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Things in Things

I've been faithfully shooting, and have made some real progress over the past few months. While working on this 'collection' of things inside things, I discoverd that there is (of course) a web subculture devoted to things that fit perfectly into other things. I guess I can't call these people strange, because we surely share some impulses. This is a test shot from this weekend. First time using the Canon to make a double exposure.


Paper and promises

I was pretty happy with this review of Simen Johan's show at Yossi Milo for the Noise Issue of Nautilus over the summer--the online article was nice, but seeing it in print was an unexpected thrill. I like to think that I don't care about print, but apparently that's not true. I do in fact care about print, and Nautilus magazine is super savvy and beautifully printed.

Johan's show really was breathtaking, so it was easy to write about. His massive prints and hairy sculptures make you feel like you are inside a natural history display about things that haven't happened yet. Johan has done a lot of interviews, and his comments about his work have been widely published, but I was able to find a new angle, and he was happy with the review too. It is nice when that happens. Johan gave me a signed copy of his new book, which is gorgeous. 

I've decided that I may give myself a break for a while from writing about other people's work, to try and give myself a chance to try and write sucessfully or at least clearly about my own work. If not actually writing about it, I should be shooting it, organizing it, planning it, or printing it. Now that I've settled in a little bit at my new job at the Simons Foundation, at Spectrum news, I'm ready to start thinking about my own artwork again. 


Missing missives

I shot this with Jen Karady as the model a few months back. I've been working on this shot, or something similar to it for a while. I've long been fascinated with historical images and paintings that show people recieving or reading a letter, and I had a little collection of them.

I'm not sure exactly why I like these so much, but I'm sure it has to do with depiction of important communication, and the quality of the paper itself--strong and flimsy at the same time. I may have fixed on this in particular because I've had some long distance relationships where forms of communication other than the in-person kind became emphasized. 

This weekend Oliver is out of town, and I'm working for the second day in a row, shooting some new work. I'm not sure I'm Really Pleased with any of it yet, but it feels like a step in the right direction. 


Springtime Arrangement

Jennifer Karady came over and modeled for me last week, and I finally got a chance to re-do this shot, which is something I also tried out in Berkeley. The fabric on the table is from my friend Johnna, who modeled this shot for me back in California. It really helps to have friends who are photographers modeling as they understand my process and the process in general.

Jennifer and I have started an ongoing trade: I help her with a shot, and she helps me. It works. It seems like a lot of my friendships have deepened lately into even more satisfying relationships based around helping each other work on projects. I feel lucky to have such interesting friends.  

This was not my absolute favorite from the shoot but it felt like a very springtime image so here it is. I will share some other new images from the shoot later on. 


New Day, New Leaf

Christmas is over and I am glad to be moving into the new year. It was great seeing family, but it starts to get a little overwhleming after a few days. Lucky for me, my cousin Spencer was also visiting and we went to see art at the MOMA and the Guggenhiem, which was pretty great. I also wrote about Sebastiaan Bremer's new book, To Joy for LensCulture and for Storehouse. It is always a little nerve wracking to write about an old friend's work, but it went well. It was pretty amazing to use the new features in the app including shooting video directly into the story. See the Storehouse multimedia on To Joy.

In the past few weeks I traveled to England to visit a friend, renewed my commitment to my own photography, and I am now happily welcoming freelance work of all kinds: writing, editing, art producing, photo editing and teaching. I'm also carving out time for my own work. A sample/test shot from last week's shoot above. This is totally raw, shot on my iphone, not one of the final images. I will be posting more new work in the next few weeks. 


White Table at Sackett Farms

The above is something that was a drawing in my sketchbook, and it turned out to be really simple to create in real life. Sometimes this happens and its always a surprise. Taking images from a penciled rough sketch to a real scene in order to make a photo is often much harder than it seems like it will be. In this case, the setting, props and the multiple exposure function worked for me just like the pencil.
It is amazing to me that the table itself is still such a compelling topic and setting for me. It just never seems to get old. The cultural resonance of the table is significant--think about how many figures of speech we have around the word table: tabling something, bringing something to the table, turning the tables, on the table, under the table…The table is a stage that happens to be a manageable size—I think that is why I like it. Sometimes, as in this photo, the table itself is a subject—usually it supports other subjects. 
Unfortunately, it seems I am missing the photos I liked the best from my two day mini studio residency this summer at Joel & Ute’s loft. It’s pretty disappointing, and yet another unwelcome reminder that I need to master a digital work flow. I am just not putting the time into it—for some reason I just would rather be doing just about anything else. Alex reminded me that I should try to look at it as spending time in the darkroom, as a necessary but important part of the process. I am sure he’s right, and I am going to try. 



Interviewing Maia Flore

Last week I had the opportunity to interview the young artist Maia Flore, who I met a few years back at a Photo Alliance portfolio review in San Francisco. We stayed in touch, and this summer her first book, Rememories was published. The photo above is from her new book. You can see the resulting review here on LensCulture.

The interview was fascinating--the way that Flore remains close to the ideas and visions she had as a child is remarkable. She has retained the powerful imagination of a child, and perhaps this is one reason some of her work looks so fresh. She has the great fortune to have a grandmother who understands her work and works with her, assisting Flore in creating her images. How many photographers today can say that thier grandmother is a proud assistant and collaborator? I wish my grandmother was still alive so we could work together. 

I will be following the work of Flore with interest. Stay tuned for an exclusive invite-only story in the new Storehouse Spaces platform in beta. If you don't recieve an invite, and want one, email me at



Swimming into the End of Summer at the Red Hook pool

Today was the last early morning lap pool swim of the summer of 2015 at the outdoor Red Hook Pool. This is the melancholy of the end of summer. The air has been cooler these mornings, and the light even more beautiful and rich--the last of the yellow-gold and the beginning of the crisper fall light. I am sorry the photo here is so uninspired, but I had to sneak my camera out onto the pool deck just to get this lame shot.

There is something so reassuring about swimming with the same distance between my body and the bottom of the pool, just over four feet away. When my goggles are clear I can scan the painted cement pool bottom. I see the occasional oak leaf and the places where the light blue paint is broken, or chipped or poured over old breaks. I can detect color changes in the paint here and there. Approaching the pool wall can be tricky--if the light changes from bright and contrasty to flat it is hard to distinguish precisely the distance to the wall. When my feet hit they often slide on the painted surface which is slippery with a kind of gummy chaulkiness, and send me into an awkward turn. You can see the same stubborn chaulky residue on the bathing suits of all the swimmers at the pool.

Today I pulled into a mile slowly, taking the first ten lengths slower as usual and then speeding up after 20. I kept my mind on the goal of 42 lengths, forcing myself to keep count, and pushing on through the choppy water. Sometimes the currents in the pool change in strength and sometimes they seem to change direction. It is impossible to know for certain, but at some point the harder side switches. This might be perception, but I doubt it. I know other swimmers have noticed it as well. Usually the lane heading out that is the hardest, with the return trip feeling more like the downhill side. 

Sometimes the current and chop is so strong that I was literally thrown around and dropped, as if in the ocean, and I might breathe water by accident. The current made it feel uncannily as though I was swimming uphill. I swam in the fast lane, close to the wall. This was a very choppy lane, but I found I liked the challenge. I entertained the idea that these conditions would prepare me well for an open water swim in September. One day last week I tried the lane next to the fast lane and realized that the cross-current was even stronger there, and then I understood why swimmers in that lane had often drifted into the neighboring lane. Swimming in the seemingly placid Red Hook pool was closer to swimming in a light blue, chlorinated river than a lake.