(lens)cap and gown

© Chris Kessler

This week, Chris Kessler, who has been a great intern and assistant, joins the ranks of us college graduate/bottom tax bracket dweller/freelance photographer types. Chris is graduating from MIAD, and during this past year, made a terrific body of photographs, like the one above (which I'm lucky enough to make a trade for). He's interning at the Harley-Davidson studio here in Milwaukee, and learning lots about real studio lighting (as opposed to what I do). I used to joke that there were too many photographers in the world, but we're lucky to have fresh ones like Chris.

i love this photo, #1

© Mark Leong

I love this photo by the photographer Mark Leong. Leong is a Chinese-American photographer who's been documenting life in China since 1989. Images of Chinese transformation are familiar these days, but Mark Leong's work goes deeper than most. His photographs of small moments and everyday life in the book China Obscura add up to a larger, more complete picture of Chinese society than we're used to seeing. In this picture, the perilous, uncertain, fragile, scary, enormous, and mysterious changes taking place in China are seen in this little child climbing (or descending?) a wall. It is artful and sensitive photojournalism.

Here's an essay about the work of Mark Leong and James Whitlow Delano by Marcel Saba. Lastly, I have to add how much I like the design of the book. It measures just 9x6 inches, and it's small scale is refreshing and appropriately intimate.


sky eyeing

© kjm

I'll be looking upward next week.

From time to time, I'll make a picture of the sky for a friend. The first time I did this was for a friend's birthday, back when I lived in Cincinnati. The basic idea is that I decide to make a sky photo for someone, and then spend some time searching for a nice image. If the search takes me a week, then I've happily had that person on my mind for that time. In the end, I make just two prints - one for my friend, and one for me. The picture above was made for another Kevin - the youngest son of my lifelong friend, Dave.

I'll be driving along the California coast next week, and will be studying the sky to make a picture for my friends Kari and Brad, who are getting married in a month.

my so called collection, #1

© Renee Staeck

A second chance on art.

On Friday I purchased these two lovely, tiny drawings by the artist Renee Staeck. Renee was a student at the Milwaukee Institute of Art + Design (MIAD) a few years ago, when I saw her drawings in the annual senior thesis show. They're made with graphite on coffee-stained paper. I had intended to buy one at the time, and I think I emailed Renee about it. But I never followed up.

Jump ahead three years, and Renee, who had moved to Louisiana, was showing old and new work at Barrow & Juarez. I happened by on gallery night, and was so happy to see the work again.

These two drawings are from that earlier school work, and I particularly love the industrial subject matter. It captures the industrial landscape that is Milwaukee, and which is quickly disappearing in the wave of condo development...


people actually SAVE books, don't they?

© kjm

As opposed to magazines, I mean.

I heard recently that I'll have work published in the upcoming American Photography 23 annual. I'm thrilled, because: as noted, it's a book!; this is my first time to be selected in the AP contest; and it's extra sweet that the work is from a personal project. I've been photographing closed-down fast food restaurants for a while now, and this will be the first publication of any of the pictures. And I'm beginning to conspire with Susana Raab, who shoots her own fabulous brand of fast food pictures, on the idea of a two-person show somewhere...

So, warning: If you're related to me, make some room on your coffee table.

wish i were (still) there, #1


While in Athens last month for Continental's inflight magazine, I took an afternoon off to visit the island of Aegina. I mostly wanted to be able to say that I had been to a Greek island, if only technically. Aegina's just a 45 minute (scary) hovercraft ride from Athens, and I just spent a few hours there. But I had some tasty fresh fish and some pretty good Greek barrel wine (at 2pm, no less). Add it to the growing list of places to see: More Greek Isles.