Susan Sontag on Photography

“Being educated by photography is not like being educated by older forms of art.  For one thing, there are many more images around claiming our attention. The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems.  This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes our world.  In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe.  They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing.  Finally, the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads—as an anthology of images.

To collect photographs is to collect the world.”

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Columbia Flower Market

I would rather have flowers in my hair than gold around my neck. I walked this market twice, the first time with my nose, the second with my eyes.  The first thing I am going to do when I get back to Mexico is go to the market and buy flowers for the house.  When the kitchen smells like baking bread and there are flowers on the table, I know I am home.

A rose in sunlight is nature.
A rose in the dark is poetry.
~Terri Guillemets

A Photo and a Poem

Two Ways to Open an Egg

Watch me open this egg!
the first woman said

cracking the pearly skin
against a cold metal tin

a swift separation
a dead yellow gem

there, it’s open
she said

watch me open this egg!
the second woman said

placing the orb
in the encircling arms of a nest

holding it to her chest
for ten thousand breaths

patience,
she said

and said
and said
and said

… and the egg opened itself.

 Alexandra Franzen


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Wrapping Up London

I am returning to Paris the day after tomorrow, so I have been focusing on photography exhibits.  Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the Tate and the Photographer´s Gallery in Soho.  The Gregory Crewdon exhibit was amazing.  Imagine Edward Hopper meets Cindy Sherman meets Stephen King.  The video below is worth watching.  I´ve never seen anyone work the way Crewdon does.  He builds sets, carefully lights them and shoots.  He works with a crew of half a dozen people, not counting models.  His photos are planned down to the smallest detail and the results are simply stunning.

After carefully pricing Nikon lenses, I bought an 85 mm 1.4 portrait lens today. It is the most expensive lens I own, but the bokeh is as soft as a melted rainbow.   I´ll have it forever.  As the saying goes: date your camera, but marry your lenses.

No souvenirs. No shoes. No lingerie. No clothes. No salon cut.  No eating out.  Just classes and tools.

Boy am I broke.

I have one day in Paris.  I bought tickets for the Irving Penn exhibit at Le Grand Palais and I´ll take another crack at the Henri Bresson Museum, which was closed the last time I went.   My focus in the months to come will be on learning as much about photographers as I learned about art history.  I am commited to this path and am even considering selling my brushes and paints.

I have been so homesick for Mexico these past few weeks.  I can hardly wait to get back to cobblestone streets, vibrant colors, firecrackers and blue skies.   I want to bake bread, dance in the kitchen, swing on the terrasse and listen to the birds in the evenings, and cook for my friends.   It´s time to come home.

On another note, I have the housesitting gig for three weeks in Cairo in December if I want it.  It would be a great opportunity to shoot.  Not sure if I am up for it though…

Portrait Photography

Here is an image from the Portrait Photography class at the City Academy.  It was taught by Leigh Keily, who shoots the royal family and celebrities and does amazingly complex commercial work.  The class lasted seven hours.  Students are required to shoot exclusively in manual mode.   We learned how to do automatic refocusing for runway walking and spent hours and hours on lighting techniques and studio setup.

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Lifestyle Photography

Here is one of the images I created during the Lifestyle Photography course at City Academy in London.  Lifestyle photography is interesting because images must be designed to incorporate copy.  Students took turns modeling.  This is Yiyi.  In casting terms, she owns “cute.”   I am learning so much.  Going to Europe to study was a good choice, even if I did miss summer.  Man-o-man, this weather is HORRIBLE!

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