I was blown away by the variety of Iain Baxter’s mediums. From beautiful polaroids “Paris Beauty Marks” to taxidermy animals on the tops of pipes- all of Lain’s work had a meaningful message behind it. “Paris Beauty Spots” were polaroids taken in Paris of a small round mirror revealing the attraction or important building behind it. At first i thought that the round mirror’s purpose was to just show what was behind transplant the beautiful attraction to a more average building to make a beauty mark. Or maybe it wasn’t even about the fact that what is beautiful is behind the camera, it is that he is making a spot on the picture beautiful- implied by the title i can assume that the beauty spot is the actual spot in the circular mirror. This makes me think then what is beautiful? He is using the attractions that are the most known and valued. It reminds me that places can be seen as better than others just like some art is good art.
Using mirrors in photography can be very interesting but sometimes predictable, but I found Iain’s ideas intriguing. Usually when we are in a new place being tourists we use photography to document every moment without actually experiencing the moment without the camera. He used the camera as a tool to see the buildings in a different way.
The next series of photographs bonded with the previous to make his idea stronger. He put the polaroids of Paris onto unclothed bodies & took another polaroid. Visible somewhere else on the body there was an actual beauty mark of some sort (mole, freckle ect). The scene in the small poloroid was like the body & the circle mirror like the mole. The polaroid on the body was like a beauty mark. It was interesting to compare beauty marks within the world and on our own bodies.
Lenny is a recent Columbia College graduate who is a photographer for the Redeye. He showed us his art and a more commercial project which brought up the discussion of how to balance work and your own art. I think Lenny’s advice about how to separate art and work helped me more than any other photographers. He goes to work and has a hectic day on the train and photographing plates of food but he still has his own projects on the side. But he never tries to mix them together. He showed his swim team project to the Redeye while applying. This project was amazing to me because he really captured the team in a way that was not obvious. He said that a man who works at the Tribune criticized it because there weren’t more sports photos. I believe he captured more important characteristics of the team. It reminded me of the other photojournalist who came to our class, Antonio Perez. Perez told us in order to make a memorable photograph that captures a story you must create surprise by looking for something unusual. Also you should make it personal. I think this is what Lenny did with the swim team photos. As a graphic designer I will always be working for something more corporate or commercial similar to working for a newspaper but seeing Lenny’s work I am inspired to find new ways to make things interesting. He made me feel better about using my skills and education in art to make money. Doing graphic design is better than just being a waitress the rest of my life.
after clicking through the photo blogs emailed to us i realized that i literally had been just clicking through. i would stop and read the captions of the photos that i found the most interesting and occasionally clicked a link to a different website. you could say that a photo blog is a virtual art museum but the ritual was absent. i only had to stop and look at whatever caught my eye as i quickly scrolled down the page. although photo blogs aren’t as sacred of a space as art galleries it is very useful that you can just click and see where your curiosity takes you.
the best photoblogs are simple without distractions on the side of the page. i think the photography blog on blogspot was the best at creating a distraction free space after you scroll past the ads at the top. each writer of a blog is like a curator of a gallery. they decide what they think is important for a viewer to see. they show us the photographs in their context with description and sometimes with an opinion on the photo. i enjoyed “this is a photo blog” has the most interesting selection of photographs. they show current events in unique ways. “i heart photograph” is a blog i would go to for inspiration. all the photographs are different.
Web designer Denise Chandler (http://www.denisechandler.com/) has a great portfolio website. Her website itself shows her style and purpose. it is important as an artist to create and organize a space visually appealing, easy to navigate, and still you.
Angela Strassheim is a photographer who combined photography and forensics in her series “Evidence.” Angela returns to the scene of crimes and uses blue agent to reveal remnants of blood from the violent act. Evidence No. 10 is a muted black and white photograph with pops of glowing white. The crime scene is in a bedroom that we can assume the parents’ or master bedroom because of the size and the framed photographs of young children on the wall. The center of the composition is the back of a pillar or wall that splits the bedroom. On the left of the pillar is a halfway opened door. To the right is a closet mirror that reveals a wooden bed with white sheets, a lamp, nightstand, and tree. The room seems to be a drop shadow for the pillar as the agent blue illuminates the pillar. The agent blue made the blood appear as though it had been sponged onto the pillar. The glowing substance reveals splatter surrounding the pillar on the carpet and a few specks on the ceiling. Two landscape photographs hang on the pillar one on top of the other in a dark Victorian frame. The photos inside are portraits of two young, smiling children. A one-dimensional gray mask blurs the photos.
The main thing I see is the pillar with blood spatter on it. Angela Strassheim was documented the aftermath of the crime with photography so she focuses on the agent blue. It is what is left of the horrible crime that normally we could not see. Angela enables the viewer to see and imagine the crime. It is the crime unseen. The stark contrast between the photos and the pillar makes it easy to ponder on the photographs of the children. If you didn’t know the artist’s motivation for the photographs we ask, “Were these children victims of the crime? Or their parents? Are these children living in the house after the crime was committed?” The fact that the photos on top of the normally invisible blood splatter are of children forces the viewer to make comparisons between life before and after the crime and between innocence and crime. The bedroom has new people who reside there unaware of the unseen past and the new photos on the wall cannot mask it. The door on the left of the pillar is slightly open and signifies movement and life as though someone lives there and just left. It also gives an eerie feel as an open window in a child’s room would. The mirror to the right of the pillar lets us see into the room otherwise we could not see just like the agent blue enables us to see the blood splatter. The bedroom in the mirror depicts normalcy until you see the reflection of some of the blood splatter on the carpet. The photograph makes us connect life and death and that it is all around us. It forces us to think about the children framed on the wall.
This image was successful in capturing the violent past of the scene of the crime. The room had been re-habitated but the memory of violence was still there. The photograph is not split by the rule of thirds and the pillar is smacked in the middle of the photograph right in the viewers face but it makes for an interesting composition. It is almost like three photographs each working off each other to tell the story. This photograph is the emulation of the gallery’s title “Crime Unseen”. Angela captures the evidence of the crime unseen to the naked eye and the new inhabitants of the property. Without the photos the crime would have never been seen again and eventually forgotten. The crime cannot be undone even after all the scrubbing and cleaning of the blood.
Shotwell is a commercial photographer who has been in his Chicago studio for 37 years. Working in his studio with his wife and family by his side he has become a respected photographer. Many well known companies have bought his work for advertisements and is very successful. As frilly over photoshopped photography (like a cereal bowl with strawberries shooting out) becomes more and more popular, his photography is unique and simple. A lot of people can do the job but clients seek Shotwell for a beautiful and interesting photograph.
Product shots are very basic and of course Shotwell can shoot them well but during the visit i learned that was not all commercial photography is. Shotwell creates interesting photographs that are easy to analyze and have endless possible answers. This is what makes them commercial. Someone might look at his photo of shredded paper in a gallery and have a profound idea about politics while a customer who sees in on a wall in a store might just say “that’s interesting.” Shotwell likes to make art photographs but what the client wants comes first. I think he fits well in commercial photography because his style is very clean, simple, and obvious which is what clients want to buy.
Commercial photography reminds me of my major, graphic design. With a camera you can make your own art or do what the client wants but even if you do what the client wants your style will shine through. In graphic design I love to do my own art using the medium of graphic design but realistically i will usually be catering to the clients needs. Once I am well known like Shotwell people could buy my work and come to me for something style specific.
Shotwell showed the class a lot of his work. The portal series really stuck out to me because I did a similar project using pictures instead of a mirror. It was amazing how he could change the space so much using the mirror. There is a chicago photographer that I was reminded of by this series..but I forgot his name (photo majors help me out!) He will take a picture of his hand holding a picture in a space. A lot of the time he puts himself or shadow in the photo as Shotwell did in one of his.
Inspired by this mystery photographer I did my own picture in picture series:
After hearing our class was going to see a gallery called “Intimacies” and getting forewarned about a lot of graphic sexual images I had an idea of what I was about to see. I thought the show would show artsy sexual poses of nude models and some that were a little more shocking all to show the intimacy between people. After the first step into the gallery I’m sure all of our eyes were glued to Michale Sirianni’s “Ctrl” where a man was suctioning bowls onto his penis. As we sat down and became numb to the imagery behind us, the curators explained the purpose of the show. The purpose wasn’t to show the intimacies between lovers but the intimacies between the photographer (artist), subject, and viewer.
“Ctrl” by Michael Sirianni wasn’t my cup of tea but I could understand much of what he was trying to do. In this video piece Michael finds men on chat websites to skype with. In the skype date he plays the dominant one. He tells the submissive to place or draw certain things on their bodies or build sculptures out of random objects. Like the title he really is controlling the other man. I wouldn’t say a bowl resting on a man’s erect penis is beautiful but I guess it takes some talent. As the viewer watching the subject complete certain tasks in this situation made me feel a little uncomfortable. The artist was controlling my reaction through the subject.
All of the sexual pieces in the first and largest room was misleading. Once I analyze each piece I can understand why they chose it to show there idea of intimacy. The sexy stuff was shocking and uncomfortable but if thats what they were going for they should have gone even farther- go big or go home. To get their particular idea across I wish they would have mixed of the type art and had more that wasn’t sexual. I would have chosen “Ctrl” and Laurel Nakadate’s video of waking up the girls. These both show the intimacy between the photographer, subject, and viewer. Maybe the gallery was about the intimacies between the two curators. Although very bright and friendly I think they only understood what each other were saying sometimes. They should have organized the pieces or chose work better. The most interesting piece to me was almost hidden in the other room. Latoya Ruby Frazier’s “Mother takes a picture of me” where we actually see the subject, viewer, and photographer.
Anyone find out if the white spot on the “Ritual Action” painting was the semen from the video?
Tony Perez is a true inspiration to me. In 1995 he graduated from Columbia College Chicago. Tony advised us to do our best work for our teachers because that is how he got his first job. He started at the bottom at the Chicago Tribune scraping ink off plates and today he has made it to be a photojournalist for the newspaper. His camera is his “golden passport” that gets him in to many normally hard to enter places.
Not all photographers make good photojournalists like Tony. “You must make a photo not take it.” He explained many times. He gave us several other guidelines in order to make a memorable photograph that captures a story. First you must create surprise by looking for something unusual. Also you should make it personal. Tony is from the South East side of Chicago and being from a Mexican family he loves to shoot religious events in his old neighborhood. This makes a lot of sense because you already have the inside scoop from where you grew up. It would be fun to be a photographer and shoot where you are from but you would have to be sure to reinvent your neighborhood instead of taking the same pictures over and over.
One time Tony was assigned a story on the Chicago Bulls but he couldn’t get access to the game. Instead of giving up on the story he drew from his memory and shot photos of a guy he knew who collects a ton of Bulls stuff. From what I’ve learned from Tony is you should make up your own assignments. Just because you are done with shooting the bare minimum doesn’t mean you should stop. If the Tribune doesn’t take his story then he can give it to Hoy or the Redeye.
As a shy man Tony lets the photos do the talking. If he really wants a story to be told in the paper he shoots a great photo for it. To make an interesting picture you don’t have to shoot the main event- look behind you and focus on one aspect!
From the hour Tony spent with us I learned a lot and was inspired to take more photographs. His passion for photography was refreshing and although he has “made it” he is still humble. Photojournalism is a good medium between art photography and commercial photography. It gets the bills paid but you can make a difference with your photographs. Commercial photographers take photos their clients want them to take. The photo in the newspaper is telling the reader the story the way the photojournalist wants to tell rather than who wrote the article. Photos can lie but after talking to Tony I trust him to show us new and interesting photographs of something we need to know. In a sense we are all photojournalists. We shoot to tell a story whether it true or fiction.
In class David mentioned a photographer that took photos at high society events. This reminded me of Jessica Craig Martin. She has worked at Vogue and Vanity Fair which gave her ready access to glamorous society. She takes photos at glitzy high profile parties that are cropped and shot with obliquely angles. She rarely shows the face of the subject while showing awkward exchanges and concentrates the viewer on society’s obsession with surface. She uses flash which leads to a less flattering photo.
I come visit tumblr 5 days after our class visit to commercial photographer Steve E Gross and see no one has written their blog entry yet. As a students at Columbia college it could be because we are put off by anything commercial…or anyone. But I’ll just speak for myself.
I respect Steve E Gross because he really worked his way up to be where he is now. Gross was in the military when he discovered he enjoyed taking photographs. He went to Columbia College and majored in photography. After he graduated he was on the tang and potato diet and would take any opportunity he could. Eventually his clientele grew and grew. As a famous photographer he mostly gets his business from word of mouth. He enjoys taking photos of people and is known for weddings and his portraits of politicians.
When i say Gross enjoys taking photos thats all I mean. He didn’t seem passionate or that he loves it. He seemed really focus on money and that he has a mortgage to pay. That is okay for him I guess. I am still in college and am in the ramen noodles stage not the tang and potatoes stage yet. I may not know what is important in the real world yet. Gross believes at the end of the day his client happiness and his paycheck are the most important. His photographs are beautiful and not generic looking so he can charge a lot for them. I wouldn’t mind having him shoot at my wedding.
One good piece of advice I did take away from the visit was, “Fuck what people want.” Do what you what. I’ve always lived by this rule but hearing someone successful in his career say it gave me confidence. He was hired for his vision and that is the ultimate.
this link shows famous wedding photographers. must be nice to be inspired by love!:
Kelli Connelll’s “Double Life” collection were photographs reflecting on one’s self. Connell has used the same model since 2002 who appears twice in each photograph. The model is shot in the scene twice and Connelll Photoshops the model into the chosen photo so that there is two of the same person in the picture. The model wears different a different outfit than her copy in the photo to show the individual personalities of the person(s).
Viewers wonder if the model is a twin because it really looks like two people were in the shot at the same time. Each scene portrays the two people acting as though they are in a relationship. Connell explains she likes to explore the butch/fem aspects of relationships so some of the photos show one of the models in a masculine position while the other more feminine. The butch/fem aspect of these photos causes people to believe that the “models” are in a lesbian relationship. Every picture is a different aspect of relationship and the fantasies of relationship embedded in our culture. In the photo “Convertible Kiss” the model that is on bottom is submissive and letting the more masculine part take the lead.
The fact is Connell is actually showing the relationship between the two parts of herself. Sometimes the sides are harmonious but sometimes there is tension and conflict just as there would be in a two-person relationship. Each picture is like a self-portrait because it is revealing the photographer’s parts of self. Connell laughed when she explained if her model is at a gallery opening with her a lot of visitors will come up to the model thinking she was the photographer.
Connell has tried putting many of the same model in the same photograph but she says two seems more real. The reason she dresses the model in different clothing for each of her parts is to differentiate that they are two different ideas. She says that using Photoshop makes the photograph a lie but creates more truth in her idea and message. Although there weren’t two people in the scene when the photograph was shot the model looks very connected to her other self Photoshopped in later. Connell reveals that sometimes she or a friend will stand in for the other self to coax more of a real connection between the two. To figure out which photo of the model connects the best with the scene with the model in it she cuts out all her prints and makes a collage before moving forward. The planning of which photos connect the best with each other creates a seamless picture in the end.
The photos are beautiful by being quiet yet create tension. Like Meatyard, Connell is exploring the idea of identity. Connell portrays the ironies of self (aggressive/submissive, butch/femme, delicate/protector) while Meatyard portrays the ironies between youth/age and childhood/mortality. Connell uses two of the same person in each photo while Meatyard uses masks but both demand attention from the audience.
“ I have always tried to keep truth in my photographs. My work, whether realistic or abstract, has always dealt with a form of religion or imagination.” -Meatyard
Kelli’s model was not in the scene twice at the exact same time in the scene in which the photo was shot. Meatyard’s family didn’ t wear masks and look depressed all the time. With the use of photoshop or props both these artists made a lie of physical reality. Both created their own reality within the photograph to explain their specific message. Kelli had to lie to get to the greater truth. Meatyard had to lie to try to make his message obvious (some of his photos i still don’t understand).
Something that was brought up while chatting with the photographer was that her work could be seen as narcissistic. While wandering the gallery I did not understand how the work could be interpreted in that way. When I thought the work over I can now understand how someone could think that. The two parts of self are acting like they are in love with each other. I think that instead of just taking it as someone in love with herself we need to understand that we are all in relationships with ourselves. In relationships there are many ups and downs and you don’t always mesh. We constantly find out new things about the person and that can change the whole dynamic of the relationship. In “The Space Between” the model(s) is in focus while the background is very blurred which makes the models pop out. The model on the left is waiting for the news the model on the right is about to give her.