Photo l.a. January 2012- 21st annual Photographic Art Exposition

From Light Work, an artist-run, non-profit photography and digital media center to Moby, Colin Finlay to Charlotte Dumas, to Meg Madison part of LA Artist Bookarts, Jennifer O’Keefe, Lisa McCord, Alison Turner, Aline Smithson,Vivian Maier and Stephen Cohen Gallery; Photo LA had something to offer all over the Santa Monica Civic Center.

I discovered Light Work two years ago when I found this Todd Gray image of Michael Jackson from 1979 at their booth. I bought the print which I love because Gray intimately captured the essence of Michael; a deep, thoughtful, quiet, soulful young man. Gray was Michael’s chosen photographer from 1974 to 1984 when he was a charming, laughing, carefree person and before all the demands of celebrity weighed so heavily on him. Gray shares a story that Michael would whisper instructions to his brothers about a vocal arrangement while recording not because it was a secret but because he was so shy he didn’t like to yell.

Michael Jackson - circa 1979 by Todd Gray

Moby discussed his process of his book “Destroyed.” I didn’t know Moby was a photographer for 40 years and I loved listening to him speak about how he studied photography as a young boy and was so excited about his first Nikon F.  Moby likes to take pictures of what people don’t have access to hence his point of view of the audience is unlike any on stage photos I’ve ever seen.  He grew up obsessed with photography and even though he’s been taking pictures as long as he has studied music,  he was still hesitant to call himself a photographer. From the time he was growing up, he kept going through a book about Edward Steichen’s that was in his parent’s home. His influences were Margaret Bourke White, Irving Penn and Wolfgang Tillman.

“It’s a really odd way to live” Moby said of being a touring musician.  He continued that touring is weird and isolating because of the constant nomadic, peripatetic existence and the complete isolation of hotel rooms.  He loves to document strangeness and beauty and shared that people want to pigeon hole others as in how could a musician possibly be a photographer? I love the picture he drew on the inside of my book.

Moby-PhotoLa - 14 January 2012
Moby - PhotoLA - 14 January 2012
Moby & Colin Finlay - 14 January 2012

With this book, Moby wanted to document the strangeness of touring. Instead of lying in bed miserable and unable to sleep with insomnia, he thought why not walk around taking pictures? He included music that he wrote at 3 am when he was wide awake with insomnia so the music on “destroyed” and  photos in “destroyed” work with each other as both were created at roughly the same time.

I had an opportunity to spend time with documentary photographer Colin Finlay. His photography is breathtaking as he captures the rawness of people with so much truth and compassion. Colin is an other centered person. It’s part of what makes his photography so touching, he sees people.

Colin brought me a copy of Life Magazine’s 1997 issue of Michael Jackson at home with his new son Prince. I was thrilled beyond words.

Life Magazine - December 1997

Charlotte Dumas discussed her book on the search and rescue dogs of 9/11. Through FEMA, she located 15 of the surviving 100 dogs that were part of the network of dogs that searched day and night for survivors in the 9/11 tragedy.  Dumas explained that the animals were all at the same place at the same time a decade ago to work.  She photographed the dogs in their homes where they still live with their handlers. When I saw the images of the dogs flashing on the screen, I wept.

Meg Madison is part of the LA Artist Bookarts group. I love the way her eye sees the world. She brings an authenticity to her work that makes me stop and linger for awhile.

One of the best parts of Photo LA is meeting other photographers just from walking around the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.  I spent time with documentary photography Lisa McCord:

Alison Turner:

Jennifer O’Keefe:

Aline Smithson:

Vivian Maier was virtually unknown during her lifetime. Through viral exposure on the internet she has become a posthumous sensation in the art world. I love her photography. One of the employers Maier worked for described her as a “very strong, very determined, don’t intervene in my space attitude” person.  It’s that intense solitude that created an incredible 100,000 negatives. Her self portraiture helps us see part of who this artist was and her street photography is perfect in each frame from lighting to composition.  An audio recording of Maier’s voice is shared where she speaks of what happens to your art after you die. “Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on. And somebody else takes their place.”

Every portrait of another person is a self portrait of the photographer.

-Susan Sontag

Colin Finlay-Palm Springs Photo Festival

I just returned from the Palm Springs Photo Festival. Sam and I left on Tuesday afternoon after enjoying one of my favorite meals, huevos rancheros. We ate at Coffee 101 on Franklin. Five hours later I thought I had food poisoning.

We sat in on a lecture of four different collectors of photography and then went to have sushi for dinner. We thought we were going to a restaurant in Palm Springs; Midori, but ended up going to Cathedral City. It was worth the drive as the fish was deliciously fresh.

I taught Sam a set of Kundalini Yoga this morning followed by a breakfast of granola, vanilla yogurt, raisin bagel with butter and jam and green tea. One of my greatest passions and joys is to share the technology of Kundalini Yoga, which as helped me immensely. Sam looked like she was in bliss.

I love spending time with Sam. She’s present and not all up in her head. She’s always game for something new and fun. Her incredible passion for photography is contagious. She was excited like a little kid about her photography equipment and what to bring. She packed it all barely remembering to bring anything to wear on the trip. She brought her Hasselblad, her Canon 5D and was shooting photos on her i-phone with a new app she discovered that makes effects like a traditional film camera. I can count on her being able to figure out how to get anywhere. Since I’m directionally dysfunctional, it’s soothing when someone knows where they’re going.

The first lecture we saw was Storytelling with the Canon 5-D Mark II and 7D. Vincent LaForet  has blended motion and still cameras for photographers.This is a particular interest of Sam’s. I”m more interested in the written word, which will be the highlight of the festival for me.

We walked to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see Linda Connor’s exhibition. Linda is an American photographer who has twenty-five years experience photographing places like Egypt, India, Tibet, Thailand, Sri Lanka. She shoots with an 8 x 10 film camera like Sally Mann so that warmth, depth and richness is right there.

I always like to travel with a nice bottle of wine. I brought a 2006 California  Cabernet from Brookdale Vineyards. We sat at the hotel bar and ordered humus, olives, carrots, celery and a spinach salad.

The pinnacle of the show was Colin Finlay. Colin has been awarded the Picture of the Year International honor six times. He was the reason I wanted to attend the show. I love the expression of the written word in addition to photography. Colin has a powerful depth to his photos and his writing. We invited Colin to join us for a glass of wine at the hotel where Sam and I asked questions and heard his insights on his work and philosophies.  “When I take my last breath on this earth, I want to know that I’ve made a difference to the lives of others”.  This is the man we were blessed to have spent time with. Check out his work:

Here’s a photo I took of Sam and one she took of me with her cool new app. Yes, I love Michael Jackson.