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He began his photographic journey working on a ship during WWII. His job. Taking ID photos of the sailors on the ship. For two years he made hundreds, maybe thousands of nothing but ID photos, when he said, one day he realized he was a photographer!

He spoke of a childhood memory of seeing a man take a photo on the streets of New York and later seeing it published in a magazine, Harper’s Bazaar. It left enough of an impact that her remembered it years later.

This man who was tasked with making ID photos, would go on to be one of the seminal fashion photographers of the 20th century. His signature style was movement. Always movement in his images.

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In his portraits he choose to use a stark white background. Critics have written about how this forced the viewer to look deeper into the subject, rather than for clues in the background. How the absence of information, forces the eye to look to the subject for clues.

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His “In the American West” series was so different than the beautiful images people were used to seeing, with the fringes of society being the subjects that Avedon photographed.

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Yet, the white background portrait has become deeply etched into our culture and was greatly sparked and influenced by Avedon himself.

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Terry Richardson and his celebrity portraits greatly borrows the narrative of the white background.

Thanks for looking.

Be inspired!

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I’m continuing my Influences thoughts about my photography…

Today’s post is about August Sander, who lived (17 November 1876 – 20 April 1964). He was a German portrait photographer who has been described as the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century(Michael Collins, Record Pictures (Thomas Telford Publishing, 2004), p. 1842).

His subject matter was people. He turned his camera upon the various classes of people that surrounded where he lived in Cologne. In 1929, he published his first work, entitled, “Face of Our Time.” It was a taxonomy of people and the various classes in which they worked and lived.

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Pastry Cook

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Middle Class Children

He ran afoul of the Nazis who did not agree with his work which didn’t align with their Aryan Race dogma, so they destroyed some of his work and he fled Germany during WWII, but didn’t really continue his work after the war and he died in 1964.

His seminal work influenced generations of photographers, including Diane Arbus, especially in her twins image.

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New Jersey Twins

What I find so fascinating about Sander’s work is how his subject’s presented themselves in such a straightforward and honest fashion. Before the selfie and the duck face, we are allowed to see people in Austria and Germany dressed in their work clothes and looking directly into the camera, showing their true selves.

Be inspired!

Today I wanted to talk a bit about some of the major influences in my photography at this point. The first gentleman is Jerry Uelsmann.

An innovator who coined the phrase and the idea of, Post Visualization, which is continuing to let an image evolve after pressing the shutter. So, for Uelsmann, the creative process continued in the darkroom. This is the exact opposite of Ansel Adams’ Pre-Visualization concept which puts the pressure on the photographer to “see” a completed image before clicking the shutter.

Uelsmann was a pioneer in the darkroom. His technique that he perfected included up to 7 exposures on a single sheet of paper. He described photographing various objects with the thought of utilizing them at a later date.

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The above image was an homage for his friend, Minor White, after hearing about his death. Uelsmann loved the idea of a boat, a journey over water and utilized this metaphor in many of his works.

All of this decades before the creation of Photoshop!

Be inspired!

Hi, after quite a break from my blog where I talked about basic photography tips for 3 years, I’m back, since then, which was 2011!

I returned to school to obtain my MFA in photography at Art Academy University of San Francisco and I will receive my degree on May 10. It’s been a long 3 years, but well worth it after all of the fantastic courses and professors I was exposed to during this time.

I’ll be talking about all things photography here in the coming days, weeks, months and years. My undergraduate degree is in communications and led to my working as a photojournalist at the Orange County Register for almost 20 years!

Now that I’ve been trained as an artist, I have my feet firmly planted in communications and art photography. It’s been an enriching experience that I would not trade for the world.

My thesis is on aging in America and deals with the way that our culture sees aging. We have put youth on a pedestal and worship it in our media. We try to hold onto our youth as long as possible, spending billions to stay as young as long as we can. Meanwhile, are seniors are shuttled off to retirement homes so that death is not something we deal with on a personal level. The subjects of my thesis are dynamic and vibrant seniors over the age of 80 who live life passionately. They rage against the dying of the light, just as the poet Dylan Thomas talked about, to that each life is lived with passion and each era is to be appreciated and not feared or dreaded.

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Lillian Thorton

This is Lillian and her original image was taken around the age of 6 or 7 with her beloved dog. Her updated image shows similarity in the car she drives, the dog she loves and even how she still holds her hands in a similar manner. This image celebrates her life and how she is a caretaker for her sister and friends who unable to drive, she shuttles them to the doctors and other errands they might need during the week.

The white space between the images represents the life that Lillian has lived and continues to thrive each day as her future allows.

I invite you to come with me on my journey. Be inspired!

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Hi, I’m going to try out this blog format on WordPress. I’m told the images are larger and it’s more intuitive.

Mike

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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