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  • Real Exposures Interview

    I recently sat down with David Brommer, the force behind the Real Exposures interview series, to discuss what Brommer describes as my “visually striking and highly moving photo-essays for magazines and non-profit organizations, including a project on the pesticide poisoning of California farm workers that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.” We also discussed my more recent photo-essay depicting homes that people had left behind during the recent foreclosure crisis.

    20

    Aug 14

  • The last film project

    Old projects seem to have an odd way of circling back to haunt you. Sometimes that is economically, other times stylistically. An old project is back in mind right now which has prompted me to reconsider how, sixteen years ago I started an informal collaboration with two other photographers, using a primitive imaging technology called “film.” Almost two decades later, that project is coming to fruition, which prompted me to look back on one of if not the last projects that I worked on using film.

    08

    Aug 14

  • The Brazilian Experiment Part Two

    In early June we were in Brazil. I wrote earlier about my cultural experiences in South America’s largest country. This time I am writing about my experience with photography and photographing in Brazil.

    27

    Jul 14

  • The Brazilian Experiment – Part One

    I spent the last few days of May and the first few days of June in Brazil. I was NOT there for the World Cup. In fact, I tried very hard to be out of that country before the start of the big event, to avoid the crowds and the connected chaos. This blog entry (and the next one) will explore my experiences in the biggest country in South America.

    04

    Jul 14

  • The best the world of photography books has to offer

    Spring brings with it the awards season, be they the Oscars or Pulitzers. Never having been nominated for (or a viable candidate for) an Oscar, I don’t follow it all that closely. Having been nominated for a Pulitzer once (by the Philadelphia Inquirer) I have a bit more of a stake in that game. The older I get, the more I wonder about the judging of many of these competitions. The recent announcement of two such annual awards left me more bewildered than usual.

    23

    May 14

  • The hidden scandal in photojournalism’s award season

    The award season for photojournalism is upon us, like the Oscars or the Grammies. Unlike in the cases of those televised awards, the commentary will not likely focus on who attended which awards ceremony with who as their date. Nor will their be much commentary on the costumes worn, since nearly all the competitors will be dressed in black, the artist’s de rigueur clothing. If the last few year’s post-award scandals are any indication, the commentary will likely focus on digital manipulation, a topic certainly of importance. But, I am guessing the scandal-of-the-month club will again miss the real scandal in the world of photojournalism.

    28

    Feb 14

  • Looking at web sites

    Many photographers ask me to look at their web sites to give them feedback. When I review web sites, I think back to when my web site was reviewed by someone in a position of authority. His review reshaped my web site and still influences how I look at web sites. This podcast explores that initial review, which serves as a springboard for me to look at a series of other web-sites.

    19

    Feb 14

  • Another round of morality vs greatness

    At this moment, part of our collective cultural discussion is focused once again on the question, “should the personal life of a creative person impact how we judge their work?” Over time, the moral failings of certain creative geniuses have been viewed according to a different moral code. This is not a new question by any stretch, though, in my mind, it has taken an interesting turn recently. The accusations of child molestation against Woody Allen is the most obvious case, but I am actually more interested in the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

    14

    Feb 14

  • What I love about handmade photographs

    I am a professional photographer making images that are used in publications and as stock photography, so that 99% of my work is used in print and/or on-line. Virtually none of my work is likely to end up as some kind of handmade photograph….. Yet, I am also a perennial student of the history of photography and a fan of all things photographic. So, I am interested in handmade photographs, even if I am not making them. Thinking about this seeming contradiction prompted me to write this blog.

    17

    Jan 14

  • Road trip road tips

    My daughter is setting off on her semester abroad in college. She chose not to go on a college-sponsored program in some sunny and warm spot, where she might be surrounded by other American college students. Instead, she chose to enroll in a university in the chilly, damp and often gloomy U.K., to follow her passion, costume design for the theatre. Needless to say, I am very proud of her adventurous spirit.

    10

    Jan 14

  • Clearly crossing a fuzzy line

    Last week I blogged about intellectual property in general and the theft of photographs in particular. The line between the borrowing of ideas and concepts, verses actual stealing of intellectual property can occasionally be fuzzy. But the thefts I was writing about were clearly over that line. In writing that blog, I was prompted to think about my own borrowing/appropriating/reusing.

    03

    Jan 14

  • I was wrong but they are even more wrong

    Throughout my career as a commercial photographer, I have had a fairly consistent attitude about copyright theft (and its impact on my imagery.) This was based on my world-view of the photography market and my ability to realistically respond/control that. A recent experience has shown me that my attitude was, to put it bluntly, wrong.

    31

    Dec 13

  • A GREAT question

    A former student of mine, who has gone on to great accomplishment, wrote me with a GREAT question. My answer was be used on his blog page, but I thought it was such a good question that I am cross posting it on my page as well.

    06

    Dec 13

  • Is Gene Smith turning in his grave?

    I write this entry in mid-May in a pretty agitated state of mind.  I am posting this in September because posting it in May might have burnt a bridge for me professionally.  I also wanted to see if the anger I felt back in May subsided.  It has not and so I am burning a bridge now.

    27

    Sep 13

  • Four minute travelogue to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

    In August of 2012, I traveled across the Indian state of Gujarat. As I went I gathered video clips, which I made into this short, four minute travelogue. Click to find out about my next photo workshop in India!

    18

    Sep 13

  • Three minute travelogue across Northern India

    In March of 2013, I traveled across Northern India leading a photo workshop. As I went I gathered video clips, which I made into this short, three minute travelogue. Click to find out about my next photo workshop in India!

    14

    Aug 13

  • Seven Questions You Should Ask Every Accomplished Photographer

    I have been taking photographs for almost four decades—mostly for money and always for myself. Over those forty years, I have slowly figured out what I wanted to ask the many photographers I encountered along the way.  I have distilled this down to a list of questions that I would ask any photographer, knowing that the answers will help any photographer.

    02

    Aug 13

  • Finland? Finland!

    I spent the first two weeks of June teaching a photo-essay class to university students in Finland. When I started the class, I was worried if it would go well. I have a hard time working with college students, since most of them don’t want to speak out in class, out of fear of “sticking out from the crowd.” Since those same students were Finnish, a notoriously shy people, it had all the makings of a train wreck. I am thrilled to say it turned out much better than I expected.

    28

    Jun 13

  • How a liberal arts education saved my career again and again

    College graduation season is upon us and with it discussions about the importance of educating young people for the so called “jobs of the future.”  With a daughter half way through college, I have plenty to worry about in terms of her future. Yet I am here to make a last stand for a liberal arts education, the one thing that has saved my career again and again.

    07

    Jun 13

  • How fabricated images ruin my work

    Another controversy is erupting in the world of photojournalism. The image that won World Press Photo of the Year 2012 is starting to look like it was HIGHLY manipulated or an outright composite. Though I no longer work as a photojournalist, I have been following this (and other recent image manipulation) controversies closely because it directly impacts my own work.

    17

    May 13

  • Photography as a second language

    With graduation season upon us, thousands of photographers-in-the making will soon be graduating from institutions across the country. The commencement speakers those students would be listening to will be loath to admit it, but getting paid to be a photographer is dying as a career option and it is clearly time for a new paradigm in the business of photography.

    10

    May 13

  • Rochester takes down another photojournalist

    The annual winners of the prestigious photojournalism contests are starting to be announced. Another photojournalist has got himself stuck in a controversy, largely of his own making. One upside is that this is one of those old fashioned ethical controversies where digital image manipulation had NOTHING to do with it. One downside to commenting on that is that I have indirect ties to a few of the players so I might appear to have a conflict of interest. I also thought that those ties gave me an unusual position to speak from in terms of the controversy.

    01

    Mar 13

  • New Bollywood Satirized work from Annu Palakunnathu Matthew

    Annu Palakunnathu Matthew (my wife) has created new work in her series Bollywood Satirized, work that she describes as “…a critical commentary on the societal expectations that I experienced as a woman growing up in India.” The work is going up outside, on the walls in Bangalore, India, to riff on the Bollywood posters she is satirizing. This video shows the process of displaying work that was made recently in response to the horrific Delhi rape.

    20

    Feb 13

  • Cafe Coffee Day vs Starbucks (advice to Howard Schultz)

    People who know me are aware that I don’t drink alcohol, be it wine, beer or hard liquor. I do love my coffee though. In fact, am something of a “specialty coffee” junky (as the marketing types call it.) Starbucks will soon be opening locations across India, expanding into a country and culture that I know relatively well. I am rooting for Starbucks to change the India specialty coffee market, but not for the reasons you might expect.

    01

    Feb 13

  • Day to day India, part two

    I am continuing my time in India, most recently hosting some old friends from Brazil as well as my daughter (and her friend.) As we have been taking them around, I have been again paying attention to the advice, warnings and cultural highlights I have shared with them. I recently blogged about some of those same things and this blog entry is ANOTHER collection of advice to anyone considering visiting India, including people in my future workshops in India.

    18

    Jan 13

  • Day to day India

    I am about half way through a six month adventure in South Asia. I am going to be leading more photography workshops to India in the future, including ones in February and December of 2013. Both of these realities prompted me to pay attention to the day to day routines I encounter (and practice) in India, in order to share them with readers of this blog and future workshop attendees coming to India.

    11

    Jan 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part two)

    In last week’s blog entry I parsed an e-mail from a “soon-to-be graduate” The two questions that he raised were: “…what are your favorite aspects of your work” and “…how someone could break into a field like this.” I suggested the real question to ask and answer was “…what are your least favorite aspects of your work.” I answered that question last week so now I can turn to the “…how someone could break into a field like this.”

    04

    Jan 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part one.)

    With a subject line like the title above, how could I not reply to the e-mail that recently came in from a “soon-to-be graduate” and how could I not turn my reply it into a blog? I have been sitting on this for awhile trying to figure out how to answer without turning into some cranky old man talking about the ”good old days.”

    28

    Dec 12

  • Seeing further into the Old and New India

    After I wrote about my experience recently about going back and forth between the “old” and “new” India, a reader asked: “Can the majority of India’s young people, who live in the old India look into the new India and imagine a place for themselves?” I kept that question in mind as I continued traveling around India and this week’s blog entry is a round about way of considering that question.

    14

    Dec 12

  • The Old and New India

    I write this in the midst of a road trip photographing in different parts of India.  The fact that India is changing rapidly is a truism. That I could so easily move back and forth between what I think of as the old and the new India on this trip, that was fascinating

    23

    Nov 12

  • Why go pro

    In a recent blog, I wrote about my experience presenting my work to a group of photographers in New Delhi (India.) I was particularly interested in figuring out which concerns are unique to Indian photographers and which are universal among photographers. This week, I am thinking about a universal question I get no matter where in the world speak, which is “how do I become a professional photographer.” Pondering that question among Indians made me wonder if something about their experience, their culture and their economy might spur a uniquely Indian answer.

    19

    Oct 12

  • Questioning the insider vs outsider perspective

    My wife and I presented our work to a group of photographers in New Delhi recently. We built our presentation around John Szarkowski’s idea that (broadly) photographs are either Mirrors and Windows (as in mirrors of the author or windows into other people, places or things.) It was of course fun. But it also got me thinking about photography, culture and a whole mix of other questions which naturally led to a blog entry.

    12

    Oct 12

  • The motor-less fishermen of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

    Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan sits at the intersection of three volcanoes and is sacred to the indigenous people who depend on the lake. Life on the lake moves at a different pace, which is what I am exploring in this podcast as I show the practices of the motor-less fishermen of Lake Atitlan.

    12

    Sep 12

  • Judging the Wedding Photojournalism competition

    I was recently asked to to be one of four judges to pick the winners in the quarterly competition of the The Wedding Photojournalist Association. As I was looking at the work, I was reminded how I had judged the same competition six years ago, before I was blogging regularly. During this round of judging, I was keeping notes to share with the organization and the competitors. Naturally, I thought of turning those notes into this blog entry.

    24

    Aug 12

  • Antigua Holy Week

    The Holy Week rituals performed in Antigua, Guatemala (preceding Easter) are a feast for the eyes and ears (as well as for the nose and taste buds.) To witness such acts of devotion is to partake of a long standing ritual that is as relevant and magical as ever.

    05

    Apr 12

  • Singapore suggests

    In January I spent three weeks in Asia, mostly in Singapore. As always it was a stimulating trip on many levels. The food was great, the company equally good and the workshops were a blast. I have been trying to put a bit of distance between myself and that experience. I want to figure out which parts were really important and blog-worthy (and which parts were fun when they happened but don’t have much long term meaning.) I do this because unlike some bloggers, if I write about something to soon after it happens, I usually emphasize the wrong thing.

    02

    Mar 12

  • The all important copyright registration process

    The NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) has a great tag line they used to use with many of their promotions that goes “Our Images Are Our Legacy.” I believe that same idea applies to all kinds of photographers, not just photojournalists belonging to the NPPA. (I would argue that this idea is true for any creative practitioner who wants their work to be their legacy.)

    09

    Dec 11

  • 9/11 changed the world (of photography)

    The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 has come and gone. I listened to, watched and read many of reports on the commemorations. I was equally interested to read the many commentaries exploring the long-term impact of those horrible events on our nation and on the world. Throughout that process, I never read a commentary that explored the way that 9/11 has impacted the world of photography. With that in mind, this week I will explore my reaction to the events of 9/11 as a blogger/photographer.

    16

    Sep 11

  • Italian, time

    During a recent trip to Italy, I was captivated by many things from the food, to the culture, to the landscape. I was also struck by the pace of the trip itself, which was a mix of frenetic periods interspersed with calm days. With that in mind, I made this podcast, exploring my complete experience.

    13

    Jul 11

  • Memory and photographs in the “twice promised” land

    I am winding up my time in Israel and the West Bank. Having spent time in both places, I can safely say I am more confused then ever. So much so, that I will not be blogging about the politics of the conflict. I am not sure I can add anything to what is already a very heated and complex debate. I will be blogging this week about the one topic that I can speak about comfortably, photography. I want to think out loud about the interesting role that images and memory play for both “sides” here. My thinking is derived from my recent experiences here, my years working here as a photojournalist and my larger interest in the history of photography.

    27

    May 11

  • Senses, memory (and photography)

    I am about half way through a two-week trip to Israel. I am here photographing (duh,) touring, visiting and helping Annu with her project photographing three generations of women (in this case Israelis.) Because I have spent so much time here (living full-time and visiting for long stretches,) I sort of know the place. On the other hand I have not been here in eleven years, so many things have changed. As I am walking around, photographing, things seem vaguely familiar yet… Since arriving, I have tried hard to analyze my reaction to being here again. Photography is clearly at the core of my memories of this place, but so are other senses.

    20

    May 11

  • In the eye of the beholder

    As photographers we all make images, (duh.) By making and sharing those images, we also shape how others perceive the subjects that we photograph. I was thinking about this over the last few months as I was traveling in the U.S.A and around Asia, (where I am writing from.) While I was in New York City, particularly Times Square, I crystallized my ideas into this blog entry. I am starting to understand (and worry about) the ongoing cycle of how images become part of our perception, which further shapes the next imagery, which shapes the subsequent perception.

    25

    Mar 11

  • Noticing gestures

    It may be because of the extreme winter cold in New England that has been keeping me inside. Or it may be the time spent unpacking our stuff in the new house we recently bought. Or it may be the long hours at the computer catching up after six weeks on the road. Whatever the reason, I keep thinking back to the warm days and interesting experiences I had in December and January while traveling in Asia. Gestures, of all strange things, keep coming to mind when I think about that trip.

    18

    Feb 11

  • Lessons from six weeks on the road

    Six weeks on the road, ping-ponging between the first and third world left me with lots of time to think. As I moved between Singapore, being the former and India/Vietnam, being the latter, I kept a running notepad of lessons I “learned” this trip. Learned is relative. What really happened was that during one long, twelve hour car ride, I had the opportunity and inclination to write down and flush out some important lessons I had learned in bits and pieces during hundreds of previous journeys to a myriad of places.

    27

    Jan 11

  • Singapore musings

    I just finished up a series of workshops in Singapore.  Throughout the ten days I was there, I jotted down notes, which were little musings that popped into my head based on things that caught my attention.  As I was leaving Singapore (for Vietnam,) the various notations reached a kind of a critical mass and so I am sitting down during my first few days in Ho Chi Minh City and writing this blog entry.

    24

    Dec 10

  • They plan on eating our lunch

    Normally, I try really hard to stay away from political commentary in this blog. Partly out of fear of offending readers of divergent political views. Mostly though, I am afraid that I have nothing else to add of any value to the discussion of the day. This week was one of those rare times where the fates came together and I feel perfectly comfortable writing what looks like, on first glance, a politically focused blog entry. The astute reader will follow this piece to its conclusion to see how it relates to many of the ongoing themes I blog about (probably too often.)

    11

    Dec 10

  • India and Singapore, Singapore and India

    Coming back from Singapore to India, I ran smack into a reminder of how efficient Singapore is and how far India has to go to catch up. This blog has nothing to do with photography per se, but everything to do with culture, progress, social change, etc. If that is of interest, read on. If not join me again in a few days.

    30

    Jul 10

  • Indian odds and ends

    My time in Calcutta, India, has ended and I am now in Bengaluru, (formerly Bangalore,) with my wife’s family. Considering how bad the weather is in the U.S. right now, I am particularly pleased to be here where it is warm and dry, working in familiar territory. This trip to India has been a bit of a whirlwind, with five-day stops in both Chennai (formerly Madras) and Kolkatta (formerly Calcutta.) Now I am starting a longer stay in Bengaluru. All this moving about has left me with bits and pieces of things to think about, which will make up this blog entry.

    28

    Dec 09

  • Singaporeans and Creativity

    I just finished classes in Singapore and India, two countries that could not appear to be more different. In Singapore I taught evening seminars, while in India, I taught a class over four days on “light, shadow, twilight and night.” Regardless of length, all the classes were journeys of sorts, physical and/or intellectual. On all of these “trips,” I was accompanied by different groups of Singaporean photographers. Working in such divergent countries, just a few days apart, got me thinking.

    18

    Dec 09

  • The “Pogo,” a very useful and very portable printer

    This podcast introduces you to the “Pogo,” a very useful and very portable printer..

    16

    Dec 09

  • China vs India: Politically, photographically and especially briefly

    A week in China is hardly enough time to see much of anything, let alone make any kind of serious analysis.  So what I am writing is not remotely all-encompassing.  Still, I have been to India enough times and traveled enough in the developing world to be able to make a few reasonably well-informed comparisons.

    22

    May 09

  • What kind of tools do I use and why? (Part one)

    I am finishing up a great workshop in Guatemala, which has been both fun and also challenging.  As photographers, we had some in depth discussions about problems that we had to resolve so we could make our photographs, discussions which I thought would interest other photographers. (This is the first of two entries on what kind of tools I use.)

    03

    Apr 09

  • Cross-cultural understanding and photography

    I write this at the start of my trip to Guatemala. This is the seventh or eighth time I have been here. When I can, I prefer to visit a place more than once so I can better understand the local culture, see how that changes over time, and of course photograph. Waking up in another country prompted me to think about what I have learned about working in different cultures, which might help other photographers who are planning to do the same.

    27

    Mar 09

  • Does National Public Radio hate photography?

    One of the many great things about listening regularly to National Public Radio (NPR) is their extensive coverage of the arts and culture. They carry numerous freestanding shows (and have numerous reporters/hosts) exploring different aspects of culture and the arts. They usually end each hour of their major daily broadcasts with a report on some aspect of arts and culture.  So why is their a yawning gap in their coverage when it comes to photography?

    06

    Mar 09

  • Guatemalan Bus Station

    This photography podcast uses images and audio to take the viewer on an informative, visual journey into part of life in Guatemala.

    08

    Oct 08

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