I just finished listening to Lenswork Podcast # 1128, “Learning to See” by Lenswork Publisher, Brooks Jensen. Years ago, when my friend and I would sip coffee at the now historic Borders Books, Lenswork would be one of the first publications we would browse while enjoying each other’s company. If you are a photographer today, give this episode a listen, for there is much to be gained here. Like Brooks, I grew up in an era where learning to see was a function of attending classes, workshops, reading (and reading) books, and otherwise surrounding oneself with art. As noted by Mr. Jensen in this notable treatise (linked below), As a function of this immersion into art, unlike YouTube, which promotes the how to use equipment…… books, workshops, galleries, museums, conversations with artists incites the why in the creative process. Youtube is in fact wonderful for figuring out how to change the oil on my Ariens snowblower, or the rotate a film back on a Mamiya RB, but you will be hard pressed to find a video tha accomplishes what one visit to a gallery showing and chance to meet the artist during the opening will accomplish. My friend and I meeting David Plowden at the Catherine Edelman Gallery on W. Superior in Chicago, comes to mind as a cogent example. As Brooks recites, “You learn of to see by surrounding yourself with the excellence others have seen.”
I have many times during the years of writing this blog, discussed my earliest influences in photography, with Fred Picker (1927-2002) often getting mention. I was a subscriber to the Zone VI Newsletter, in addition to receiving the Zone VI catalogues by mail, from Fred’s Zone VI Studio in Newfane Vermont. My first serious read on black and white photography was Zone VI Workshop. Again, in line with the times, Fred learned large format photography from attending an Anself Adams workshop, while he was alive. Zone VI hosted many workshops at the Putney School, that due to the expense at the time, I was unable to attend. I did, however, devour the Zone VI newsletters and absorb each issue like a drug. The thing I still enjoy about this infusion of values from Fred, rest his soul, is seeing the mechanics of making an exposure, as just that…..a mechanical process that needs to be learned and ingested to allow one to get to the real purpose of being behind the camera-to make art.
The weekend weather has been horrid for making images, such that I have been holed up in the farm reading, writing, and resting from a busy week. Helped Daryl unload 2.5 cords of firewood Saturday morning and replenished my supply of wood pellets for the pellet stove in the addition today. We are toasty warm in this 30 mph wind and snow this afternoon.
Was sorry to hear of the passing of George H.W. Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018 ). He stands in my mind as a leader, regardless of one’s political persuasion, to the left, middle, or right, who could treat people with respect and dignity, unlike the current asshole who somehow stumbled into our presidency and has created an atmosphere of intolerance and hate. In fact, hate crimes have increased 17% during his tenure.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
― Albert Einstein, The World as I See It