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!

Photographer of the Day: Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger

b. 1945

Today’s PotD is my gurl, Barbara Kruger. She is one of the main post-modern photo feminists, right up there with my other gurl, Cindy Sherman. Kruger studied visual arts at Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design, and though she is known for her photographic images and bold text, she initially used crochet and sewing to create feminist pieces. A girl after my own heart.

She went into design for a while, and, well, that’s no surprise, considering the work she is known for. Like Heineken, she exploited mass media and consumerism to bring her points home on the subjects of women’s rights (especially reproductive rights,) obsession with consumerism, and desire. What makes her so important is, well, she did it first.

Your Body is a Battleground in one of her most well known pieces on women’s reproductive rights.

Bold text over a red, black, or white background was one of Kruger’s signatures. Kruger noticed how much images and text affect our interpretation of things, and she exploited that to the max. She has created some installations with her bold text covering the walls, floors, and ceilings of a gallery.

https://collabcubed.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/kruger_at_hirshhorn_beliefdoubt_typography_escalator_3_collabcubed.jpgBelief + Doubt

Kinda critical of mass media as propaganda, amiright?

Kruger has been quoted as saying, “Pictures and words seem to become the rallying points for certain assumptions. There are assumptions of truth and falsity and I guess the narratives of falsity are called fictions. I replicate certain words and watch them stray from or coincide with the notions of fact and fiction.” Homegurl paid attention, saw what words and pictures do to people, and made that a central part of her art making. You go girl!

One of the other beautiful things she has said? “When I first came on the scene when I was working on magazines, the art world in New York felt like 12 white guys.”

Finger snaps to my gurl Barbara for layin’ down some truths.

Of course, I have to talk about her achievements, like being in the Venice Biennale and was the recipient of the Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement. She has taught for places like the Whitney and UCLA, to name a couple.

Kruger didn’t expect herself to become an artist in “the art world.” She’s been working now for decades, and is one of the most important and dynamic artists of our time. So, hey, if you don’t think you’re gonna be an artist, who knows! Never say never! You may one day be one of the most recognized names in the history of art! How’s that for positivity?

That’s all for today’s fierce Photographer of the Day. The next PotD will be Annie Leibovitz. Keep an eye out!

Happy Shooting!

Photographer of the Day: Robert Heinecken

Robert Heineken

b. 1931, d. 2006

Today’s PotD is Robert Heineken (and no, he has nothing to do with the beer,) a man who barely used a camera. He was a pretty chill guy, but his work was evocative and had a lot of social commentary on the period he worked in, around the 60s-80s. Most, if not all, of his work was out of camera. But how does this make him a photographer?

The guy took magazine pages and put them on a light table. Since magazine paper is so thin, you could see the image on the other side. The combination of the front and back of the page would oftentimes create surreal imagery, which Heinecken would make a contact print of. Photography does always have to have a camera. It’s literal meaning is “light writing.”

He just figured there were enough straight photographs in the world, so he decided to shake it up a little bit.

One of his most iconic series is titled Are You Rea. His process really shows up in the images, which are below.

Heinecken was interested in the politics of female sexuality and the portrayal of them in the media. Y’know, the typical 1960s scene. Another thing this guy did that was baller as hell was he cut up popular magazines like Time and Vogue and put sexual or pornographic images in them… and then put them back on the news stand for someone to buy and get more than what they paid for (if you know what I mean.)

Kudos to Heinecken for being a total troll.

Another thing that makes Heinecken a boss is he founded the photography department at UCLA. WHICH IS ONE OF THE BEST PHOTO PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY. Sorry, got excited there. He was so awesome he even helped found the Society for Photographic Education (and I am a proud member of said organization. Iconic.)

He’s one of those really cool dudes that you’d want to be friends with. From what I understand, he was a chill dude. Sadly, Heiknecken developed Alzheimer’s in 1994, and passed away in 2006. He’s still a boss.

That’s it for Heinecken. The next PotD will be Graciela Iturbide, so keep an eye out!

Happy Shooting!

Photographer of the Day: Alexander Gardner

Alexander Gardner

b. 1821, d. 1882

Today, we talk about a legend from the American Civil War period. Gardner was one of the early photographers who made people question photographic “truth”, as the photographs he took of the civil war appear to be staged– because, well, they kinda had to be. Gardner’s process was wet-plate, which was kind of hard to execute (ouch, that pun,) on an active battle field. U feel me?

This image is the one most associated with his work:

Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter was one of many photographs featured in Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War, which was presented in two volumes. It is believed that Gardner and his assistants moved the body to this position and propped up the weapon, as a sign of his profession. Talk about morbid. Speaking of morbid: you could get this guy as a stereo image back in the day, y’know, for a realistic 3D viewing of a dead guy while sitting in your parlor room.

Even more morbid: I went to Gettysburg on a middle school trip, and one of my friends laid on the ground, just like the subject of Gardner’s image. Without knowing anything about it, I also posed like I was dead. I’ll have to find the photo of this, uh, charming occurrence, because it is a classic example of why I may  scare small children from time to time.

Gardner is closely associated with the photographer Mathew Brady, who actually inspired Gardner to become a photographer. After listening to Brady’s idea to photograph the war (Brady was blind at this point in his life,) Gardner used some connections to become the chief photographer under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Topographical Engineers. He was given the honorary title of captain and he shot (I laughed at this terrible pun,) many important battles of the Civil War, including the Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Gettysburg, and the Siege of Petersburg. A lot of ‘burgs.

Shout out to field photographers who work in dangerous times.

That’s all for my crash course on Alexander Gardner. The next PotD will be a photographer who I just recently learned about, Robert Heinecken. And no, he has nothing to do with the beer.

Happy Shooting (that pun again…)

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 prepubescent 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: Harold E. Edgerton

Harold E. Edgerton

b. 1903, d. 1990

The combination of the arts and sciences is something that seems relatively new, but, spoiler alert: it’s not. Also, next time someone tells you that we don’t need the arts, I want you to calmly point out Edgerton, and then lock them in an art gallery for a week.

Edgerton was one of those people who made you feel really, really insignificant, because he was so awesome. You know what I’m talking about. Dude was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. And he did photography– like, c’mon man, what are you? I mean, he grew up in Nebraska, so he must have been bored, so maybe that’s why he’s good at everything.

So, you know those photos of like, water splashing or a bubble popping or an apple being massacred by a bullet? Edgerton and his buddy Gjon Mili (who we will discuss another day,) were the ones responsible for this. Mili used strobes for his work, and so Edgerton was like, “let me try this out, bro.”* These studio flash units could fire 120 flashes per second. Eddie here (just roll with me on the impromptu nickname,) used this to his advantage, because, c’mon of course you have a shot at capturing a bullet at 1/120th of a second (also did you see my pun?)

The apple is my self esteem and the bullet is Eddie’s work.

Something deep? These photos are oftentimes a dialogue about violence against the person. So, let’s drop some science and some tortured artist business in one go.

Eddie received awards from the Royal Photographic Society and Optical Society of America, among many other accolades. But, our friend Eddie here wasn’t done being a flippin’ genius. He and his other genius buddies developed the Rapatronic camera, photographed nuclear tests in the 50s and 60s, and then this dude was responsible for side-scan technology for scanning the ocean floor for stuff, because he was into that sort of thing. He was like, “Yo, Cousteau, I know you like explorin’ the sea and I too like the sea so here have some underwater photography equipment with a super nifty flash and go to town. Do it for me science, bro. For the science.”*

And just when you thought this man couldn’t get any cooler– he also won an Oscar for his short film, Quicker’n a Wink. Because he could.

The nice thing about Eddie is that he was a kind individual who loved teaching. “The trick to education,” he said, “is to teach people in such a way that they don’t realize they’re learning until it’s too late.” Can I have him as a professor? Because he sounds awesome.

That’s about it for Henry E. Edgerton, Papa Flash, the man who made time stand still (which is what he was dubbed by National Geographic– I’m telling you, this guy was unreal.) The next PotD will be Bernard Faucon.

Happy Shooting!

* These dialogues are totally fictional, but you never know, Eddie might have loved calling people “bro.”

 

Photographer of the Day: Hippolyte Bayard

Hippolyte Bayard 

b. 1801, d. 1887

A little perspective before we begin: My homeboy Hippolyte here was born before photography was even invented. So we’re kickin’ it old school for today’s PotD.

Hippolyte did something cool. You see, my homeboy Hippolyte created the first ever fictional image, and the reason why he did it is super metal. Or it was the most creative photographic tantrum in early photography history. Whichever.

If you know anything about photography history, you know about Daguerre, but in case you don’t I’ll give you an explanation as to why this guy is important: he was the first person recognized for “inventing” photography. What that means is the dude got his idea of printing positive images on treated metal surfaces (think mirror,) patented first. Now, Hippolyte also had an idea for printing images, and that was a positive image on paper. But, no one cared. The recognition for inventing photography was given to Daguerre, and Hippolyte was left in the dark.

No one cared.

So he made a self portrait of himself looking like death warmed over, calling his picture “The Drowned Man.” Nothing says “YO LOOK AT ME I DID A THING TOO,” like creating an entire genre of photography and taking a selfie as a dead man, circa 1840.

There are some interpretations to his infamous image, like how the hat on the left is symbolic of the sun or whatever, but I’ll leave it to you, since most of his images are up to interpretation. Why ruin the fun? He’d want you to have fun– doesn’t he seem like a fun guy at parties?

And that’s it for my homeboy Hippolyte Bayard. The next photographer of the day is one of my favorite ladies, Julia Margaret Cameron. Keep an eye out!

Happy Shooting!