Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Joe McNally in Rwanda, 1997

Refugee Girl after the Genocide, Rwanda, 1997

I was in Rwanda after the genocide, which was very difficult. Not only was there the evidence and smell of death lingering in many places, but it was also distressing to see the tidal wave of human displacement, orphaned children, and people with literally no place to go. I shot this picture in panorama format, as I was trying to get across the enormous sweep of this very large refugee camp in the volcanic highland area of the Rwandan-Zairean border. (Zaire is now the Congo.) 

What you don’t see in this picture is the crowd of some 300 to 400 people watching me shoot it. She was standing there, alone, and her simple, sweet, uncertain stance certainly made for a photograph. But I had an enormous crowd following me around, as visitors to a refugee camp often become that day’s movie. I crouched on the ground behind my tripod, shooting quickly, begging everyone to stay behind me. And, even though I was concentrating on making the picture, I became aware of the light touch of children’s fingers on my skin and hair. They were gently pinching and rubbing my skin, and pulling my hair. A white person was still strange to them and I believe they thought my coloration would somehow rub off and there would the more familiar black skin they were used to underneath. And my hair? Well that was really different, and the object of much interest. --Joe McNally

 Refugee Camp, Rwanda, 1997

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Steve Schapiro Talks Photography, Bowie, And 21st Century Hippies

Steve Schapiro with “Bowie, The Man Who Fell to Earth” New Mexico, 1975. Archival pigment print. 40 x 50 inches. Photo by: Carrie McGath

Via Chicagoist

Steve Schapiro's photographs occupy and navigate a space that is deeply human and soulful, encouraging his subjects to feel able to open their own apertures and shred any facade. David Bowie, more often a series of personas than a man, is captured by Schapiro as rawly human, even vulnerable at times, even if he is in character. The works in Schapiro's exhibition, "Warhol, Reed, and Bowie" at the Ed Pashcke Art Center acts as an archive of this ability. Some of these images are iconic; Bowie Smoking a Cigarette once graced the cover of Rolling Stone.

Schapiro spoke with me on the phone recently about this show, his past work and future projects. He has a way about him that encourages, even insists on, making his subjects comfortable in front of his lens.

CHICAGOIST: So you discovered photography at summer camp at the age of 9? Was that your first time with a camera?

STEVE SCHAPIRO: I think it was first time and I guess it was probably a Brownie camera, and I took pictures at the camp. What really excited me is that we developed our own film and to see them come out of the water, out of the chemicals, and to see the clouds and all of that to me was very exciting and it started me in being interested in taking a lot of pictures. Henri Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment came out and that was an incredible book at the time and it is amazing how he caught the peak of action and also had such great design and gave you a sense of where you were and really made me decide I really wanted to become a photographer.

C: What about the beginning of your professional career? How did all of that start?

STEVE SCHAPIRO: When I was growing up as a journalistic photographer, the thing you could most hope for was to become a Life magazine photographer. So I set my sights on that and I started doing projects on my own. I spent four weeks at a migrant workers camp in Arkansas and that was one of the projects I did on my own. I came back and there was a small Catholic magazine called, Jubilee, and they would give you six to eight pages to do a portfolio. So I got my first portfolio printed on the migrant workers and the The New York Times picked up one of the pictures and used it as the cover shot for their magazine section, and I gradually worked into Life magazine and did quite a bit for them and for other magazines.

C: You're a great observer of humanity, even with iconic, larger-then-life figures like Bowie. I am thinking specifically of the Bowie photograph from The Man Who Fell to Earth, one of the highlights of the show. This was printed at the last minute for this exhibit, correct? There is a somberness and vulnerability in this work while it is magical.

STEVE SCHAPIRO: It's an image that was never printed till about two weeks before the show. I looked at that transparency and realized it is a really good picture, and it was only when I thought we needed another Bowie picture to round out the exhibit that I went back and looked at the transparencies and I found this image. It had never been edited or printed. It is entirely untouched.

C: Can you talk about how you tap into the personality of your subjects?

STEVE SCHAPIRO: Basically, when I am photographing, I try to be very quiet. When I am with someone I don't want to have a conversation with them because then they would be talking to me and they're not really being themselves. Their thoughts are what they are saying to me and what I am saying to them. I just look for those moments when there is something in their eyes or an attitude, something that shows the spirit of that person.

C: Another favorite of mine is the one of Warhol holding that displeased dog. So much is captured in that image.

STEVE SCHAPIRO: With that picture of Warhol, the Velvet Underground had done a concert and the promoter wasn't paying them for three weeks and there was this place that looked a castle in the Hollywood Hills and the person who owned it let them camp there. I was just walking around with Andy and suddenly he saw this dog and picked it up, and that was the picture. It wasn't anything we spent any time on and it is a very warm picture and a different side of him.

C: Do you find when you are photographing a performer like Bowie, a quintessential performer and artist, I am thinking, like you were saying, he was very aware he was being photographed, but he also seemed to put his guard down for you. Can you talk about that?

STEVE SCHAPIRO: I think Bowie is very smart and I think he has a great sense of images and in coming up with new kinds of images. The first session I did with him started at four in the afternoon and ended at four the next morning when I did that picture of him on the motorcycle, and we used the headlights of a car to light it. He would constantly come up with new costumes and I would pick up my camera to photograph him and it would be an incredible outfit, but he would stop me and say, "Wait a minute, I need to fix something," and he would go to the dressing room and come back 20 minutes later in something totally different. Fortunately, there would be a lot of things he would try on, so we would get a lot of pictures. The picture of him smoking a cigarette was a cover of Rolling Stone and it has been used a lot, but it was originally the cover for Rolling Stone.

C: Photographing celebrities aside, could you talk about your work with the everyman: the series of the migrant workers you talked about and also the addicts you photographed in East Harlem. I am wondering what drew you to these subjects.

STEVE SCHAPIRO: They're both highly emotional subjects where there are problems involved, and from a human basis, they are interesting situations to cover. I have a book coming out next year about the hippie movement of today. I photographed Haight-Ashbury in 1967 and it was the center of the hippie movement. My son and I photographed between 2011 and 2012 a lot of music festivals and situations like that and we photographed the spirit of a whole new generation who are not as much into drugs but into meditation and are conscious of organic food and good eating. Today there are these music festivals and there are people who just go from one to another and it is, in a sense, their religion. I met this one man who said I am not a Catholic, not a Baptist, I am a festivaltarian. What he meant was that, spirituality, he got an inner sense of a spiritual high. The books is really about the joy people have.

C: Any other projects?

STEVE SCHAPIRO: I am doing a new book on Misericordia, started by Sister Rosemary, a Catholic nun, and it is a place that is now 35 acres in upper Chicago. It is really for people who have developmental difficulties and it is an amazing place just filled with joy. It is really a joyful place, and that's the book I am working on right now.
C: To close, do you photograph everyday?

STEVE SCHAPIRO: I try to, and particularly when I am working on a specific project, I try to maintain a continuity. The Barbara Steisand book comes out in November and I am working on a Civil Rights book, so at the same time I am shooting new stuff, I am also going through old stuff for these books.

Slideshow here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Screening of the film Remembering Edward Weston

October 18, 2014
2:00 pm
Via The New Mexico Museum of Art

Celebrating its rich collection of photographs and the key role the medium has played in shaping New Mexico history, culture, and tourism, the museum presents a series of exhibitions in the year-long series Focus on Photography (March 7, 2014 – April 19, 2015). In conjunction with these exhibitions, the museum will host gallery talks by photographers as well as a photography film series:

October 18: Remembering Edward Weston is filled with stories and memories of this much-loved and influential photographer. The film includes interviews with two of Weston’s sons, his former wife Charis Wilson, historian Beaumont Newhall, and many others. Curator of Photography Katherine Ware will introduce the film with a short slide presentation about Edward Weston in New Mexico.

107 West Palace
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Monday, September 29, 2014

Joe McNally: View from Top of Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2013

View from Top of Burj Khalifa, Dubai, 2013
Archival pigment print from an iPhone
8 x 10 inches, signed, limited edition of 100
Special exhibition print now available, please

Watch: Photographer Joe McNally climbs to the top of Dubai's Burj Khalifa (the World's tallest building), in hopes is seeking an unusual vantage point:

And you can watch our conversation with Joe McNally about the exhibit here:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Joe McNally in Conversation with Sid and Michelle Monroe

Joe Self-Portrait from Empire State Building, 2001
Joe's Self-Portrait from Empire State Building, 2001

In advance of opening night (October 3) at the Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, Nikon Ambassador Joe McNally talks with Sid and Michelle Monroe and tells some of the stories behind the photos featured in the visit. You'll get to see the gallery and get a feel for what goes into creating an exhibit like this one, and a special print announcement will be made.

Questions are welcome. 

Monday, September 29  10:30 AM Eastern Time

Event page to watch on the Google+ stream:


YouTube link  for live or watching whenever

The exhibition will continue threough November 23, 2014.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

“Unframed — Ellis Island,” by the French artist JR; Inspired by Stephen Wilkes

Isolation ward, curved corridor, Island 3

Via The New York Times

A new installation, “Unframed — Ellis Island,” by the French artist JR, which brings this landmark building, its patients and staff members, to grainy but wrenching life. It is the first time in 60 years that the Ellis Island hospital has been open to the public. Tickets go on sale Thursday for guided tours that begin on Oct. 1.

Unframed — Ellis Island” is part of JR’s larger “Unframed” series that puts archival photos in new contexts in places like Marseille, France; São Paulo, Brazil; and Washington. He was introduced to this project by a book, “Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom,” the photographer Stephen Wilkes’s exploration of the hospital in its wildest state, and quickly became obsessed with the grounds. Finishing the installation this month, he and his small team would arrive in the morning and wander all day, scouting out homes for their century-old charges, before taking the tourist ferry back to Manhattan, toting ladders and paste buckets.

“It’s a really powerful place,” said Mr. Wilkes, who photographed it the hospital from 1998 to 2003, and is now on the board of Save Ellis Island. He was particularly moved by the realization that some patients could see the Statue of Liberty from their sickbeds. “She’s so close, and for many people who came to America and who never got out of that hospital, they never got to see any more than that,” Mr. Wilkes said.
Their emotion lingered. “I would feel almost human energy in these empty rooms,” he said.

Read the full article here.

View Stephen Wilkes' Ellis Island collection here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Giant Polaroid Camera and Joe McNally

The installation of the Joe McNally exhibit has started. First to arrive, the Giant Polaroids.


Joe McNally tells a bit about the history of these magnificent photographs,  via his blog:

In 2000, I was assigned to shoot pictures for a very small story (which was never published) on a unique photographic instrument called Moby C, which at the time lived on the lower East Side of NY. Moby after the whale, not the musician.  This camera is the world’s only Giant Polaroid camera, invented at the behest of Dr. Land himself. It is the size of a one car garage. Its lens came from a U2 spy plane, according to legend. At f/45, you have about an inch of depth of field. You cannot focus the lens–you have to focus your subject by moving them back and forth in tiny increments.

There is no shutter, you have to work camera obscura at the moment of exposure. I used about 25,000 watt seconds of strobe, mostly run through a 12×12 silk. The strobe system was wired to a Mamiya RZ 6×7 camera, bore sighted under the Polaroid lens. We would pose the subject, then wait for the interior workings of the Polaroid to spool up (there are two technicians inside the camera when you shoot, and they have to prepare things, like switch on a Black and Decker wet dry vac to suck the Polaroid film to the giant backplate of the camera). Then I would go dark in the studio, pull the cap of the Polaroid lens, fire the Mamiya and thus render an instantaneous dupe, one a huge positive, and the other a 6×7 transparency.

Huge indeed. What results after the exposure is a life sized image, 40″x 80″. You lay it out on the floor of the camera, wait 90 seconds (it’s the same Polaroid paper that comes in your over the counter cameras) and then peel the chemical backing off. There you have it.

I had convinced the elegant and easy going Jennifer Ringer, a principal with the NYC Ballet, to come and work with me during this first, experimental day with the camera. We made some nice, big pictures of her. (I was chuckling inside during this shoot, harking back to our old philosophy at LIFE magazine: “If ya can’t make ‘em good, make ‘em big and in color!”)

Made seven successful images that day, which is a lot of production for this behemoth of a camera, and found I had a bit of an affinity for working it. (Try anything once, right? Just have faith and remember the Lord looks after a fool.)

 Hmmm. Things stick with you, right? A week after 9/11, I sent an email to the only guy I knew who had a bunch of cash and would give me a quick decision; the editorial director of Time Warner, John Huey. John’s basically an old Southern newspaper man who kind of looks at you sideways, lets you babble, and then tells you what he thinks. He’s smart as a whip, quick off the mark, and does not suffer fools or photographers gladly.

I sent him the email on a Thursday night. He gave me money for the project Monday morning. The pressure was on. He was taking a huge gamble with his company’s dough, $100,000, to be direct about it. He looked me in the eye and drawled, “Joe, you spend $20,000 and get me no pitchahs, that’s okay. You spend $100,000 and get me no pitchahs, we got a problem.” He kind of drew out the word, “prrroblem.” I gulped and left his office.

My notion was that this camera was made for people of stature, a heroic instrument, if you will. You have to literally stand for your portrait. You collect yourself in the dark, holding still, waiting for the strobe explosion. And then you are done. One shot. (90% of our subjects we did in one exposure. Each sheet of Polaroid cost $300. I dreaded blinkers.)

It became a document known as Faces of Ground Zero. It toured through seven stops, opening at Grand Central Station, and coming back to NY a year later. For the anniversary show they threw a huge tent over where they usually put the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. It was seen by lots of people. The Polaroids and the resultant book(s) helped the sponsors, Time Warner and Morgan Stanley, to donate close to $2 million dollars to the relief of downtown public education. In the tent at the Rock Center show, we sold about $40,000 worth of books in 3 weeks. All of it went to the downtown PTA’s.

My good friend, Louie Cacchioli. Louie saved a lot of people that day by keeping his head and telling them to follow his light. Out on West St., running from the second collapse, he was overtaken by the cloud of ash and soot. Blinded by the smoke, he felt along the ground and stumbled onto a discarded oxygen mask. He clapped it to his face. He estimates he had about 30 seconds left.

Jan Demczur, a Polish window washer who scraped through 6 inches of sheet rock with his squeegee blade and thus saved the 4 people he was trapped in an elevator with. His squeegee is in the Smithsonian.

Joe Hodges. A veteran firefighter who could have easily retired after 9/11, but chose to stay on. “The older guys have to stick around and show the younger guys the way,” was how he put it.

So we kept working. Our last subject was Rudy Giuliani. He finally came on the last night. We were out of money, out of time. We shot 2 Polaroids of hizzoner, and closed the doors.

Things you don’t think about while you are in the throes of a project like this, are, what happens next? After ebeing xhibited in seven cities in 2002, seen by almost a million, I became the owner, lock, stock and metal framework, of about 10 tons of photography. (The framed pieces, which form the traveling core of the show, are 4′x9′ and weigh about 300 pounds.) They reside in museum quality, climate controlled storage in a warehouse in New Jersey.

Monroe Gallery of Photography is honored to include 6 Giant Polaroids in the forthcoming exhibit. The exhibit opens with a public reception for Joe McNally October 3, and continues through November 23. You can tune in to a special Google+ Hangout with Joe McNally and Sid and Michelle Monroe on Monday, September 29  10:30 Eastern time. Joe will tell some of the stories behind the photos featured in the visit. You'll get to see the gallery and get a feel for what goes into creating an exhibit like this one. Questions are welcome. To listen bookmark this link. (Also available live or for later viewing on YouTube here.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Photo exhibit captures soldiers unaware of their fate in Philippines

By Chris Quintana
Via The Santa Fe New Mexican

Before Bataan: Photo exhibit captures soldiers unaware of their fate in Philippines
In August 1940, members of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment gathered to train at Camp Luna near Las Vegas, N.M., before deployment to the Bataan Peninsula. Many never returned. Courtesy New Mexico Magazine Collection/Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Negative No. HP200720332

The young men photographed during military drills or waiting in line for food at Camp Luna near Las Vegas, N.M., had no idea that hundreds of them would die defending the Bataan Peninsula, walking in the Bataan Death March or during imprisonment by the Japanese under brutal conditions.

In August 1940, members of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, which included more than 1,800 New Mexicans, had gathered to train for the last time on home soil. A year later, their units were deployed to the Philippines. The 10 black-and-white images in a new photo exhibit at the Jean Cocteau Cinema capture the soldiers’ blissful ignorance.

“They’re human beings, not just cogs in the machine,” said Daniel Kosharek, the photo curator for the Palace of the Governors.

Kosharek said he has wanted to display these photos for a while to honor and recognize the young men, but until now he didn’t have the chance.

The exhibit will be on display at the Jean Cocteau until Oct. 12 in the cinema’s gallery at 418 Montezuma Ave. It will be open to the public from 1 to 8 p.m. daily. The images by an unnamed photographer are from the New Mexico Magazine Collection at the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

Kosharek said the photos were part of a series that published in a 1940 edition of New Mexico Magazine.

Many of the 1,816 New Mexicans in the regiment were fluent in Spanish, which led military officials to deploy them to the Philippines before the war to aid Filipino troops in defending the Bataan Peninsula.

When the peninsula fell to the Japanese in April 1942, many were captured and forced on the 65-mile Bataan Death March that ended in the deaths of 10,000 troops — 9,000 Filipinos and 1,000 Americans.

According to a news release, by the end of the war, 829 New Mexicans from the regiment were dead or missing. More than 800 died during the march or during their imprisonment. A third of the survivors perished within the year due to injuries or illness. Two survivors still live in Santa Fe: Richard Dalyand John Moseley.

But the photos in the exhibit show none of the horrors awaiting the young men. Instead, the men are photographed slogging through the monotony of military training at the rural, dusty Camp Luna.

One photo depicts a line of soldiers clad in wide-brimmed hats marching along what appears to be a dusty road. Rifles are slung over their shoulders, but the firearms look more like props than weapons. Another image depicts the soldiers-in-training firing heavy artillery. A plume of dark gray smoke wafts from one of the cannons, a harbinger of what awaits the men overseas.

One of the photos depicts several tall young men waiting in line at the mess hall. They carry what appear to be tin pans and ceramic plates. Dressed in civilian attire, they leer at the photographer with a combination of something between curiosity and annoyance. One wears an Albuquerque High School T-shirt adorned with the school’s mascot, a growling bulldog. The photos are specked with dust, but there’s no denying the innocence in the young men’s faces.

As part of the exhibit, the Jean Cocteau will screen the 2005 film The Great Raid at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The film was based on William Breuer’s The Great Raid on Cabanatuan and Hampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers, both accounts of the rescue mission to save Bataan prisoners of war. Tickets are $7.

If you go
What: Photo exhibit titled Before Bataan: New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery
When: 1 to 8 p.m. through Oct. 12
Where: Jean Cocteau Cinema, 418 Montezuma Ave.
On the Web
• For more information about the photo exhibit, visit nmhistorymuseum.org or jeancocteaucinema.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Live-Stream tonight: After James Foley- Covering Conflict When Journalists Are Targets

Via Columbia School of Journalism

Tuesday, Sep. 9, 2014, 7:00pm
Dean Steve Coll leads a panel to discuss the current risks, rewards, and inner workings of conflict reporting in the aftermath of reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff's tragic murders.

Speakers include Reuters columnist and former New York Times reporter David Rohde, held captive for seven months by the Taliban before he escaped; New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, previously the West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press; Phil Balboni, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder, who spent two years fighting for Foley's release; Nicole Tung, a freelance conflict photographer and Foley friend who first discovered him missing; and Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. This event is sponsored by Columbia Journalism School, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Overseas Press Club of America.

Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. This event will be live streamed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 4, 1957

Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Segregationists rousted from an anti-integration protest, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957

On September 4, 1957, the "Little Rock Nine" attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School but were turned away by Arkansas National Guard troops called out by the governor. When Elizabeth Eckford arrived at the campus at the intersection of 14th and Park Streets, she was confronted by an angry mob of segregationist protestors. She attempted to enter at the front of the school but was directed back out to the street by the guardsmen. Walking alone, surrounded by the crowd, she eventually reached the south end of Park Street and sat down on a bench to wait for a city bus to take her to her mother’s workplace. Of her experience, Eckford
They moved closer and closer. ... Somebody started yelling. ... I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.

The Little Rock Nine enter classroom to register after escort from Army's 101st Airborne Division, September 24, 1957
Grey Villet

Federal troops escorting African American students to school during integration, September, 1957
Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Desegregation of Central High School by The
Ernest C. Withers

September 25, 1957, became a historic day in the Nation when nine courageous children risked their lives to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Confronted by a hostile crowd and escorted by the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne, they shouldered the burden of integrating a then segregated public school system. Although the Supreme Court’s Landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education struck down racial segregation in public schools, it was the courageous actions of these nine young champions of school integration that tested the strength of that decision. Their actions not only mobilized a Nation to insure that access to a quality education was granted to all Americans, but they helped to define the civil rights movement. They became known as the Little Rock Nine. via LittleRock9.com

Related: LIFE.com         Brave Hearts: Remembering the Little Rock Nine