Monday, January 31, 2011

Auckland - La Brea homage

The photograph:
Harvey Benge, January 29th 2011, Halsey and Gaunt Streets, Auckland

Friday, January 28, 2011


Continuing the idea of making a visual diary as a souvenir of my travels, here is Paris Diary, November 2010. The edition is limited to 75 copies, each book signed and numbered. There are 20 photographs, over 24 pages, printed on 160gsm coated art paper, 226 x 160 mm.

The book work will be available from ABC Artists' Book Cooperative or you can obtain a copy direct from me via email:, The edition is 10 Euro plus postage.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre - the Ruins of Detroit

Since 2005 Parisians Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have been documenting the collapse of the American Dream in Detroit. Here are some of the photographs. You can see more on their site: or get their Steidl published book, The Ruins of Detroit.

Michigan Central Station

United Artists Theater

Fisher Body 21 Plant

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel

They have this to say:

At the end of the XIXth Century, mankind was about to fulfill an old dream. The idea of a fast and autonomous means of displacement was slowly becoming a reality for engineers all over the world. Thanks to its ideal location on the Great Lakes Basin, the city of Detroit was about to generate its own industrial revolution. Visionary engineers and entrepreneurs flocked to its borders.

In 1913, up-and-coming car manufacturer Henry Ford perfected the first large-scale assembly line. Within few years, Detroit was about to become the world capital of automobile and the cradle of modern mass-production. For the first time of history, affluence was within the reach of the mass of people. Monumental skyscrapers and fancy neighborhoods put the city’s wealth on display. Detroit became the dazzling beacon of the American Dream. Thousands of migrants came to find a job. By the 50's, its population rose to almost 2 million people. Detroit became the 4th largest city in the United States.

The automobile moved people faster and farther. Roads, freeways and parking lots forever reshaped the landscape. At the beginning of the 50's, plants were relocated in Detroit's periphery. The white middle-class began to leave the inner city and settled in new mass-produced suburban towns. Highways frayed the urban fabric. De-industrialization and segregation increased. In 1967, social tensions exploded into one of the most violent urban riots in American history. The population exodus accelerated and whole neighborhoods began to vanish. Outdated downtown buildings emptied. Within fifty years Detroit lost more than half of its population.

Detroit, industrial capital of the XXth Century, played a fundamental role shaping the modern world. The logic that created the city also destroyed it. Nowadays, unlike anywhere else, the city’s ruins are not isolated details in the urban environment. They have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire.

errata editions - 4 new books on books

#9 Paul Graham: Beyond Caring
#10 Zdeněk Tmej: The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness
#11 Alexey Brodovitch: Ballet
#12 Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: 60 Fotos

My pick here is Paul Graham's Beyond Caring. Published in 1986 Beyond Caring is now considered one of the key works from Britain’s wave of New Color photography that was gaining momentum in the 1980s. While commissioned to present his view of ‘Britain in 1984,’ Graham turned his attention towards the waiting rooms, queues and poor conditions of overburdened Social Security and Unemployment offices across the United Kingdom. Photographing surreptitiously, his camera is both witness and protagonist within a bureaucratic system that speaks to the humiliation and indignity aimed towards the most vulnerable end of society. Books on Books #9 presents every page-spread of Graham’s controversial book along with a contemporary essay by writer and curator David Chandler.

Hardcover w/ Dustjacket, 104 pp, 9.5 x 7 in. 50 Color illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-935004-16-5 $39.95 Release date: Feb 2011

The Errata Editions Books on Books series is an on-going publishing project dedicated to making rare and out-of-print photography books accessible to students and photobook enthusiasts. These are not reprints or facsimiles but studies of each book. Each in this series presents the entire content, page for page, of an original master bookwork which, up until now, has been too rare or prohibitively expensive for most to experience. Through a mix of classic and contemporary titles,this series spans the breadth of photographic practice as it has appeared on the printed page and allows further study into the creation and meanings of these great works of art.

Find out more at:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photographers whose work I like - No 10/ Jens Sundheim and Bernhard Reuss

Jens Sundheim and Bernhard Reuss are the travellers. I met them in Lodz in 2006.
Their "Traveller" project is unlike anything I have seen, inventive, obsessive, and so about what the World is like today. If you are planning to go to Les Rencontres d'Arles in July this year, there will be a show of the Traveller work.

Winterthur, November 12, 2010

They say this about the project, The Traveller deals with omnipresence of webcams in both private and public space. The Traveler (performed by Jens Sundheim) is a figure who visits places webcams are pointed at. As these cams constantly transmit images via internet in almost every place on the planet, that what is shown becomes enormously relevant, gains almost global importance. The Traveller travels from cam to cam, always looking for world's most significant places.
On location, the Traveller performs in front of the webcam. Caught by the camera, he starts a second, virtual journey: fragmented into bits, he travels as data stream through space and time, and is – by entering the correct URL – visible on every web-connected computer all around the globe at almost the same moment of time.

Webcams permanently produce new images, depending on technical capabilities and the their owner's will. Every hour, every minute or almost in real-time. Before an image is overwritten by the following one, we save the data, we conserve the image as a »web photography«. The locations visited by the Traveller are documented by these web photographs as if he sends a modern kind of post card.

The project started 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Until now, the Traveller has been to about 360 webcam locations in 14 countries. At the end, we want him to visit every continent and create a world wide trip.
Among many other places, the Traveller encountered the legendary coffee machine world's first webcam was pointed at, the ESA European Space Agency main control room, and a cell at a New York police station after being arrested for strange behavior.

We transfer selected images to photographic paper and present them as large-format photographs for exhibition.
The website informs about the project and presents actual and archived web photographs.

Brooklyn, New York, August 20, 2002

Berlin, November 23, 2003

Madrid, June 3, 2007

London, June 21, 2007

Xanten, March 3, 2008

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Auckland - the Photobook is alive and well!

Across the street from my local supermarket is a wall where from time-to-time site works are installed. Here is an image that took my eye. For some reason the artist's name is nowhere to be found, but upon inquiry I discovered the piece was made by Auckland photographer Mark Smith whose work I like and admire.

We have Stephen Shore, William Eggleston (or perhaps it's Christenberry?), Irving Penn, Larry Towell, Harry Callahan, Sally Mann and Josef Koudelka. And we seem to have a love of silver cars in this city too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Todd Hido workshop at AUT St Paul St Gallery.....

..... it's a wrap.
After three intensive days with Todd and a guest spot morning with Paul Graham participants report renewed passion and enthusiasm.
This comment from Catherine C. I particularly liked..... thanks Catherine.
"Hey Harvey thanks so much for an awesome workshop you are amazing generous with your passion and knowledge.... it was truly inspirational!"

For the record here are some pictures.

Todd, Harvey, Paul


The Group Shot

Friday, January 14, 2011

Todd Hido shoots Zoe B

Todd arrived in Auckland on Wednesday for our workshop at AUT School of Art and Design, which starts today. We spent yesterday wandering in distant suburbs, shooting. Todd remarked how similar it all looked to California. Later Todd made these polaroids of my daughter Zoe, continuing a tradition where last year Rineke Dijkstra did the same, nice!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eggleston at LACMA

William Eggleston’s color-saturated photographs turn the familiar into the foreign, the mundane into the marvelous. Over the past five decades he has used the camera as a democratic device, recording the ordinariness of life in America, particularly in the South, and finding something thrilling, enigmatic, scintillating in the smallest detail or the composition of characters in space.

William Eggleston: Democratic Camera—Photographs and Video, 1961–2008, now on show at LACMA, is the most comprehensive exhibition on the photographer's work to date. As well as more than two hundred photographs, including his early black-and-white photographs of the sixties and the vivid dye-transfer work of the early seventies, the exhibition offers a chance to see his little-known video work Stranded in Canton. Further highlights from the last twenty years include selections from the Graceland series and The Democratic Forest, Eggleston's great, dense anthology of the quotidian. The current exhibition includes a special selection of recent work taken in Los Angeles.

The William Eggleston show finishes this Sunday, January 16, last chance to see it.

Image: William Eggleston, Algiers, Louisiana, c. 1972, from William Eggleston's Guide, 1976. at Photo LA and Lapis Press will be at Photo LA, Booth 305, January 13-17 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Special Guests for the Presentation of THE LA BREA MATRIX BOX 2 will be Stephen Shore, Jens Liebchen, and Oliver Sieber.

And on Saturday THE LA BREA MATRIX: A Panel Discussion, 3:00-5:00pm, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This event is free to the public. Tickets are available one hour in advance at the Photo LA box office.

THE LA BREA MATRIX project explores the complex relationship and cross-cultural exchange between art photographers on both sides of the Atlantic. At its core the project is questioning the iconic power of the photograph Stephen Shore took on the corner of La Brea Avenue and Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles on June 21, 1975.

For the project, six German photographers were invited to Los Angeles to create a new body of work that searches for photographic points of reference to Shore's landmark picture.

This program brings together Stephen Shore with core individuals involved in THE LA BREA MATRIX including Jens Liebchen, Oliver Sieber, Markus Schaden, and Christianne Dearborn, along with photography collector Manfred Heiting to present for the first time the new photographs taken in Los Angeles and discuss the project in depth.

The Photograph:
Stephen Shore, 1975, Beverly Blvd and La Brea

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tim Edgar - r o o k e r y

We probably all want to make photographs that have impact, substance and a certain "wow factor". In the quest to achieve this we often overlook the simple and obvious truth that less is often more. When Tim Edgar's small and perfectly formed self published book, r o o k e r y, arrived in my mail box this morning its quiet understated perfection was loaded with possibilities. Thank you Tim.

Tim lives in Swanage, Dorset and is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at The Arts University College at Bournemouth. He often explores specific sites of “Natural History” combining scientific conventions with a practice rooted in contemporary documentary photography. Local sites of conflict are explored over long periods of time. Starting points are often the life / death cycle of particular nests and habitats, for example a “Rookery” a “Cobweb” or the daily rural “Dog Walk”.

You can see more of his work here:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Editioning photographic prints - the numbers

The editioning photographic prints has in recent years become the norm in the art market. However, while it may now be standard practice, there's no standard for how to number limited editions, or any guide to what can be charged for them. Getting it right remains a matter of  considered judgement.

Deciding how to limit the edition is influenced by a number of factors. Given rapid commodification of the art market, one factor is how well the image might  sell. Most gallerists prefer to try and sell editions quickly, creating a buzz around an artist that will hopefully push up pricing for future editions.

"It's a simple case of demand and supply", says Richard Kalman of Crane Kalman gallery in Brighton, adding that collectors are not just buying what they like, they are making an investment, and therefore they need assurance that a photographer has a market. "You want prices to go up," he says. "It's good to be able to point to a catalogue from two years ago and show that prices have increased".

Many photographers now limit each edition to five prints, he adds, while anything beyond 30 is probably pushing your luck, unless you're very well known. Some photographers create editions of one, but, of course, the smaller the edition, the more you'll need to charge. If you aren't very well known, you'll probably need to sell more for less.

The size of the print is also a consideration, because a large print will cost more time and money to produce, and will therefore need to command a higher price. Again, unknown photographers might have trouble shifting a huge print, although this isn't the only factor at play.

Edward Burtynsky creates prints at 120×150cm or more, which he argues is necessary to appreciate the level of detail in his work. To complement these large sizes, Burtynksy creates a small, medium and large version of each image, sold in editions of 10, nine and six respectively. "The bigger the size, the smaller the edition," says Chris Littlewood, who is director of photography at Flowers Galleries and looks after Burtynsky's work. "But Burtynsky always keeps the total number of prints under 30 per image".

Then there is the issue of selling "artists' proofs". Originally these were an essential part of the process, because they were the approved version the printer matched to. These days, with many photographers setting up a colour profile for their image file and making digital prints as and when they're needed, they're arguably completely redundant, but are becoming increasingly popular. Photographers are creating multiple versions and selling them, at a premium, when the limited edition sells out.

"Artists' proofs are really the creation of another mini edition, but as proofs aren't numbered, an unscrupulous person  could do an unlimited number. Not a good idea.

Photographers and their gallerists also need to keep careful track of which prints are sold to whom - if an artist gets a big museum show and doesn't have a copy of a print, they will need to be able to borrow a copy from one of their collectors. If a new copy is made, it will have to stay strictly off the market, otherwise the integrity of the original edition will again come into question.

It's a sensitive business and some advisors, question whether photographic prints should be limited at all. Limiting an edition used to relate to litho printing and the quality of the plates - after 100 prints, say, a plate would no longer be as accurate and would therefore be rejected. These days that's no longer relevant and limiting editions can be seen as an artificial way of slotting photography into the fine-art market, traditionally centered around one-off, irreplaceable works. It's interesting to note that Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams never limited their prints.

Adams is an interesting example. He made his own prints and there are often multiple versions of the same image, but the earlier ones tend to fetch more at auction because they're considered higher quality. As Adams got older, it's argued, his eyesight started to fail, and his prints started to lose their subtle tonality. This touches on another important factor - the concept of the vintage print.

As the name suggests, vintage prints are older prints, and in general the older they  are, the more valuable they are.  From an investment perspective, a print made shortly after the image was shot is the ideal; later prints made, say, by the photographer's estate after he or she dies won't garner the same prices - even if it's of higher quality  in other respects. The idea of the artist's hand and the authenticity of the art work holds hard, even in this most reproducible of media.

For some  creating a limited edition is key. If you create an open edition you are telling the people who are buying it that it isn't a special object. You're not just selling an image, you're selling an artefact. People are very interested in the prints - they want to know if it's an inkjet or a C-type or a handprint, and I've even had people ask which paper and which batch number the work is printed on.

Edited from the British Journal of Photography, December 29, 2010

Friday, January 7, 2011

Todd Hido in Auckland for AUT St Paul Street workshop

Todd Hido arrives in Auckland next week for the annual AUT St Paul Street photography workshop.

Luc Sante writes about his work in Todd's book STRANGER.

Todd Hido finds the poetry in that strangeness, which consists of all the matter implied but unsaid in the margins of thrillers. It lurks in the high-tension wires. the high-intensity lights, the leafless trees and ambitious weeds. the hurricane fences and concrete knee-walls, the red night sky of light pollution. If in these pictures it is forever midnight and you are forever stranded and chilled and at a loss, you still have to pay attention to the way the prowler's footprints hover in the snow around the window. The jumble of cars around the bungalow may mean that many adults live there, but it may mean something else you really don't want to know about. These pictures might represent views from the undercover surveillance car, if the driver drinking endless coffee waiting for someone to leave or arrive were capable of appreciating the scene. The silence that permeates these pictures is before or after the fact, or a result of the muffling effects of weather, or else it is permanent, deathlike.

But such speculations are the ones that occur when it's night and you're a stranger. The shadows appear menacing only because those are not your trees. The wall would not look so horribly blank if it were the wall next door. You are a stranger, and that makes you jumpy and quick to spot imaginary dangers. People live here and go about their business. You the viewer is the one who is intruding. Todd Hido, for his part
is quietly finding beauty, where you can do nothing better than generate cheap fiction. You need to drink in these scenes, slowly. Nothing will happen to you. After all, at the end dawn comes up by the lake and you are still alive.

Auckland - Dominion Road

Auckland's Dominion Road heads in a straight line south from the city through the suburbs of Balmoral and Mount Roskill. The road is lined with small shops and countless Asian restaurants many of them Chinese in all their incarnations.
The road was made famous by Don McGlashan's group, The Mutton Birds' in their 1993 song, titled "Dominion Road".

Here are a couple of verses from the song and some photographs I made yesterday.

Dominion Road is bending
Under its own weight
Shining like a strip
Cut from a sheet metal plate
'Cos its just been raining

But its getting better now
He found it in him to forgive
He walked the city
And he found a place to live
In a halfway house
Halfway down Dominion Road

But its getting better now
He rests his head on the window sill
He watches the city
See the antennas in the hills
From a halfway house
Halfway down Dominion Road

Halfway Down
Halfway Down
Halfway Down Dominion Road

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First post for 2011

The early morning view from my studio terrace on 1/1/11

And the flowering Jacaranda tree at the bottom of my garden.