Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Artist interview - Miss Julian Grey

Selection from "Looking Glass"
Over the past several decades photography has undergone a massive transformation. Where once it took a certain level of skill and discipline, today's digital camera revolution has created an ubiquitous social tool where skill has been stripped away to allow the contrived vitriol of the masses, clamoring for attention, to create a deep cesspool of visual noise. Harsh, but that is the reality of today.

To rise above this heap of useless imagery, a photographer looking to present themselves as worthy of attention needs to really swim against the current with more guts and gusto than ever before. Miss Julian Grey is such a photographer.

I became aware of Miss Julian, a transgendered, biologically male person who refers to herself as she, through the photography on the net forum a little less than a year ago. I was instantly mesmerized and awed by the images she was posting in the forum. They had a raw quality, at first reminiscent of Robert Mapplethorpe, but with a wholly unique look that has truly become her signature. Her subject... herself.

Selection from "X"
These are by no means the typical self deprecating, duck lipped selfies littering the social media landscape. Not by a long shot. They are a blend of artistic nudes and character explorations with all the subtleties of an experienced portrait photographer. What really caught me was the courage to expose herself  (literally and figuratively) to the camera, baring body and soul for all to judge and reflect upon. They are intriguing, emotional, suggestive and, at times, brutally honest that it is hard to believe these are all done by herself. As a photographer it is difficult to pull such a range of emotion from a subject. It is more impressive to realize she pulled this off from the lens end of the camera. An impressive feat in itself.

I would like to urge you, dear reader, to pause at this moment and take a look through Miss Julian's online portfolio. Her site, xgender.net, contains several galleries divided into themes as her style evolved. It is worth a look.

Since becoming more serious in my photographic path a decade ago I have been searching for some topic strong enough to capture my interest enough to create a long term project. I am still searching. That is why when I see the seeming ease Miss Julian show both as photographer and subject I am more than a little jealous. I long for an impassioned challenge. One that would make the viewer feel something. Maybe it'll come, maybe not. In the meantime I will continue my search and hope that some of Miss Julian's passion and courage will inspire me. I hope that by sharing this her work will inspire you as well.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Decisive Moment - a brief discussion

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932
“Making a photograph means recognising, all at once and in a fraction of a second, an event and the exact organisation of the visually perceived forms that express and signify that event. It means aligning the head, the eye and the heart along the same line of sight. It’s a way of living.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) is credited for the expression, the decisive moment. The image at right, Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, has become one of the most iconic of his images to represent that expression because it succinctly captures, in a single frame, the whole of his teachings. While there have been many discussions both casual and scholarly, like the image at right, his teachings has been oversimplified and distilled down to a short definition that, to me, has lost a lot of its original meaning or, as in some cases, completely missing the mark.

Rather than getting into a lengthy dissertation on what Bresson considered the decisive moment is I thought I would just share some of my ideas about how I interpret it to be. My take is based on my own interpretation of how Henri Cartier-Bresson explains it, which in the context of his book is very little, and in how he used certain techniques to visually represent the decisive moment visually.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Prop collecting is a sickness

It doesn't matter if you are a portrait photographer, a still life photographer or a commercial product photographer, props are an essential part of your world. For the most part props are purchased on an "as needed" basis. Other times it's when opportunity presents itself.

I have come to a point in my career that I subconsciously keep an eye out for items that may be useful as a prop. The funny thing is I never know when or where I'll find them, or what, for that matter.

Recently I was at the supermarket and I happened to walk past a shelf loaded up with those classic mass produced Coca-Cola glasses. As they were on sale and I could always use glasses like these I decided to pick up a set of four... and here is where the sickness starts.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Are cellphone cameras winning the camera war

An ever going argument among professional photographers is how there are, "too many photographers!"

I find it funny because the one thing always missing from this argument is the qualifier of what type of photographer they are ranting about. I've come to believe they are just ranting on the fact that there are so many cameras nowadays that no one needs the professional photographer for the more mundane documentation they were hired for two decades ago.

Cameras, as we all now understand, are quite ubiquitous. We don't need statistics to know that almost everyone has a camera today, but what are the statistics? How far is the tipping point between photos taken by a 'traditional' camera and one taken by a 'cellphone' camera? I thought I'd find out from one place that serves as a one of the world's largest depository of public images, Flickr.

While not the most scientific way of measuring tech usage, it does provide a fairly real world overview of camera usage by 'normal' photo takers. That and the fact that Flickr tracks camera statistics quite nicely and is the source for this post. Let's take a look at the numbers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Light Blaster initial thoughts

The first time I saw a review for the Light Blaster I have to admit I was more than a little intrigued. If you haven't seen or heard of this nifty little gadget yet here's a quick rundown.

The unit itself is a plastic housing that allows you to insert a speedlight into one end and attach a lens onto the other. A standard 2x2 inch 35mm projection slide is inserted in between the two via a special slide carrier. When the flash is triggered the image on the slide is projected on whatever the unit is aimed at.

The downside to the Light Blaster is the price. Starting at $100 for what people would consider a simple plastic shell with a lens mounting ring, the Blaster has a few other accessories that will drive the price up. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on what side of the coin your personal philosophy is on) there is a less expensive clone version of the Blaster made in China by Hpsum. At about $60 it's still pricey but a $40 savings is $40 that can go to something else.

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Artist interview - Miss Julian Grey

Selection from "Looking Glass" Over the past several decades photography has undergone a massive transformation. Where once it...

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