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Thursday, 18 December 2008


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Is this Hiroshi Sugimoto with detail? I enjoy Hiroshi's large format deadpan seascapes. I also like how they interact with his movie theatre series...more than I enjoy the actual movie theatre series by itself. In fact, I never did enjoy the long exposure movie theatre series except when noting the relationships across the body of a guy's photographic intent.

I'm sure Debra's seen Sugimoto's stuff and decided to take it a step further, or, maybe a step backwards? sideways? I'd like to see this book..lend it to me and I'll shovel your driveway when I pick it up and again when return it.

Next up, ice storm. I love winter.

I have not seen the other two books but I completely agree with you regarding Annie Leibovitz's new book. (I also generally abhor celebrity photography, regarding such photographers as drug manufacturers. But Annie is an exception in my book, having devoted her career to raising the genre to a new level of creativity.) Apparently many others like the book, too. At this writing the book is #15 on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller list, undoubtedly driven mainly by public interest in celebrity rather than photography. Ms. Leibovitz was in town recently to promote the book and give a well-attended presentation. (I have an autographed copy .)

Annie may especially welcome the generous proceeds from this book. Earlier rumors of her financial troubles are apparently not only well-founded but have also swollen. According to PDN this week she's facing two lawsuits, totaling $778,000, mainly for unpaid production expenses. ( http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/content_display/photo-news/legal-news/e3i967fdb11c5e1e82685c6fe37846946f2 )


This Andrew Bush guy made a book doing the exact type of image I had been working on for years!

I even created my own handmade book ( a series of one!) with these type of images in it a few months ago.. I had made easily a few hundred of that exact type of image.

It is amazing what synchronicity is out there!

Just one example from the 5 or 6 images of this type that made the final cut in the book here, http://www.christophercolley.com/car1.jpg

others here at my more personal website.. http://www.depressing.org/webgal/car/

Regarding Andrew Bush's "Drive", I really can understand your point. And I can also understand why it may be considered “fashionable”. But looking at the whole project and at the images alone, I find it a really interesting and strong work, both by its parts and the sum.

As a citizen of such an impersonal city as the one I’m living now (Lisbon, Portugal), I find sometimes that the most intimate/humanized moments I see, during my daily walks or when driving to and from work, are those of people driving alone on a car. On the other hand, people here sometimes turn into real animals when driving their cars, revealing their frustrations and engaging in some rollercoaster of behavior. In a sum, people seem vulnerable when driving. And that is why I can easily see this project as portrait, with the car being an extension of the person driving it and linking all the images.

Fashionable?! Only if one wants to scratch the surface and leave it that way…

Keep up with you good work. :)

I happen to love Annie L's early B&W photojournalism- really tremendous stuff! I'll stop there.

I also hated Drive, another flavor of the month gimmick- or so I thought. Looked at it again the other day, and it really grew on me- a definite might get.

Recently got the phenomenal Judith Joy Ross portraits- Living With War; and Beauford West by Michael Sobotzky is simply not to be believed.

Oh no! I live near beach and sky, and the local galleries already have way too many prosaic beach and sky pictures. Plant your tripod at the water's edge. Yes, aren't the sky and ocean beautiful. Click. Print it big. Instant artist.

I'll take your word that Debra Bloomfield's book is exceptional, but it's not the kind of thing I want to see encouraged.

Drive reminds me of the time my wife and I were visiting Santa Monica.

We were a bit lost, trying to find our way back home after walking down to the beach to watch the sun rise. We got directions from a man who looked exactly like Frank Zappa (who was dead at the time), driving a luscious vintage convertible BMW.

I think that he was relieved that we didn't ask him for money. No, not money, but a photograph would have made us wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.

Zappa lives.

Still is a book I would like to purchase.

The "I hate Annie" thing is so cliche and so like 1990. It's generally not Annie people don't like but the subjects she shoots. Why so much hate for this woman and or her work?

Schlocky? I dunno Mike. I think the one with the pasta had merit. 'Schlocky' would have been more olive oil. But hey! I'm into complex carbs. ...edN

We share a general dislike of Leibovitz. I think most of her photographs are crappy, including most of the most famous ones. Ask yourself this question: if you didn't know the person in the photograph was famous (John Belushi), would you still be interested in the photograph? When she tries to do something artistic ("Swimmers") the concept usually appears to be stolen.

And yet, I also bought the book, and it's the fifth book of hers I own. I can't understand why I keep buying them, because I REALLY DON'T LIKE HER WORK. Even the product itself annoys me -- I keep finding that wrapper-band on the floor. I'd like to throw it away, but I keep thinking my heirs might be able to sell the book for more if it still has the wrapper-band.

All right: I like the Stones photos, especially the one with Jagger hanging in mid-air, like he just exploded or something. After that, she and her whole production crew can kiss my ass.

What bothers me about her is that she apparently takes seriously all the celebrity b.s. that she's photographed over the years, and continues to photograph for Vanity Fair, etc. What smart person could do that? She strikes me not as an artist, but as a saleswoman for bullshit.

And I have to confess that her public lifestyle annoys me -- why was I not surprised by her affair with Susan Sontag, the phoniest "public intellectual" of the Twentieth Century, who made her living scattering low-cal refried French literary theory to the masses of a country she apparently disdained?

Ah...I really don't want to get started on this. It gives me heartburn. Makes me look at Madonna's "Sex" book with greater appeciation, though *that's* a flagrant, outright piece of trash and an insult to the aluminum they made its covers out of.


Here's my twist on Andrew Bush's people-in-their-cars: Dogs in cars.



Re the "Leibovitz-at-work" book -- I'll take your word for it, Mike. I generally like this type of book, anyway, since, as a self-taught photographer with no fotog friends or associates, I always find something new and interesting when reading and learning about another photographer's working method. (Your earlier recommendation of the Harry Callahan "at work" book is a terrific example).

But it's very hard for me to take Leibovitz seriously. I detest our culture's obsession with celebrities and "boldfaced names," and her work feeds so much into that. Also, I was thoroughly unimpressed by her big retrospective from a couple of years back. I agree with one of the other commentators above that, for the most part, if the subject of Leibovitz's photograph is not a recognizable famous person, the photograph is not interesting.

I also find the whole Sontag relationship very curious. I understand that Sontag may have revised her views later in life, but the Sontag of "On Photography" strikes me as someone who, at bottom, questions photography as a medium of artistic expression and is skeptical of its value to society. Why she would then choose a photographer as her life partner is quite curious.

Did Sontag actually LIKE Leibovitz's photographs? And if so, what does that say about Leibovitz's work (or the worth of Sontag's opinions about photography)?

I must admit I too have a respect for, but also a general dislike of the celebrographers such as Annie, David LaChappelle, Mark Seliger, et al.

All told though, I agree it is a good book, and some of her photojournalism work is really really good (the Rwanda photo of the church wall is haunting). It's too bad she instead chose the celeb route. Yeah a woman's gotta eat I guess, but she seems to treat the celeb work as more significant to the art and culture than it is.

It's good for the pics, but if you're just looking for the anecdotes, you can get most of it in her interview here:


I recently completed a project similar to Andrew Bush's "Drive". I decided to photograph truck drivers on I-70 between St. Louis MO and Columbus OH. What interested me was the fact that commercial truck drivers are out there 24 hrs a day, every day, doing a fairly dangerous job. A set of proofs can be found by clicking on the image found here:


These photos were taken in 4 sessions over aone year period. I wanted to make candid photographs, so I didn't shoot continuously in case the drivers announced our activity using their CB radios. We never experienced overt threats or hostility from any of the drivers. However I do think this sort of project is risky for the reasons J.C. Duarte explains above. While the trucks are slower and less maneuverable than a car... they are massive.

I'm preparing prints this winter to submit in some local shows this spring.

"Safely edgy". What a wonderfully precise term for what galleries do. I'm gonna steal that.

Charlie, I for one disliked Leibowitz's work well before the 90s, based on the pictures themselves rather than their subjects (journalistic work not celebrity work). As a result of this dislike I haven't much followed her since; who knows but what I might like her later work :-).

The "at work" book sounds interesting anyway.

I detect a certain amount of "sour grapes" in the comments above. If one doesn't like the subjects a photographer has chosen, dont' look at the pictures. But why demean her craft and her relationship with her "life partner"?

In a similar vein to 'Still' is 'Liquid Light' by Fabien Baron. At first glance, his work is dull in the extreme - near identical seascapes with identical composition - but as you look at the images, you start to focus on the subtleties and the tiny nuances that differentiate one from the next. It's a fascinating idea but probably not for everyone.

I was happy to see "Annie Leibovitz At Work" in my local Costco recently...which signals the inevitable end of any possibility that Leibovitz can still be considered cool, hip, or at all relevant as a culture maker.

She joins the ranks of giant bottles of peanut butter and bucketloads of shampoo. Happy days are here again.

I wish someone would explain how and/or why Annie Leibovitz is considered important.
She shot "candid' stuff for Rolling Stone (hardly innovative), then went to Vanity Fair and Vogue... I can't follow that jump at all, she's just not that "good" either before or after. Over elaborate, over worked, over staffed, over blown.
The book is interesting for the stories, but otherwise......


Have you heard about the Barry Feinstein/Bob Dylan book "Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric"?

It's an interesting collaboration and well worth a look. Barry Feinstein was a contemporary of Leibovitz who's not as well known now, but was a top photographer in his day. Dylan wrote the "poems" that accompany the photographs in 1964. There's a review available here:


Maybe some TOP readers will want to add it to their Xmas list. Beats a book by Leibovitz any day.

Yeah, this is what TOP is really about!

if you like the cruddy cars that so many people roll about in, "drive" is actually a really interesting concept. but as an example of photographic skill, perhaps not.

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