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

Friday, April 29, 2016

final day of workshop

Here's a final grouping of pictures I made this week in Harlem during the Visual Storytelling Workshop.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

workshop: day four

My project in Harlem continues. Tomorrow the work will be edited into a tight group of selects and will be shown at the closing reception for the workshop. Jim Estrin has been a really good teacher, and I've enjoyed my classmates. The project I've worked on has pushed me in many ways, most of which I haven't even begun to mentally process. It's been a great week.

Here are some photos I made today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

workshop: day three

Still pluggin' away. I did get called a whore today for the first time in my life. The young man, whose head happened to be in the back of a couple of pictures I shot, wheeled around and absolutely exploded right in my face.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

workshop: day two

My pedometer says I walked about seven miles in Harlem this afternoon. My last hope for a "story" evaporated, and I am committed to simply doing street work there. Here are some favorites so far.

Monday, April 25, 2016

day one of cuny workshop

Today was a day for getting to know each other's work, discussing our projects for the week and listening to Jim Estrin talk about the important elements of effective visual story-telling.

None of my leads for various photo-essay ideas have panned out. There's something in Harlem that may come through tomorrow, so I spent the afternoon shooting on the streets there (to establish context). If that falls through, I'm not sure what I'll do.

It was really great hanging out in Harlem.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

first workshop in years

Monday morning I will be a student once again. It's been a long time.

At 9:00 AM I'll be reporting to a classroom in the graduate school of of Journalism at CUNY. I'll be a student of James Estrin, senior staff photographer and Lens Blog co-editor for the New York Times.

I met Jim Estrin in Santa Fe several years ago. I sat across from his portfolio review table, nervously  sharing my Uganda work with him. He said something like, "I shouldn't like this work, but I do," referring to the fact that he reviews/gets bored with a lot of work shot by non-Africans in Africa. After we talked about why he did like the stuff, I realized we had 10 minutes left, so I said, "I did bring along a second body of work, if you'd like to see it." It was my Estate Sale project, and he loved it. He published it a few weeks later on Lens Blog.

He probably won't remember me on Monday morning, but I remember him. He was an honest, straight-shooter of a reviewer. He was down to earth, personable and kind and willing to answer the many questions I had about the photojournalism industry.

I recently read that he was teaching a class called "Visual Storytelling" in New York. I applied, and when I was accepted I started researching stories I could tell (in five days in a city I do not inhabit) as a participant in this exciting workshop. Finally, today, I think I made a breakthrough with someone at a NY non-profit who (I hope!) is going to help set me up with a story. It's taken many days, many emails and phone calls, but I think I might be honing in on something. Stay tuned for more info about the photo essay I'll be making.

Here's a snap I took with my iPhone of James Estrin using his iPhone when he and I were standing next to each other at a reception during the Santa Fe Portfolio Reviews some years ago.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

mind blown

I can't wait to take my very first painting class this summer. I've been looking at a lot of work, and this stuff by Katherine Bradford - as well as her doggedness and dedication to her art/passion - really inspires me.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

rest in peace, johnny

I first met Zdenko (Johnny) Bergl while working on "Portrait 2000" for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. He and his wife, Evy, are Holocaust survivors. I photographed them both, and they became my friends.

Johnny was big and boisterous. His stomach shook when he laughed, which was often. He had colorful stories to tell, and he relished a good audience. I provided one, because he was as lovable as they come. I adored being around him.

We shared a love for photography, and he gave me his old Leica since he didn't use it anymore. He also gave me a lot of love in those huge bear hugs of his.

Johnny passed away on Friday. He was 86. Please take a moment to read a little about him here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

an old person's rant

Now this is a concert I wish I had attended. Besides the fact that Rosetta Tharpe is awesome, amazing and stupendous (and well dressed, I might add) look how civilized/respectful the people in the audience are!

Eddie and I have been on a concert-going rampage of late. (Our first concert was Loggins and Messina in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in the fall of 1972 IN THE GYM!) I wish I knew how many nights of live music we've shared since then, but trust me, it's mucho. That concert in Oshkosh was crazy and fun because everyone was high and in love and we were young and knew every word to every song being played. It was a love fest. Joints were passed up and down the rows, and we all came together and loved one another. Right now.

The last two concerts we've been to were Boss Bruce and Sir Paul. Both events were held in humongous arenas. They were slickly produced and cost lots of money to attend. I love both these guys, and they rocked it long and hard (they are 66 and 73 respectively!!!). Our seats were good. But I found myself watching the giant screens that were on either side of the stage all evening. That was mainly because everyone stood during the entire performance, and I couldn't see over/around the folks in front of me. So I had to look up most of the time at the screen, resulting in a cricked neck and this thought: couldn't I just be watching this at a movie theatre or at home? Well, you say, but then you would lose the experience of the huge sound and the pulsing of the bass and the pounding heartbeat of the drums. Well, here's where I'm going to sound like an old fart: both concerts were so loud that I was temporarily deaf for several hours afterward.

So, in this new age of concerts...

A: I hate the fact that you have to stand the whole time.
B: I dislike the fact that I end up watching the performers on a large TV screen.
C: I feel I have to choose between ear plugs or deafness, and I can't imagine paying to hear live music and wearing things in my ear to mute the sound.

But, guess what? There is something even worse happening at concerts these days, folks. CELL PHONES!! Everyone has theirs out the whole time. They are holding them up over their heads taking pictures (further obscuring the view of people behind them) or they are scrolling through the pictures they've just taken. At the McCartney concert, the guy next to me was actually texting and TALKING on his phone throughout the entire show. What? Sir Paul would sit down at the piano and play a ballad, a hush and darkness would fall over the crowd (though they still didn't sit down) and the light from this idiot's phone shown forth like a beacon in the night, his head bent over it as he pecked, scrolled and talked away. Finally, Eddie said something to him about it, and all he got in response was "F You, Man".

I love music. I love live music. I've been going to (and photographing at) concerts ever since the Supremes glamorously/majestically held court on stage at the University of Kentucky concert hall in the late 1960's. I'm going to hear my idol Bonnie Raitt tomorrow night. And we have tickets for other concerts coming up. But I think I'm done with the large venues. I'd say I'm just too old, but then I remember that so many of these performers are older than I am.

Bring back the days of Rosetta Tharpe kinds of performances!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

eva and elise

I met these twin girls a few years ago at Operation Breakthrough. I was immediately drawn to their faces; they seemed familiar to me. I took their pictures for several OB projects, and over time I got to know them. Eva and Elise are so smart, so funny, so expressive, so loving and so adventuresome. I adore spending time with them. They are just a few months older than my grandson, so I have a special fascination with the things that interest them and the things they say and do. I am also intrigued with the whole twinship thing. At any rate, the girls and I have developed a really nice rapport; they like it when I come to their place to photograph them, and their mom and dad have been extremely kind to let me do so.

Yesterday we went to the park, and on the way home we walked by a field full of "wishers" - you know, the post-flowering dandelions that make most of us sneeze and that some of us like to catch and make wishes on. The girls were elated to run through the field, pick bouquets of "wishers" and then shake them so the seeds would fly around.

Eva and Elise have such timeless looks about them. They also seem like old souls to me. One more than the other, though I won't say which one. The one who does seem older/wiser is always shaking her head and laughing at the silly things her twin sister does and always excusing her behavior by saying, "She's just that way!"

I asked what they were wishing for as they blew the seeds around. Elise said she couldn't say, because then the wishes wouldn't come true. She did tell me, however, that her little stuffed cat, who had accompanied us on our adventure, was quite busy wishing for more wishes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I've been so lucky over the years as a commercial portrait photographer to have clients who keep coming back. Jack's mom has brought him in every four or five years. The most recent photo shoot we did was his high school senior picture (the years do fly by). Jack has been great fun to photograph. You can tell from the pictures that he's a really sweet kid, full of kindness, warmth, sincerity, openness and confidence. He was super cute early on, and he became a very handsome young man. Right before my very eyes.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

working on my website

I've been updating my website this week. The biggest change is the addition of a portfolio named "Grandma With a Camera." I've spent hours looking at everything I've made of my three grandchildren and then picking out my favorite images. Some of these I processed for the first time. I am so lucky to have these beautiful, curious, engaged and creative children in my life. And I am lucky they don't mind me sticking a camera in their faces on a regular basis.

Here is part of the portfolio. To see the rest of it, and to check out other recent additions to my site, please visit www.gloriabakerfeinstein.com.