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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

eastern kentucky

I've spent the last four days wandering in eastern Kentucky and thinking of Jane Aspinwall's line about my heart being a lonely hunter (she made this reference in the essay she wrote for my mid-career retrospective). It is indeed a lonely process, but one that nourishes and enriches me.

Here are some of the images I made the first two days. More to follow.

Powell County

Powell County

Magoffin County

Magoffin County

Magoffin County

Magoffin County

Magoffin County

Magoffin County

Monday, November 24, 2014

7th annual fraction magazine holiday print sale

I'm happy to be part of the holiday print sale again this year. David Bram does a great job of assembling  a set of very affordable, limited edition prints by photographers whose work has been previously featured in the magazine. There are 85 prints in the sale. My offering this year is one of the swimming pool photographs. There are only 12 available. They're 8" x 8" printed on Museo Silver Rag paper and are $150. A percentage of the proceeds go toward keeping Fraction Magazine afloat.

There are some really nice photographs available this year. Check it out here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

a boy and his piggy

This handsome young man wanted to be photographed with his beloved "Piggy," who has been by his side through thick and thin. I was very moved. His Velveteen Rabbit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

congratulations to billy!

Sponsored student Billy is scheduled to graduate from Makerere University in January 2015. Billy is excited to share that he has been offered a job with Zane Technology Engineers to begin upon his graduation. Zane was the company where Billy recently completed an Internship. They were so impressed with his job performance that they offered him a job. Billy’s position would be Project Manager working on a contract assisting to implement irrigation schemes in Northern and Eastern Uganda. He is currently working on obtaining his passport and driver’s permit, as each will be required for his job. 

This is huge. 

Yay, Billy! We at CTT could not feel more proud.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

my morning shoot

Some new pictures I made this morning at an Operation Breakthrough event. What a beautiful boy.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

a passion for photos in black and white

David, Greyhound Bus Station, Portland, Oregon, 2012

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Barbara MacRobie, Public Information Coordinator of the Missouri Arts Council. She wanted to include my work in an article she was writing about some Missouri photographers who make most - if not all - of their work in black and white.

When she interviewed me for the piece, I had no idea she was going to weave together the stories and sentiments of nine photographers. Whew! What a task. I read the finished piece a few days ago and was very impressed. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it and take in the images. It's a lovely tribute to the glory, tradition and passion of black and white photography.

I am happy and honored to be included with this group of fine photographers:

Dan White, Kansas City
William Helvey, Columbia
David Rocco, St. Louis
Kirk Decker, Kansas City
Kyle Spradley, Columbia
Paul Rains, Ellington
Koral Martin, Carthage
Tim Layton, Wildwood

Please enjoy the article here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

and this is why i do THIS!

Below is a letter I recently received from Melissa, CTT Liaison at St. Mary Kevin Children's Home. I think you'll agree it validates just how much of an impact CTT is having on the children in Uganda, Sheillah in particular! The letter thanks Judy, her sponsor and Team 7 member Jane, who spent a great deal of time counseling Sheillah last December (and has continued to do so through written correspondence). We've all heard the phrase "it takes a village." Here's what those words can actually mean…

"I had the opportunity to visit Sheillah this past Sunday at her hostel in Mengo, and I felt compelled to write to each of you.  It has been a pleasure to watch Sheillah’s confidence blossom over these past few years.  And she really has each of you to directly thank for that!  Last year, I was really concerned about Sheillah’s emotional stability and all the school pressures. But I simply marveled at the confident, peaceful young lady that sat before me over the weekend.  Each and every word of encouragement, support and love from you has been internalized by Sheillah, as she has cherished and held them very close to her heart. 

During our visit, Sheillah reflected on her studies in such a wise, mature manner.  She has always identified herself as an academic and was always at the top of her class.  While attending Mengo Senior School was indeed a dream realized for Sheillah, she also stepped into a school environment of over 4,000 of the brightest students in Uganda.  The standards at Mengo are high. This school has taught Sheillah some valuable life lessons.  She has always been a solitary person, but she has recognized she had to reach out and relate with others, ask for assistance, and become part of a larger community of peers.  She was very proud to speak of her ‘friends,’ which has never before been a topic of discussion with Sheillah.  These friendships are based on mutual respect, a common love of science and genuine support toward success in the future. 

For Judy… First of all, Sheillah LOVED the camera you sent her for her birthday.  She squealed with joy and clasped her hands together with sheer excitement.  Sheillah spoke very eloquently about the impact your unconditional support has had on her.  She said that you are her inspiration and her motivation - that driving presence which provides her confidence.  When she has felt defeated, she pulls out one of your letters or feels encouraged by your words.  They give her strength to try again and not give up.  She wants to make you proud, because you have shown her the love of family that she has missed having.

For Jane… Your time with Sheillah at SMK profoundly impacted Sheillah’s outlook on how she was managing her life and emotions.  She said that you opened her eyes to several facts, one being not a single person on this earth can be perfect.  Sheillah said she was exhausting herself trying to attain the impossible.  You provided the wisdom that she just needs to do her very best and then have the patience to wait for results.  There was such a peace about her as she anticipates taking each examination one at a time, do her level best, and then feel contented with herself as she moves on to the next chapter of her life.  Thank you again for that time with Sheillah…she will never forget your words!! 

For Gloria… I wish I could have recorded Sheillah’s heartfelt words about the impact CTT has had on her life.  Without the opportunity for sponsorship and your direct links with Judy and Jane, Sheillah humbly recognizes that her life would be so drastically different.  She appreciated CTT supporting her choice to attend Mengo SS which was a dream come true for her.  While it was not easy, she is truly grateful She also spoke about the burdens that CTT lifted from her mind.  She was very proud that she was never once worried or was ashamed by being sent away for not having school fees.  She never had to attend a class without books or the proper supplies.  She never had to borrow basic hygiene supplies from her friends.  While it seems like a small thing, Sheillah corrected that it is, in fact, incredibly significant.  She named several CTT friends who have really stepped in during her family’s absence, and she got emotional being thankful for not having to be alone any longer.  Just another testimony to CTT’s profound work and your impacting leadership!!

Sheillah will be taking her Senior 6 examinations from November 10th-28th.  Please keep her in your very best thoughts… her results will then be released in March 2015.  Thanks again for all that you have done for Sheillah!!" - Melissa

Thank you, Mel, for sending this along. Thank you, Judy, for supporting and encouraging Sheillah throughout her high school experience, and thank you Jane, for helping her sort out her feelings about the stress in her life. 

If any of you blog readers would like to become a sponsor to one of our delightful young primary students - a graduating 7th grader who is eager to continue his/her education at the high school level, please contact me. I think you'll find it to be a very rewarding experience.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

why i do it

A sense of discovery is what drives me to make pictures. Discovery of the world around me, discovery of how I fit into it. I can’t not make the work. The world and its inhabitants hold so many questions and so many secrets, so many layers and shapes and juxtapositions; my photography sometimes satisfies my curiosity about these things, and sometimes it only adds more questions and secrets to the pile. I'm happy either way.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

clay benskin

I discovered these pictures and this photographer on the NYT Lens blog today. Having just had a long conversation with a photo friend about street photography, it was a pleasure to run across this work.

Clay Benskin weaves his way through the crowded sidewalks of Lower Manhattan, apparently invisible to the people streaming past him. He is not a small man. Yet even as his camera gets to within inches of someone’s face, the person doesn’t flinch.

“People will stand in front of me and not pay me any mind,” Mr. Benskin said. “I guess I have no presence.”

His photographs, on the other hand, do. Since taking up photography a little more than three years ago — almost on a dare to himself — Mr. Benskin has proven to be adept at street photography, a genre he insists he had to look up online. His images are noirish scenes of city life, from people emerging from clouds of steam, wacky T-shirts in the middle of a crowd or reflections in the morning light.

Not that he considers himself to be a street photographer, even if he graduated from a smartphone to a high-quality compact camera. He’s been known to abruptly stop posting images on social media, only to return weeks later. He insists he does not care to exhibit, since it would be too much work.

“To me, it’s just a hobby,” he insists. “I just take pictures. I like doing it for the hunt. How close can I get to somebody before they see me.”

His day job — which he has had for 25 years — is at a Tribeca apartment building, where he now works as the superintendent. Among the residents is Mick Cantarella, a photographer who, one day, was showing Mr. Benskin work from a recent photo shoot.

“He was showing me pictures of some models and stuff,” Mr. Benskin recalled. “I told him I could take better pictures with my phone.”

He began by doing still lives, but he ventured into the street, too. He showed the images to Mr. Cantarella, who remarked they were in the tradition of street photography. Mr. Benskin had to look up the term, which is how he learned about the work of Garry Winogrand, among others. He was fascinated by a video he saw of Mr. Winogrand, even if he thought some of his methods were “creepy,” like when he pretended to be fiddling with a lens to lessen suspicion.

Mr. Benskin relied on those distracting moves until he realized one day — when he stood in one spot and made pictures using a flash — that no one really bothered him. (Well, he is a big guy.) As he walks down the street, he scans the sidewalks, sometimes crossing over when he sees a background that can be interesting.

Mr. Cantarella — his erstwhile inspiration of sorts — likes Mr. Benskin’s images.
“I think they’re great,” he said “He’s a civilian, but he has a great eye, clearly. He has a certain look that he has honed.”

Part of that look comes from Mr. Benskin’s fondness for film noir, a holdover from years of watching classic films. His photos often rely on dark tones, with figures obscured by shadows.

But his look also depends on his getting as close as possible, holding his camera to the side, out in front or arching overhead, composing on the fly using the camera’s flip-out screen. Sometimes he knows right away he got the moment. Other times, the frame reveals itself – and its details — only when he reviews his pictures.

I get so excited, I want to see everything,” he said. “That’s why I don’t like putting the viewfinder to my eye. My eyes are open. When I put the camera up it’s like my eyes can’t breathe. I want to see everything.”

So, how does someone manage to slink around city streets and not be noticed? “I grew up going to clubs,” he said. “I’d pick a wall, stand against it and watch people. I guess I must blend.”

- by David Gonzales for NYT Lens 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

dave heath

Dave Heath was born in Philadelphia in 1931 and immigrated to Toronto in 1970. His interested in photography was sparked by Ralph Crane's essay, “Bad Boy's Story,” in Life magazine, May 1947, and John Whiting's book, Photography is a Language. Committed to photography as an art form for 60 years, he has worked in the established tradition of Stieglitz, Minor White, Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Nathan Lyons.

His work is included in various collections including the National Galleries of Canada, Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Chicago Art Institute and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. His work has been published in many periodicals and is represented in anthologies and histories such as Mirrors and Windows by John Szarkowski, Photography in America by Richard Doty, Magicians of Light by James Borcoman and An American Century by Keith Davis. The genesis and development of his much acclaimed book, A Dialogue with Solitude, and of his photographs while serving as a combat infantryman in Korea were explored by Michael Torosian in his books Extempore and Korea, published by Lumiere Press in 1988 and 2004.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

in the studio

I did some work in the studio over the weekend. Here are my faves from a session with a sweetheart named Josie.