New Yorker Article: On Photography and Loneliness

...if love belongs to the poet, and fear to the novelist, then loneliness belongs to the photographer. To be a photographer is to willingly enter the world of the lonely, because it is an artistic exercise in invisibility. In the course of its relatively brief history, photography (and, by extension, those who take photographs) has been accused repeatedly of constituting an act of predation, as if the street is a savannah and the person with a camera a large cat, silent and hungry, ready to sprint after its next meal. In reality, though, the person with the camera is not hiding but receding. She is willfully removing herself from the slipstream of life; she is making herself into a constant witness, someone who lives to see the lives of others, not to be seen herself. Writing is often assumed to be the loneliest profession, but solitude should not be confused for loneliness: one is a condition we choose, the other is a condition that is forced upon us. A writer creates a world, and she is the ruler of it; the photographer moves through the world, our world, hoping for anonymity, hoping she is able to humble herself enough to see and record what the rest of us—in our noisy perambulations, in our requests to be heard—are too present to our own selves to ever see. To practice this art requires first a commitment to self-erasure.
— Hanya Yanagihara, The New Yorker

Memorial and Photography

But when the photograph outlives the body — when people die, scenes change, trees grow or are chopped down — it becomes a memorial. And when the thing photographed is a work of art or architecture that has been destroyed, this effect is amplified even further. A painting, sculpture or temple, as a record of both human skill and emotion, is already a site of memory; when its only remaining trace is a photograph, that photograph becomes a memorial to a memory.
— Teju Cole, writer. "Memories of Things Unseen." NYTimes

An old friend from school whom I reconnected with two years ago shared this article. The quote above points to the core of why I love photography and the way I  practice the medium. Whether they are quiet pictures of interiors, God filled light basking the landscape, a portrait or a still life, I am cognizant of the fact that what is in front of my lens is temporary. That pause- that moment of realization weighs heavily on me to make sure the photographs I make or capture contain some depth of emotion or meaning before I press the shutter. So even when I view these pictures decades later, they still carry with it the meaningfulness of that fleeting moment and tugs at my spirit. 

Quote 13: Chasing to get paid

For freelancers, this sounds all too familiar.

An opaque terminology accompanies these delays. There are “checks” versus “processed invoices,” “mailed checks” versus “cut checks,” “payments processed” versus “payments in the system.” It was always unclear to me whether any of these terms described real occurrences, actual actions taken, or whether they were merely meaningless placeholders for an action that never took place. There is always something that holds up the payment — a lost invoice to be pursued, a person who went on vacation who is suddenly being replaced by someone else, a contract that wasn’t signed, somebody to follow-up with in another, buried department, until you get to that individual who may have actually laid on eyes on your check.

via: Begging for Pay. Written by Elizabeth Dwoskin, NYC Times Opinionator

Quote 12: Actor Rainn Wilson on Overcoming Creative Blocks

Creative blocks come from people’s life journeys. If you don’t know who you are or what you’re about or what you believe in it’s really pretty impossible to be creative. So I think a lot of times when people have “creative blocks” and I know my share of friends do as well if they’re at just some stuck point. They’re not sure what to do with their lives or their writing or their photography or their film making or whatever it is that they’re doing. I think the best advice is you have to change your life up completely; to go on a trip, to go spend a year being of service. Be willing to take some major drastic action to get you out of your comfort zone and go inside, not outside.

via Brain Pickings

Quote 11: On Family and Home

An increasing amount of the world's population is in motion. People no longer live in ancestral homes or towns. Your place of birth might not be where you grow up or where you die. Home is mobile, the family splits, moves and returns. Home is not one space but multiple sites. Those of us who live here are in perpetual motion–negotiating through the familiar and the foreign, and renegotiating how we fit. The notion of home and self are tied up in this quest. Some of us will document this, to create our own memories, our own requerdos.

Deborah Jack, Blood Lines: Depicting Family Circle. Nueva Luz Magazine 31

Quote 10: John Mayer

When you convert your art into the art of real-time brand management, I suddenly have no more interest in it...I'm not a brand, and I don't refer to myself in the third person. I'm a dude who plays guitar and writes songs. When I'm done writing and recording them I will market them. Luckily for those who are cracking their knuckles ready to knock my point of view, that won't be for a long while. Because good s--t takes a long time. And this is going to take a very long time.

The globalized culture and art

I came across this article by Michael Kimmelman in the International Herald Tribune last week. He reviewed the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Fondazione Roma Museo. Here are a few quotes that caught my eye:

"No matter how much culture has become globalized, art retains meanings specific to a certain time and place..."

"We like the idea of universal art because most artists make work that they hope gains universal appeal and can speak to anybody who’s interested; because art’s formal values are supposed to transcend borders and ages; and because we can’t help fantasizing about the virtues of a global society. We imagine walking into any art museum, whether in Toronto or Timbuktu, and, up to a point at least, understanding the pictures and sculptures. But it’s often what we can’t understand that is most distinctive and enduring about the work."
"But culture’s ultimate value is in difference. Art is supposed to provide us with one-of-a-kind experiences. We make and consume it to share with others, the more people the better, but also to affirm our individuality, our links to specific things, places, values and people. Universality is useful to the art market but a concept still underexamined and overrated."

Ira Glass: On Good Taste

A good piece of advice when you reach a plateau in your creative work. Forge on and don't give up. Ira says:

It's going to take you a while. It's normal to take a while and you just have to fight your way through that. OK? You will be fierce, you will be a warrior, and you will make things that aren't as good as you know in your heart you want them to be. And you will just make one after another.

Ira Glass, Host and Producer of This American Life.


Most artists are doing something that’s not their art to make money,” says D’Ignazio, who has known RISD students with day jobs ranging from illustrating children’s books to guarding prisoners at Guantánamo. “It doesn’t compromise your professionalism if you have one career and another on the side. That’s the reality of making art in this country."

—Maura Judkis
The Art of Keeping Oneself Fed in Art School

US News and World Report

Source: A Photo Student


I picked up a random newspaper at Starbucks this morning and checked my horoscope.

Don't focus so much on the result that you jeopardize everything that came before. Trust in the process and you can have it all.

Art strengthens America

In times of war and sacrifice, the arts … remind us to sing and to laugh and to live. In times of plenty, they challenge our conscience and implore us to remember the least among us. In moments of division or doubt, they compel us to see the common values that we share; the ideals to which we aspire, even if we sometimes fall short. In days of hardship, they renew our hope that brighter days are still ahead. So let’s never forget that art strengthens America. And that’s why we’re making sure that America strengthens its arts. It’s why we’re re-energizing the National Endowment of the Arts. That’s why we’re helping to sustain jobs in arts communities across the country. It’s why we’re supporting arts education in our schools, and why Michelle and I have hosted students here at the White House to experience the best of American poetry and music.

Excerpt from President Barack Obama's remarks
for the Kennedy Center Honorees
December 6, 2009

source: Fracture Atlas blog

Rachel Maddow advocating for art

Sometimes we choose to serve our country in uniform, in war. Sometimes in elected office. And those are the ways of serving our country that I think we are trained to easily call heroic. It’s also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools. A country without an expectation of minimal artistic literacy, without a basic structure by which the artists among us can be awakened and given the choice of following their talents and a way to get to be great at what they do, is a country that is not actually as a great as it could be. And a country without the capacity to nurture artistic greatness is not being a great country. It is a service to our country, and sometimes it is heroic service to our country, to fight for the United States of America to have the capacity to nurture artistic greatness….

Not just in wartime but especially in wartime, and not just in hard economic times but especially in hard economic times, the arts get dismissed as ‘sissy.’ Dance gets dismissed as craft, creativity gets dismissed as inessential, to the detriment of our country. And so when we fight for dance, when we buy art that’s made by living American artists, when we say that even when you cut education to the bone, you do not cut arts and music education, because arts and music education IS bone, it is structural, is it essential; you are, in [Jacob’s Pillow founder] Ted Shawn’s words, you are preserving the way of life that we are supposedly fighting for and it’s worth being proud of.

Source: Fractured Atlas Blog

Great photography comes from seeing

An excerpt from Myles at Heather Morton/Art Buyer blog. He writes:

"Great photography does not come from being good on a computer - it can help, but unless you know how to see your computer is only a trick. Nor does great photography come from riding the same wave as every other photographer in that market.

You can argue with me until you are blue in the face but the simple fact remains: Great photography comes from seeing. Interpret how you will.

And right now I feel there are a whole lot of shooters out there who are wearing the same dark sunglasses."


Quote 03

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, It moves again since it is life.

William Faulkner