As a teenager growing up in Ireland. I spent my time scouring all the bookshops in Dublin for any interesting photography books. I vividly remember coming across the Time Life 1979 Photography annual; this was a round up of the years new equipment, notable shows, and new young photographers, and the 1979 edition featured some amazing color, night photographs of the West Side highway in New York by Jan Staller. I loved the photographs and had to buy the book!
A few years later I moved to NY and happened to be introduced to Jan, and I began assisting him on his commercial work and sometimes going out together to photograph for our own projects. His personal work in the urban landscape has continued to evolve and is always stunning, and worth checking out.
His latest project, a collection of beautiful, surreal still life images of construction components hanging in mid air from cranes, was just featured in the NY Times magazine and is definitely worth looking at (see it here).
"Finding Vivian Maier"
Vivian Maier, the fascinating, enigmatic Chicago photographer is the subject of “Finding Vivian Maier” a documentary film which just opened at the Toronto film festival.
Her work was virtually unknown until a few years ago when John Maloof (one of the documentary filmmakers) discovered over 100,000 of her negatives in a storage locker, and began to piece together her eccentric life.
Most of her adult life she worked in Chicago as a nanny for North Shore families, but she also constantly roved the city photographing the street life, people, children, architecture, patterns of light and reflections in her own particular style.
My wife Luisa recalls now that Vivian Maier used to visit her parents boutique “La Colonna” in Wilmette, where she would arrive dressed in a matronly black skirt, mens white dress shirt, and a fedora. She would proceed to walk thru the store examining every garment, hat, or scarf, loudly criticizing (usually to the small child she was minding) the poor quality of the stitching or workmanship. Nothing would please her, nor did she ever buy anything!
She would then leave, disappearing back into her mysterious, secretive life. Part of that secretive life was the vast trove of beautiful photographs she created, but for reasons unknown, never showed to anyone.
I came across these amazing structures in Feniglia, a beach north of Rome and had to photograph them.
The 6km long beach near Porto Ercole is full of these driftwood shelters which provide a frame for throwing a few towels up to create some shade from the noon day sun!
Sebastio Salgado “Genesis”
I had the opportunity to see the Sebastio Salgado show “Genesis” in Rome this week at the Ara Pracis museum.
Salgado’s work is well know for his photojournalism, especially documenting war, famine, civil unrest and the harsh conditions of workers around the world. For this project, working over 8 years, he travelled to the most remote places on earth to document our planet as it was at the beginning of time. As he put it “to create a homage to our planet, a portrait of the planet”.
The photographs are a stunning series of landscapes, animal photographs and imges of remote tribes of people, some literally still using stone age tools to survive. He travelled from Antarctica to Siberia, Brazil, Venezuela, the Galapagos, Indonesia, the western deserts in the US, Alaska, and many more locations.
The large beautiful prints have Salgado’s trademark rich black and white tones with deep skies; the range of tones emphasing the abstract beauty of the rocky landscapes of the American west and the prehistoric animals of the Galapagos, connecting all the natural forms in a fascinating way.
Here’s an interview with Salgado, discussing the project (for the Natural History Museum in London); and a link to the book published by Taschen (a larger format book is available for $4,000…. and it comes in it’s own wooden crate!)
The show is touring around the world, currently in Rome, London Rio de Janeiro and Toronto.
Saw the obituary today in the NY Times for Bert Stern, the legendary New York photographer, the last of the triumvirate (with Penn and Avedon) of advertising and editorial photographers who changed everything in the 50’s and 60’s!
At his height Stern had an entire public school on East 63rd St in NY as his studio, using the basketball courts as a shooting area and sound stage.
One of his most famous early works was the advertising photography he did for (the then new) Smirnoff vodka. Shooting on location at the pyramids in Egypt, and other locations he created groundbreaking still life photography on location, capturing the reality of being outdoors in a way that was completely new.
I can still remember discovering his work with fascination when I found this book "The Photo Illustration" as a teenager in a used bookstore in Dublin. Reading about the whole process involved in his work, the effort he went to for each image (not to mention the freedom and seemingly unlimited budgets he had!) and also seeing how he set up his cameras and lighting thanks to a great technical section in the back of the book.
Here are a few images from that book which I discovered I still have, and really enjoyed going back thru some of Sterns great images!
Chicago Home+Garden has a story this month with my photographs on Michael Richmans amazing “pop-up” apartment in the Trump Tower for an art collector.