New Release: Peru

When I was first asked to go to Peru and teach a workshop one of my first thoughts was about the book.

I knew I would make a book, or several, but really didn’t know what it would be. Most of the time I’m working with a very specific goal in mind, but when I’m teaching my focus is not only myself, but rather on the class and making sure THEY get what they are looking for.

So when it actually came time to make a book from this material I had a different kind of decision to make. At first I envisioned a book with chapters, a table of contents page explaining those chapters, and very concise lines and angles. In fact I began to design a book just like this.

But then I realized it just wasn’t working. I realized what I had was a random set of images, pieces of a puzzle, but not that overall picture. So in the end I decided to create a portfolio book, something I hadn’t done for a long, long while. I found the experience rather liberating.

The only thing I decided on was to make two styles of page, competing 6×6 and black and white. I realize these styles of work are entirely different, but that was really my point. The book has an introduction titled, “Split Personality” which describes this pairing and why the images look the way they do.

Most of the time an editor will tell you to keep your theme to similar images, and I agree, but with a portfolio I felt I had slightly more flexibility to experiment.

My goal is to refine this work, and add to it, hopefully next year when we are planning a follow up workshop. I’ll keep you posted on the details.

New York State of Mind

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I was in New York and I had some time to kill. The trade show raged, and I could only take so much. It seems the business is more about buying new things than it is about what comes out of the new thing. I needed air. Walking with no particular direction in mind.
A man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware. A guy in a tunnel guarding a bag of money. “Hey, can I shoot your picture?” A nod. One frame and I keep walking.

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I’m not sure if this is about keeping someone in, or keeping the rest of us out, but this place is wired. Caffeine, spirit, razor. There is so much of it you don’t even see it anymore.

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Obama. Everything coated in stickers, one on top of the other, and then notes and jabbering on top of that. The Joker. It took some time to do this, and I love the idea of someone stopping, in the midst of whatever they were doing, and saying, “I think I need to write on that.”

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Another pop icon, but ten feet tall. The Meatpacking District. I can’t believe how it has changed. Modernized, but also gentrified beyond recognition, which I think we call “progress.” I guess it is the same “progress” that we consider subdivisions ninety miles from a city center with no pubic transport.
There are still traces of the old place, the old feel, but they are reduced each day. Tourists don’t want to see blood on the street.
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Speaking of street. If these babies could talk. Man, the history here is remarkable, and no matter how much we try to wrap the steel and concrete in the banner of today, that history is always there, bubbling. Perfectly chipped rectangles. Talk about blood. From all sorts of beasts.
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The standard bird shot. I nail it just after I pass a guy peeing in a doorway. It’s odd how little pockets of the city are void of people during a work day. Just strange people and masses of birds eating unknown stuff.
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“Mind if I shoot your food?” “No, go ahead.” One snap, move on. I can feel an odd little package of images builiding in my head. Not that I will ever do anything with them, but I need to make them. A cleansing if you will. Too congested with the business of photography and not enough of the practical application.
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Even in the midst of the millions we are still alone, and there are places of quiet and solitude. Rain begins to fall, but the weather is hot. I’m sweating now, trying to stay dry, but already damp. I cram as much as I can into my shoulder bag. My camera fits in the palm of my hand.
I stop under an awning and watch as the clouds roll by.