|2003 25th year |
same old address:
|Al Weber Mid-Year Newsletter |
Narrow Minded Opinions, Important Trivia, Gossip, Books (good ones) & Workshops
In 1987, the last year I ran a program at Victor School, the mailing list was 12,000. I purged it to 1,200. As I continue to downsize, I find there are still too many who arent active for the newsletter, and so another purging. Now it rests at 300 who wish a paper copy. Everyone else, can always see what is up by reading my web page. Each year I whack off another workshop or two, and work closer to home. Im older and slower, and that goes for the old Ford too.
The current trend to digital and alternate processes intrigues me, and I enthusiastically support it all. One problem; those first in frequently are those who couldnt do well in conventional methods. They hang their hopes on a new and wonderful way that will salvage their sagging creative efforts; like putting a sauce on a badly prepared entree. Wading through all this is time consuming and sometimes depressing, but, once there, one finds those still in the game worthwhile. It appears that a sound structure of traditional photography aids in the pursuit of other avenues, and to this end, I find a place to work. Note the other avenues. Traditional craft shall always be part of my work. Other avenues are an extension of on going processes. For me, there will be no switching, only an expansion of the menu. I grew up with Pictorialism. Then it was Straight Photography. And along came Conceptualism. Shots became pictures. Pictures became Photographs. Then came, oh gawd, the Image. Image this and image that. Scattered along the way we ran up against Cibachromes instead of color photographs. Polaroid Transfers were the rage. and of course all of the alternate processes. Today the photographic world is being bombarded by digital whatevers. We are victims of trends. Relax and enjoy it.
|Philip Hyde: An Update|| |
The first weekend in May was a swell time for seventeen people to visit Phil just outside Taylorsville, California. It was a quiet, rainy time and Phil was in fine tune. For hours we talked with this shy man, as he demonstrated how he has dealt with blindness and remoteness and the loss of his wife. There is a new spirit at up there at Rough Rock, and we came away having experienced what a honest and determined personal philosophy can produce. We sat in his wonderful studio and the hours just zipped along. Saturday night we went to Crescent Mills, had a fine meal, danced to live music (with lots of local ladies) and sang songs. This included a solo by Phil of Goodnight Ladies. On Sunday we went to his darkroom, bought all kinds of stuff, including the Durst 138 to Carol Byers and all kinds of knick knacks to a variety of people eager to own something of Phils. Taylorsville sits at the headwaters of the Feather River in Northern California. Phil and his wife Ardis, built their home in 1959 on a wonderful bluff overlooking Indian Creek. Taylorsville and the nearby town of Crescent Mills are in lumber and cattle country. The businesses there are friendly and geared to residential needs. The grocery stores are magnificent with old fashioned cash registers and wooden floors and covered porches in front. It seems each building is saying, Hey mister, take my picture. We camped in a county park with hot showers, a wonderful river, grassy sites, deer and foxes. Philip Hyde, at 81, is doing well.
|Farewell to a Grand Dame||With sadness I report the death of Frances Baer on August 5th in Monterey. We lost a good one. She was 85, and now joins her most cantankerous life mate, Morley.|
|Found Myths: I only photograph to satisfy myself|| Ive heard this said once in a while and recently Henry Gilpin came off with it again at an opening. Question? Why did I go to the opening if the photographs were just for Henry? If I were to think like this, I would question making finish prints. After all, its just for me, and really, why even develop the film? Why even shoot the film if it is just for me, I could have just stood there and looked at this scene and when I felt I had totally consumed it, I could have walked away with the personal experience and eliminated all that fuss and mess. I went to the opening, obviously, because Henry is a friend of 40 plus years, and I support my friends when possible. Hell be miffed over what I write, but hell get over it. |
In the latest issue of Lenswork, headlining an article by someone named Frank Van Riper, it states The path to Fulfillment-and every so often to money and to greatness-begins with the realization that the artist has only to please him or herself.
But, they always want to exhibit. Why?
In a essay Learning to See by Barry Lopez, he refers to photographers. I think he hits the nail on the head. It parrots what I have been saying regarding an audience. .....without an audience (of which were all a part) the work remains unfinished, unfulfilled. A photographer seeks intimacy with the world and then endeavors to share it. Inherent in that desire to share is a love of humanity.
Boy, I wish I had said that.
Both Van Riper and Lopez have photographed. Lopez has moved away from photography and now just writes. The credentials of Van Riper seem weighted by journalism. Lopez lives in Oregon, Van Riper in Washington DC. In the Van Riper article there is one photograph of a home made stone grill. He states that he gave the making of the grill photographed his total attention and my best creative shot. First the grill, a jumbled pile of rocks, can only be described as ugly. Living in a community of Italians, many of whom are masons of superb taste and skill, I am used to seeing fine stone work. Mr. Van Riper, your efforts at masonry are a joke and primarily reveal more about you than I am interested in seeing. As a teacher I have heard that old saw about I dont care what you think, I did it for myself used to the hilt. Second the photograph can only be called a snapshot. Im glad you are happy with your grill, Mr. Van Riper, and your snapshot, but next time I would hope you and Lenswork would keep your best to yourselves on your path to fulfillment. For examples of what is meant by directing your communication (photography) to an audience, see all of the other photographers in that issue (No. 46 Apr-May 2003) especially the Morrie Camhi series.
|Publish: or Perish|| |
The old university threat, has instilled a stigma that one is not a photographer until there is a book out there with your name on it. I know of few who do not covet a book. Everyone is working on one. Stories (or rumors) about huge advances and royal treatment evoke dreams of new cars and houses and travel and adulation. Reality says, however, few of us will realize this pipe dream. Ive thought about this, even put together bits and pieces that could be a book, and finally Im fussing with three book projects. One is so bizarre I know no publisher would consider it, so it will be self published and of interest primarily to those who have spent time with me in workshops. When it is ready, youll be reading about it in this newsletter. The second looks like it will be published in serial form in Photo Techniques. and deals with the Zone System and how it has evolved. The third, about rock art, pictographs and petroglyphs, has drawn interest from a publisher. The first thing they threw on the table had nothing to do with the book. It had to do with money. I would have to contribute to the cost of publication of the book.
|Self Publishing||In the supposed conflict caused by computers and digital work, one major plus for computers is the idea of desk top publishing. Anyone with a computer can now produce a book at will. Quality depends on the characteristics of the computer, the skills of the computer operator, and taste. Outstanding works are around. Editions are usually limited because there is so much hand work and costs are high. BUT it is here, and it is an option. You can do a book of your own in an edition of one. Having done one, you will quickly decide just how much more time and effort you are willing to give to do more. The technology is new; the idea is not. Ansel Adams collaborated with Mary Austin, back in 1930 in the wonderful book, Taos Pueblo. Dassonville (the pre-cursor of Xerox) sensitized paper so that Ansel could make real prints on the same paper as the book was printed. The edition was 108, and sold for $75 each. Imagine going to the darkroom and making 12 prints, 108 times. It sold out within two years. |
Recently, I have received two self published books, and one self published portfolio. Understand I cannot duplicate the quality of the works. For more information and purchasing, I urge you to contact the authors direct. I know the effort that went into each project. They all would be wonderful additions for any serious collector. This is a way to support your fellow photographers, and reward them for doing something substantial.
It also can serve as notice to the publishing industry that they are no longer the only avenue.
For further information regarding the three illustrated self published books or portfolio, contact:
David Vestal. PO Box 309, Bethlehem CT 06751. no e-mail
Paul Christean. 854 Wilshire Place. Salt Lake City UT 84102. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Haley. 619 Ojalla Road. Siletz OR 97380. email@example.com
|picture book |
photos by David Vestal
|excerpts from Davids |
newsletter, Grump 88,
My new inkjet ability opened a door I hadnt imagined before-a chance to print my own picture book according to my own taste and offer the result to anyone whod want it. Not so easy to do as it seemed at first, but yes, possible. More experiments followed, and now I have a letter-size book, half an inch thick, of 52 b/w photos in inkjet form-Its the simplest picture book I could think of. I like it. Then David goes into an in depth run down of costs and problems and prep work and how the process went on and on, for about three weeks. He found he could print, collate and bind two copies a day. Such is the carefree life of the self-publishing photographer. Adding, to my pleasure and dismay, a few of these inkjet prints look definitely better to me than the darkroom prints I scanned them from. That surprised me, but it stands to reason; inkjet printing gives me a new kind of chance to solve some of their problems. And finally he says he doesnt know how much to charge for this book, and asks an opinion. By the time you get this, Im sure the money issue will be resolved. This is an excellent chance to procure a major body of work by David Vestal at a bargain price.
| Distilling Apocalypse into Art |
Observations on the post-communist industrial photographs of Bruce Haley
For three years, Oregon-based photographer Bruce Haley has documented the decaying industrial infrastructure of countries once shrouded by the Iron Curtain. This new body of work offers a provocative glimpse at the legacy of pollution and destruction left behind after the fall of communism.
|Finding The Light |
The Space Time Travels of Paul Christean
|Paul has traveled with me since 1988. I doubt I have taught him anything. I think he just likes the company and the places I go. He is one of those who dances to different music. In my dictionary, he could easily replace the word surreal. When I look at his photographs, taken while with me, I wonder how he ever saw that. His sometimes outrageous dry humor and wit leave many a newcomer scratching their head. 54 photographs that are inner events; what is going on between Paul Christean and the subject. Urinating in the middle of the Extraterrestrial Highway (375), near Rachel Nevada, at mid day with a can of Tab in his free hand seems reasonable. He lives and works in Salt Lake City. He is Mormon, and although he sometimes pokes fun at the church, I think down deep he is quite proud of his heritage. Whatever it is, I dont know, but something has made him the way he is, made him see the way he sees, and drives him to see a project through with style and class and quality. He is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes suffocating yuppie oriented society. In his day job he works for a high tech industry, yet he does not have a cell phone. The Stephen King of Photography. Youll have to talk to Paul about the book, and dont expect a reasonable answer. Press, and get one however. Ive got mine.|
|The Rendezvous: My Gawd, the Rendezvous|| |
In February, I received a letter from Huntington Witherill. It was polite and certainly not offensive. The nature of the letter was his dislike of the Rendezvous being held at Songdog Ranch. He listed his reasons and ended by saying he would not be coming to the Rendezvous anymore as long as it was at Songdog. Hunter is a good friend, and one of my favorite photographers, AND hes married to that nice lady, Tracy. I took his letter seriously. I made many phone calls. I asked for opinions, and boy did I get them. The wires were hot with all the e-mail comments, and like or dislike, they all were well thought out and made sense.
* Randy Hahn had been with me in workshops since the 1970s. He was first and foremost a Texan, did commercial work, and ran a large color lab in Dallas with his wife, Lee. We dont know what happened to Randy, but the best guess is that he just got tired of the rat race and decided to move on. He committed suicide; no date or further information was given.
|Fall Workshop Schedule|| |
03-04. Rendezvous at Songdog Ranch. October 17, 18 & 19. $115
03-06. Carmel Studio, Big Sur Coast & Mission San Antonio. November 7, 8 & 9. $275
|To Apply|| If you want to sign up for a workshop, send me a check, say which workshop you want, and Ill send you an information sheet. Any money sent will be cheerfully refunded should you decide to cancel and I dont care why. I ask that you notify me of cancellation prior to the workshop. Your name will be placed on a roster only when I have received a check. |
No sign-ups by Email or telephone.
A Newsletter with only photography would indeed be very boring
|Flash!||David Vestal and Al Weber will team teach a workshop next August (2004) in Condon, Montana for the Photographers Formulary. For further information, contact Bud at the Formulary, 1-800 922-5255, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org |
See what happens when you put a Grump and a Old Goat in Big Sky Country
|Flash II|| |
Photo Techniques will publish an article about David Vestal before the end of the year. Known as somewhat of a East Coast mal content, the article will be written by West Coast mal content Al Weber.
|Thats it for now, see you when I see you, |
|If you wish to file a complaint regarding content or errors in this newsletter, see this page for directions.|