Something interesting which came across tumblr and caused me to click through to his papers at the Smithsonian. These are too much fun. The signs are great in a vernacular hand-drawn way that we’re not used to seeing anymore. And the polaroids—direct flash and all—are perfect.
Yes, these are hipstagram before hipstagram. But what I love about these is how the camera is placed so as to crop out everything unnecessary and any keystoning or other “issues” are accepted. The only things in these prints are what needs to be there.
The Valley/El Valle features twenty diverse prints taken by staff photographers over the past decade. The Chronicle images serve to emphasize the diverse citizens and lifestyles in the Central Valley and include subjects such as members of a mosque in prayer, Hmong dancers and rodeo stars.
Still, I liked these. A lot. I may admittedly be a sucker for images from the Central Valley* but I also like images which show people working and having fun and living in a California which is vastly different from the California which people travel to see. This is the California people travel through on the interstate where they can ignore and avoid everything in these pictures.
It’s also interesting to see these photos online without any of the context in the exhibition. Especially since they’re all photojournalism literally from the news archives. I don’t feel like I need the stories when I see them this way. There’s a sense of place and life that I get when looking at these as they are. Maybe that’s just me filling in my own context as a native Californian. But it’s still something worth noting.
Gabriele travelled around the world and, next to thousands of other adventures, turned into a curious and hungry grandson for the grannies of all the countries he visited. Appealing to their natural cooking care and their inevitable pride in their best recipe, common factors to all grandmothers in the world, Gabriele persuaded them to do their best in the kitchen.
Aside from the fact that this series is limited to the families who can afford to host a traveler. And with the awareness that what host families feed their guests isn’t always what they actually eat every day.* I really like these. A very simple idea but one which I think works really well here.
*My wife and sister both have travel stories about how relieved their hosts were to find out they were vegetarian and didn’t impress their guests with meat. At the same time, there’s also something nice about seeing pictures of food which directly contradicts the stereotypes we have of these places in the west.
I always like watching experts work on things that they can do in their sleep but which they take immense pride in doing well. This is especially true of tasks which are often overlooked or taken for granted. Food preparation is one such task. It’s clear looking at these photos that every woman here is pleased to be recognized for this skill and proud of her creation.*
*One of the things that’s bothered me about the celebrity chef stuff (and a lot of foodie culture in general) is how male-dominated it is since, rightly or wrongly, domestic food prep is usually performed by women. Only glorifying the male celebrity version of cooking gets the essence of food wrong as well in addition to suggesting that the everyday essential food prep that women worldwide are doing isn’t worth celebrating.
There’s also something nice about how so many of the meals seem to match the rooms and the way the women are dressed. I’m curious whether this is intentional or if it’s an organic function of putting together a household and letting everything sort of grow together so nothing feels out of place.
Lastly, I really really appreciate how global this series is. Are there missing areas? Of course. But when picking the images for this post I found myself noticing that there are plenty of examples from all continents to the point where I don’t feel like anyplace is really being slighted. And that’s a rare thing nowadays.
Not a new series but I had long forgotten about Tatsumi Orimoto’s work—heck, I’d forgotten his name even—until one of his photos came across my Tumblr feed. Not much to say about these except that, as sort of mean as these are, I find them funny and they remind me of my grandmother.*
*My grandmother got dementia before she died. As tragic is it was to see her decline, we often couldn’t help but laugh at how she dealt with things. And it was always especially amusing to see her routine get shaken up and her not really notice at all.
Steichen began to value photography’s capacity to transmit and encode information, and he soon proved his savvy as a collaborator and producer rather than a solitary auteur—new skills that enabled his subsequent groundbreaking career in magazines.
These have been sitting in the write-somthing-about-this queue for a few months. Kukkurovaca’s most-recent Minor White post however reminded me of them. It’s not just that these are interesting technologically* and biographically,** they’re also worth thinking about as communication.
*Adding photography to the list of aerial advancements made during World War 1.
**Marking a key moment in Steichen’s development as a photographer
In their execution, they remind me of the scientific photographs—micrography, aerial surveys, etc.—that found their way into the early attempts at photographic abstraction, except that in White’s case, they are not valuable purely for their aesthetics but for their potential to transmit an understanding that could not be put into words.
This is especially interesting given how I was looking at Doc Edgerton last week and feeling like all those stop-motion photographs felt more gimmicky than anything else. I think the main difference here is that many of the stop motion photos don’t really communicate much beyond “this looks cool”* whereas aerial photos do. It’s not just “I can see my house from here” but the kind of thing that invites us to think about our interactions with the land from a different perspective.
*The best Edgerton photos actually tend to go beyond that and reveal interesting things about the way objects behave— e.g. how the milk coronet elegantly shows fluid dynamics.
We already know how maps are so different than directions in terms of explaining a place and how to navigate it. Aerial photos take the sense of a map but invite us to really think about the real world implications of what’s depicted. At the same time, like with maps (and any other kind of photography), they’re an obviously abstracted version of the world.