Photographer of the Day: Man Ray

Man Ray

b.1890 d. 1976

 Today’s PotD is Emmanuel Radnitzky, who went by the name Man Ray. He actually refused to acknowledge his original name, which idk why**, because anyone with “Rad” as a part of their last name won the last name lottery. But, whatever Man Ray, you do you.

** I actually found out that he shortened his name because his family was afraid of antisemitism. That is NOT very rad at all. Way to go, America. Way. To. Go.

And we’re not talking about this Man Ray.

Man Ray was buddies with some names we are largely familiar with today: Dali, Picasso, Duchamp, Joyce, Stein, and Ernst, among many others. He was a part of that cool kid’s group at the beginning of the 20th century. He thought of himself as a painter, but it is actually his photographs that he is well known for.

He discovered solarization, and made his own photograms, which he called “Rayographs,” because when you’re Man Ray, you can do what you want, like name things after yourself. Who wouldn’t? #swag

Hello my name is Man Ray and I do photography without a camera. #soavantgarde #coolerthanyou #swag

Man Ray also did normal things like portraits, notably of his super neat-o friends, like Joyce and Stein.James Joyce, being the moody writer he is. Much agony. Very art.

Manny, get my good side. Picasso painted my bad side and I’m still salty about it.

So, he was the man. He did fashion photography, made avant-garde films, and even hung out with Duchamp to make readymades. He also said some pretty zen things about photography and art that make you go “whoa Man (Ray.)” You may even write one down in your sketchbook for inspiration.

“To create is divine, to reproduce is human.”

“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.”

“I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions.”

Word.

Man Ray had a hand in the beginnings of the first modern art collection, and has been referred to, many times, as one of the most important artists in modern art history.

So, that’s Man Ray for you! What a guy.

The next PotD will be Nadar. Keep an eye out, and if you want to read about more photographers, be sure to check out the Photographer of the Day tab!

Happy Shooting!

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So, You Want to Go to Grad School: Pt. 1– Why Now?

I’m starting my MFA in Photography this fall at Columbia College Chicago, but this time last year I was stressing about where I was going to go to graduate school and if I was going at all. I had spent the last three years looking up everything I could about this arduous process, and though I found some helpful tips, I found hardly nothing in the way of Photography and Visual Art MFA Programs. And, as helpful as tips for Creative Writing MFA applicants were, I went into this whole process blind, wishing I had some sort of help with the whole thing.

So, I’m going to do a series on how to get through the process in one piece, sanity and self-esteem intact maybe. I’m going to tell you the things I wish I knew.

Now, this is just my experience. There are most likely other pieces of advice from others, and I may share some things that others might not have felt were necessary. Keep this in mind.

Well, here we go!


 

So, You Want to Go to Grad School

Pt. 1– Why Now?

I had decided my sophomore year of college that I wanted to be a professor of photography, and the only thing I knew beyond that was I needed an advanced degree. I figured because graduate school was a big deal, I would need to, y’know, be a big deal. I dived right in: I started reading and experimenting on my own, working on projects outside of my regular school work, and applying to exhibitions and competitions to build up my empty resume. While all of these things were good, and I’m really glad I did them, I missed a really important factor: my age.

What do you mean I’m not old enough?

I did not realize, until last fall, that most people take a break between undergrad and graduate school. I also discovered that a lot of programs prefer it this way. So, during my interviews, I was asked why grad school, and why now?

This is a very important question to ask yourself. Do you want to be a professor? If not, then you don’t really need the MFA. Are you going to graduate school because you’ve exhausted your personal resources, and you’re still feeling starved for knowledge? Or are you applying because you’re not sure what to do with yourself after undergrad?

Do you know this feel?

My ignorance on this topic actually helped me in the long run, because I was so adamant on going right away, I pushed myself to the limit, and I was ready to go. I felt I taught myself everything I could on my own, and I longed to be in an advanced and thoughtful art community, to take my work to the next level. I wanted to be a professor, and I wanted to be a damn good one, so it was time for me to keep pushing myself.

While you’re debating on going (or perhaps you’ve already decided,) ask yourself why it is you really want to go. Take a look at your portfolio and gauge your work– are you asking the right questions with your work? Are you trying to tackle contemporary ideas? Does your work feel “undergrad” in anyway?

It’s no easy decision, but I’m preaching to the choir.

I’m doing a series on the process of getting into an MFA program in Visual Arts and Photography, and I will be covering quite a few things, like what to expect on Graduate Portfolio Day (and why you NEED to go,) how to choose the right school for you, how to nail an interview, and how to decide, and anything else I remember from my hellish eight months of applying, waiting, interviewing, and choosing.

Right now, keep looking around the internet for help. You’ve probably stumbled across this post while looking for help, and I’m glad I can give some advice. Keep an eye on this blog, as I will be posting tips once a week. Good luck.

As always, Happy Shooting!

More Ideal Instances

I’m still going strong with my project, Ideal Instances. The goal is to create 1000 altered, found Polaroid pictures, and right now I’m at about 200. Here is the next installment!

Since I’m creating so many of these, I have the tendency to get stuck. I don’t want to get repetitive, which is quite the goal for 1000 of these, but I find that the longer I look at these Polaroids, the more potential stories I find. I may have to look through my stack 50 times before I get an idea for one Polaroid, but it is always worth it. I’m still making these and scanning them in, so, trust me, there will be plenty of updates. Wish me luck on my next batch! Happy Shooting!

Weekend Shots

I had a busy weekend, and it was wonderful. I went to a country fair in the middle of nowhere with some friends, visited Wayne State University’s gorgeous campus, went to the Memorial Day parade in Dexter, and visited my Grandpa. I took my Holga 120 TIM with me on my escapades.

The TIM has the ability to make multiple exposures and split the frame in two. You can make your own stereographs with it because of this feature. You can make as many exposures as you want as well, like the crowd one was three different exposures.

Yeah, I just goofed around with this camera all weekend. I am actually a little emotional over the picture I got of my grandpa, because he is so stoic and I got him without him noticing. You know, the whole “acting for the camera thing?” It’s not a factor in this picture. Roland Barthes is all emotional of the photograph of his mother as a child, and I am emotional over this photograph of my grandpa.

So, yeah. I took pictures of things this weekend. I have a schedule of interesting photo shoots coming up, and I am really looking forward to it. I’m longing for constructed images like nobody’s business.

That’s all for now. Happy Shooting!

 

Like Cotton Candy: Impossible Project’s Cyan and Magenta Film

In November, I went to NYC, and brought my Polaroid camera with me, loaded with the monochromatic Cyan 600 film by Impossible Project. I’ve also been hoarding the magenta version of this film, for a fair, for some reason. No idea why, just one of those weird artist vision things.

So this weekend, I was going to a fair, and was like YES TIME TO BREAK OUT THE MAGENTA FILM YAY! But, I discovered I still had a shot left of the cyan… So this cute little diptych exists now:

It’s actually totally coincidental that they are cotton candy colored. Or maybe my subconscious planned it along? Who knows anymore. You’re reading a blog by a girl who encourages her friend to push a shopping cart with a hobby horse in it around the neighborhood and puts her boyfriend in a fish tank. My track record either says I’m insane, or I’m awesome. Let’s go with the latter.

MOVING ON.

My friends Allie (who I talk about a lot, as she has always modeled for me,) and Dom are the cutest. The fair we were at was very small and kinda dull, so I was like “pic opportunities where are youu?” Then I realized I had a beautiful couple at my disposal.

“Dom. Don’t move.”

“Allie go stand by him.”

“OKAY STOP WALKING”

I’m very polite.

Since Impossible Project film takes about 45 minutes to develop, Allie, Dom, and Mitchell (my boyfriend I also never shut up about,) were surprised that the film was cyan and magenta. Mitchell was so surprised he took my camera and took a picture of me.

I’m not a fan of being photographed. I tried to hide behind my new stuffed animal, Stumpy (courtesy of Mitchell popping a balloon with a dart,) but he was too tiny. But, my expression is priceless, so here:

Stumpy, you tried.

Irrelevant, but his name is stumpy because his face is squashed in and his legs are two different sizes. Adorbz.

So, yeah. I have a couple more shots of the magenta, so we’ll see what I do with that. Maybe it’ll sit in my camera for 7 months like the cyan film did (whoopsies?)

Happy Shooting!

Photographer of the Day: Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

b.1949

Today’s PotD is my inspiration, Annie Leibovitz. This is about to be a real fan girl session for today’s lesson, so bear with me. There will be knowledge, I promise.

Annie (I love her so much I’m just gonna go with her first name,) had always been into the arts, but she studied painting during her time at the San Francisco Art Institute. She had been working on her photography all this time though, and when the Rolling Stone magazine was born, Annie was a staff photographer, and eventually the chief photographer. She was a boss, and it is all her fault (in the best way,) for the Rolling Stone‘s aesthetic.

One of the best (and I guess worst,) stories about her decade at the Rolling Stone was when she photographed John Lennon for the cover. You’ve probably seen the iconic image, of him and Yoko Ono, which Annie orchestrated. Can you imagine telling John Lennon to take off his clothes? I sure can’t. Thing is, she photographed him on December 8, 1980– five hours after taking his picture, he was shot and killed.

Lennon’s Last Photo

The biggest reason why I adore Annie so much is the fact her work is very constructed, very beautiful, and very colorful. Very. She was also a boss at lighting, so all of these great things got her a position at Vanity Fair, which is who she primarily works for today. Seriously, this woman is such an inspiration.

The Wizard of Oz with Keira Knightley by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue.

The Wizard of Oz with Keira Knightley by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue.

“Hello, my name is Annie Leibovitz, and I just casually photograph the Queen of England.” -Annie, probably.

The Drew Barrymore Beauty and the Beast photograph was used as inspiration for my Home Sweet Home series, believe it or not. Annie’s lighting on point.

I could probably list her images all day long. Her vision and execution of her work is something to work towards.

Another story for you: I met a professional photographer, who takes a lot of celebrity portraits in LA. Well, when he first graduated, his professor set him up with an internship with Annie Leibovitz. So he called them, to see when he needed to relocate to New York, and they said they would get back to him. This happened a few more times, and eventually he found out that they gave his internship to one of the Olsen twins. C’est la vie.

It’s no surprise that Annie is a perfectionist, and her shoots cost a fortune to create. I know the feeling. She is always determined to get “the shot,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger still jokes about flying through a blizzard in a helicopter, then nearly freezing to death for the 1997 Vanity Fair cover image of him on skis on a mountain top in Sun Valley, Idaho. She has already earned her lifetime achievement award at the age of 59 (to her dismay, actually.)

Getting a lifetime achievement award at 59 was a huge deal, but to her, it was as if the community was telling her that the last 40 years of her work were it, that those photos shot then were her best and nothing else would be better.

This is just a conjecture, but Annie’s perfectionism costs her a lot.  I totally and completely empathize, especially after reading what Andrew Eccles, one of her assistants, said: “She could never quite relax, because she was afraid that there was an even better idea… The anxiousness about whether a photograph was going to be good enough was hard to be around. It seemed like a difficult way to live.”

Gurl, I totally understand. And I bet a lot of people who are reading this understand, too. She has a lot of flaws, but she is one of the greatest photographers of our age.

Oh, btw, she had a relationship with Susan Sontag. NBD.

And that’s all for Annie Leibovitz. The next Photographer of the Day will be Man Ray, so keep an eye out!

Happy Shooting!

LomoChrome Turquoise XR

I am in love with the new LomoChrome Turquoise XR. The results I obtained from it were unpredictable and exciting, and I can’t wait to shoot my next roll.

For this roll, I started in the middle-of-nowhere-Michigan, and my wonderful boyfriend would stop the car when I wanted a picture. The rest of the roll was shot on a very lengthly walk with my best friend Kaiden, and while on this walk, I asked him to lie down on random things. Bless.

I would like to shoot outside when there are big puffy clouds in the sky, as there is a hint of what could be in the first photo. I’m also wondering about shooting more indoors; a majority of my indoors photos have a blue cast, but one of them is more greenish. Fluorescent lighting?  I’ll find out.

Since I goofed off on a roll, I’m brainstorming what sort of narrative would be complimented by this film. I’ll be doing some underwater shoots this summer, so maybe I’ll give it a whirl then.

LomoChrome Turquoise XR? 10/10, highly recommend.

Happy Shooting!