Thursday, September 15, 2011


Joe does have a sense of humor
Have you ever had days that just seem to pop? I wallow in depression ninety percent of the time and can’t figure out why because my days literally, okay figuratively, pop. Most of the day my head is going ninety miles an hour—that’s why I can’t sleep. It won’t shut off. It’s not organized and it may be going three different directions at the same time.

I got an email from a facebook group Cool Photos and Art. Debi Beauregard had posted a link to a photographer that I really wanted to write about. So I had today's post all planned out.

Then, tonight at seven o’clock I went out to eat. I took Joe McNally’s book When it Clicks. I like learning from Joe, but I don’t particularly like Joe’s writing and I don’t particularly like When It Clicks. I was just looking for a time filler. Since I am having a difficult time getting through the book I thought a little forced reading might be the answer. But tonight before I finished eating I had read a half dozen things that I was anxious to get home and write about.

When I got home I had an email from Paul Caponigro with a link to a interview he had done with Jerry Ulesmann. I can’t pass up Ulesmann. That added another half dozen things I wanted to explore in writing but then I noticed a link to a interview with Tillman Crane—I’ve got to quite reading.

I know I’m bugging everyone with my going on about Portfolio Challenge. But hey, I’m an old guy. I don’t have a lot to talk about. I have developed a pattern for Portfolio Challenges, even though I always set up some prearranged project—they never bears fruit. Actually I’ve planned the same project for the past three years and have yet to take a single photograph for the project. What I end up with is something that I stumbled upon. I like it that way. I like things that don’t necessarily make sense that can’t be planned; they just happen. It’s like making love on a diving board; who’d a thunk it? So now I am going to narrow down the dozen things I want to write about and see which ones come up.

McNally, was one of the last photographers hired by Life magazine. He was recounting a story about one of his early assignments—to go to the Rocky Mountain States and do a story on nannies. He was telling about the Picture Editor, John Loengard’s, very New York, very Mary Poppins concept of nannies. John was brainstorming the shoot with ideas that were about as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as they come and would probably require a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to discover anywhere west of the Staten Island. As McNally was leaving the office with his head spinning, John called out over his shoulder, “Just get a shot of one kissing a moose!” I loved it. That is the kind of thinking that made Life Magazine what it was. I miss that kind of thinking.

I have rejoined PhotoNet and am once again doing critiques. They will be ignored but they give me what I need and that is a discussion of photography that involves something other than the rule of thirds. I get to throw in a little Hattersley and a lot of Woodard. It’s a captive audience that can only object after the fact.

Ulesmann, like myself, was greatly influenced by Ralph Hattersley. Thusly, he can do no wrong. But truthfully I much more enjoyed the interview with Tillman Crane. He was a double major, religion and history when he got a job as a photojournalist with a newspaper in Tennessee—he is an accidental photographer. Maybe that is the best kind. Anyway, he was telling about how he was assisting at the Maine School of Photography and traveling to Delaware while he worked on his PHD in photography. Once every three weeks he made the overnight trip by train, got his portfolio reviewed and returned to Maine. At the time he was a landscape photographer. However, on one trip he saw something that grabbed his attention so the next time he carried a camera and photographed a newsstand. As Tillman put it, previsualization was something that he just didn’t do, this was a new experience for him. As a result he started carrying a camera on each trip and making various photographs relating to the train stations. At the end of the year he realized that his landscapes were predictable, the train station pictures were a little unpredictable and he liked that. He realized that the train station pictures were far superior to the landscapes and they ended up being his graduate project. Sometimes I need stories like that. Tonight I don’t feel so weird. I know that I am not the only one that stumbles into a project.

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