A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...

Posts tagged "photography"

Sep 15, 2014

Le Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void); Photomontage by Shunk Kender of a performance by Yves Klein at Rue Gentil-Bernard, Fontenay-aux-Roses, October 1960.

Sep 08, 2014

Henri Cartier-Bresson portraits of Albert Camus in Paris, 1944

Sep 01, 2014

"Vintage" selfies, grabbed from Google Image search.

Aug 20, 2014

Contact Sheets

After seeing Vivian Maier’s film rolls, I’ve been pawing around online, looking at other photographer’s contact sheets. (The biggest treasure trove is this book of Magnum Contact Sheets — and several of the sheets above came from the site Chasing Light.)

What is a contact sheet?

The contact sheet, a direct print of a roll or sequence of negatives, is the photographer’s first look at what he or she has captured on film, and provides a uniquely intimate glimpse into their working process. It records each step on the route to arriving at an image—providing a rare behind-the-scenes sense of walking alongside the photographer and seeing through their eyes.

Going behind-the-scenes sort of breaks the mythology of photography:

No document gives greater insight into how a photographer shoots and edits than a contact sheet—the direct print, from a roll or negatives, where a film photographer often first sees her work, grease pencil in hand, and marks her best frames. […] “The contact sheet spares neither the viewer nor the photographer,” Martine Franck writes… “By publishing that which is most intimate, I am taking the very real risk of breaking the spell, of destroying a certain mystery.”

Photographers, of course, don’t always like the evidence of their process:

“It’s generally rather depressing to look at my contacts,” Elliott Erwitt [says.] “One always has great expectations, and they’re not always fulfilled.” Henri Cartier-­Bresson, a Magnum founder, so hated the idea of someone pawing through his outtakes that he once bragged about throwing out his negatives “in the same way as one cuts one’s nails.”

And in the digital age, of course, contact sheets don’t really exist…

Related reading: 10 Things Street Photographers Can Learn From Magnum Contact Sheets


Rolls of Vivian Maier’s film

From the documentary, The Vivian Maier Mystery:

With her Rolleiflex, she had just twelve shots and then had to reload the film. Not easy in the open air. She shot about a roll of film a day. She spent virtually all her earnings on film, equipment, and storage. Unlike most photographers, Vivian tended to take just one shot and move on. Her hit rate was phenomenal.

When the Chicago History Museum had a show of her work, they displayed prints of her rolls of film. Here’s Michael Williams, author of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, on what you can learn from looking at them:

This is a roll of film and the order in which they were taken. It’s kids getting on a bus in the morning for school. She drops them off and then she heads Downtown and she starts photographing. You really get this sense of a day in a life… or her diary here and you can see how she moves through the street. If you put it all in a row, you would see one woman’s life unfolding on film…you’d have an unbroken string of images of what she saw, what her experiences were. This is what her big project was. It was her life. It was experiencing life through photography.

Filed under: photography, Vivian Maier

(Top image via a post at The Online Photographer)

Aug 17, 2014

A Vivian Maier Primer

I’ve yet to watch the the BBC’s The Vivian Maier Mystery or Finding Vivian Maier, but, of course, since she’s an artist who didn’t show her work during her lifetime and has now been built into a kind of mythical figure, she’s of great interest to me. (I’m a little embarrassed to look and see the only thing of hers I’ve posted here are her selfies.)

This morning artist Dmitry Samarov sent me a nice piece he wrote for Spolia Magazine, called “The Vivian Mire”:

Because Maier left no will or instructions on what she wanted done with her work, her intentions—and the image of her presented to the outside world—are in the hands of anyone that takes an interest in her story…

….There has never been a discovery quite like Vivian Maier and there may never be one quite like her again. Everyone who happens upon it can find a piece or an angle that appeals or that they can identify with. The kind of privacy she kept to do her work may never be possible again in our over-surveilled age. To make a lifetime’s body of work and not share it with anyone is anathema to our times and that makes it that much more attractive. Why didn’t she show someone what she spent every free waking moment doing?

Dmitry brings up lots of interesting issues. For example: her prints. Maier seemed to be less interested in printing or showing her work, than actually doing the work. (“By all accounts, she spent every spare cent on the next roll of film, chasing the next shot rather than reveling in what she already had.”) Here’s a comparison between one of her original prints and an uncropped print done posthumously:

As he was researching, Dmitry also collected links to piece on Maier, which can be found here. Spolia also has collected a bunch of perspectives in this post.

Thanks again to Dmitry for sending me down this rabbit hole!

FIled under: show your work

Aug 03, 2014

Jul 10, 2014

Photographs of writers at work.

Note how many standing desks! See also a great book on the subject, The Writer’s Desk.

Filed under: work spaces


Google’s Street View cameras are touring museums and taking weird selfies by accident.

This looks like a still from a Kubrick film. Amazing.

Filed under: selfies


Google’s Street View cameras are touring museums and taking weird selfies by accident.

This looks like a still from a Kubrick film. Amazing.

Filed under: selfies

Jun 12, 2014

A couple of photos from the Library of Congress’s online photos catalog. (via @jenbee)

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