BEHIND THE SCENES

BACK ON THE CORNER

I had always intended to shoot one more year of USER.

All the previous years I had gone down to the corner with a pretty
good idea of what I wanted the pictures to look like. But this year
I had no idea.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate…..I knew I wanted the images to
be less dramatic than those I’d shot before, more “straight-up”, and,
maybe, I wanted some of the new work to show bits of the narrative
of life on the corner.

But I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that, what I actually wanted
the pictures to look like. So I kept putting off returning to the corner.

Then, this past Sunday I just said “FUCKIT”, loaded my cameras
and went down.

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The very first person I met there was a stranger to me and in no
mood for anything other than hitting her pipe. So I wandered
down the street some and, before you know it, old acquaintances
started to drop by, chat a bit and pose for fotos.

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Shooting Jeff

jeff-2-2400
Jeff

My shooting was all over the place. I figured I’d just make stuff
up as I went along, follow my instincts and not worry too much
about what I was doing or how I was doing it.

clark
Clark

droolers know how I feel about allowing myself to make mistakes,
and I figured I may as well just shoot and see how the film turns out.
Hope that in there, somewhere, I’ll stumble upon some way, some
image, that shows me where I need to go.

It’s all process, baby.

Then I bumped into Star and her friend Rikki. They wanted me to
take a shot of them together and, even though I had only been
shooting one-shots, thought: “Why not?”. They sat down and
Rikki started to put on some makeup. Star helped her and,
there you go, stuff just happens. Doesn’t it?

It’s all process, baby.

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Shooting Rikki and Star

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Rikki and Star

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Star and me after the shoot

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A photo of Star from last year

HIPSTAMATIC ISN’T HIP

Hipstamatic, the iPhone app that turns snapshots into touched
snapshots, is all the rage. You’ve seen them posted online. You’ve
heard (or is that: read?) the oohs and aahs from commenters saying
how wonderful the images are.

Here’s a typical comment from a user:

I love this app. It has completely changed my photography, and
it has opened up a whole new creative avenue for me.

But drool believes that using an app to transform your snaps isn’t a
“creative avenue”, its a dead end street.

Sure, technology has its place in this post modern world of ours.
But to rely solely on an app for your “creativity” is bogus. Not to
mention that most Hipstamatic practitioners use a very heavy hand.
Kind of like they think that the more the image is manipulated and
the more nostalgic it looks, the better it becomes. I look at some of
these totally touched images and can’t help but wonder what would
be wrong with them, as snapshots, if they were just straight-up?

But the Hipstamatic creates synthetic nostalgia. Think Norman Rockwell.
Think Hallmark greeting cards. Think unearned emotion.

If you are using Hipstamatic for fun…fine. Just don’t go thinking it’s
creative. It’s not.

Let me leave you with some real snapshots. The nostalgia is a
built-in fact of the passage of time, not software.

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My sister and me

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My sister

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My sister and me

ADDENDUM

I published a status report on Facebook that read: “enough with the Hipstamatic already”.
Made allusions to the use of this app as the end of photography and a gimmick.

That led to a few comments, all defending Hipstamatic use…..

– It’s fun
– It’s not the end of photography
– Everyone has a gimmick

Fine, yes, I agree. But only up to a point.

(Here, let me say that lately I’ve decided that drool will be more outspoken, more
opinionated, more shit disturbing. That drool will not be afraid to stir things up,
even at the risk of alienating drool‘s readers and my present and potential clients.
So tune out now if you’re sensitive. Or stick around and get wound up. Heck, some
droolers might even agree with me from time to time. But I’m tired of being reserved,
tired of pulling punches and tired of settling for just getting along. This is a blog about
photography and I have certain biases and thoughts when it comes to that. drool will
never…..well….almost never, get personal. These are just opinions and you are allowed,
even encouraged, to dissent.)

Now where was I?

drool is definitely not anti-fun, but drool has its own idea of what fun is. And letting
some software program make your fotos groovy doesn’t seem like that much fun.

When I talk about the end of photography I often think about 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Remember the computer in that film, HAL. HAL knows best and will do whatever it
takes to “live” on, to get its way. Certain practices in the foto-world these days somehow
remind me of that dynamic. Perfection-seeking, technology-based, inhuman (or synthetically
human).

Gimmicks. All photographers have and use gimmicks, just like we all use clichés.
But let’s not mince words here. It seems to me that there must be recognition and
assessment of the quality of the gimmicks and clichés brought to bear by fotografers.
Sound elitist? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the time in my life where I’m too tired of
the worn out, lazy look and the banal rendering of this craaaazy world of ours that
seems, these days, to be taking up so much space.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK

The Abnormals Gallery (Poznan, Poland and Berlin, Germany) has released this
video on YouTube, to publicize their upcoming ABNORMAL NUDES exhibition.
The video contains a piece of my shot: “April and Erik, stain“.

Seems like an interesting way to combine imagery, though I’m not too sure about
the swastika at the end. But, as you know….drool is anti-censorship and respects
the rights of folks to do what they want, especially in the creative realm.

Okay, enough.
Welcome to the new
and improved drool.
Get angry
if you want.
Get even.
Just get
something.

OTHER PEOPLE’S PICTURES

CAMILLE GUERER

I met Camille a few months ago. It just so happened that I was
thinking about finding someone to mentor and Camille was very
interested in photography.

After a bunch of meetings with her and her folks it was decided
that Camille and I would spend some time together, talking about
and committing photography.

ka-me-1181

I fully expect to learn as much from her, and from the experience,
as she’ll learn from me. And so far that’s been the case.

Because of her school schedule and exams and stuff it’s been a slow
start but now that summer’s here the plan is to ramp it up some.

In the meantime, here’s a slide show…..a short sequence of Camille’s
fotos.

DEBORAH LUSTER

I came across ONE BIG SELF, Deborah Luster’s five year project
photographing inmates in Louisiana, on Pete Brook’s great blog,
Prison Photography.

luster
© Deborah Luster

I haven’t been this awed by a series of work since I saw Vanessa Winship’s
portraits of Turkish school girls. (Here).

I kindly request that you bounce over to Prison Photography, where Pete has
cobbled together a pretty inclusive post about Luster’s work. Source material,
videos, links and more.

Go look. Be amazed.

LYLE RICHARDSON

Yes! Paintings on drool.

Lyle Richardson will be showing his paintings for one night only
at La Petite Mort Gallery.

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Lyle and I go way back. I’ve known Lyle since high school. We’d
skip class, hang in the basement listening to Muddy Waters,
Howlin’ Wolf. Lyle would play the blues on the piano and paint
pictures.

He still plays the blues, and paints them, too. His little water colors
are stunning jewels, sometimes clear like diamonds, other times dark
and deep as a blood red ruby.

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He says he paints the weather, and I take that to mean the weather in
his head. Pure poetry…..the sunny days and the storms that sulk and
rage inside each and every one.

Go see this show. July 9th, 7:00 to 10:00.

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TONY FOUHSE

Finally, what would an edition of drool be without some hype for
the master drooler?

A couple of images I shot of April and Erik will be included in a
group show at Abnormals Gallery, in Poznan, Poland.

Just printed them and took this shot before they were bundled up
and shipped……..

prints-for-poland

THE NEWS

I READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY

Just got Will Steacy’s newspaper, DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS, today.
(Thanks to a swell giveaway over at Conscientious.)

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Fotos on newsprint. I love it. Gives the images a totally
different juju than if you looked at them in a book or online
or on a gallery wall. (Not that those all aren’t totally righteous
venues for fotos.) But looking at these pix on the kitchen
table with my morning cup of coffee is like seeing the news
as poetry.

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Brings to my mind the time I was at Oka, during the armed standoff
between the Mohawk warriors and the Quebec Provincial Police.

I was at the top of the hill, behind the Warrior barricade, along with
representatives of the world press. This was big news….Indians
shooting and killing police, then making a last ditch stand, all
to protect a piece of forest, that was sacred to them, from turning
into a golf course.

At a certain point a Mohawk mother, father and son came from their
village, behind the Warrior barricade. They were scrummed by the
press: “Did you come to make a statement?” they were asked.

“No, we came to smell the pines” they replied. Pure poetry and,
in fact, the reason for the whole armed standoff. Preserve the
towering pine trees that figured in their history.

Their statement went way over the heads of the gathered reporters.
They wanted “hard” news. I remember shaking my head and thinking:
“You idiots just don’t get it, do you? Here this family replies to your
question in a poetic way, a way that totally cuts to the chase, vis-a-vis
why this is happening, and you just don’t see it.” It was then when I
realized that most of the news media are stuck in a system that precludes
any real understanding, that the mainstream media is a machine that only
knows one way to process information.

So, as I sat at the kitchen table, reading Steacy‘s news, one of the
many thoughts that passed thru my noggin was: “Oh boy”.

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Page spreads from: Down These Mean Streets by Will Steacey

Same goes for Alec Soth’s THE LAST DAYS OF W. A newspaper (from 2008)
made up of sequenced fotos that, very subtly, talk to a society in the grips
of a President and a history that just doesn’t seem to be working.

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Some page spreads from: The Last Days of W., by Alec Soth

SOME RECENT EDITORIAL

Here’s a few of the pix I took for Guerilla Mag. These are the
result of winning the WinInitiative 10BEST10 contest thingy.

Went to Montreal and shot a bunch of artists in their studios.

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Domenic Papillon

jonathan-villeneuve-109
Jonathan Villeneuve

mirana-zuger-187
Marina Zuger

kierander
Trevor Kierander

And here’s a picture of a Mr. Dave Gower. Shot for MoneySense
magazine to illustrate living on retirement income.

moneysense-dave-gower-062

I SUPPORT PORTRAITURE

For those of you in other countries, and to my compatriots
who aren’t paying attention, I’ll just let you know that we
(Canadians) have elected (sort of, but that’s a whole other
story) and are living with, a pretty reactionary conservative
government who seem to be anti-art/culture and pro-them-
selves.

One of the things the gov’t did was to cancel a perfectly good,
and already proceeding plan to establish a National Portrait
Gallery (NPG).

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Now, drool usually doesn’t dip into the political swamp, much
preferring other types of swamps. But it has to be said: Bad
move Mr Prime Minister.

Anyway, some students at the University of Ottawa pulled
together an exhibition and panel talk on the NPG’s demise,
titled: Out of Site/Out of Mind.

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Fotos by: Irina Lubchenko and Genevieve Thauvette

On the panel were Penny Cousineau-Levine (chair of Visual Arts
at the U of O), Michael Schreier (artist) and Lily Koltun (former
director of the NPG).

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l to r: M. Schreier, L. Koltun. P Cousineau-Levine

Regular droolers know that I’m a little bit cynical about stuff
like this, much preferring to do my own thing and let the chips
fall as they may. It must be said, though, that as of late, I’ve
been thinking about, if not “community”, at least “contribution”,
And droolers know that drool doesn’t care what you do, as long
as you do something.

So, while I won’t be signing any petitions or sending letters to
political bosses (meet the new boss, same as the old boss), I did
come away from the evening with renewed hope (look out for
hope) that, if enough art-type folks in Ottawa do their thing,
and keep doing their thing, some critical mass will be reached
and, sooner or later, bigger things must happen.

In the meantime, thanks to the organizers of Out of Site/Out of
Mind
, and to the panelists, for doing something.

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MY SWEET NEW RIDE

After way too many years of wrestling with my $149 Staples office
chair, I finally took the plunge and bought one of those Aeron ones.

My bum and my back thank me.

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