Wednesday, December 31, 2008

First Snow

Here's my most recent picture. The bottom picture is how the scene looked before I put all the people in. That's me on the far right. I did the photo part (vs. the Photoshopping) of this picture a few weeks ago, and it was, as indicated in the title, the first snowfall.

I just learned this about snow: when you see big flakes, it means there won't be much snow. In the middle of my photo session (about an hour and a half and 300 exposures), sandwiched between fine light snow, big flakes appeared.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Looking (detail)

Here's my newest image. I tried to collect people who were really looking at something. A good portion are looking directly at me. Or at least the camera, which was on a tripod. I try to look bored or like I'm waiting for a friend or the real subject of my pictures to show up, so it's possible their eyes just passed over the camera when I clicked the shutter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How I Work

Here's the picture below (Boston Common in Winter) but with the background removed. It gives you an idea of how I put these pictures together.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Boston Common in Winter

Here's the first picture I've done in a few weeks. It's funny. This is only about five minutes or less worth of pictures, maybe only about 50, instead of the two- or three-hundred I've been doing lately. I thought nothing interesting was going on, but as I compiled it, it seemed to work better and better. I like the woman in the extreme foreground, how she is repeated to the right, and how the other black figure (second from the right) looks like the extreme-foreground woman, but distorted, somehow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Into the Top 50

I'm pleased to be named one of Photolucida's Top 50 photographers of 2008. The honor is the result of 200 photo professionals--curators, gallery owners, publishing people, etc.--voting on the work of 608 photographers from all over the place (but mostly the US). Here's the link to the Photolucida blog with the rest of the Top 50. Here's the link to the main Photolucida web site.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Some Influences

Garry Winogrand

Jackson Pollock

Pablo Picasso

Nicolas Poussin

Here are some obvious influences on my recent pictures of people. Winogrand, Pollock, Picasso and Poussin are more or less formal influences. I've used the way they distribute the figure (or gestures in Pollock's case) kind of evenly over the composition.

Influences on how I think about my work are much more all over the map. But some obvious names that bubble up: Harry Callahan, Walker Evans, P.-L. DiCorcia, Ed Rusha, and the Bechers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Here's my daughter's friend Nate. I was taking pictures of something else when he said I should photograph him. It was dusk. He launched into this crazy five-minute dance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cold Day

This picture is done from the entryway to my apartment. It was too cold to stand outside for the necessary several hours picture-taking for this composite. I cleaned and cleaned the storm door window so it wouldn't affect things too much. I think it added a pleasant flatness and slightly magnified the overcast feel of the day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Choosing Titles

I've been thinking about the titling of my series of people pictures. I have been calling them Color People after a line from an Animal Collective song, De Soto de Son: "Color people say oh no, cause they think it’s contagious/Marshmallow people say oh yeah, 'cause they think it's a masterpiece." I think it fits perfectly, but it's a little obscure. It seems to allude to race, without really doing so, which I kind of like, but I doubt other people will be drawn to it for this reason.

So I've been leaning toward "Selected People." It's descriptive, it's plain, it proabably helps the viewer figure out what's going on a little.

My final choice is a little more poetic: "Many Are Chosen." This, of course, alludes to Walker Evans's series "Many Are Called," his series of grave and sad subway portraits. (It comes from the Bible itself: "Many are called, but few are chosen.") These pictures are a serious influence on my work. As are PL di Corcia's Heads and Harry Callahan's downtown Chicago candid street portraits. I'd like to put myself in a line with them, naturally. Who wouldn't?

I like "Many Are Chosen" because, in my book, all are welcome, all are equal, and nobody's going to heaven anyway. But I like "Selected People" for it's simplicity. I like "Color People" because, to me, anyway, it's funny and it explains my work a little.

So, for now, it's "Selected People."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vapid? What the Hey.

I'm on record as hating (1) nature pictures and (2) nature itself. So why did I take these pretty nature pictures? You could call them "impressionist" just to bug me. But I guess, like anyone else, I'm susceptible to pretty things. Also, I haven't had any serious (read laborious) projects to work on, so sometimes I just walk around like a dope and take pictures. Just like when I was a teenager. I've been trying to think of a defense of beauty for twenty years, and I really don't have one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Non-Whites and Whites

I selected all the non-white people (top picture) from 186 exposures over about 45 minutes. The scene is the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The bottom picture collects all the white people from the same session. A lot of times when I walk around, I think about what different people might notice and what they might remember of the day when they're drifting off to sleep. A botanist's store of images would be pretty different from that of a horny teenager's, for example. So for this pair of pictures, of course, I was thinking about race. The world, thought of in this way, is a bunch of overlapping places.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Projects I'm Thinking about Doing

This kind of picture is fish in a barrel. Finding odd stuff like this is never boring, but the trick is how to incorporate pictures like this into an interesting project. On the other hand, the pictures below easily fall into a project that I'm thinking about doing--pictures of what I'm reading, while I'm reading it. I'm trying to take the name of this blog seriously. These are projects that may stay unfinished. Or not.

Walking around, Thnking about a Project

Most of the work I do involves a lot of labor, either in photoshop or preparing collages and sculptural things to photograph. Somehow, I like the way it feels to work on a single image for a while, from hours to days or weeks. I also like walking around, noticing things like a normal photographer. Here are a couple of recent pictures. I'm pretty sure the drawing on the tree is of Barack Obama, judging from the other chalk drawings on the sidewalk (that I didn't photograph). I'm hoping these walk-arounds congeal into a project somehow.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Trinity Church

This picture only took about five minutes and fifteen exposures (versus hundreds and hours of standing there). They are tourists who came to Copley Square in Boston to seen Trinity Church. There were three groups of them, and I think each of them appears about three times.


Here's the latest composite picture in my Color People series. Most of the people here are friends of my 16-year-old daughter. They are really nice kids, and when they congregate, they tend to troop in and out restlessly. Especially pleasing to me in this picture is that, in addition to doubling and tripling most of the figures, my subjects include a pair of identical twins.

It's funny. This picture reminds me of what childhood is like. It's interesting to me to note that it's a photo cliche, of course, to represent childhood vision as blurry by way of a pinhole or plastic camera images. I guess I'm a little susceptible to the cliche, because it's the shiny streets and the blurring here that remind me of how I saw. But also how most things blended together except what was important, for example, my mother. Everything else seemed like a confusing swirl.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Odd People and Attractive People in the same 45 minutes

These two pictures are composites made from the same group of over a hundred pictures I took over about 45 minutes in front of the Old State House in Boston. The top picture is a compilation of odd-looking people who passed in front of me and my tripod. The bottom picture is of good-looking people who walked by.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Sometimes I could swear that it's just happenstance that we can only pay attention to a moment at a time. I think some of my pictures are actually showing more of what's there than the eye can see or the brain can hold on to. To wit, there's an average of maybe 15 people in each frame of the roughly 160 pictures taken over 45 minutes that form the basis of this picture. So out of a couple of thousand people, only the nineteen pictured here are stepping in the same way, with one foot about to hit the ground. That's a fact.


Here's what happened in about a half hour's time at MIT a week or so ago as students started to repopulate the campus.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Self Portrait

Here's my newest Color People picture, hot off the LCD. That's is me in the green tee shirt, taking a picture for a tourist. She's next to me in pink, and she and her friends are also on the steps just above the camera I'm holding, as well as way up near the top of the stairs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Pins: How Does He Do It?

Here's my set up for making a large 16-panel pin picture. In the paper plate are 56 red pins, 92 green pins, and 48 blue pins. The white panel is a piece of foam board tacked to the outside wall of my back porch. (Click on pictures for larger view.)

I stick them all in a new piece of foam board. You can seen my pencil guidelines, which are cropped out in the final project.

This N0. 16, and you see the cumulative holes in the background.

And here are the holes (all 3,136 of them) by themselves. The project took me two days to stick in the pins photograph the panels and two days to prepare the files and print them.
The final product is a 16 panel rectangle of an overall wallpaper-like pattern, with more holes accumulating in the background with each progression. But, remember, it all happens in a single rectangle, over and over again. Note: the above green is R56/G92/B48!

What Was He Thinking?

• Of Sol Lewitt's wall drawings
Carl Andre's floor pieces (rgb is meant to be displayed on the floor)
William Hartnett and other American trompe l'oiel painters
• Pins, in these pictures, can be thought of as pixels
• Each panel uses pins in this mix: (R56/G92/B48). This makes a dark green (the color of the green grid). What I've arrived at is the color of a landscape!
• With holes accumulating in the background (while the foreground retains the same number of pins in each panel), I thought this was an interesting way to look at time. (Also see my Color People II project, which kind of does with people what I've done here with pins.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Okay, I feel like a dolt, but sometimes I like to take a regular picture just like anyone else, without all my complicated planning and theories. It's nice to get outside, away from my beloved photoshop, too.

"Pins" at the Griffin Museum of Photography

I'm having a solo show at the Griffin Museum of Photography (Winchester, MA) from Sept. 11-Nov. 2. It will be all pin pictures--photographs of assemblages that include colored ballhead pins and magazine photos. I think they are rather strange and beautiful, but hard to talk about. They are preoccupied with confusions of photographic space and color itself. Guess that doesn't help much. Please see the show instead!

Yellow-Orange and Geometric

It's been a while since I've finished a piece. I've been getting ready for a show at the Griffin Museum of Photography (Winchester, MA) and it's been distracting me from doing new work.

Monday, July 7, 2008


This is the result of standing on the Mass. Ave bridge for about two hours in a near gale. With trucks rumbling by and the wind almost knocking my tripod over, it's a wonder any of the pictures were sharp enough to use. It looks like we're being rounded up and sent to another planet (where color is the organizing priciple).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Everyone here is wearing green. It goes with my other pictures, White, Black, Red, and Blue, all done in the Boston Public Garden.


This was done at a concert at a neighborhood park. I wanted to do an all-babies picture, and this was as close as I got. It turned into something else, which is usually how I know I'm on to something. It's funny to find myself a photographer of babies, children, swan boats, and tourist attractions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Boston Common

This could be a strech, but as I was working on this picture, I was thinking of the movie The Third Man, which ends with the hero walking down a long lane past the woman he loves in a beautiful shot that must last three or four minutes. In my picture, there's the guy with the bag, who is repeated into the distance and the woman in the black shirt and khaki skirt.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kids at dusk playing catch

Here's a new composite picture of my daughter and some of her friends. She's the redhead in the white tee shirt. This took about half an hour's worth of pictures--about 180. These pictures, to me are lively and fun on the surface, but almost unbearably poignant underneath as time so conspicuously passes. (Click on image for larger view.)