Archive for November, 2008

On Set With Steven Meisel

November 30, 2008

Found over at On Shadow is this incredible and ridiculously entertaining video clip from a 1983 film called Portfolio.

Watch Steven Meisel, fashion photographer extraordinaire, on set rapidly clicking his Hasselblad away without even looking through the viewfinder while at the same time directing his models and strangely dancing up a storm.

This is quite some footage (albeit vintage) considering the fact that Meisel keeps himself pretty much undercover, rarely ever giving interviews and not publishing many books of his work.

Meisel has been at the top of the fashion photography world since at least 1992 when his photographs were published in Madonna’s Sex book.


Photograph #22

November 30, 2008

Untitled III, Brimfield, MA, 2008

To request the above photograph:

Send an email (subject: photograph #22) to horses [at] with your name and address.

If you are the first person to respond after the posting, you will receive the photograph in the mail.

* This photograph is no longer available.

Albert Kahn's Archives Of The Planet

November 30, 2008

Salonika, Greece, May 24, 1913 by Auguste Léon

Reading BookForum this afternoon, I came across a small write up of a new book called The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn’s Archives of the Planet .

Roscoff, France, April 6, 1920 by George Chevalier

Beginning in 1910 and continuing thru 1931, Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker, commissioned photographers and filmmakers to travel the world to record and document human life on earth using the recently invented Autochrome process.

In total, the image makers brought back about 72,000 images and 140,000 metres of exposed film.

Eiffel Tower, Paris France

Learn more about the archive at Princeton University Press, BBC, and see some more photographs here and here.

Also watch a BBC produced documentary on the archive:

Kids + Money

November 29, 2008

Kids + Money is a new documentary by Lauren Greenfield. Not coincidentally, the film had it’s debut screening on HBO today, also known as Black Friday.

Watch the preview at Greenfield’s website.

Nolde & Picasso At The Grand Palais

November 27, 2008

Emil Nolde, Der Prophet, 1912

While in Paris, we spent one morning at The Grand Palais near the center of the city. If you live there or are just visiting, don’t miss the two great exhibitions currently on view: Emil Nolde (1867-1956) and Picasso et Les Maîtres (and The Masters).

Be prepared to wait on long lines to get in (especially for Picasso) but it’s definitely worth it.

First up was the Emile Nolde exhibition, our main reason for visiting the museum. I’m a big fan of German Expressionist painting and Nolde didn’t let me down. I wish I had snapped some photos of my favorite paintings or took some notes to write down the titles as I can’t find the images online.

I’ve known and been a fan of Nolde’s woodcuts and printmaking oeuvre for a long time but it was the painting that proved a revelation.

Needless to say I was impressed by his intense use of color. I hadn’t seen many of his dramatic landscapes or seascapes before this and I was blown away by some of them with their awe inspiring view of nature and wondrous quality of light and color.

The exhibition does a great job of positioning his work around historical details as well as the artist’s biography which adds a great deal of weight and meaning to the work.

Emil Nolde, center Panel from The Life of Christ, 1912

On view in one gallery, taking up almost an entire wall was Nolde’s nine panel painting depicting the Life of Christ from 1911-12. Looking at this startling depiction of Christ was quite a shock and I’m not surprised that many people considered it grotesque at the time. The colors are bold and lurid, the style of painting raw and intense. It’s quite a different kind of religious painting than what we are used to.

Moving on to Picasso, there was a long line of people waiting to get into the exhibition, actually it was quite a mob scene. In truth, I’m kind of sick of Picasso which is such a terrible thing to say about one of the world’s greatest and most inventive painters.

Picasso, Dwarf Dancer, 1901

As an aside, I feel the same about Vincent Van Gogh too. Each time another exhibition is announced of either Picasso or Van Gogh, I just get annoyed. Do we really need another one? I haven’t seen Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night at MoMA yet but I guess I’ll have to considering all the good press it’s getting.

The concept of this Picasso show is actually quite special because it pairs Picasso’s paintings and drawings with many masterpieces that might have inspired them. In a sense it’s not exclusively a Picasso exhibition but one that attempts to draw the relationship between one artist and essentially the entire history of art that came before him.

When I say masterpieces, I mean it. All the great artist’s are here represented by some of their most well known and incredible paintings: Ingres, Velàsquez, Goya, El Greco, Degas, Manet, Poussin, Cézanne, Zurbarán, Chardin, David, Ingres, Delacroix, Courbet, Lautrec, Renoir, Gauguin, Rousseau, Titian, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

The list goes on and on. What’s truly amazing is how Picasso completely stands up to most of them. Even at the very beginning of his career (probably my favorite period) one can see how goddamn masterful Picasso was. It’s like he was born with a pen and brush in hand ready to go.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to be astounded again and again.

Thrift Find: Four Photographs

November 26, 2008

I’ll readily admit that although I love thrifting, I don’t particularly enjoy looking through boxes of vintage photographs to try and dig up the little gems. My partner in crime on the other hand is quite the expert and has an extremely discerning eye. She picked out these four images (and more) out of a few boxes we found at a small antique shop in lovely Freiburg, Germany.

The portrait of two young girls posing together is quite mysterious, could they be sisters?

I like the rounded edges and the matted border of the Victorian lady photograph and how it forces a sort of intimacy into the image. Reminds me of those tiny old rounded television sets.

Also, it’s hard to see from the small file size, but her left arm is holding some sort of rope that is reaching out and held on the other side by a small child who is partially cropped out of the frame. It’s quietly dramatic.

This masked woman throwing a bowling ball is a classic and could be my favorite found photograph in a long time.

Jason Polan Can't Stop Drawing

November 25, 2008

Jason Polan couldn’t stop drawing if he tried. The guy is obviously addicted and I’m happy about that as I enjoy what he does way too much.

Now you can watch him in high speed motion making drawings for the new Criterion Collection Cinematheque website.

I’m fascinated by seeing his drawing process in action, it’s like he’s speaking directly through his hands.


November 25, 2008

I’ve spent the evening looking over negatives from my recent journey to France. I haven’t made any contact sheets yet but I’ve been scanning and color correcting a few selected images that seem to have the right feeling I’m interested in.

As I was doing this and getting a crank in my neck in the process, a thought crossed my mind that had never really been there before. It’s somewhat obvious and possibly irrelevant but what the hell.

My thought (really a conclusion) was that photography is essentially all about “settling” for a photograph.

Let me explain:

Looking through multiple frames of the same subject, the artist must choose one that best fits his/her idea of what they are or were looking for. The artist realizes that a certain image within a group of images somehow meets the photographic criteria for a successful image in this particular instance. Maybe there is another frame that works as an alternative but either way (usually) just one frame is chosen. The criteria can change and certainly does, but the process of selection is one of making decisions and finally accepting a photograph to be the “correct” one. I wish I could truly understand how this photographic selection process works. And it’s always interesting to wonder which frames were rejected by another photographer.

Whether one shoots with film or digital, a decision is eventually made as to the chosen image. With film the choice happens later once the film has been processed. With digital the choice can happen right there on the camera/computer or later once the shoot is over.

The main point being that once the shoot is over, what the photographer has collected is all there is to work from. There is no going back to that moment to redo it (although digital compositing can rescue a messed shot). Even if the photographer completely sets up the shots, the chance of recreating the moment exactly would be almost impossible.

An evaluation of the options ensues. The photographer notices the subtle differences between frames, the slight changes in pose, lighting or camera angle and how each change affects the impact and success of a photograph. Options are reduced as certain frames are tossed out until only one choice is left and that’s when the “settling” officially occurs.

Photograph #21

November 24, 2008

Untitled, Outside Covington, LA, 2008

To request the above photograph:

Send an email (subject: photograph #21) to horses [at] with your name and address.

If you are the first person to respond after the posting, you will receive the photograph in the mail.

* This photograph is no longer available.

David Fincher's Favorite Films

November 24, 2008

via HE

Asked by Empire Magazine to quickly write down some of his favorite films, David Fincher made the list shown above. It’s a pretty fascinating list of films.

Here are a few of my favorites in chronological order:

Sunrise – F.W. Murnau 1927
The Crowd – King Vidor 1928
Meet Me in St. Louis – Vincent Minnelli 1944
Out of The Past – Jacques Tourneur 1947
Gun Crazy – Joseph H. Lewis 1949
Late Spring – Yasujiro Ozu 1949
A Place In the Sun – George Stevens 1951
Rebel Without a Cause – Nicholas Ray 1955
Kiss Me Deadly – Robert Aldrich 1955
Written on the Wind – Douglas Sirk 1956
Splendor in the Grass – Elia Kazan 1961
Mouchette – Robert Bresson 1967
Carnal Knowledge – Mike Nichols 1971
The Last Picture Show – Peter Bogdanovich 1971
Paper Moon – Peter Bogdanovich 1973
Badlands – Terrence Malick 1973
Network – Sidney Lumet 1976
Crimes and Misdemeanors – Woody Allen 1989