Figments of Reality: An Exhibition of Contemporary Landscape Images

Figments of Reality: An Exhibition of Contemporary Landscape Images

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VERVE Gallery of Photography is pleased to present Figments of Reality: An Exhibition of Contemporary Landscape Images, work by six fine art photographers examining the many ways in which a landscape can be interpreted. The exhibition includes VERVE Gallery artists Duane Monczewski, Beth Moon, Jennifer Schlesinger Hanson, and Takeshi Shikama.  The exhibition also features guest artists Blue Mitchell and Keith Taylor.

The public reception will be held on Friday, November 7, 2014, from 5 to 7 pm

There will be a book signing by Beth Moon on Saturday, November 8, at 1pm

The exhibition is on view through Saturday, January 10, 2015

Download Press Release

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Book Review: Robert Hirsch’s Transformational Imagemaking

Book Review: Robert Hirsch’s Transformational Imagemaking

This one’s for the image makers, not the takers: Robert Hirsch’s Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography since 1960 is a visual and textual catalog of artists who approach their photography as constructions.

Hirsch writes in the preface:

“[the book] emphasizes photographic ‘makers’ who direct and control their final image as opposed to photographic ‘takers’ who capture their images from the flow of outer reality.”

“Conceptually, these artists propel the medium’s evolution by materially realizing the pictures that otherwise exist only in the mind’s eye…”

Preceding the visual collection of images are a thought-provoking preface and in-depth history on the artform of handmade photography, beginning with the first hand colored Daguerreotypes and bringing us all the way up to modern day haptics and realists. After reading this comprehensive history retold with such devotion to the subject, one cannot help but gain increased respect for the meeting of philosophy, creativity, and kinesthesia that underlies the handmade photography world.

The featured artists are shown in a loose chronological order and grouped among their contemporaries. Scattered among the artists are some textual asides, exploring subjects such as major exhibitions and uniting projects—such as Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (1959)—that give one a greater sense of context.

Artist interviews accompany the images and give an interesting insight into the thought process behind the photographs. A common question among the artists is the role that time plays on their work. This question leads to several very different answers that inform upon each artists’ concept of time. Jerry Spagnoli—an artist working with, among other things, daguerreotypes — answers the question with the following:

“…I think that by using methods that come from different historical periods there’s a collapsing of the space-time continuum. When you take a daguerreotype of an event like Obama’s first Presidential inauguration or the destruction of the World Trade Center, it puts these events into a larger continuum… That perspective provides more of a sense of your place in historical time.”

Following the artist features is one last word from the author, meant both to wrap up as well as address the general criticisms that the genre has collected over the years. It is here that Hirsch brings further meaning to the common question of time in his artist interviews:

“Whereas Decisive Moment photographers think ‘in the flow of clock time’ and therefore are time bound, the handmakers think ‘outside of linear time’ and are capable of transcending it.”

The artwork and theory in this book are as diverse as the artists who create and share it, and will therefore have many hits and a few misses for any reader. With a body of work this far-ranging and writing that informs as much as it inspires and challenges, most anyone will find something worthwhile to takeaway from its pages.

Read some excerpts from the book

See the Exhibition at CEPA now until November 23rd

Jake Shivery interview

Jake Shivery interview

Jake Shivery  |  Mar 31, 2011

Blue Mitchell: Please tell me a little bit about your background and how you became the Jake Shivery.

Jake Shivery: Geez. Usual story – starts up out East, ends up out West. This ain’t my first port town.

Can you explain your photographic process from concept to print?

All right – it’s like this – my dog and I show up at your house at seven o’clock in the morning. Several minutes later, you’re standing in the backyard, probably freezing. You watch skeptically while I cuss and smoke and fumble around getting this giant wooden camera set up on its legs. My dog sniffs around your yard. You and I talk a little, I say things like “stay right here” and “stand like that”. You do because, mostly, as mentioned, you’re freezing and you want to go back inside. I lean in and warn you that if you sway a bit, you’re going to be out of focus, so the pressure’s on, right? Then there’s dark slides flying and the shutter clicks and then it’s over. Morning whiskey is always appreciated.

Then there’s dark slides flying and the shutter clicks and then it’s over. Morning whiskey is always appreciated.

Sometimes I go in with an idea in mind – most of the time it’s a bit looser. Most of the time it’s “Oh, you’re raising carrier pigeons? That’s interesting.” I generally don’t have much more of an idea than that, and most of the time I haven’t seen where we’ll be shooting, so it’s a bit of a leap, a little Hail Mary action. I get my subject somewhere, pray for Oregon light, and we work with what we have. Of course it’s formal, of course it’s posed – that’s the nature of large format – but I try to let go of the preconceptions once we’re on site and shooting.

Printing is harder. I’ve been working in the darkroom long enough to realize that I don’t know everything I need to know to be a really good darkroom printer. I’m also surrounded by people who are truly excellent darkroom printers, so I’m constantly humbled. Nonetheless, I stick with it, and every once in a while turn I out something nice. But it’s slow and it’s laborious. I’m certainly better than I was five years ago, never mind ten, and I stick with it because I want to be that much better twenty years from now.

What drives you to continue making portraits?

What drives my work in general are the people that I know. First of all, I hang around with people who constantly produce things of great beauty. I don’t want to be the guy that shows up at the bar with nothing to show. The people that I work with and the people that I hang out with, they’re very active and always turning out work. I’m motivated by wanting to keep up. Or at least trying to.

Secondly, I’m in the midst of a very long term self-assignment. The first part of this assignment is to keep shooting and printing in the same way so that I can eventually get really, really good at it. The second part is to create a body of work that shows the same people throughout several decades. I’ve got a core group of folks I hang around with, and I want, eventually, to be able to show photos of them when they’re thirty-five, forty-seven, fifty-two, sixty-eight, etc. How long will we all last? How long can I hold out? Well, as long as possible. It’s a planning horizon that ends when I die.

Photographically speaking, are there any misconceptions about who you are and what you believe in?

I chafe a little at the idea that I’m an “antiquarian” photographer. I use the Deardorff because I’m in love with it. Because it and I work in synthesis, and because it does a great job of intimidating my subjects into holding still. I’m after a look that I think of as “classic”, but I am not, specifically, trying to make photos that look like they’re from the past. Not “classic” as representing the past, but “classic” as representing the past, present and future. My friend David Lewis points out that in the future, any picture made on film will be marked as a twentieth century image. We came in on Brownies and we went out on the early digital cameras, so folks in the future will look at a film based photo and know that it was from the twentieth century. I’m doing my part to blow that curve.

You could make similar pictures with a much smaller film camera, but it’s not as fun for me. I like the big ground glass, I like focusing with both eyes, I like taking only a few frames per shoot. The large format approach forces me to move slowly, and my budget forces me to shoot cautiously. I pulled about one hundred frames of film last year. The whole year. There were many times I wished I could shoot more, but when you only load six frames for a sitting, well, it changes your work-flow. It’s a lot of work. It’s the long way around the barn. If I was making “old-timey” portraits, I’d just download the app.

Download the app? I snicker at the thought of you doing that. Can you explain the benefits of contact printing versus enlarging and why you prefer it?

Simplicity. Or at least that’s what I thought when I started. Lay the neg down on the paper, hit the light for a second, and hey – it’s a print. The truth turns out to be more complicated – that is to say, printing via contact is a really just a different school of printing. I do interpret the images – I try to make them look better in the darkroom. This obviously requires manipulation – and while many aspects of it are the same as enlargement printing, it’s really kind of a whole new ballgame.

There’s a quality to contacting that I like, but it’s not ultimate sharpness and detail. You can print an 8×10 negative big – I mean really big – but I’m not. I’m leaving it 8×10 and hoping it stays dense and really nuanced.

When you think about your final product – the portrait printed and hanging on the wall – do you feel the photograph depicts who these people are, how you see them, or how they want to be seen?

Hmmm…. all of the above? I want you to like how you look in your portrait. The process is collaborative by nature. Sometimes we’re working from my ideas, sometimes it’s from yours, sometimes it’s a little of both. The goal is The Portrait, in the old-fashioned sense. You may not hang it over your own fireplace, but perhaps future generations of your family will hang it over theirs. I want to make heirlooms for people’s families. When I’m in the darkroom washing prints, I remind myself that I’m making pictures for people’s grandchildren, so I better make them to last.

I like the simple portraits very well – just a person standing still for a moment. But the ones with narrative seem to have more universal appeal, so I’ve been shooting more with that in mind. I’m trying to incorporate people’s interests and their tools and their living spaces. Yes, it’s all staged, but I try to keep it natural, too. It’s a weird split between incidental and posed. Here’s an example: the clown and the mermaid picture is of my friends Leif and Claudie. They were making a film and were dressed up for their parts. I didn’t make up that situation – that’s the way it was when I found it. I just asked them to “stand here” and “sit like this” and “look at the camera”. Otherwise, that was all them.

OK – time for the bromides. How about your pet peeves?

C’mon, Blue, I’m not answering that – I’m not a swimsuit model. I don’t look good in a swimsuit. I haven’t even owned a swimsuit since I was eleven years old.

Favorite Photographers?

Hmmm – how about photographers from whom I’m actively stealing? Leibovitz, Sander, Stieglitz, Lange, Karsh, Danny Lyon, Stu Levy.

Favorite whiskey?

Mr. John Powers. The only Irish I drink. Three swallows – says so right on the bottle. Otherwise, I stick with bourbons.

What are your feelings about the current resurrection of the original photo processes?

Well, clearly, from a job security point of view, I think it’s great. As a camera salesman, my main interest is in preserving that which we already know. There have been a lot of great techniques developed in the last century, and it galls me that we’re losing all of them because there’s something new around. I have developed a reputation because of this. Really, my main issue is the currently dominant idea that we have no choice – you shoot digital or you don’t shoot. If I’m overly outspoken about film, it’s just because so few people are sticking up for a hundred years worth of technology, and its importance, and its usefulness. The analogy I like to make is to music – we invented the synthesizer, but we didn’t stop being interested in pianos and guitars. Good lord, you can do all this on your video game system now, but if you’re really interested in being a musician, are you actually going to be satisfied with that? Same thing with cameras – film cameras and digital cameras are in no way mutually exclusive. More tools in the tool box makes for a better artist. More to the point, it makes artists out of more people.

No matter how fascinating the process, I still want an interesting picture.

Maybe that’s not what you meant. I like a lot of what I’m seeing out there, but really I’m all about content. No matter how fascinating the process, I still want an interesting picture. I go back and forth with this when I’m talking about the contact printing. I don’t want people to think about the process – I just want them to like the picture. I talk about the process because I’m geeking out on it. I love it, and if you’re interested enough to ask, then maybe you will, too.

Besides the sense of nostalgia, I sense sentiment in your portraits, probably due to your relationship with the subject. Do you ever shoot strangers?

I never shoot strangers – I’m too shy. It’s a whole different thing walking up to strangers and asking for portraits, and it scares me to death. I know several photographers who are good at it, and I have deep respect for them, but I can’t do it. I need to know you to get what I want.

I shot a stranger once – we were set up in the tulip fields for a workshop, and I was shooting portraits of the participants. This guy behind me taps me on the shoulder and says “I’m about to propose to my girlfriend, would you shoot our portrait?” and well, how do you say no to that? I love that I got them right there, right then, right after he got down on one knee in the mud. Hopefully, that will turn out to be an important portrait for them. But generally, no – I shoot people with whom I already have a relationship. I like to have coffee or beer and hang out in people’s backyards and wait for the light.

All right, so this is going to sound high falutin’, but what I’m after is beauty, and how I’m getting there is affection. Dostoyevsky said “Only beauty will save the world”, and I agree. I’m not after shock or awe, I’m after quiet photos that will serve as reminders. Nobody is ever going to look like this again. 8X10 contact printing may sound grandiose, but the process is ultimately incidental.

I shoot people that I admire – it’s a long list and I’ll never get to shoot all of them, but I’m working on it. Also, as we talked about, I like shooting the same bunch of people over and over again. When all is said and done, my body of work will be repetitive. On purpose. A big 8×10 flip-book of you getting gradually older. Changing your habits and passions and demeanor. That’s when it’ll get really interesting.

View the Gallery



Diffusion 2014 Results: The Matter of Light

Diffusion 2014 Results: The Matter of Light

Image: Temenos by Katie Kalkstein

I’m so proud to finally announce the results of our 2014 annual themed showcase The Matter of Light, co-juried by Katherine Ware. This has been a challenging selection process, considering the amazing quality and sheer volume of work submitted — the most ever for Diffusion. A big congratulations to our winners and a huge thank you to everyone who submitted. It’s because of you Diffusion exists.

You will also notice that some of our top tiered awards (noted: exhibition award) will also be included in our 2015 annual group exhibition. I’m happy to report we will be exhibiting these artists as well as our publisher’s invitational artists at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO next fall. This is something I’ve done every year and have been fortunate enough to work with a new gallery host each time. Check out our exhibition history here.

[Addendum A: because of the high quality of work in this call I am sending personal invitations to folks who had exceptional portfolios that just didn't fit this call for art to be featured artists in our online gallery Plates-to-Pixels]

[Addendum B: These artists were selected from almost 150 artist submissions totally around 1600 images submitted.]

View the award details and the original call for art


Katie Kalkstein (exhibition award)


Amy Friend (exhibition award)
Ali Gradischer (exhibition award)


Evan Stanfield (exhibition award)


KK DePaul (exhibition award)


Jenna Kuiper


Ashley Whitt, Peter Wiklund, Rebecca Sexton Larson, S. Gayle Stevens


Adam Finkelston
Alex Crowell
Andrea Alessio
AnnieLaurie Erickson
Bob Avakian
Camden Hardy
Carolyn Doucette
Carolyn Monastra
Chris Bennett
Christopher Gauthier
Conor Culver
Dandan Geng
David Ondrik
Emily Jane Macaux
Fiona Annis
Gray Lyons
Hans Gindelsberger
Harding Alexander
Jane Olin
Jeffrey James Campbell
Jeffrey Sass
Keith Sharp
Linda Alterwitz
Lisa McCarthy
Maki Kaoru
Michelle Robinson
Noah Doely
Odette England
Ross Faircloth
Sara Winston
Sharon Lee Hart

Book Review: Photography Beyond Technique

Book Review: Photography Beyond Technique

Photography Beyond Technique: Essays from the F295 on the Informed Use of Alternative and Historical Photographic Processes brings together thoughts from a wide variety of working artists. What I found most interesting about reading this book was comparing the different sentiments that drive these artists to use historic and alternative processes. 

In the essay There is No Command Z Robb Kendrick writes,

“The tactile nature of many historic processes gives the creator a connection to a physical object that is forged from passion, sweat and serendipity that cannot be replicated in the digital environment.”

Like many of us, Kendrick is pushed to use historical processes because of how each collodion pour can show the hand of the artist and the labor used to produce a single plate. 

But, the handmade quality of the final image does not drive all of the artists represented by this book. Sometimes it’s the conversation that happens between digital photographic and historic processes, or the dream-like quality of a long exposure, or, for others like Jo Babcock, it is in the construction of the actual picture-making device that drives the work. 

Babcock has created over one thousand simple cameras out of materials varying from paint cans to vehicles. In Babcock’s eloquent essay he states,

“Such a direct photographic approach fills me with an awe and fascination that I imagine must have captured the early phototropic pioneers.” 

In addition to the explanations offered by each artist as to why he or she is drawn to use historic and alternative photographic processes, this collection of essays is also full of historic information about different processes and their lineage. A portion of Alan Greene’s essay Imaginary Whole-Plates or, Notes Towards the Reinvention of Photography examines the origins of photography starting with the sun’s ability to patina wood or change the color of leaves, then continues onto historic dyeing methods that produced purple cloth with the help of a yellow light sensitive liquid collected from mollusks mixed with salt water. 

While some artists enjoy historic processes because they can transform a photograph into a relic, others are drawn to the sense of wonder that capturing an image can create, and then there are those are who find the intersection between art and science irresistible. Photography Beyond Technique: Essays from the F295 on the Informed Use of Alternative and Historical Photographic Processes is a strong collection of essays because it showcases so many diverse perspectives.

Find the book here or here.

We’re Under Construction

We’re moving our blog around, things are going to look a bit wonky for a bit. We’re migrating from tumblr to wordpress. We’ll be expanding this site very soon with more projects by One Twelve Publishing. Stay tuned.

Paul Karabinis

Paul Karabinis


Texas Photo’ Society: Call for Entries

TPS sets August 18, 2014 deadline for entries for The 27th Annual Membersʼ Only Show

EXHIBITION DATES: October 27, 2014 – December 5, 2014

Options Gallery, Odessa College, Odessa, Texas

About the Exhibition
Texas Photographic Society sets an August 18, 2014 deadline for entries for  The 27th Annual Membersʼ Only Show.
TPS is proud to be celebrating 30 years of providing programs and services to photographers and their audiences across the country, making 2014 a landmark year. In honor of TPSʼ 30th Anniversary, this  yearʼs juror will select 30 photographers to showcase in the exhibition.
Members of TPS are invited to submit up to 10 images for The 27th Annual Membersʼ Only Show by August 18, 2014.

The exhibition will be juried by Jim Casper, Founder and Editor of LensCulture, and will open at Options Gallery, at Odessa College on October 27, 2014.

FInd out more

The Matter of Light: Call for Entries


The Matter of Light

With co-juror Katherine Ware

What is a photograph? The origins of the word photography give us the broad idea of writing with light, while dictionary definitions tend to describe photography as we have known it, rather than offering some essential quality against which to measure. However we may define a photograph, what is certain is that its close connection with the world we see continues to pay a powerful role in art-making.

For this call we are looking for work that addresses this issue within our A Matter of Light theme. As usual we encourage artists working with photography in unconventional ways to submit—including (but not limited to) assemblage, historic processes, installation, mixed media, hand crafted processes, etc.


Incandescent Issue Six

Two weeks left to submit to Incandescent Issue Six. As always, we are looking for color only / film only work.  Incandescent is a bi-annual color film zine that features emerging artists. It is curated and produced in Portland, Oregon by Pine Island Press. 
No submission fees To submit, email up to 12 examples of your work and/or a link to your website. The last day to submit is June 15th, it will be released at the end of July. 
More info can be found at :

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