Larry Towell

I have been racking my brain trying to come up with an artists genealogy for myself. Larry Towell is on my list for sure. Over on Heather Morton’s blog she talks about his new show “The World from my Front Porch” that was up at the Stephen Bulger Gallery.

These are the pictures he makes when he is not off documenting the landless.

The lyricism of his work draws me in and holds me. If it is El Salvador, Mexico, Palestine or his front yard the lyricism is all the same, beautiful.

Magnum in Motion has an essay to go with the exhibition. He has great hats.


Philip Jones Griffiths 1936-2008

When I sat down and saw that Philip Jones Girffiths had died from cancer today I felt saddened.

“Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Giffiths.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

His career was amazing, his pictures painful.

Here is a good interview with him. God Speed Philip Jones Griffiths.

I found a great quote from the BBC obituary.

“The only thing we photographers really want more than life, more than sex, more than anything, is to be invisible.”
Philip Jones Griffiths

David Burnett has also published a remembrance of his mentor and friend.


a video that makes me want to make a video

This video won first place in the POYi Multimedia Feature Story category. Jim Lo Scalzo is an amazing photographer who always put his own visual stamp on whatever image he is making.

Compared to a lot of videos that I have seen, well to be honest started to watch and then grew bored and clicked off, this one blends the still image well with the video image. I am assuming he is using two different cameras, which is why I like this. There are two different thought processes going on. Not one, with a frame grab later like the local paper likes to do.

His book is also worth checking out, from what I have heard. The online component of it also did well at POYi.



Danny Wilcox Frazier’s book “Driftless Photographs from Iowa” is published by Duke University Press and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. It was the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. The juror was Robert Frank, who wrote the forward.

Well, who wouldn’t want Robert Frank to write the forward to your first book? I would. I remember when I saw “The Americans” at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City a decade or so ago. I got chills. I liked Robert Frank before I saw the show, after it I was amazed.

The 80 pictures in this book are a testament to the fact that Robert Frank’s influence is alive and well in photography. Danny also acknowledges Josef Koudelka, Nan Goldin, Larry Clark and Gilles Peress. I know Danny is in the Real Photographer camp, no question about it.

The first time I met Danny was five or six years ago in Indianapolis during the women’s basketball Big 10 Tournament. Purdue played Iowa, and I think he sat next to me. He was working at one of the Iowa City papers (there are two). He was using a digital camera, I don’t think I was. I had my newly purchased Leica with me, and I remember him saying something about wanting one, and I said something about always wanting to shoot basketball with it. To me, that was a real photographer sort of thing.

I bumped into him yearly, usually during a Big 10 basketball tournament.

I am glad he bought his Leica and left the paper to go to grad school, where from what I understand, this book originated.

A few years later, I followed his plan (leave paper go to grad school). Needless to say, I asked his advice and sort of followed it, but here I am telling you about his book which you should buy right now. Danny is one of the nicest guys I have met and it is clear from his pictures that breaking down barriers and coming back with the goods (flat out great pictures) is something he has a talent for. To quote Jack Kerouac: “You got eyes.”

Danny has done some traveling, but this work is from his home state, which is very refreshing. In the age of the College Photographer of Year contest having an international story category, it is nice to see someone work the back 40 for all it is worth.

And work it he does. This is Iowa beyond the image of pigs, corn and politicians. Real people populate these pages. Veterans, rabble-rousers, Hasidim, farmers, Plain People, families all make an unexpected portrait of a state few truly know.

Danny Wilcox Frazier

In stark black and white images his Iowa appears on the page. Grain competes with snow and ice at times. Yes, grain, real grain, not the digital kind. The good kind, it comes from film.

Turning the pages I am struck by unexpected images. Moments come out the shadows. All the action is up close and personal. You feel the corn fly through the air while being harvested on the family farm. I hear snow crunch under the feet of hunters on their way to the killing fields. These pictures come alive.

Danny Wilcox Frazier’s clarity goes beyond what may be fashionable in some journalism circles. There are no fancy tricks of composition or electronic flash. He has the clear and direct voice of an Iowan adn the eyes of a poet.


A Photographers Writes

Walker Evans

I have discovered Walker Evans in graduate school. I studied “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” for a number of years, but I never appreciated it, or Evans, until graduate school.

While researching Evans recently, I discovered a slim volume published by the University of Texas in 1974. An exhibition of the Hale County, Alabama photographs, including unpublished images, was organized and a catalog with various historical and academic essays was published for the event.

The last essay by Garry Winogrand, who was teaching at UT at the time, is entitled “A Photographer Looks at Evans”. Winogrand, who liked word games, did not mince his words.

“Walker Evans’ photographs are physical evidence of the highest order of photographic intelligence. His photographs do not kowtow to anybody’s idea of how photographs should look.”

“There isn’t any pigeon-hole large enough for him. He is a photographer of whatever he conceives of as being an interesting problem for photography.”

“But the photographic snakepit-pit can yield some gold now and then, and does so here…Photographers accept their nuggets from any kind of mine, gratefully. Photography is like life and/or nature, profligate, as are the best photographers.”

Only a photographer who has thrived in the snake-pit would write this. The scholars and critics who have not pressed their eye to a viewfinder know this. I wish more photographers would write about their compatriots. Tim Davis likes to write, but he sounds like the ivory tower academics who have not slogged their way through the snake-pit while looking for a mine.

Garry Winogrand