This quote by Edward Weston made me think about how I take photographs. I think there is a point in your progression as an artist, when composition… the rule of thirds, golden spiral… all becomes part of how you see and how you frame your work. What do you think? And, where are you on this path?
Since we discussed Michelangelo’s David in our Museum Monday yesterday, it would just be wrong not to recognize his birthday today. If you are interested in a little Michelangelo trivia, you might be interested in this POST I shared last year on his birthday.
Today is the birthday of Ernst Haas. Haas was a photojournalist who is also considered one of the pioneers of color photography. In fact, in 1953, LIFE magazine published his photo essay which was the first color photo feature for the magazine. But the groundbreaking accomplishments do not end there. It seems a 1962 retrospective of his work was the first color photography exhibition held at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). So, for all those folks who have told me that photography is not art, please read that last sentence again. I am pretty sure that serves as evidence that photography IS considered art, at least by the good folks at MoMA. Just sayin’
If you are interested in exploring and enjoying the art of Mr. Haas, The Ernst Haas Estate has a website with his work. I have included the link HERE.
For my fellow photographers, I included this quote as something to think about. No judging. There is room for everyone at the photography table. But, it made me consider what type of photographer am I? What type photographer do I want to be? And, does my life reflect the photographer I want to be? (Yes. I am going through a deep-dive phase of exploring the process of creating art.) Do you know which type photographer you are?
Today is the birthday of American photographer, Ansel Adams. I know we’ve all seen his images, heard about his commitment to conservation… and photographers certainly know about the Zone System he championed. So today, on his birthday, let’s celebrate his art, as well as the contributions he made to the art of photography.
I’ve always been intrigued by Adams’s technical abilities with photographs. When I was in college, I even “pitched” the idea of receiving college credit to attend his workshop one summer. My instructor agreed to the college credit IF I wrote a proposal and a paper after the workshop. Her agreement encouraged me to work on a plan to make it happen. My next step was parental approval so I devised a proposal to travel to California via train, and my parents agreed. Hot diggity dawg! I was going to apply to study with Ansel Adams, albeit a short amount of time, but it was time with Ansel Adams. I was sure he would teach me the secret of great photography. Unfortunately, Mr. Adams passed before I got my plan off the ground so I was never his student – in person.
After a long absence from photography, I now find myself embracing digital photography which in many ways is like re-learning photography. Don’t get me wrong. Digital photography has a lot of benefits, but, if I’m truthful, there is a part of me that misses film photography too. I have a collection of Ansel Adams books and I am still learning from him. His methods still hold teachable moment even though the medium has changed. I would like to think he would have enjoyed all the new developments in this medium we call photography.
Happy birthday! This Zone System is for you Mr. Adams.
If you want to join the party, HERE is a video interview with Ansel Adams. Enjoy!
His (circa) 1895 photograph of Princess Angeline (above) is considered his first portrait of a Native American. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. What intrigues me about his story is his dedication and determination. He literally gave up everything to pursue this passion of documenting Native Americans in a time when it was illegal for Native Americans to practice their customs. Clearly, he saw an urgency in documenting as many tribes, as well as their customs, languages, and rituals, before their way of life vanished. I realize there is controversy surrounding authenticity, etc., but I feel there are some stunning images that resulted from his work. For example, I could sit quietly with Princess Angeline for quite a while. Then, there is the Vanishing Race where only one of the warriors is looking back. That small moment becomes a metaphor for the past and a vanishing way of life. There are so many images that give me pause and make me ponder the stories.
So today, on Mr. Curtis’s birthday, have a look-see at some of the images he created which are housed at the Library of Congress.
Today is Joan Mitchell’s birthday. Ms. Mitchell was an Abstract Expressionist painter in the 1950’s who was known for her use of bold colors and sweeping brushstrokes to create paintings inspired by nature. So let’s celebrate the day with one of her quotes. If you want to read more quotes, ArtNet NEWS published a series of Mitchell quote on her birthday a few years ago. HERE is the link. (And, yes. I know she did not like white. She probably would not approve this graphic I created. I, however, love white. After all, white is the presence of all colors.)
I have written about my admiration of Russell Lee photography before HERE. The Pie Town exhibit I wrote about was the first time I experienced Lee’s work in person. So, I was happy to learn about an exhibit of his work at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas. The exhibit contains photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center in Austin, Texas and is on display in the temporary gallery of the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum from January 27, 2018 – March 10, 2018. I have included the press release about the exhibit below.
Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum Press Release for Russell Lee Exhibit
The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is proud to host a new temporary exhibit featuring the photographs of renowned documentary photographer, Russell Lee. These photographs, on display through March 10th, showcase Lee’s stunning black and white images, focusing on topics such as politics, travel, industry and, most touchingly, the human condition.
Russell Lee came to photography after training as an engineer and a painter and left a legacy of more than 100,000 documentary images from the 1930s to the 1970s. Although best known for his large body of work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) from 1936 to 1943, Lee also produced many significant series of images on his own and on other assignments, most of it while living in Austin, Texas, his chosen home.
This exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the images he produced in 1935 and 1936 when he first took up a camera and goes on to highlight the vast body of important work that Lee produced from 1947 through 1977. Although less familiar than his work for the FSA, Lee’s early work and his postwar photography highlight his interest in documenting the human condition and reflect his great talent and humanity.
This collection of digital prints is drawn from the archives of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The Briscoe Center’s Lee collection includes 3,639 photographic prints, 708 slides, 27,047 photographic negatives, and five color transparencies.
Russell Lee Photographs can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple. For more information about the exhibit or the museum, please visit www.templerrhm.org or call 254-298-5194.
Russell Lee Photographs was organized by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, and presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Humanities Texas advances heritage, culture, and education and is based in Austin, Texas.
Yesterday was Vivian Maier’s birthday. I admit that I had no knowledge of Ms. Maier, or her work until I watched the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier. I watched the documentary during a long airplane flight a few years ago while searching the “in flight” selections to pass the time. Maier was never the subject of any art history courses I was enrolled in, books I read, images I explored in galleries, museums, or online, so finding a “new” photographer piqued my interest. I slipped on my earbuds and listened to her story, told through third-party eyes, which unfolded for the next hour (plus a few minutes). The story was so intriguing to me that I re-watched the documentary on the return flight. Here are just a few reasons why I found it worthy of recommending.
First, I found it to be a cautionary tale for me, personally, for these reasons:
- I am guilty of not printing my work now that I am embracing digital photography. There are many, many, many reasons to print a physical print of your photograph (which is a blog post in and of itself), but her story illustrates the importance of you, as the artist, being in control of your own artistic vision; and
- It is the perfect illustration, for me, that perfectionism robs you of completion. She did the work. Apparently, used her camera regularly, possibly even daily, as we are so often taught to do, and yet, the next step, or steps, were never taken to complete the process.
Secondly, the whole story had me vacillating between being grateful that someone saw the value in her work and found it worthy of “saving”, to the opposite feeling that she should have had control of her work, why didn’t she exhibit it herself with her own vision and specifications, and many feeling in between.
It also reminded me that I have an old camera that belonged to my grandmother. Soon after I inherited the camera, I discovered that there was a roll of film loaded with a few remaining exposures. When I shared my discovery, a family member excitedly asked if I planned to develop the film. Without hesitation, my answer was, No! There were shocked faces in the room so I felt the need to explain that I loved the mystery of imagining what moments were etched on the film that was probably 30 years old at the time. My choice was to allow those unprocessed images to challenge my imagination. But, that exchange made me realize that there are differing opinions.