Friday, July 30, 2010

The Seeds of "Contraband"

 Oxalis tuberosa, Peru (prohibited).

The NYT Lens Blog features a beautiful writeup on photographer Taryn Simon's latest project, "Contraband," which will be coming out as a monograph with Steidl in the fall and is being featured as a portfolio in The New York Times Magazine.

Miki Meek of Lens Blog writes:
Passengers, airliners, workers, baggage, cargo, taxis and trains flow ceaselessly through Kennedy International Airport.

Taryn Simon recorded another ceaseless flow — one the public rarely sees: contraband detained and seized from international flights.

These include items ranging from the bizarre (a deer penis?) to the disgusting (unkown meat, or a bird corpse) to the usual suspects (drugs, etc.).  But, what I find really interesting is the genesis of the project – one photo from Simon's earlier body of work.  Simon says:
The idea for the project emerged from a 2006 session photographing seized food in the same terminal for “The American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar.” In this book, Ms. Simon made the inaccessible accessible, from C.I.A. headquarters to the den of hibernating black bears.
It's always interesting to find out what an artist may have been dwelling on for years that forms the seed of a new project.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Contraband Room, 
John F. Kennedy International Airport, Queens, New York.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garage Sale Find of the Decade...or not?

Man paid $45 at a California garage sale for 65 glass plates, "The Lost Ansel Adams Photos"
Glass plates are worth $200 million.

Courtesy of Rick Norisigian and David W. Streets

**UPDATE (7/30/2010):  Negatives may not be those of Ansel Adams at all.  Might be Uncle Earl's??

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Invisible Tree House in Sweden

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Modern Artist

I know a number of truly talented photographers who have been spiraling into a "Bermuda Triangle of Despair" lately because they have been having problems getting work during The Great Recession.

In any other century or even decade, producing the work they are producing, they would have become household names by now.  They would certainly not have to be hounding clients for payment or struggling to decide which bills to selectively pay that month in order to stay afloat.  Exhibitions would have been had.  Tearsheets would be piling up. Advertising jobs would be rolling in.  Their photographs would not just be known, they would be objects of desire.

But, we're past that.  We've evolved past those decades.  (For better...or for worse.)

Illustration by Sarina Finkelstein

In 2010, it isn't enough anymore just to produce great art.  You have to promote it.

And, while it's not the fun part of the job (of course we'd all love to be shooting 24/7), it's a necessary evil.  In the new Book of [Photo Job] Genesis, one job will only begat another job if you're doing twice the work you were before – shooting AND publicizing.

So, what does that mean?

That means you should be:

Shooting your work.
Updating your website/portfolio with that new work.
Updating your blog (yes, you should have one) with tearsheets.

Sending that work to existing and prospective clients (via email, promo card, hard portfolio, weblinks, iPad, etc.) to use as stock, to pitch as a story and to try and get future jobs.
Making sure that the work you send establishes your unique identity, doesn't make you look like one of a million photographers who shoots children, weddings, seascapes, etc....
Following up with those clients to see that they opened it, saw it and get their opinions (via meetings and phone calls).
If they don't like it, what don't they like?  Tune your work to match their needs. 
Can you shoot a sample of something for them as a test?

Sending your work to places that can get you publicity:
Photo magazines
Photo blogs
Photo competitions (especially the kind with many different jurors from around the industry)

Updating potential and existing clients with your whereabouts and availability, in case a job comes up in a place where you might be traveling.

Connecting to others online via weblinks and social networks to drive traffic to your website, etc. etc. etc.

Inviting others to your events – all of them, even if they happen to be on the other side of the country.  Prove that you not only exist but are known, popular and wanted.

This is just a start.  Beyond this, you should strive to be a known face and presence at industry events.  You should be handing out your card and web address to every person within arm's reach, shaking hands, kissing babies.

You should be manic.  You should be exhausted.  You should be working.  You should be promoting.

For you are a Modern Artist.  For better, or for worse.


Fell in love with these illustrations over the last few weeks...

The following are two students in a class taught by Jessica Hische from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia:

Monday, July 12, 2010

London Telegraph Sunday Magazine, July 11, 2010

To see more images from this project, go to:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Phil Underdown: Grassland

Phil Underdown's book, Grassland, is now out with photo-eye.  This project was produced concurrently with The Trapper's Lament, which was selected by Darius Himes for first Hey, Hot Shot! Curator's Choice Award.

Both bodies of work were produced in response to changes in the landscape of a small area.  Grassland follows what happened when an abandoned airstrip was reclaimed by nature and then turned into a national wildlife refuge, similar to Joel Sternfeld's Walking the High LineThe Trappers Lament shows the aftermath following the removal of beavers from the forest by a trapper.  Both are quiet but beautiful landscapes.

Resurrecting the Photo Book

Really interesting discussion of the future of the photo book on Imprint Blog:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Recession Vacation! (from my morning commute)

Enjoy the warm breeze of the 6 train passing by...
Take in the local underground wildlife...
All from the comfort of your beach chair.

Happy 4th, y'all!

(c) Sarina Finkelstein.