31 December 2007
30 December 2007
"A picture of a person or persons that captures their likeness, especially their face."
Portrait photography has been around since the birth of photography. In the year of 1850 daguerreotype portraits were the talk of the town - over 100 000 of them were taken in Paris alone.
About that time another technical achievement - the wet collodion process was invented - which probably was the reason why Julia Margaret Cameron started to photograph and make portraits.
A quick ride through the history of photography takes us to New York and the 1920s, with Alfred Stieglitz obsessed by the idea of creating the ultimate portrait of Georgia O´Keeffe. Perhaps was he in a way instead portraying himself as O´Keeffe indicates in her introduction to an exhibition with selected portraits (1978).
Nickolas Muray was a master of portraits in colour - you know him from several articles on the blog.
But let’s talk about 2008 and Face-to-Face. We would like to see portraits where "eyes meet", where there is a dialogue between the photographer and the portrayed person. Where you (as the third person involved) will get a feeling of someone looking back at you from the picture. We are not excluding self-portraits - on the contrary.
You may send series or individual pictures. In this project you don’t have to worry about when the photo is taken. Whether from 1978 or 2008 – it will be fine.
29 December 2007
Our second project this year is called DOCU-08.
"Every photograph could be taken as a document or piece of art. It’s not about two different types of photographs. The decision is up to the observer, to the one who thinks about them." - Jean-Claude Lemagny cited by Francois Soulages in "Aesthetics of Photography".
Is the same decision present when it comes to documentary and photojournalism - the reportage? Documentary (after wikipedia) "usually refers to a type of professional photo journalism, but it may also be an amateur or student pursuit. The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of a particular subject, most often pictures of people. The pictures usually depict a certain perspective of the photographer."
Let's think about the real documentary photography. What is it today? Is it still part of the professional photojournalism? Is it mainly about people and candid shots? Is the decision up to the observer or up to the photographer?
If you take your time to browse the blog, you will find pictures from the history of documentary photography. Just to mention a few: the photographers of the Farm Security Administration , Lewis W Hine and Paul Strand.
We would also like to remind you of Eugen Atget. "Other photographers had been concerned with describing specific facts (documentation), or with exploiting their individual sensibilities (self-expression). Atget encompassed and transcended both approaches when he set himself the task of understanding and interpreting in visual terms a complex, ancient, and living tradition." Read full article here;
Photographs from important historical events like the military coup in Poland show the power of documentary photography. There is of course much more to say about this tradition and we are aware of its importance.
Among our invited guest you will find Diego Levy, Paul Hansen, Emmanuel Smague, Levan Kakabadze, Gerry Johansson, Alec Soth, Howard W French and many others (some of them perhaps not even defining themselves as part of the tradition of documentary photography.)
The label "reality or fiction" is a recommended reading on the blog. You will find some challenging points of views there.
It’s interesting to see how an increasing number of photographers aim toward the documentary, not only the professionals, not only students or amateurs. Generally speaking it's more popular than ever. So how could we define the documentary in 2008? What if the documentary is about decisions, a personal choice of the photographer who finds the way from subjective to objective and reverses it back? What if it's more personal than ever?
We - the F blog - are inviting you to participate in our new project DOCU-08. We’ll be delighted to see what you think about it. We’d love to hear your answers on the questions above.
We are looking for pictures, which will illustrate and explain the potential of today’s documentary photography. It’s an ambitious project and a challenging task. Your contributions are of course essential to reach this goal.
We're not looking for "right" or "wrong" answers. Let the pictures speak! You may send series or individual pictures. In this project we want pictures no older than from the year of 2008. So please don’t forget to tell us when and where the picture is taken. Send pictures to Gruppo F Inbox or to any of the editors.
/By Joanna and Ulf
28 December 2007
Trees are strong symbols, a blessing to mankind and also very "photogenic", don´t you think? We have therefore dedicated one of our F blog projects of 2008 to this subject. Here are a few examples of what "trees" are about. (As you know, The F blog is about photography primarily, not biology or mythology etc. So this short introduction is just to remind you of the importance of trees.)
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the World Tree, a great ash tree located at the center of the universe and joining the nine worlds of Norse cosmology.
There are many different cherry tree varieties in Japan, most of them bloom for just a couple of days in spring. The Japanese celebrate that time of the year with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties under the blooming trees.
The olive is one of the plants most cited in recorded literature. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus crawls beneath two shoots of olive that grow from a single stock.The leafy branches of the olive tree, as a symbol of abundance, glory and peace, were used to crown the victors of friendly games and bloody war.
Pines are commercially among the most important of species used for timber and wood pulp in temperate and tropical regions of the world. This is because they are fast-growing softwoods that can be planted in relatively dense stands, and because their acidic decaying needles may inhibit the growth of other competing plants in the cropping areas.
The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of England, Estonia, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, the United States and Wales.
W.H. Barreveld wrote: "One could go as far as to say that, had the date palm not existed, the expansion of the human race into the hot and barren parts of the "old" world would have been much more restricted. The date palm not only provided a concentrated energy food, which could be easily stored and carried along on long journeys across the deserts, it also created a more amenable habitat for the people to live in by providing shade and protection from the desert winds "
Many trees are also changing clothes by the seasons, from the tiny buds of springtime to the naked branches of late autumn. There are many possible interpretations of this subject. We are looking forward to receive your unique interpretation.
The pictures don´t need to be taken during 2008. If the pictures are from 1968, it´s fine with us. You may send series or individual pictures.
The bottom line is: We want pictures of trees.
Starting on 1 January there shall be three projects featured on The F Blog. They will be on all of the year for submissions from our authors and readers. We believe in a mix of a fast and direct dialogue as well as a more thoughtful, reflective and "slow photography". To reach our goal, we will have the projects running for a long period of time in conjunction with the daily twists and turns of the blog.
There is no limit to how many pictures you may send us, but on the other hand there is no guarantee that every picture submitted to the projects will be published. You may send individual or a series of pictures.. If it is a series, it could be anything from 3-7 pictures or enough to fit in a single blog post.
We are also planning to set up an online exhibition with the pictures provided by our readers and authors. And who knows, even a live exhibition?
The projects will be introduced to you very soon. So stay tuned to F.
27 December 2007
F blog friend Rhonda sent me a link to a lecture given by Francisco Mata Rosas in Mexico City at the Center of the Image, during the Mother Jones Foundation award ceremonies in 1995; "Fotografía documental paradoja de la realidad." Interesting to read. You may see pictures by Francisco Mata Rosas at the ZoneZero site.
ZoneZero is a site in Spanish and English dedicated to photography. In the "About" section the editors explain some of their visions and objects:"any work shown here should have as its most important merit, not how it was done but why.","to serve as a bridge between creative minds from all parts of the world, but in particular coming from Latin America.", "to promote the understanding of where, in the context of the digital age, the tradition of a "still image" is headed."
The site is well worth to explore. I recommend it.
25 December 2007
Tired of Christmas already? Well, here is something to refresh your brain cells. An interesting online exhibition about falsification of pictures in Soviet Union. I can´t help thinking about how easy this kind of "cloning" etc is done today. Are there any modern examples? Well, I will keep my eyes open.
Have a look at The Commissar Vanishes.
23 December 2007
What´s cooking on the blog? Well...Christmas? But, even more perhaps the intriguing question of reality vs fiction in photography. Welcome to contribute to this discussion. This will probably go on for a while. Send your contributions to Gruppo F Inbox or to the Editors. Previous and coming postings on this subject will be labelled "reality or fiction?".
22 December 2007
Bill Becker is director of the American Museum of Photography, a Virtual Museum "a Museum Without Walls...for an Art Without Boundaries" It´s a very interesting and fun place to visit with many stories from the history of Photography.
Lately on the blog, we have talked about how much "reality" there is to be found in a photograph. Well, the subject has been discussed almost since the birth of photography.
With the kind permission of Bill Becker I quote from the site: "Photographers, .... understood that their art was not always unimpeachable, and that the choice of lens, camera angle, even the time of day that a picture was made could all have an impact on the final image." The quote is from an article called "The Camera Does Not Lie" by Bill Becker, published in a section of the site called Photographic Fictions - how the camera learned to lie. Great reading and pictures and it will hopefully result in a book as well.
The picture above "the Vanishing Lamplighter - (I love that title btw) is an example of an "accidental" effect. The lamplighter was moving around and it looks like he is about to disappear forever. (detail from photograph by the London Stereoscopic Company.)
"Harvesting a Profitable Crop of Onions"
William H. Martin (1865-1940)
Silver Print postcard, 3.5 x 5.5 inches, 1909
Mr. Becker says."Optical illusions teach an important lesson, because they convincingly demonstrate that seeing isn't always believing. And in the same way, manipulated "trick photographs" provide incontrovertible proof that the camera can be taught to lie."
Mr Martin was a photographer in the beginning of the 20th century making a fortune in producing trick photographs. Compare it to the Photoshop fictions of today. Nothing is new under the sun.
You will find much more if you visit the American Museum of Photography.
We hope to get back to Bill and this fascinating place again some day.
- American Museum of Photography
- Photographic fictions
20 December 2007
Several days ago a friend showed me a book called, Boring Postcards. I looked the book up on Amazon.com to find out more about it. I found out there is one from the US and one from the British Isles. From the book description of the US version:
"You know those old postcards that show the local meatpacking factory in all its cinder-block glory or the sickening color scheme of a cheap '70s motel room? Well, here they are. Beginning with panoramas of highways in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and other U.S. states, Boring Postcards segues to truck stops, restaurants, motor inns, malls, airports, military bases, factories, tools, and automobiles. Every image is certifiably boring, whether by dint of a photographer's ineptitude (dead-on views taken from too far away) or the sorry state of corporate architecture and interior design. And yet, as earnest advertisements for the American Way of Life, they all radiate a sunny faith in the uniqueness and desirability of whatever they portray" by Cathy Curtis
I found the pictures fascinating, not boring at all, not even banal...just honest photography from the 50's and 60's. And after looking at the book I had to create a boring postcard of my own!
Photo by Rhonda Prince
19 December 2007
“The Story”, unlike my previous works, was supposed to be nice and easy, but in fact is not, as I believe. That which was obscure and unspoken within the pictures became far more significant than I had intended. In two different ways and with two different tales “The Story” talks about ordinary life without luxury. Instead of demon seductresses and charlatans, there are mothers and fathers. Instead of divine mistresses and lovers, we see wives and husbands.
The main part of “The Story” is called Hard Boiled Wonderland. It consists of scenes resembling those from fairy tales and old books with pictures of otherwordly characters. They are magical and colourful but covered with dust and dirt. They are heavy, muggy and worn out. What all of those pictures have in common is a banana motif. In each picture bananas play different roles. Why bananas? What do they convey? The first and obvious meaning is a sexual one as the banana is one of the well-known phallic emblems. The second one is less obvious but I believe it to be essential. Bananas bring back to my mind the scarce, delightful tidbit of my childhood. They were so rare under communism that when you somehow got hold of one, its divine taste would bring unequalled bliss. Nowadays, bananas have become common. Only when part of an elaborate dish (served with ice-cream, in cakes, pudding etc.), they regain some sort of uniqueness. One must make an attempt in order to make them delicious again.
In this series, I try to talk about steadiness - about happiness but also the pain it brings. “The Story” does not glorify beauty but rather the process of becoming beautiful.
The second part of “The Story” – The Banana Story – is less serious. Each picture constitutes one haiku conceived by a moment. These are recordings of our mornings – happy mornings (maybe: happy at last). Although it should be an honest depiction of everyday reality, the photographs have been coloured. Why? And why should anyone find that ‘unreal’?
18 December 2007
"We have learned to be suspicious of the photographic image." This is the starting point of an essay written by Peter Doyle who teaches writing in the Media Department, Macquarie University, Sydney. (Scan vol 2 number 3 december 2005)
Over a four year research period, Doyle examined around two thirds of the pre-1950 section of the NSW Police forensic archive — around fifteen thousand glass plate and acetate negatives.
In the essay he uses a collection of police "mug shots" to examine the relationship between
- the subjects of the photographs and the camera
- the photographic subject and the police photographer
- the subjects "captured" in the photographs and the viewer of the pictures
Doyle writes: "As historical documents, as instances of an important type in the evolutionary history of the photograph, and as gripping images, the prison mug shots are clearly of great importance. Yet I came to dread them. The refrain of defeat and despair became increasingly oppressive. The affectless convict stare seemed to convey neither acceptance nor even anger."
Doyle about the picture above: "Among the most surprising are the many smiling subjects found among the Special Photographs, such as jaunty pickpocket and gunman Lou Sterling, a well-known crime figure of the 1920s"
Scan is an on-line journal devoted to the media arts and culture, hosted by the Media Department at Macquarie University, Sydney.
17 December 2007
16 December 2007
"Magasin du Nord of Copenhagen, Denmark"
Silver-Gelatine Print by Shotaro Shimomura XXI (1883-1944), 6" x 8". Private Collection. Courtesy of American Museum of Photography
"An eye for the world" is the title of an online exhibition hosted by the American Museum of Photography showing 17 pictures by Mr Shimomura. He toured Europe and the United States to study the management of department stores and returned to Japan with these remarkable photos now being rediscovered. You will find the exhibition here.
TITLE: Toting wood - Scavenger. Location: Fall River, Massachusetts / Lewis W. Hine.
CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1916 June 16.
CREATOR: Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [reproduction number, LC-DIG-nclc-05048]
Lewis W Hine was employed by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and documented working and living conditions of children in USA between 1908 and 1924. Go and have a look at this remarkable collection that consist of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives, given to the Library of Congress.
For more pictures by this great photographer, see George Eastman House Still Photograph Archive with 105 Selected Images.
15 December 2007
What is reality i photography? Is it my way of feeling that what is around or is it just the way I document some moments, but maybe it is the way I understand the moment caught/created in the picture. Is the first picture my way of feeling reality? The second one is closer to reality probably, but it can be just the way I see the Silesian backyard. When You look at this photos You have to decide what is real and try to understand what is there, but You also feel something it can be boredom or confusion or nostalgia or plenty other feelings - thats the other emotional reality which is also important, but often neglected.
Photos and text by Grzegorz Lizurek
14 December 2007
The other day I got a mail from skorj who I invited to the Fblog abot a year ago. He had some new, excellent, photos to show us and I'm very happy to be able to present some more of his work. By the way, skorj is one of the editors of the site www.filmwasters.com where you can find lots and lots of really great photography. Enjoy!