An Ode to Avedon

One of my favorite photographers — not just portrait photographers, but photographers, period — is Richard Avedon. His work, of course, is incredible. But what I might appreciate even more than the work itself is his philosophy and perspective toward photography and portraiture.

Avedon believed that you can’t possibly show or reveal the “trueness” of a person in a single photograph. Instead, you are capturing just a small fragment or piece of that person.

The “truth” is a fallacy. No, it would actually be more accurate to say the “truth” is a construct. A good portrait photographer will come to a session with an idea or concept of what they’re trying to bring out of the subject. The photographer should be trying to show, reveal or elicit a particular response. It’s almost like an orchestration on the part of the photographer, and, in a sense, a performance by his or her subject.

This is not to say that the photograph should be a fabrication. But it is a creation, and it’s a creation rooted in something inside the subject. It’s the photographer’s job to identify that something, and reveal it in a way that’s photographically interesting. The portrait, moreover, is the work and product of the photographer, not the subject, Avedon felt.

So while a good portrait might provide a true glimpse of someone, it’s not “the truth.” There is no single, standalone “truth.”

Richard Avedon in Mabou Mines in 1975 . In response to various media inquiries involving a recently published "memoir" involving Richard Avedon, we would like to say the following: 2017 has generally been a terrible year for truth. . The book in question was written with blithe disregard for fact and is filled with untruths of various kinds. It is clear that it contains an enormous number of errors. Then there are outright inventions, constructed out of whole cloth, some of them incredibly bizarre and macabre, and all of which appear to have been written deliberately to cause harm. It will take time to compile all of the inaccuracies. . Obviously there are betrayals, not the least of which is by a former doctor who chose to divulge a patient's confidential information. But there are others as well, by colleagues and even friends who seem not to understand that while of course they have the freedom of speech, they do not have the right to traduce. It is a sad reminder that we should all be careful about whom we trust. . Conversely, there are sections of the book that plagiarize and violate Dick's own private writings about his early life. . Let us finally say that we respect Dick's personal life and would never comment on his private relationships of any kind over the course of a lifetime. All people deserve that consideration. And his death 13 years ago does not change that. . We will continue to address these matters in the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, despite the above, we remain grateful for all of the good things in our lives, including Dick's amazing art and archive, and the memory of the person he actually was. . We wish you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving. Be well.

Art I'm thankful for this year

[In no particular order]

Good Time (film)

Blade Runner 2049 (film)

The Disaster Artist (film)

Dunkirk (film)

I, Tonya (film)

A Ghost Story (film)

A Deeper Understanding, by the War on Drugs (music)

Pure Comedy, by Father John Misty (music)

Cry Cry Cry, by Wolf Parade (music)

Damn, by Kendrick Lamar (music)

Hot Thoughts, by Spoon (music)

Sleep Well Beast, by The National (music)

Songs of Experience, by U2 (music)

Loney Dear, by Emil Svanängen (music)

Stranger Things 2 (tv)

Apple Watch Series 3 (tech)

Tesla Model 3 (tech) 

Larry Sultan exhibit at SF MOMA (photography)

My photography

My friends' photography

My music 

[]

Tomorrow is a departure // a trip to Yosemite // and the larger, Sierra Nevada // mountain range region.

A safe base in Mammoth Lakes, with only 1 camera and lens, to physically take // my Nikon f3.

On the agenda, is an old west Ghost town // with a literal connection to inspire // to make.

Film to be used: Ektar 100, Portra 400, Portra 160 ... Kodak Tri-X.

There are things to capture // of this season's end // and the end of golden disasters.

Coming back to film

I love film. Yes, it has a look that you can't get with digital. But the process of shooting film is also a beautiful thing. It connects you more intimately with the camera and your pictures, forcing you to think more about each shot, before you hit the shutter. And because each shot is precious, it makes you much more careful as a photographer.

There are so many reasons I can expound upon why film is better than digital. But I'm not going to do that here, right now. I probably wouldn't be saying anything that hasn't been said before.

No, this post is going to be a bit more specific to me. So far there have been two periods in my life when I've shot on film. And it seems now I'm entering into a third period that could take me anywhere.

When I was in college I made a short film on black & white 16mm, for a filmmaking course. It was an awesome experience and taught me a lot around the technical fundamentals of photography.

The film, called A Joint Effort, was set in a dystopian future reality, where much of humankind has been wiped out by ... ambiguous forces. 

Nearly all of the film I shot in an abandoned ship yard in my hometown in Norwalk, Connecticut. I remember one afternoon shooting b-roll of the empty warehouses and buildings with the spring-wound Bolex 16mm camera, figuring out the shutter speed and aperture with my light meter, and loving it. 

The final finished movie is not exactly amazing, but the experience of shooting and directing it, with my friends and sister, is one I will always cherish.  

Then a few years ago, I got back into film, purely as a photographer. I bought a Pentax K1000 35mm camera at a local photography festival, and shot a few rolls around SF. I also used the camera for a couple portrait projects. A couple of the photos appearing in the portrait section of this site were shot on film with that camera. (Can you guess which ones?)

Then I put shooting on film on hiatus for a bit. I'm not really sure why. I still loved that Pentax K1000, and when I moved into my new apartment, I put the camera in a prominent place on my mantel. 

Now, since launching this site, I've come back to film. The other week, I bought another Pentax K1000, but one that puts that earlier Pentax to shame. It's got a beautiful brown leather casing, it's in better condition, and has a faster, sharper lens that excels in low-light conditions.

I've only been using it a couple days now, and it's been an absolute joy to shoot with. Beyond its looks, what I probably like most about it is its shutter sound. It's got a nice crisp clap that, well, you simply don't hear much on the streets anymore these days. :)

I'm very much looking forward to getting these pictures developed, and taking many more with it! 

 

 

 

Hello, site visitors!

This is merely an introduction, and by that I mean a first blog post. As a first post, this is probably going to be horrible.

I'm writing this before even launching this site. I'm still trying to finesse the portfolio, and pick the right photos that fit into a unified theme, and yet still encompass a range, and are not boring.

Moreover, I'm trying to present some of my best photos here, that I hope will resonate with people.

Okay, I think that's all I've got time to write at the moment. Pizza's in the oven.

z