Aaron Siskind’s Own Distillations


“When you make a picture by yourself… and you look at it, just looking at it is one thing and then when you show it in class for other people to see, it’s something else. Sometimes, the pleasure from the picture disappears completely, the meaning of the picture, the value of the picture. Then when you take that same group of pictures and you put it up in a public place, it is something else again. The picture is being given a trial at various stages; it is being tested. You see it differently; you see it on the wall; you see it more in relation to other pictures, or you think about it in that way. So that there are various conditions under which you see it. In the book it is different, too. So all these conditions will arouse different kinds of thought, different kinds of feeling. Hell, what else do you want from a picture.”


“We don’t know what photography is. Photography is what people make it. All it is is just a matter of definition and a definition is merely a matter of convenience. Any statement of what photography is always comes after the photography has been done, it doesn’t come before. So the definition to a large extent is determined by the practice, and I think it is too early to say you can do this, you can do that, and you can’t do the other thing.People are trying to protect their little area and it is a lot of nonsense. Sometimes the motivations are clean and clear and other times they are not. You use whatever you can or you use whatever people around you are using, so that they can understand what you are doing. Nobody make photography by themselves; it is all made in groups. People are influenced by each other. All of these statements about what is right and what is wrong about photography is a wrong way to approach it. Then again, it is what is meaningful, what is beautiful, what is exciting, what is esoteric, what realizes certain ideas you have—ideas of forms and so forth. Those are the things that matter. And in the end what matters is the pleasure you get out of it. Not fun-pleasure, but deep-pleasure.After all, art is not necessary; it is an ornament.It is something else, something that flows out of the civilized parts of our nature. You can live without it, but you live much better with it.”



The Illusion of Control

There’s been talk of a sequel to the film “Groundhog Day” which would be simply the same movie, re-released. Good one. Today this image appeared on every other weblog I “visited:” tumblr_ni5fpzoX3H1qe0lqqo1_500

It’s a strong image by Thomas Vandenberghe, a dentist in Sandy, Utah (which seems to be an intense, but relatively tiny, hotbed of photography). One guy posted it, and at least two others re-posted before I did, so I guess it’s de rigeur–for today, anyway. More to the point, though, is the drama that unfurled over a couple of days earlier this week regarding  appropriating images from the inter webs. We all realize that whatever one posts on fbook or linked in technically becomes the property of those operations, and no one seems to care; but check out this calamity that existed for a few days. http://enthusiasms.org/post/107730116071 http://blakeandrews.blogspot.com/2015/01/thoughts-on-mpd.html http://blakeandrews.blogspot.com/2015/01/status-back-baby.html You thought that was lot? Now order in, and scroll through 4700 pages of http://mpdrolet.tumblr.com and http://quickguide.tumblr.com/post/39780378703/backing-up-your-tumblr-blog-to-wordpress

Ray Metzker’s Prescience

The artist who proclaimed that he was “married to silver” had his finger on the pulse of camera work, so very early on. (However  impressed one may be with the legibility of my penmanship during that era, a transcript appears below.)


10/15/80 — Ray’s lecture, “Something Else,” in the horrible new auditorium: Some perceivable trends are characterized by the electronic media making older, slower processes look outmoded and unwieldy; a constant flow of information turning folks into junkies; need for instant gratification and shortening of attention spans caused by the above. There is a predominance of shallow formalism and nihilistic modernism. One can choose, or not (Ray does) to believe in more — humanism, a spiritual life, whatever — which informs good work. Talk like this can sound awfully pretentious before showing one’s work, but it’s important to put everything on the line, to test the work and the artist. Ray admits to influences by, or at least a great interest in, Matisse, and sculptor Robert Hudson.

I Don’t Sell Stuff Here

…but I know a few people who should be aware that this garment exists and is available, somewhere.


Katie is on top again!






An Audio Snapshot

Today on the Brown Line:

“Is that a film camera?”

“Why, yes, it is.”

Do you know about this woman… who…”


“Right, right.”


105 Years Ago At The ‘Tute


W. o’ W.: Nobuyoshi Araki


…from his statement at the selection meeting for the Canon New Cosmos Award Grand Prize:

“Looking at the entries made me think that photography might be finished.

Overall, I didn’t feel that there was much love for or homage to the subjects. Photographs shouldn’t project your own image, they should pay homage to the subject. There didn’t seem to be any identification with the subjects, and I wondered why the subjects hadn’t been depicted more beautifully.

The raw emotions of the artists don’t come across in the photographs. It’s as though the sweaty relationship between photographers and subjects has disappeared. The pictures aren’t even cool. They feel a bit a cold, a bit dry.

I think all this is a result of the shift to digital photography. Many of the entries highlight the way digital photography has changed how people take pictures. In the film era, the camera was so close to the photographer’s face that it almost became an eye. But the digital cameras of today are nothing more than objects. So when I said “finished,” I meant that with the world moving to digital, photographic expression as our generation knew it is finished.

Nevertheless, this might not be something to feel sad about. This new era has arrived, and it might be what the New Cosmos of Photography had always been aiming for. Perhaps these cold and dry pictures will get hotter in the future.”


Dust Is Bitten Again

“After 75 years of business it is with a heavy heart that we announce our immediate closing in the United States (our European stores will continue). It has been a joy to share our passion for photography with you all of these years. We’ll miss each other and we’ll miss all of our customers. Thank you for everything.”

Happy Birthday, Ornette Coleman!

Ornette Coleman Jazz

Born in 1930.