Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Best of 2012

POTY: Big Bad Wolf
2012 saw many changes in my artistic life.  The single biggest change, of course, was my admission as a resident artist at the Bakehouse.  Being a resident artist means many things, not the least of which is that I've been vetted by other artists who have found something in my work worthwhile. For someone without the benefit of either a BFA or gallery representation, this is very significant. It has also meant much more exposure as my work has been on exhibit in various parts throughout Miami ever since.  It has also had an unanticipated side-effect: I now shoot much more than I used to.

In 2011 I took about 7,000 photos; in 2012 that number has climbed to over 15,000.  For over ten years now I've always tried to carry a camera wherever I go whenever possible. Only once, though, did I break 10,000 photos in one year.  What's also fascinating is that two-thirds of the photos are in the second half of the year, after I was accepted into the Bakehouse.  The lesson is clear: being in the Bakehouse has meant that I take many more photos because I'm always on the lookout for new material.  At least, well, that's the lesson I've drawn. [read more after the break]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays

Radio City Music Hall decked out for Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Festive Festivus, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Natal, Joyeux Noel, Good Kwanza, Happy New Year.  Did I leave anyone out?

Seriously, enjoy the holidays (and yes, there are more than just the one), keep your loved ones close, and look to what unites us rather than what divides us.  We are all one people, one race, one species and stewards of one world.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Update on Paris, Je T'Aime

Well, the show went of smoothly and beautifully.  Sasha and the staff at The Stage Miami were extremely helpful and professional.  I lucked out that evening as there were two other events happening at the same time so there were plenty of people in attendance and a really great band playing as well.

I had eleven images printed by Sam at  He does the printing himself and it definitely shows as each print was stunningly beautiful, IMHO.  They were printed on 30x20 inch sheets of aluminum without a white base coat so that anything that was white in the image would appear aluminum colored.  They were just great even though I could only hang seven owing to space.  As an aside, I will have two from this series exhibited this coming Wednesday at the Gallery at Southpointe and then six at a Christmas Event on Friday.

The images, along with six others, are also included in my gallery Paris, Je T'Aime on my website and are available for purchase in true black and white paper prints in sizes ranging from 8x12 to 20x30 inches and prices from $75 to $325.  For readers of my blog and people on my mailing list, though, these prints are available for a limited time only with a 15% discount by inputing the coupon code 20121208 when prompted at time of purchase.

It's remarkable that I'm still dwelling on Paris given that my trip to Europe also involved three days in London and also that I've been to New York (again) since then.  Still, as I said in the previous post, Paris gets under your skin and stays with you like a lover.

Click here to go to the gallery and order prints and don't for get the coupon code for your discount.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Paris, Je T'Aime

When I was asked to do a solo show, I spent a good deal of time culling over my best work looking for some theme that I could turn into a show appropriate for the venue, The Stage Miami.  It was really a great exercise as it reacquainted me with some photos I had not seen in a while.  I had several themes lined up including shots of Wynwood, Coney Island, and, my personal favorite, New York.  Given my impending trip to London and Paris, I also thought of doing a selection from Barcelona, New York, Chicago, London and Paris and calling it "Great Cities".  I may still do that someday.

I then set everything aside, shut down my computer and boarded the Iberia flight to London.  Three days there, then the Chunnel to Paris for four days.  I'd heard London was exciting and Paris was magical.  Well, there's truth in the former, but as to the latter, that's a certainty.  Paris is truly magical.

London is a young lover, one who is exciting and to a great extent unpredictable, but Paris, well, that's on a whole other level.  Paris is the mature lover, the one who has seen life, who has seen the world, who might be a bit jaded for it, but you can chalk that up to character and experience.  The young lover may appeal for a while, but the mature lover gets under your skin and pulls you back time and again.  This is Paris.  London is the city you visit, but Paris is the one you love.

After four days in Paris, I had my theme: Paris, Je T'Aime.
My very first day back in Miami, still blurry-eyed and jet-lagged, I reviewed the photos of Paris and fell in love all over again.  There was the Seine, the Métropolitain, the Louvre, the Champs-Élysées, and the residents of this marvelous city.

The opening reception is November 10, 2012 at 8PM at The Stage Miami, coinciding with the Second Saturday Wynwood Art Walk.  Click here for directions.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Respect Dik

R4 Recycled, Reclaimed, Reused, and Reinterpreted

I have this piece in the show.  This BAC exhibition focuses on the everyday object and its transformation and manipulation into contemporary art.  This photo was taken during the Wynwood Art Walk.  J and I were walking back from a gallery when I saw this image and shot a snap of it.  The bright triangle near the top is sky behind the wall. 

I was intrigued by the recycling of the wall as art, then as profanity, and, by me, as art again.  Seems to fit right into the R4 Exhibition.  The image is printed on recycled plywood and measures 20x30 inches.  Never printed that way before, but it came out very cool.  If you can, please come and see it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yo MOMMA Through the Looking Glass

Looking Glass, No. 1
Yo MOMMA . The Show, went off beautifully with 69 artists participating, each with a piece in their own medium and distinct style and over 400 people in attendance. My piece, yo MOMMA Smokes! was very well received and curiously, given that the 12345 Gallery is owned by photographers, one of the only works of photography on exhibit.  Most of the other pieces were in the form of painting or mixed media.

About half-way through the show, there were just so many people in the gallery that the crowd just spilled out into the street.  It was at this time that I captured three images of the crowd, on the street looking into the gallery through the gallery's main window.  The images of the people outside, illuminated by the light spilling out from inside the gallery and also by ambient street light, mixed with the reflection of the people inside the gallery makes for a surreal experience.  Looking Glass, No. 1 is my favorite of the three.  Click here to see the set of three on Flickr. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

yo MOMMA Smokes!

yo MOMMA Smokes!
My opening was a huge success, well attended and lots of fun both for me and, I hope, everyone who attended.  My studio was swamped on many occasions that night and the photos were well-received.  Well, on to the next show . . .

yo MOMMA . the SHOW

 Hmmmm, should I characterize this?  Myra Wexler aka yo MOMMA has gotten 50 artists to make portraits of her, each in their own medium and distinctive style.  yo MOMMA Smokes! is my submission.  This promises to be a great evening.  I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 6PM
12345 West Dixie Hwy
North Miami, Floirda

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grand Opening

My studio "grand opening" is this Friday, September 14, 2012 at 7PM in Studio 10-U in the Bakehouse Art Complex, 561 NW 32nd Street  Miami, Florida 33127.  I'll be premiering the above-three pieces as well as four other new works and a few encore exhibitions from my "soft-opening" in May.  Hope to see you there.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Definition of Luck

Friday the Thirteenth brings to mind the question: Is it better to be lucky than to be good?  That depends, I guess, on your definition of lucky. 

If you just hope good things will happen to you, if you hope you'll find a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk for example, well, then that depends on what you actually get.  If the lottery ticket is for $1M, well, then, yeah, in that case luck trumps everything.  But what if the lottery ticket is for another free lottery ticket?  Well, I guess that's better than nothing, but really, what's the point?  Even still, how long will your luck last?  Eventually, every lucky streak comes to an end. [more after the break]

Monday, June 25, 2012


The lazy days of summer are upon us now.  By the time this post is uploaded, I'll be somewhere in Massachusetts taking in the sites and marveling at how cool it is in June compared to Miami.

In Miami we sort of take for granted warm weather, but also tend to shy away from the open sun during the summer, except if actually at the beach.  The photo at right was taken in Barcelona, also during June, in 2009.  While it was warm, Spain is much farther north and so it wasn't as oppressively hot as summertime in Miami.  While strolling the port area on our second day we encountered these three young men (boys?) sunning themselves. 

The photo speaks of a languid idyl of summer and youth, a time when all our lives are ahead of us and the world seems warm and full of possibilities.  I love the photo of these three youths.  I love how the yacht and the building (a mansion?  a hotel?) lie beyond them with the mountain even beyond that and how they are separated from these things by a body of water, as if separated from their futures by a gulf of time.  The possibilities are out there, but they're just kicking back, reveling in their youth and enjoying the summer.  There will be time enough for those things someday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This is really a great time to be an artist (or even just "into" the arts) in Miami because there is just so much going on.  What started as a simple art walk in Coral Gables and a few satellite shows in Wynwood during Art Basel has blossomed into a full-fledged micro economy with artist communities fairly much springing up across the entire county. The Bakehouse (where my studio is located) and ArtCenter/South Florida have been around for decades but the last ten years has brought us several new communities including ArtSouth, the Artisan Lounge and Ironside

Some artists I know have taken studios in Ironside, which of course has its own art-walk.  As with all the better venues, Ironside has a sort of youthful cool, artiste feel to it all set in an industrial park.  Tre chic.

As we were leaving, Ironside I came across this violinist and shot the image in near darkness.  I like the image, even if it's not terribly sharp, maybe because it's not terribly.  Still, considering the lighting, I'm lucky I got anything useful from it at.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bakehouse Art Complex

In late April I was accepted as a resident artist at the Bakehouse Art Complex, a non-profit residency of studios, galleries and work areas for emerging and mid-career artists. This is a huge honor as the acceptance process is very selective. I know many of the current and former BAC artists and feel truly humbled to be included in their number.

I was accepted just in time for the last event of the season so was able only to host a small, impromptu reception. I've posted photos of the reception on my Flickr feed. Given the short time frame, I featured selected photos from Mermaids!, Alone in a Sea of People, and Soapbox. I also featured selected photos from The Dispossessed. None of these has ever before been exhibited.

Each of these will be the subject of its own show, after the season begins anew in September with a grand opening. The September show, however, will feature Caution Tape, a series examining fear and feminine identity. Please keep an eye out for emails from me announcing new exhibits. I hope to see each of you there.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Struggle for Meaning

Monolithic Eclipse
I've been wanting to write about this image for a while now, but embarrassingly really didn't know what to say, words just escaped me.  It's an image that attracts me, but strictly in a right-brain, mute sort of way.

I love how the border between the near-black and the sky almost bisects the the image perfectly from the upper left all the way down to the middle third, and then just veers off in a slight jog upwards.  I love how the sun suggests itself from the slant but doesn't overwhelm the image.  In print, but probably not on a computer monitor, you can make out vague suggestions of rectangular tiles in the black, lower portion of the image providing a rigid, grid-like counterpoint to the clouds in the upper half. The image speaks to me on many different levels, just not a verbal one.

The viewer, though, may be left with the question, "What is it?" To my mind, it reminds me of the monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and thus the image's title.  Others, especially the younger set who may not have seen the film, may not draw the same initial comparison.  Again, messages on different levels.

Perhaps this is why I find it so compelling.  Good photography always engages the viewer, either by attraction or repulsion.  The best always lingers for a while afterward even if you struggle to verbalize a meaning, maybe especially if you struggle to verbalize a meaning.

Monday, May 28, 2012

High Dynamic Range and the Film Aesthetic

Downtown Miami at Sunset
Years ago when was still thought of as something different from "real" photography, people took to using Photoshop to get a technique called selective color to add or keep color in a part of a black and white image. I admit, I have a few images like that, just a few. This technique was used so much its become a cliche and fallen out of use, to a large extent.

I say this because trends come and go.  Years ago it was selective color, today it is High Dynamic Range.  HDR is essentially an attempt to use two or more photos of the same scene shot almost at the same time but at different exposure values in order to mimic the dynamic range of the human eye.  If done right, the results can be very pleasing.  If overdone, well, it looks like a graphic illustration.  While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I just don't find it aesthetically attractive.  Perhaps that's a generational thing.

I came to photography with black & white film.  My aesthetic was formed from Life magazine compilation of images from the forties, fifties and sixties, almost all of which were black & white and, owing to the limited technologies, of restricted dynamic range.  Shadows and darkness are compositional elements to be used not problems to be overcome.  Sure, there's a place for HDR, if used sparingly.  Still, I really prefer the look of high contrast scenes. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Perfection is Overrated

Lauren in Chicago
There are three types of photography sites: those that concentrate on gear, those that concentrate on technique, and those that concentrate on photos.  The technique and photo sites are generally a wash as they often overlap but the gear sites greatly outnumber the other two, unfortunately.  I say this all somewhat sheepishly as I tend to frequent the gear sites much more than the photo sites even though I think that the photo sites are without question more worthwhile, at least in an artistic sense. 

I think this is partly because photography is almost unique in the arts that it requires both some artistic ability and technical/mechanical ability too.  This attracts lots of people who obsess over measuring results in order to seek technical perfection.   The Canon 5D3 has 23 megapixels but the Nikon D800 has 36 so the Nikon has to be better, at least for now.  Is this lens sharp enough? Don't know if it is?  Well, then get a sturdy tripod and photograph a brick wall.  Yup, do it again at all apertures and focal lengths and then look at them at full magnification in Photoshop.  Keep doing this because it'll make your pictures more technically perfect.  Yup, corner-to-corner, edge-to-edge sharpness in all its 36 megapixel glory, or 23 if you're a fanboy. [continued after the break]

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Leica, One Year Later

Orange Line, Wabash and Adams No.2
About 18 months ago I bought a Leica M8 with a Voigtlander 35 f/1.4 lens. I should say I've spent the last ten years shooting Canon 1d's of various versions. As my street gear, I'd mount a 28mm to my 1D2 for an effective focal length of 35mm. So, unlike most SLR shooters, I was already used to shooting with prime lenses. Still, this was a huge change.  Rangefinders, like the Leica, are just different animals, wholly unlike SLRs.

The viewfinder on the M8 is large and beautiful, but you don't really see the exact image you're shooting because, unlike an SLR, you don't actually see through the lens.  The viewfinder is off to the side and a bit above the lens.  Essentially, you look off at an angle from the lens itself and, of course, you don't see any of the blurring or even see the image snap into focus as you would with an SLR.  Also, framing is done with frame lines which will change depending size and position depending on focal length and focus distance and even then, they're not terribly accurate.  You focus manually with a projection of an image on the viewfinder that essentially triangulates between the rangefinder and your view.  Because of my long history with DSLRs, this was a bit disconcerting, to the point that I'd subconsciously use the entire VF, just like a dslr, just force of habit. [more after the break]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Photo of a Brigade Member
View from the crowd

At just past midnight on the morning of April 17, 1961, an expeditionary force of approximately 1,500 men, assisted by naval and air forces, attempted an invasion of Cuba in order to overthrow the government headed by Fidel Castro. Known as Brigade 2506, they landed on the beach known as Playa Giròn, at the mouth of a bay called the Bahia de Cochinos. In Spanish-speaking countries, this event is remembered as La Bataya de Giròn. In the United States it is remembered by the English name, the Bay of Pigs.

The invasion lasted three days and resulted in a loss for the American-backed expeditionary force. There are numbers, of course: 118 killed and 1,202 captured. On the defenders' side 176 were killed and 4,000 wounded. The invaders put up a strong fight. Many would languish in prison and face execution in the days that followed the invasion. Eventually, most would make it back to the United States, many to Miami. More than a loss of the battle, though, the Bay of Pigs marked the end of any further significant attempts to over-throw the Castro Government and to reverse its Marxist revolution. La Revoluciòn consolidated its grip power. Those caught on the other side of this Caribbean Iron Curtain settled into a life as Revolucionarios, whether by choice or circumstance; those caught on this side became exiles, without any real choice.  The temporary became permanent. 
[more after the break]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Miami Vinyl

Miami Vinyl

Found on the intersection of South Miami Avenue and Thirteenth Street.  Googled it.  Apparently, it's an exhibit / lecture series on local, Miami music offered through the Miami Art Museum.  It's also pretty good guerrilla marketing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After the Rain

After the Rain
We had a torrential rain on night last week, odd since we're still in the dry season.  The summer monsoons don't usually start till around Memorial Day, and then not in earnest till about mid June.  Still, it really seemed like a minor hurricane that night.

Afterward, Jackie and I went for a walk, me with my Leica, of course.  I just recently saw some photos from a friend of mine in New York, posted on his Tumblr account.  They're all very dark and brooding nighttime images, also shot with a Leica, btw.  The photos have stayed with me since and, well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess.  Another way to put it is that "good artists copy, great artists steal", as Picasso is supposed to have said.  Well, I'll let others judge whether I merely copied from Dennis or if I stole.  I'll post those images some other time.

For now, I just ran into this umbrella, an obvious casualty of the storm, lying next to a puddle, a remnant of the storm, and thought the juxtaposition made for a good image. 

Click here to purchase.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Brooklyn Heights in the Rain

Brooklyn Heights in the Rain
Across the East River from Manhattan lies the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights, bordered on the river side by the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.  I first encountered it on a rainy June afternoon in 2006, coming back from the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. 

We had been walking in the rain for most of the afternoon, including during all of the Mermaid Parade and were now pretty soaked when finally made it to the Promenade.

The scene shows the Brooklyn Bridge in the background through haze and fog.  The only thing that mars perfection is the trashcan in the foreground, but there really was no other view that would have framed the bridge exactly the same way.  Even with the trashcan, it's still one of my favorite shots.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Meaning of Life

One Life
In my day-gig, I encounter many people who are, as they say, goal oriented.  These types of people are generally not weighed down by questions or even doubt.  The know what they want and the go and get it.  To them, life is simple: if you have a goal, plan the work, work the plan and achieve your goal.

Many people, however, aren't like this.  They seek a greater truth, an understanding of what lies beneath, or perhaps above. These people are seekers.  They question, they doubt, they seek the truth and are skeptical when they find it.  Ultimately, they seek the meaning of life. [continued after the break]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Crazy Loco

So, is this art?

We went to the Bakehouse Art Complex a few weeks ago for their monthly open house.  For those who haven't been, this is truly a great place.  Housed in the former National Bread Company building, it provides affordable studio space to emerging and mid-career artist.  The exhibit in the Audrey Love Gallery was of works of professors at a local art college.  Among them was  Brian Nogues Reference Work 1.5, pictured.  It so astounded me, I had to photograph it.

Of the many works in the gallery, I liked some and didn't like others, but none provoked the level of discourse that Nogues' work did.  Jackie described it as "Crazy Loco."  The idea that someone would put an ordinary bubble level in a matte, frame it and call it "art" shocked my senses.  That he should demand $950 for it, well, I thought took some nerve.  Still, I snapped the photo and walked on.  [click below to read more]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Known-Unknown

Oftentimes you'll read on the web about the importance of lighting in photography.   Photography is essentially writing with light. The name, after all, means light (photo) writing (graph). While this is certainly true, in black & white photography especially it is often the shadows that will produce a really great image. While you can't diminish the importance of lighting in black & white photography, the shadows can be just as important. 

Shadows provide contrast, the lovely smoothness of the models' skin offset against the dark background immediately draws the eye and focuses attention to the intended subject.  But there is more.

Shadows also provide an air of mystery to the image.  What's behind the models off in the right-hand corner of the image?  We don't know.  In fact, we will never know what is back there and in this knowledge about lack of knowledge, the known-unknown, lies the appeal of this image.  Yes the models are beautiful but they would remain beautiful under glaring lights and in full color images.  By showing only portions of the models and obscuring the rest we intrigue the viewer and make for a more powerful image. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blonde Roast

This is photo pretty much sums up why I always carry a camera on weekends.  Walking by a Starbuck's and seeing two, young blonde ladies under a sign advertising Starbuck's new Blonde Roast Coffee.  Really?  Gotta love serendipity.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tommy and His All Girl Band

Becca, center, Tommy on the Drums

A couple of years ago, I lived the life we all see on TV shows: big and spacious apartment in a hip neighborhood and really interesting and fun neighbors who would just pop in at any time of the day. It was pretty cool, actually. One of them was a guy named Tommy. Young, kinda brash but good hearted, Tommy was a drummer who held down a regular job only on occasion. He was a the age when jobs are still optional. The only downside was that he would drum all day. For many, this wouldn't be an issue but I work from home most of the time. Otherwise, Tommy was great.

One day Tommy shows up at my door asking if I would photograph his band play at Jazid's, a local bar. “It'll be great exposure” he said. “You can hand out lots of cards.” Translation: “Would you please shoot this for free?” “Sure”, I said, after all, this was Tommy and it was an “all-girl” band. Who could refuse? So, I went to the venue with my Canon and a very fast lens. 

Becca as Janice Joplin
When I got there I found out that the lead singer had gotten (hired?) another photographer as well and that he was shooting with a flash and a really crappy lens. Now, if you've ever seen a bar during the day with all the lights turned on you'll know why this is just a really bad idea. These places are full of dust and other crap just strewn around – flash illuminates everything, dust, cables, critters, whatever. [more after the break]

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Voice of an Angel

El Barrio Gotico
In June of 2009, I took my daughter on her first trip abroad to Barcelona. The city is relatively small but absolutely fabulous, full of beautiful architecture and wonderful people. We stayed at the Majestic (excellent service but very expensive, I thought), located on Paseo de Gracia near La Rambla Catalunya but north of Plaza Universitat, the dividing line between the scenic but more modern Barcelona and the Barrio Gotico, or old Barcelona. When La Rambla crosses Plaza Universitat it changes character and becomes much more touristy, still quaint but touristy. The farther down on the Rambla that you go the farther into the Barrio Gotico you venture. You can tell because the side streets become smaller and smaller.

On one day when I'd left my daughter sleeping at the Majestic, I walked that distance and turned into the Bario Gotico. The streets kept narrowing and the people took on a different appearance, they no longer looked like locals from La Rambla who catered to the tourists, they now looked like locals who sort of, maybe tolerated tourists but didn't really like them too much. I kept walking and just plowed into the heart of the Barrio Gotico, rounded a turn and walked right into a largish plaza surrounded by apartments and populated to all appearances by hookers. 

[more after the break]