Dawoud Bey: "It never occurred to me that this mysterious phone number that kept popping up on my phone was the Foundation."
• Congratulations to photographer Dawoud Bey, who has just been awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, AKA the "genius grant." Dawoud is what some of us might call a "real" photographer rather than an art-world hothouse flower, which is encouraging to others who are "just" photographers. Do note two important things, however—he is tremendously articulate and able to talk a good game, and he works from organizing ideas or concepts. And let that be a lesson to thee.
He's quoted by The Chicago Tribune (he lives in Chicago) saying the award will allow him to use his time to best effect: "I have more ideas than time, and this allows me to focus intently." As a MacArthur Fellow, he will receive $625,000 "as an investment in his potential," paid out over five years with no strings attached. Bey, a professor of art and Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago (encouraging to all you photography teachers, too), is represented in New York City by Mary Boone Gallery, in San Francisco by Rena Bransten Gallery, and in Chicago by Stephen Daiter Gallery. Well deserved.
• Trivia, Dept.: Actor Tom Hanks is obsessed with typewriters, and owns more than 300 of them. But when he wrote a book he didn't write it on a typewriter...even though the book is partly about typewriters.
I understand. If I were rich like Tom, I would collect 1970s and '80s turntables, but I'm sure I would still listen mostly to music files on the computer like I'm doing right now.
• A print of this photograph of Audrey Hepburn from the actress's own personal collection was estimated to sell for between two and three thousand British pounds when it was offered in an online auction at Christies.com recently. The photograph is by Philippe Halsman. The print sold for a whopping £18,750, obviously greatly exceeding its estimate.
It's a beautiful picture. Halsman was a well-known international photographer in his day who also wrote for hobbyists. One thing he was famous for were his lighthearted pictures of famous people jumping—remarkably, his Jump Book from 1959 is still in print, in a facsimile edition by Damiani.
The success of this picture at auction illustrates a key tenet of marketing: you'll have better luck if what you're selling appeals to two distinct audiences. In this case, photography collectors in general and fans of Philippe Halsman in particular are one group, and fans of celebrities in general and Audrey Hepburn in particular are the other. A tenet to keep in mind; there might be some way you could apply it to your own marketing one day.
• Trivia Dept. #2: In the comic strip Dilbert, Dilbert's dad is missing, having abandoned the family during a visit to the mall many years earlier. They went to an all-you-can eat restaurant...where "Dadbert" has stayed ever since, refusing to leave until he's satisfied that he's eaten all he can. Bah-dum-pah.
Oh, and by the way, Scott Adams is crazy*. But mostly in a good way.
• Congratulations to TOP reader Mark Crabtree, a longtime documentary photographer of life in West Virginia, for having some of his pictures featured on Lenscratch's States Project. Nice going, Mark, and nice work.
• And speaking of TOP readers published around the Web, Mike Plews inherited his father's army footlocker, and in it he discovered a tin box containing 300 Kodachrome slides, most presumably taken by his father, Ronald R. Plews, on duty in Korea during the Korean War. "If properly stored, Kodachrome doesn't fade. These pictures look like they were taken yesterday." Boomer Café has published a number of the pictures. Mike's short notes are very nicely written.
Maybe someday your child or grandchild will find your 60- or 80-year-old hard drives in a tin box in an old footlocker, and just think of the memories**.
A photo by Dina Litovsky from Wired's "Female
Photographers Matter Now More Than Ever"
• A few weeks ago we were talking about you women photographers, and one thing I ran across while scouting the Web on that subject was a short but sweet portfolio at Wired called "Female Photographers Matter Now More Than Ever." A nice sampling that shows women working in all kinds of ways, including as combat photographers. The picture above, rich as a Medieval tapestry or a Grecian frieze, is by Dina Litovsky.
• Another rich (ha!) portfolio at Wired is Lauren Greenfield's "America's Obscene Wealth, In Pictures." Why is wealth less picturesque than poverty? I think it's because in news and information at sufficient remove, as in fiction, stress enhances interest. (In novels, people love reading about situations they wouldn't want to live through.)
• Fellow lens nut—er, wait, photographer—John Lehet continues to love the Voigländer Apo-Lanthar 65mm ƒ/2 Aspherical Macro lens. He says it seldom comes off his Sony A7RII. Meanwhile, my main lens, the Fujifilm XF 23mm ƒ/1.4, which has lately had its thunder stolen by the smaller, snout-nosed ƒ/2 version, has been given a boost by the sensor in the Fujifilm X-T2 that just arrived here at TOP Rural World Headquarters. And a great lens got better.
(If you're wondering why all these links go to Amazon, it's because B&H is still closed for the Succos holiday, which is a veeeeery looooong holiday. I can't wait for them to open again and will alert you as soon as they do. Follow us on Twitter @TheOnlinePhotog for all our updates.)
• Read, weep: Life is going on as if everything is normal, but Americans should be very wary about many recent developments. David Uberti on Splinter reports that a recent legal settlement, widely overlooked, should have set many huge red flags a-waving. ABC paid off a libel lawsuit resulting from its story about "pink slime" in the meat industry, despite having a good chance of winning its case in court. "The rich are leveraging legal means to silence journalism [says Jonathan Peters, a media law professor at the University of Georgia and press freedom correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review], and ABC's settlement 'sends the message that filing flimsy claims against the press is a worthwhile enterprise.'"
Meanwhile, The New Yorker reported one of the most shocking stories I've read yet stemming from the mortal agonies of the old United States. The story is about predatory "guardians" taking over old peoples' lives and legally stealing all their belongings. Naked greed and immoral predation made personal in the way that murder by knife is more personal than bombs dropped from planes, even if it affects fewer people. Rachel Aviv reports. The account has a putatively happy ending, except that it happened at all. What's that old aphorism about how they came knocking on the door to take you away?*** Very apropos. If you are sixty or older, READ THE ARTICLE this weekend. Seriously.
• In a recent upload on Instagram, his platform of choice, friend o' TOP and former Pentax USA President Ned Bunnell schools snappers on the best way to get the best from smartphone cameras. He recommends the Lightroom Mobile and Pro Camera apps, and his commenters mention additional options.
David Hurn's famous publicity shot of Sean Connery as James Bond
actually shows the actor holding an air pistol.
• Welsh photography luminary David Hurn (also the co-author of one of our favorite books of advice for photographers) has for many years asked new members of Magnum as well as other up-and-coming photographers around the world if they'd like to swap prints. "Everyone always willingly agrees; they select their favorite Hurn image and vice versa." His collection of swapped prints now numbers over 700, and includes pictures from many of the greatest names of 20th-century photojournalism. A show called "Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection," is at National Museum Cardiff, Wales, and will run until the 11th of March, 2018. Online, there's a fantastic (if somewhat complicated) presentation of the show called "Swapper" that combines excellent text, some of David Hurn's own pictures along with portraits of him and other photographers, and examples of the prints he swapped for over the years. (If you get confused, here's a hint: keep scrolling down.) Take some time with this one. It's a treat.
• Our friends at Rivendell Bicycle Works are clearly becoming a film camera cult. Just the thing for people who like delightful anachronisms like Bosco Bars (quite similar to the albatross bars Grant supplied for Gruesome, my own bike. See this old post for more about Gruesome and how the noble albatross relates to bicycles). If you don't have a bike but want one, start saving now for a Rivendell next Spring. They run a little dear.
• Life in the woodlands: Speaking of running a little dear, last weekend my friend Eric got a rare chance to go deer hunting and sat patiently in a blind for four hours, but didn't even see a deer. Later that evening, driving to town, he had a close call and only narrowly managed to avoid hitting a deer with his car. Such is life Upstate.
Rare find: Paul Laidlaw and the Auguste Bertsch Chambre Automatique
• In Britain, the TV show "Antiques Road Trip" on BBC One sends antiques experts out scouting for bargains, which are then auctioned. The biggest difference in value between the purchase price and the auction sale price wins. A buyer named Paul Laidlaw found what he thought was an early subminiature camera, which he bought for £60. "Photographic experts confirmed Paul’s 19th century find was one of Auguste Bertsch's extremely rare Chambre Automatique cameras—essentially a camera combined with microscope." The auctioneer upped the bids in £1,000 increments, an Antiques Road Show first, and the Chambre Automatique ended up selling to a collector in Switzerland for £20,000, a record for the show.
• This edition of "Around the Web" is long on pictures and short on gear, so, to address that shortcoming, a link to the World's First Phodographer—a dog with a heart rate monitor that triggers a camera around his neck whenever he gets excited. Good thing Butters doesn't have one of those, or I'd be inundated with pictures.
At least we know who owns the copyright to the shots! Wow.
Well, time to bring this one to a close. The dogs are begging to be fed and I have to do my errands before the stores close and the Mennonites stop selling vegetables for the day.
Thanks to the readers and friends (mostly, our readers are friends and our friends are readers, but you know what I mean) who drew our attention to some of the above.
Great big thanks to JC and GW (they know who they are), who made generous donations to TOP this past week to help us stay merrily afloat in this hostile world. Greatly appreciated, as are all of you who donate and subscribe. And thanks to everyone who read anything here this week, for reading. Last but not least, a thank-you to Stephen Scharf for his ongoing Fuji GFX review.
Thus ends week 41 of the year 2017. We will now attempt that trick that wage- and salary-earners take so much for granted (we are using the editorial "we" now, you will perceive)—the one called "taking the weekend off." Wish us luck, because even when we're taking time off we seldom take much time off.
Which is what we get for doing work that doesn't seem like work.
Thanks for being with us this week and please join us again on Monday, as we (you, us, and me, all three) embark on week 42.
Yr. Hmbl. Ed.
*I'm not disparaging mentally ill people. Chapter One of the linked book is titled "The Time I Was Crazy," and discusses the author's brushes with, well, craziness. Using that word.
***Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.
Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.
Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.
Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr,
der protestieren konnte.
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Original contents copyright 2017 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kusandha: "For any of your reader's in the NYC area, there is a show of Lauren Greenfield's work at ICP right now—I found it quite interesting and educational."
Bill Tyler: "Rachel Aviv's story is strongly reminiscent of what happened to the parents of one of our friends. They bled the victims dry in a form of legalized larceny. These so-called guardians are nothing but bloodsucking monsters."
Stan B. (partial comment): "Kudos to Dawoud Bey—well done!"
Dave Levingston: "I read the New Yorker story about court-appointed supposed 'guardians' last night and it upset me so much I had trouble sleeping, which seldom happens with me. In this one instance it seems I actually still am a target audience. Infuriating."
Kristine Hinrichs: "Speaking of women photographers you might be interested in the recent Milwaukee PBS documentary on Dickey Chapelle, the first female combat photographer to die in action (very early in Vietnam Nam). It is quite a story."
Ade: "The Swaps exhibition is highly recommended to readers anywhere in the vicinity of South Wales or the West of England. The Museum is actually down the road from my workplace, so I've already enjoyed three lunchtime visits, including a curator's talk, and will be back again this Friday for a talk by David Hurn. It's an extremely rare opportunity for those of us outside a major city like London to view prints by the likes of Cartier-Bresson, Martine Franck, Robert Frank, Martin Parr, Dorothea Lange and others, as well as Hurn himself—to say nothing of the works by lesser-known but equally talented photographers, such as Hurn's former student Tish Murtha.
"But, hopefully, this opportunity will become decreasingly rare as not only has Hurn bequeathed his collection to the National Museum, but it's being used as the foundation for their new dedicated photography gallery. While we have some excellent independent spaces in Cardiff, this is an important—and overdue—addition to the city's arts scene. I'm already salivating at the prospect of the Museum's 'Three Miners' print by Eugene Smith eventually going back on display (although not just yet—their next exhibition will have a timely focus on women photographers)."
Mark Jennings: "Thanks, Mike, for presenting Mark Crabtree's fine work. As an old timer here in West Virginia told me, 'There's not too much else to do up here [in mountainous, rural WV]. We hunt, we fish, we make music.'
"The people here follow those wholeheartedly, and living that life right along with them and expressing its spirit are a corps of equally sincere documentarians and fine artists like Mark.
"Here more than most places I have been I've found a lack of self-consciousness in the practice of traditional—and sometimes picturesque—arts. Mountains, distance and attitude still protect some of the old ways from the poisons of doubt and ambition. Twenty-five years ago my first introduction was some friends' dinner at their precociously off-the-grid, pre-Civil-War log home. The guest of honor was a burly, bearded and quiet man of about 35. After the food all trooped to the living room. The quiet guest slid a banjo out of a case under his chair, tuned it briefly, and then without introduction or apology poured out a transfixing 45-minute cornucopia of works. It was stunning. That, I think, was one of the Hammonds, from Pocahontas County, with whom my friends were on good terms.
"This is the world Mark Crabtree has inhabited and worked with for so long. Go, Mark! Go West Virginia!"