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A place to remember and to share articles, videos, and information about art and culture. My primary audience is students of the arts, with the purpose of expanding the discussion and encouraging research.

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Entries in Documentary (7)


Movie Night

Another cold and snowy night has me home-bound, so it is offically movie night at la casa. If you want to join me, here is a list of 40 Movies about Photography, with a comment section that rattles off a bunch more. Enjoy.


Documentary Films about Photography

I just wanted to add this link to the blog for posterity.


Long Beach Police & Photography

The Long Beach Police are now in the position of determining whether or not a photographer's images have any aesthetic value....

"If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery," says McDonnell, "it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual." McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer's subject has "apparent esthetic value," officers make such judgments "based on their overall training and experience" and will generally approach photographers not engaging in "regular tourist behavior."

 I don't even know where to begin....

Photo Credit: A photograph shot by Sander Roscoe Wolff on June 30 before he was detained by Long Beach Police

This is a beautiful image, and IMHO most snapshots lack any aesthetic value. But I only have 7 years of art school and 15 years of teaching experience in aesthetics, the officer on the beat has zero, so what do I know.

And one parting shot - since when is a photographer's role in society strictly limited to aesthetic value?


Joel Meyerowitz - Aftermath

This September marks the 10th anniversary of 911. Joel Meyerowitz was the only photographer allowed on the scene at Ground Zero on a daily basis, and he photographed the site for 9 months. Recently, I have started researching this event, and have complied some articles and viddies about his project.

National September 11 Memorial and Museum: Clifford Chanin (Senior Program Advisor) interviews Joel Meyerowitz - Part One (embedded above), two, three, four, five, six, and seven - a remarkable one on one interview.

I first discovered Joel Meyerowitz' work in my Color Photography class, his Cape Cod project was shown for its use of mixed light and out of balance light on daylight balanced film. I fell in love with the images and have followed his career ever since then. (Thanks Dr. Dik)

Joel was one of the first photographers to embrace color photography as a medium. His use of color transforms his photographs of Ground Zero from merely documents to works of art.  This juxtaposition between beauty and disaster makes the project compelling.

When researching his work at Ground Zero, I found it ironic that he was on Cape Cod when the attack happened and it took him almost a week to return to NYC. When he finally got back to town, he went to the WTC and had a strange encounter with the police that pushed him to gain access to the site and start making images:

. . . Early the next morning I went down to the site, only to find that the whole area had been cordoned off with cyclone fencing draped with tarpaulins, above which one could see smoke rising in the distance. There wasn’t much to look at as I stood in a crowd on the corner of Chambers and Greenwich, about four blocks north of Ground Zero, but out of a lifetime of habit I raised my Leica to my eye, simply to get the feel of what was there. Whack! Someone behind me poked me sharply in the shoulder. “No photographs buddy, this is a crime scene!”  I whipped around and found myself face to face with a belligerent female police officer. I was furious — both at being hit and at the absurdity of the command.  “Listen, this is a public space,” I replied. “Don’t tell me I can’t look through my camera!” But she came right back at me with “You give me trouble and I’ll take that camera away from you!” “No you won’t,” I said.  “Suppose I was the press?” “The press? There’s the press,” she said, imperiously jerking a thumb over her shoulder at about a dozen TV cameramen and reporters, roped off by yellow police tape, halfway up the block.“When are they going in?” I asked.  “Never,” she said. “I told you, this is a crime scene. No photography!”

The images were published in a book entitled Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive.” and the quote above is an excerpt from the book, by way of an article in Today Weekend edition 9/8/2006.

Another short article about the project is from Photo District News; this article talks about the lack of funding for the project and how Joel had to borrow money and eventually sell his apartment in Greenwich Village just to keep working. The article also talks about his relationship to the people on the site, his struggle to maintain access, and the reverence of the workers when they would find the remains of a person.

Additional information:

Slide show of the images

another viddie:

Reflections of Ground Zero - Part One, two, & three (narrator: Jon Snow) - documentary with footage, interviews with Joel, etc.

Joel Meyerowitz website

other articles about his work


Feresten's Archive

The Fort Worth Weekly has an article up about my teacher and friend - Peter Feresten. His archive is being collected by the right places, and will become a part of the body knowledge. This was always his dream, and I am glad to see it coming to fruition.

Photo Credit: Peter Helms Feresten, Altar Call, Truth Tabernacle, Fort Worth, TX, GSP, 1978

Other related links: After Image, FW Weekly 2002, Short Film


Moving Pictures: Brain Skerry

Brian Skerry from National Geographic talks about ocean life, environmental issues, and shows his incredible photographs from the last 30 years.

Jennifer Trausch: 20x24 Polaroid Camera

Photo Credit: Jennifer Trausch, Marquitta Tyrell & William Bookerhill at Cal's Place, 20x24" Polaroid, 2010

I stumbled on to Jennifer Trausch's work through the 20x24 Studio site and was really impressed. In these images she is taking a 20x24" view camera out into the field and making documentary photographs of people and places in the southern United States.

Since 2003 Trausch has been the Director of Photography at the 20x24 Studio in New York City, so she is one of a few people in the world that really knows that camera. Still, taking it into the field is an amazing feat for anyone. Here is how the blog describes the adventure.

Known primarily as an indoor studio camera that uses high powered electronic strobes as its light source, the 20×24 camera is capable of location work. It requires a very large truck, substantial support equipment to protect and stabilize the machine outdoors, but more importantly an understanding of the camera’s capabilities and even more crucial understanding of the film’s response to rapidly changing light conditions. Trausch’s experience with the camera put her in a unique position to exploit the potential of ultra large format photography on location and minimize the disasters ...

Trausch seems small standing next to the camera which weighs 235 pounds and requires a hydraulic lift to get it on and off the truck. A camera this size has a normal focal length lens of 794mm, so there is no such thing as a quick exposure even in full sun. Yet at times her images look as if they were shot in an instant. I love her description of shooting a fairground in Mississippi:

A few workers arrived and we asked for permission to shoot at the fair that night. We always stand out a little, the camera was hard to hide. Everyone seemed concerned with the way their town would be depicted. There was always a general suspicion of us, two female new york artists, traveling with our giant camera and rugged truck. We told them about ourselves and about the history of the camera hoping to gain their trust. We started to prepare the camera, attaching the lens and loading the rolls of film, unsure whether we were truly welcome.  When we started to lower the camera to the ground on the liftgate, the motor quickly smoked and stopped. The camera was stuck up in the truck and we would not be able to shoot.  Before we could drive away, we were approached by a group of police officers and firefighters who offered to lift the heavy camera down for us. Suddenly in the midst of our trouble, there was a willingness to have us stay.
And to think, I'm shy about walking up to a stranger with a DSLR!

After looking at all the photographs from this body of work, I went to her website and thoroughly enjoyed her project Skateland also. When I was a kid, I spent a great deal of time at a place called Skateland on the south side of Wichita. These photos remind me so much of that time period, I can almost hear the cheesy music!

Slide show of Jennifer Trausch's, The South, and article

Slide show of location photographs by  Kimberlee Venable, more info, and cool pic of Jennifer at the camera

Slide show of Jennifer Trausch's, Skateland

Slide show of the 20x24" Polaroid camera on location