Begone illicit stash

10 years ago

"Influences come from everywhere but when you are actually shooting you work primarily by instinct. But what is instinct? It is a lifetime accumulation of influence: experience, knowledge, seeing and hearing. There is little time for reflection in taking a photograph. All your experiences come to a peak and you work on two levels: conscious and unconscious."

-Arnold Newman

Going through the largesse of my image files, I have rediscovered my own dark secret. Evidently, I once had a terrible photo thieving problem. In the early days of the Internet, while everyone was drunk on Napster, I had my own dirty habit of grabbing images off the AP wires and slobbering over them like INSERT PORN FETISH HERE.

If they were funny, clever or alluded to an inside joke, I’d send them to friends. If they were about North Dakota (which, strangely enough, they often were), I’d send them to my mother. If they featured cats, I’d send them to my boyfriend. Never did I pretend I took them, it was more like, “Look what I found!”

I would stalk SFGate’s “Day in Pictures” (still my favorite random selection of daily images worldwide, hilarious captions too) and just grab whatever tickled my fancy. Pretty damn thoughtless of me, looking back, but at the turn of the century, cyberspace was akin to Deadwood – no law at all. Everyone was flying around in the newly discovered forest like a bunch of naked banshees, gorging themselves silly, feeding their disgusting primitive urges … well, I guess this was mine.

These kidnapped shots would also serve as personal study items, as in, “How’d they get that lighting? What the hell … how did they manage that angle? Man, I wish I’d taken that.” There is still one shot of an old African-American gentleman playing checkers that I covet. His long bony fingers push a black wooden disc forward on an ancient board; his well-worn face is out of focus. I’ve never sent it to anyone but I keep it as a goal of sorts, an example of the kind of shots I’d like to make.

There appear to be no fancy tech maneuvers behind this photo but the composition is clean and brilliant; the low angle allows the man’s fingers to tell 1,000 stories – decades of hard work, heartache and pride. Upon closer inspection, I see that Jeremy Bales of the Gadsden Times (Alabama) is the eye behind this shot. Thanks, Jeremy, wherever you are. You really nailed it.

Though I have long ceased this habit, I still have tons of these random photos in my files, many without clear names or attributions. The time has come to purge so I may stand before you ladies, clean and pure. Still, I may keep a small file entitled “Not Mine” just for further study …

Meanwhile, Marie Freeman, photographer and proprietor at Blue Ridge Blog, has the best bio I’ve seen yet:

One-Line Bio
Among other things, I find outhouses fascinating.

Sorry folks, I'm just not that deep. There aren't many revelations in this here blog... And, I really do think outhouses are kinda fun, don't you?

Marie’s images reveal her gorgeous, funky life in Appalachia - each a study in Americana. Categories include “Bad Days”, “Pigs” and “Stuff I’m Proud Of.” But, to really get a sense of this uniquely American place, I recommend perusing the “Blue Ridge Scenery” section (“Deck Days” makes me want to invite myself over) and the “Appalachian Culture” section. Still, I’m left confused as to why there is no “Outhouse” section. Too private?

Lordie, I find myself gradually slipping into vegetarianism these days – it may have something to do with my exploding garden. Hence, I’ve been perusing all the brilliant food blogs out there and the photos make me huuuuuungry – totally and completely not my fault.

This week, I’d like to blame Susan Voisin’s Fat Free Vegan Blog which includes terrific shots of veggies in peak form, shown in various states of celebration and yumminess. Nutrition info, ingredients and cooking times are all very well and good but let’s face it, it’s like buying Playboy for the articles. To quote Susan herself on a recent post regarding Peach Upside Down Cake:

“No long introduction to this recipe, folks. I could talk about how it's peach season and the sweetest, juiciest, not-quite-local peaches come from Chilton County, Alabama. Or I could travel down memory lane and plague you with childhood stories of how I used to gorge on peaches in my family's orchard until the fuzz burned off the skin under my nose. But no. Sometimes a few pictures and a recipe are all you need. Feel free to chat amongst yourselves.”

YouTubed out but not quite done? I’d recommend Cheryl Colan’s Hummingcrow. I love her stuff. Somewhere between NPR and the WSJ this morning, I listened to a dragonfly buzz itself silly and got seriously intimidated by a desert storm (complete with lightening! Whee!), thanks to Cheryl and her trusty video camera.

Finally, a request that we all keep Alexandra Boulat in our thoughts and/or prayers. Ms. Boulat, a world renowned photojournalist, suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm while stationed in Israel and underwent surgery at a Jerusalem hospital on June 21, where doctors induced a coma. Last month, she was transported back to France to be near her family.

Boulat has covered conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, just to name a few. Her work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, National Geographic and Paris-Match and she has received numerous international photography awards. Born in Paris in 1962, she’s the daughter of Life staff photographer Pierre Boulat and Cosmos photo agency founder Annie Boulat.

Boulat is now with her mother and sister, Antoinette, but is unable to receive other visitors. Though she is breathing on her own and in stable condition, her prognosis remains unclear. Such a painful irony that after a lifetime of covering the world's most dangerous places, Ms. Boulet's shutter is silenced by a losing biological lottery ticket.

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