Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post for 2010

Christmas past, some pictures I made yesterday.....

9 Questions Photographers Frequently Ask

I'm sure many of us have asked ourselves these questions....

1. How do I get the work out there and visible against the flood of a zillion other photographers and their images?

2. Is it possible to get a publisher interested enough to actually publish the work and get the book widely distributed?

3. Why is it that I see so many decorative, lightweight photographs on gallery walls with red stickers and my work which I think is substantial and authentic never sells?

4. How can I find a galerist who really knows what they are doing, knows about photography and is as committed to my work as I am? And can sell it.

5. Where do I get constructive, critical feedback on the work beyond the usual comments from friends, "wow, I like that"?

6. How can I develop a unique voice for the work, one which is completely my own, that fits and extends my vision?

7. How do I make the work better, tougher?

8. Is it ok to feel so insecure and uncertain about the work?

9. Why am I doing this crazy thing anyway?

If you can't identify with any of these questions give it up NOW!


Kodachrome, the end of the yellow brick road

Kodachrome's celebrated 75-year run came to an end yesterday when the World's last processing machine located at Dwayne's Photo, a small family run business in Parsons, Kansas, was shut down after processing its final rolls.

In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced there, transforming the small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.

Demanding both to shoot and process, Kodachrome rewarded generations of skilled users with a richness of color and a unique treatment of light that many photographers described as incomparable even as they shifted to digital cameras. “Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day,” Paul Simon sang in his 1973 hit “Kodachrome,” which carried the plea “Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

As news media around the world have heralded Thursday’s end of an era, rolls of the discontinued film that had been hoarded in freezers and tucked away in closets, sometimes for decades, have flooded Dwayne’s Photo, arriving from six continents.

Among the recent visitors was Steve McCurry, a photographer whose work has appeared for decades in National Geographic including his well-known cover portrait, shot in Kodachrome, of a Afghan girl that highlights what he describes as the “sublime quality” of the film. When Kodak stopped producing the film last year, the company gave him the last roll, which he hand-delivered to Parsons. “I wasn’t going to take any chances,” he explained.

At the peak, there were about 25 labs worldwide that processed Kodachrome, but the last Kodak-run facility in the United States closed several years ago, then the one in Japan and then the one in Switzerland. Since then, all that was left has been Dwayne’s Photo. Last year, Kodak stopped producing the chemicals needed to develop the film, providing the business with enough to continue processing through the end of 2010. And last week, right on schedule, the lab opened up the last canister of blue dye.

One of the toughest decisions was how to deal with the dozens of requests from amateurs and professionals alike to provide the last roll to be processed.
In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne’s wearing shirts with the epitaph: “The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010.”

Article from the New York Times, December 29

And the future....
A NY Times reader posted this comment on the papers LENS BLOG
Sad to see all the posters here who think that they can "archive" their digital photographs. "Archive" them on what? CDs? DVDs? Memory sticks? All of these media are tremendously volatile. In twenty years much of you've shot will be gone. In fifty years nearly all of it will be gone. All that will remain are the photos that you've printed to archival paper using pigment-based inks. Maybe. If you're lucky and Epson et al. are not lying.

In a hundred years my dark-stored Kodachrome slides will look more or less as they do today. We know this because we (my own family) have 50 and even 65 year old Kodachrome slides and movies that look like they were shot yesterday.

Good luck with your digital "archives," folks. Your great-grandchildren are going to wonder what you looked like.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

MONDRIAN DE STIJL at Beaubourg, Paris

This new show opened on December 1st, the day I left Paris so I was sorry to have missed seeing it. Was nice though to come home and find an invitation to the vernissage in my Auckland mail box. Which I have photographed here.

The exhibition studies the interwoven progress of the artistic movement De Stijl and Piet Mondrian, its leading figure. This important retrospective is the very first in France to shed light on this key moment in the history of 20th century art. Beginning towards the end of the century's first decade and continuing through the twenties, De Stijl combined an aesthetic and social vision, total art, which forms a basis for understanding the sources of modern art. In Paris between 1912 and 1938, Mondrian, a central figure of this avant-garde who drew from its experience, laid down a vocabulary and a "new abstract visual language", a radical undertaking which was to revolutionise painting and art, along with Theo Van Doesburg and Gerrit Rietveld, the other founders of this crossover movement which influenced painting, sculpture, city planning, architecture, furniture design and graphic design.


My new book work published by German publisher Kehrer Verlag is now available. The hardcover book is 305 x 240 mm, with 80 pages, 36 photographs made mostly in 2008 - 09 in places as diverse as Auckland, Paris, Lodz, Shanghai and Bangkok.

The "essay" in the book simply says this:
Since everything is but an apparition, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, you might as well bust out laughing.
These words were written by Longchenpa (1308 - 1364) a Tibetan Buddhist Master.

The book can be obtained online from, in Paris at Le Bal Books or directly from me for NZ$75 plus postage.

Here are some spreads from the book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gabriel Orozco at Beaubourg, Paris

Gabriel Orozco in front of his work Four Bicycles, 1994

Back in September I made a post about Gabriel Orozco's soon to open show at Beaubourg. Since then then I've had the pleasure of seeing this small but impactful exhibition. The show is a simple yet profound meditation on the nature of things. About transformation, and the truism that things are never what they seem.

Orozco made his name in the early 1990's as one of the most important artists of his generation. Moving constantly, with no fixed studio, he refuses to be identified with nations or regions, and draws his inspiration from the different places where he lives and travels. His work is characterized by a lively interest in the elements of the urban landscape and the human body. His work is fed by the humdrum incidents of daily life, with their poetry of randomness and paradox. The boundaries between the objet d'art and the workaday environment are deliberately blurred, art and reality deliberately mixed. Movement, expansion, circularity, dialogue between the geometrical and the organic, have marked his ongoing visual quest for over twenty years. This exhibition is a unique opportunity to discover an exceptional collection of his drawings, photographs, sculptures and paintings, most of which have never been shown in France.

The artist has chosen to leave the Galerie Sud space open with no walls. This makes a connection between the gallery and the outside street always busy with people passing. It gives an impression of the show moving outside and the outside coming in. To further democratize the show, the works, placed in three lines, are on the floor, on market tables and on the walls, and are shown without labels.

I first came to Orozco through his acutely observed photographs presented in the catalogue to his show at The Hirshhorn in 2004, (Gabriel Orozco, Photographs, Steidl, 2004). This Beaubourg show, which also exhibits a number of the artist's iconic photographic works, emphasizes Orozco's ability to cross conceptual and executional borders, which is inherent to the meaning of the work and is part of the pleasure of its contemplation.

The show finishes January 3rd.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas images from my inbox - part 2

Onaka Koji, Tokyo
My first Christmas party, 1961

Jeff Mermelstein
, New York
Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, December 23 2010, 10:35AM

David Schivo
, Rome
Arma di Taggia, 2010

Jens Sundheim / Bernhard Reuss
, Dortmund and Wiesbaden
Christmas tree forest, Oberhausen, Germany, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas images from my inbox

Here are some Christmas images fresh from my inbox....

Mark Adams
- somewhere in the South Island of NZ
Narbonne, France, 2007

Thekla Ehling
- Cologne

Paul Graham - New York
Moonlight on Waves, New Zealand, 2010.

Louis Porter
- Melbourne
Thomastown 2009

....and on the subject of Christmas, analysis from the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation finds that Christmas is a dangerous time, with around 3,000 injuries occurring each year on Christmas Day alone.

The ACC has analysed Christmas accidents over the past five years and found around 400 accidents were related to Christmas tree mishaps.

Another 100 accidents relate to Christmas tree lights, mostly to do with tripping over them or falling while putting them up.

Lifting or unwrapping presents is also a hidden danger, with 170 injuries recorded. Forty-one percent occurred lifting, carrying or picking up presents, 24 percent happened while wrapping presents and 20 percent happened while presents were being unwrapped.

Twenty percent of accidents are related to ham, turkey or chicken with burns and cuts in the kitchen common, often after a few drinks. People dropping frozen turkeys on their feet also feature.

ACC has listed a number of ways to stay safe over Christmas including making sure stairs are well-lit and clear of obstacles such as toys, sports equipment and shoes. It recommends taking stairs one at a time and using the handrail.

ACC says when using a ladder, ask someone to hold it steady and make sure the ladder is stable before climbing up. Always keep at least three points of contact, for example two feet and one hand.

My advice is to stay in bed all day on the 25th!

André Kertész at Jeu de Paume
, Paris

André Kertész, one of my photographic heroes is showing now at the Jeu de Paume
, Paris. It is a pleasure to see not only the iconic photographs such as Satiric Dancer (1926), Chez Mondrian (1926) and Meudon (1928) but the full breadth and depth of this remarkable and quietly modest photographers career.

There has never been a proper retrospective of the work of André Kertész (Budapest, 1894 – New York, 1985) in Europe, even though he donated all his negatives to the French state. And yet he is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, both for the richness of his body of work and for the sheer length of his career.

For the first time, this show brings together a sizable range of prints and original documents covering the different periods of Kertész's life and artistic career. It reveals how he developed a genuine poetics of photography, what he himself called "a real photographic language." The exhibition highlights the autonomy of each photograph, while at the same time indicating the presence of series and recurring themes.

Adopting a chronological and linear exhibition layout reflecting the various periods of his creative life, punctuated by self-portraits at the entrance to each space, the curators, Michel Frizot and Annie-Laure Wanaverbecq, have created thematic groups in the form of "cells", highlighting the unique aspects of his output: his personal photography (the photographic postcards, the Distortions), his involvement in publishing (the book Paris vu par Kertész, 1934), his recurrent creative experiments (shadows, chimneys), and the more diffuse expression of emotions such as solitude. The exhibition sheds light on the importance of previously neglected or unexplored periods.

Between 1912 and 1985, Kertész remained true to his approach even though his style changed, technology was evolving (the telephoto lenses of the 1960s), and circumstances were providing new vantage points (From My Window would be the title of one of his books): I have never just "made photos", he said, I express myself photographically.

If you are in Paris, a show not to be missed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Photographers whose work I like - No 9 / Louis Porter

I was introduced to Louis Porter's work by Paris based photobook collector, blogger and sometimes publisher Laurence Vecten. In 2009 Laurence made a book of Louis's photographs, 100 Flowers. I liked the book, liked the work.
Louis is originally from the north of England but now lives in Melbourne where his sharp eye dissects the city and its suburbs.

Louis has this to say about his practice:

"Whilst I'm generally relatively quick to identify myself as a photographer, or perhaps an artist, it is in the mode of an urban ragpicker (in the Baudelarian sense) that I currently operate. Photography is my tool of choice for compiling a range of unexceptional subjects into a personal and allegorical archive of my surroundings.

These subjects are often the residue of the tiny conflicts that punctuate life: The remains of minor car accidents, spilt drinks, soiled carpets, the broken, poorly built, discarded and disregarded fragments, that viewed from a distance merge together to form a city."

Red Carpet

"The red carpet is synonymous with special occasions, luxury and importance, it turns a simple stroll into a walk of honour. As the colour red is a particularly auspicious one in China, it should be of no surprise that red carpet is a rather common sight throughout the country, adding a regal touch to a variety of situations."

You can see more at: http://www.louisporter

Monday, December 20, 2010

ONE DAY in Paris

During Paris Photo at the OffPrint event the ten photographers who took part in the ONE DAY collaborative book project, where we all made a book on June 21st 2010, assembled for a book signing. It was somewhat of a minor miracle to get Jessica Backhaus, Gerry Badger, John Gossage, Todd Hido, Rob Hornstra, Rinko Kawauchi, Eva Maria Ocherbauer, Martin Parr and Alec Soth all together at once. But it did happen and now out there in photobook land there are around forty slip-cased sets of the books signed by all ten photographers.

Here are photographs of the edition and some pages from Alec Soth and John Gossage. Plus a picture (made by my daughter Zoe) that records the somewhat manic signing, from left to right: Martin, Rinko, Todd, Harvey and Jessica.

The edition can be ordered directly from Kehrer Verlag - -
In an edition of 1000, 10 books in slipcase each 16.5 x 22 cm at a subscription price until March 31st, 2011 of Euro 148.

Friday, December 17, 2010

OffPrint Paris, photobook heaven!

Organised by Dutch photobook seller Yannick Bouillis, OffPrint Paris, which ran over the days of Paris Photo, was as it turned out a tremendously successful first attempt at providing a dedicated space for photobooks, giving the medium the attention it deserves.
Installed at Espace Kiron, located up the rue de la Roquette in the 11th, where over four days the venue became artist book / photobook heaven.
Many of the over 40 participants were specialized publishers of artist's books, like ABC Artists' Book Cooperative, Nieves, onestar press, and White Press. And there were booksellers too, Florence Loewy,, Dirk Bakker and more.

Every day drew big crowds and everybody I spoke to, photographers, publishers, book sellers gave the event a big thumbs up. It seems certain that it's going to happen again next year. Great!

More at:

Images reblogged with thanks, from Gallery Fotohof Salzburg

China Stories in Athens

Cologne based curator Tina Schelhorn recently mounted her CHINA STORIES exhibition at the Athens Photography Festival. The show included work from twelve photographers:

Harvey Benge, Auckland, New Zealand
Steven Benson, Daytona Beach FL, USA
Luis Delgado, San Francisco CA, USA
Oyvind Hjelmen, Stord, Norway
Ferit Kuyas, Wädenswill, Switzerland
Pok Chi Lau, Lawrence KS, USA
Elaine Ling, Toronto, Canada
Chris Rauschenberg, Portland OR, USA
Frank Rothe, Berlin, Germany
Gerard Saitner, Singapore / Paris, France
Matthew Sleeth, Melbourne, Australia
Wolfgang Zurborn, Cologne, Germany

Tina showed my CHINA STORY work and in the absence of prints cut up a couple of my CHINA STORY bookworks and ran a long line of pages on the gallery wall. Judging from the crowd in the photo above the audience was interested enough to get involved with the pictures.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2011, the shortlist

Now in its 15th year, The Photographers’ Gallery’s annual prize of £30,000 rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, who has made the most significant contribution to photography in Europe, between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2010.

The four shorlisted photographers are Thomas Demand, Roe Ethridge, Jim Goldberg, and Elad Lassry.

Roe Ethridge (b.1969, USA) is nominated for his solo exhibition at Les Recontres d’Arles Photography 2010, France (3 July – 19 September 2010).

Thomas Demand (b.1964, Germany) is nominated for his exhibition, Nationalgalerie, at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (18 September 2009 – 17 January 2010).

Jim Goldberg (b.1953, USA) is nominated for his exhibition Open See at The Photographers’ Gallery, London (16 October 2009 – 31 January 2010).

Elad Lassry (b.1977, Israel) is nominated for his exhibition Elad Lassry at Kunsthalle Zürich (13 February – 25 April 2010).

This year’s Jury is: Alex Farquharson (Director, Nottingham Contemporary); Marloes Krijnen (Founding Director, Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam); Joel Sternfeld (artist, USA); and Anne-Marie Beckmann (Curator, Deutsche Börse Art Collection, Germany). Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, is the non-voting Chair.

Venue: Ambika P3 at the University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS.

The photograph: Roe Ethridge, Gloucester Old Spot, 2005

Monday, December 13, 2010

ANONYMES at Le Bal, Paris

ANONYMES or America Without Name presents work from a broad spectrum of American photographers who have been looking at the nondescript and the flattening of daily experience in American culture.

Curated by David Campany and Diane Dufour the show is an intelligent and unsettling look at the harsh realities of life today in the Superpower.
Ten photographers are represented with work from Walker Evans, Chauncey Hare, Standish Lawder, Lewis Baltz, Anthony Hernandez, Sharon Lockhart, Jeff Wall, Bruce Gilden, Doug Rickard, Arianna Arcara et Luca Santese.

The work spans 50 years or more with Walker Evans' photographs from the 30s and 40s of anonymous citizens in Detroit; Lewis Baltz' 1973-1974, New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California; Anthony Hernandez, Waiting, Sitting, Fishing and Some Automobiles from 1978 -1980.
The older work is probably familiar to many but I hadn't seen the the recent work from Doug Rickard, A New American Picture, 2008 - 2010, where Rickard captured and edited images from Google Street View. Arianna Arcara and Luca Santese presented an informal archive, 2009 - 2010, made from hundreds of found images made by Detroit Police as evidence to crime. These now in a state of decay. Bruce Gilden's photo-films Foreclosures, 2008 and Detroit: The Troubled City, 2009 are a visual investigation into the effects of the American financial crisis.

This first show at Le Bal is of museum quality both in its presentation and its substance. There is a strong idea behind this show which neither hinges around "photography" nor conceptual outposts. Yet the message here is clear, in a society that celebrates individuality, achievement and the self there is a price to pay, much greater for some than for others.

And last but not least when you leave the show you exit via the bookshop. And I'm pleased to say one of the the best photobook shops I've seen south of in Cologne.

The photographs: © Janeth Rodriguez-Garcia

You can check out Le Bal here:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

João Silva, photographer wounded in Afghanistan, how you can help...

On October 23rd, accompanying U.S. troops in Afghanistan, while on assignment for The New York Times, photojournalist João Silva lost both of his legs below the knees when he stepped on a land mine.

Friends of João have set up a website to sell his photographs and accept donations with proceeds to benefit him and his family.

You can find the site here:

The photograph: João Silva

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alec Soth, Broken Manual

It was a pleasure to make a book swap with Alec Soth at Paris Photo and come away with a copy of his latest book, Broken Manual. This book is a collaboration with the mysterious Lester B. Morrison and in this new work Soth reinvents himself and the photobook.

Looking like something you might find in your Father's workshop under a pile of old Popular Mechanics, Broken Manual is ostensibly about escape and transformation. This many layered book deals with options and possibilities, chance and circumstance. It's what I would call a "what the fuck" sort of book.... what is going on here and why? The book is like having a stone in the shoe which niggles and irritates but is a reminder as to exactly where your feet are even if you don't know quite where you might be going. Makes you keep coming back to the problem to try and work it out.

Pleasingly there are some wonderful signature Soth large format colour pictures in the book and these are countered with more intimate black and white photographs, images like pocket pussy, and Frank's view. Different notes that push and pull as you struggle to fill in the gaps.

This is a photobook for our times where particularly right now in America so many things appear to be broken. But not Broken Manual, this photobook is about as close to perfect as you can get. So far my favorite photobook for 2010.