Photographer of the Day: Man Ray

Man Ray

b.1890 d. 1976

┬áToday’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!

Photographer of the Day: Belle Johnson

Belle Johnson

b. 1864, d. 1945

We’re skipping out on contemporary photography this time to talk about Belle Johnson, a woman photographer who does not get the attention she deserves. She is famous, but in the kind of way that no one cares. You get me?

Btw, we’re not talking about this Belle

We’re talking about THIS Belle

Just had to clear that up.

I adore this woman. She graduated the top of her class at her college, and went on to teach, but was like “nah man, not for me,” and left that job. SHE LEFT A JOB BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T LIKE IT. How many people go to school for a job that they don’t like, but keep working at it anyway? But yes, homegurl quit being a teacher and went to work at a photography studio. She ended up buying the studio within a year, and taught herself how to take nice photos with photography magazines.

Talk about self-motivation. It took me two hours to finally shower today, and Belle here is buying studios and wrecking expectations. Oh, and get this, her studio burned down. So she got a new one. Say what?

Johnson was one of the founding fathers mothers of the Photographers’ Association in Missouri, traveled around to keep up with the latest photo knowledge, and won countless awards for her photography. She is one of my biggest inspirations, because it seems like she did it all and she did it well. Good job, Belle. I wanna be like you.

But let’s look at the work that made Belle Johnson so important:

Three Women

Kittens

Innocence

Johnson was obviously the first photos-of-cats lady, way before icanhascheezburger got on that. She has a lot of pictures of kitties, so if you’re into that, go ahead and look ’em up.

The thing about her work is that while she was working as a studio photographer, she was also producing her own work. That takes a TON of self-discipline, since a lot of professionals feel like they just don’t have the time to make work they want to make. But, we all know that Belle was not lacking self-discipline, so there ya go.

Her photo Three Women, is one of my all time favorites. I used to have EXTREMELY long hair, so I was like “At least my hair wasn’t THAT long.”

There you have it. Belle Johnson is important and don’t you forget it. There aren’t nearly enough women photographers from her period that are celebrated, so keep her in mind.

The next photographer of the day is another one of my favorite ladies, Barbara Kruger. Keep an eye out!

Happy Shooting!

Photographer of the Day: Bernard Faucon

Bernard Faucon

b. 1950

Today we’re going to have our minds blown by the photographer/writer Bernard Faucon. Or, rather, you’re going to read about just how in love I am with his work. Because, get this, Faucon’s work is about childhood, presented in a dreamlike manner.

Sound Familiar?

Bernard Faucon was born in Provence, France, and studied philosophy (which explains why he’s a writer, since what else can you do with philosophy? I kid, I kid…) He was initially a painter, but like other painters he switched over to photography. His work has won numerous awards (most notably, the Grand Prix Nationale,) and has been in hundreds of exhibitions. So, what’s the big deal about this guy? I’ll let his work speak for itself.

I only chose images from Les Grand Vacances, but call me bias because these are amazing. What draws me to his work is attention to detail, the obvious planning these shots took, the construction of the scene, and the tension between the real child and the mannequins. What is not to like?

Also he set things on fire. Yasssssss.

There are a few interpretations of this work, mainly centering on the play of childhood and the play of adulthood. An interesting thing I found out was Faucon ended his photography career in 1996, and some speculation is due to his work being centered on childhood, and how all childhoods must come to an end. Another speculation is the increased paranoia over children and safety, either imagined or real. For example, Sally Mann’s nude images of her┬áprepubescent children. People have the tendency to make things into things they are not. (This happens frequently in art.)

So, he took up a much more objective career: writing.

I wish I knew of this guy when I was working on my Domestic series, because I had a couple dummies in a shot. It’s one of those things: when you think you came across something brilliant, someone probably has already done it– but as a professor told me, WHATEVER it hasn’t been done before because it hasn’t been done by YOU. How’s that for uplifting?

Well, I’m feeling inspired to go create some tableau images myself, so that’s all for Bernard Faucon. The next PotD will be Alexander Gardner.

Happy Shooting!

Photographer of the Day: Hans Aarsman

To keep myself fresh on my photographer knowledge, I’m going to start doing “Photographer of the Day” posts. If I tell you guys about these photographers, odds are I’ll remember them more readily when the time calls for information about them and their work.

So here we go.


Hans Aarsman

b. 1951, Amsterdam

To begin, Aarsman was a part of a movement called New Topography, which was founded on the idea of photographing new-but-not-new landscapes, circa 1980s and 90s. They worked to create landscapes that included the ordinary, everyday objects that normally go unnoticed, like perhaps a stop sign on a street corner. The “great” landscape photographers of the early-ish 20th century (y’all know about Ansel Adams,) showed the United States what lied out west, and so because of their images National Parks and other attractions for tourism were put in place. The New Topographers, wanting to create their own beautiful landscapes, but found that their work would be hindered by a car, or a parking lot, or anything that we see everyday but pay no mind to. They decided, why not make these ordinary objects just as important as the landscape? So they did. They brought attention to things that are normally ignored or not thought about in an objective style.

Hans Aarsman’s photography falls into this movement. His most notable body of work, Hollandse Taferelen, focuses on the transient moments of ordinary becoming extraordinary in the Dutch countryside. Here are some images from that project:

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See what I mean about transient?

Aarsman is still with us today, and he is an author, a lecturer at Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, and a playwright, in addition to being a photographer. Follow his example kids, he’s what we call a “go-getter.”

The next photographer of the day will be Bayard Hippolyte, so keep an eye out!

Happy Shooting!

September’s Photos

September is over, as is summer, and I’m getting close to the end of my “Carrying Around a Camera Everyday” project. Or, maybe not, maybe I’ll do this forever. Or I’ll get really ambitious and do the 365 project (which is a terrifying prospect, but doesn’t that mean I should do it?) Anyways, enough of me figuring out what to do with my life- here are some pictures:

 

I took a lot of my pictures at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, because really, there is so much to see. There are a couple hints from my most recent photo shoot concerning dreams, but you won’t be seeing the results of that for a long time- so enjoy the teaser.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy Shooting!

Field Study #9

Time for something kind of different!

I did a project for one of my classes with the theme Environment. I had to locate a space and find a way to bring a sense of the place into the classroom. So I did a mock field study. Using the Lomochrome Purple XR film and my imagination, I created a purple forest. As a field scientist (as a pretend field scientist, rather,) I documented my stay in the Purple Forest through journaling, taking samples, sketching, and making sound recordings. I tried to bring a sense of my imaginary place into the classroom my using 4 of my 5 senses: hearing, touch, smell, and sight.

So this is what I did: I went down to the river on my campus, to an area that has no trails and isn’t frequented by students. I took pictures, made sound recordings of the birds and the river, and I took leaves and berries from the area. I altered the recordings I made to include choral, heavenly sounds. I took the leaves and berries and I put them in jars with colored water, to give the effect that the leaves were purple or pink. I also took strawberry extract and said it was a “river water” sample, so my imaginary place smelled like strawberries.

Here is my field guide that I put together.

My handwriting is a little hard to read, but no worries: it’s typed up and ready to read in the Undergraduate Work tab.

As usual, things didn’t go as planned. My first roll of film gave me a world of trouble. My camera refused to rewind it. So I had to do it the old-fashioned way (turn off all the lights hide under numerous blankets and use a pair of scissors to ease it back into the camera…) Because of this, a lot of my roll got over-exposed and turned magenta. I scanned them in and did what I could to salvage them, but they just weren’t to my standards. I printed them on normal paper and pasted them into the field guide, and moped. And moped. And moped some more. Then I got mad, grabbed my camera, and re-shot another roll. And they turned out beautifully.

I’m super bummed I only have 2 rolls of the Lomochrome Purple XR left. I’ll need to order some more soon.

In other news: my blog is a year old! Yay! It’s incredible to look back and see how much work I’ve done this year. It’s inspiring and humbling all at the same time.

Well, that’s all for now. Now that my finals are over and I’m on break, expect more blogging from me!