A One-Person, Self-Contained System

“When you are twenty years old and the photography instructor begins lecturing on form versus content, or that a photograph cannot tell a story, or that there are no rules of composition, or that things are changed when you photograph them, or that a photographic print is an interpretation of the world by a camera, or that he didn’t develop his film for months or years after he shot it; things can get philosophical and confusing pretty quickly… After seeing Garry shoot on the streets for the first time, I instantly realized that his print critique used the exact same technique as his shooting: confront, judge, capture and comment.) No one could size up a print in 1/500 like Garry.’



“Vivian Maier makes me cry.”

More exciting news about another book from Richard Cahan.


Your N. T. A. W. Is Now

From an op-ed piece by Charles M. Blow:

“As Albert Einstein once said: ‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school'” and “She showed me what a great teacher looked like: proud, exhausted, underpaid and overjoyed.”


Deep Background on Duke Ellington





Team Vivian Update

The folks at the Gray Lady admits they’re playing catch-up regarding the saga of Vivian Maier, but they’re making up for that with a brace of posts. As promised last year, we’ve/they’ve only begun to scratch the surface of negatives in the newly processed film.




Pick Sunday’s NYT for the Magazine feature.

(Kelly, did you get a badge?)

The Hamilton College Jazz Archive

Here is an exemplary archive of interviews with musicians who are gone, and who still walk amongst us. Monk Rowe, and some others (who should be canonized) assembled an admirable collection of recordings that preserve big chunks of Americana.

First, familiarize yourself with, oh, for instance, Clark Terry and Joe Williams, if  you need to, on wikipedia; then watch these:



…finally, seek them out on http://elib.hamilton.edu/hc/hc-main.php?id=col_jaz&c=jaz_a

This is our culture, not Herman’s Hermits or Sam the Sham or John Denver. Learn it and absorb it. It’s still alive, and it will nourish you.

P.S. One could easily lose a weekend at this site; fair warning.

Joe: My “Uncle,” Your “Grandfather”

“Avuncular” is the word to describe Joseph Jachna these days. He was the student of Harry and Aaron at the Institute of Design who, upon earning his M.S., filled the faculty position that became available when Callahan left for RISD (does this read like code for you? connect the dots), then went on to head the program at UIC; he was there for over thirty years.

I went to Mr. Jachna’s retrospective exhibit last month at College of Du Page on the day he appeared to speak. I introduced myself to him and to curatrix Barb Wiesen in the hall some minutes before the event; after chatting for a bit, she invited me to sit with them in the auditorium. I held up my blueberry scone and reminded them I work in a high school and was conditioned not to bring food into the auditorium; Jachna reached over, put his hand inside my open jacket, and suggested I smuggle. Then he went on to compare the current, um, high-key nature of both our beards.

The free-form “lecture” began with Jachna’s statement about his work, making it clear that he was drawn to certain optics that are particularly photographic in nature and to ways of working that are rich with picture-making opportunities. He was self-deprecating to a degree, and he used wry expressions that were clearly well-honed, but one thing he would not do was to let any of the questioners put words in his mouth; rather than agree with a characterization or repeat anyone’s phrase, the closest he would come was to allude to the phrase in question as the speaker’s own, then to direct attention back to the work. He is absolutely clear in his own mind about intellectual rigor and about the role of serendipity in his work.

If it is true, as I maintain, that if my teachers were students of Siskind and Callahan, and therefore those two are your photographic great-grandfathers, then Joe Jachna is some sort of forefather to you, and you can only benefit from familiarity with his work.

Finite Memory

I remember exposures and development details of specific negatives (f/16, 1/4 second, handheld):

I remember the venues in which I saw certain films (e.g. the Granada, “The Grateful Dead Movie,” for an unconscionable-at-the-time five dollars).

I remember the smell of 620 Verichrome Pan wrappers & discharged #5 flashbulbs, and the sound the bulbs made.

I remember Miles at the Quiet Knight, when he first went electric.

I remember Duke Ellington and Paul Gonsalves at Harper, in the last month of their lives.

I remember what Thelonious said to me.

I remember walking up Wells Street with Mingus, in search of cookies.