Tag Archives: Globe And Mail

William Miller

Last week, I managed to make it to Santa Barbara to see the terrific New Directions show, jurored by Debra Klomp Ching at the Wall Space Gallery. I was delighted to find one of William Miller’s Broken Polariod images that I had featured on Lenscratch. It was much larger than I had expected and really took on a presence of a Mark Rothko painting.

William became preoccupied with photography when he attended high school in Manhattan and it continued on into Bard College where he studied photography with Larry Fink and Stephen Shore. He’s been a photojournalist and documentary photographer ever since then and has worked with Saveur, Harpers, Paris Match, Spin, GQ, Stern, The Globe and Mail, the NY Daily News, as well as organizations such as Doctor’s Without Borders, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Human Rights Watch and he’s been a photographer for the New York Post for close to 10 years.

In keeping with his painterly sensibility, William’s new series, Gowanus Canal, finds beauty in our toxic world.

Gowanus Canal: It wasn’t so long ago that educated people thought the earth was so vast that no human activity could have a significant impact on it. They buried garbage in the ground and dumped waste in the seas and waterways the way war criminals bury their dead and assume the earth will hide their horrible crimes.

Brooklyn’s Gowanus canal is one of America’s most polluted waterways. More than a century of unfettered industrial abuse was followed by decades of bungled attempts to clean it up. It is significantly cleaner than it was 30 years ago but it’s contaminated waters hold the evidence of its history.

To look into the Gowanus canal is to gaze into the eyes of a corpse. It is murky and clouded over but if you look closely you can see life and light reflected in the mercury, feces and coal tar that drift in the canal like malevolent clouds. This uncomfortable cohabitation is the foundation of a photographic study of the strangely beautiful horror that the canal hosts.

Bill Miller

Bill Miller became preoccupied with photography when he attended high school in Manhattan, but I think he was studying painting with Clyfford Still in another lifetime. Bill’s stunning Broken Polaroids images don’t necessarily reflect his rich photographic roots; He graduated from Bard College where he studied photography with Larry Fink and Stephen Shore. He’s been a photojournalist and documentary photographer ever since then and has worked with Saveur, Harpers, Paris Match, Spin, GQ, Stern, The Globe and Mail, the NY Daily News, as well as organizations such as Doctor’s Without Borders, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Human Rights Watch and he’s been a photographer for the New York Post for close to 10 years.

Broken Polaroids: These pictures are taken with a camera that is, by most definitions, broken. I found an old Polaroid SX-70 camera under a pile of junk at a yard sale last summer. I’ve always loved this camera for its weird, mysterious, and enchanting qualities. It is an ingeniously conceived, complicated bundle of gears and switches with hundreds of moving parts packed in tight like a chrome and leather pistol. As digital cameras become smaller and quieter with no moving parts, the Polaroid with its noisy engine, gears, and rubber bellows seems increasingly charming and archaic to me. What was a cutting edge technology in 1972 is now teetering on the edge of extinction.

With its first use I realized the camera wasn’t functioning properly. It sometimes spills out 2 pictures at a time and the film often gets stuck in the gears, exposing and mangling the images in unpredictable ways. This is common with Polaroids. I’ve been shooting this SX-70 film my whole life and from my experience at least 5% of the time the images fail for one reason or another. Over time you stop noticing. The failed Polaroids are discarded with the packaging, a statistical casualty of such a complicated mechanism. It was only when my statistical casualties jumped to nearly 100% that I realized that even against my will, this camera was making, totally by chance, some interesting, and occasionally beautiful pictures. It’s this kind of unpredictability that makes old cameras and processes appealing and it wasn’t until I noticed what was happening that I started saving them. I must have thrown out scores of ruined Polaroids over the years. Millions of happy accidents have probably been discarded, unappreciated over the last few decades around the world.

As my SX-70 became more eccentric the film showed less and less of what was in front of the lens. Yet out of habit or instinct or lack of common sense I kept pointing it at things. “It’s a camera, after all. Isn’t it?” I thought, even though it appeared to be totally indifferent to the objects I focused on. Maybe it’s a camera that was dropped on its head, got amnesia and became a photographic painting machine.

Either way, I was impressed with the old technology’s resilience and before long I was participating in its process, collaborating with it. Over time I’ve figured out how to control and accentuate aspects of the camera’s flaws but the images themselves are always a surprise. Each one is determined by the idiosyncrasies of the film and the camera.

I found that when I was looking at the prints I couldn’t get close enough, not with my eye, not with a lupe. So I started scanning them at high resolutions so I could see what wasn’t readily viewable. What I found was a rich variety of color texture made from crumpled and stressed emulsion inside the Polaroids, reminiscent of topographical landscapes. I used huge files (600mb) to make 30×36 in prints where these details could be seen. I kept the classic Polaroid white border to give a sense of its scale.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Hello from Lebanon again…Starting my last week here tomorrow, before heading to Finland for a bit…

Here are this week’s updates…

Features and Essays

From National Geographic Magazine July issue…

Lynsey Addario: Baghdad After the Storm (NGM: July 2011)

Quite surprised to see Hipstas in NGM…I would have thought NatGeo editors too conservative for such thing…

Michael Christopher Brown: Young, Angry, and Wired (NGM: July 2011) Middle East Youth Rising

Really liked these Bleasdale frames….

Marcus Bleasdale: China – The Internet Revolution (VII: June 2011)

Magnum photographers Antoine D’Agata, Moises Saman, and Ian Berry for the UNHCR… via @wemarijnissen

photo: Moises Saman

UNHCR: 60 Years 60 Lives (UNHCR: June 2011)

Stephanie Sinclair’s recent work from NYT Mag now on VII website…

Stephanie Sinclair: Tatiana and Krista’s Special Connection (VII: June 2011)

Stephanie Sinclair: Too Young To Wed (Pulitzer Center: June 2011)

David Goldman: Children of the Fallen (YouTube: June 2011)

Jim Goldberg: Portraits from Bonnaroo (TIME LB: June 2011)

Brooks Kraft: New Hampshire (TIME LB: June 2011)

Heidi Levine: Inside Hamas (Globe and Mail: June 2011)

Jean Gaumy: Nuclear Deterrence : Inside the French Nuclear Submarine (Magnum Photos: June 2011)

Espen Rasmussen: In Transit (WSJ: June 2011)

Jason Eskenazi: East-West Divide (NYT Lens: June 2011)

Irina Werning: Argentina (NPR: June 2011)

Matt Black: Modern Agonies in Ancient Mexican Villages (NYT Lens: June 2011)

Father’s Day in the back UK today..

Natalie Naccache: Single Fathers (Photographer’s website: June 2011)

Etienne de Malglaive: Misrata (Photographer’s website: June 2011)

Ivan LaBianca: Libya (Photographer’s website: June 2011)

Tomasz Szustek: Unwanted Refugees (Photographer’s website: June 2011) Refugees in Tunisian-Libyan border

Articles

Two really good articles from the Guardian this week…

Guardian: The shot that nearly killed me: War photographers (Guardian: June 2011)

Guardian:  The artists’ artist: reportage photographers (Guardian: June 2011) Leading snappers choose their favourite living reportage photographer

David Campbell on photojournalists preferring to work abroad…And he had done his analysis partly by looking at features and essays i’ve covered here on Photojournalism Links….

David Campbell: Who’s Afraid of Home? Photojournalism’s Foreign Fixation (DC blog: June 2011)

Blast from the past, but so saw people share this online this week… so I’ll post this again too…

“Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons, and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacency” – Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai

Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai: Advice for Aspiring Photographers (JPG Mag: from 2008)

Lynsey Addario: Backseat Driving in Saudi Arabia (TIME LB: June 2011)

Guardian: Album of the years: can photo albums survive the digital age?  (Guardian: June 2011) An evocative survey of photo albums captures the history of American photography – and asks whether we’ll ever impose order on our sprawling digital collections

Guardian: Featured Photojournalist: Tomas Bravo (Guardian: June 2011)

TIME: Doctored Photos – The Art of the Altered Image (TIME LB: June 2011)

NPR: Behind the Scenes of Irina Werning’s Back to the Future (NPR: June 2011)

Interviews and Talks 

Sally Mann and Nan Goldin (Look3: June 2011)

Bruce Gilden (YouTube: June 2011)

Tyler Hicks : College of Communication Convocation  (Youtube: June 2011)

Leo Maguire : British photographer secures More4 documentary funding (BJP: June 2011)

Taryn Simon (Youtube: 2011)

Awards and Grants 

Congratulations to Jan Grarup for winning the Oskar Barnack Award… Leica blog interviewed him..

Jan Grarup win Oskar Barnack Award 2011 (Leica blog: June 2011)

Ian Parry Scholarship Calling for Entries : Deadline 30 June 

Terry O’Neill Award now open for entries

Both of the above two were won by Sebastian Liste last year…

Photocrati Fund Winner and Top Finalists (Photocrati: June 2011)

Vanessa Winship wins Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (BJP: June 2011)

Delhi Photo Festival is calling for submission : Deadline 15 July

Life.com’s 2011 Photo Blog award 

Agencies

Panos has added six new members to their roster… including Ivor Prickett and Guy Martin…

BJP: Panos Pictures adds six new members (BJP: June 2011)

VII Newsletter June 2011

Noor Newletter June 2011

Noor : Call for Submission : Deadline August 5

AppsKadir van Lohuizen’s ViaPanAm now released

BlogsKael Alford