Archive for the ‘Links’ Category
We photogs are known to lavish attention on our gear, and ascribe to it virtually human qualities. “That’s a beautiful lens.” “That soft box makes gorgeous light.” Descriptions can be fevered, bordering on irrational, occasionally. I am guilty of this, just as almost everyone is who has labored as a photographer. At the end of the day, though, the things we use are tools, and like any job, you hopefully choose appropriately. Small, light and fast is often the mantra of an assignment. Very occasionally we get called on to do a heavier production job, and that requires a different set of tools. Like bigger, more powerful flash units. On certain jobs, let’s face it, size matters.
I’ve always enjoyed getting my camera in a different place. It’s rewarding, and occasionally daunting. Recently, an effort made by TIME magazine, and spearheaded by shooter and Senior Editor Jonathan Woods, got a whole lotta camera in a different place, which resulted in a truly unusual, not to mention massive photo.
The crew at TIME were kind enough cite my efforts at getting to the top of the Empire State building as inspiration for their drive to the top of #1WTC, now the tallest piece of real estate in the US. Here’s a link to their “making of” video.
I’m very thankful to them for citing my pix from high places, though I daresay they’ve offered too much credit. I’ve simply hauled my sorry ass up a bunch of towers. These fellas took it to a whole new level (sorry!:-) by cranking up a gigapan effort, and booming out a camera off the structure, and knitting together perhaps the most highly resolved image of Manhattan ever made.
I climbed the Empire State numerous times, and got to the light atop the mast four times. Some of those efforts resulted in no pictures, but, on my last climb, I finally did get an image that has hung around for a while. It was in concert, as always, with my good friend Tom Silliman, who has guided me to many high places.
There’s a certain synchronicity here. The pic above ran in the Oct. 2001 National Geographic. Which meant it hit the newsstands about two weeks after the Trade Center towers had disappeared from the New York City skyline. Geographic got a few letters about it, not irate ones, but missives that mentioned the somber, bluish mood of the picture as having some sort of emotional resonance with the events that had just occurred.
Now, all these years later, that tragic wound in lower Manhattan is healing, and out of it has risen up yet another amazing, silvery exclamation point of a building, one that will anchor the landscape of downtown for all the years to come.
Also, back then, before it was called a selfie, I actually shot one, up there at the light, with a Coolpix and a fisheye attachment. That’s typical of me, of course, to be ahead of cultural trends. (Joe make joke.)
Many thanks to Jonathan and the crew at TIME for the mention. They have, in turn, inspired me to continue to get my camera into unusual places. More tk….
Adorama, the camera store, took a plunge into the wild world of fashion this past week. Yowza.
Seems the store had a vacant space, big enough for a runway, chandeliers, and a press lounge, not to mention dozens of impossibly tall women wearing everything from sequins to feathers. In a city where there are lots of folks trying to make a statement, every day, nothing takes a back seat to Fashion Week, which explodes this time every year, colorful as a Carmen Miranda headdress. This year it’s been a refreshing splash of vibrance and life in the midst of a burg traumatized by a Polar Vortex, desperate for winter to be over, and so bored with waiting for a sliver of sunlight as to become heated over the way the new mayor eats pizza.
Getting the management of Adorama, whose sartorial tendencies favor black and white, on board with the wild and wooly nature of the fashionista crowd, was an interesting leap, indeed. My wife, Annie Cahill, who runs the Adorama Pro Department, is nothing if not fiercely determined, saw the possibilities of the empty space, and fashion folks who needed to display their wares, and made the match. It’s also been an opportunity for multiple communities to get together…..the photo folks, the fashion folks, and even the whole neighborhood of Chelsea. I tried to get a coffee at a local bistro I drop by every once in a while and forget it, the line was out the door. Busy, in a word.
So, it’s been nothing short of fantastic! An otherwise vacant storefront on 17th St. is swirling with life, color and clothes that I guess some people wear, sometimes, quite likely well after I go to sleep. And of course, where there’s designers, gowns and models, there’s photographers. Lots of them. Some, admittedly, more professional than others, and some who look like they belong on the runway on the other side of the lens, but photogs galore, and pictures by the thousands.
I dropped by after straight after getting off a plane the other day, stupidly, without my DSLRs, and just an Iphone.(Which actually made me fit in quite well with all the other fancily dressed swells and assorted hangers-on.). And of course, my bud Peter Tsai snaps Numnuts here chimping on the damn smart phone. Sigh.
Is over at Scott Kelby’s PhotoShop Insider blog. It is, hopefully, a worthwhile read. All best, Joe
There is now a website, The Photo Society, which has gathered working National Geographic photographers together under one roof on the internet. Now, getting any group of photographers together to do anything, in unison, is difficult. Getting this particular bunch of disparate personalities, egos, interests and formidable skill sets on the same page to act collectively and all show up at the same time requires something roughly akin to an act of congress, or perhaps even a forcibly worded subpoena. This is a collection of passionately individualistic people, who, in the field, spend a lot of time alone, working things out for themselves. They rely on instinct, not press releases, resolutely avoid the pack, and seek out the path less traveled, all in hope of an angle or perspective on a story that has not been seen before. They bridle at uniformity, being utterly, confidently convinced that their vision is the truth of the matter, and that vision is pursued relentlessly, often at great risk. Our rare gatherings are lively indeed, and vaguely reminiscent of the wild Celtic street celebration seen above, shot by the endlessly talented Jim Richardson.
As youths, in school, we were most likely deemed unruly, headstrong, and destined to engage in a lifetime of problematic, irritating behavior. Or perhaps become photographers. (Is that redundant?)
The price of admission to this website is actually being assigned and doing a National Geographic story for what is routinely called around the shop, “the yellow magazine.” Because of the degree of difficulty associated with doing this type of work, the photojournalists presented here constitute an exclusive club indeed. By my count, 86 all told. This group has done the core visual work for what is routinely referred to as the best picture magazine in the world for the last 30 years. What the Photo Society is doing here is drawing back the curtain a bit. What most folks understandably respond to are the pictures in the magazine– at turns stunning, daring, pictorially mesmerizing, thoughtful, searing, emotionally wrenching and always story driven. What they don’t see is the risk, physical and otherwise, the emotional involvement, the intensity of commitment, the first steps and ball games missed back home, the marriages set adrift, the financial brinksmanship routinely engaged in, the utter solitude of the decision making process in the field and the fevered, interior second guessing that induces in even the most confident of individuals. It is not, in short, for the faint of heart.
The site has been created and maintained by the hard and generous work of a gifted few, such as Randy Olson, George Steinmetz and Stephen Alvarez, who have done a great deal of the heavy lifting. They continue to develop it as an ongoing gallery, a repository of essential work. If one is aspiring to be a storyteller with a camera, it is a necessary resource, and should be a frequent stop on your internet travels.
There are flat out geniuses on the site, photographers whose work has informed and changed the way generations of shooters have looked at the world and approached doing stories. For instance, Bill Allard, whose stubborn, gruff independence as a visual communicator has inspired readers for 40 years.
And David Doubilet, an utterly indispensable underwater photographer, whose risk taking and visual daring defined the craft for generations.
And Lynn Johnson, whose quiet sympathy for people has created an archive of nuanced, subtle observation about the human condition.
There are also photogs who have literally created their own niche, driven by a singular passion for a place or people. George Steinmetz, who routinely straps the equivalent of a lawn mower engine and a ceiling fan to his backside and runs off cliffs to get airborne, has done aerial views of most if not all of the world’s deserts.
And Gerd Ludwig, who has specialized in Russia, the Eastern version of the wild west, and has risked greatly to define the ongoing tragedy of pollution and radiation contamination in the former Soviet Union.
What I love about the site is an area called “vignettes,” where the Nat Geo photographers share pithy, brief descriptions of their time in the field. If you peruse it even casually, you’ll notice it runs vividly counter to the imaginings that perhaps abound out there about the life of a National Geographic photographer. Contrary to myth, lore and legend, it is not a lifetime of abundance, first class air tickets, and luscious sunsets in exotic locations. Take a look below. It doesn’t read like a travel brochure.
Make a visit, if you would. It’s a rare and rich grouping of images, and a look at the ornery, gifted folks who created them. More tk…