"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Sunday, November 22, 2015

where children sleep

I love sending this book to the kids in my life. It makes a great gift.

Here's the scoop on the photographer, as well as his description of this particular body of work. Check out all his work here.

James Mollison was born in Kenya in 1973 and grew up in England. After studying Art and Design at Oxford Brookes University, and later film and photography at Newport School of Art and Design, he moved to Italy to work at Benetton’s creative lab, Fabrica. Since August 2011 Mollison has been working as a creative editor on Colors Magazine with Patrick Waterhouse. In 2009 he won the Royal Photographic Society’s Vic Odden Award, for notable achievement in the art of photography by a British photographer aged 35 or under. His work has been widely published throughout the world including by Colors, The New York Times Magazine, the Guardian magazine, The Paris Review, GQ, New York Magazine and Le Monde. His latest book Playground was published in April 2015 by Aperture Foundation- a series of composites of moments that happened during a single break time, a kind of time-lapse photography. His fourth book Where Children Sleep was published in November 2010- stories of diverse children around the world, told through portraits and pictures of their bedroom. His third book, The Disciples was published in 2008 – panoramic format portraits of music fans photographed before and after concerts. In 2007 he published The Memory of Pablo Escobar– the extraordinary story of ‘the richest and most violent gangster in history’ told by hundreds of photographs gathered by Mollison. It was the follow-up to his work on the great apes – widely seen as an exhibition including at the Natural History Museum, London, and in the book James and Other Apes (Chris Boot, 2004).

Where Children Sleep – stories of diverse children around the world, told through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms. When Fabrica asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at the bedrooms of children in all kinds of different circumstances. From the start, I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. This is a selection from the 56 diptychs in the book. - James Mollison


Ivory Coast

West Bank


Thursday, November 19, 2015

andrea modica


Andrea Modica

Andrea Modica has created indelible images that distinguish her as one of the best photographers of her generation. Her exhibition Extended Moments at the  Akron Art Museum through February 21 and the publication of her new book, As We Wait, edited by fellow photographer Larry Fink, should begin to earn her the wider appreciation she deserves.
Lyle Rexer: With your major projects you tend to spend a long time: Barbara, which grew out of Treadwell, lasted 16 years; Fountain lasted eight or nine. Why so long?
Andrea Modica: I work intuitively; I rarely know why I need to photograph something or somebody when I begin a project – often it’s a matter of proximity or availability. For example, I read about the Oneonta Yankees returning to our town in the local paper shortly before a nap, and by the time I woke up, I KNEW that I had to photograph the players. The motivation was partly due to proximity, also attraction, partly repulsion, largely confusion – it all turned into an obsession.
LR: When do you know a series is finished, and is there a certain trauma involved in its ending?
AMTreadwell ended when Barbara died. Trauma ensued on all levels, and I don’t think I’ll ever completely heal from that personal loss. Fountain ended when I divorced and moved back to the East Coast. Yes to trauma, again on all levels. Some “series” are not series at all: my friends, family, Francesco [Modica’s partner] – and some pictures are very good and beloved orphans (some found a home in As We Wait). However, the pictures of Steve [her former boyfriend] ended with that relationship; the skulls ended when I ran out of skulls; the baseball project ended when I became less confused about that culture, and the bridge was crossed. In all cases, as always, photography is with me through my personal joys and crises, and it’s the process of making pictures (not the product) that helps me see more clearly and live a fuller life.
LR: When other photographers are getting rid of their darkrooms, you recently rebuilt yours. You continue to work with a large-format camera in black-and-white film and make platinum prints. Why? Or is it just a question of wanting to slow things down so that they can be contemplated? Certainly not the way things work on Instagram.
AM: For me there is nothing romantic about using a process that harks back to the beginning of photography. It gives me joy, and I like the way the prints feel in my hand. I teach digital
photography, but the big camera is what I started out with and what I reach for when I get out of bed in the morning. It slows things down and definitely can change the meaning of an image. When shooting people, for example, they do different things in front of a big camera. Of course I shoot differently with a big camera than with a small camera, but one is not necessarily better than the other.
LR: There is such a strong sense of mortality in your work. Even the title of your new book, As We Wait, suggests it. Does this sense of things ending, of the slow process of entering darkness, somehow grow out of working in black and white? Has the “dark room” become a metaphor for your career?
AM: I love the question but I really don’t know. The title of the book was suggested by Larry Fink and I gave him control over such things. I think it’s perfect. He was left to interpret the work as he wanted, and I must say that it is quite dark.
LR: Over the last several years you’ve been spending a lot of time in Italy, and much of the Akron exhibition is devoted to that. Your family is Sicilian, and your partner is Italian. Tell me how this return to Italy has affected your work.
AM: The world responds to me differently in
Italy, since the culture is more prone to accepting art for art’s sake. In other ways, my experience is so personal, I don’t want to go on about that. Many of the pictures of Francesco, my partner, are simply about falling in love, and I recognize that they are romantic and beautiful, sexy, ugly, frightening, awful, fantastic in all senses. Italy is a complicated place for me. In some ways it’s more like home than the US; in other ways I’m an outcast. But my work is often fed by my confusion and discomfort.

This interview with Andrea Modica, published in Photograph Magazine was a wonderful morning inspiration for me. I have  been savoring her new book, As We Wait, and I highly recommend it for those of you who love Andrea's work or simply want to be swept away to a sensual place. It is gorgeous and dark and frightening and fabulous.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

eight years

The years fly by. There are many ways to mark them as they zoom past, of course. For me, all I need to do is pay attention to the how much my clients have grown.

Here is Rory eight years ago and a few days ago! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

ctt team 9: meet lynne

Lynne is a documentary filmmaker, based in Kansas City. Her work often focuses on the issues facing children and families living in poverty, and the organizations which assist them.

In 2007, Lynne joined the CTT board of directors, and traveled to Uganda as a member of Team 1. She created not only her first documentary film ever, but went on to create numerous films for CTT, which we show at our friend/fundraisers.

Lynne is eagerly awaiting her 5th trip to see the kids. Many of the children accompany and assist her when she works, and she will give workshops on filmmaking to them. Yet she is most looking forward to spending time just hanging out with the kids who have captured her heart.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ctt team 9: meet jackie

2015 marks my 22nd year teaching photography to undergraduates in Tennessee.  When I first started studying and practicing photography, it was for the joy of self-expression and the making of art.  These past twenty years have proven that my truer passion is for teaching and mentoring students in this ever-changing medium. 

As an Associate Professor at Middle Tennessee State University, I teach B/W Film Photography, Digital Photography, History of Photography, Alternative Photography Processes and the occasional study abroad program.  In May 2014, I shared my first visit to SMK with two senior photography students, Elizabeth and Rebecca, who collaborated with a local dance instructor in teaching a playful hybrid of ballet and traditional African dance.   I have two left feet, so I enjoyed photography walks with other students.  I’ll be bringing a cargo load of hugs and love from Elizabeth and Rebecca, who dream of returning to SMK one day.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, and especially look forward to reconnecting with everyone and sharing stories and dreams this wonderful time of year.   Of course, we’ll be making pictures, and the best ones will be the memories we make to carry in our hearts. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

ctt team 9: meet rebecca

Rebecca lives in New York City where she works in the biotechnology industry as an investor relations and corporate consultant. She spends her spare time cycling, spending time with family and friends, and as often as possible, seeing the world! She has a deep passion for international health care and has spent time in Peru, and most recently Ghana, giving preventative health care education and providing assistance in clinics and orphanages for HIV positive children.

Rebecca is looking forward to spending time with all of the children at SMK, playing games, seeing Uganda with them, and hopes to teach them some simple ways to stay healthy and happy!

Rebecca will be at SMK for the full ten days, but her time with the team will overlap by only a few. She's looking forward to working side by side with each of them. It's exciting that both she and Scott will be making their first visits to the orphanage. I have a sneaky suspicion it won't be their last!

Friday, November 06, 2015

ctt team 9: meet scott

Scott joins the team from Buffalo, NY where he works and plays as a photographer and print production professional. Despite his adventurous spirit, this will be his first time traveling outside of North America! Scott is the second person in his family to visit SMK. His sister, Ann Thomas, was a proud member of Team 1. Now he’s eager to create and share his own experience at SMK as a member of Team 9. 

In his free time Scott enjoys camping, hiking, practicing yoga, cycling and exploring Buffalo with his camera and dog. While normally undeterred by Buffalo's cold weather, the warm temperatures and even warmer hearts at SMK are a major attraction. He hopes to go on photography adventures with the children, maintain the grounds, and share plenty of hugs.

Friday, October 30, 2015

my family home

I recently spent a few days with my 94-year-old father who still lives in the house my family built when I was four.  I like to find something new about this very familiar place each time I inhabit the space. This time, I found myself paying particular attention to the way the sunlight moved in and out of various  places in the house. Here are a few of the pictures I made.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

deborah luster

I love this work and happily revisited it recently. The following is from an NPR article about the series, which is entitled "One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana."

Photographer Deborah Luster was a baby when her mother and father divorced. She lived in Arkansas with her grandparents in the 1950s and communicated with her mother through photographs.

"If I got a new coat, I would have to be photographed. And usually I wouldn't want to be photographed — it would be the back of the coat," Luster says. "From her, I would get posed photographs. ... She would dress up even when she was cooking — designer clothes and high heels. I mean, she'd wear a mink coat to a tractor pull. Red hair, big glamourpuss. But she never put on any airs."

On April 1, 1988, Luster's mother, Jeanne Tovrea, was murdered in her bed by a contract killer who came in through her kitchen window, walked down her hall and shot her five times in the head.

Luster had met the man who years later was convicted of the killing. He had came to her mother's home a short while before she was killed posing as a journalist to interview Tovrea about her ex-husband. Because Luster was the only other person who had seen him, she reasoned that he might be after her as well, she says. For about seven years after her mother's death, Luster says, she was "pretty much a mess."

So she turned to photography.

"My mom had photographed constantly, my grandmother had photographed constantly," she says. "Photography became something that I could think to do to try to dig out of the place I had found myself."

Luster began documenting the impact of poverty on the lives of people living in northeast Louisiana.

"While I was scouting to photograph in northeast Louisiana, I just kept coming across these little prisons," she says. "It was a Sunday afternoon, and I knocked on the prison gate and the warden came out and I asked him if I might photograph some of the inmates there. I photographed there once and realized that it was a project I had been looking for for a long time, something in response to the murder of my mother. It was like it lifted when I went in the gates, it became something else."

Luster was given entrance to the women's prison in St. Gabriel, the minimum security male prison in Transylvania and the Angola maximum security prison. She spent the next 3 1/2 years taking photographs there. Most of the inmates posed themselves.

She started taking very formal, straightforward portraits — sometimes the prisoners would hold something, like a box of valentine candy or a shoe. She photographed in the cotton fields at Angola. Her photos captured the faces of the women at their Mardi Gras celebration in St. Gabriel. She photographed the Halloween haunted house at the women's prison — all these traditional Louisiana costumes and archetypes, like Alligator Girl, Rat Face.

Luster would photograph while her friend and poet, C.D. Wright, interviewed the inmates.

Out of these conversations came the series of poems that accompany Luster's photographs in the book One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana. The book peers into the hidden worlds of family, crime and incarceration and also has been created as an exhibition that has traveled to museums and galleries around the country.

"The decision was to photograph the inmates in their whole selves," Wright says. "The perspective was that everyone is a whole person, that they're not just the sum of their worst acts or even their best acts."

At Angola, 90 percent of those imprisoned die there, and the photographing was very sober, very formal. The way the prisoners posed seemed almost like the 19th century. Luster would give the images to the prisoners.

"I returned 25,000 prints to inmates," Luster says. "They made themselves so vulnerable for me, and it's not often that you have an encounter like that. I know a lot of it was that they were actually posing for the people that they loved — their husbands, their wives, their children.

"There was a woman who asked to be photographed. She said, 'I've been here 15 years. I'm down for 99 years. I have 19 children. My children haven't spoken to me since I came to prison. Perhaps if I had some photographs I could send them, it would soften their hearts to me.' A few months later, she said, 'Four of my children came to visit me. The baby came and he's now 19. He was 5 years old when I came to prison.' "

Deborah Luster and C.D. Wright set out to produce an authentic document to ward off forgetting, an opportunity for the inmates to present themselves as they would be seen, bringing what they own or borrow or use: work tools, objects of their making, messages of their choosing, their bodies, themselves.

"The last photograph for many of them is their mug shot," Wright says. "Debbie is working out a long-term relationship to violence. This is a very sympathetic project for someone who is a survivor of such a violent act. America is a theme park of violence. It was important that these photographs were very posed and dignified."

Luster tried to photograph as many inmates as she possibly could, she says, because she wanted to really show the numbers of people who are incarcerated, to try to communicate just how many of our population reside in prisons. It's one photographer's and one poet's collaborative view into this rarely glimpsed world.

"My mother, I think it's the kind of thing she would have done," Luster says. "She had this way of looking right through the veneer, right into people. She could see the bottom in people. She liked to photograph her family, the food on your plate, you brushing your teeth. She photographed what she loved — and that's what she loved."

- from NPR, 2010

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

gowin and nixon

Currently there's a Nicholas Nixon exhibition (Nicholas Nixon: About Forty Years) at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. There's also an Emmet Gowin exhibition in my home town of Kansas City. The men represent two of my most adored photographers.

Nixon was asked by the folks at Fraenkel to talk about an image that has had an impact on him as a photographer. He chose one by Gowin. 

And here are his words:

Emmet Gowin’s picture "Edith & Rennie Booher, Danville, Virginia, 1970" is a modern version of a story told in many languages and mediums all through history. Youth and age and time and death, transience contained within a frame. A cautionary tale. It tells us to live fully while we can.

And yet.

Edith is so present in the moment that we are stunned by her force.

What she is offering is her whole strong self, meeting Emmet and the viewer with a loving fierceness, her physical body a testament to this time, this place, this light. Her regard is at once electric and kind.

The bed behind is sagging, covered with a striped sheet and clothes to be tended to.  The picture on the dresser of a man and woman (Edith’s parents? The old lady’s children?) confers continuity, approval. These are the familiar artifacts of ordinary life.

That her grandmother seems to be already passing out of the world makes the story ancient, heartbreaking, and wise. Rennie is as ephemeral as Edith is present. The frame of Gowin’s photograph has unified their being in the same moment in time.

The grandmother has already lost her identity as she moves, well loved we assume, off the stage. Edith is here, now beautiful, sexual, and strong, and at the same time we see her as a timeless player of a drama that most of us play throughout our lives.

Until it’s over.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

sports fan

I grew up in Kentucky and was a Cincinnati Red Legs superfan

A lot of people are surprised when they find out how much I love baseball, football and basketball. "Where did that come from?" they want to know.

My parents.

My two older brothers.

And the fact that I was a "tomboy" extraordinaire.

Everyone in Kansas City is a Royals fan these days, especially now that we're on the edge of being in the World Series again. It's a glorious time to be a sports fan in the City of Fountains. And I'm loving every minute of it.