Friday, October 30, 2009

The Put Down

I can't get enough of these landing images. Parachutes are some of my favorite things to look at- whether landing over the dust of Kazakhstan, in a splash down over the Pacific, or in a wind tunnel test, they never fail to wow.
Caption: View of main parachutes lowering Apollo boilerplate spacecraft BP-23 after successful Apollo Max-Q at White Sands. December 8th, 1964.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Shake Up

The first issue I worked on at Discover was a special issue called the History of Space Travel. After working the news cycle for so many years, at Newsweek and elsewhere, it was eye-popping. The archive photos at the Russian agencies like Novosti and NASA are almost too good to be true. This vintage NASA image shows an astronaut training. The cosmonaut training images are even better, but I don't have the rights to show those here.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The weekend before last I took some absolutely terrible pictures. I actually might throw away the film and contact sheets. I tried something different, something new. It didn't work at all. I've been telling myself that sometimes bad pictures have to happen in order to get the good ones, but I'm not sure I'm convinced. I really hope this means there are some fantastic images coming next. This weekend in the studio I was still in the pall of those awful images. I was afraid to take photos again. So I drew in my notebook and planned some new shots, and thought over who might be willing to model for me next.
This photo is an older image, one from a series of talc shot moving in air currents.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


This past weekend found me solo parenting round the clock, with my usual studio work day cancelled. I did find time to buy some props for a shot I'm planning that involves swiss cheese. It looks like I'm working my way through the dairy section here- I've done butter, milk, and now maybe cheese is next.
This shot is maybe my second favorite from the frozen milk shoot- it is a lot more restrained than my first pick that shows the slashed container. I get criticism sometimes that the work is too feminine, too subtle, too polite. I'm trying to respond to that criticism in a way that makes sense to me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shoe final

After reshooting this three times, I finally got the shot, with the help of friend and heroine Carolyn Drake. It wasn't easy to shoot this myself, while laying under the table with my feet in the air. I tried using others as models, but no one else fit the shoes or could get their legs in quite this position. All those pilates workouts paid off unexpectedly here. In the end, after lots of fussing and repositioning, Carolyn took the photo for me. I'm happy with it, and look forward to printing it big soon.
I bought those shoes while having an overheated fling this spring and summer. In this photo the shoes themselves of took on a comedic role as an embodiment of desire. Lust had turned me upside down, and perhaps now, the silly shoes were in charge..

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Satomi Shirai

I first noticed the work of Satomi Shirai in the ICP catalogue of student work "SHIFT" from last year. She was not one the students I'd reviewed, and her photo "Breakfast" (above) totally knocked my socks off. I suggested we use it at Discover magazine recently, to accompany an article that discussed the case of a woman who suddenly developed an abnormal sex drive. This image caused quite a reaction in the meeting- in the end it was vetoed for being too racy.
Satomi told me the following about the work: "In my current work, titled 'New York in My Life,' I am exploring assimilation which, I think, is a psychological process of change of a person's mind-set and identity, and which leads a transformation of a culture today. In each image of my work I usually set lighting and arrange objects to photograph a story, and don't really do photoshop except for color correction and changing contrast."
She also went on to say that the guy in the photo was Polish, and the she had included Greek products to reflect her neighborhood in Queens. I don't see this work as being primarily about assimilation. Who cares if the guy is Polish? And is anyone really looking at the food? For me the tension is between the man and the woman, and the hilarity of the scene. Cramped domestic dimensions are a repeating theme in Shirai's work- she is squeezing herself into preposterously tiny spaces, disappearing and reappearing. The effect is a little like someone doing a striptease with a banana peel. Funny and sexy, too.