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HYPE & MORE

Tony | February 7, 2010

AMERICAN STATES

Been shooting long commercial days these days, making
some of the fabulous moolah. Good thing, too, because
I’m also in the middle of production of AMERICAN STATES.
That’s a show of my American fotos that will be opening in
Ottawa, March 4th, at Exposure Gallery.

What with printing and frames and so on and so forth,
doing personal work costs some dough. And that’s with-
out even factoring in the cost of actually taking the pix.
Not that I would ever grumble about anything related to
personal projects. I pretty much live to shoot them and
accept (even adore) the fact that they require time, money
and emotion.

Anyway, because I’m going full steam ahead on this show
I’ll be hyping it up some here on drool over the next few
weeks.

For example: here’s some hype that Ottawa Magazine ran
in their latest issue and a snap of my workroom wall, taken
this morning.

as2

as4
Production, American States

19th CENTURY FRENCH FOTOS

If you’re in Ottawa these days it might pay to drop
by The Nat’l Gallery of Canada.

They’re mounting an exhibition of, yes, 19th Century
French Fotos.

Could be interesting.

picture-1

TERRY RICHARDSON

Now I have to tell you, I don’t really check into too many
blogs on a regular basis. I find most of them boring. Of
course, I guess I could also put it like this: They’re just
not talking to me.

I’m not going to name names but I would like to mention
the approaches to blogging (and life) that leave me cold:

– Blogs that are only updated, like, 4 times a year
– Blogs that only list accomplishments and recent
assignments, with no value added
– Blogs that are only designed to attract fanboys
(and girls) with geek-talk and product placement
– Blogs with crap fotos
– Blogs with no sense of humor and/or irony
– Blogs that don’t question
– Blogs with no real sense of the author, or the
author is sentimental and/or sucky
– Blogs that are only about the author’s work.

The ones I follow (and there are only 8 or 9), are the
opposite of the above list.

Now, drool doesn’t really want to get all negative
here. I’m just sayin’. And, please remember, drool
doesn’t care what you, personally, like and hate, are
drawn to and repelled by, as long as you do love/hate,
and are attracted/repelled. Live a little.

It’s entirely possible that drool dribbles over into any
and all the territory I diss above. (Well, except the
only-updated-like-4-times-a-year one.) So be it.
drool embraces it’s contradictions. It’s also possible
that you check into drool once or twice and think that
it’s totally droll, that it sucks, that I’m a megalomaniac.
And you never return. Fair enough.

What, you might properly wonder, does any of this have to do
with Terry Richardson?

Well, these are just some thoughts I had as I moved Terry’s Diary
onto my bookmark bar.

tr1

I mentioned Terry’s Diary a few posts ago, and wondered then
why I was so attracted to such a thing. After having checked it
out day after day (and he usually posts 4 or 5 new shots every
24 hours) I have to say it’s because it’s funny and provocative.
It’s autobiographical in a way that appeals to me and, mostly,
you get to see, as new fotos keep appearing, how great he is
at using imagery to define his intelligence, to show us how
he sees the (his) world.

And that’s easier said than done.

STUFF

Tony | January 31, 2010

Lots of stuff on drool today. If something here grabs you, have
a look and a read. If it bores you, well just scroll down to the
next item. I believe that’s the way it’s done these days.

NPAC

The News Photographers Association of Canada asked me if
I’d contribute a photo essay to their website. I said “sure”.

After digging around in my archives I thought I’d do a re-edit
of the project I shot last year in New Jersey. You can read my
initial thoughts here, if you’re interested.

If you’d like to see the whole thing on the NPAC site, go here.

npac

WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF ME…..

Every so often I Google my name. (You do too. Come on,
admit it.) Sometimes weird, funny, viral things happen. For
instance, somebody in Turkey will do a thing on USER and
then, before you know it, a whole bunch of other Turks pick
it up and, voila, I’m big in Turkey for a week or two,

Anyway, I found this post somewhere a while ago. I can’t
direct you to the site where I found it because it seems to
be lost in the ether now. But I quite liked what the author
saw in my work and thought I’d attach it here. Excuse the
immodesty

tf

SIMON ROBERTS

I kept wanting to write about WE ENGLISH, by Simon Roberts, because
I liked the pictures so much. Then I ran across this video, via LENS
CULTURE
. I might as well let Mr. Roberts tell his own tale. Definitely
worth a look and listen. (Click on the 4-way arrows, bottom right,
to see the video in Hi Def. Dude’s shooting 4×5, worth the extra
load time.)

Simon Roberts: Lens Culture Conversations with Photographers from Jim Casper on Vimeo.

HERE FOR THERE UPDATE

HERE FOR THERE was the art sale/fund raiser Mike (Zeke) Zavacky
organized for relief for Haiti.

The evening was a smashing success. Over $12,000 was raised,
more than 450 people braved a bonechilling Ottawa January nite
to come out in support.

Good work Ottawa. Good work Mike.

hft
A portion of the crowd

hft2
The man who bought my work

ALLI ASUDEH AT SPAO

Alli is a third year student at SPAO. She walks around with a Polaroid
camera and snaps things that capture her attention. She told me she’s
got a stack of prints over a foot high.

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Alli Asudeh

She edited, framed and hung 75 of these small images for her show,
FRAGMENTS, now up at The Red Wall Gallery at SPAO. A kind of visual
lexicon of the minutia that she says shapes her life.

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Installation views of Fragments

CHRIST IN MY (OLD) PICTURES

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DONATING

Tony | January 24, 2010

HERE FOR THERE

Mike Zavacky has quickly organized a fund raiser for Haitian
earthquake relief. Guy Berube, director of Gallery La Petite Mort
has donated his space.

The thing, called HERE FOR THERE, features over 40 artists who
are donating work, to be sold at a deep discount. All funds raised
will be given to World Vision Canada and the Canadian government
will match all money raised, so the money you spend on art will
double.

Details here. Get yer sorry asses down there and buy something,
maybe even this…….

star
Star, Ottawa, 2009

THOUGHTS ON DONATING

There are two kinds of power.

A “leader’ is standing on a podium, talking to a crowd of people. He/
she says “JUMP” and everyone jumps. The leader has power.

You’re in that crowd, the “leader” says “JUMP” and you DON’T jump.
You have power.

Now, I pay taxes, stop at most stop signs, try not to violate folks
too, too much and so on. In other words, try to be a contributing
member of society. But the power I prefer to practice is the “not-
jumping” sort.

I’m not saying that contributing to help Haitians is wrong. On the
contrary. But I do think that the massive outpouring of help, dollars
and concern that we’re seeing should be matched by each and every
person by similar expenditures (time, money and emotion) close to
home, in our direct spheres. Less knee-jerk, more focused direct
action.

Anyway…..that rant is my preamble to giving a BIG UP to colleague
Andrew Heatherington. He recently cleaned out his fridge. Rather
than just chuck the film he found there he decided to distribute it
to those who still use film to do stuff. This took a certain amount
of energy on his part, what with the solicitation, the packaging, the
trip to the post office and so on. This kind of thoughtfulness is
exactly what I’m talking about here. Small, local gestures go a long,
long way.

Thanks Andrew.

film
Film donated to me by Andrew.

SCOUTING

Every so often drool will go on about some commercial or
editorial job shot. Straight up cock rocking.

But that’s mostly really boring. I mean, who wants to tune
in just to read about my (or anyone’s) latest industry coups?
Who wants lists of “achievements”? Geeks and fanboys, that’s
who.

droolers aren’t geeks, are you? Nor fanboys. droolers want
the dope. droolers like to think. Oh yeah. drool on.

With that in mind, may I present you with some pix I took
last week. They are from a scouting expedition to scope
backgrounds for a series of executive portraits I’m shooting
next week for a big hi-tek corp.

scout2

When I shoot editorial jobs there’s hardly ever enough time to
pre-scout locations. Mostly I walk in an hour before the subject
is scheduled and use that time to figure shit out, block shots and
design lighting. Truth to tell….I really like that process, really like
making it up as I go along. It’s a rush.

scout3

But in the corporate and advertising world a different strategy is
often employed. There are more people in the loop and the images
have to conform to certain constraints. As well, the pictures often
need to perform more than one function. (In editorial, the main
and sometimes only function the pix must serve is to arrest the
viewer when he/she turns the page. Of course, it’s always a bit
more complicated/nuanced than that, but that’s the jist of it.)

scout5

Anyway, I managed to find a whole bunch of sparkly backgrounds
that read just about the same but each have their own appeal. If
you’re wondering why they’re out of focus, it’s because the execs
faces are going to be in the foreground, in focus.

Scouting is funny like that. You have to project future possible
scenarios and ways and means onto what’s in front of you. And,
it’s all theory until the subject walks out a day or a week later.
That’s when the real fun starts.

scout7

UNDERPASS

There’s this underpass in downtown Ottawa that used to be
a haunt for what my mother might call “ne’er-do-wells“.

up1
The underpass in question

Well, the powers that be have taken steps. They’ve fenced off
the bit that the homeless would use as shelter (from the storm)
and, to further spruce the thing up, they’ve decided to use the
space to mount an ongoing series of art shows.

The first thing they’re showing is a series of photographs by Joel
Cote-Cright
, titled La Bourgeoisie. Images of ice fishing cabins,
along with a few portraits of ice fisherman themselves.

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up3
Installation views of La Bourgeoisie

This space lacks the “charm” of Zoe Strauss’ I-95. (Don’t forget, this
is January in Ottawa, not exactly the kind of weather that adds “charm”
to cold, urban underpasses).


Zoe Strauss’ exhibit, Under the Freeway

But at least the organizers of the space have resisted the impulse
to use it for the all-too-standard propaganda/schlock that so often
passes as “public art”. It’s a pleasant surprise to see a local up-and-
coming photographer, who is shooting engaging work, being given
this opportunity. I hope that the experiment in the underpass
continues. Just as I hope the organizers of the space will continue
to seek out fresh, local artists who are producing work that’s
interesting

up5

SOME THOUGHTS ON OBJECTIVITY

Tony | January 17, 2010

In blogging, like in photography, one thing leads to another.
If you leave a stone unturned, well, you’ll never get to see what
kind of bugs would crawl out.

This week I started writing about re-editing a project I shot last
year, and that turned into thinking about objectivity vs subjectivity.

Then, way down at the bottom of this post I talk a bit about Terry
Richardson’s new Tumblr thing, TerrysDiary. I wonder about why
such, really, stupid fotos would interest me. Then, BAM!!!, out of
the blue, it struck me…….how taking pix and looking at them are
related. Now, this might be old news for you droolers, maybe you’ve
already thought about what just occurred to me. I say: read on and
find out………

LANDSCAPES and some THOUGHTS on OBJECTIVITY

I was recently asked by NPAC (News Photographers Association of
Canada) if I would submit a photo essay for their web site.

Now, I’m no photojournalist, but I do shoot projects. I suppose the
big difference is that photojournalists aren’t supposed to set up shots
and, well…..I do. Set up shots.

Of course this opens a whole can of worms about objectivity in photo-
graphy (and in life, I suppose). I’ve never believed in objectivity. In fact,
I believe that image producers are actually being more honest if they are
obviously producing subjective work. I’ve always liked my fotos to kind
of look like documents but have enough clues to point out that, yes, there’s
a person behind the camera who has been making decisions.

Anyway…….

What I decided to do for NPAC was to go back and re-edit the project
I shot last year: BESIDE THE PASSAIC.

This time I edited it in geographic/chronological order, whereas before
I had edited it (for lack of a better word) for feeling. Or maybe juju.

Doing the re-edit was pretty interesting, in that I bumped into a bunch
of landscapes I’d shot down in New Jersey that never made the final cut
when I initially edited the project last year.

The whole (25 shot) re-edit, featuring a bunch of never-before-seen
images from the project, will be appearing on the NPAC site later this
month. I thought I might pull 3 of those landscapes and run them
here first.

btp4
Bridge over the Passaic River, near Morristown, New Jersey

221
Highway 80 in the distance, outside West Paterson, New Jersey

11-the-passaic-river-passaic
View of the Passaic River, Passaic, New Jersey

And, speaking of objectivity……even landscapes are subject
to the eye and the whim of the photographer. These shots,
all done using a 4×5 camera and film, are (obviously) the result
of me deciding which tiny part of the whole wide world I was
going to frame. Move the camera a foot to the right or a foot
to the left and you get some other foto.

So, remember kids, when you’re looking at (or reading or
watching on TV) any representation of the world, what you’re
seeing is just the opinion of one person who was standing
somewhere, pointing a recording device or making notes.
There is no objective truth.

BIG PRINTS

As well as a whole bunch of 16×16 inch prints, my upcoming
show at EXPOSURE features a bunch of 22×27.5 inchers. Really
only biggish, I suppose, after seeing E. Burtynsky’s mammoth
prints at CUAG. Did them on an Epson 7800 and, I’m pleased to
say, when I plugged in the files they printed exactly the same as
the test prints I’d done at home, using my Epson 3800. I’m also
now using Epson Exhibition Fiber and, of all the premium papers
I’ve used, I like this the best. No metamerism and the prints look
just about the same in all levels of light, too.

bigprint

Took 5 hours to print 10 of these big ‘uns. Back in the olden days,
using an enlarger and Kreonite, I figure it would have taken about
3 days. And, even then, try reprinting them different sizes and
stuff.

I sure like the look of film and scanned negs but I’m sold on digital
printing.

DIANA THORNEYCROFT

I had the opportunity this week to meet and photograph Winnipeg
photographer Diana Thorneycroft.

Man, I wish all the artists I met were as down to earth as her. She
kind of sparkles with humanity and good humor. Which is funny,
because her work can be sort of dark. Check it out here.

dt2
Diana Thorneycroft

TERRY RICHARDSON and some THOUGHTS on OBJECTIVITY

Fotografer Terry Richardson has started posting a few shots a day
to a Tumblr account. The thing is called TerrysDiary.

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© Terry Richardson

This brings to mind a couple of thoughts………

The first being what a great and free and easy product Tumblr is.
For those of you who don’t know about it, I suggest you go here,
find out about it and get yer thinking cap on to see how you can
use it. It’s swell for side projects, getting yer ya-yas out and just
generally throwing stuff up.

The other thing about TerrysDiary is, it makes you (well, at least
it makes me) wonder about what makes fotos interesting.

You see, TerrysDiary is a compendium of snapshots. Terry with
famous people; Terry with beautiful people; beautiful people,
usually over or under exposed, all by themselves; Terry at the
dentist and the psychiatrist. Pictures of his shirts and his couch
and so on.

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© Terry Richardson

If you ran across these pix, and no name was attached, you’d probably
look down yer nose, sniff and think: “Boorrring! I see this shit on Face-
book all the time. Some egomaniac showing us bits of his life. Who
cares?” And, mostly, I agree. Except, in this case I have to admit I’m
pretty taken.

First of all….there are all those famous and beautiful people he snaps.
Then there’s the whole “Terry Richardson” mystique and legend and hype
that we all know. Plus, a lot of TerrysDiary is actually pretty funny.

So, I guess sometimes it’s impossible to separate “good” fotos from “bad”
when you know the personality (and fame) of the person behind them.

And, in a way, I think that this all relates back to my post at the top, about
objectivity and subjectivity. The viewer of each and every picture also
brings all their baggage and prejudice to that which they are viewing.

So, if you ask me, objectivity is impossible when you’re taking fotos,
just as it is when you’re looking at them.

You can see TerrysDiary here.