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Photo Salon for the Exchange of Ideas

Photo Salon for the Exchange of Ideas
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Hamilton’s talk about the sea change brought about by Kodak film reminded everyone of the current digital revolution, which makes everyone not only a photographer or videographer, but also photo editor and potential publisher. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The three photographers at the gathering all participate in well-established traditions. David Brooks Stess is a New Yorker who has spent summers in Maine for 20 years raking blueberries and documenting the migrant workers in the black-and-white social documentary tradition. David Puntel, who is in the process of selling his Maine farm in order to move to Berlin (Germany, not New Hampshire), is a modern master of the antique ambrotype process. And Brenton Hamilton works in the even more arcane cyanotype process, producing modern photographs with classical themes.

As the world goes high-tech, there’s a small but determined and growing interest in returning to and preserving antique photographic processes — their laborious, handmade, often one-of-a-kind nature appealing to artists leery of the disposable ease with which digital images are made.

Of Frank and Friedlander

Along with a return to the mechanical processes of the past, there’s also a renewed interest in the photography of the past. Two great photography books arrived here within days of each other: one a modern classic; the other, more recent work by a classic American photographer.

Robert Frank’s landmark 1959 “The Americans” has just been reissued by Steidl, the German firm that is perhaps the world’s premier photo book publisher. The Americans ($39.95 hardcover) is arguably the single most influential photography book of the 20th century, its 83 grainy black-and-white photographs establishing an aesthetic that is still practiced and prevalent today.

Frank made the photographs in 1955-56 while traveling America on a Guggenheim grant. What he produced is the visual equivalent of Beat writer Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”, so it was fitting that Kerouac, a native of Lowell, Massachusetts, wrote the introduction in his highly imitated hipster stream-of-consciousness style. The sad, sympathetic 1950s images of an American people in love with cars, televisions, celebrities, jukeboxes, and religion resonate with the America of today.

Robert Frank, 83, the deus absconditus of contemporary photography, has lived in relative seclusion in Mabou, Nova Scotia, for so long that it’s sometimes surprising to realize he’s still with us.

Lee Friedlander, 73, on the other hand, is very much with us and in evidence. Friedlander and the late Garry Winogrand were the godfathers of street photography, but Friedlander has remained amazingly productive to this day.

“Lee Friedlander Photographs: Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes” (DAP, $85 hardcover) features 89 tritone photographs of landscapes designed by FLO, the greatest American landscape architect. Although these are all cultivated landscapes, Friedlander generally prefers their wilder environs, with a particular focus and grand, gnarled trees.

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7 Responses to Photo Salon for the Exchange of Ideas

  1. Kelly Schwark March 14, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    Great article! I love the idea of a warm cup of soup and a friendly exchange of inspiration! And as for understanding the reasoning and story behind someone?s art, it is the reason why I love lurking around artists blogs! Isn’t the purpose of art to share an emotion, feeling or experience with the viewer? Or maybe it’s just for the process of creating? I’m not sure.

    Oh, there are SO many things that I want to comment on, but I’m afraid I’d take up too much space. I’ll just leave it at thanks for sharing!?
    Kelly
    http://kellyschwark.com/

  2. Ed Beem March 14, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Kelly,
    I’m glad you found Just Looking and enjoyed it. I just got home from seeing a major photography exhibition in Massachusetts that I’ll post some thoughts about in a week or so.
    Ed

  3. Betty Pauwels March 17, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    New into photography, very serioius about learning, I enjoyed reading your article, discovering photographers. I am linking your journal to my photoblog.
    Betty

  4. Ed Beem March 18, 2008 at 7:04 am #

    Betty, And I’m new at blogging. Where can I find your photoblog? Best, Ed

  5. Betty Pauwels March 26, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Ed my blog http://journals.aol.com/rap4143/MyDayMyInterests/. Enjoy. I hope you find the time comment on my journal.

    Betty

  6. Ed Beem March 28, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    Betty, I have checked out your blog several times. I enjoy the natural and personal feel of both your photographs and your blog.

  7. Betty Pauwels April 28, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    Ed thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. My journal started, as my title reads, My Day, My Interests, naturally ended up as photoblog. http://journals.aol.com/rap4143/MyDayMyInterests/

    I am learning photography also areas we visit. I absolutely love and enjoy traveling the back roads of New Hampshire and New England, always exploring for new photo opportunities. I found blogging allows me to share my photography, make new friends plus I welcome comments just saying hello or offering tips.

    This past weekend we found and old grist mill located in East Alstead. (covered bridges, old barns, waterfalls and etc….a very good weekend of shooting) When we returned we had to learn about the history, name and what it was used for. Chase Mill http://millpictures.com/Mills/details.cfm?millid=39. I will be posting my images today.

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