Elsewhere on the Interwebs Relating to Photographic Elucidation (and enjoyment)

American Flag on the way to Catalina

Photo by Barry Schwartz


Sometimes all one wants to do is think about photography to the exclusion of other art forms.  However, since photography documents the entire world (arts and non-arts), it all works out.

Here’s a series of pieces I picked up from the Interwebs over the last little while that astounded, enlightened, and illuminated me about photography, its subjects, its history.

Photographer Charles O’Rear was not looking to make an iconic photo, just a good one, as he drove down a road in a neighborhood I know well, because I live there. Years later, that drive produced one of the most famous photographs ever made, appearing on computer screens all over the world: the blue sky and green grass that is the background for Microsoft Windows XP. Here how it happened. From the website Artsy.

The Story Behind the World’s Most Famous Desktop Background


Lisette Model was a photographer, and, crucially, a teacher, whose influence remains integral to how fashion and documentary (street) photography is perceived and practiced. Beginning in 1934 and photographing to the end of her life, Model also spent 30 years teaching at the New School in New York City, helping inform photography by informing practitioners. By Karen Kedmey on Artsy.

The Pioneering Street Photographer Who Taught Diane Arbus


There is an infrastructure supporting the history of photography, sometimes in public, sometimes hidden away in specialized places known only to a few. One of those places is the “morgue” at the New York Times, containing clippings and research material going back to the beginning of the paper. Archivist Jeff Roth, who runs the morgue, knows his way around pretty well.  The remarkable Steven Heller has a blog, The Daily Heller, with a continuing series where he asks Roth to come up with some of his favorites. The latest is on the transcendent Pete Seeger.

Jeff Roth’s Archival Pick: Pete Seeger


Minor White, one of the great and influential photographers and teachers of the Twentieth Century, has 5,000 of his photos and contact sheets digitized and available for anyone to look at, courtesy of Princeton University. I thought I knew something about White, but in the last few years (even before I saw this article), I learned I had a lot to learn.  From the terrific all-purpose website, Open Culture.

5,000+ Photographs by Minor White, One of the 20th Century’s Most Important Photographers, Now Digitized and Available Online


Ashley Maynor is a filmmaker and educator in New York who grew up in the South. Her grandmother has taken photos all her life, documenting virtually everything and everyone she comes into contact with using cameras, 8 mm film, and video. Maynor spent years avoiding her Southern heritage, but she came around to appreciate the South partly through her grandmother’s photos, so she made a short film focusing on her grandmother’s life.   There’s a subtext in the film that asks the question about what, if anything, separates her grandmother’s work from a professional documentarian or fine-art photographer. “I think she does have a notion of the truth in her photography, but boy is it sometimes a really brutal truth.”

Maynor talks about her process and her film in a great interview in the online magazine, The Bitter Southerner, which includes a link to the film, which you can watch for free.

For Memories’ Sake


Toni Frissell, who lived from 1907 to 1988, was one of the great photographers of the 20th Century, shooting fashion, portraits, and photojournalism, including war photography. She shot fashion under water in 1947, pre-dating Howard Schatz by some decades. Before she passed she donated her entire archive of 340,000 items to the Library of Congress. Here is a nice piece on the Dangerous Minds website, with fantastic photos.

Meet the Woman Who Photographed Frida Kahlo, The Kennedys, Elizabeth Taylor, Fashion & War


Andrew Moore has published books, produced work for exhibitions, and been widely published for decades. I used to see a regular feature of his in INC magazine of a double-spread documenting very large spaces of every kind and their support systems, without realizing how wide-ranging his work really is.   His latest project is the result of three years work in Southern Alabama and includes text written by himself. With many fine – and glorious – photos and words on the wonderful site The Bitter Southerner.

Blue Alabama


Jim Wilson has been a staff photographer for the New York Times for 40 years, based in San Francisco. He has seen it all and done the rest;  photojournalists produce, on demand, every kind of image you (or an editor) could possibly imagine.  Here, on the website of the paper itself, he talks about the ways technology has changed – and not changed – how he does his job.

How Technology Has Changed News Photography Over 40 Years



Mary Catherine Bateson on How To Be A Systems Thinker


Most artists are not obsessed with art to the exclusion of the rest of the world; despite a common misconception of non-practitioners, it makes for better work to be curious about the wider world.

An aptitude for curiosity can easily lead to a lack of focus; without some self-curation, there lies madness, and no career. A little structure can go a long way. Practitioners in the arts world – really, any world – are cognizant to some degree how they fit into the system they operate in. This awareness gets better with repetition and self-awareness.

By default, this makes everyone a systems thinker, whether they do it well or not-so-well.

Mary Catherine Bateson is an anthropologist and author with something authoritative to say about all that. She has a singular take on systems theory and its better-known cousin, cybernetics, because her parents, Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, helped invent them during the 1940s and ‘50s when they helped organize and run The Macy’s Conferences.

The Conferences were intensely collaborative experiences with a small group of big-thinkers, including artists and social scientists. Computers were never the focus; their work was really about systems theory, fueled to an extent by their sense that the world after WWII was going to be a different place, which, of course, they got right.

Bateson quite literally grew up in the company of this remarkable, highly accomplished group. Like her parents, she has the ability to put into ordinary language what in other people’s hands would be needlessly jargon-filled ideas.  You can see her in action in a video on Edge.org.  The video runs about 40 minutes, and because she is humorous and plain-spoken, it’s not a slog. “You don’t know have to know a lot of technical terminology to be a systems thinker.”

The ideas and processes she talks about apply to artists and creative entrepreneurs as much as any other profession. Truth-in-advertising, Bateson is a friend of mine through her father, who I knew well when I was a young man.

Mary Catherine Bateson on Edge.org:

How To Be A Systems Thinker


Another Edition Of Worthy Links For You, Dear Reader

Photo by Barry Schwartz

Julia Child’s husband, Paul Childs, took the photos that illustrated her first books. It’s no accident his work was at a professional level – he had been taking pictures for decades. Before he and Julia moved back to the U.S., while living in France he was friends with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Napa, and Edward Steichen. He even used their printer, the legendary Pierre Gassmann. The Lens Blog in the New York Times previews images of France and Julia Child never seen before now.  From the new book France Is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child.

The Unseen Julia Child


Learning about art school can be more fun than actually going to art school.  And much less anxiety-producing. Here’s a short cartoon-graphic as proof by Walter Scott in The New Yorker:

Wendy’s Guide to Art Grad School


Two of the smartest people in journalism and media are David Remnick, writer and Editor of the The New Yorker, and A.G. Sulzberger, the Publisher of the New York Times. They’re seriously smart regarding the massive, never-ending changes in their world, while striving to be ethical, professional communicators. What is billed as an interview by Remnick of Sulzberger is more like eavesdropping on a fascinating, relevant-to-our-times conversation.

A Conversation with A. G. Sulzberger, the New Leader of the New York Times


Newsletters are one of the best ways to stay in touch with clients and potential clients; they consistently have an “open-rate” that make them the envy of any online ad.  Newsletter technology has gotten cheaper and easier to use, but you still want to send emails people will want to open, or at least read. The Nielsen Norman Group, a respected source of effective design for the screen, has a short video tutorial on three design elements worth paying attention to. While you’re at the site, be sure to subscribe to their own newsletter, it’s packed with good information.

3 UX Tips for Better Newsletters and Marketing Emails


For creative entrepreneurs of any kind, licensing is part of the lifeblood of maintaining an income stream.  Here is a great example of the value of limiting licensing, as opposed to unlimited licenses. From the really terrific blog Pricing & Negotiating that appears on the the equally terrific A Photo Editor blog.

Pricing & Negotiating: Licensing Extension


In 1964, many years after high school, Richard Avendon and his high school friend James Baldwin published Nothing Personal, which was re-published last fall along with a lot of new and extra material, including Avendon out-takes. The introduction, excerpted here, is by Hilton Als, Pulitzer-prize winning critic on the staff of The New Yorker, who knew Avedeon – the first staff photographer the magazine ever had. From the New Yorker’s own Photo Booth blog.

Richard Avedon and James Baldwin’s Joint Examination of American Identity