Archive for June 2008
I had the opportunity to see him live just a few months ago. He was awesome. Which makes today’s news that much more shocking and sad.
I passed a small milestone at some point this weekend, hitting 150,000 total views on my Flickr account.
It’s kind of humbling when you think about something you produce as having been seen that many times, especially for a no name such as myself.
I’m pleased to launch (well re-launch) my new smugmug powered photo web site at www.ejpphoto.com.
This will be my home for my portfolio, photo galleries, as well as a place can buy prints, gifts, cards, as well as some gorgeous mounted canvases that I like a lot. It’s a bit rough right now, but if you keep checking back it’ll get better with time as I finish customizing it and uploading galleries over the next couple of days (by which I mean weeks).
In the meantime I’m still keeping around my Imagekind Gallery, because Smugmug doesn’t offer custom framing and Imagekind excels at it, and that’s a product I want to keep offering (plus, my subscription hasn’t run out). You can also still find me at Flickr as well – despite all my grumblings, I don’t think I’m going to wind up abandoning it anytime soon.
All my posts for the old EJP Photo site (which is been hosted here on wordpress.com) are still around at ejpphoto.wordpress.com, though I don’t plan on updating it anymore – all my further blog posts will be here. I may eventually merge the archive into this blog, but I’m undecided about that.
What’s that mean for this blog? Well, hopefully, it’ll mean I’ll be able to devote more time to blogging here and you’ll see more than the trickle of posts that’s been the status quo for these last several months. I’ll be talking about photography here more, along with all my other musings.
Sometimes, a position is just so stupid on the face of it that it doesn’t deserve argumentative debate. The only appropriate response is to point and laugh.
Here’s an awesome collection of photos from Soviet Moscow in 1960. (Warning: the page has lots of pictures and might take a while to load).
What strikes me is just how normal everything looks (for lack of a better word). Without the monuments giving away the location, these could pretty easily be mistaken for almost any city in the US during the same year – even the automobile and fashion styles look similar enough to me.
It stands as a stark contrast to the often Orwellian depictions of the Soviet Union that usually focuses on the poverty or totalitarian aspects of the old USSR, and are usually taken on gray winter’s days. At least, those are the photos of the USSR I’m most familiar with from history books. Ah, propaganda…
(It’s worth noting that one could take similarly depressing pictures of the US back in the 60′s, or even today – and I imagine that’s the perception of the US that most of those Soviet citizens held).
The people in these photos at least clearly didn’t live in any sort of poverty – in fact, there’s all the evidence of a booming economy and a population happy to go about their own lives. Which underscores another point which is often missed from the American perspective: the communist regime lasted for the better part of the 20th century because for most people, most of the time, it worked. The Soviet Union would not have been able to challenge us economically, militarily, and technologically in the post WWII era had it not proved workable for most of that time.
Which isn’t to say that I’d have wanted to live there, or that communism and especially the totalitarian Soviet flavor isn’t an inherently deeply flawed system. I’m hesitant to generalize anything from a photograph (I know too well how photographs can lie) – but from the perspective of these people in the 1960′s, the flaws in the Soviet model don’t appear to have been self evident.
What I really like is that it’s yet another illustration of how similar we all are as human beings. It’s always good to be reminded of that.
I know I post a lot of this stuff… but it really never fails to amaze and inspire me.
Google News from a parallel universe. Reading through the whole thing just leaves me feeling sad.
Just a little something to inspire you with awe and make you feel really, really tiny. It’s a big ass universe out there. Do click through to the full size version of this pic.
Security Guru Bruce Schneier makes an excellent observation regarding the much hyped relationship between photography and terrorism:
Except that it’s nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn’t photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn’t photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren’t being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn’t known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about — the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 — no photography.
Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don’t seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?
Because it’s a movie-plot threat.
Simply, terrorists don’t do photography. And if they did, I’m quite sure they’d be doing it with something innocuous like a camera phone or even a spy camera, rather than a great big digital SLR with a tripod. Yet I’ve personally been stopped and questioned by security guards or police officers so many times now that I hardly find the incidents worth mentioning anymore. I’ve simply begun to carry around one of these and grown more assertive in my rights, and for the most part I’m left alone after a few short questions. But it’s still ridiculous that I’m bothered at all.
Further, as disturbing as any harassment of civil liberties is, that’s not even the real problem. The bigger issue raised by the War on Photography, as Schneier points out is that it’s an astonishing misdirection of security efforts:
The problem with movie-plot security is it only works if we guess the plot correctly. If we spend a zillion dollars defending Wimbledon and terrorists blow up a different sporting event, that’s money wasted. If we post guards all over the Underground and terrorists bomb a crowded shopping area, that’s also a waste. If we teach everyone to be alert for photographers, and terrorists don’t take photographs, we’ve wasted money and effort, and taught people to fear something they shouldn’t.
And even if terrorists did photograph their targets, the math doesn’t make sense. Billions of photographs are taken by honest people every year, 50 billion by amateurs alone in the US And the national monuments you imagine terrorists taking photographs of are the same ones tourists like to take pictures of. If you see someone taking one of those photographs, the odds are infinitesimal that he’s a terrorist.
America just nominated an African American to be President of the United States. Right here, right now, history is being made.
But Ms. Chemtob’s clients are concerned all the same, she said, because their incomes have shrunk, say, to $2 million a year from $8 million, and they know that their 2008 bonus checks are likely to be much less impressive.
One of her clients recently confessed that his net worth had decreased to $8 million from more than $20 million, and he thinks that his wife will leave him. He has hidden their fall in fortune by taking on debt to pay for her extravagant clothes and vacations.
“I literally had to sit there and tell him that he had to tell his wife that she had to stop spending,” she said. “He was actually scared she would leave him because their financial situation changed so drastically.”
Don’t stop there, it gets even better. I almost dropped my monocle reading this:
THEIR spouses could leave them when they discover that their net worth has collapsed to eight figures from nine. Friends and business associates could avoid them as they pass their lunchtime tables at Barney’s or the Four Seasons. And these snubs could trickle down to their children.
“They fear their kids won’t get invited to the right birthday parties,” said Michele Kleier, an Upper East Side-based real estate broker. “If they have to give up things that are invisible, they’re O.K. as long as they don’t have give up things visible to the outside world.”
“A year ago, he would have only flown Gulfstreams,” Mr. Sullivan said. “Now it’s moving to the point where he’s flying Beech jets and Learjets.”
And perhaps the best excuse for going off your diet, ever:
ONE Wall Street executive, Ms. Bauer said, snacks on nuts in her office all day to manage the stress of potentially losing her position, while another confesses to inhaling four bowls of cereal at 10 p.m. Even their sex lives are suffering, Ms. Bauer said, because of the stress or because the weight gain makes them feel unattractive.
Her clients blame the economy for their out-of-control waistlines.
“The number one concern that they have is the state of the financial market,” she said. “There definitely is a correlation between the stock market and weight gain.”
Suffice to say, the lack of perspective these people have is simply mind boggling. These people are everything that’s wrong with the US economy right now, and a good chunk of what’s wrong with our culture as a whole.