Barbara Cole Gallery

To learn more about the work of Barbara Cole please visit her site at, Barbara Cole

To read our interview with Barbara Cole please visit, In the Summer Season.

Thank you to the photographers that share their work with us.

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In the Summer Season with Photographer Barbara Cole

SANCTUARY Sanctuary © Barbara Cole

SANCTUARY Sanctuary © Barbara Cole

We are pleased to share the work and words of photographer Barbara Cole.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Canadian and I’ve lived in Toronto all of my life.  I’ve been married to a great guy for years and years and I have two grown daughters, who are very talented artistically but work in other fields.

How did you get started in photography?

I got started in photography completely by accident.  I had dropped out of high school in the last year because I was ill.  I was about seventeen years old and I passed the rest of the year by doing a bit of modeling and the next year as a secretary.  That was enough to convince me to go back to school again.  One of the clients I had modeled for was a start-up newspaper.  The fashion editor was quite taken with me and convinced that I could be the new fashion editor at the age of 19.  I found the reporting part difficult, but I loved the weekly fashion shoots.  The other photographers told me I had a good eye and they encouraged me to do the shoots myself.  My entire life seemed to take on a purpose after that.

Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?

I admire a lot of other artists, each for a different reason.  Stieglitz for his utter devotion to photographers and his passion for photography.  Deborah Turbeville and Sarah Moon because their photography was/is ephemeral.  I loved Steichen for his incredible eye and the breadth of his talent.  I absolutely loved Lucien Freud and I have for ages.  His paintings are ugly/beautiful and incredibly strong.  David Hockney makes it onto the list because his work is so fanciful and enchanting.  Picasso was such a huge talent and his brushwork was fearless.  I love the colour harmonies of John Singer Sargent.  Heinrich Kühn’s autochrome work was flawless and his patience was legendary.  Lastly are Gerhard Richter’s photo paintings.

Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time. 

Sure – Gerhard Richter’s Helga Matura, 1966.  There are so many levels to this work.

Please tell us about your newest series?

Wet Collodion is probably the most difficult process I’ve ever learned.  That speaks volumes since for the past fifteen years I’ve been shooting people underwater, with electricity and holding my breath.  With Wet Collodion, until you learn to perfect all of the elements you really can’t achieve your vision.  It took me four years to understand the lighting, the field camera, the cleaning of the plates, the mixing of the chemicals before I was able to find my vision.  I was first intrigued by Wet Collodion because I had a binder full of old Polaroid 35mm Black & White transparencies that could now be printed by this process since Polaroid was out of business.  Darkroom work was all fine and well, but I really wanted to shoot something original and I wanted to stretch the boundaries of this process. Everywhere I looked everyone was doing the same damn thing.  Sepia portraits or historical re-enactments.

As I mentioned previously, for a long time I’ve been exploring the use of water as a medium, as a canvas, as a lens, as a mirror, and particularly the effect it has on the way we see the human figure.  In July of 2013, I was struck by a puddle of water on the pavement. The image in the puddle was of glass buildings overhead against a clear blue sky.  I felt like the water was a window through the sidewalk into another world. The boundaries of the image in this other world were imperfect, they were blurred and they were not static because of the movement of the water.  Nevertheless the water captured the image just as photography captures an image by artificial means.

It seemed to me that this primitive form of capturing the image could well be explored with Wet Collodion.  The emulsion is literally poured over a piece of glass in much the same way as water in a puddle might cover a piece of pavement and play with the shape of the figure within.  The magic of photography allows the image to be captured in a permanent way whereas in the puddle when the water evaporates the image is gone.  These images in “Meditations” are intended to convey the experience of that way of seeing.  The indistinctness of the human figure, the irregularity of the frame in which it appears, and the ephemeral atmosphere all echo, for me, the fleeting impression of life reflected in water.

 Quietude © Barbara Cole

Quietude © Barbara Cole

 Dissolution © Barbara Cole

Dissolution © Barbara Cole

If no one saw your work, would you still create it?

Of course. What a question!

Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day for you.

I used to jump into ideas much quicker but I must say now that I do a lot of thinking before I begin.  I honestly can’t say which is best. I tend to draw out my story boards, either with a pencil or on the computer which provides a clear reference for anyone I need to involve. I think a perfect day is working together on an image with my support staff around me and seeing the idea actualize for the first time.

What challenges do you face as an artist?

I think the greatest challenge is coming up with strong ideas and staying motivated to see them through.  Until an idea gels, I’m pretty miserable to be around.

If you could spend the day with another photographer living or passed who would it be? 

It would have to be Edward Steichen.

How do you overcome a creative block?

Wow – what a great question!  When I start sleeping during the day, eating a lot of delicious cookies and reading way too many books, I realize that I might be blocked!  So I know that it’s time to hear the little voice in my head that’s been telling me I’m a bad artist and I will never have another good idea again.  I understand it for what that voice actually is – FEAR.  I go to the studio and quietly build myself up again.  It seems to work for me.

Thank you Barbara for sharing your work with us.

To learn more about the work of Barbara Cole please visit her site, Barbara Cole.

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Tami Bone, Visual Poet

The Big Dipper by Tami Bone

The Big Dipper by Tami Bone

 

We are pleased Tami Bone will be one of the photographers in the upcoming Depth of Field at Art Intersection.

Some photographers capture the gritty world of the streets, others take us to colorful exotic lands.

Tami gives us her poetry in the form of her images.

Rfotofolio is pleased to bring you the work and words of Tami Bone.

Please tell us about yourself.

I was born in South Texas,  my parents were loving and hard-working – my mother a teacher and my father a minister.  They were both well-educated, although not in the arts.  When I try to remember any early experiences with looking at art or talking about art, I can’t remember any, although of course films and movies were art, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

I came to photography in a round-about way, not having studied it in college.  Other than being drawn to images, and especially as a child to Life and Look magazines, I didn’t recognize my interest until I was in my early 30’s.  Before that time I had studied psychology in college, and in my later 20’s was beginning to realize that I was mainly drawn to visual design, although I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with that interest.  It wasn’t until I happened to walk by a store-front that had black and white portraiture, that I realized that’s exactly what I wanted to pursue.  So, over the course of about ten years I took classes here and there as I could, so learn the technical aspects of photography, falling in love with darkroom work, and also starting a small portrait business.  At this time my three children were very young, so anything I did photo-related felt pieced together between their needs.  Still, I was able to get a good technical foundation, and absolutely loved photographing children.  I was also able to photograph freely in their schools, in a photo-journalistic style that I loved, and was fortunate to have most of the images published in a small suburban newspaper.  This all took place in the 90’s in the Dallas, TX area.

In 2001, my family moved to Austin, and at that time I was wanting to move beyond portraiture and into doing more personal work.  I took the opportunity of the move as a chance to make that change, and also to start the learning curve of all things digital photography and printing.  I’d said I’d never go in that direction, but I had the chance to see a few pigment prints at Fotofest in 2000, and knew instantly that I must learn pigment printing, although learning has been anything but instant.  It is a constant process, although one I’m happy to have embarked on.

So over the last twelve years, I’ve worked diligently to hone my printing skills, taking classes at the community college and a few workshops here and there.  In the meantime, I also have worked on my vision, understanding more and more what it means to see and embrace a particular point of view.  In hindsight now I realize that this particular view or vision has always been there, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to the place where I can grasp what it is.  I hope that makes sense.  It seems that the business of life, of making a living, of raising a family and caring for others, at least in my case, has taken precedence, and I do feel lucky to have lived long enough to “see what I am seeing.”  For me, being able to do that takes emotional energy and especially emotional space.  It feels like a gift to have gathered enough of both to move forward with art-making.

Navidad Creek By Tami Bone

Navidad Creek By Tami Bone

Water Snake by Tami Bone

Water Snake by Tami Bone

One of the things I’ve learned in my journey of being an artist is that making art seems to parallel personal growth.  I don’t know if that’s the case for everyone – perhaps I’ve just had more growing to do.  Still, I find it fascinating, the changes that come about or the realizations that come to light, thru art-making.

Well, this is a long way of saying that art-making didn’t come early or easily.  And it is something that I feel must be fed and practiced and practiced, hopefully as long as I live.  I can’t imaging not being able to express myself thru my art.  Another thing that I must mention is that I get very excited when I see others doing the same; here we are, all similar in many of our experiences, but then, this highly individual work comes forth and it’s there that the very personal points of view can be seen.  I love seeing other artists’ work and especially when I can hear or read where that work comes from – what is motivating that work.  It seems that whatever “the thing” is – the impetus of doing the work, it’s been there all along.  It makes me wonder and smile about the mystery of art-making and the connection to our deepest selves.

As far as current projects, I’ve been focused on my Mythos project for the past few years.  In this project I’m exploring memories, hopes, dreams and impressions made during my childhood, which was one of deep curiosity and wonder as to how and why I came to be here.  This sense of wonder was such an integral part of my early years  – it was always “right there”.  So in Mythos, I’m exploring and expressing those feelings, those wonderings, and the sense of mystery that was so central to my life, and of course at the core of all of life.  And although there was a sense of loss, the overriding feelings were ones of being thankful that I was here, and thankful that I could feel the mystery.  It’s difficult to articulate even now.  I guess that’s why I’m doing the Mythos project.

That said, I decided to call it Mythos because of the understanding that our stories, both true and imagined, are quite powerful and in turn shape our lives, until finally, they become our lives.  For me, this understanding had a special meaning because I realized early on that I had a choice in how I saw my own particular situation, and I choice to see it with empathy, understanding and love.  I hope this is making sense, and also hope that it doesn’t sound too melodramatic.  I honestly felt very fortunate to be alive, and fortunate to experience being here on this earth.  This was a feeling that was with me most of the time, as if I sensed how precarious it was that I was here.

Anyway, that’s what Mythos is about and that’s what I’m trying to express thru the images.  As far as my process goes, I make a lot of notes on fragments of memories or remembered feelings, and I work from those to come up with ideas for images, so all of the images are planned, although things always morph and change.  I often become aware of something in the process of developing an image that I didn’t realize in the beginning.  That’s part of the personal growth I was referring to earlier.

Also, a few years ago I had a turning point where I decided to stop worrying about “photographic rules”, and to do whatever I possibly could to express what I needed to express, which meant giving myself the freedom to collage my images, or rather embrace photomontage.  This has been a wonderful, although sometimes painstaking thing.

So I work using Lightroom, and Photoshop, although sparingly.  My process is straightforward; I photograph using a normal lens, out of focus, and arrange the pieces to make the final image.

I have no plans to end this project anytime soon – too many ideas rattling around my head, so will continue on.  I wish that I worked faster than I do, but so far I haven’t been able to speed up the process of having an idea and seeing it thru.  What really seems to slow me down is that the images each need to evolve, and always, always they go back to the drawing board a few times before being let go.  Maybe that’s simply how it’s meant to be.

Sunday by Tami Bone

Sunday by Tami Bone

Summer by Tami Bone

Summer by Tami Bone

What is a perfect photographic day?

Okay, on a perfect photographic day – wow, wouldn’t that be nice!  For me it would involve several things, and probably most important would be having the physical space of time, as well as, the emotional space needed to relax and let the creative process begin.  I think that having alone-time, without needing to meet anyone else’s expectations or without having to take care of anyone is what helps me the most, to the point that it feels like a gift.  Once that’s in place, anything can happen.

I should mention something, I’m really not great at photographing in places I don’t know or don’t feel some kind of connection to, and I’m not too good at travel photography, unless it involves the ocean or some body of water.  I do take snapshots with my camera phone, but to really get into making personal work, I need to feel something of a connection to a place, some sense of belonging.  I used to see this is a shortcoming, but now I just accept it for what it is.

Last thing on the perfect photographic day, when I have that unencumbered stretch of time along with the emotional space, that’s when time seems to stop or not matter and thoughts or more likely feelings flow, and hopefully creativity happens.  Of course those perfect days are rare, so instead I grab moments wherever I can.

Please tell us about some of the photographers that you admire and how their work influences your own work.

I admire so many artists and their work, as well as many forms of expression, whether it be photography, painting, writing, film-making, poetry, music.  As for lasting impressions, a few that spring to mind are Keith Carter’s photographs, Mary Oliver’s poetry and John Steinbeck’s writing.  These artists help us to see far past what can be seen.

Is there a certain work of art that made a lasting impression on you?

Recently, thanks to Anthony Bannon and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, I’ve become acquainted with the work of Charles Burchfield.  I love this work!  And so much so that I’ve purchased three books.  In one of the books, Oh My Heavens, Anthony Bannon says in the acknowledgment, “For what sense matters art, if not to encourage our gaze toward ideas far larger than the surface, to direct our vision upward, to see if we can soar?”  That’s what Charles Burchfield’s work does to me – it makes me feel like I can soar.

Merlin by Tami Bone

Merlin by Tami Bone

Bird Dog by Tami Bone

Bird Dog by Tami Bone

If no one saw your work would you still create it?

Yes, because there is something inside that keeps pushing, the proverbial burning desire.  Recently I’ve been thinking about why I make art, why I push myself and why I am compelled to make work when there are already so many incredible artists.  I think that answer has to do with finding or experiencing transcendence.  We talk about seeing beauty and significance in the ordinary.  That’s a recurring theme in art making.  I think that what we’re really saying is that we want to experience more, feel more, see more, be more – to be lifted out of ourselves.  That’s the crux of it for me, to be lifted out of myself.  So that’s what it is; that longing for the rare but wonderful moment of “yes, that’s it, that’s what I’m trying to say with my work.”

How do you over come a creative block ?

Blocks are tough.  For me they usually go hand in hand with fear, and when that happens I know that I need to get the fear out-of-the-way so that I can relax and do the work.  I can get seriously knotted up inside.  I think of fear as a big scary ferocious beast, but one that can be soothed with empathy and kindness.  It’s kind of funny, but when I think of this beast in detail, he’s ferocious at the center but soft around the edges.  Anyway, I imagine myself sitting at a table with the beast and having a conversation.  I realize this probably sounds silly, but the process helps to unkink my thoughts, and seems to help me ease into a better emotional place.  I know that as artists that we all have fears.  I don’t think of myself as a fearful person, but when it comes to art making and showing art, I do experience a fair amount of fear.

Tailsman by Tami Bone

Tailsman by Tami Bone

Rancho by Tami Bone

Rancho by Tami Bone

Would you tell us about your workspace?

It’s a small room off of the kitchen and dining room of my house, and really, I wish it was bigger and more separated from my house, but it’s what I’ve got, so I make it work.  On one wall I’ve got a deep built-in desk and cabinets where I keep my computer and printer, and on another wall I have shelves with boxes of paper and supplies.  In the center of the room I have an old pine table that is usually piled with books and prints, and a cat or two.  When I first set up the room I had shelf ledges put on the walls to hold framed pieces, but what I really use them for is taping prints up to keep track of what I’m doing.  I’m also experiencing an empty nest for the first time, and I’ve turned one of my kid’s rooms into an upstairs studio and storage room.  It’s good to have a place to keep framed work and to be able to lay out work when I’m getting ready for a show.  I’m planning to set up a corner in the room for photographing, too, which is new because I almost always photograph outside.

Any stories about your work you would like to share?

Well, I also want to say how thrilled I was to be showing work with my good friend, Fran Forman.  The side-story is that we met a few years ago while attending Photolucida in Portland, OR.  Fran was hanging out with the east coast crowd, and I was with the southerners.  I’d seen Fran’s work online and knew that I wanted to get to know her better, so one evening during the event, when people were gathered in the hotel bar area, I got up from my table of southerners and walked over to Fran’s table of northerners and convinced her to join me back at my table.  I’m so glad she was willing because she’s become a wonderful friend, and we’ve had a lot of laughs over the north and the south thing.

Moon River by Tami Bone

Moon River by Tami Bone

Tami is represented by

Susan Spiritus Gallery
20351 Irvine Avenue, Suite C2
Newport Beach, CA 92660
714.754.1286

Photo Methode Gallery
2830 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Austin, TX 78702
512.294.9550

Thank you Tami for sharing your words and your work with us. 

To learn more about the work of Tami Bone please visit her site at,Tami Bone.

 

 

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2015 Rfotofolio Grant Award, Rachael Short

32 Year Old Hands © Rachael Short

32 Year Old Hands © Rachael Short

Rfotofolio is pleased to name Rachael Short as the 2015 recipient of the Rfotofolio Grant.

We first learned of Rachael’s work in 2011, when we walked into her gallery, EXPOSED located in Carmel, California.

Rachael’s love of photography started at the age of twelve when her father let her borrow his Canon AE-1 manual SLR. Photography became Rachael’s passion and is to this day.  Following her studies at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Rachael established a thriving wedding photography and portraiture business.  She launched with her business partner, the  EXPOSED Gallery of Photography in Carmel.  Then her photographic journey changed abruptly in 2010 when her neck was broken in a car accident, leaving her a quadriplegic.

Rachael now captures her images using her iPhone.  “I used to hate the iPhone, then I broke my neck, now it is my camera.  This has changed my subject, my approach and my technique.  My process has been simplified and in a way this is making my images simpler, more pure and raw.  I capture what I see in my everyday life, the little things I used to walk by now draw me in.  My life has slowed down, this has changed what I see and how I see it.  I still love photographing nature, light, and life in simple black and white.   I never would have chosen the iPhone as my camera, but I am very thankful that it allows me to continue my art.”

My friend Kim Weston suggested creating platinum prints of my iPhone images, and a new path to my photography was sparked.  Of course it is not the same; I can’t feel the paper but I can see the image appear.  With his help we have created platinum prints.  This allowed me to see the iPhone in a different light.

© Rachael Short

© Rachael Short

 © Rachael Short

© Rachael Short

Rachael is a board member at the Center of Photographic Art in Carmel, and earlier this year she curated her first show there, the Next Generation. “Being on the board is a way that I can give back to the community of photographers that have given me so much support.”  She has also taught classes on iPhone photography and will be having a show of her images in the fall of 2015.

Thank you Rachael for sharing your work with us, and for inspiring us.  A quote on Rachael’s wall states,  “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” Confucius

Rachael Short © Magdalena Maddox

Rachael Short © Magdalena Maddox

To learn more about the work of Rachael Short please visit her site at, Rachael Short Photography.

The Rfotofolio Grant is funded by our generous supporters. Thank you.

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An Anniversary

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Thank you to the photographers, publishers,and supporters that have filled the last three years with beauty and creativity.

On Sunday, June 28th we will announce the first recipient of the Rfotofolio Grant.

You have inspired us.

To learn more about these photographers please click on their names.

Wynn Bullock

Tami Bone

Jack Wasserbach

Ellen Jantzen

Jeri Eisenberg

Robin Robinson

Alan Ross

Keith Taylor

Danica Kus

Frang Dushaj

David Burnett

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Seeing the Light, Harold Feinstein

Kids Riding the Whip © Harold Feinstein

Kids Riding the Whip © Harold Feinstein

On June 20th we lost one of the greats, Harold Feinstein. Our thoughts go out to Judith, his family and all of his friends.

It was our honor to share his work.

Here is Part lll.

Do you have any real favorite photos that you have taken over the years?

Would you tell us a little about each of them?

For a photo to get to a point that I would release it in any form, already indicates that it’s a favorite. But, so many photographs I hadn’t event considered when I first reviewed them, are now appearing before me, through re-editing. And they are also becoming my favorites — such as a new color photo I recently discovered taken in probably the late 70’s. (“Nude in Shower #1) But their position as favorite is embellished by seeing them anew. For example, when Judith chooses a photo to hang in our home and I begin to look at it everyday, it becomes a favorite. But, in deference to your question, I will mention a few that are favorites now. Ask me next week and you might get a different answer!

Certainly, those photographs of mine that are well-known or considered “my classics” are that way because they have been repeatedly shown and have become embedded in people’s consciousness. Of course I think they’re great pictures otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to show them. So too, the more other’s are drawn to them, the more a photo — or any other work of art — attains a kind of iconic stature. Here are a few of mine that hold a special place in my heart:

Teenagers on the Beach ,1949 © Harold Feinstein

Teenagers on the Beach ,1949 © Harold Feinstein

1. Teenagers on the Beach

When I took this photo, people with cameras weren’t all that common. These kids called out “He mister take our picture”. Now, of course, life itself is a continuum of events and so the artist is, I believe, someone walking and choosing from a myriad of opportunities. Which is why I’ve always said that the difficulty of photography for most people is that it’s easy, and people don’t easily accept the gifts offered. They are too self-conscious and worried about making a choice. Here I was presented with an opportunity and took it. Who could have arranged a more potent group of faces? How could one have made it “stronger” than simply by saying “yes” to what was right there?

My Mother's Curtains,1948 © Harold Feinstein

My Mother’s Curtains,1948 © Harold Feinstein

2. My Mother’s Curtains

There is a Hebraic sensuality in this photograph that not even a Torah could surpass. When Jacob Deschin, who was the first photo writer for the New York Times, was asked to choose his favorite photograph, he chose this one, referring to its sublime and contemplative mood. Quite different from most of my more exuberant people photography, but definitely a side of my work and my life that I love. It reminds me of my parent’s home, which was where I took it when I was about 15.

Puppy Love © Harold Feinstein

Puppy Love © Harold Feinstein

3. Puppy Love

This has become a favorite. Its much more recent (for me), since I took it in 1987 on a trip to Greece. I had just gotten off the boat of one of the Greek Islands and this couple where among those who greeted us on a nude beach. Their dog, of course, made a beautiful love triangle, and added to the spirit of playfulness and youthful love this photo expresses.

Gypsy Girl © Harold Feinstein

Gypsy Girl © Harold Feinstein

4. Gypsy Girl

Here is a good example of the subject being totally unaware of itself as a subject and yet what could have been better?

5. Bad Luck Tattoo

Now its fortunate that at the time I took this I was working so quickly because if I had time to think about it I probably wouldn’t have taken it. Especially if he had time to think about it. How does one account for a moment like this? We don’t have to. Click. Click. Look at the composition of this photo? What could’ve made it better? I love the fact that he has “Bad Luck” and then “mom” on the same arm. What “does” it say? We can’t make a presumption about him — sort of like humanity. The whole package is who this guy is.

Bad Luck Mom Tattoo © Harold Feinstein

Bad Luck Mom Tattoo © Harold Feinstein

Man Smoking in 14th Street Diner, NYC, 1970 © Harold Feinstein

Man Smoking in 14th Street Diner, NYC, 1970 © Harold Feinstein

6. Man Smoking

Sitting a long side my table was this man smoking with the light coming through the window — who could ask for anything more? Even as public consciousness about smoking has become more acute — it definitely made this photograph!

Georgina and Rodin © Harold Feinstein

Georgina and Rodin © Harold Feinstein

7. Georgina and Rodin

I often made montages from several negatives — and most of them have become favorites of mine. It comes from my own background drawing and painting prior to picking up the photograph. The sensibility of making using my imagination to create beautiful preceded it all. In this case there are two negatives. Rodin has always been a favorite of mine and I took the photograph of his sculpture in 1987 at the Rodin Museum in Paris. That same year, I was in Ibiza, and took a photograph of this lovely girl in front of this particular Rodin sculpture. In the darkroom I brought them together and I think it enhances both of them. (for more on this see my blog on montages: (Harold Feinstein Montages.)

Yellow Pink Rose © Harold Feinstein

Yellow Pink Rose © Harold Feinstein

8. Modern Rose

Paradise resides in this single flower, innocent, erotic in the true sense of that word, gorgeous. Oh…to be a bee!  Just like people — flowers (shells, butterflies — you name it!)it is all about drawing us in to a deeper experience of beauty. It’s transcendent and completely down to earth!

Nude in Shower © Harold Feinstein

Nude in Shower © Harold Feinstein

9. Nude in Shower #1

Finally, as I mentioned, I’m in the process of re-discovering older work. Recently Judith and I came across this one, taken in about 1977 I think. I can’t believe I didn’t print it at the time, but I’m correcting that!  We put this on our wall, where I have the opportunity to see it every day, and my appreciation for it grows and grows. I love the painterly sense of it. Is this Da Vinci?

You have worked with and have had many students of photography, would you like to tell us about some of them?

Over the past seven decades I have been blessed with teaching hundreds of students. Some have gone on to become known photographers and other have used the lessons of seeing to aid them in other ways in their lives. l have really been excited by all of my students since teaching, as it turns out, is a very mutual process. I love teaching and always feel honored by every student that joins one of my classes. It is my sense that the experience has been mutually rewarding. So, while, I don’t care to name any particular names here I invite people to tune into my blog, since I am about to begin a series called Spotlight on my Students, which will occasionally highlight the work of one of my students. There’s a long list, so this series is probably going to be very on-going! I will begin after Labor Day with Mariette Pathy-Allen who studied with me in the 70’s. She is just completing a wonderful book on her photographs of the trans-sexual community in Cuba. Gorgeous stuff.

Which of your photographs do you think show your view of the world or share your personal philosophy the best?

I don’t mean to be stubborn about this, but I truly feel that all of my photographs share a similar love of life — and that could be summed up in the yiddish expression “to life, to life L’chaim!” Really I don’t take photographs unless I’m awed by what I see — whether it’s face, flowers, a window or a crowd of people. Judith reminded me of a quote from the introduction to my first book One Hundred Flowers.

It was written by photography critic A.D. Coleman, who has followed my work from when I was a teenager. When I first began doing the large format digital photography, some people were shocked at the supposed change between my early 35mm black and white street photography, but as he said:
“Once they get over the shock, those who know Feinstein from his more familiar work will see clear relationship between…this [floral suite]….and his Coney Island work. I find a profound awe in the presence of living things manifested in all his pictures. A cluster of smiling faces on a beach blanket suddenly becomes a bouquets; a thoughtful scrutiny of an opened blossom suggests a portrait. Part and parcel of the same encompassing worldview, they require no further justification.”

I’m grateful for his comments. The thing is it’s all beautiful. It’s not so much about the subject or a choice of subjects, but rather — for me — seeing beauty. The old expression “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is what sums up my philosophy. Even in teaching, my main goal is to get students to see their own personal beauty and affirm it. That’s what will shine through in their photographs. Different things make our mouths drop open, but saying “yes” to whatever it is, is my own advice to aspiring photographers.

Poppy Buds @ Harold Feinstein

Poppy Buds @ Harold Feinstein

A lot of people complain about digital photography not being real photography. What is your feelings about the modern tools photographers have at their disposal and the rapid changes photography is going through?
Use them all. One is not better than the other. We are artists and artists have many tools. (Let the pixels fall where they may). There have been arguments about photography is and is not since the very beginning of this medium. For me it’s been a process of discovery in which I have thoroughly explored as many avenues as I’ve wanted. More is still to come.

Is there any subject or place you would still like to photograph today that you have not had a chance to work on in your career?

It could be so many, it would include all that you might think of. God only knows. That said, I am thoroughly content with the way it’s unfolded. I am constantly been led in directions that have been fruitful and I expect that to continue.

Is there anything in your career you would change if you had a chance?

Yes. I would’ve said “yes” to Edward Steichen when he asked me to put seven of my photographs in his “Family of Man” exhibition. It turned out to be one of the most important exhibitions of all times and I was a young purist who thought photographs should be shown on their own merits not because they fit in to a “theme”. I wasn’t the only photographer who made that choice….and I suspect I’m not the only one who regrets it!

Any advice?
The most important question in the moment before a photograph is taken is “yes” or “no”. By all mean, say “yes.”
The summation of life is a compilation of the roads taken or not.

One more thing Harold remembered when thinking about is there “anything you would change” ?
He remembered that when he was 16-17, and an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan — Jackie Robinson agreed to have his photos taken up in the stands when Harold asked him. (This would’ve been shortly after Jackie started — 1947 or so). He took some great up-close portraits of Jackie with fans and now can’t find the negatives!  Not sure it would’ve changed his career, but to have those negatives would be to have a wonderful piece of history!

Thank you Harold and Judith for sharing your work and words with us.

To learn more about the work of Harold Feinstein please visit his site at, Harold Feinstein. 

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In Memory of The Beholder Harold Feinstein, Part Two

 W. Eugene Smith ©Harold Feinstein

W. Eugene Smith © Harold Feinstein

June 20th we lost a great photographer, teacher, friend and generous soul when we lost Harold Feinstein. Our thoughts go out to Judith and his family.

Rfotofolio had the honor of doing a series of interviews with Harold. Here is Part ll.

We have such a rich history of great photography that it is rfotofolio’s honor to feature the words and art of one of America’s photographic greats, Harold Feinstein.  Harold and Judith have been most generous with their time, to help us bring his work to you.

Can you tell us about the first photos that Edward Steichen had purchased for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)?

While my memory on this is fuzzy, I’m pretty sure it was these three:  “My Mother’s Curtains” (1946),  “Gypsy Girl”  (1949) and “Teenagers on the Beach”  (1949).  Two of these were taken with a Rollieflex  that I borrowed from my neighbor.  It was the first camera I used.  It was the most beautiful camera I’ve ever seen.  For “Teenagers on  the Beach” I was using an Arga C3,  a really cheap 35mm camera that was all I could afford at the time

What inspired you to do photomontage?  Would you describe what your time in the darkroom was like?

Before photography I was a precocious artist, and the tools of the painter, for example, allowed poetic license to portray the world from your own imagination.  In photography I believe the same thing to be true.  Early on, I was more of a purist and followed certain rules, but when I started looking over my work it became clear the I could make a photograph that honored my own imagination better if I freed myself from the old rules. Ultimately all I was interested in was any path that led to a picture that I loved!  In the darkroom it was the time of fulfilling a major segment of what my vision was becoming.  Photomontage is very labor intensive — trying many things that didn’t work…and coming across accidents that did.  The truth is that I generally procrastinated about getting my butt into the darkroom, but once there I always loved it.

Boys Diving into Surf, Coney Island, 1957, Harold Feinstein

Boys Diving into Surf, Coney Island, 1957, Harold Feinstein

Harold you have taught photography in a number of different venues.  Pretend we are one of your students.  What are three or four things that you try to convey to new photographers ?

First of all — take  LOTS of pictures!  The word “yes” is the most important thing!   There are no rules in art.  Everything has been done and will be done, but not by you!  Just love what you’re doing.  Your idiosyncrasies will become a part of your ultimate vision.  Always remember:  good composition is strong seeing.

Art is a club in which the anarchist is the truest member.

Girl in Checkered Dress by Harold Feinstein, 1957

Girl in Checkered Dress by Harold Feinstein, 1957

Young Girl Wearing a Fur Coat by Harold Feinstein, 1954

Young Girl Wearing a Fur Coat by Harold Feinstein, 1954

Nun Hoping for Charity from Passersby by Harold Feinstein, 1952

Nun Hoping for Charity from Passersby by Harold Feinstein, 1952

Are there any words of wisdom for more advanced shooters that you would like to share?

Always remain the beginner so that it will always be brand new.  As new as the first kiss.  Also, always go back to look at your earlier work.  You’ve grown and you may see new things in your work that you hadn’t before.

When you are asked to review a photographer’s portfolio what do you look for?

I look to recognize any elements of his or her work that speak out to me.  Few young photographers are aware of their own vision.  They are looking for something that is high on a certain mountain in their minds, whereas it resides within them.

I see elements here and there that I want to make the student aware of…it’s called recognition, which is what all of us yearn for.  From my subjective viewpoint, I let them know what makes my mouth drop open.  I want them to appreciate the uniqueness of their own way of seeing.  Few people do.

Teaching is also a great learning experience, would you please share some of the “lessons” you took away from all your years of teaching?

Well,  I was honored to be able to accompany other photographers on their journey and was often surprised along the way.  Teaching allowed me to find my own voice in terms of what I have been internalizing along the way.  So I got to know my own wisdom better through sharing it with others.  Many wonderful friendships were formed or begun in the process.  I also learn from the vision of others.  I like to learn from the rules that they are breaking in a world that truly doesn’t have any rules.

Pigeon Sharing Cigar by Harold Feinstein

Pigeon Sharing Cigar by Harold Feinstein

Cafeteria Dining by Harold Feinstein, 1966

Cafeteria Dining by Harold Feinstein,1966

To learn more about the work of Harold Feinstein please visit his site, Harold Feinstein. 

Thank you Harold and Judith for sharing your time and your art.

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All publications and images may not be reproduced in part or in whole without permission of Rfotofolio and the photographer.

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