Tod Papageorge, New Year's Eve at Studio 54, 1978
This picture has always been one of my favorite photographs about the holiday. I love that the subjects are at once wistful, exhausted and exuberant. Like the holiday itself, the picture is ripe with hope, melancholy and the suggestion of possible pleasures in the near future.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A bunch more from the drive to South Carolina. We stopped for the night at a motel off the interstate.
Hotel parking lot.
Michelle checks out the view from our room.
Early morning reconnaissance.
Rousing the kids for breakfast.
The parking lot and Emmitt at Breakfast at the Bob Evans.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Tomorrow morning I'll be parking myself in the driver's seat of my comfortable car as my family of four begins our two day drive to the bottom of South Carolina for the holidays. The drive is 13 hours in total but we divide it into two days to make the medicine go down easier. The first time I made this drive I was in college and in recent receipt of a new girlfriend, now my wife, and my first car. I drove to South Carolina to meet her folks and to pick her up so that we could head back to school to start the new year together. My new car was a very simple used Saab that had a lot of personality and a lot of miles but no air conditioning and no electric windows. It's color, inside and out, was a unique and sickly, orangey-brown. It was identical in color to a rotting pumpkin two weeks after Halloween and the morning after the first frost. It looked like a large turd on wheels. I loved it. The car seemed well aware of its ugliness and it embraced a personality and condition that was perfectly analogous to it's color. I made the long, hot drive to the South with both windows open. My left arm was draped outside of the driver's side window and the tape deck was blaring loudly so that I could hear the music over the loud whooshing of the hot and breezy air that was rushing in the two open windows. The next morning my left arm was painfully sun burnt and my ears were ringing from the constant, combined noise of the tape deck and the hot, loud air. On the drive back North the car's electric system went in to complete collapse. The cooling fan didn't know when to turn its self on and eventually the car overheated while stuck in slow moving traffic on a sticky afternoon somewhere in the Bronx. A piston blew through the engine and my new, old, turd of a Saab was dead. Good riddance! Still, It's sad to see that Saab is, in all likely-hood, as good as gone. It was one of the last, few car companies to produce a vehicle that felt unique in personality and design. I'll miss seeing them on the road.
All of the above pictures are from a NY Times story called "Collectible Saabs." You can see more HERE.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Slate Magazine marked the recent passing of Televangelist Oral Roberts last week by running an interesting set of pictures. They were made in 1956 by Magnum photographer Eve Arnold. A few are below. If you'd like to receive more Oral you can get it HERE.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either a) presumed to be true, or b) were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth. Evidence is the currency by which one fulfills the burden of proof."
I was startled this morning when flipping through the New York Times to see an obituary for the great photographer Larry Sultan. He was 63 and made a wonderful and valuable contribution to contemporary photography. I remembered being flummoxed and delighted after first stumbling upon his book Evidence in my school library. The book was a unique compilation of pictures that were discovered and collected by Sultan and Mike Mandel from the archives of a few large West Coast corporations. The pictures were, while hilarious, possessed by the taint of a kind of weighty and slightly disturbing mystery. Much like Sultan's own, more personal work that followed. In 1991 my schoolmates and I invited Larry Sultan to come visit us and discuss his work. While it's difficult to clearly remember anything that happened over 20 years ago I do remember our eager anticipation of the visit. His work was significant to many photographers of my generation who were coming of age at this time and his books Evidence and Pictures From Home were front and center and part of our daily discourse. It's interesting to consider the dictionary definition above of the word evidence and how it relates to photography in general and Sultan's work in particular. It seems to me that it goes to the very core of what makes photography so unique, powerful and slippery. A photograph, on the one hand, will always be nothing more than the mechanical record of physical facts placed dumbly before the lens. On the other hand it is, of course, so much more. Particularly when massaged, kneaded and filleted by a maker possessed of great sensitivity and intelligence. It was, to me and so many others, the work of Larry Sultan's that helped to make this evident.
From the book Evidence, by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel
Winking Mom, 1989, by Larry Sultan, from the book Pictures From Home
Sharon Wild, by Larry Sultan, 2004, from the book The Valley
Dad On Bed, 1985, by Larry Sultan from Pictures From Home
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I finally got myself uptown to see the great Robert Frank show, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was well worth the trip. Many of the pictures on view are large and beautiful vintage prints. Even if you have seen them often before in print or in various exhibitions they are well worth seeing again. As wonderful as the pictures are I will confess that I was more interested in the exhibited contact sheets that Frank made of individual rolls of film. We are awarded by them the rare opportunity to do a little forensic analysis of Frank's approach and manner of looking, thinking and photographing. In most cases we see what I think one typically expects to see in the contact sheets of an experienced photographer. The photographer sees something of interest, moves around the subject a bit perhaps and makes a few frames until they are satisfied, or dissatisfied, with the subject and the moment and then moves on. The contact sheets contain some gems, of course, as well as a few less successful pokes and pulls that are the byproduct of anyone hard at work. What is most surprising to see, and damn near shocking, is that there is often just a single frame of what are the most exceptional and iconic images from the book. That is the case with the great, if not arguably "THE" greatest, picture of the 20th century. One damn frame. That was it! In fact, most of this roll is comprised entirely of variations of pictures that are of a passing parade. At one moment, who knows why, Frank turns his back to the parade. Perhaps he nervously hears the loud screech of the trolly that must have been just a few feet behind him. He turns, sees this and snap, BOOM!
Robert Frank, Trolley, New Orleans, 1955. From his book The Americans