what she wrote, her "everything," the additions she thought necessary for the final project, the difference between and the definitions of the intuitive and the intellectual decisions she has been constantly making.

I had originally hoped you would read her blog, but that's not really necessary since so much was about the show. However, she had a good entry with a photo of herself in a hoodie and a discussion of whether she, a small, 41-year-old-white=woman would have been shot by George Zimmerman if she'd been walking through the enclave where he was a Neighborhood Watch captain carrying a gun!

I hope I don't need to say that if you have chosen to work in the darkroom, you are buying your 20 rolls of 36 exposure film, developing it, cutting it down, making contacts, choosing what to print......making a work print, looking at it with other work prints and then making final prints of what you've chosen.      THAT IS MUCH, MUCH, MUCH MORE TIME CONSUMING than taking digital photographs...

so if you're working with digital, you have to take many, many, many more images...and use many, many more in your project. You have not gotten your hands wet, so to speak, and had a far easier time of it, in so far as taking interesting, insightful photographs can ever be easy.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera when I was walking the dogs past a stick structure someone made in a park near Target, sticks bent in half to create the illusion of a roof. Here it is after a wind storm.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Just to remind you that lab hours should be noted in the lab book each week. And that they are different from the hoursyou are expected to spend each week taking photographs...that's equivalent to what you'd spend reading or writing if this were a course that required that. Therefore, your projects must reflect many hours of time spent on photographing. Any idea, no matter how interesting, that could be completed (but for the printing) in a couple of hours just doesn't represent enough work for a whole project....

I see my role as that of an Australian sheepdog, nipping at your heels, to keep you on track toward doing enough interesting work to produce a project that will at least receive a grade of B. Beyond that, my goal is to push you to take risks, stretch yourself, try something difficult and  really think about what you want to say with your images.

You will might think, oh, she's putting up all these hoops that we have to jump through, and that's true. That's the nature of this endeavor. My goal is for everyone to at least get that demanding B. I'm not always successful, but I try very hard. 

If you received a grade lower than B, you're more than welcome to resubmit more work. I haven't graded some projects because there wasn't enough or because I think you've just started a semester long project. 

Goats are often comforting for Thoroughbred horses, keeping them company, and calming then in the stalls. This particular goat also acted as a guard dog, immediately noticing if anyone strange was walking down the shed row and butting them.

Hopefully you will have read the earlier post and that you will have had a good, productive vacation.

Oh, one more thing, some of you have had real trouble in printing because the image on the screen is so different from what is produced by the printing. It would be alright to bring your laptop and show your images on the screen....that means you'll have to get to class early so Kevin can be sure that the right connector is available.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Yesterday morning, I went out to the 8th Pole, in the barn area of Suffolks Downs, to do an interview with Adam Ragussea of WBUR about this recently published book...

and so I was very pleased to see all the work you folks put up.

Just a few words before vacation...and as you move on to continue your projects or to start a new one or ones...

It's fine to be working on two visual tracks. For instance, Andrea put up very clean, nicely composed, quite visually simple images of the signs that she's beset by during her time in Boston...and she put up much more complex images about the visual clutter she finds...she's chosen to work on the more difficult project...and may, or may not, be able to incorporate the simple photographs (maybe as visual chapter headings.) But that doesn't matter...she had many camera struggles, did a lot of work in a short time when she finally could, printed quite a few images and is clearly thinking about and working on what interests her -- the more cluttered, noisy images.

If you're working in the darkroom, make fast work prints (not perfected prints) so that you have a group...then put them up and look at them, make decisions about the most effective, interesting images, and the direction you'll take in your next roll of film. Do the final prints much later on because they take much more time.

The whole point of doing projects (a project, three projects) is investing in them...picking a topic that's difficult, that involves coordinating successfully with your subjects or spending a lot of time walking around, hunting them up, looking at the results and going back out for more. Projects take time. Any set of images that could be done in an afternoon isn't a project...though you might do a set of images in an afternoon and then pick the best and add those to the next set of images done in the morninng...and so on...  

So, please think investment -- the complexity of your idea and the time you're spending on working with it. And please think about risk -- moving out of what you can do comfortably     Or taking what you can do comfortably up another notch.  And if you've taken the Workshop before, remember that you're also taking that experience forward, pushing up another notch, doing something more difficult.

In grading, I will put more emphasis on your most developed project. So, if you had trouble starting or grasping the concept of extended projects in which the images support each other to develop a visual idea/thought, don't worry.

And if you're showing your work after the break, don't worry.
If you had a hard time achieving what you know you want, and it takes another week AFTER the break, don't worry. It's more important that you have really struggled to get a set of photographs that you care about.
And if you want to add more to what you have already shown, feel free to do it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Next Monday

I realize that having had that Monday vacation wasn't the best thing for many of you. Two weeks in between.

And that a once-a-week class is very difficult to remember.

And that you have other classes, etc...

And that two of you have had serious camera problems.
For those of you with working cameras,  I'd assume 6 or 8 rolls of film would be taken by now.

Thanks to Meghan, Martyna and Tunisia for finding other MACs with photoshop in the library. The MAC lab is open for most of our class time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: THE MONITORS AND PRINTERS IN THE PHOTO LAB ARE NOT CALIBRATED SO THAT WHAT YOU SEE ON THE SCREEN IS NOT WHAT YOU'LL GET AS A PRINT.   I'd advise trying a test print and then it will be easier to figure out how much to lighten or darken your image on the screen to get closer to the print you want.

CARRIE, I DON'T THINK THAT I EXPLAINED HOW TO USE THE DRY MOUNT PRESS...Please ask Kevin...basically, you tack the tissue on the back of the print (small touch, leaving a quarter size heated area in the center...) and then you cut the print (using sharp knife and a metal rectangle) and then you carefully place it on the page and tack the TISSUE on the top two corners...and put it between the two sheets of cardboard in the PREHEATED dry mount press...make sure it's heated to the temperature of the paper you're using...RC takes a lower temperature than fiber...   and I think we talked about fine-point magic markers...Blick is a good place to buy them ...

There is no work-time during the next class.

Let's hope there's a good showing on Monday. I realize that some of you are behind and will catch up during vacation which starts on the 12th. If you are working on two ideas, please show both of them even if neither is completed. Remember that you might decide to continue on with this project for the whole semester. Or you might have another idea.

The drop or pass/fail day is on the 14th which is during vacation. If you're very worried about a grade, give me your e-mail and I'll mail it to you before then.

After the class on the 19th, there will be five class days before the presentation of the final project(s) on the 7th of May. (There's another week in there, but there's another one of those Monday vacations.)

To answer one question, yes, if you do take 20 minutes to take a photograph with a digital camera, you don't have to take a number of them. But most people take more because of the situation. For instance, I should have played around more with the first and second photo on the catwalk, especially  since that architectural drawing won't be there again..I took two of the man standing in the road by the new building.       I was in a hurry...

In taking abstractions or landscapes, I realize that a photographer is capable of concentrating and deciding on a well-composed image. That's the principle of the large-format camera. However, most people still explore by taking a number of photographs, even those who are set up with a tri-pod because afterwards, you might want the placement of the horizon, for instance, to vary a bit.  

A fellow formed a company breeding designer geckos in Texas...they, in his mind, become living art...and he describes the process of setting aside the number of eggs he wants to become females in an 80 degree room and those he wants to become males in a 90 degree room. Once they hatch, he checks the babies for unusual designs so they can be bred. It took him 30 generations of geckos to start making these fanciful creatures which he probably sells for a pretty penny. This was all described in a 2 min and 54 second vido at the Museum of Science gecko show.
 Shadows of a sculpture piece in a show I saw this weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Making

I had planned to test myself by preparing another talk using that odd machine and my computer, but it seems more practical to demonstrate book making for Carrie and whoever wants to watch and urge the rest of you on with your March 5th project.  

After that there is spring vacation and we miss yet another Monday class.



So, here are some photographs of specific styles of books in case Carrie wants to think about alternatives to the scrap book.

 This is a very large, heavy "scrap" book that I made for an etching class that I was auditing at UMass. I wanted extremely large pages because I was using etchings with text.

And I was using very heavy, very large board that I bought at a book bindery. It has to be laboriously cut with a matte knife.

The board that you buy in a package in an art store such as Blick is around 13x19, four boards in a package and is much thinner. It's easier to cut, but you can't make a huge book.

There are always end-papers pasted (with a white glue that you very carefully apply over the whole surface) inside the front cover after the outer covering (in this case, a heavy black rice paper). Sometimes you put on a sheet of heavy weight BFK Reeves -- the same paper you've used for the basic book block and then paste the end paper over it. Sometimes you use the BFK Reeves as the end paper. (Take a look at the accordion book and you'll see white end papers..) And you need to make spacers -- the same size as that board that makes the hinge and put one between each sheet because these compensate for the print (height) and the dry-mount tissue.

The scrap book consists of a front and back book board. And then there are two narrow pieces, cut the same width, that create the hinge to allow the cover to open easily. You'll need those two metal whatever-they-are called.  gismos? gromets?....(see top picture.)

The pages are 1/4" smaller on the top and bottom and 1/4" smaller on the right and left sides. In other words, 1/2" smaller than the book board because this protects the pages from being easily damaged.

This is a strap book...though it's easy to make and I made this one during a Workshop that I was teaching a couple of years ago, it's definitely more delicate because the cover is not made of book board but of a heavy paper..    The pages are made by folding each piece of paper in half, twice the length of what you've decided is your cover size...and then binding it through the fold (this has to be seen to be explained easily.)  One advantage is an attractive binding of stitching. But, again, it's fragile.  

I hated the blue coat that I was wearing that winter, so I wanted to make a book about it, using text.

So there were many photographs of me with my usual forlorn expression in that coat and also much smaller images of the coat and the lining, also functioned as sort of a diary.

This is an accordion book which is actually quite easy to make...Again, it's with a heavy-weight BFK Reeves paper and the images are adhered with dry mount tissue and the dry mount press.

I made it for that same class...using photographs I'd taken in the parking lot when I took a friend to doctor visits...they are digital images and I used photoshop to add text.   As you'll see, the end pages are an extension of the accordion book block.  I don't think anyone in that class was any more interested in my working along with them than most of you are in this blog...but why not do it?

It's possible to make deliberately messy books, but these are examples of quite formal solutions and they are a bit annoying to make because all the pages have to be the same sizes and the glue has to be applied neatly, blah and blah.    If you hate precision, these aren't the books you want to make because they look pretty awful if you're not careful...for instance, folding an accordion book is tricky.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Old dog, new tricks

It is possible to teach an old dog a new trick, but I was so befuddled by using the new gismo to talk about JR, that I really flubbed that discussion...and though I'd done most of my homework (except to prepare seamless visuals for discussion), I did not realize that the train passing by twice a day created those three completed portraits..I did know that the tops of the shanties were only visible from above.  I'll do better next time.

I'm really sorry that there's no class next week...please feel free to e-mail me images and

Let me try to explain again what Photo I and Workshop projects are designed to get you to think about. If photography is a visual language, then one photograph would be a sentence. To show the viewer that you know what you're doing (and that you really want to convey an idea or emotion), you want to make a series of photographs....that's the equivalent of putting sentences together into an essay (documentary), a story (narrative) or a poem (abstractions.)     In the olden days, before I began taking photographs, it's was sufficient to take separate interesting photographs....and if you're a commercial photographer or a photographer who specializes in editorial work, it's still possible to take single interesting photographs.   But for the purposes of classes in the Art Department, it's necessary to string them together, creating a group of related photographs.

I know that Margaret taught lighting last semester and emphasized that, but, in general, the Workshop has not emphasized adding new skills to those you already have just using your camera as the tool. You were pushed you to explore an idea, a subject, further, to order to build up a small body of cohesive work...10-20 images for each of two projects. I'm positive that Margaret also does his.  

When I was teaching photography full time, there was barely enough budget to buy additional cameras to rent to students. Margaret has been able to buy lights and the light box for alternative printing and has added those possibilities for different workshops, but she has the same principle of creating a body of work...    

Hopefully, you will leave this class, even if you've had to struggle through it, with images that hang together and give a cohesive sense to what you want to achieve. By 'wanting' to achieve, I don't mean that you have to know what your end 'product' will be when you begin.

So, you may not have an absolutely clear idea of where you'll end up, but you have to start by taking 4 or 5 rolls of film...or several hundred digital images and then editing down.

So, I'm going to take the liberty of discussing, in general terms, a bit of the work I saw yesterday that's really moving along... because these are really good examples of successes at this stage...   (If I didn't include yours, please don't feel bad...I'll probably add more thoughts to another blog...this is what I was thinking when I couldn't sleep last night..)

1. if you're photographing at night, inside a dark club which is probably noisy, it's terrific if those images convey that quality of shimmer and movement. Unless you're Larry Fink (you could check out his work) and using flash at high society banquets to isolate individuals, the sense that I think is absolutely FINE AND APPROPRIATE is slightly out-of-focus, dark and noisy (even with the large pixels that you'd get if you were using 3,200 black and white film)....         so, if you got four or five slightly out-of-focus, a bit shimmery, dark images, out of 60, that's great, keep going. Please don't think that crisp images would better convey the atmosphere of that situation.

2. If you're trying to photograph strangers, something you've never done before, and you get one, let me repeat ONE photograph of an older woman reading the newspaper which shows her concentration and is nicely framed...that's terrific.  If you've also taken photographs of strangers in different settings and you've gotten two or three that work graphically, showing an isolated person in a well-composed environment, that's also terrific.   Don't worry that they may represent two different visual ideas! You're moving along nicely....     Photographers are like sharks, circling around, waiting.... it takes a lot of time and a lot of pushing the shutter release... a 'working' photographer will take an endless amount of photographs of the same scene, picking one... you can afford to wait, appear to be leaning there and thinking, and take a lot of photographs...

3. If you've taken one roll of film of different angles of a wrought (spelling? damn, I can't spell and am not going to look that up in the dictionary) iron fence and the river, make a contact sheet and some small images and see what you've got...feel good about how much work you put into the different angles and distances... then go back out and take more images of fences, concentrating on the graphic detail and how the background plays into the overall design of your photograph.

4. If you're taking portraits of friends from different cultures, you won't know whether images that take a more documentary direction will fit in with them...but keep going, doing both..  If you get two interesting portraits out of one session, good...and it's really interesting that you've asked them to supply'll figure out how to best put that on the photographs..

5. If you've gotten four to six well composed images while following someone leading a tour...terrific, excellent.......the only suggestion I have is that when you go on the tour again, take more photographs, from different angles of each site or stop. One or two isn't enough even though you did very well in choosing the successful images from the 50 or so that you took.

6. Yes, it will work if you make a book (I've often taught a workshop on bookmaking and will be happy to demonstrate how  to make's time consuming, but will add a lot to this presentation) using the photographs you took last summer.    (In general, it's much better to take photographs during the semester because then you can update your ideas, change direction...but since you are doing something complicated with book-making and text, that's fine...)

If the new camera you just got in the mail doesn't work, I'M REALLY SORRY....

And if you didn't check that your film was securely wound on when you started taking pictures and your rolls was blank, I'm also sorry...but check to make sure it's securely attached to the spool and that the rewind button is moving when you advance the film.

It's a long time between classes...please take a lot of photographs, work in lab or on your computer for the four hours a week....and make a page in the lab book...

again, you must have work to do in class, if you don't, it's the same as being absent......and stay until's a three hour class... I'll be there at 1 if you want to talk with me early and I'll happily stay after 5....

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Kevin will be able to set me up with that magical machine that will project material about JR. Let's hope that works because it would be more interesting to talk about images which is what I want to do at the beginning of class tomorrow.

I'm assuming you have looked up his work and read what he chose to do with the Ted Prize in 2011. There's the possibility of doing a community project in connection with his work that we should talk about. Hopefully someone besides me will have looked into it.

I'll talk with those of you who I didn't connect with...and try to catch up with others. I'm hoping the camera problems have gotten ironed out. And I assume that you're well on your way with projects, unless your camera problems weren't solved.

Let me remind you, that you should at least make a brief note on each of these blog entries so that I know that you've been reading a sign-in sheet, similar to the lab book that you're writing your hours in...

AND APPLAUSE FOR SIMON WHO WROTE A COMMENT on the previous blog, ASKING ALL OF US TO LOOK AT HIS WORK ON FACEBOOK   SIMON.P PHOTOGRAPHY....      let's see how many of you have done that by tomorrow...   another hint about writing a comment and checking out who has written one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!        (I just tried to look up Simon.P Photography on facebook and couldn't find it. Is it case sensitive?)

AND PLEASE CHECK OUT     STREAMINGALIFE.BLOGSPOT.COM  is Susan Landry's blog...she has joined the class long-distance. The entries that concern you are under the title "Workshop."

And a reminder that there's no class on the 20th..

I was listening to NPR while driving...and heard interesting comments about what very young students learn in good schools -- critical thinking, learned optimism, tenacity and problem solving. That's all supposed to be focused on in the early grades, but it seems to me that these involve life-long learning.  Obviously thinking out-of-the-box, defining goals, setting a pace of work, thinking about process as well as about product are other key concepts.    

I started thinking about the way you folks managed the one-page-fold book in relation to problem solving...

Obviously if you are taking four classes and working a job or two and want something like a social life, it is all really hard to balance...but you can still examine the ways you go about making an attempt to make sense of all you want to accomplish.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


 I'm glad that I had a chance to talk with most of you on Monday and apologize to those of you who I didn't have time for...      Next Monday, I'll catch up with the rest of you and also check in briefly with all of you...just to see if everyone has been able to get going...with hope that the camera problems have been solved.   Feel free to e-mail me at

We'll talk about JR at the beginning of class and then you'll be free to work.

If you're e-mailing me a document, it has to be a word.doc, not one of those x docs..

Remember there's a holiday on the 20th..

My friend, Susan Landry, has joined the class by long distance. If you look at the previous posting, you will find her blog address so that you can check out what she's doing if you want to.....

Some of you seemed to turn a bit green when I said I expected hundreds of digital images...often...   The expectation for film is at least 20 rolls of 36 exposure film..which  means developing it and making contacts..for those 720 images...Naturally not all that many negatives will be printed, but the whole process is very time consuming.

Digital is easier, faster..and only involves making prints. (Thinking about what to print is the same for both processes..the difficulty of choosing the images that best support your idea..)

There's a very good show of artist books at the Boston Atheneum on Beacon Street. It costs $5 to get in and that allows you to stay all day, if you choose, sitting on one of those elegant red chairs, reading or writing. Though I was only really interested in five or six of the books (that's about the average I'd expect to find interesting in any show, whether of paintings or photographs), it was really worth seeing all of them.

The Pompeii show at the Museum of Science will be over on the 12th, so I spent 3 hours there yesterday. IT IS OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE....BUT I REALLY WANTED TO SEE THE BODY CASTS... Taking over 180 photographs, just for the pleasure of it. None of the images are particularly interesting, but they function as note taking.

The heads above are reconstruction from skulls and I thought it was interesting to get some sense of what the people really might have looked like...

There are a number of  overt sexual images -- frescoes or the tiny little sculpture that is in this image to the left which is a case displaying the many little objects for the afterlife.... the walking phallus that was carved into something or other, a little holder for oil... the hundreds of noisy children probably didn't notice any of this since they were so eager to rattle around, dodging in and out.....

There is a casting of skeletons from Herculanium....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday - transient possession

 A friend just gave me three Untitled (transient Possessions), 1212, that she'd been given as part of an artist project that involves 500 unique images, one done drawn on in dark boston beer on tintoretto 300 gr paper.. and the other in ferrogallic ink on the same weight paper...

as a collaborative drawing by cesare pietroiusti and the visitors of the isabella steward gardner museum...distributed for free and subject to transient possession...

the holder of the ferrogallic drawing commits to give it away to the first person they meet who asks a question they don't know the answer to..and subsequent holders make the same agreement.     And the holders of the beer drawing commit to keeping it for three months and then giving it to someone who lives south of them, again accepting the conditions of temporary possession..

The drawing are signed by the artist who thought up this concept and by the visitors who did the drawings in beer or the iron ink....and each is numbered. On the back of the iron ink drawings is something else that's printed...Another example of a conceptual piece that involves giving away the art. These heavy sheets are slightly larger than a standard letter size, the iron ink drawings are slightly larger. I was given #'s 377, 319 and 341.

The friend who gave them to me had no idea that I would be so completely interested in this project.

The photo on the right is of shimmering reflections on the stove. I had no reason to take it except that I thought it was beautiful...not the photograph, but the shimmerings.

For quite a while, I'd say often over a period of months, I drew the contours of shadows of leaves and branches as they slowly passed over the sheet of BFK Reeves. I loved the drawings which, in no way, resembled leaves or branches.

Please don't bother to pay too much attention to Zoe Strauss's website...I will have the introduction from her book, "Ten Years" for you to read and that's important.

and, PLEASE BUY YOUR OWN PAPER IF YOU ARE PRINTING PHOTOGRAPHS. I always use Epson paper, and find the matte works well for what I do, though some people like gloss...


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To Clarify

Since there seemed to be so much confusion about what I'm expecting for the class, and I'm sorry for that......let me clarify in this way......I'll do another blog later that's more interesting.

This is a group site...but you can reach  me privately by e-mail or on facebook...  I reply in the message section of facebook, but not on the wall...      I'll get a chance to talk to many of you, one-by-one next week and the week after...

There are components to the Workshop, just as there were to the Photo I class, if you took it here at UMass. This is a four, 4, credit course. In an Art Department.
As it says on the first page of the handout, photography is a visual language, the operative word being language. You are trying to say something with images. You don't have to decide what you are saying/are trying to say/until you are finished with the project. You can start out by starting out -- just taking photographs.

It also says to join the blog and look at it weekly and contribute. It said that on the white board and was written on the templet for the book (as was the request to look up JR photographer.) Five people did that, plus my friend, Susan, who lives in Portland and is interested in the ideas of this course and will undoubtedly do some work along with it.

It also says PROACTIVE (in capitals)...please don't wait around for an idea.

On page 2, it says that the typed page about your first idea (project) is due next Monday. (I think the date is wrong..but it's next Monday.)

I think that I had asked each of you, during that first class, what your ideas for a first project were, however vague they might well as what you'd worked on in the past.

On page 2 is a fairly long paragraph of suggestions for possible projects...a range of potential ideas, but in no way meaning that you should pick one of them..

and then there is a small paragraph about how it's better to do something beyond your capacity...that echoes risk, challenge...  (you are free to ignore this)

and on page 3, it says that the first due day is March 5th. That would be for a project that will be finished by then so that you can start on a new one, or a project that you'll continue to work on. (You may also do smaller projects so that you have more than 1 or 2... )

Another component of studio classes has always been writing and reading (though you may have had classes that don't require this.) I think that Margaret has readings, discussions and writing. I used to take care of this by requiring visits to two photo shows and two papers about them. But.... this time we are following a thread of ideas that will vary, but is starting out with street art...JR is first...(and gorilla work.)  Then about Zoe Strauss...I'll have a reading for that, but you are supposed to look at her blog, many times more than once.  I'M WRITING about what you're supposed to do IN THE BLOG...

as the handout says, attendance is crucial and contribution to class discussion is important. I realize that English is not the native language for some of you, but please make an effort. We really appreciate hearing about your ideas....everyone's ideas... the whole point is finding different opinions, discussing them...

the small group project which will take very little of your time will, hopefully, be a pop-up show or a gorilla show...that's NOT the focus of the class, but as interesting spin-off from thinking about JR, Zoe Strause, etc. It will involve agreement/participation by most of you, finding a basic idea, site, etc. OR most of you agreeing to another group undertaking.

IT'S IMPORTANT NOT TO FORGET ABOUT THE CLASS UNTIL MONDAY... I realize all of you are fiercely busy with class, probably with one or two jobs, late hours, lots of pressure, I do understand, but the drawback of a once-a-week class is forgetting about it or doing the work on Sun. night or Mon. morning..

I am not trying to say anything with these photographs. I was just having fun, walking along, taking photographs without stopping...I often use my camera for amusement and don't have anything to do with the images, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy taking them. This is an easy luxury in digital. It wasn't when I used film!  I have a great time making small compositions out of graffiti where I walk the dogs...
 I've always liked the cat walk. or catwalk. and have walked on it 50,000 times. This time I took photographs upside down. But, when I imported them, they were all right-side-up on preview..., bummer... but in photoshop, they were as I intended them.

Though I've done very, very little traveling, I was in Stockholm during the winter, where people stood against building in the sun, at lunch time...this reminded me of that.. I took 3 photographs and chose the one with the most 'stuff' (shadow lines) on the right angle...I didn't even remember that I could have used the telephoto. I like wide angles..

so, that's done...

I had an interesting talk with Rose about the TED awards and the how many interesting IDEAS are represented on that site, (in addition to the fact that JR actually won the 2011 prize, $100,000 and a wish.) I don't know the man who was teaching the class that required researching in that area, but he started out with Ted Johnson as the focal point. So I will go to TED and watch his lecture... since I was caught up with her enthusiasm...hopefully she'll talk about it and about developing a paper over the semester...

I hope you all understood that I was not only interested in what you were trying to say in the work you showed from past classes, but, more importantly, trying to talk about how projects might be developed from a particular visual style or idea embedded in an image.  (I did NOT mean that you should chose to develop one of those projects...)  

For instance, the self-portrait with the pearly, bubble necklace involved shape (as sculptural shape of the body), traditional emblems of  being a young, beautiful, female, the comparison of  her skin color to the sheen of the necklace to the hair in back (tones of black, white and gray, glisten, texture, pattern? ).

Someone could take element of those ideas and use them in other define ideas about beauty, being male/female/transgender/age/race...what might be understood/interpreted by a photograph that defines itself by photographing sections of a person.

Monday, January 30, 2012

JR and the Ted Prize

Obviously ignorant, I'd heard mention of TED videos, but never looked them up and didn't know about the prize of $100,000 and a wish that's been given since 2005 to various serious thinkers. (1-3 each year) JR was the only winner of the prize for 2011. His work is at the TED site and at Lost At E Minor, a site about street art, among other web resources.

I'd been looking at his work this morning -- huge portions of women's face in Kiberia, Kenya, applied with water resistant material to their rooftops, often of the houses they live in, visible by Google Earth and the train that goes by twice a day, etc. (Please check out Women are Heroes, 2008, victims of violence on the favelas in Rio DeJanero.

He's in his twenties, started with a camera he found, used 18x24 paste-up prints first, now covered rooftops and buildings, now had a big staff, serious money, and is, probably, now recognizable, just as Banksy is probably now recognizable.

Issues -- how does a person move from small scale social-statement street art to this massive production?
Do artists need to know about business?
Would his work be possible without the net? and Google Earth?
Was he from a privileged background?
Did he go to art school?
Is anyone working in public art who hasn't received a Masters except Zoe Strauss?
Where might the impulse for using art for activism come from?
Might the images in Rio or in Kiberia have any particular effect? (If he won the TEd prize, they must have...but there's more to think about here..what would have happened if the same amount of money had been used within those communities?)
How much does this type of work cost?
How much does money matter in being an effective artist?
How freeing is it to do work anonymously? What advantage did he have by being unknown? Did Banksy have?
How does street art get found?

I put a link to Hell Ton John, a Tahitian street artist/graphic designer on my facebook is a nifty, economical little video of him painting a wall in what would probably be equivalent to a barrio.

speaking of which, I didn't look at the site in Lost At E Minor about the French artist who works on pencils, but I will...

Will our gorilla show have an activist slant, be a political statement in some way? by that I mean political in a broad sense...environmental issues, for instance...pollution, overcrowding, waste....
Or not..
It could have themes...
What makes an exhibit like this worth doing?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thinking about

what various people said during the Monday class,, in no particular order and with no preferences (it's just information)..taken from my notes and they are NOT suggestions...but could be used.
    industrial images/metal/lines
   out of comfort zone
   unconventional places
   energy (some images, for me, are very energetic, charged, while others are calm, placid)
  being in control (either in the taking of photographs or the printing)
  stilling the hustle and bustle (makes me think of ground level photographs, stopping people in mid-step...which is another thing to think about.)
   adolescence (that was an area of interest for later, but it could be a subject of photographs. Having three or four adolescents take photographs of themselves, write about them, take pictures of them taking pictures, or separate portraits..write about memories of adolescence to use with images that don't necessarily relate.)
  (Or interviewing other students who are about to graduate..taking portraits, getting interviews of what they hope for/worry about/expect..blah and blah.)
   (Or interviewing other foreign students about their experiences, taking portraits..)
   landscape (how to make them interesting, find a way of viewing them that surprises us...could the landscapes be of miniatures? The only problem with this idea is that most people don't have access to macro lenses and can't get close enough to the subject...but it might work with a very wide-angle..
   glare (what we usually try to avoid by putting out hands up to shield the sun)
   cut outs (most people forget how interesting photograms can be...what an intense display that a grid of them would make...or how cut outs can be used while printing, a cardboard figure laid over the exposing printing paper..that would allow cartoons or narrative...)
   setting up scenarios
  explore and let the idea develop/take a lot of photographs to see where you want to go
  working hard for some surprise
  (paraphrase)..My work is fine, it may not be the best, but it's certainly not the worst (perspective)
  emotion..........(for my point of view, bland is not all that is hard to come by in photographs/confusion, darkness, frenzy are easier as abstractions. Dream like images or images of dreams.
For my own part, I decided to do one-page-fold books and contacted friends in various areas who will put them around for me. So far, the Cape, L.A., Tucson and N.Y. and I'm still asking.

So, after many tries, (mock-ups), i came up with this and took it on a flash drive to have 200 printed. After being so careful, I made one mistake which resulted in the photo on the front page being pushed over too far.

As a friend once said, things take 3 x's longer than you imagine
and as a lot of people say, nothing is perfect.

I'm going to go with it, in spite of flaw..
    That evening, after I got back from having it printed, I got the stomach virus, a fierce 6 hours and a couple of days of lying around. In the meantime, the cat threw up on the package of the first five or six are ruined.
   nothing is perfect..

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Class..

I was totally energized by yesterday's class...though I know it's boring to sit there for an hour and a half, that folks probably don't get my sense of humor and that for non-native English speakers, it must be extremely hard to understand what I'm aiming for.

Though I really think that artists basically end up working in a specific style, that photographers usually have a basic way of framing and thinking about what they want to say with their's really important to challenge try something you don't know how to be uncomfortable. I didn't emphasize that in terms of the dreadful grading, I'd give a higher grade to someone who really pushed, took risks, was uncomfortable and kept going than to someone who is basically repeating an idea, refining it...unless, of course, the idea was very engaging to begin with.

I'm assuming, though I didn't stress it, that you're starting to work right away...developing the idea and starting on it or taking photographs to find out where you'll go. Anyway, start working! Please!

I know that some people are more comfortable with a deliberate plan, a vision that they are trying to fulfill. If that's you, then just be open to whatever change might happen and go with it, without worrying that you've lost your original concept.
It is a process, though some people, like me, prefer to think more about process than product. And some think about product.

There's no right or wrong, there are just a variety of ways of doing things. You just have to be able to understand how you function.
From my point of view, a large part of this class, and undoubtedly of any class, is understanding how you look at challenges, assignments, think about them, about yourself...    I loved the idea of looking around, saying, "Well, that wasn't so great. I can do better than that," as a way of dealing with the endless comparisons to other people that many of us make.

I happen to be teaching the class, but essentially we are all teaching each other. And we all have different opinions. Please disagree and argue. We need dialogues with different opinions.

So, just to repeat...
please make 20 copies of the one page fold book. Though I didn't emphasize it, it make sense to use it as a 'book'...therefore, have a cover and back page. Obviously, you could fill the whole page with images, images and words and then fold it and not have a 'book' which implies a vague narrative..  Anyway, have fun, play with it (in some senses), put in meaning or narrative...

We'll begin having discussions about what you want to do as a public (gorilla or not) event...and please think about it...
taping photographs to telephone poles downtown?
to trees on campus?
inside an abandoned building?
in the hallway by the studios?
Do you want names on them? contact information? "If you took this, please e-mail me at..."
same subject?
each person's favorite photo?
or do you want to get permission to put them on the walkway so they all have those stamps on them?
or make one-page-fold books?

more about where I've gotten in my semester plans in the next post...
don't forget to comment, not about what I'm saying, but about what you're thinking...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wrong, totally!!!

I was completely wrong about when the class starts...this Monday, not two weeks later.

And I'm befuddled about how to use this blogspot. My attempts to write this vanished twice when I tried to add photographs. Try again. It's always try again. With most everything.

Ten years go, I had a poem published by 24th Street Irregular Press in San Fransisco...a tiny book that the publisher left in various places, hopefully to be found. Mine was  #107th that he'd published. I liked the idea of something that was both discoverable and throw-away-able.

I'd been making fold books, usually hand sewn pages, but sometimes folded from one page. I'd mail them to friends, and for a while sold them at Printed Matter in NY... but after reading both the Zoe Strauss explanation of her 10-year project and Sally Stein's essay, I thought about doing a class project that would involve a gorilla exhibit... something like that...

and also about what I will do as a project along with the class. I've done that for the Workshop since I retired...usually I make books that involve more complex binding, but probably I'll make signed editions of 100 single-page fold-books if I can get friends in L.A., New York and Tucson to help me leave them around in odd places. I spent the afternoon making three mock-ups, two in color...

 A coffin that one of the Pharohs was buried in, Museum of Fine Arts.
 Chart in the specialist's office.

These (glazed) figures were so wonderful to make, lunky and cranky, but hard as hell to glaze. I finally gave up and just used a wash of zinc or something like that on them so they look more primitive and bone-like, but these creatures took so long and I never could figure out what use to put them to, so I gave up.

 For several years I photographed the outsides of buildings that were being renovated and covered with drapes of plastic. But to put that into an homage would have taken a lot of effort and been too far outside of my usual mode of working. However, on one of my first outings after I'd been sick and in the hospital, I was surprised to find myself so fascinated by a row of winterized boats that I was out of the car and photographing without thinking about the effort. Digital is so easy, it takes so little effort to take the image even if you'll never use it. Black and white film is a much greater commitment.
There's nothing to do with graffiti, but it's so fabulous to look at ... on the wall under the railroad bridge where I walk the dogs. Usually, it's just color, but this one piece had significance.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Two weeks before the Workshop starts and this is a dry run on the group blog....