I remember sitting in my basement with Paul Hoeffler, not with jazz in the background, but the annoying sound of my scanner, as we were working our way through stacks of photographs of Billie Holiday. Bowmore 12 was the poison of choice. The stories flowed, as did the single malt. We were scanning images of… Continue reading Remembering Paul Hoeffler and Lady Day
I have been thinking about this blog entry for a long time. I know we need critics in all aspects of life. Often they are journalists who keep our politicians, governments, corporations and yes, even artists in check. There is no denying that critique is an important part of any reasonable conversation about a work… Continue reading The Art Critic – A Necessary Evil?
One of the reasons I got into photography, both as a shooter and as a collector was Peter Beard’s connection to Karen Blixen, or as she is known in large parts of the world, Isak Dinesen, her nom de plume. Karen Blixen was still alive when I was young, she died in 1985. By 1991… Continue reading Peter Beard – The End
When photographing people, we tend to distinguish between subjects that are posing – basically sitters fully aware they are being photographed – and those photographs that are taken of people not aware they are being photographed, often classified as street photography. I am interested in how these issues play out in a particular situation. I… Continue reading The Portrait – Relaxed Yet Posed
I borrowed this title from William Blake. What does a photograph say about the photographer. When a photographer makes a photograph, does he reveal a little of him, or herself? Many photographers have chimed in on this topic over the years. Here are a couple that made me think: “Without the camera you see the… Continue reading As a Man Sees, so He Is
I once toured the ‘S’-class Mercedes manufacturing line, where hundreds of highly paid auto-workers hand-build the top-of-the-line Mercedes cars. There is a certain respect owed to those people that build and assemble with their hands. The aura in the great hall was palpable and the pride was everywhere. I crossed the road and went to… Continue reading The Wabi-Sabi of Photographing with Film
As a lot of us are locked up at home. The World is holding it’s breath. Life as we know it is grinding to a halt. It is time for comfort, but also for escaping for a time to another place, or another time. I have for many years bought many, many books of photographs. … Continue reading Photo Book Escapism – In a Time of Great Distress
One of the stories that Paul told was of the Friendly Shooting. Paul was at a performance by Erskine Hawkins and his minimalist Tuxedo Junction band. I have selected a few photographs from that evening below, but first, a word or two from Paul: “The economics of touring with a 16-piece band forced Erskine Hawkins… Continue reading Paul Hoeffler’s Saturday Night at the Rollerskating Rink
It has been a little over two years since I wrote about Monsieur Plossu and his photographs. I was fortunate to purchase three of his photographs a few months ago. I immediately had them framed and hung them in my livingroom. I sort of forgot about them, in the way that you can do when… Continue reading Bernard Plossu Revisited
‘No Outlet‘ I remember sitting in Paul’s livingroom, or should I say office. Paul Hoeffler was a great photographer, who lived in a large, old Victorian house in Toronto. It was the biggest room in the house. Filled to the gills with files, photographs, reels of taped music… Jazz playing in the background. Softly. We… Continue reading Paul Hoeffler – Lee Morgan
We all have our own reason for collecting, whatever it is we collect: Coffee spoons, paintings, fridge magnets, photographs, teddy bears, sculpture. Collecting is about passion. Sometimes about obsession. Remember that. If it talks to you, then don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t worth having. Buy with your heart, not for investment. A rule… Continue reading Collecting Photographs – with Passion!
I have spent a lot of time recently looking at Japanese photography from the 1960s through the early 1980s. There is a great depth of material. Photographers that are outstanding and so very different from what we are used to seeing in Europe and North America. I am sure that we can come up with… Continue reading Japanese Post War Photographers
One can only stand back and admire Shelby Lee Adams and his commitment to a full and honest presentation of the people of Eastern Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. For nearly 40 years, he has been doing this with a large format 4”x5” camera, a heavy tripod and repeated visits that have made his sitters close friends,… Continue reading Probably the Most Important Living Photographer in America – Shelby Lee Adams and his Appalachian People
Robert and Fred died within a day of one another. Both hugely significant in their own right, and while one will always overshadow the other, it would be a great shame for one to be lost and not given the proper attention that he deserves….. On Tuesday the September 10th, it happened. What everyone had… Continue reading The World of Photography Knew it was Inevitable. Yet We Mourn.
“I want to do a big project on America, and I’d like to apply for a Guggenheim grant. You would need to sign a paper for me, agreeing to publish a book with my photographs. I think that would allow me to get the grant.” – Robert Frank to Robert Dalpire, 1954, Artist and Publisher… Continue reading The Americans – the Book – Robert Frank’s Lessons for all Photographers
You travel the world, and while it is different everywhere you go, certain things seem to remain the same. Take for instance the presence of certain birds. It seems that wherever you go there are pigeons, crows, seagulls – at least where there is water nearby – and of-course the humble house sparrow. In photography,… Continue reading A Conspiracy of Ravens
I have in the past lamented the gallery that forces a photographer, or any artist for that matter, to work in a particular way. In addition to often resulting in series of photographs in a certain quantity, I also mean that the gallery has a certain lay-out, a certain amount of wall space and will… Continue reading The Strange Relationship Between Artist and Gallery
In a rather flattering introduction to the new show at FOAM in Amsterdam, Alex Prager is described as being rooted in: “……. the photographic tradition of William Eggleston, Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman, each of whom mastered the art of freezing the indeterminable everyday moment.” I am sure being in the company of those that… Continue reading Alex Prager – In the Tradition of Eggleston, Arbus and Sherman? I Think Not….
“…the world you live in is colour: you must re-invent it in order to show, as the colour becomes the very subject of photography, it is not a mere recording…” – Franco Fontana The work of one of my favorite colour photographers is on display in Modena. After almost 60 years of work, Franco Fontana… Continue reading Franco Fontana in Modena – Colour Photography Defined
I remember when in 1969 – at the age of 7 – I was watching a small black and white screen at friends’ cottage. A small grainy picture. I had been playing most of the day and we all gathered for the eventful moment when man – in the person of Neil Armstrong – stepped… Continue reading Fun with the Moon Landing
I read this morning that a body of work by Annie Leibovitz is being presented at Art Basel as a 200 cm x 100 cm composite of her Driving series from the 1970s and early 80s. While this on its own is not great shakes, it goes to the continuing issue of bigger is better. … Continue reading Just Because We Can Doesn’t Mean We Should – Photography as Conceptual Art
I recently wrote about plagiarism. About the need to pay tribute. About paying homage to those that inspire us. I know when you see a lot of photographs, you are likely to borrow, or at least recall certain composition elements, or particular subject matter. This is as old as time. Romans copied Greek statues, and… Continue reading The Humble Homage
For those that weren’t there, D-day will always be a concoction of movies like The Longest Day, A Bridge too Far, Saving Private Ryan, etc. mixed with stories from books, and in my case the 11 photographs by Robert Capa, that in my mind are among the most mind blowing photographs ever taken. As we… Continue reading Remembering D-Day 1944
Dear Mr. Baker, I have for the past few hours looked for a contact email address for the La maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. I have given up. I was in your museum this past Friday and I walked the Coco Capitán show. Might be a little early for a young photographer to… Continue reading Plagiarism – Letter to Simon Baker, Director MEP
Paul Hoeffler was my friend. We spent many a night discussing great Jazz musicians and his photographs over bottles of single malt whisky. Always Jazz music playing in the background, softly, as often Claire, his wife, would be giving piano lessons in the next room. Paul is virtually unknown outside a small circle of committed… Continue reading Paul Hoeffler – the G.O.A.T. Jazz Photographer
Most of the time, I will have on my image glasses. These virtual glasses seem to place what is before me in a 24mm by 36mm frame. In other words, I am composing new photographs all the time. I think it comes from having seen a lot of photographs and having taken a lot of… Continue reading In Praise of the Single Photograph
In a recent article, Agnes Sire, the Director of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson discussed the legendary photographer – by most collectors and enthusiasts of photography simply referred to as HCB – setting out to explain some of the magic that has surrounded the photographer for more than three quarters of a century. Here is my… Continue reading Henri Cartier-Bresson and The Decisive Moment on the Run
For a long time I have been subscribing to Alex Novac’s newsletter. Alex sells photographs and is a well-respected expert, particularly in the area of 19th century images. He also takes it upon himself to provide updates to his subscribers on a variety of current events, and I paid particular attention to his summary of… Continue reading Peter Fetterman – The True Gallerist
A most famous, smelly leather jacket recently sold for $147000. A remarkable amount of money for a remarkable garment. Levi Strauss & Co. made the jacket. They called it the Cossack. Originally sold in 1931, Levi Strauss & Co. bought the jacket back in 2016. Why you ask? Albert Einstein purchased the leather Cossack jacket… Continue reading A $147000 Leather Jacket – Lotte Jacobi and Einstein
Karl Lagerfeld, the ‘Kaiser’, fancied himself a photographer. I watched a documentary about his work some years ago and basically, a small army of assistants set up the shot and Karl stepped in, in his black driving gloves, high collar, skinny black tie, sunglasses and white ponytail and pressed the shutter. Did he have the… Continue reading Karl Lagerfeld – A Great Line
Solved: The mystery of who shot The Weeping Frenchman… Continue reading The Mystery of the Crying Frenchman
In the late 1970s, when the birds flew the nest, the first few of my friends begged and borrowed and in some cases managed to get a pad of their own. Among the wooden crates that doubled as both tables and chairs, were thrown the first very adult wine and cheese parties. At a time… Continue reading Places on the List – Matheus Rose
I met him once. He sat in his café-cum-bar at a corner table by the window. He was the belle of the ball, the one that everyone in the know was looking at discreetly, or in some cases staring at wildly. A legend. A celebrity. A man who managed to capture the essence of Istanbul.… Continue reading Remembering Ara Güler – The King of Istanbul
Having spent a few days in the United Kingdom, I came away both troubled and encouraged. I got to photograph one of my bucket list locations; Castle Howard. Located just north of York, it is a castle, anchored in my mind from the time the lavish production of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons… Continue reading Photography – The Emergence
There may be few of us left, but the straight photographer has to stand tall and be counted. Recently LensCulture fell out of grace with me. It was one of the websites that drew my attention as a photographer, due to their sometimes interesting competitions and interesting platform to show off a few photographs, as… Continue reading LensCulture and the End of Straight Photography
In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed a Bill declaring the Yosemite Valley inviolable. Many agree that the reason this happened was the impossibly challenging expedition that Carleton Watkins made with his huge glass-plate camera to the valley in 1861. It is agreed by most photography historians that the single most important reason for the protection… Continue reading James Nachtwey – Memoria – Human Suffering Unabridged
It is not long ago that the French magazine PHOTO celebrated a significant milestone, yet, it is profoundly interesting to see that what was anticipated each and every month by thousands and thousands of enthusiasts for decades, is about to end on the heap, as so many newspapers and magazines in recent years. For years,… Continue reading The Near Death of PHOTO – a once essential medium
Unless you have been living under a rock – in photography terms – you will know that one of the great 20th century masters of the art is William Eugene Smith. The pained and often challenging character that has given us some of the greatest photographic records of all time. His work on display in… Continue reading At MAST in Bologna – Eugene Smith – Pittsburgh
In a time of great anxiety over personal privacy, protection of identity, and the right to be forgotten, it seems only fair to question the photographs of Vivian Maier. I was in Bologna last week and noticed yet another exhibition of photographs by Vivian Maier. During the same week the new privacy guidelines kicked-in in… Continue reading A Matter of Privacy – The Vivian Maier Photographs
This week Canon announced that they were discontinuing the production of analog cameras. No more film for Canon! It was maybe inevitable, even predictable. Volume manufacturers let the numbers game dictate their business. I feel a little sad, as my first serious camera was a Canon. Some 30 years ago the semi-automatic T70 became the… Continue reading The End of Analog Photography for Canon. The Dawn of a New Era
One can reasonably argue that National Geographic Magazine is the most influential magazine focused on photography, since the untimely demise of Life Magazine. One can also argue that being the most influential comes with the most responsibility. When the photo editor(s) at National Geographic select the one photograph per month from all the submissions to… Continue reading On Lions Sun and Shadow
In continuation of my previous entry on the Vintage Photograph, here is Part II: The case for giving special consideration to the vintage print is straightforward and logical. Consider that until only a few years ago, there were very, very few collectors and no photography market to speak of. Until very recently there was no… Continue reading In Support of the Vintage Photograph
Here we go again! Another famous – and now infamous – photography competition presented by London’s National History Museum admits having awarded a prize to a photograph, which is more than likely fake. The 2017 edition saw Brazilian Marcio Cabral’s photograph titled ‘The Night Raider’ win the best ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ competition. Marcio… Continue reading Manipulated Photograph, Disgraced ‘Photographer’ and Another Soiled Competition
The much abused and maligned term Vintage Print is perhaps the most hotly debated attribution of all. But what does it mean? And perhaps more importantly, why does it matter? My definition, which I think is probably accepted by most dealers and galleries is a photograph printed by the artist within 12 months of the… Continue reading The Vintage Print – What is it? – Why should I care?
When looking to buy a photograph, there are a few things to consider and be comfortable with. In photographs, like most other arts, perhaps the term Provenance is the most important of all. Provenance is the collective term for the chronology of ownership from creation to the present day of a work of art. In… Continue reading Provenance – the importance of a little paperwork
I have been asked to put together an exhibition on the theme of Paris and France for a brand new spot in Copenhagen, Denmark. Having spent extended periods of my life in the City of Lights, this is a very welcome challenge. Location is not usually a way I think about my photographs, and putting… Continue reading The Gastronomy of the Eye
Perhaps I should have called this Another Kind of Portrait. I get great joy from making informal, somewhat secret photographs of people. Capturing individuals in a particular setting. I try hard to stay anonymous. Unseen. I want to achieve a natural representation of a single person in their particular moment. These are Photographs that I… Continue reading The Ones – Another kind of portrait
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. One of the world’s most expensive photographers, born of the German post-war tradition, Andreas Gursky (b. 1952) says with a straight face: “I only pursue one goal: The Encyclopedia of Life.” Gursky is a child of the Bernd and Hilla Becher school, two masters who set out… Continue reading “I only pursue one goal: The Encyclopedia of Life.”
The Photograph – Art Versus Craft The case for a photograph being art, or craft has been argued at great length by critics, thinkers and collectors. Of course you will never get an argument from me or any other photographer, or collector. But you may still get an argument from the high-brow collector of painting… Continue reading The Photograph – Art Versus Craft
Most of my friends and fellow analog photographers (those that use film and manually develop the film and print by hand in a darkroom) have been speculating, whether the reason a digitally modified image is sold as a photograph, as opposed to digital art (a digigraph? compugraph? manipugraph?) is simply fear. The fear of facing… Continue reading Digital Photographs: Digital Media, Digigraph, Compugraph or Manipugraph?
A green stamp on the back of each of Gianni Berengo Gardin’s photographs reads: VERA FOTOGRAFIA. Vera Fotografia, because he is saying that what you see in his photograph is what was in front of him when he made the photograph. It has not been manipulated, changed or enhanced with Photoshop or other digital editing… Continue reading Vera Fotografia – A Mark of Honor
It used to be simple; photographs had a colour palette that went from black through the grays to white. Variations, such as the albumen photograph ranged from dark brown to light cream, and cyano-types went from an almost black marine blue to the palest of blue/white. However, throughout the history of the medium, most photographs… Continue reading Colour Photographs and the Collector – it is all about trust!
The world is a mess. Everywhere you look there is disappointment in leadership, pending scandals, international conflicts simmering, or on the full boil. Something that should be as simple as a conversation among fellow citizens around an independent Catalonia either inside Spain or on its own seems to be drawing out the worst in people… Continue reading The Sacred Nature of a Great Photograph
A few years ago, I was sitting on a plane en route to Madrid. I was reading what was then the International Herald Tribune. I tore out a review of a photography exhibition taking place at the time. I have had this review burning a hole in my desk drawer and it is time to… Continue reading The Photograph versus other Fine Art – Everyone is a Critic
Alfred Stieglitz is one of the key names in the history of photography. Alfred Stieglitz set art photography back 100 years! Alfred Stieglitz opened a gallery in New York called Gallery 291 in 1905. In his gallery, Mr. Stieglitz showed primarily photographs. He also published a magazine, Camera Work. An expensive, subscription only, publication dedicated… Continue reading Hating Alfred Stieglitz
What makes a great photograph? It is very, very personal. Books have been written, conferences held…. For me, I have learned that it can be a moving definition. It can change with time, but it is worthwhile to have a look at the process of becoming great. I am going to turn to the French… Continue reading What Makes a Great Photograph?
Ink and brush are the tools of the Japanese Zen monk, who hour after hour commits himself to the drawing of an enso. An enso is a circle painted in a single stroke, pen touching paper the entire time and lifted only once the circle is complete, or the ink is no more and ends… Continue reading The Philosophy of the Complete Photographer
• Last year the famous photographer Steve McCurry was caught having digitally manipulated a number of his photographs. He blamed his ‘team’ (Petapixel.com, May 6th, 2016). But what about his other family, his Magnum family? • Only a few weeks ago, Peter Vik announced he was leaving Magnum Photos, because he refused to sign a… Continue reading The Trouble at Magnum Photos, Manipulated Digital Photographs, and New Investors
Rome never quite dealt with, or reconciled its attempts at a new empire. A number of fascist architectural buildings and monuments remain much as they were at the end of the ill-fated reign of Il Duce. Rome was declared an open city during the war, something I for one am very grateful for, but there… Continue reading The Pursuit of an Imperial Past – Roman Rationalist Sculpture
I don’t know if Shōji Ueda and René Magritte ever met. Probably not, but there is an uncanny use of bowler hats and umbrellas in their photographs and paintings along with a surrealism that I think would have made them great friends. I returned from the MEP in Paris yesterday. I visited the exhibition currently… Continue reading The Photographer and the Bowler Hat – Shoji Ueda
He doesn’t look 80, more like 60! We shake hands. He lifts my old M6 from my chest to see if there is a screen on the back. There isn’t. A big smile spreads across his face and he gives me the thumbs up. It turns out that for many years, Giuseppe Leone has been… Continue reading Giuseppe Leone – The Great Sicilian
The collection of Sir Elton John counts more than 8000 photographs according to a recent interview. What I saw at the Tate Modern in London was nothing short of spectacular. A no fuss exhibition with nothing more than a short stencil intro to each room and a 4:30 minute video interview in a side-room with… Continue reading In the Company of Greatness The Sir Elton John Collection at the Tate Modern
Outside a relatively small circle, Ray Metzker does not seem to be well known or understood. I first saw his work in a booth at Paris Photo some years ago. He is truly one of the great users of light and deep shadow. A student of Harry Callahan in Chicago, Metzker went on to make… Continue reading Ray Metzker – Light and Shadow – Black and White Photography at Its Best
Bernard Plossu (born 1945) is not a well-known name in international photography, unless you happen to be French. Or at least, he was not to me. He is an avid traveler and his photography reflects everything from the journey itself, to what he sees when he gets there. I cannot say that I have known… Continue reading Discovering New Talented Photographers
Paris is bringing us Mois de la Photo (Photo Month) this April. Since 1980, the event has drawn interest from professionals, amateurs and collectors alike, and while it used to be in November, the event has moved to April and expanded to include greater Paris, hence renamed Mois de la Photo Grand Paris. How can… Continue reading Warming up for April – Mois de la Photo in Paris
Long before the photograph was invented, painters had figured out that if they had a tent, or box with a small hole in it, whatever was outside would appear on the opposite wall inverted. By the early 18th century, a small lens had been inserted in the hole to concentrate the light and make the… Continue reading Photography – A Quick History – in 375 words
For many years, I have sought that elusive moment, when something comes together in a frame that is both funny and serious at the same time. We should not well in other people’s misfortune, nor should we create so much laughter that the entire photograph becomes a joke. It is all about balance. The balance… Continue reading Humor in Photographs – the final frontier…. or not serious?
When I make a photograph, several things happen at once: I see something and start to frame the subject in my minds eye. I use my experience and my history. I reference the massive archive of photographs that I have seen during my formation as a photographer, I judge my camera settings, frame, focus and… Continue reading Making my Photographs – Simplify, Simplify, Simplify….
Much has been written about how photography has changed. How digital cameras and cell phones have changed how we see and observe, how we remember, and how we create photographs and memories. When the objective is to show your friends, post photos and perhaps brag a little about where you are, and what you are… Continue reading Death by Selfie – On Seeing and Making Photographs
It is the end of January, and we have seen the dawn of a new era in the United States. There is a new term added to the lingua franca, the alternative fact. Perhaps the digitally modified photograph is an alternative fact? I recently got an email message from a reputable interior design magazine that… Continue reading Bathing at the Temple of Lysistrata – pure fabrication! Vera Fotografia take II
On Black and White versus Colour photography The Canadian photographer Ted Grant famously said: “When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”, I have modified this slightly to fit my view on the eternal debate over colour versus black and… Continue reading Colour is for clothes, black and white is for the soul!
It is rare that you get to meet someone quite as enthusiastic as Alessia Paladini. She is the Director of the Contrasto Galleria in Milan, where I spent a couple of very engaging hours initially looking at the show currently hanging, which is a great mix of vintage and modern prints by Herbert List. The… Continue reading Gallery visit Milan – Herbert List and more
A few years ago, the photographer Cindy Sherman, was written up in The Wall Street Journal as being the best investment in art over the past 25 years. Cindy Sherman does not sell at photography galleries as a general rule. Her work is sold with contemporary art, i.e. graphic art, painting, sculpture and mixed media… Continue reading Buying Photographs now!
I have always thought of Harry Callahan as a cool photographer. Cool in the sense that he is cool in the way we talk about a great garment or a spectacular bit of design. But more important, he is cool in terms of how his images are composed. Unemotional and somehow distant. I don’t remember… Continue reading Visiting with Harry Callahan
On the back of each of Gianni Berengo Gardin’s photographs there is a green stamp. It reads: “Vera Fotografia”, his way of saying that what you see in his print is what was in front of him when he made the photograph. It has not been manipulated, changed or enhanced with Photoshop or other digital… Continue reading Vera Fotografia – Photography As It Should Be