Speaking at ICA, San Jose


Hey Team,

I’m speaking at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose on May 14th. This is rare for me. Turn me loose talking about artists and technology. Will probably mention the old Blurb sidekick, but it’s really more about using the existing tools to tell the story you want to tell while keying on the creation of original works, which in my opinion is the only reason to use any of the technology. So, if you are around hit me up and stop by.

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.


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.


Makes You Stop And Wonder

The work is not only iconic, it’s incredibly well done. Is timeless the best way I can describe it? No, it doesn’t really do it justice. Neither do these crumby, fake polaroids shot on my phone, but I’m asking a temporary forgiveness until I get my camera back, or camera going I should say.

Herman Leonard, 85, is a legend in the music business, and photography world for that matter, but I think the foundation of his success is the music. I’m not sure if he plays, or ever has, but his images of music are impossible to forget. Black and white, mostly medium to large format, and dripping with smoke and history, these pictures are forever a part of the world’s collective knowledge of music. Sarah, Dizzy, Louis, Lena, Billie, and most importantly, Miles, all I need to mention.

Leonard began in the 40’s when race was a dominant card, but somehow managed to connect, even when someone like Lena couldn’t share a drink with him after the shoot because she could not sit in the general admission area due to her skin color.

Sitting and listening to Herman I am conflicted. I am in absolute awe of the ability to make these pictures, and the more you know about them, the more, if you know ANYTHING about photography, you realize were even more difficult than they look. Two, three, four sheets of 4×5 at a time, and that’s it. Strobes hidden as they popped into life freezing time capsules as Herman hid backstage. But I am also sad because I know these days are gone, both in music and photography.

Intimate is SO rare these days, a development of our own fabrication, and now we pay the consequences of short attention spans, everything rushed and on deadline, creating a shallowness that forces our mind to drift and our eyes to look away.

I’m conflicted because Herman is so good, so nice and there will be not be another.

I made many, many notes of this event, which I had planned to share, but someone saved us from this translation. In the audience were relatives of Miles Davis, and friends of Miles, one of whom stood up and said, “I was friends with Miles, and Herman, you were special to him.” There isn’t anything I can say better than that, so if you haven’t had a chance to see Herman’s work, I urge you to do so.

I should also mention Leonard was not alone on this day, but was speaking with Brian Cross, who goes by the name B+, another LA based photographer, but someone who originates from Ireland. Brian, soft spoken and modest, had the difficult task of following Leonard. B+ has spent the better part of the last ten years, perhaps more, shooting and living in the world of Hip Hop, and like Leonard has an intimacy with his associates that doesn’t come along every day.

The adjacent studio at the Pacific Design center held B+’s show, which was a fluid, active presentation, that to me was subtle in print size, but proved to me one simple thing…he is a photographer and not a showman. Many of Brian’s images are simple, quiet moments, as opposed to huge, lit, large crew, overdone music pictures that we are so fond of assigning these days. Through his images you could tell that B+ was a guy you would love to hang out with, someone that had one version of himself, not one public and one private. It also showed me that he also has a camera all the time, not just when he is on assignment, and that is something I really respect.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Brian, who said when asked, “What would life be without photography?”

“That isn’t an option,” he said.

Distinguished Speaker: Robin Wright

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend yet another of the Newport Beach Public Library’s Distinguished speaker series featuring mega-journalist Robin Wright. If you live in this area and don’t know about this series, or have not yet attended one of these events, hang up from this blog and get your tickets for the next shindig.

As for last night’s speaker…not really sure where to begin. If you based your assessment of her credentials on her experience in a SINGLE Middle Eastern country, you would be amazed at her depth, history and comprehensive reporting from the scene. Now, throw in the rest of the Middle East, Africa, and many of the world’s other trouble spots and you are beginning to get the picture of who this woman is and a little about what she has done. Beginning in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, she was either in attendance or reporting on most of the major events in the region. She has interviewed Arafat, Kadafy and even Ahmadinejad the current lightning-rod leader of Iran.

Her lecture focused on the “Future of the Middle East,” a topic critical not only to the European theater, but also the rest of the world. Most of us think our relationship with the Middle East is most easily observed at the gas pumps, but it goes far beyond that, and our current, political situation shows just how much we have to learn in regards to this area, the population, religions and our future if we are to coexist.

Her lecture was encompassing, but featured two points I thought most poignant. First, odds are, we have not seen the last of the terror attacks on our soil. Not that this is a big surprise, but the planners are still planning and killing us is a at the top of the daily “to do” list. Second, and perhaps most important, there is a sliver of hope from the region. Wright said that for the first time there seems to be a feeling that fundamentalism might not be able to provide for the future, that war, killing and driving wedges between peoples is not the future the population wants to endure.

The greatest leaders of people have always been those that unite, and many of these fundamentalist groups have yet to learn this, or don’t believe this to be the main goal. Imagine the power of feeding your people, of building infrastructure and of providing a vision of a future that offers even the promise of peace.

Just for kicks, I’ve included my notes from the night. Good luck reading them.