Prisoner Pinhole Photography

Prisoners gain new focus though pinhole photography. Fascinating article on BBC Web site about pinhole photography in prison. Click the image below to link to the story.

The Man Who Saw America

Just thought I'd share this beautiful NYT piece published today on the life and work of photographer Robert Frank. Click the image below.

Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey,  1955

Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955

A Photograph of My Father

Most of the pictures people post of my father are more flattering. He is young and in his Air Force uniform, or he is playing with his grandchildren, smiling—but for me, this is the photograph of my father. He was, in many ways, flawed, but no more than any of us, I suppose, and I guess that's why I like this image. It is not idealized; it is not flattering. It is, I think, the most honest photo of my father I or anyone else has ever taken.

I was out of the Army just a year, taking a black-and-white photo class with MICA's continuing studies program, in Dover for just a few days, so we decided to go for a walk and take pictures together. He drank the night before, so even by mid-afternoon he was still a bit sluggish, but he grabbed up his Canon F-1, loaded up some film and we walked around the block. He didn't walk around much, or even leave the house that often by this time, and it was a cold day for late April. His legs bothered him—he couldn't get very far without feeling pain and discomfort—so we took our time, snapping pics of plants and shadows and other trivial things. We talked about what my plans were now that I had just finished and failed my year of writing the Great American Novel. The photo class was the first step, I told him. Perhaps I'd take another, or go back to school full time, pursue photography as a proper career, maybe even teach. There was a time he would have told me to get a real job, art is just a hobby, but he didn't. I sometimes think my time as an Army photojournalist had proven the value of the craft to him. I don't know. But he encouraged me, told me I could do it if I worked hard at it.

We turned down our alley and came into the yard from behind the garage. I had a single shot left on the roll of film, so I asked him to turn around, let me take his picture.

Harry, 2007

I'm not sure if he's impatient here—by now he was tired and his legs hurt—or if he is just resigned to the fact that, though he does not look his best, this is just simply happening. Maybe he's just trying to help his son with a school project and is being a good subject. What's important to me is that we took the photo together, and that's the reason it will always be the photograph of my father.

Modified Slide Copier/Digitizer

Someone was giving a away a box of what they considered "photo junk," and while going through it I came across an old Spiratone Vario-Dupliscope slide copier. It doesn't mount to any of my cameras, so decided to do some modifications to modernize this cast-off old tech.

There is an extension piece for the Dupliscope, so I used a dremel to take out the entire center of a D810 body cap and then gaffer's tape to connect the extension to the cap.

The extension connects to the Dupliscope, the body cap connects to the camera, and voilà! The digital slide/negative duplicator is ready to go.

Not only can I duplicate slides, but I can also slip negatives into an unused cardboard slide mount to duplicate those as well. This is a photo of my grandmother and my sister taken by my uncle probably around 1973.

Is this better than using my flatbed scanner or a dedicated slide scanner? Probably not. Is it portable? Absolutely. Next time someone has negatives or slides I want and carting around a scanner isn't the best idea, this will certainly do in a pinch.

Photo 480 Gets Surprise Guest Critics

Students in my Stevenson University Photo 480 Portfolio Development course were treated to not one, not two, but three guest critics for the final in-class critique May 6. Joining us were graphic designer and SU Internship Coordinator Alissa Jones, MICA Assistant Photo Lab Manager, Baltimore-based photographer and former SU photo professor Jefferson Steele, and Baltimore City Paper Photo Editor Joe Giordano. The six students broke off into pairs, and when each pair met with a critic, one student would present while the other would observe and take notes. Once a student had presented, the pair would move on to the next critic and switch places. In this way, each student had the opportunity to both present to each critic and observe their peer partner present to each critic. Not only was this the culmination of the 16-week portfolio course, but it was also practice for the annual Spring Advisory Board Breakfast and Portfolio Review for graduating seniors, which took place just a week later.

Once again, I am humbled by the generosity of those who would volunteer their time and energies to help develop these up-and-coming designers and photographers. Alissa, Jefferson and Joe have my deepest gratitude for making our last class such a great experience.

Student Work #002

We had a productive Spring semester in both of my Basic Digital Photography 141 courses at Stevenson University. My students worked hard, and though none of them are pursuing the photographic arts as a profession, they had the opportunity at the end to experience both the pressure and the excitement of developing a photography project from scratch. I gave them a month and only this prompt: "Anything you want." The rest was up to them. Here are my selections of the very best work produced during the SU Photo 141 ON1 and ONE2 Spring 2015 Final Project.

Graphic Designer Bob Gillespie Visits Photo 480

Baltimore-based graphic designer Bob Gillespie paid a visit to my Photo 480 class at Stevenson University last night to offer his thoughts on my students' online portfolios and resume designs. Anyone who knows Bob knows his enthusiasm, not only for design but for general excellence, and there's no doubt he brought all of that energy to the room.

Once again, I am humbled by the generosity of professionals who volunteer their time to talk to student makers.

To see some of Bob's amazing design work, visit him at bob-gillespie.com.

Graphic designer Bob Gillespie reviews a student resume at Stevenson University April 8.

Getty Images Photographer Patrick Smith Visits SU

Patrick Smith, Getty Images staff photographer and POYi's 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year, paid a visit to my 480 Photo Portfolio Development course at Stevenson University last night to help critique student work. After a talk about his photography and process, he had the opportunity to look at both new and re-worked in-process student projects and was kind enough to offer his insight and suggestions.

It is one of the great joys of being an educator to be able to bring professionals of this caliber to the classroom. Students not only hear about a professional's experiences and see the work with such intimacy, but the students also have the chance to share their work and get feedback from outside of the academic bubble. And let's not forget the extraordinary generosity of these professionals as they give their time and energies to the endeavor of fostering the next generation of makers. It was a great honor having Patrick as our guest, and we thank him for being a part of our classroom experience.

Click here to see Patrick's amazing photography.

Stevenson University VCD senior Michelle Canvisser presents her work to Patrick Smith, Getty Images staff photographer and POYi's 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year, during his visit to the 480 Photo Portfolio Development course April 1.

Out There

I'll admit it: I Google myself. We all do at one point or another. As an artist, I do it for a few reasons. If we're being completely honest, I suppose I have to admit ego is one of them. I like to see if my work is getting out there. But that's a professional reason, too. After all, I need to know if my work is getting out there. Today, I found that my work is, indeed, getting "out there," and it has been used as a backdrop by other photographers. My project Welcome to the Army is part of a traveling exhibition called Reflections of Generosity, and it seems Eric J. Shelton of the Fort Hood Herald and David Burge of the El Paso Times had opportunities to use my work as part of their work. So thanks, fellas, for helping me get the work out there.

Student Work #001

During Basic Digital Photography at Stevenson University on Tuesday, we focused on faceless portraits. I kicked the energy up a notch, and once we added in a prop room, a construction site, a studio and a Larry Light, we really got some magic going. These students are all basic photo, all of them are shooting with their cameras set to manual mode, and many of them aren't even pursuing the arts as a career, so it is encouraging to see them exploring and experimenting and getting these kinds of results during just a practice session.

Book Buys

Found some great book buys at my local Goodwill. Five Photo Annuals from 1952 to 1956, and a lovely hardcover photo book. The cost? Only a few bucks.