My Critique of Two Photographs by Charles Harbutt

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to another day in life.

I had the pleasure a few months ago of seeing an exhibition of photographer Charles Harbutt’s work at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ.

Although I am not a professional art critic obviously, part of my education requires me to be able to look at art and discuss it.

Critique is often so misused as a negative term, really it isn’t simply criticism but just somebody’s evaluation of someone else’s work.  CRITIQUE CAN BE A VERY POSITIVE THING. Or it can suck.

As a photography student, I am required multiple times a week to stand before a class and show my work to my peers and instructors and have to take whatever comments they dish out.  Sometimes I want to smack someone and sometimes I feel proud, either way though, I take something away from every thing people tell me regarding my work.

Even if it’s just to make fun of them behind their backs later 😉

So it is only fair that I get to dish out some of this “critique” onto known photographers.  I have studied and chosen (for my own reasons) two images from the exhibition that I want to discuss.   I hope you enjoy my thoughts on these…or comment if you have your own…:)

Woman and Train – Providence, RI 1976

Upon entering the Creative Center for Photography exhibition gallery the first thing that catches my eye on the wall is a huge black and white (all of his work is black and white as I came to see) print of this photograph directly on the wall, seamless.

There is a cloaked woman with her face hidden by a great deal of shadow on the verge of getting on a train with an incredibly rich, thick, brilliant white fog rolling out from underneath the train, rising up from the tracks.  The fog is so thick that it makes me feel like if I was there I could step on it, like when I was I child in an airplane I thought I could walk on clouds.  The rising fog also creates a smoky effect through the entire image making it very mysterious and intense.  Many questions arise in my head, like is she leaving somewhere she loved?  Is she leaving someone behind?  Does she want to arrive at her destination?  I get a melancholy feeling from this photograph, like she is leaving someone she may have loved but things just did not work out and now she is headed back to wherever she may have begun.

There is an actual flaw in the image itself caused by something going wrong in the developing of the negative and there is a slight imprint running diagonally across the bottom right hand corner where the train of the edge of the negative but instead of taking away from the photograph it actually enhances it.  It is not distracting enough to take away any of the power or mystery from the image because it somehow manages to blend in without blending in and instead it acts like a foreground that slightly frames the image in a crooked way.

Perhaps this is the image they chose to display in the entry to represent his collection because like me, other people also agree that it his strongest image.  Woman and Train is well composed, with leading lines, rich textures and mysterious shadows that leave me wanting to know the story but allowing me to fantasize my own story as well.   

Collapsing Building – Hamberg, ND 1995

This image was one of the smaller ones in the exhibition and my first thought as I walked up to it is how much more effective the photograph would be if displayed about three times larger than the size chosen.  Small as it was however, it was still poignant and interesting enough to attract my attention, obviously.

Collapsing Building shows a typical North Dakota plains setting featuring an open landscape and clear skies with a completely crooked and severely leaning little house that looks decayed and rotted and probably about thirty seconds away from falling over into a pile of rubble.  The paint is peeling and worn, gone in most spots and the windows are busted out.  The house is framed on the right by a completely vertical and straight telephone pole and the grass framing the bottom edge of the photograph is completely straight as well, giving the photograph with a collapsing house this immaculately neat framing which provides for a great deal of contrast in the photograph.

The most striking component and perhaps arguably the strongest part of this image is the little boy walking in front of the house stopped on the sidewalk and notably looking at the house.  You can only see the back of his head so you cannot see his expression, but as a viewer I can only imagine that he probably looks astonished and very fascinated, perhaps even scared that the house might fall on him.

This image speaks to me, with its clean lines and perfectly, patiently framed composition and contrasting subjects and subject matter.  It reminds me of the power of destruction, the loss of innocence when something is obliterated or taken from us as a child, the desolate and empty feeling of watching something decay and slowly fade away, for example your childhood. 

If you liked these images, please check out the work of Charles Harbutt…it is interesting for sure.

-B.B. Rebel

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The Legendary Aldo Rossi – Architect or Artist? BOTH

Hello everyone!

Today let’s commemorate the innovative Italian architect Aldo Rossi and what made him so inspirational and different from other architects…not with just the structures he designed but the actual sketches and designs he created. For those of you who don’t know him or have never heard of him, it is my pleasure to introduce you to his work.

I just want to say that I truly admire the way his mind worked and the way his sketches translated into his architecture.  You can see something truly magnificent if you look at these as more than just architectural drawings but as abstract artwork.

Drawings and Sketches by Italian Architect Aldo Rossi: apuntes-martes-5-de-mayo.jpeg

Aldo Rossi was born on May 3, 1931 in Milan, Italy and died on September 4, 1997 and although I do not want you to stop reading THIS IS NOT A HISTORY LESSON…there are 2 main pieces of knowledge I would prefer if you take away about him.

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1.  He accomplished the unusual feat of achieving international recognition in four distinct areas:

theory

drawing

architecture

product design

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2.  He was also a writer, painter,and published theoretician who used the most basic forms of geometry and simplified shapes in his building types and designs

This postmodern technique is known as NEORATIONALISM.

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With time, his architectural sketches and drawings have become recognized as works of art in themselves and have been exhibited in major museums throughout the world.

His use of color to emphasize certain moods and concepts really draws me into these some sketches.

Some of them look more like abstract art rather than site plans or building drafts, and it takes the viewer a second to actually recognize some of the meaning in the drawing.

In fact I honestly believe that if nobody knew him and had displayed this artwork up without talking about any of its context or revealing the artist, 90% of people would have no clue that it they are actually architectural plans.

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This above hand sketch is one of my favorites even though it lacks color – it gives you something so detailed and I have honestly looked at this image for hours and still see new things.

A large quantity of drawings document the stages of a project’s stages and refinement and most of these drawings are done freehand.  He hand sketched and colored these himself, these are literally hand renderings which would have taken him hours.

Many of his sketches also have his notes and annotations on them as well as he got ideas while working.

I get this impression that his brain probably never stopped working and calculating things.

Quartier Schützenstrasse – Berlin, Germany

The picture above is one of his actual drawings come to life and although he has so many buildings that are impressive and it was NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to choose, to me this is one of the best examples of the things I talked about in this article.

The Quartier Schützenstrasse is a collage of icons and archetypes with several obvious references to other Rossi buildings as well as historical references

Obviously the thing that strikes me first is the color of the building and the incredibly clean symmetrical aspect even though it is placed on a street corner.

Two of the buildings are residential apartments the rest are a mixture of residential and commercial use. The plan, inspired by the building blocks of 19th century Berlin, is organized around two large and two small interior courtyards that fill the block with beautiful light.

His work and life truly inspired me as a photographer and an artist because he was a visionary, a rare talent, and a man who believed that the most basic forms could accomplish the most beautiful things – and he was CORRECT. 🙂

References

  1. Zukowsky, J. (2013, May 20). Aldo Rossi (Italian architect). Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  2. Boegl, T. (n.d.). QUARTIER SCHÜTZENSTRASSE. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  3. Juxtapoz Magazine – Drawings and Sketches by Italian Architect Aldo Rossi. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  4. Aldo Rossi Archive collection. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2014.

Workers from all over the World – Beautiful Award Winning Photographs

Happy Monday everyone!

Last week I was sitting in class not paying attention (shocking) and I was on my phone looking on my Flipboard App when I came across this amazing article and honestly was so instantly captivated I couldn’t wait to share it with everybody.  Thank you Flipboard!

I really really hope you guys all appreciate these images as much as I do and go check out some of these photographer’s work because it is truly phenomenal.  I’m jealous 🙂

Most visually stunning to me was this first one I am showing.  I fell in love.


Asia-Pacific winner: “Net Mending” by Ly Hoang Long, Vietnam

As I was looking at these images it struck me ( not for the first time ) how exceptionally different our lives are all around this world everyday.  During the very same moment in time, somewhere in the world there is a man in a suit sitting in an office in front of a computer in New York City and a group of Vietnamese people fishing in a small village living in houseboats and huts.

I don’t really mean this in some negative way, please do not misunderstand.

I actually think there is a peace and absolute beauty to the way that the world comes together through millions of people performing completely different tasks not realizing how each of them really contribute to the other.


00:00 hours winner: “Last Train” by Chris Jongkind, Japan


05:00 hours winner: “Dawn with Donkey” by Somenath Mukhopadhyay, Turkey

After all, where would the world be if everyone had a similar job?  Is it fair to say one person’s career or job is more important than another?

Are you more important because you are a doctor or a lawyer than the garbage man?  What would we do if there were no garbage men?  If there was nobody willing to take our trash out, weave our fishing nets, serve us in restaurants, wake up at 4 am to bake us fresh bread, milk cows and farm crops and animals so we can eat, what would we do?

So, I guess what I am trying to do is use these photos to make you think about the world in a different way.  A way that is more than just pictures or fascinating images.

Although these are awesome.


10:00 hours winner: “Fish Market” by Saumalya Ghosh, India

I want people to think about roles in life, the role you play in the world.  What do you think?   Are you important?  If I came and took a picture of your job, what would it look like?

The truth is….you’re probably more important to the functioning mechanics of the world than you realize.

Sincerely,

B.B. Rebel

P.S. – to see more of this work please visit

http://designtaxi.com/news/370121/Fascinating-Photographs-Capture-Working-Life-In-Cities-Around-The-World

Homeless in Tucson, AZ – A Series in Progress

Happy Monday Everyone!

I suppose at any given point in time in life, anything can happen.  People can fall from the highest positions of authority and respect to barely existing as a human being.

I set out to do some street photography for school a year ago so I went to a kind of a run down part of Tucson during the day to try and capture something harsh and unsettling.  That was what I set out to do.

Here is what ended up happening.

As I was walking around with my camera, a homeless man approached me and asked what I was doing, so I explained.  We then struck up a conversation about humanity and war (he was a war veteran) and while he talked I noticed the deep wrinkles around his eyes and mouth, his leathery skin, lack of teeth and realized I had something so real and unsettling right before my eyes.  I politely asked if I could take a few pictures of him while he spoke and he kindly obliged.  After spending nearly 30 minute with him we parted ways and I wished him the best of luck.

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I decided that my project would take a more specific approach and I walked the streets looking for obviously homeless people and just taking some time to talk to them, get to know them and how they got to this point.  What circumstances in their lives brought them into homelessness?

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It is amazing how much people are willing to tell you about themselves if you are JUST WILLING TO LISTEN.  I heard many stories that week as I narrowed down and continued to shoot the series and I walked away with so much knowledge….but not about photography.

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I learned about life, and the conditions in which some people are forced to survive.  I learned about loss, tragedy, neglect, and ignorance.

The most important thing I took away from this project had nothing to with lighting, aperture, or photography.

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I learned that when hope is lost, nothing that remains makes any difference at all.

Sincerely,

B.B. Rebel

P.S. All photos were used with permission from the subject, verbal consent for use was given during shooting.

Interested in a Boudoir Shoot but Feeling Shy? – 10 Tips on How to Prepare Yourself

Hello everybody!

Today I want to share some things about Boudoir Photography for people that have ever been (SECRETLY) interested in having pictures of them taken in this intimate style and sexy style.

More importantly, I want to put you at ease and slightly prepare so you might actually go book a session!

Ladies pay close attention to this:  One of the most intimate and sensual gifts you could ever give your partner is a boudoir shoot.  This gift quite literally works for ALL occasions.

Also, think of a boudoir session as a gift to yourself and the beauty you possess as a woman captured in the softest and most intimate way.

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1.  Find and use a photographer you are COMFORTABLE with! This is so important because the less awkward you feel the more your natural beautiful self will translate into the photographs!

2. This is SUPER IMPORTANT: Leave all of your doubts and insecurities behind you before a boudoir session, all you need to do are just prepare yourself for a unique, different and sensual experience.  Leave the rest to your hopefully awesome photographer!!!  They will coach and guide you through it for a pleasant and hopefully fun photography session.

3.  If there was ever a time to treat yourselves, ladies….this is it! Prior to your session have a salon/spa day.  Get a manicure and pedicure, have your hair and makeup done, get your eyebrows and other areas waxed.  The more confident you feel about yourself the better the photographs are going to turn out.

4.  Bring several outfits and changes of clothing, try them on first, make sure the outfits you pick fit you in a way that you like and that flatters your body type. You can never ever have too many choices of lingerie during a boudoir shoot!

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5.  RESEARCH some poses and pictures you like and take examples with you for your photographer. I always encourage my clients to go on Pinterest to find some ideas they like and I also refer them to my Boudoir Photography Board that contains all kinds of poses and boudoir ideas that I like personally and find successful. 

In case you are interested:

http://www.pinterest.com/belindabeeler/boudoir-photography

6.  Bring your 3 favorite, sexiest heels/shoes/boots – I know it might get hard to narrow it down ladies but try…

7.  Avoid scheduling a boudoir photography session around “that time of the month” because you want to feel beautiful, not bloated, cramping, and miserable.

8.  Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing prior to the shoot in order to avoid any lines or irritations on your skin that will be visible once most of your clothing is removed. Tight belts or uncomfortably tight jeans are not recommended. 

9.  Practices posing in a mirror at home by yourself before you come in for the session; this will help ease some awkwardness you may feel regarding how to pose.

10.  Bring a friend!  Why not make a fun day of it and bring your best friend with you?  Moral support and encouragement from someone you are close to will certainly make you feel more at ease.

I hope this helped.  Now go book a boudoir session and have some fun! 🙂

  • B.B. Rebel

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The Painting before “Starry Night”

You might be asking yourself why I am writing about Vincent van Gogh in a blog mostly about photography, but the truth is this blog is also about the things and people that have and continue to inspire me as an artist.

Yes, good photographers are artists.

Van Gogh is my favorite painter of all time – so I wanted to share this with you.

There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.

– Vincent van Gogh

van gogh

Starry Night over the Rhone (above)


In 1889, Vincent Van Gogh painted perhaps what can be considered his most noted and discussed piece of artwork, his masterpiece – “Starry Night”.

The thing many people do not realize is that the year before in September of 1888, he painted a lesser –known but equally astonishing work titled “Starry Night over the Rhone”.

One of the key differences in these paintings is that “Starry Night over Rhone” was painted by Van Gogh at night, working with the light of a gas lamp, and the scene is pulled directly from nature the view from his apartment in Place Lamartine overlooking the Rhone River. 

In contrast, “Starry Night” was painted during the day completely from his memory, not from a scene he was looking at. (Meaning & Analysis)

Another important factor when studying these paintings is to consider Van Gogh’s state of mind and mental condition during the creation of these pieces.   “Starry night over Rhone” was originally sketched out as romantic and depicted two lovers in the night and also depicts the “Great Bear” constellation in the stars.

The following quotation is from a letter he wrote describing “Starry Night over the Rhone” to a friend.  “The starry sky painted by night, actually under a gas jet.  The sky is aquamarine, the water is royal blue, the ground is mauve.  The town is blue and purple.  The gas is yellow and the reflections are russet gold descending down to the green-bronze.  On the aquamarine field of the sky the Great Bear is a sparkling green and pink, whose discreet paleness contrasts with the brutal gold of the gas.  Two colorful figurines of lovers in the foreground.” – Vincent Van Gogh letter 1888.

I can’t even attempt to describe the painting the way that he does and it also gives you some insight into how his mind functioned, fast and furious.

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Starry Night (above)

“Starry Night” was painted from his memory of his view from the mental asylum at Saint-Remy where he was plagued by debilitating anxiety attacks.  This is why this painting is so much more like a dream or possibly even a nightmare rather than an actual reality.

While Vincent Van Gogh’s mind was often trapped in his own head and could not escape the misery that dwelled within, his artwork is truly inspirational, masterful and emotional.  The most incredible thing about him is that he only painted for a decade.

It never ceases to astonish me how someone who was plagued with madness, depression and severe anxiety for so much of his time on earth was able to tap into such beautiful imagery in his own mind and show the rest of the world through a medium that touches the very core of my soul.

  • B.B. Rebel

Works Cited

  • “Vincent Van Gogh.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1. Academic Search
    Complete. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
    • Arnold, Wilfred Niels. “The Illness of Vincent Van Gogh.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 13.1 (2004): 22-43. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
    • “Meaning & Analysis: Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh.” Meaning & Analysis: Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. .