Dec 2nd


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CategoryPosted in: Books, Influences, Study the Masters

Light , Gesture, & Color

20080910_dp771_0304_1024x1024   The first, and only time, I met Jay Maisel, he asked what kind of photography I did. At the time I was busy with humanitarian assignments and I told him so. He looked me in the eye, having just met me, and said, “You mean people pay you to do that? You’re an evil man.” And then he laughed. I think I love Jay Maisel for the same reason I love anyone willing to be themselves and still not take themselves so seriously. Jay is, without a doubt, his very own person. And his photography, often copied, is very much his own thing. He is no-nonsense in his approach, has lived long enough to get past the bullsh*t, and has created a very impressive body of work in his lifetime. Everytime Miles Davis Kind of Blue album comes on on my iPod, there’s Miles Davis on the cover art, a photograph Jay made long ago. Red-Wall-And-Rope_1024x1024

So when Jay’s book, Light, Gesture, and Color was released recently, I was in  a hurry to get my hands on it. And it is, like Jay seems to be, no nonsense, and perfect in its own way. The cover is uninspiring (I didn’t include a cover photograph because I couldn’t readily find on online, and these images are representative of what I love most about Jay’s work, they are not necessarily in the book itself), the typography, with its long line lengths,  is a little tiring to read. It’s blunt. Jay will never be accused of an over-fondness for words as I have been. The book is simple – an image on one page, and a short, to-the-point lesson on the facing page.

But what images, and what lessons! And like so many of the great voices in photography, he shuffles past the trendy technical stuff and focuses on what matters, on the stuff that will, ultimately, make long careers (professionally or not) making compelling work for those that heed the wisdom.DT255_MR230_train_Romania_1024x1024MR855_hot_cabbie_1024x1024

If you wanted to sit down with a celebrated photographer with a lifetime of making photographs behind him, and ask him: “What does it take to make great photographs?”, this book would be that chance. Highly, highly, recommended. Sure, I’ve got a bit of a man-crush on Jay – but I know good wisdom when I see it. This one – eventually, when I’ve read it a few more times and dog-earred the pages – will go beside my treasured copy of Freeman Patterson’s Photography and the Art of Seeing.

Check out Jay Maisel’s Light, Gesture, and Color (Amazon Link)

Even if you’re not looking for a book, take a spin through Jay’s website and consider this an installment in my Study the Masters series.



Jun 6th


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CategoryPosted in: Influences, Study the Masters

Study the Masters: W. Eugene Smith

W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978) was an American photojournalist with an uncanny sense of timing and humanity. Often credited as the father of the photo-essay, Smith began his career making photographs for papers in Wichita, Kansas, before eventually moving on to Newsweek, then Life, which he eventually left over an argument about how they used his […]

May 15th


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CategoryPosted in: Influences, Study the Masters

Study the Masters: Arnold Newman

Last week I introduced you to Yousuf Karsh. American-born Arnold Newman (1918-2006) was his contemporary and the studying the two together is an interesting study in voice. Both photographed largely in black and white, both photographed celebrities, artists, and luminaries of their generation, and both used simple composition. To my eye, Newman is more graphic, […]

May 10th


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CategoryPosted in: Influences, Study the Masters

Study the Masters: Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh was one of my earliest influences. His portraits, much of his work in black and white, were simple, elegant, and deeply human. An Armenian-Canadian, Karsh was born in Turkey in 1908, worked most of his life in Ottawa, and died in 2002, leaving behind a lifetime of beautiful portraits of the leaders of […]

Apr 28th


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CategoryPosted in: Influences, Study the Masters

Study the Masters: Fred Herzog

Over the last two weeks I introduced you to Saul Leiter and Ernst Haas, two of the great colour pioneers, and this week I want you to meet another – Fred Herzog (1930 – present). You can see his stuff quickly here in a Google Image search, but there’s no substitute for having it on […]

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