Articles Tagged with: Artists
Neil Libbert | Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, December 14, 1984 © Neil Libbert

Francis Bacon, December 14, 1984 © Neil Libbert

The French House in Soho was the location for this impromptu shot of Francis Bacon. Libbert had called in for a lunchtime pint and found the pub empty apart from the painter, who drank there regularly. There was no film in Libbert’s camera so he loaded it surreptitiously and then secretly took two shots. Bacon was so deep in thought he did not notice him. Libbert never intended the picture to be published but it eventually appeared in the Observer some years later alongside the artist’s obituary

– The Guardian


Roxanne Lowit | The Original Party Photographer

I started out as a textile designer at FIT. I was given a 110 Instamatic camera to make reference photographs of my friends that I wanted to paint. I liked the instant gratification of the photographic process, so I traded in my paintbrushes for a camera and started exploring this new creative medium. The Editor in Chief of the Soho News Annie Flanders saw my pictures and asked me to go to Paris to cover the fashion shows for her with one stipulation: I had to get a real camera. I bought a camera and read the instructions on how to load film into the camera on the flight to Paris. The energy of shooting backstage was intoxicating. On that same trip I found myself atop the Eiffel Tour with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol for the after party for Yves show. From that moment on, I knew this was what I was meant to do. I returned to New York, quit my job, and decided I was now a photographer.

– Roxanne Lowit

Christy, Linda, Naomi © Roxanne Lowit

Christy, Linda, Naomi © Roxanne Lowit

Salvador Dali, Janet Daly and the stranger, New Years Eve © Roxanne Lowit

Salvador Dali, Janet Daly and the stranger, New Years Eve © Roxanne Lowit

Backstage Dior © Roxanne Lowit

Backstage Dior © Roxanne Lowit

 

Photography is my passion, my métier, and my muse. I love what I do and do what I love. That is the key to happiness.

– Roxanne Lowit

Lenny Kravitz & Iggy Pop © Roxanne Lowit

Lenny Kravitz & Iggy Pop © Roxanne Lowit

Keith Haring © Roxanne Lowit

Keith Haring © Roxanne Lowit

Linda, Naomi & Christy, 1989 ©  Roxanne Lowit

Linda, Naomi & Christy, 1989 © Roxanne Lowit

Paloma Picasso © Roxanne Lowit

Paloma Picasso © Roxanne Lowit

Paloma Picasso and Xavier de Castella at Le Privilege, Paris, 1983 © Roxanne Lowit

Paloma Picasso and Xavier de Castella at Le Privilege, Paris, 1983 © Roxanne Lowit

Divine and John Waters at Interferon, 1981 © Roxanne Lowit

Divine and John Waters at Interferon, 1981 © Roxanne Lowit

Lou Reed in New York, circa 1980 © Roxanne Lowit

Lou Reed in New York, circa 1980 © Roxanne Lowit

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in New York, 1982 © Roxanne Lowit

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in New York, 1982 © Roxanne Lowit

Steven Meisel in New York, 1989 © Roxanne Lowit

Steven Meisel in New York, 1989 © Roxanne Lowit


Robert Mapplethorpe | William Burroughs

I like to look at pictures, all kinds. And all those things you absorb come out subconsciously one way or another. You’ll be taking photographs and suddenly know that you have resources from having looked at a lot of them before. There is no way you can avoid this. But this kind of subconscious influence is good, and it certainly can work for one. In fact, the more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.

– Robert Mapplethorpe

William Burroughs © Robert Mapplethorpe

William Burroughs © Robert Mapplethorpe

In the U.S. you have to be a deviant or die of boredom.

― William S. Burroughs


Mark Kurlansky | Woodcut Prints
Where Am I Going? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

Where Am I Going? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

In every age, people are certain that only the things they have deemed valuable have true value. The search for love and the search for wealth are always the two best stories. But while a love story is timeless, the story of a quest for wealth, given enough time, will always seem like the vain pursuit of a mirage.

– Mark Kurlansky, Salt

Who Is It? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

Who Is It? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

At times it sees that the search for good health has taken all the pleasure out of life. It has stripped us of butter, cream, marbled red meat, pork, and goose fat, not to mention alcohol and fine, hand-rolled cigars. And just when you settle on your favorite healthful fish, you’re told it’s laced with mercury. Sometimes it feels as though we would be better off being less healthy and enjoying life.

But then, miraculously, there is olive oil. Olive oil, it seems, is the only really good food we are still allowed.

– Mark Kurlansky from “Essential Oil,” Bon Appétit, November 2008

What Does She Want? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

What Does She Want? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

I always wanted to be a writer and I had in my head that a writer should either go to sea or go to war. There was a war available at the time but the sea was a much better idea. I did it for a couple of summers, to earn money for college.

My most memorable job was on a lobster boat. I was a pretty strong kid and they just needed someone who could haul pots on 200ft of line. We didn’t have a radio; sometimes you’d hear this roar, see a dark shadow and realise a freighter was bearing down on you. I never gave one thought to how dangerous it was. I absolutely loved it.

Many years later I was on a commercial fishing boat as a reporter and I wondered why the hell I’d liked it so much.

– Mark Kurlansky

Do I Make Any More Sense Than This Painting? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

Do I Make Any More Sense Than This Painting? Woodcut print by Mark Kurlansky

While I write, I drink a lot of espresso. I have an espresso maker in my office. In one of my books, I gave an acknowledgment to caffeine.

– Mark Kurlansky


Robert Doisneau | 1912 – 1994
La poule en laisse © Robert Doisneau

La poule en laisse © Robert Doisneau

Danse © Robert Doisneau

Danse © Robert Doisneau

When I was photographing fashion for Vogue, against a white background, I was only acting a part. Watching a fashion show never gave me any particular emotion, never made me think : “I must absolutely photograph that woman, in that dress”. Besides, models weren’t as friendly as they are now, they always seemed to look down on the little man at the other side of the camera, who was only trying to get his photo.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Le ruban de la mariée, 1951 © Robert Doisneau

Le ruban de la mariée, 1951 © Robert Doisneau

Les animaux superieurs, 1954 © Robert Doisneau

Les animaux superieurs, 1954 © Robert Doisneau

I’ve made every possible mistake. Because I don’t like to obey orders and I always question what I’m told. So I have to try out everything for myself, and that has lead me into many dead ends.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Les frères, rue du Docteur Lecène, Paris 1934 © Robert Doisneau

Les frères, rue du Docteur Lecène, Paris 1934 © Robert Doisneau

Yes, the expectation of a miracle. It’s very childish, but at the same time it’s almost like an act of faith. We find a backdrop and wait for the miracle. I remember a backdrop that never worked for me, possibly because I didn’t wait long enough, or didn’t return to it often enough. In the foreground you can see the steps of Saint Paul’s church, the background is a perfect faubourg, as you imagine them from literature or movies. I frame it in my viewfinder, from rue de Turenne to a shop called Le Gant d’Or, and wait there for an hour, sometimes two, thinking, “my God, something is bound to happen”. I imagine events I would like to photograph, one wilder than the other. But nothing happens, nothing. Or if it does – bang – it’s so different from what I expected that I miss it. The miracle did take place, but I wasted it, because I didn’t pay the right kind of attention. When you are tired, you become unable to react, your emotion is no longer available.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Bois Bouloigne ©  Robert Doisneau

Bois Bouloigne © Robert Doisneau

Plenty. I couldn’t count all my hours of mad hope, while expecting the miracle to happen. Hardly a week goes by without at least one day of photography. But sometimes I have the feeling that I’m hounded by a curse. It took me five years to get sacked by Renault – though I had done all I could to that purpose – and three months later war was declared and my freedom was lost again. Now, that I don’t have to waste my time with advertising photos, or with complying to the demands of magazines, my wife’s illness has fallen on me. For the last ten years, this has detained me from using my time as I wanted. It’s like a fatality. Still, I believe that constraint, and the feeling of exasperation that comes with it, can also become a stimulus to create.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Concours du plus beau tatouage 1950 © Robert Doisneau

Concours du plus beau tatouage 1950 © Robert Doisneau

The advantage we have, compared to painters and writers, is that we never lose contact with the rough side of life. It is a lesson in humility and it keeps us from some pitfalls. But above all it nourishes us. Other people’s vitality nourishes us, without their knowledge. It has done me good to work on this project in Saint-Denis, to find myself in the streets again, face to face with people. Though I must say that I found them less friendly than twenty years ago, possibly because of today’s photographers, who hold their cameras like weapons – so of course the rabbit on the other side doesn’t feel too good. I wouldn’t dare shoot as they do, I don’t have William Klein’s nerve. Sometimes the camera pulls me along, but once I’ve got my photo I wonder, “How am I going to cope with this now, how can I explain it to these people?”

– Robert Doisneau

 

Mademoiselle Anita 1951 © Robert Doisneau

Mademoiselle Anita 1951 © Robert Doisneau

Paris © Robert Doisneau

Paris © Robert Doisneau

[Using a Rollei] You ended up bowing before the subject, as if in prayer. Whereas with a 35mm camera, you put him straight in your line of fire – that is in your line of sight, so as to shoot right into his face. And if you aren’t quick enough, this may annoy him and he will agress you. I understand it now, as more and more often people tend to photograph me, it’s like the attractiveness of old ruins, you become picturesque without wanting to. So I realise what it feels to have such a machine pointed at you : if you stick your finger up your nose – click – your fellow photographer won’t miss it.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Trépidante Wanda 1953 © Robert Doisneau

Trépidante Wanda 1953 © Robert Doisneau

Sunday morning in Arcueil 1945 © Robert Doisneau

Sunday morning in Arcueil 1945 © Robert Doisneau

A memory from my youth comes back to me. You go into the woods on a bike, with a girl. There is the smell of heather, you can hear the wind in the fir trees, you don’t dare tell her about your love, but you feel happy, as if you were floating above the ground. Then you look at the clouds beyond the trees and they are fleeting. And you know that within an hour you’ll have to go home, that tomorrow will be a working day. You wish you could stop that moment for ever, but you can’t, it is bound to end. So you take a photo, as if to challenge time. Maybe the girl will move to another town and you will never see her again, or you will see her changed, tired, humiliated by her everyday life, working as a salesgirl in some shop, with a boss always shouting at her. To me, this desire to preserve the moment seems justified, in spite of that German priest mentioned by Gisèle Freund, who pretends that the photographic image is a sacrilege.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Paris © Robert Doisneau

Paris © Robert Doisneau

I had a few problems with the law. It appears that people have rights about their own image, and this often prevents me from catching their spontaneity. So I must stop them and say, “I noticed you while passing by, would you mind kissing again?” That’s what happened with the “Hôtel de Ville lovers”, they re-enacted their kiss. Those with the grocer were a couple I hired.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Le Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville 1950 © Robert Doisneau

Le Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville 1950 © Robert Doisneau

The “Hôtel de Ville lovers” were part of a series, on which I had already worked for a week and which I had to complete with two or three photos of that kind. But the fact that they were set up never bothered me. After all, nothing is more subjective than l’objectif (the French word for “lens”), we never show things as they “really”are. The world I was trying to present was one where I would feel good, where people would be friendly, where I could find the tenderness I longed for. My photos were like a proof that such a world could exist.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Créatures de Rêves, 1952 © Robert Doisneau

Créatures de Rêves, 1952 © Robert Doisneau

L'enfant Papillon 1945 © Robert Doisneau

L'enfant Papillon 1945 © Robert Doisneau

Les écoliers de la rue Damesme, Paris 1956 © Robert Doisneau

Les écoliers de la rue Damesme, Paris 1956 © Robert Doisneau

My photographs show the world as I would like it to be.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Montbéliard © Robert Doisneau

Montbéliard © Robert Doisneau

Picasso et Françoise Gilot, 1952 © Robert Doisneau

Picasso et Françoise Gilot, 1952 © Robert Doisneau

Les Enfants de la Place Herbert, 1957 © Robert Doisneau

Les Enfants de la Place Herbert, 1957 © Robert Doisneau

We must always remember that a picture is also made up of the person who looks at it. This is very, very important. Maybe this is the reason behind those pictures that haunt me and that haunt many people as well. It is about that walk that one takes with the picture when experiencing it. I think that this is what counts. One must let the viewer extricate himself, free himself for the journey. You offer the seed and then the viewer grows it inside himself. For a long time I thought that I had to give the entire story to my audience. I was wrong.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Georges Braque a Varengeville Normandy, 1953 © Robert Doisneau

Georges Braque a Varengeville Normandy, 1953 © Robert Doisneau

La dent, Paris 1956 © Robert Doisneau

La dent, Paris 1956 © Robert Doisneau

Le cadran scolaire, Paris 1956 © Robert Doisneau

Le cadran scolaire, Paris 1956 © Robert Doisneau

I’m not sure that total freedom is such a good thing. When you have to rely on yourself for living, you accept all kinds of assignments. But you cannot help glancing to the right or to the left, as if playing some game with the working hours that you owe your employer – and in the end the photos worth preserving are the ones you stole from his time.

– Robert Doisneau

 

La voiture fondue,1944 © Robert Doisneau

La voiture fondue,1944 © Robert Doisneau

Georges Braque a Varangeville, 1953 © Robert Doisneau

Georges Braque a Varangeville, 1953 © Robert Doisneau

La poterne des peupliers,1932 © Robert Doisneau

La poterne des peupliers,1932 © Robert Doisneau

The world I was trying to present was one where I would feel good, where people would be friendly, where I could find the tenderness I longed for. My photos were like a proof that such a world could exist.

– Robert Doisneau

 

Fernand Leger dans ses oeuvres © Robert Doisneau

Fernand Leger dans ses oeuvres © Robert Doisneau


Chuck Palahniuk | Thought Verbs
Chuck Palahniuk © Jim Clark

Chuck Palahniuk © Jim Clark

Thought Verbs
by Chuck Palahniuk

In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.

And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.

For example:

“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”

Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example:

“During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast. Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

For example:

“Ann’s eyes are blue.”

“Ann has blue eyes.”

Versus:

“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.

(…)

For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.

Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.


Sante D’Orazio | A Private View

What happened to Sante?

13 years ago when his book A Private View came out, he was the shit, at the top of his game and the industry, gracing the covers of all the major magazines, shooting choice editorials with the top celebrities and models at the time.

I rarely see his name these days and the editorials I do see feature second-tier subjects. His work used to be so playful, sensual and light. There was a warmth in his portraits and a lushness in his black & white work. Some of the recent work that I’ve seen is flat and cold, and very anonymous.

Regardless, his book A Private View is a shooting diary of his work with some personal notes, outtakes, and lists of films shot. It is a book full of charm and beauty.

Kate Moss © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Kate Moss © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Kate Moss © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Kate Moss © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Kate Moss © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Kate Moss © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Christy Turlington © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Christy Turlington © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Christy Turlington © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Christy Turlington © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Christy Turlington © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Christy Turlington © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Julian Schnabel © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Julian Schnabel © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Julian Schnabel © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Julian Schnabel © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Carla Bruni © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View

Carla Bruni © Sante D'Orazio, A Private View