Robert Capa Exhibition, Genova

I didn't have time to visit this Robert Capa exhibition while in Genova but only because I realised that it will be there for a while.  I shall return and make space for it.  He was a fascinating man.

Monday found me in my favourite secondhand bookshop here in the city.  I discovered a huge treasure, justified buying it, then had to talk myself into carrying the huge weight of it home.

It's John Phillips book, Free Spirit in a Troubled World

At just 21 years old, Algerian-born photojournalist Phillips was hired by Life magazine and assigned to cover Edward VIII, just as the story of Wallis Simpson and the king's abdication was about to break. Here, Phillips records his next 23 years as a correspondent, witnessing many of the 20th century's most dramatic events. Before World War II, he filmed the Wehrmacht marching into Austria, the Warsaw Ghetto, and turbulence in central Europe. From the Middle East, there are momentous photographs of King Farouk, King Ibn Saud, and the destruction of Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter. Reproduced from his negatives rather than Life's prints, the over 200 black-and-white images chronicle old worlds collapsing and new regimes seizing power. More so than most photojournalists' memors, Phillips's extensive text combines intelligence with delightful intimacy.

Of course I'm going to want to read his book.  And even better, for me, it was less than 20euro.

But anyway, at some point each morning spent in Genova, we would find our way to Douce Pâtisserie, in Piazza Matteotti, and this was the view from my table ...

Jared Moossy, Photographer

Jared Moossy is an American photographer who filmed all four episodes of the documentary series Witness. He specializes in conflict photography and is a founding member of the photo-collective Razon. For the Witness series, he travelled to Juarez, Libya, Sudan, and Brazil. Witness shows what life is like for photojournalists working in conflict zones; how they utilize fixers and contacts, search out a story, and make their photographs. The series also touches on the dangers that the photographers, their colleagues, and subjects face, while pursing this work.

An Interview with Jared Moossy, in Nowhere Magazine.

Anyone who knows me knows that war photographers and journalists fascinate me.  I read a lot of their literature simply because I have this idea that they take the reader beyond the gloss and spin that is everyday news, beyond everyday life, to a place where agendas don't really play out in reporting the news and the truth can't be bought and repackaged. 

They go out into the world and attempt to tell the story ... a story with words and/or photographs.  Camille Lepage was one of those people.  She was a 26-year-old French photojournalist who died on Tuesday May 14th, 2014 in Central African Republic.

She said, “You, as a photojournalist, are the messenger, you’re not the one who will implement new laws on Human Rights in Russia or Chechen, you’re not the one who will put rapists in jail, you will not cure Aids and won’t give food to all of those who are malnourished, but you’re the one, and that’s essential, who is going to denounce those things. Your job, or at least that’s how I see my role, is to make it as appealing as possible so people can relate to it and ideally put pressure on those in charge and whose role is to make things change!” 

Camille Lepage, December 1, 2011, via the blog of Christine Dowsett.

Jared Moossy for Nowhere Magazine: Syria from Nowhere Magazine on Vimeo.

Photography with Giles Duley and W. Eugene Smith

I didn’t write the rules — why should I follow them? Since I put a great deal of time and research to know what I am about? I ask and arrange if I feel it is legitimate. The honesty lies in my — the photographer’s — ability to understand.

W. Eugene Smith, Photographer

I found this quote and loved it.  I loved the photographer's defiance, or the disbelief.  I'm not sure but it made me think that it is a question we should all ask sometimes. 
And this: 
Q.  Why do you print your own pictures?
A.   The same reason a great writer doesn’t turn his draft over to a secretary… I will retouch.

Q.   Avedon said that there are three steps in making a photograph: first the taking of the pictures, then the darkroom work, then the retouching. He showed me one unretouched picture in which the girl’s skirt fell straight; in the final version it was flying out.
A.   I would have gotten her skirt up somehow.
And so it is today.  You make the photograph, you process it, and then you apply your feeling.  That 'application' varies.  I like to keep mine minimal but the image is mine to do as I please.
I love the way he owns, unapologetically, all that he does as a photographer.
Found after watching the following inspirational TEDx Talk, by photographer, Giles Duley.

David duChemin, Photographer

Patience, curiosity, and a willingness to value and love our subjects more than the photographs themselves will, in the end, result in stronger portraits. This patience and care allows subjects to calm, to drop their walls, and make way for moments like the second frame above – unrushed, unplanned, and unrepeatable.

David duChemin, a world & humanitarian photographer, best-selling author, and international workshop leader. David uses his powers for good and not for evil.

I enjoy his wise words on photography and wandering the world.  Tomorrow he's releasing another of his truly excellent books.  This one: Forget Mugshots, 10 Steps to Better Portraits.

My Great Big Photographic Hero ...

My Great Big Photographic Hero ... David du Chemin, posted news that rocked my world.  In a bad way.

David is a talented photographer, a man who wanders the world, capturing scenes, telling stories, and sharing his wisdom in ways that delight me. 

I've just come from reading his blog, a post where he tells his story of being denied entry to the United States of America.  But I'll let him tell it: '

But after 5 hours of questioning, an extensive vehicle search, and a second interrogation, I was told I was being denied entry to the United States of America, because “we have no proof you’ll return to Canada and we worry you’ll try to live here,” which nearly had me on the floor with laughter because, ahem, how do I put this? I like living in Canada. I have no desire to live in the United States. I want to travel the U.S., I want to photograph it, but I have no desire to leave my home. Which, as it turns out, is good, because they aren’t letting me. God knows they wouldn’t want a Canadian stealing the job of a Mexican. I just wanted to visit, man, not invade.

I was finger-printed, photographed, and made to sign transcripts of the interrogation on top of the line that said, “Signature of Alien,” which made me want desperately to sign, “E.T.”, “Mork”, or “Spock.” I couldn’t decide, so I signed my name on the form, and got back into the Jeep, grateful they’d only used the latex gloves while they searched the trunk of the Jeep, and not the trunk of, uh, ahem, me.

He will, and is, handling this with grace but he has planned this roadtrip for a long time, he'd already started out on it before his accident and now, it's over.

There's nothing more to say ... is there?

A timely reminder ... Gwarlingo

During the audit, one of the IRS employees explained to my friend that she couldn’t keep declaring a loss for her business year after year.

“This looks more like a hobby than a profession,” the auditor said.

My friend attempted to explain the financial ups and downs of being a working artist. Yes. There had been a dry spell in the “income department” in recent years, but her expenses were legitimate. Art was her business, her life, her passion–not a mere hobby.

The auditor was completely puzzled. “But if you aren’t making any money creating art,” he asked, “why do you keep doing this year after year?”
Extract from, What Inspires Michelle Aldredge, creator of the website called Gwarlingo.  The website where some of the most inventive work being made today in music, writing, film, performance, and the visual arts is highlit. It is also a place where creative people can connect, explore, and share ideas and resources.

The 'Joy' of Being a Photographer

One of the crazy beautiful things about my life is that I get offered the opportunity to photograph some truly interesting people and events.

One of the crazy-making facts of this life as a photographer, I’m usually offered the opportunity to donate my services for free ...

I was recently contacted about the possibility of heading off to a world forum as photographer.  They made it immediately clear that they were a charity, they had no money but there was the possibility the media outlets might want photographs.  I could probably pick up some loose change there.  I was left wondering how the caterers got their money ... tips?

The gig interested me, intensely actually, and the guy I was talking to was lovely however at some point sanity kicked in and I realised that it was same old same old.

I would attend two or three days of events, take a few hundred photographs because I love that kind of photography.  it was possible that some of those photographs would be urgently required for press releases, as is so often the case.  I would travel too and from the venue each day.  This was to be at my own expense, until I mentioned it would cost me money to work for the charity.  Not to mention that fact that I would spend a number of days sorting, selecting, processing and packaging my images so that everyone involved had the option of their memory of those days, proof of their professional abilities.

I thought, No ... not again

The organisers will be paid.  The cleaners will be paid. The caterers too, I imagine.  The office staff, the media people, the owners of the venue. Even the speakers will probably be paid as they were coming from all over the world ... but hey, the photographer works for free.


Are my skills such that I don’t deserve to be paid?
Is my time without value because I am an artiste?
Am I having too much fun in my profession?

Could it be that my 200euro monthly payments to social security here in Belgium aren’t impressive enough to merit payment?
Is my 21% BTW (VAT) payment on every invoice something I can choose not to pay?

I said no.
They offered expenses.
I had to walk away because how can I explain that I might be a little more qualified than some of the cleaners.  That perhaps my photographs will give the event more coverage than some of the office staff involved in putting this event together.  That maybe the photographer contributes something material, acting as a kind of witness to an event, that enhances the careers of those organising it.

Obviously my business is on hold while I regroup and learn to say no more often to these gigs.  I don’t want to get bitter about my photographer’s life because I love photography and people with a passion.  I love documenting events where the world comes to speak but I just can’t keep taking the financial hits. 

So please, sometimes just think about the photographer you’re hiring. 
Think about how good they are, how long you’ll have those memories for, and what value you place on those images ... and then just pay because they have bills just like you.

Thank you for reading.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as I find some bounce again ...

Colin Monteath, Photographer, Writer, Explorer

Chance encounters change lives. Close friends, passing aquaintances and even characters who emerge from old books often leave footprints across my heart. By opening mysterious doors, the influence of others has inadvertently altered the direction of my life.
Colin Monteath,  from Under A Sheltering Sky