Philadelphia Museum of Art presents...
Dynamic Urban Imagery of Japanese Photographer Daidō Moriyama...

Julien Levy Gallery
February 28th - June 30th

Daido Moriyama (Japanese, b. 1938), Untitled

From the PMA press release...

Since the 1960s Japanese photographer Daidō Moriyama (born 1938) has been making dynamic, often experimental images of modern urban life, establishing a reputation as one of the most important and exciting photographers of our time. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present an exhibition of approximately 45 photographs by Moriyama, made in and around Tokyo in the 1980s, when the artist focused his mature aesthetic on the city with renewed intensity. The exhibition will be on view from February 28-June 30, 2009 in the Julien Levy Gallery at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building.

Born in 1938 in Ikeda-cho (now Ikeda-shi), Osaka, Moriyama witnessed the dramatic changes that swept over Japan in the decades following World War II. After his father’s death in a train accident, he began working as a freelance graphic designer at age 20. He was intrigued by the graphic possibilities of screenprinting, the cheapest and most prolific form for printed imagery, and by international trends in contemporary art. These interests, along with attention to the various forms of visual stimuli that populate the urban landscape have been a hallmark of Moriyama’s career.

In 1960 Moriyama took up the study of photography under Takeji Iwamiya and one year later moved to Tokyo hoping to join the eminent photographerss’ group VIVO, a short-lived cooperative whose members were exploring and confronting the revolution in modern Japanese society in their work. Although VIVO disbanded a week after Moriyama’s arrival in the capital, the visual and existential turmoil they explored would become one of the core subjects in Moriyama’s photographs. His gritty, black and white images of streets and highways express the conflicting realities of contemporary Japan, the disorienting and sometimes brutal juxtaposition of traditional culture and modernization.

“It is a pleasure to present this group of photographs from the Museum’s collection reflecting the distinctive vision of Daidō Moriyama, who is undoubtedly among the great urban photographers of the 20th century,” Curator of Photographs Peter Barberie said. “These particular images focus on the visual experience of modern-day Tokyo, but through them Moriyama is documenting broader global trends of modernization, and at the same time exploring the unique aesthetic qualities of his medium.”

His early images from the 1960s and 70s tested the notion of photographic artistry in an extreme fashion. He chose seemingly arbitrary subjects, and experimented with motion and overexposure to create blurred or nearly blank images, adopting an anti-aesthetic position. Other Japanese photographers were also working in this vein, but Moriyama’s 1972 book Bye Bye Photography became the defining statement of this particular style. The later photographs presented in this exhibition are generally sharper in focus but maintain the peripheral vantage point that Moriyama so often employed, as well as the seemingly random content. His images capture with an equalizing eye the kinds of disparate peripheral details that litter the modern urban experience: shadows, cars, and abandoned corners, as well as the glut of consumer goods and commodities.

Profoundly influenced by Japanese photographers Eikoh Hosoe and Shomei Tomatsu, Moriyama's vision was also enriched by his acquaintance with the work of American photographers William Klein and Robert Frank. Like them he practiced a new, more action-oriented street photography. His images are often out of focus, vertiginously tilted, or invasively cropped.

His work also involves strong responses to a wide range of modern art and literature, including photographs and graphic designs by many of his Japanese contemporaries, Andy Warhol’s silkscreens, and the novels of Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin. The exhibition will include a small number of works by other artists to demonstrate his visual sensibility, including prints and photographs by Warhol, Klein, Shomei Tomatsu, and Tadanori Yokoo.

Daido Moriyama's website

Photographer's Biography

Today's Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR was a fantastic overview of the Shepard Fairey/AP/Mannie Garcia legal battle. Terry Gross played interviews of Shepard Fairey from January and from yesterday, as well as recent interviews with Mannie Garcia and Law Professor Greg Lastowka, an expert on fair use law. If you missed it, I have provided links to the interviews below.

From the interview with Mannie Garcia...

Terry Gross: Didn't you know that it was your photo?

Mannie Garcia: No, I didn't recognize it.

Terry Gross: What was your reaction when you found out it was yours?

Mannie Garcia: ...disappointed , the fact that someone was able to go on the internet and take something that doesn't belong to them and use it. I think that part of this whole story is crucial for people to understand, that simply because it is on the internet doesn't mean it's free for the taking, and just because you can take it doesn't mean it belongs to you.

From the interview with Shepard Fairey...

Terry Gross: On what grounds are you claiming fair use?

Shepard Fairey: I am claiming fair use on the grounds that this is an image that has been transformed graphically and maybe even more significantly, transformed in it's intent.The original image was intended to just document a Darfur panel in 2006 prior to Obama even announcing his candidacy, and the new image is designed to show Obama as a leader and a presidential candidate who would be pushing for progress change and a symbol of hope. These are completely different uses, and I think that it's fair use based on that intent, as well as the transformation graphically that really idealizes it in a way that is not there in the original.

...and then back to the Mannie Garcia interview...

Terry Gross: One of Shepard Fairey's points is that his use of your image transformed your image, and you said you didn't even recognize that it was your photo that Shepard Fairey used, which I suppose is an argument that he succeeded in transforming your image. So, if he takes freely your image and transforms it to the point where you don't even recognize it, is that more justified to you, do you think? Because you're saying, just because it's free and on the Internet, doesn't mean it's for the taking. So, if it's transformed, does that change things?

Mannie Garcia: Terry, you have to understand. As a freelance photographer, on that one particular day alone, I must have made a thousand images, and that was a relatively light day, you know, April the 27th. In the normal course of business, we make a lot of photographs in a year. I don't remember every single photograph that I make.
And for example, today I was at the White House working. I may have made 100 images in, you know, less than 20 minutes. I may have filed of that, I may have filed maybe five, and I'll go to the next assignment probably three or four hours after that and I'll do it again, and in the course of the day, I can do that maybe 1,200 images. That doesn't meant that the five that I filed from the first assignment or the 15 over the three assignments in one day that the all the others don't mean anything and that the 15 that I made, just because they're on the Internet, have no value. Quite the contrary. They have a lot of value.

Prior to today's show, I was more or less ambivalent on this story, but after listening to all three interviews I am tending to lean to Garcia's favor. Hearing his descriptions of spending hours and hours on assignment taking thousands of images per week, and getting maybe a dozen shots worth filing out of those thousands. The sweat equity that goes into those shots, and then the frustration in his voice that comes from the general assumption that because his work is on the internet, it is free for the taking. By comparison, Fairey's argument is absurd in claiming that he can take it simply because he intends to change it. Fairey just seems to come off as rather flippant at times.

Listen to the interviews.... they are fascinating.

Complete interview of Mannie Garcia on Fresh Air

Complete interview of Shepard Fairey on Fresh Air
Japanese photographer Katsunori Yamaguchi is someone whose work I closely follow. He has a vast collection of film and digital cameras, and he faithfully uses them on a consistent basis. I love his daily mix of film and digital photography, as well as some polaroid thrown in for good measure. His work is subtle and understated, with a poetic quality to it. Yamaguchi is a frequent contributor to the Tao Project, and humbly considers himself "just an amateur".

These gorgeous seascapes were taken with a Graflex Norita 66 on Kodak Ektachrome film

Winter Sea #1

Winter Sea #2

Katsunori Yamaguchi on Flickr
Continuing the month long study of prominent African American photographers...

Chester Higgins, Jr. (b. 1946)

Dig me now, 1969 by Chester Higgins Jr.

Photographer and author Chester Higgins, Jr. was born in Alabama in the fall of 1946. While attending Tuskegee University in 1967, he saw photographs that had been taken by his first mentor P.H. Polk. Polk's images served to dignify African Americans in the rural South during the 1930s. These images inspired him to capture the images he saw of dignified African Americans. Graduating in 1970 from Tuskegee University, Higgins arrived in New York City and began his professional career. During his youth, he was mentored by Romare Bearden, P.H. Polk, Gordon Parks and other artists.

Higgins' photography can be found within the pages of the New York Times, where he has been a staff photographer since 1975. His photographs have appeared in Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Essence and Black Enterprise magazines.

Higgins has produced several influential photo essay books including Black Woman in 1970, Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa in 1994, the Elder Grace: The Nobility of Aging in 2000 and Echo of the Spirit: A Photographer's Journey in 2004. An exhibit of his work, Landscapes of the Soul, toured nationally including the Smithsonian Museum and at the Museum for African Art in New York City in 1999. Other solo exhibitions of his work have appeared at the Philadelphia African American Museum in 2003 and the New York State Museum in Albany, New York in 2005. Higgins' photography is housed in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is the recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Center of Photography, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Higgins resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and continues to use his camera to document the jubilation of the African American spirit.

Biography courtesy The History Makers

Chester Higgin's Website
Dr. Harrison Ridley, Jr.

Thank you for so many years of great jazz history...

From the website All About Jazz...

Dr. Harrison Ridley, Jr. passed on February 19th 2009

Dr. Harrison Ridley Jr. is one Philadelphia's best known jazz specialists, although he himself does not use the term "jazz," opting instead for a phrases such as "this music referred to as jazz," or simply, "the positive music." In this respect he shares a similarity with many other jazz artists and historians (Duke Ellington being the most prominent example) to resist using "jazz" as a descriptive label.

A professor of music history at Temple University and Villanova University, he is the host of a Sunday night radio show on WRTI (90.1FM) entitled, "The Historical Approach to the Positive Music." The "historical approach" Ridley takes is to focus in particular on one artist, and he'll use his entire four-hour (8pm-12am) program to give the listener a sense of that artist's contribution to the tradition. Often he'll focus on a specific period in an artist's career, such as early (1920s-1940s) Duke Ellington or Miles Davis recordings from the 1960s. The show has been running for more than thirty years and is quite popular in the Philadelphia area. Ridley will often reference the fact that his phone lines in the studio are full of calls--local jazz celebrities have been known to call in during a show as well.

Ridley is also a record collector and archivist. In the course of fifty years of collecting, he has has amassed over 8,500 LPs, 3,000 78s, 200 45s, 300 CDs, and 6,000 books on African American history and music. He specializes in Duke Ellington albums (of which he has more than 600), and is also an expert on Benny Carter (he has 200 Benny Carter albums).[1]

Ridley has received more than 80 awards, including recognition from the Philadelphia City Hall and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and an honorary Doctorate in Music from Villanova University (conferred in May, 2008). Dr. Ridley also works as a consultant for the Library of Congress. Dubbed a "walking encyclopedia of jazz," Dr. Ridley is in great demand on radio and television shows. He is also an archivist for the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, an important institution in the Philly jazz scene.
Continuing a month long study of some photographers who helped shape African American photographic history...

Jonathan Eubanks (b. 1927)

Black Panther party member carrying “Free Huey” flag

Jonathan Eubanks, of Oakland, California, focused his camera on the activities of the Black Panther party. Founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed to combat police brutality in African American communities. Supporting the Black Power movement, which stressed racial dignity and self-reliance, the Black Panthers publicly advocated armed revolt and the flamboyant display of firearms. Their aggressive speeches and military actions, including several shoot-outs with the police, quickly attracted the media’s attention.
A visual chronicler of the party’s activities, Eubanks employed a documentary style that is both emotional and descriptive. His photographs explore the personal world of the party leaders and members. In the photograph above, Eubanks depicted a party member campaigning for the release of Huey Newton, who was arrested in 1967 for killing an Oakland police officer. Mysterious events surrounding the killing led the Black Panthers to believe that Newton was a victim of police efforts to destroy the party so they began a campaign to “Free Huey.” After a heavily publicized trial, Newton was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison, where he remained until the conviction was reversed by a unanimous decision of the California State of Appeals. Upon his release in 1970, Newton attempted to revive the party by promoting community service and discouraging confrontations with police. Under his direction, the Black Panther Party established free breakfast programs for school children and ran free medical clinics. However, Newton’s efforts to redirect the group’s focus did not prevent external attacks, and the internal conflicts increased. The party broke up in 1972.

Text courtesy... Reflections in Black: A Teacher's Guide

Reflections in Black exhibit
Today was the last Wrestling event I will photograph this year. The end of my 4th season documenting Abington High School's Wrestling team. It was an off day, artistically speaking, but these two shots are keepers.

Almost exactly two years apart. These images were taken on Sunday afternoon walks in the woods in February...

Dog Blur 2007

Dog Blur 2009

Forest Blur 2007

Forest Blur 2009
Brilliant and really funny LEGO study of life in New York City...


Christoph Niemann
Thanks to Stephen Perloff of the Photo Review for forwarding a press release about a relatively new photography website and blog created by David H Wells and Derek Wahila. The site is called The Wells Point, and a description from the site states...
"The Wells Point is a web site with video podcasts and free information for aspiring and accomplished photographers.

The craftsmanship podcasts walk you through specific techniques that will improve the craft of your photography.

The creativity podcasts will stimulate your creativity as a photographer. They build on the idea that looking at successful photographs is the second best way to become a better photographer. (The best way is to regularly make images and get feedback on them. Giving feedback on your images is one of the long term projects at The Wells Point.)

New podcasts will be posted approximately every two weeks. New blog postings will appear twice a week.

The phrase “the Wells point” has two meanings. One refers to this web site. The other refers to an important tool to better appreciate how light, time of day and the resulting light’s direction can be utilized to immediately improve your photography."

The site has been up and running since August 2008, and the blog posts are well written and interesting. For instance, the latest post discusses the recent news stories about Barack Obama's relaxing of the dress code for the Oval Office. David Wells took the photograph below in 1980, creating quite a buzz at the time with Ronald Reagan being the first denim wearing president. The photo was a career maker for Wells.

Reagan in Denim, by David H Wells

I have not looked at any of the Podcasts, mainly because I do not have speakers connected to my computer. (I hate all the distracting sounds that emanate from computers) I play XM's Real Jazz channel in my office and have lived quite happily for years with a totally silent, speaker free computer. I never watch video, nor do I have any music files at all on my computer.
I do have the ability to switch the audio cable from my XM receiver to my hard drive if I absolutely must listen to something on the computer.

So, after downloading my first ever Podcast from The Wells Point, which takes a long minute or so over a cable broadband connection, I found out that I would need iTunes in order to watch a Podcast. (I must really be out of touch for not knowing this ahead of time!) There must be an advantage to using Podcasts over streaming video, but my opinion is that streaming video is much easier and more convenient for the visitor to a web site. (I would appreciate comments about this, because I am clueless about the subject.)

The only other minor complaint I have about The Wells Point is the need to register on the site and sign in in order to comment on blog posts or use other site features.I understand the need to develop databases these days, but it seems that more and more sites are requiring registration these days. I would think that a new web site would benefit most from the path of least resistance when it comes to navigating it's features.

Overall, a good looking site with some great topics on photography technique and creativity. Well worth checking out.

(* Editor's Note * I just realized that you do not have to download these videos in order to watch them... They can be played directly from the web site. Thank you David Wells for pointing that out, and this just confirms how clueless I am when it comes to internet video!)

The Wells Point

David H Wells

Derek Wahila
Collected Horizon montage...

This project consists of a series of minimalist and abstract horizons taken in a variety of locations, both indoors and outdoors. It is a study of layers, textures, depth, and perspective. But I am coming to realize it is also about certain OCD traits that I have. I like to have things aligned and coordinated, and it really bothers me that I can't yet assemble a montage of this collection that has a distinctive color pattern. My goal is to eventually collect several hundred of these Horizon images in order to create large montage groupings that contain waves of color, or some other type of coordinating pattern beyond the obvious connecting horizon lines.

The two ideas for eventually presenting these as an exhibit...

1. Displaying about a dozen montages like the one above, and maybe each montage has a color theme or unifying element, such as sky color, green grass, cloud patterns, water, etc.

2. I would also love to install these in a gallery room as one continuous string of horizon lines, wrapping around all four walls of the room, and re-connecting with itself. I have already tried this with about 20 images and it looks great, but those 20 images only gets me about 15 feet of total length. See the photo below.

Collected Horizons
In honor of Black History Month, I thought it might be interesting to present some biographies of prominent African American photographers. In 2003, there was a three part exhibition presented by the Oakland Museum of California entitled Reflections in Black: Smithsonian African American Photography. Separate exhibits broke down the history into segments. The First 100 Years (1842-1942), Art and Activism (1950's & 60's), and A History Deconstructed (contemporary photographers). I'll follow the same format to present some of these groundbreaking photographers throughout the month of February.

The First 100 Years

James Presley Ball( 1825-1904)

J P Ball

The daguerreotypist James Presley (J.P.) Ball was born in 1825 in Virginia, probably a freeman. As a young man he learned daguerreotyping and opened his first studio in Cincinnati at age twenty. The city was a center for anti-slavery activity as well as the photographic arts, and Ball became a leader in both. He wrote and published a pamphlet depicting the horrors of slavery to accompany a large panorama in his gallery, and served as the official photographer for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. By the 1850s, his business had achieved tremendous success. Frederick Douglass, Jenny Lind, and the orator Henry H. Garnet, among other notables, sought out his services, and he became quite affluent.

Ball was a lifelong entrepreneur. After more than three decades in Cincinnati, he moved to Minneapolis and ran a studio there; and in about 1887, went to Montana with son James Presley, Jr. Now well into his sixties, he opened another busy daguerreotyping studio in Helena. Among other projects, he photographed the building of the state capitol. Ball was elected a delegate to the Republican convention in Montana territory in 1894, and nominated to run for county coroner (he declined this nomination, citing the demands of his business). Ball’s son edited a newspaper, the Colored Citizen, which is a very valuable source on African Americans in territorial Montana.

The information about J.P. Ball’s personal life is sketchy. Besides James Presley, Jr., he had at least one other child, Estella Ball. In 1887 he married a schoolteacher named Annie Ewing, who was probably his second wife. It appears that he moved to Seattle in about 1900 and, now in his seventies and suffering from rheumatism, opened his last studio called Globe Photo. Records suggest he moved to Hawaii for his health within a few years, and died there in 1904.

James Presley Ball’s extensive body of photography is housed at the Cincinnati Historical Society, Cincinnati Art Museum, Montana Historical Society, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, as well as in private collections.

*Biography of J P Ball is from

Portrait by J P Ball (c. 1850)

Reflections in Black:Smithsonian African American Photography
It's been quite a while since I have seen something worthy of adding to my Collected Horizon series. This one caught my eye today and I really like it...

Collected Horizons