Oct 31, 2017
You've happened upon happon — I hope you're happy!
Photography is the ultimate truth teller, right? Photography gear is best lugged around in photogear-looking cases, right? Photographers are known to be loners, right? Photographs are best with the light behind the camera, right? Photography is a naughty thing, right?
Those rights are mostly wrong, except for the naughty part, right?
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me
In the first, not even decades, not even years, plural - in the first year, singular, of the existence of practical photography, there was already intrigue and backbiting and, ultimately, the first known outright fib of a photo.
One Hippolyte Bayard had developed a photographic process at the exact same time as his French countryman Daguerre. What Bayard did in response to the response to his process would, today, well, it would fit right in with today's approach to honesty — he lied his ass off. Listen in as I speak truth to the power of photography to lie.
Here is Monsieur Bayard. His story is a sad one, oui?
The Medium is the Baggage
ThinkTank Photo markets a wide range of cases and bags and associated accessories for photographers, serving an equally wide range of users, from simple amateurs to top professionals. Each product has thoughtful design and quality materials, plus often a small detail that solves a problem you didn't realize you had. One thing that none of them had, though, was a focus on the female photographer. It's not that women need a different bag, but that doesn't mean that a better design can't better serve them.
So, that's what they did. Their senior bag designer, Lily Fisher, and one of the company's co-founders, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice, collaborated to create a trio of bags that share the same colors, features, and materials, as well as style, that the professional — or otherwise demanding — female photographer will find better suited to their style and sensibilities.
They also share the names of those designers — thus was born the Lily Deanne camera bag.
I review the middle child of that set, named Mezzo, and it's a solid product that lives up to its ambitions. It looks good, works well, and should serve faithfully and stylishly for a really long time, delivering a dose of joy every time you use it. Plus…
…IT'S ON SALE!
At least as I write this, in early November, 2017, the entire line of Lily Deanne camera bags — Lucido, Mezzo, Tutto — are on sale at ThinkTank Photo. Plus…
Click on this link to get a free gift, of your choosing, from among ThinkTank Photo's accessories for photographers; things like a belt pouch for a lens, data card and battery holders, and more. You don't even have to purchase a Lily Deanne – any purchase over $50 gets you a free gift, plus…
That's right, click on this link (it's the same one as in the previous paragraph, but whatever floats your boat, click-wise…), spend at least $50 at ThinkTank and, in addition to choosing a free gift, you get free ground shipping on your order.
If clicking those links isn't doing the trick for you, this special code number, entered into the "Affiliate Box" in your shopping cart, will do the same thing: 810268.404728.
Here are those other links I mentioned in the podcast, to the company's home page and to the Mezzo bag directly:
Paris is Italian?
My guest this week is MiMi Paris, a woman who declared she did not have much of a life to talk about, then floored me with a revelation less than a minute into that talk. Listen to our conversation if you'd like to be floored too.
MiMi Paris. Photo by Jack Haskell.
Once you get up from the floor, you'll learn about the rest of her interesting life, including how photography wasn't a life-long passion but did become integral to retaining her sanity and how, now, it brings beauty to friends and strangers alike. You can see that beauty for yourself at her web site, mimiparisphotography.com.
She's a teacher, a photographer, and a really nice person. Listen and you'll agree.
The Light from Beyond
Position a person with the sun above and beyond them, compose the image to put them visually against a dark background, expose properly for the side facing you, and you've created a great image.
What? You need more explaining? Okay. But you'll owe me…
The most common lighting scenario we arrange and capture has the light source, whether sun or sputtering torch, behind the photographer, throwing light onto the subject from the same direction as the camera. You capture a lot of detail that way, but it's not always the best way to light the scene.
Sometimes you put the light beyond the subject, whether person or pet or cactus, and let the light striking from the back glance across their head or gills or spines. Make sure there's enough light coming from the camera side of things to see the subject, but let that glancing light define a brighter edge which, if you compose your friend or catfish or saguaro against a background that is dark, will boldly, visually, separate them from that background. Here are some sample images and, of course, I explain things a little more completely in the podcast.
The above photo has a range of rim lighting examples, from the saguaro against the dark seam in the cliff to the out-of-focus prickly pears in the foreground. But it also has a saguaro framed against the cliff that is completely shaded — look how it blends into that cliff face despite it having almost as much light on the side facing us as does its brother to the right. That's the power of rim lighting right there.
Again a saguaro, again with light coming from above and behind. In this case it is the blossoms that jump off the background, glowing as if lit from inside.
Mesa, Arizona, police air unit on patrol in their MD 530F helicopter. The sun is in frame but isn't bothering the contrast too badly. It is, however, glancing beautifully on the aircraft.
This young girl has light streaming gently into her hair, the halo lighting I allude to in the audio, plus a thin sliver of rim lighting on her right art. Her left arm is actually illuminated by the open sky on that side.
"I felt very perverse."
I didn't feel perverse, Diane Arbus did! I felt fine, thank you.
Arbus came from money, and a job as fashion photographer in New York, to emerge as a powerful interpreter of those who are often ignored or shunned by polite society. You'll need to search for her work yourself, as her estate seems to tightly control the licensing of her images — which is fine — so I don't want to accidentally display anything I shouldn't.
The quote I start this segment with is, in full, "I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do — that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse."
She seems to have sought that perversity and gained her greatest notoriety, perhaps, through her photographs of circus freaks, as she referred to them. Even then, it was a subject whose images, the ones she made, she later grew to hate.
My reading of her history suggests a tortured soul, and her several notable quotes show a deep understanding of her own struggles and adaptions to life. Her quotes remain but she lost her struggle, committing suicide at the age of 48.
I ended my observance of Diane Arbus with this quote: "I work from awkwardness. By that, I mean I don't like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself."
You remember Monsieur Bayard, the executioner of photographic veracity? I close out episode eight by declaring that he not only murdered the unerring truth of photography, but he also gave birth to the art of the medium.
Say what!? (I actually utter that phrase a couple times in the audio.)
The photographs that were made in the earliest days of the craft were mere records of the world. They showed what was there and made no attempt to communicate a deeper, or other, meaning. When Bayard faked his own death, photographically, he was crying out for recognition, for pity, and possibly for money. No matter his exact intent, that image was created to carry a deeper meaning, and that is what we expect from art. Meaning.
Sometimes the approach is subtle, and sometimes you drown in its presentation, but it is the intent that makes something art, and Hippolyte Bayard intended something.
The Episode is Dead; Long Live the Episode
That's it for this week. I would very much appreciate it if, right now, before you think other thoughts or smell shrimps on the barbie, you would leave me a comment or question. Just type right down there, just a bit below these words.
And don't forget the ThinkTank sale on Lily Deanne camera bags, or the free gift and free shipping you can get just by ordering $50 or more worth of stuff. There are links in the story, above.
Also, if you haven't yet subscribed — it's free! — you can do that on iTunes via this link, where you can also leave comments and rate the show. That would be good, too!
Thanks for reading and listening. I'm outta here!