Phonecamera: If the common garden camera-in-a-smartphone is a "cameraphone," then the new hybridized wonder from Samsung, the world's largest company that makes cameras*, must be a phonecamera—because it's turned backwards, or inside-out, from the normal emphasis. Instead of being a smartphone that happens to have a camera in it, it's a camera that allows you to dispense with your smartphone. I've got to admit I like it when companies think outside of the little polycarbonate box. It's called the Galaxy NX, and although you can't quite get one yet, it's apparently going to be an actual buyable product soon.
Winograd is grand: Geoff Dyer, one of the more interesting writers on photography in recent years, has published a shortish exhibition review about Garry Winogrand in the London Review of Books. I haven't read it yet, but if author and subject align normally it should be worth our attention.
And Jacob Mikanowski writes about Winogrand at The Awl. Did you know Winogrand wasn't born with that name? His name was originally Winograd. The "grand" was a misspelling that he adopted—with a sort of nihilistic shrug, one imagines.
The book is here. Oddly, some Amazon pages, including this one, recently had formal notices that essentially said Amazon's right hand didn't know what its left one was doing. Everything seems to be back in order with this particular book now, however.
America's most famous billiards addict besides me: Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. He had a Brunswick pool table in his White House and played frequently—often alone, using it as time to think in peace.
I'm using that excuse, by the way. Yeah, that's it—I'm thinking.
Steidl on Netflix: Speaking of books, as I was above, there's a documentary on Netflix about the indefatigable Gerhard Steidl and how he makes books. Again, I haven't seen this yet (I probably should watch it, given our recent ambitions), but (again) if the stars line up as expected....
Wha...? Who...? The biggest change in photography in the last twenty years is not film to digital, it's black-and-white to color. Turns out some photographers you'd never suspect were secretly shooting color when it decidedly wasn't cool. That even includes René Burri, if this recent book from Phaidon is to be credited. Broken record: haven't seen it myself.
The Worst Thing Ever said about photographs is that they should stand alone without captions. I defy you to read twenty random captions to Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York and tell me captions don't matter. Saying pictures should stand alone is like saying that to really appreciate people you should never let them speak or listen to them....
Here's a short video about the project.
Pioneering female photojournalist: Helen Brush Jenkins, who had a reputation for getting the shot no matter what, has died at the age of 94. That's her below with one of our non-pool-playing Chief Executives (I like the shadow of the guy in the hat).
Here's a very interesting thing: it's the original magazine article, written for Fortune but never published, from which the Walker Evans / James Agee collaboration Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was created. What John Jeremiah Sullivan, writing at Bookforum, calls "the first thing to say about it" is that "Fortune was crazy not to run it. It was a failure of nerve, and a lost chance at running one of the great magazine pieces from that era." Now in book format, this could well be headed for my shelves and my reading list.
My reading right now? Jane Austen. Although I'm reading mostly criticism. I'm reading right now about the history of her likeness, a fascinating and involved tale. What the world would give to have a photograph. Or maybe it's more interesting that we don't.
It strikes me as a stunning tragedy—I hate that word, but yes, stunning—that "our Jane" died so terribly young. We should today be talking about Pride and Prejudice as the masterpiece of her early period...after which came her middle period...and then her late. Like Beethoven. Authors are the inverse of athletes—they mature, and often give us their best in later life. Glenn Gould notoriously said that Mozart died too late, but nobody who reads novels could ever say that about Austen. What masterpieces we never had.
There is no want of good editions. I'm curious both about the Penguin Classics (exotically—for Penguin—hard bound), as well as the annotated and illustrated editions (of only some of the titles, though) from Belknap. A bit big for the hand, but I'll bet especially good for second-pass reading.
Scandalous: Shouldn't this be a scandal? Or are we all just too jaded to be shocked by co-optation any more? Or—? I don't have time to look into this. You might.
[UPDATE: The link above appears to be working only sporadically—either that or the site got swamped. It is, or was, an article that alleges that Sebastiao Salgado's latest environmentally-inspired project, "Genesis," and his efforts to reforest his family's property, are being supported in part by a company that's one of the worst polluters in Brazil. —Ed.]
Could be just me...but I think this might be the greatest camera bargain on the planet right now: the flagship NEX for under a grand, what with the current $250 rebate.
Yes, I know that NEX's lens choices are limited, but you could put this new pancake on one and have room to crop, what with all those pixels. It's a very good (very consistent) little lens that's getting great reviews. I'm extremely (even "insanely") happy with my own NEX—a lesser NEX—but this combo for these dollars (or euros or pounds or yen or...) just looks incredibly tasty from where I stand. People just really love the NEX-7. And some very experienced people, too—Kirk Tuck has seventeen of them. (Something like that.)
The other really cool camera o' the moment would have to be this one, I would think.
The Touits Are Here! The Touits Are Here!! No, not the redcoats. But sound the alarm: Mike is in peril. I'm craving that Touit Twelve, in a bad, jonesing kind of way. I just had to do some real estate photography, of all things, and it occurred to me that I only use a superwide about 3% of the time, but on those occasions, I seriously do need one. If you kind readers would just buy about 400 Touits** though this link, then I could afford one of my own. I really, really, really want one. But I have already used up my photographic budget through 2015.
• • •
TOP is off tomorrow, as usual. If you're bored, I hope you can explore some of the above links.
Have a great weekend, wherever under the sun you are!
(Thanks to Richard Tugwell, Jayson Merryfield, David Parsons, John Mitchell, Kenneth Tanaka, J.D. Fix, Sheygetz, and Stan Banos.)
*As opposed to the world's largest camera company.
**Actually the real number would be about 18. Slightly less implausible.
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Featured Comments from:
Mark Alan Miller: "The Winogrand retrospective was great fun. The viewers (me included) were all starting conversations in front of the pictures as we delightedly pointed out charming/funny/gorgeous/weird details. It was such fun, very unlike your typical museum show. The late pictures they'd selected were still good, but they also had displayed some contact sheets from various eras, including ones he had marked. The newer sheets were weird, with dozens of essentially identical shots of uninteresting subjects. They did find some good shots, but it's hard to tell if they were just chance. And even those are technically a bit off. He was never a meticulous technician, but the late pictures are even more careless. And those are the good ones.
"His work from the later sixties on is somehow a bit sour, as if he wasn't getting many laughs out of the human comedy. Suburbia didn't seem to suit him very well. The empty streets have too many cars and not enough people. I love cars, too, but he only rarely made them interesting."