Today is the birthday of John Singer Sargent. I have posted about him before, so I have “Featured” those posts below. However, if you have not read the book Strapless by Deborah Davis , be sure to put it on your reading list this year.Read More
The Artist Spotlight for December is Yousuf Karsh (December 23, 1908 - July 13, 2002). I am particularly fond this Yousuf Karsh quote, so I wanted to share it with you as we celebrate him. For me, this quote sums up the difference between TAKING a photograph and MAKING a photograph. Anyone can “take” a photograph, but the alchemy of “making” a photograph is an entirely different skill set that employs art, science, light, creativity, emotion, story ... As I learn more about Karsh, this quote also reflects his personal style and approach to photography. But who was Yousuf Karsh…Read More
Oh, the beauty that was created by those hands. Let’s take a moment to celebrate Georgia O’Keeffe’s birthday today, shall we?.
I am pretty sure there is no need to tell you anything about Georgia O’Keeffe. She, and her paintings, are, dare I say, iconic.Read More
Pablo Picasso is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. It just so happens, today is his birthday (10/25/1881). So, I thought I would share…Read More
Several years ago, I watched a documentary that has fascinated me, and haunted me for years. The 2011 documentary, directed by Trisha Ziff is The Mexican Suitcase . It tells the story of the recovery of over 4,000 film negatives of the Spanish Civil War captured by photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Toro, and David 'Chim' Seymore. The negatives were considered lost since 1939 so their discovery in a suitcase in Mexico in 2007 is quite the story. I know the documentary is available to rent through Amazon, and is well worth the rental fee.Read More
September 16 was the birthday of Jack Cardiff. Cardiff was a painter, photographer, and movie director, but he is probably best known for cinematography. If you love the visual lushness of old Technicolor movies, chances are good that cinematographer Jack Cardiff was probably responsible.
Cardiff’s career began as a young boy in the silent film days (certainly no Technicolor back then) and rose through the film making ranks for the next fifty years, ultimately receiving an Honorary Oscar in 2001 for his contribution to cinema.Read More
Let’s have a conversation about American photographer, Russell Lee (July 21, 1903 - August 28, 1986). This image is from his work with the Farm Security Administration (FSA). I wanted to include these three gentlemen having an actual conversation so it reminds us what a conversation looks like. Look, no phones or other devices in front of their faces…nor does the young girl in the background have a scowling, disengaged look on her face. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone, table, computer… but when was the last time you saw real connection and face-to-face conversing actually happening? Wow. Just, WOW!Read More
Let’s add another strong, independent, talented, female photographer to our Artist Spotlight for June. Today is American photographer, Margaret Bourke-White’s birthday (6/14/1904 - 8/27/1971). I remember hearing Margaret Bourke-White's name in photography courses, but I do not remember that her work was shown. Nor do I remember that her life, accomplishments, and work were discussed at length. I decided to remedy that for myself by actively seeking out books and other information about Bourke-White. I managed to secure a used copy of Margaret Bourke-White A Biography by Vicki Goldberg last year. But, even before reading the biography, I can tell you that she was a determined, disciplined woman who knew how to create a public persona in order to open doors traditionally shut to women of her generation. The barriers she broke, the places she went, and the subjects she photographed are pretty amazing in and of themselves. But, then there are her images … This quote makes it all sound so much easier than it actually is and was.Read More
Today is the birthday of American photographer, Richard Avedon, so I thought I would give you a brief overview of Richard Avedon just in case you are not familiar with his work.
I admit, I never really paid attention to fashion photography, until recently. Naturally, as part of this “discovery”, I began seeking out Avedon’s images to study. Avedon is highly regarded for his work in the fashion industry. He was a photographer for Harper’s Bazaar (1945-1965)and Vogue (1966-1990) so you can readily find his work if you search. I find myself appreciating his clean, elegant compositions, rich tonal range, but, usually, his images include a surprising twist. The iconic photograph, “Dovima with Elephants” comes to mind. (Click HERE to see the image on MoMA’s website.) Who would think of featuring a famous model, wearing a Dior evening gown, positioned between two elephants? Richard Avedon, that’s who.Read More
Okay, I know it isn’t polite to tell a woman’s age, but today is Imogen Cunningham’s 135th birthday. In case you are not familiar with Cunningham, she was an American photographer. I’m going to give you a minute for this all to soak in before we move along. Female. Photographer. Early 1900’s. This is huge I tell ya! So, I think we should devote a little virtual real estate to celebrate all things Imogen Cunningham today. Are you with me?Read More
Today is the birthday of photographer Edward Weston. Weston is considered one of the most innovative and influential photographers of the 20th Century, so I thought it might be interesting to explore a couple of his images. Why only two images when there are so many important images to choose from? Well, these are two images that are considered Fair Use for discussing his work without violating copyright. Having said that, please search on your own and enjoy looking at his work on web pages, like THIS one, that are authorized to show his art. As a teen, Edward Weston was gifted a camera, which, in essence, began his photographic journey. Over the years, his photography style included soft focus pictorialism to pictorial realism. According to most accounts, his transition from the soft focus style to sharper resolution was the result of photographing the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) in Ohio during the 1920's. These photographic images were praised by Alfred Steiglitz and are credited as photography that emerged into the Modern era. Among Weston's many contributions to photography were his designation of being the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim fellowship. He was also instrumental in photography's designation as an art form, was an avid writer documenting and sharing the photographic process, as well as being the photographic artist that developed the concept of previsualization.
In my opinion, Weston's strongest images are the common, everyday subjects like the two images below. Can't you just feel your stress level dropping while looking at these beauties?
NAUTILUS, 1927 (aka Shell, 1927)
Apparently, Weston was inspired by Henrietta Shore's large paintings of sea shells. He even borrowed some of the shells Shore had been painting so he might further explore a still-life series. After a few weeks of exploring different kinds of shell, backgrounds, and I'm guessing lighting, compositions, etc., well, this image titled Nautilus is one of the results of that exploration and discovery. It's a good thing, because this photograph has been credited as one of the most famous photos ever.
(As an aside, if you are unfamiliar with Henrietta Shore or her work, I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to seek out some of her work. Consider it a BONUS to this blog post. I got you started with a link. Just click her name above to take a look.)
In the 1930's, Weston began creating close-up images of fruits and vegetables. During his exploration of fruits and vegetables as subjects, Weston photographed green peppers for several days.
The peppers series is probably his most iconic set of images from this body of work, and due to their almost modern sculptural quality, these images have been likened to the sculpture of Hans Arp. Oh the lighting! Give me a moment to swoon a bit. Okay. I'm back. This beautiful, dramatic lighting certainly lends itself to focusing on the form of the pepper. I think the light is what makes the photograph sculptural. And, can I say, Oh, la, la.
Happy birthday Edward Weston! Thank you for all your contributions to photography as an art form, as well as the eye candy we are still enjoying today.
Today is Edward Curtis's birthday. Edward Curtis was a photographer, who, in my mind, crossed lines into the territory of what I consider a historian, and perhaps even a photojournalist. Officially, however, he is referred to as an "American photographer and ethnologist". I have written a blog about him before (HERE). 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.