Blurb Down Under: Oculi + Blurb Opening Sydney

Last night we co-hosted an event in Sydney with the photographers of Oculi, a collective based here in Australia. Over the past few months one of our Blurb members, Garry Trinh, worked with Oculi on a book project as well as setting up last night’s show. Last night’s show was part of the Reportage Festival. Stephen Dupont, festival director, stopped by to unveil the new posters, complete with a cover image by David Burnett. You might be thinking, “Ya, ya, another opening,” but this one had a different twist. Each attendee had an opportunity to make their own book from the work of the Oculi photographers. After walking in, each attendee was given a form containing a book layout. Each person could make their own edit, choose their sequence and submit the form for Blurb to print and ship the book.

As a photographer your edit and sequence are critical and NOT something you would normally put in the hands of the audience, but that was precisely the point with this particular show. Both Oculi and Blurb were looking for something different. Personally I see so many shows and exhibitions and many of them are pretty generic. You have probably heard of the movement to “get the art out of the galleries,” which isn’t my particular view, but I DO feel there needs to be more exploration when it comes to photography. We were attempting to do just this.

There was an excellent turnout on a cold, extremely rainy Sydney night, even with a multitude of photography events all happening at the same time. Oculi is the recording device of an entire nation. Much of their work focuses on Australia which is one of the things that makes them so distinctive. The show prints were SMALL, something else I found refreshing. I was told the designer wanted the attendees to be able to see all the work in a small area as opposed to seeing each image massive and set alone. I applaude both the agency and Garry Trinh for putting it all together.

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Newspace Center for Photography: Lecture and Seminar

Wanted to make an announcement about an upcoming lecture and seminar I’ll be doing in Portland at the Newspace Center for Photography. As many of you know, I do a fair number of talks, lectures, workshops and seminars. For me, these are the most important thing I do in my duties at Blurb. What I find these days is that about 90-95% of the people I speak with are familiar with the Blurb name. I would estimate that 80% of the people I speak with have used, tested or experimented with Blurb. But what I find most interesting is that very, very few people have REALLY explored what the platform can do, which is what makes these events so much fun for me. The number one response I get is “I would never thought of that.” These events are far less about Blurb and far more about creativity, dealing with learned behavior, breaking new ground and applying critical thought to your work, your future and your publications. The future is NOW and the future for photographers, artists, designers, illustrators and creative types in general will be grand in ways we haven’t even begun to understand.

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And there’s more.

I’m not alone on this little mission. I’m fortunate enough to be traveling and presenting with Darius Himes, a friend, mentor and industry expert who is well versed in everything from publishing to the complexities of the high-end gallery world, not to mention he is just a cool guy. I can say with complete honesty that every single time I meet with Darius I learn something I didn’t know about photography, publishing or the art world. Our lecture and seminar is primarily focused on the book world, and to add to his resume, Darius is coauthor of the book “Publish Your Photography Book” with Mary Virginia Swanson.

Publish Your Photography Book

This book is a nuts and bolts breakdown of the entire publishing process, front to back, start to finish, and covers both traditional publishing as well as the new world of print-on-demand and self-publishing.
If you have an interest in the photography world, book world, etc the this lecture/seminar combination should be right up your alley. We live in a rapidly changing world where traditional roadblocks have crumbled and fallen. The tools at our fingertips are better than ever, and the power we have as individual artists has never been greater, The truly global audience is now within reach. This event will be an interactive, collaborative event where participants are encouraged to get involved and add to the dialogue. If you find yourself in Portland please come by, or if you know anyone who would be interested in the program then please share the link. For those of you already signed up, we’ll see you soon.

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Cleveland Musuem of Art: DIY Photobooks

So I have this book called “On Approach.” I call this book, “The book that won’t die.” Technically, everything about this book is wrong, at least in terms of traditional thinking when it comes to the photographic book. It’s only 5×8. It has eleven photos total. It is only twenty-two pages. The paper is a 60-pound ivory paper never intended for photographs, and I purposely put critical or key elements in the gutter. Everything is wrong. The only problem is, for whatever reason, the book works.

This book has literally traveled the world. It’s sold in key, high-end photo bookstores. It’s in a variety of really high-end collections, and it has garnered me, BY FAR, more accolades than any other book I’ve done.
The saga continues in a good way. As we speak, this book is part of the “DIY Photobook” show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I applaud the museum in dreaming up and fulfilling this show, and I’m truly thrilled to be part of it. I recently received the catalog that accompanies the show and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my images.

If ANYONE ends up at this show I would love a short report. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it and it’s driving me crazy. I’ll be everywhere else this fall but have no plans for Cleveland.

The moral of the story is not about me, or a show, or a museum. The moral of this story is to take our learned behavior, note it, and then move on and make something new, unique, interesting or different, especially when it comes to books. There is an entire world outside of the monograph and it’s our job as the “creatives” to explore.

Soul Rebel: David Burnett

Went to the David Burnett opening last night at Mr. Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles. Drove up with long time photographer friend and Wisconsin cheese-eating native Paul Gero who happens to be a friend of Burnett. I’d never been to this particular gallery before, and I’m glad I made the trip. In addition to Burnett’s work, which was centered on a project about Jamaican superstar Bob Marley, the gallery had a range of other imagery and artwork. There was a Hunter Thompson piece by Al Satterwhite that I was lusting after.

But I digress. For anyone who out there who loves documentary photography, editorial photography, political photography or photojournalism, David Burnett is a name you MUST know. A friend recently described him as “The Michael Jordan of photojournalism,” which I think is a accurate description. Burnett is a good photographer and has been good for a long, long while. Constantly reinventing himself, his genre, he continues to produce work that actually influences not only those around him but the actual industry in which he works. Not many folks I can say this about. Plus, he is just a cool guy. Always a smile, always a joke.

The project being exhibited, “Soul Rebel” depicts an intimate look at reggae superstar Marley. This project reflects what time, access and someone with a point of view can accomplish when given the chance. Living as close to Hollywood as I do, and knowing a fair number of photographers who cover the entertainment world, I wish I could take this book around to all of them, and their agents, and agencies and magazine editors and art directors and say “Look at this.” “This is what is possible with time and access.” The book, which I bought for my brother and nephew(a secret but neither read my blog), depicts a relaxed and mercurial Marley, at home and seemingly at peace. The work feels personal, very personal, and reminds me of other bodies of rock and roll work by the likes of Claxton and “back in the day” photographers that had relationships with these music stars, as opposed to the modern method of the five-minute portrait. When I see Burnett’s images I feel like I begin to know what the real Bob Marley was like. Quiet, reflective, lover of weed and soccer. I see Marley with his guard down, relaxing with friends in Kingston, on the road with the band and performing, dreadlocks backlit and glowing, face twisted in lyric.

When I see these images it feels to me like I’m being given a look at a secret world, but I’m being given this look by someone considered a friend to those in the images. I can’t tell you how important this is, and how critical this is to getting images that are a true reflection of someone, something or somewhere. I could tell you more about Burnett, the “Photographer of the Year” award, the “Robert Capa” award, the co-founder of Contact Press and the years he covered Vietnam, but I’m going to stop there. I want you to work at this and go discover him on your own. Trust me, it’s worth it.

SCAPE GALLERY SHOW

Hey Orange County Peeps,

Wanted to alert you all to the upcoming show at SCAPE in Corona del Mar. Attached is the promo. SCAPE GALLERY LINK

There is a chance I’ll be out of town snapping away on some strange project, but even if I am, I’m going to try to make it back for this.

No, I’m not in the show. I have no wicked art skills or mad game when it comes to the canvas, hence my affinity for the light tight box we call a camera.