Happy New Year!
May rainbows be under your feet, above your head, inside your heart. May you walk in peace, savoring every moment and daring to be your very best self.
I apologize for being so lax in posting photos for the past week. It wasn't the holidays that got to me, but the unending challenges of preparing an edit of my "Falling Into Place" self portrait project for inclusion in the new Burn online magazine. My god, what a nightmare. But it's done now so I can finally get on with my life.
Our world is in a sorry state as 2008 comes to an end. How I wish we humans/nations would find nonviolent ways to express our anger and frustration. May 2009 bring peace to our world's people and respect for our planet and its creatures. We must find new ways of existing together.
mother & child
This photo will speak to different people in different ways. For some it will conjure up visions of the infant Jesus whom they say was born in a bail of straw 2008 years ago today. For others it will be a sweet reminder of the birth of their own children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and friends. For many of our world's people it will touch a deep sadness as they remember those they loved who are no longer. For parents-to-be it may fill them with anticipation and fear all mixed together. For those who wanted but never had children, it might bring forth an involuntary sigh. For others it will simply be a ho-hum picture that leaves them cold.
But for me, the photographer, this photo conjures up memories of a hot Labor Day weekend in Detroit when tens of thousands of adults and children gathered at Hart Plaza on the riverfront to listen to musicians blow, strum, pick, beat, sing and play their way around the jazz, blues, pop, Motown, Gospel and rock music we love. It makes me smile.
To all who see the Christ child in this photo I send wishes for a joyful celebration of Christmas. To those who recall the birth of loved ones, may your memories be sweet. To all who mourn, may you find peace and comfort. To those who are looking forward to the birth of a baby, may all go well. To those who regret not having had a child, may you discover and celebrate the generative energy you've manifested in your work and relationships. For those who find nothing in this photo, may some other photographer's image fill you with life. And to those who were with me at Detroit's International Jazz Festival in 2008, let us do whatever we can to insure that live music thrives in our city even as the recession hits us hard.
A warm welcome to Burn Magazine!
On this longest night of the year, a blazing star has shot into the sky spinning white light and flaming ideas into the cosmos. The star's name is "Burn Magazine" and you can visit it by CLICKING HERE
. The brainchild of Magnum photographer, David Alan Harvey, Burn Magazine now exists through his hard work, that of our gifted photographer/web designer Anton Kusters, and the collaboration of a host of other photographers, many of whom flew to David's Brooklyn loft last weekend from points north, south, east and west. Here is what David posted "About Burn Magazine" on the website:
burn was launched as an online magazine/journal on December 21, 2008 and is a spinoff of my blog “Road Trips” which I started in December of 2006. The intent then and now is to provide a platform for emerging photographers both online and in print. This comes from a lifetime of mentoring photographers. I started teaching photographic workshops a year after I took one myself at the Universtiy of Missouri Workshop. I was a student at 21 and was teaching at 22.
My whole philosophy of teaching and mentoring is based on the theory that I will be of most value to emerging photographers because I am very much a working photographer. I am constantly creating books for myself, planning exhibitions, printing for collectors, proposing and shooting magazine assignments, and do the occasional advertising shoot. Because of this NOW experience , it is quite easy for me to relate to the world of younger photographers who may benefit from my editing and expertise, yet know full well that I struggle with the environs of a fickle publishing world as do they.
burn is not a finished product. burn will not be the same tomorrow as it is today. Evolution and revolution are my keywords for living the photographic life. In an ever fast changing world for photographers and writers, my goal here is to be at the forefront of change and to provide an outlet for emerging photographers, and perhaps established photographers as well. So many speak of tough times ahead. I see opportunity. In my career lifetime, I have never seen so much opportunity.
burn is born from an educational imperative and to bring strong photographic essays and powerful text to not only photographers, but to anyone fascinated by a visual and literary interpretation of our complex planet. Your interpretations may be either journalistic in nature or esoteric subjective pieces. I hold all artists in high regard. With me as editor/curator you need never think “what does he want or like?” I will push you to do your thing, not mine…
We will do something very special right here on burn. A collaboration between thee and me. Adventure. Always exploring new territory. With YOU as the authors.
Authors of your own destiny.
David Alan Harvey
Come join us! Everyone is invited to this party...
an autumn storm
They keep calling this a "winter storm," but it isn't even winter yet. Be that as it may, when I got up at 8:30 a.m., it sure looked and felt like winter had arrived. And, for once, the forecasters were right on target, even to when they'd predicted the blizzard would start and stop.
At 1 a.m. this morning I'd gone to the weather channel online. "Southeastern Michigan will receive between 6-10 inches/15-25 cm of snow between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m." So what did I do? Left my bedroom, went downstairs, bundled up in my warmest sweater coat, muffler and hat, and went out for a scoot...at 1:20 a.m. I knew with a storm this size, it would be awhile before I'd be out on the roads again. Our town does great snow removal, but with temps staying in the 20s F/6.6 C, it was a pretty good bet the roads would be scooter-unfriendly for at least a week. Not to mention the very real possibility we'd be getting more white stuff in the days to come. The only car I saw was a cop car--we live next door to the police station--and the officer just stopped to be sure I was OK. I told him about my wanting to take one last scoot before the storm and he seemed to understand. So I went to bed dreaming not of a white Christmas but of a plan for taking a fresh-snow self portrait for my "Falling Into Place" book project
This morning, after my dear Eddie had busted his butt shoveling the snow off the ramp, I set up my camera with its cordless shutter release gizmo, placed it on top of four books on the chair by the side window, bundled up again, and went out into the blowing snow and shot a bunch of self portraits. It was way cool!!! Literally. Of course I cannot tell a lie. A neighbor had to come dig me out when I tried to explore beyond the confines of my plowed ramp. Thanks, Bob!
...with every Christmas card I write
Today's title comes from the song, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Well, I suspect that's exacly what we're going to have here in southeastern Michigan. The forecast is for a severe winter storm to hit our area from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. Luckily we've had lots of warning so I did a big grocery shopping today and took care of any errands that needed doing. Now I'm just excited! Snow storms are so cool if you don't have to get out and drive in them. I just hope to find some way to take another snowy self portrait for my "Falling Into Place" book project
. Everything feels like a creative opportunity these days.
Kyle at Subway
Ed eats lunch every day at the Subway down the street from his office. Once a week or so I join him. It's like a family in that place. Actually, much of it IS family. Doris owns the restaurant. Her mother, brother and sister work with her. On weekends her husband Tom comes in to help. And all the young employees become like members of their family, Kyle being one of them. The same customers come in at the same times every day. My Ed at 1:45 p.m., Sam the FedEx deliveryman at 2 p.m., Bill the landscape guy between 1:30 and 2. Even Edsel of the Ford auto family gets subways to go on the weekends. During the week it's filled with students during the two lunch periods at the high school across the street.
Subways may be a franchise but this one, at least, is like a friendly Mom & Pop diner. A neighborhood treasure.
a dancin' fool
Hey, all I need is the right CD, a little space and there I go, dancin' like a fool. God, I love to dance!!!
six months ago today...
This is the very first photo I took for my "Falling Into Place" self portraits project
. I took it six months ago today. Since that time I'd estimate I've taken over 8,000 photos, only 60 of which I consider "keepers," and even some of those could still be cut. But, after seeing this photo--one I'd eliminated right away--I realize I need to go back over all 8,000 with a fresh eye. I suspect there are some keepers hiding in there.
This reminds me of a comment made on his "Road Trips" blog
by David Alan Harvey, the Magnum photographer who's been mentoring me on this project since the start. Regarding the process, when I was one month into it David wrote:
working on a long term project goes something like this:
(a)initial burst of energy and enthusiasm..first pictures...this is the easiest part
(b) a slow down....second guessing, tortured thinking...wondering if it will work out...this is the hardest part
(c) second wind....another burst of energy from out of nowhere..more good work comes...you start to see something really developing
(d) another slowdown...but not as bad as the first....because by this time you will have a pretty good body of work...and this time you must tell yourself you cannot quit..too much at stake by now!!!
(e) your final burst!!! like a runner at the end of a race...last kick!!!! squeeze squeeze squeeze...
(f) knowing you are done...just absolutely done....
(g) time to edit....and then that whole process all over again with editing!!
(h) time to pursue a layout...time to study typography, design, paper, binding...which publishers will work best??
(i) time to "make it happen"...do it..find the publisher, organize an exhibition, seek gallery space...
(j) stay on top of the printing and distribution..make sure it comes off the press as you intended....
(k) opening night....all your friends and family are there...pop a bottle of champaigne!!! make a speech..sign books..enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!
you MUST believe this is all worth it..and i can tell you that it is....but, you must know that this process is totally agonizing as well...you will suffer...you will be elated...you will suffer again and again...you must be happy with the percentages of pain/pleasure....90% pain, 10% pleasure...but that 10% is rare air...a place where very few go...
YOU should go there!!!!
According to David, we're close to the layout/book dummy stage. Not that I'm finished shooting. In fact, he's talking about my continuing to take photos for this project until early summer 2009, but he'd like us to start pulling together a presentation for publishers. And when David Alan Harvey talks about possible publishers he's talking about Aperture, powerHouse, Phaidon and Trolley. He personally knows the top editors or owners--some of whom have published his books--and promises to see to it that they see my work.
I still pinch myself in disbelief that all this is really happening.
self portrait with my "Marathon" painting
Do you get inspired by seeing photo exhibits? I get so turned on I can hardly stand it! On Sunday morning I saw an exhibit that fired me up big time. "In th Company of Artists: Photographs from the Detroit Institute of Arts Collection" is all about portraits, both self and other. The description on the DIA web site says:
Through the photographs of André Kertész, Man Ray, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman and Robert Mapplethorpe discover the lives of famous creative individuals. In the Company of Artists brings together portraits of artists, their families, friends, and surroundings along with writers and musicians and other individuals from artistic and bohemian circles from the late 1890s to present day.
Imagine seeing a candid portrait of Diane Arbus shooting photos at a "love-in" in Central Park, 1969. Or a self portrait of Larry Fink with his young daughter Molly in 1982. Andy Warhol wrapped in a towel wearing a wig and luscious make-up with his ubiquitous tape-recorder sitting in his lap. Yousuf Karsh's darkly haunting portrait of Giacometti surrounded by his elongated sculptures, a photo that was taken just weeks before his death. There must have been over 70 photos in this exhibit, all but two in black & white. Oh my, I salivate over gelatin silver prints! The deep tones. The burnished grain. The subtle contrasts. Yum!!!
So when I got home I called my friend Pat to ask if she could come over yesterday (Monday) to help me take self portraits in front of some of my paintings. We have a wonderful relationship that includes my paying her by the hour to assist me in whatever needs to be done. This time it meant finding and pulling out the specific paintings I had in mind, a tough job since I have hundreds of large watercolor paintings stacked in my art closet. And, of course, the ones I wanted were at the very bottom of the piles! Pat then helped me prop the paintings on top of Ed's mother's hope chest behind me, and brought my tripod upstairs to my studio and set it up at the proper height. As I posed, I used my cordless shutter release to take the pictures. This project took almost two hours, and the photo you see here was one of my favorites. The painting is from the years when I was a runner. It showed the route--abstractly, of course-- that I ran during the 1979 and 1980 Detroit/Windsor International Marathons.
Best viewed in original size.
Isn't it interesting how each of us has our favored subjects? For some it is birds; for others, flowers. Some only see landscapes, while others are drawn to the streets of big cities. And then there are some, like me, who can only see people. I just love people's faces and hands. It doesn't matter where I am, my eye naturally gravitates to the faces around me. Today it was Jon, a Polish-born young man who works at the Subway restaurant where Ed always eats lunch. And this time it was Ed's eye that first saw and remarked upon the artistic structure of John's face. So I have both Ed and Jon to thank for this portrait. I wonder who it will be next?
three young performers with the Hindu Temple Rhythms
Tonight (Saturday) was Detroit's annual Noel Night. We'd had an all-day snow which just made it all the more festive. From 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center Area, over 30 institutions, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Science Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Public Library, the International Institute amongst many others, opened their doors to the public free of charge for this holiday "open house." Activities included horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday shopping, family craft activities and performances by over 70 area music, theatre, and dance groups. When I took this portrait of these three young girls, they were preparing to perform at the International Institute with a group called "Hindu Temple Rhythms."
The organizers expected over 26,000 men, women and children to attend Noel Night and I'd say there were at least that number. A good time was had by all!
wisdom and hope
Mr. Freeman is one of my favorite persons at the Hannan House Senior Learning Center. I've shown you his picture before
but I never tire of photographing this 93 year-old gentleman. I respect him so highly, not just for his wisdom and humor, but for his positive outlook on life. This is the man who lost everything he owned last February in a fire that destroyed his home and porcelain-repair studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has gotten on with his life without a complaint.
When I read my dear friend Dorothy Walters' Kundalini Splendor blog entry
for December 4, it made me think not only of Dorothy--a wise and wonderful 80 year-old spiritual poet--but of Mr. Freeman as well. Here is Dorothy's poem:
Even if You Have Trudged
It is never too late.
Even if you have trudged
through snow and ice
for a thousand miles
and still have not arrived.
Even if the map is lost
and the compass broken.
When the eagle who is
supposed to guide you
goes off on a tangent
of its own
and you know you are,
once again, deserted
do not fall into
the pit of despair.
It will return,
brighter than ever.
There will be feather tokens
Nothing is irredeemable.
Nothing is lost forever.
Be guided by the stars.
Let the moonlight
direct your steps.
There will be a path
which will open
in the forest.
The treasure which is yours
December 4, 2008