Rank #1: Iteration 33: Just Add Wall
In this episode, I want to talk about prints. You remember prints, right–little pieces of paper with pictures on them? Your parents probably had albums or maybe boxes of them that you would flip through on holidays or birthdays or the night before you went off to college.
The act of printing photographs has changed dramatically since I bought my first camera in 1982—necessarily so. With film cameras, you had to make prints—even just contact prints—to see what you shot, unless of course you were shooting slides. But even then, if you were regularly shooting slides, chances are you had a slide projector and one of those clumsy fold up screens, or at least a favorite wall. The point is, the act of looking at photos used to be a completely separate act than that of taking photos, since film offered no way to chimp as you shot. With digital, it’s all more or less the same process: shoot, look at what you shot. If you missed it or it wasn’t quite right, you do it again and if you did get it, you move on. And once you post that shot to social media, you may never look at it again, other than to check the number of likes.
Recently, a friend turned me on to the work of a Russian photographer named Daria Belikova, whose work is absolutely stunning. It’s a little Tim Walker, a little Mario Testino, and a little Paolo Roversi all wrapped up into one terrific body of work.
Lead Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl has released a new documentary called Play that “celebrates the rewards and challenges of dedicating one’s life to playing and mastering a musical instrument.” The film shows Dave playing every musical part of a 23 minute instrumental track, all recorded live.
If you’re a fan of drawing sketching or journaling, you’ll love The Moleskine Project, which is a collective exhibition of artists’ sketchbooks from around the world from a variety of different backgrounds.
Rank #2: Iteration 49: A Handful of Connections and Stories
I’ve been frustrated with my own photography for quite a while, and I think that frustration played a big part in the whole “which camera should I buy?” saga. Look, I think I am a good photographer — sometimes maybe even really good — but lately I’ve been having a hard time connecting with the photographs I make. Many of them are interesting from a technical perspective, and I love the experience of seeing the world through a viewfinder and the challenge of finding an interesting composition. But, beyond that, there’s something missing and the work just doesn’t land for me. It doesn’t grab me and I think it has to do with my connection — or specifically the current lack of it — to the subject matter that I photograph.
Here’s an amazing behind the scenes look at the stunt driving in Mad Max Fury Road. It’s incredible to see just how much of that movie was done practically, rather than CGI.
From the real to the unreal is the work of 3D artist Josef Bshara whose work is just fantastic. I did a little 3D back in the day in Lightwave and 3DSMax, but nothing as complex or realistic as this.
And I meant to put this in the last episode but it slipped my mind. On Taking Pictures listener Josh Eikenberry has managed to cull six years of OTP show notes into one monster list. So if you want to see what we talked about over the course of 325 episodes, Josh has you covered.
Reminder: On April 1st, I will phasing out the individual show feeds and instead releasing all of my shows and conversations under the Jeffery Saddoris: Everything feed. If you’re enjoying Process Driven, In Between, and Iterations, please consider subscribing to Everything so that you don’t miss anything.
Rank #3: Process Driven 27: Richard Beaven
“With each of the studies we’ve talked about, I’ve had to have the motivation, the passion, the interest, the fascination with the subject and I’ve needed to go out and make those photographs.”
My introduction to the work of Richard Beaven came via a text message from Jon Wilkening, which read simply “you need to talk to this guy” with a link to his Instagram. I think it took all of two images to realize he was right. Richard’s latest project is called All of Us. It’s a beautiful body of work — 275 portraits made over the course of a year in the town of Ghent, New York — that manages to capture not only the soul of the town but also the people who call it home. Richard’s work is centered around connection, both to his subjects and their environments. And whether he’s immersing himself in Trump Country or spending time on small family ranches in rural America, the stories Richard tells through his photographs are in many ways the stories of us all. They are about belonging and being seen for exactly what and who we are.
Reminder: On April 1st, I will phasing out the individual show feeds and instead releasing all of my shows and conversations under the Jeffery Saddoris: Everything feed. If you’re enjoying Process Driven, In Between, and Iterations, please consider subscribing to Everything so that you don’t miss anything.
Rank #4: In Between 05: Where Does It All Come From?
Kristopher Matheson is one of my favorite people to talk to. Not only is he a terrific photographer, he’s also funny as hell. We don’t talk often, but when we do, I always come away inspired and wanting to dive a little deeper into my own work. Not too long ago, Kristopher started posting images from a series he calls “Behind Glass.” I love pretty much everything Kristopher posts, but there was something about these pictures that really caught my attention. I called him up to ask where the idea came from and since Kristopher is a pretty fastidious journaler, I expected a detailed explanation citing influences and connections to other projects. Instead, he said “I have no idea.” Wait, what now?
If you’ve listened to In Between before or listened to recent episodes of my other shows Iterations, and Process Driven, you’ve heard me mention my “Jeffery Saddoris: Everything” feed. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be phasing out the individual show feeds and instead using the Everything feed for, well…everything. If you’re enjoying In Between and Iterations and you’ve been waiting for new episodes of Process Driven—which I promise are coming soon—please consider subscribing to Everything so that you don’t miss anything.
Rank #5: Iteration 45: A Little Bit Out of Your Depth
Over the weekend, I took a workshop in encaustic painting. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically painting with hot wax and it’s a process that’s been around for literally thousands of years. The are records of the Greeks using it as far back as the 5th century BC. The process involves heating beeswax with damar resin crystals which forms what’s known as “medium.” From there, you add pigment — either oil-based or dry powder — to create whatever color you’re after. What first drew me to the idea of encaustic was how much faster it seemed than the acrylic process I currently use in my paintings. Some of my pieces are 15 or even 20 layers deep and when the gels are applied thick to create the impasto type of textures that I use, it can take hours or even days to dry between layers. So, it’s not unusual for me to take weeks to finish a piece and, if I’m being honest, there have been several instances where I was either bored with the piece or I basically forgot where I wanted to go with it. So the idea of encaustic has been in the back of my head for a while as a potential solution to speeding up my process and as a way to inspire new work.
Ben Bond is a photographer from Ghana whose latest BTS video is a terrific example of using simple gear well to achieve really superb results. For this shoot, Ben used one light firing into a 120cm octa and a Fuji X-T3 with the 18-55 kit lens. The results are just brilliant.
Journalist and photographer Will Hunt has written a new book called Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet in which he explores some of the communities that call the sewers, tunnels, and catacombs beneath cities like New York and Paris home. Will was recently a guest on Fresh Air where he talked a bit about the project.
If you’re looking for creative inspiration, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has added nearly 600 full text books and catalogs to their digital collection that cover art, design and photography, which you view, search, and even download for free.
Rank #6: Iteration 47: Which One Do You Want To Be?
A number of you have asked why I am selling what review after review calls the best APS-C camera on the market today to buy a two-year old Micro 4/3 camera that I’ve already bought and returned once before? Well, it’s complicated, but if you’ll give me a little bit of rope, I’ll promise to try and wrap it up without hanging myself.
What camera should I buy? It’s a question I get asked a lot. And I try to stay pretty consistent with my advice. If you were an On Taking Pictures listener, you know that I could answer the question for everyone but my myself. My search for a new camera became an epic saga and the butt of jokes for years on the show.
Here & Now recently posted an interview with climber Alex Honnold and adventure photographer Jimmy Chin and his wife Elizabeth on their Oscar nominated documentary Free Solo, which follows Honnold as he climbs the 3,000 plus foot sheer granite face of El Capitan without any safety ropes to catch him.
Also, if you dig seeing how the special effects in your favorite movies are done, follow movies.effects on Instagram. The feed features side by side photos and before and after clips so you can get a sense of what it takes to bring these big budget fantasies to life.
And this is either really cool or really creepy, depending on your perspective, but Ukranian artist Olga Kamenetskya transforms overly made up toy dolls into hyper realistic looking figurines. According to the article on My Modern Met “Kamenetskaya strips the dolls’ makeup and opts for bushy facial hair, freckles, and even wrinkles in their skin. The results are so lifelike that you’d expect to see these people walking down the street.”
Rank #7: Process Driven 22: Kristopher Matheson
Kristopher Matheson is a photographer living in Tokyo after leaving Canada for a teaching position that was only supposed to last six months to a year. Twelve years later, he’s still there and has made Tokyo his home, at least for now. I was introduced to him through the terrific photos he began to post in the On Taking Pictures Google+ group. His images showed a side of Tokyo that I hadn’t really seen before – his composition and use of color made the photos somehow more personal and intimate, despite the fact that people are virtually absent from them. Kristopher and I have become friends over the past several years through calls and emails that are sometimes frequent, sometimes sporadic. But regardless of how often we talk, it seems like every exchange ends up being a slice of a larger ongoing discussion, where questions are raised and sometimes answered and rabbit holes are explored, often over the course of several interactions.
Rank #8: Iteration 30: The King, The Boss, and Me
Tomorrow would have been my mom’s 74th birthday and while not a day goes by that I don’t miss her, I am grateful for the life I was allowed to share with her. She was generous, compassionate, and the most unconditionally loving person I have ever met. She always encouraged me to embrace the quirky, creative side of myself and insisted that following my passion meant not holding back and always giving 100%. As a child, my mom was a dancer—she and her brother Jerry even appeared on The Jack Parr Show together. A few years later, Jerry decided that “dancing was for sissies,” then life ultimately got in the way and my mom eventually gave it up too. While a life as a professional dancer was not to be, music was still an important part of her life. Even after I came along, our house was always filled with music—mostly Motown. I grew up on a steady musical diet of artists like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, and the Jackson 5. But when she wasn’t grooving to the sounds coming out of Hitsville USA, she was listening to Elvis.
Here’s a link to the 1999 Charlie Rose Interview with Richard Avedon that I referenced in this episode.If you enjoy that, you may also like this terrific documentary about Avedon called Darkness and Light.
The artist Christo has just unveiled his latest installation, called The London Mastaba—a 600 ton pyramid made of brightly painted 55-gallon drums. The whole gigantic thing is floating in Serpentine Lake in London.
I know I’m a little late to the game on this, but if you want to either deepen or broaden your musical knowledge, check out allmusic.com. It’s an incredible resource that has not only album reviews, but also shows connections to similar artists and recommendations for the best albums within a given artist’s discography . The site even offers suggestions for albums based on your current mood. For example, feeling ironic? Check out Elvis Costello’s Trust, Blur’s Modern Life is Rubbish, or David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane – terrific record by the way.
Rank #9: Iteration 28: A Genuine Interest
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about Process Driven and he asked me why I did the show. Not from the standpoint of having the conversations, but rather why release them into the world. “What do you get out of it?” he asked. As I thought about it for a bit, I really couldn’t come up with an answer—no one that was coherent anyway. I’ve been thinking about it ever since—a lot—and I think I’ve come up with an answer—at least a partial answer and that it this. Throughout my life there have been a handful of people—and I’m talking about people other than family—who have taken an interest in me that went above and beyond what was expected and as a result of that interest, either subtly or dramatically altered the trajectory of my life.
In addition to being an incredible film director, Stanley Kubrick was also a photographer. A new book called Through a Different Lens showcases around 300 of Kubrick’s images, many of which have never been seen publicly.
He may have been born Usher Felig, but at 14, he quit school and began photographing for newspapers and ultimately became famous as Weegee. Christopher Bananos chronicles Weegee’s life and career in FLASH The Making of Weegee the Famous.
Yuni Yoshida is a Japanese graphic designer and art director whose work I am absolutely loving.
Rank #10: Process Driven 23: Jude Gerard Prest
“I did small roles in big films and big roles in small films, but I was working constantly for the first six years and then, you know, the bottom kind of dropped out.”
Jude Gerard Prest is an actor, a writer, a director, and a producer with more than 700 hours of television under his belt. He’s also one of my oldest and dearest friends. In fact, I was the second person he met after moving to LA from the east coast to pursue a career in acting. Over the next 25-plus years, his hard work and dedication to his craft behind the camera has earned him the respect and friendship of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, but he’s still looking for that one great role. He’s got more integrity that just about anyone I’ve ever met, he’s taught me about perseverance, humility, and grace and I love him like a brother.
Rank #11: Process Driven 21: Gareth Lewis
There’s a saying in photography that goes “pretty light plus a pretty subject equals a pretty picture.” And if you believe that, then you might be tempted to form an opinion about who Gareth Lewis is based solely on the provocative nature of his portfolio, but you’d be wrong. After booking a one-way flight from his native London to Australia, Gareth found himself a stranger in a strange land. Before settling in Melbourne, he spent the first year driving over 24,000 kilometers exploring Australia in a “Miami White” station wagon. Along the way, he picked tomatoes, clipped mandarins, and even did a brief stint as a jackaroo before eventually finding his way to a camera.
Rank #12: Iteration 29:The Catalyst to Practice
E3 was last week and for those of you who may not know what that is, it’s the Electronic Entertainment Expo and if you’re a gamer, it’s like Mecca. Every year, game studios and indie developers descend on the LA convention center for the chance to show the games the’ve been working on, sometimes for years. E3 is full sensory overload—a barrage of sight and sound from the minute you walk through the doors and I love it. Like many kids who grew up in the 70s, I’ve been hooked on video games from the moment I unwrapped my Atari 2600 on Christmas morning in 1977. With each new console, my addiction only grew—the NES, the N64, the Gamecube, the Wii, the Xbox, all of the Playstations. My favorite console was the Dreamcast, by a long shot. I remember being at E3 in 1999 when the Dreamcast launched against the announcement of the Playstation 2. Sony had the budget (and a DVD player), but Sega had the heart. In the end, the PS2 won the battle and became the best-selling console of all time but I think for many of us, there was something about the Dreamcast that transcended Megahertz and Gigaflops.
Here’s a short documentary on Hiroh Kikai, a Japanese photographer who has spent decades taking portraits of strangers against a the same wall outside a temple in Asakusa, Japan.
The New York Times magazine released a special issue completely devoted to love and photographer Ryan McKinley shot for 24 hours straight to capture all 24 portraits that were used as covers and distributed at random to subscribers and newsstands.
French painter Mark Maggiori brilliantly captures the mood, colors, and spirit of the American West in his drawings and paintings.
Rank #13: Iteration 46: Who’s in Your Corner?
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
– William Arthur Ward
I have been drawing as far back as I can remember. My mom used to tell me that I could draw before I could talk. I’ve spoken on previous Iterations about my childhood love of art supply stores, which is still kind of true. All I ever wanted to be as a kid was an animator at Disney and I drew constantly. That changed a bit in high school when I was introduced to photography, but I didn’t stop drawing. In fact, I wanted to go to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to study photography and illustration. As it happened — and this must have been my sophomore or junior year — Art Center was awarding scholarships for weekend classes, and one of them was being taught by a real Disney animator. All you had to do to be considered was submit a portfolio of your work. I told myself that I didn’t have a shot, and even if I did, there was no way we could afford the $40,000 a year that it cost to go there. On top of that, there was my dad and his repeated “artists are a dime a dozen” speeches echoing in my head. So I didn’t even try. In fact, I went the other way and started making up excuses for why I no longer even wanted to go to Art Center. To borrow from The Book of Pressfield, it was Resistance plain and simple. But my high school art teacher, Mr. Andrew, didn’t agree.
The new issue of Time magazine which is called The Art of Optimism – 34 people changing how we see our world. The editorial that begins the issue is called “Why art is the antidote for our times” by Director Ava DuVernay and the issue includes articles by Laverne Cox, Bill Gates, and Guillermo del Toro. There’s also a terrific article called “12 Leaders Who Are Shaping the Next Generation of Artists” which features interviews and commentary on where art is at and where it’s going.
Flashbak posted a really great series of photographs of New York taken by Too Papageorge in 1966-67. One of the things that makes them so special — other than capturing New York in a way that many of us have never seen it — is that the photos were all taken on Kodachrome and they just show what an amazing film Kodachrome was – the colors, the shadows – and for many photographers that film stock was what defined their style.
In honor of Black History month, the New York TImes has launched a terrific new project called Overlooked, which begins “Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones. Now, we’re adding the stories of other remarkable people.” The site is really well done and new obituaries will be added weekly. There’s also a form to allow users to nominate candidates for future entries.
Rank #14: Iteration 31: Art Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum
Earlier this week, we recorded the last episode of On Taking Pictures after more than six years of weekly episodes. While the show was ostensibly about photography, the legacy of the show is 325 episodes—about 600 hours, give or take—of conversations that ranged from why we make art to whether digital is better than film. I think we spent more time asking questions than answering them, and for me, that became the main point of being there week after week. One of my favorite quotes is by Rainer Maria Rilke and while I won’t share the whole thing with you now, the core of it is to “live the questions.” By living the questions, Rilke writes, “Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Here’s a link to the full episode of On Taking Pictures the clip was taken from: Episode 43 Artistic Monkhood
LA-based artist and photographer Natalja Kent makes incredible colorful geometric large format photographs without the use of a camera.
Here’s a terrific documentary about Japanese motorcycle culture called Motorcycle Boy. I love the way this thing is shot – it’s dripping with tons of style and energy.
Rank #15: Iteration 32: Between the Emotional Guardrails
A couple weeks ago, I spoke to a friend from college who I hadn’t spoken to in…well, longer than it should have been. It’s something I’m really trying to work on, but as you probably know, sometimes life gets in the way. Anyway, during the course of our conversation catching up on what was happening in each other’s lives, he told me that my design professor and the person who was really the cornerstone of the entire technical theatre department had passed away last year. I hadn’t spoken to him since 1989, but the news of his passing left me a little gutted. Herb Camburn was a scenic designer, a costume designer, a director, and an artist. He was one of the most talented people I had ever met, let alone had the pleasure of studying under. When explaining a particular concept, he would routinely grab a pen or pencil and begin to draw—sometimes a costume rendering, other times a scenic elevation—but regardless of what he was drawing, the execution was always impeccable. The real art, however, was that he would make his drawings upside down—either seated or standing—from across the table, so that they would be right side up for the intended viewer, who on more than one occasion was me. I had enormous respect for him and for the skill he made look so effortless. He was gruff, at times incredibly difficult (at least this was the memory of my early twenty-something self), and if praise ever did escape his lips, it meant the world because you knew that you’d earned it.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is an Academy Award-winning homage to the printed page and the love of books based on a book by William Joyce.
Here’s the trailer and a behind the scenes look at a short called The Lost Property Office and one of the things that I absolutely love about this stop-motion film is the fact that everything in it was hand made out of cardboard by filmmaker Daniel Agdag. Be sure to watch the behind the scenes clip to see how some of it came together.
Bill Sienkiewicz is a giant in the comics industry, has worked on books for both DC and Marvel and is probably best known for illustrating Moon Knight and the Frank Miller series Elektra: Assassin. In this video from The Illustration Academy, we get to an overhead look as Bill creates an illustration from start to finish and offers some insights into how he creates his signature style.
Rank #16: Process Driven 20: Joshua K Jackson
Joshua K Jackson is a terrific street photographer from London. On paper he’s relatively new to the genre, but his already stunning body of work is every bit as compelling as those by some of his photographic heroes. Though Josh is quick to point out that he still has a lot to learn, his dedication to photography as both an art and a craft is immediately evident in his use of bold color and superb composition to communicate mood and narrative. While he often leaves the house with any sort of expectation or agenda, he says that the energy and buzz of the city is like fuel to keep shooting, especially since you never know what the scene could be just around the next corner.
Rank #17: Show Updates — February 2019
I want to give you a quick update to some of the changes I’m making to my shows over the next several weeks. If you’ve listened to any of the recent episodes of Iterations, In Between, or Process Driven, you’ve heard me mention my new Everything feed. For those of you who may have missed it, subscribing to the new feed gets you everything I do. Every Iteration, every In Between and every Process Driven. Plus, you’ll also get special one-off conversations and any new show that I happen to do all in one feed that’s available in your favorite podcast app and now also on Spotify. I’m adopting the YouTube model of “subscribe to me, not my show.” What that means is that the individual show feeds are going away as of April 1st, so if you are subscribed to one or more of the individual shows and want to keep getting it or them, please subscribe to Everything so you don’t miss anything.
My goal here is consistency, both for me as a producer and for you as a listener. I want to be able to produce compelling conversations on a regular basis and build a community of listeners that feel like they (you) are a part of them. To that end, if you have an idea for an en episode or feel like you may want to join in on the conversation, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram @jefferysaddoris. I’d love to hear what’s on your mind.
Rank #18: In Between 04: The Weight of My Own Ideas
In my last Iteration, I was talking about social media, specifically how this year I was looking to refine or even completely redefine how I use it, personally and professionally. One of the biggest challenges for me historically has been consistency, both in terms of what I make and how I share it, and I think the bulk of the challenge comes around just how much I’m trying to do and the fact that when I look at it on paper, I end up almost feeling paralyzed by the weight of my own ideas, and as a response I don’t do anything. Sean Tucker reached out after listening to it and offered some terrific insights on how he uses social media and also some suggestions for how we can use it so it feels more like a tool and less like a distraction.
If you’ve listened to In Between before or listened to recent episodes of my other shows Iterations, and Process Driven, you’ve heard me mention my Jeffery Saddoris Everything feed. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be phasing out the individual show feeds and instead using the Everything feed for, well…everything. I’ll be releasing more details about what’s coming in 2019, but the short version is if you’re enjoying In Between and Iterations and you’ve been waiting for new episodes of Process Driven—which I promise are coming soon—please consider subscribing to Everything so that you don’t miss anything.
Rank #19: Iteration 44: Your Own Personal Algorithm
Earlier this week I put up an image on Instagram with the caption “Time for a reboot.” It’s basically a “glitchy” version of my signature logo that I use as my avatar on Instagram and Twitter. I posted it because I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I use—or in some cases misuse—social media and I’ve come to the conclusion that now is a great time to redefine what I want to get from and what I want to bring to social media.
A fantastic article was recommended to me by Hugh Brownstone from Three Blind Men and an Elephant, who I had the pleasure of speaking to recently. It’s called The Amateur Spirit by Daniel Boorstin and if you’ll just indulge me, I’d like to share a quote that goes “I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.”
Also, if you love super cool fountain pens, or know someone who does (hint, hint) check out Karas Kustoms. They make a line of pens called Stonewashed that feature anodized barrels that look like they’ve been at the bottom of a backpack or the glove compartment of an old truck for years—and I mean that as a compliment. The orange barrel with the tumbled aluminum grip is particularly lovely.
And I finally got to see Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and all I can say is wow. I am typically not a superhero/comic book movie person, but this flick was fantastic. If it’s still in the theater where you live, go see it.
Rank #20: In Between 03: Photographic Memories
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how photographs influence our memories—not just of people and places, but events in our lives. For example, I have realized that there are memories of certain aspects of my childhood that are rooted not in an actual event but rather in the photographs depicting the event. There are multiple “important” events in my life where the time surrounding the event itself is a complete blur and my “memory” of it only exists because there happens to be a photograph.
So, in this conversation, we’re talking about how memory can often be influenced or even replaced entirely by photographs. We’re also wrestling a bit with a question Sean Tucker asked about whether photography is more about the end product — the image — or more about the process of making it.
If you’re enjoying the conversations so far and you’d like to keep listening, you can subscribe to In Between in iTunes or in your favorite podcast app or you can get it as part of my Everything feed, which also includes Process Driven, Iterations, and anything else I happen to put up. Just search for “Jeffery Saddoris Everything” wherever you listen to podcasts.
You can connect with me on Instagram @jefferysaddoris or email me at email@example.com.