The World’s Most Expensive Photograph
Monday, December 15, 2014
Peter Lik is making headlines as his photograph of sand and light in an Arizona slot canyon earned him a massive $6.5million payday. That, plus two other prints he sold to the same buyer for $1.1 million and $2.4 million, respectively, brings to four the number of million-dollar-sales Lik has made, which also mean he accounts for one-fifth of the 20 most expensive photographs of all time. Lots of folks love the photo, but to some—like The Guardian's art critic Jonathan Jones—the picture isn't even art. "This record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they're artists," wrote Jones. "It's derivative, sentimental and in very poor taste. It looks like a posh poster you might find framed in a pretentious hotel room." Read more about the sale, including the scathing criticism which also levels the author's indefensible position that photography isn't art, at The Guardian's web site via the first link below. Then be sure to stick around to read the excellent rebuttal by Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian's photography critic, via the second link. Whatever you think about this photograph, it's most certainly art—even if it leaves some viewers cold.
America’s Great Hiking Trails
Friday, December 12, 2014
Photographer and expert trekker Bart Smith dropped me a line the other day to let me know about his recent book of photographs called "America's Great Hiking Trails." Bart spends his days traveling the U.S. on foot, pushing his camera and his camping gear in a modified jogging stroller, and documenting the process for the rest of us to enjoy. I'm envious of his trips, though I'm surely not envious of the toll it must take on his body. Once you take a look at his projects, you're likely to have the same reaction I did when I ended up engrossed in virtually accompanying Bart on a 2012 trip along the Oregon Trail which is wonderfully documented on his web site, http://walkingtheoregontrail2012.com. There you can watch videos and view beautiful photos of Bart's journey along "the ruts of the Great Western Migration." He may not be traveling via a covered wagon, but his trip sure strikes me as historically significant nonetheless. For more on Bart, his travels and his photographs, check out his book, "America's Great Hiking Trails," at Amazon via the link below.
The Top 5 Photo Books On My Holiday Wish List
Thursday, December 11, 2014
As my holiday shopping gets into full swing, it's time to reflect upon a group of photography books that have been atop my own wish list for many months now. They cover a range of photographers making a variety of work, but all are surefire hits worthy of a place on your own wish list, or perhaps as gifts for the fellow photographers in your life.
- Melting Away, by Camille Seaman
Seaman's Arctic photography caught my attention a few years ago when I stumbled across her iceberg photographs online. I fell instantly in love with her images of these mysterious structures, and I'm happy to see ten years worth of her polar photographs are collected in her first book. It's at the top of my list for good reason.
- The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip, by David Campany
This book pays homage to the importance of the road trip to the history of American photography, from Robert Frank's "The Americans" to photographers still working at the genre today. Presented chronologically, each chapter explores a road trip in depth through a portfolio of images and accompanying text, featuring the work of Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ed Ruscha and more.
- People of the Twenty-First Century, by Hans Eijkelboom
Street photographer Hans Eijkelboom has compiled a collection of photographs of "regular folks" on the streets of Amsterdam, New York, Paris and Shanghai, and presented them in a typology that one reviewer equated to a guide to the human race for aliens visiting the planet. It's both enlightening and entertaining—highly entertaining.
- Find Momo, by Andrew Knapp
Andrew Knapp became internet famous when he and his best buddy, Momo the border collie, traveled all over the country. Andrew trained his pup to sit still while the human trained his camera on a variety of scenes containing the pub. It became a cross-breed photographic version of "Where's Waldo," and the book is sure to add a bit of childlike fun for even grown up readers.
- Carpoolers, by Alejandro Cartagena
Self-published in a limited edition of 1,000, this book may be difficult to find. It's also probably the most unique publication on this list in that it strikes a balance between covering a serious issue (wealth inequality in Mexico) while doing it in a somewhat lighthearted manner. Cartagena photographed from an overpass in order to make pictures of passengers sitting, smiling and sleeping in the beds of passing pickup trucks, and the resulting images are at once joyful and powerful—a potent combination.
Self-Publish Your Own Coffee Table Photo Book
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
If you fancy yourself a serious photographer with a body of work that is worthy of being printing into a fine photo book, then allow me to suggest the services of PQ Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell can produce high-quality monographs in runs as low as 250 copies--though a better per-copy price can be had if you choose an edition of 500. For those, the cost starts around $35 per book, which works out to a grand total of $17,500. That's no pocket change, so, as you can imagine, this isn't for everyone. But if you consider yourself to be a serious photographic artist in need of a printer who can match your own level of craftsmanship and aesthetics, then Mr. Blackwell may be just the man you're looking for. It certainly appears that his books are beautifully bound and lovingly printed—worthy of the finest photography. If you're interested in what for many of us remains a dream, you can learn more at http://monographs.pqblackwell.com/.
Photographer Gift Idea: Cool Camera Straps
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
If you're shopping for a stylish, hand-crafted camera strap for yourself or for the fashion-conscious photographer on your list, here's a great recommendation from the Phoblographer. In his roundup of the best photo accessories of the year, Chris Gampat creates a list that's decidedly targeted at young, hip photographers. Unlike a more curmudgeonly traditional list that would highlight lenses or filters or software, the Phoblographer's list is full of more off-beat items—including a couple of cool camera bags and several nice camera straps. Mostly handmade and all leather, these straps include the Great State Classic Skinny strap, the Cecilia 2.5cm leather strap, the Heavy Leather Classic camera strap (good for big DSLRs) and the Figosa Vintage Adjustable leather strap. The curmudgeon in me says let's not lose sight of what's really important (the pictures), while the bit of me that still clings to a hint of youthful energy says I should lighten up and enjoy life a little, because these straps are cool. If I were to receive one in my stocking this year, I'd no doubt be happy with Santa. So I guess I come down on the side of "have a little fun and put a little style into your photography," no matter whether you're young and hip or old and stubborn. Wherever you land, check out these straps—and the Phoblographer's full list of nice accessories—at http://www.thephoblographer.com/2014/12/01/phoblographers-roundup-best-photography-accessories-2014.
Apple Invents A Device To Protect Equipment From Drops
Monday, December 8, 2014
It's conceivable that in the not-too-distant future our cameras may be equipped with devices that can protect them from damage due to a fall. No, it's not an airbag (though that might be a pretty good idea too). Apple, maker of the ubiquitous iPhone, has recently received a patent for its iPhone protection system that uses motion sensors to recognize when the device has been dropped, then calculate an estimated point of impact before shifting its center of gravity to modify the angle of approach to the floor and, ultimately, avoid impacting its most sensitive areas. United States patent number 8,903,519 is designed for smartphones, but if the device works well once (if) it's implemented, and consumers begin to expect that sort of protection in their expensive electronic devices, well, we could all be armed with cameras that not only do amazing things when taking pictures, but do equally amazing things when they're out of our hands and on their way to a costly meeting with the floor. It's definitely a bit of technology for which I'll be keeping a hopeful eye out in the coming generations of phones and cameras—but I won't hold my breath.
The Art Of The Fashion Pose
Friday, December 5, 2014
Prompted by fashion model Coco Rocha's new book "The Study of Pose: 1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha" here's a really fun—and surprisingly interesting—post at Another Magazine about fashion posing. It includes the seriously beautiful and the ridiculously weird—and all of them together make for a highly fascinating study, not just of the art of posing, but of what it says about us photographers and why we think some of the strangest poses are acceptable. Even the weird ones are beautiful, though, if you ask me. Ultimately, as someone who is consistently surprised by how many regular folks automatically pop into red-carpet-ready poses when you point a camera in their direction, this article sheds a little bit of light on the art, and the influence, of the fashion pose. Check it out at http://www.anothermag.com/current/view/4095/Body_Language_The_Enduring_Appeal_of_the_Fashion_Pose
Smartphone Model Releases And Legal Documents
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Do you take pictures of people? If so, depending upon the usage you have in mind for those photos, you may be best served by having your subjects sign a model release. If that use is commercial in any way, you'll definitely want a signed release. Rather than carrying around a pocketful of paperwork though, you can instead download the Shake app for your smartphone and have access to a model release template—as well as a bunch of other legal documents that make it easy for photographers and artists of all types to get their work done more efficiently. The Shake release, like a standard model release, grants the photographer full rights to use and edit the subject's image, and for the subject, they can sign right there on the surface of the smartphone with nothing more than a fingertip. You can even attach a snapshot photo to the release in order to permanently match the subject to the document. It's a pretty cool app, available for Android and iPhone for the hard-to-beat price of free. Read more at shakelaw.com.