Category Archives: Books

Bill Cunningham Tribute

He captured our imaginations … on the street.

When I heard of the passing of Bill Cunningham this week, I felt I lost a friend, even though we never met. Through nearly 4 decades I have enjoyed his column in The New York Times named On The Street. He knew how to show us fashion in the real world, what people were really wearing opposed to the important runway shows that are a prevalent institution for clothing design in New York, Paris, Milan, London and all around the globe. You would find Bill at these events, he said they educate the eye, but his heart was truly on the street, doing what his instincts told him the world needed to see. He found paralleled fashion trends from the runway to the street, photographing views from his perspective. He loved the avant-garde and relished the classy dresser. Bill was always on the look out for the newest thing in fashion from head to toe.

“The wider world that perceives fashion as a frivolity that should be done away with, the point is …  fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it, it would be like doing away with civilization. That’s what I think.”

 

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Then I got to know him better thanks to Zeitgeist Films. I went to New York to see this film in a Soho theater The Film Forum. There was a standing ovation at the end.

Bill Cunningham New York

 

Although he was a sought after hat maker / designer in his 20’s, labeled William J (fun to know Marilyn Monroe was one of his clients). Bill made his way into photography in his 30’s. He assisted then celebrity photographer Eddie Newton and didn’t see the value in celebrity imagery, his eyes saw the ‘real’ people standing near. He found a calling that stayed with him the rest of his life. In 1985 he started working with the original Details Magazine and publisher Annie Flanders, she gave him 100 pages at times. Extraordinary.  Before that Bill was with Womens Wear Daily as his first photo editorial publication. It was the late 70’s when he started with The NY Times.

William J hat design in Bill’s 20’s

1978 the first street fashion article for NY Times with Bill Cunningham

 

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Details Magazine

In the pages of The New York Times, Bill brought me to New York City without being there. I marveled in the chic he discovered and wondered how he was able to grab these shots, many in the crosswalks in upper Manhattan, but you could find his pictures from East Village and the lower end as well. His bikes were the mode of transportation. He had over 25 stolen over the years. His perspective on fashion set trends in current culture even though they were already really happening.

“The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been. Always will be.”

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“I suppose, in a funny way, I’m a record keeper. More than a collector. I’m very aware of things not of value but of historical knowledge, I go out every day. When I get depressed at the office, I go out, and as soon as I’m on the street and see people, I feel better. But I never go out with a preconceived idea. I let the street speak to me.” 

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Bill lived above Carnegie Hall for many years in a small space until the residents were asked to leave their apartment studios. Many of them his closest friends and an iconic art community lived there including the wonderful Eddita Sherman whom he photographed as his muse in vintage costume spanning a 200 year period with his backdrop being buildings and architecture in Manhattan. These photos resulted in Facades, his only published book.

 

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In 2008 Mr. Cunningham was honored by France’s L’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres in Paris and awarded The Order of Arts and Letters. Some of his most poignant messages were delivered there in his acceptance speech including…

“I’m not interested in the celebrities with their free dresses. Look at the clothes, the cut, the silhouette, the color. It’s the clothes. Not the celebrity and not the spectacle.”

The streets of New York will never be the same without Bill Cunningham paying attention and recording what he needed to show us. He had our hearts.  His blue jacket, big smile, photographs and several bikes through the years will forever be a part of New York fashion history. I personally will miss the prospect of getting a glance at him working or possibly Bill capturing a wild outfit on me. I am happy that his memoirs were made in the movie about him and he submitted to it. He was a shy, quiet man that led a simple existence with a great sense of humor. He taught us so much about humility, hard work and human spirit.

“It’s as true today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty, will find it.”

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-written by Lori Patrick

Finding David LaChapelle

A Retrospective of Discovery

To describe David LaChapelle in a word. It’s impossible. This is a man whom has fascinated me for years. To get in his head, you would be living in a world of full, vibrant colors. Your imagination completely off the hook. You would be listening to your introspective voice needing to be unleashed through meticulous artistry via your camera and much planning. You would produce art that is so complex and surreal that can only lead to the next must have in your repretoire. You live on the edge of prolific explanation, nostalgia with a twist, a floral explosion of fine art and naughtiness entertained with a sense of bravado. 

 

In 2012 I was able to meet David in New York at the PDN PhotoPlus show where he was featured as a keynote speaker. It was incredible to watch him tell his story and reveal a lifetime of avant garde direction in photography and editing. His charisma was alive and well in a rare photographer crowd appearance. 

 

 

 

 

David was first raised in Connecticut, born in 1963. At 15, he found his way to the world of artistic vision and photography after he ran away to NYC and worked as a busboy for Studio 54. He subsequently met Andy Warhol at 17 and landed a gig with Interview Magazine through him. Warhol gave LaChapelle some exceptional advice. Do whatever you want. Just make sure everybody looks good.” David went on to work commercially for many years, shooting portraits and other campaigns for several high profile magazines. He is well known and respected in the fine art world of gallery exhibition and has authored several books. David decided it was time to take a reprieve in 2006 when he abruptly left the scene and moved to a remote island in Hawaii, living off the grid and experiencing life differently. In recent years he has hit the gallery scene hard and he continues to create a sensibility for  current social issue. Throughout the years David has been the mind behind several memorable music videos.

An in studio interview with VICE gives us a visual perspective of David’s playground.

 

An interview for LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS includes his Refineries exposé.

DAVID LACHAPELLE from Michael Kurcfeld on Vimeo.

 

Mixed in old masters style painting inspiration and pop culture. David created an incredible series ‘Earth Laughs in Flowers‘  2008-2011

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‘Recollections in America’ 2006 is a series that David took 1970’s retired images and gave them a new humorous twist utilizing photoshop, alcohol and weapons with an imagination looking into a time when the 50+ generation were discovering their worlds and shaping who they would become.

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A video series by MUSÉE Magazine sharing his advice to artist photographers.
My favorite LaChapelle interview by Andrea Blanch.

Recently David made a commencement speech for the class of 2015 at UNCSA

 “Every one of you has a different path, but just remember, it’s not about what you’re going to get out of being an artist, It’s what you’re going to give. The mark you’re going to leave on this world.” -David LaChapelle

I leave you his quote while we await the next beautiful, compelling, mind blowing work. He is leaving his mark on us as the most interesting artist of our time. I enjoyed making this retrospective for you. I am compelled to go create and crawl into my own head to see what I’ve got. How about you? 

To see and learn more about Davids works, visit his website davidchapelle.com 

For a list of his work in books you can own see the David LaChapelle Library on Amazon.

One last video sharing David’s eccentric, colorful, artistically naughty, thought provoking, cultural side.

 

“Live in your art to create a realization only you may understand, while others imagine your intention”.
-Lori Patrick

 

Leonard Nimoy Inspires Us

“Live long and prosper” He said that till the end of life, believing fully in the notion that we must live every day as our gift. Even in his tweets, he signed off with LLAP. Here is his final one.

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To some photographers, it is a pleasant surprise to learn that Leonard was a photographer from an early age. His Spock persona and narrations were most popular but he truly had a deep side to his art, including poetry.  Leonard shot primarily in B&W keeping contrast in specific realities.

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We are talking about his work on his Full Body Project. Instead of elaborating on it, I am referencing his Artist Statement below. I chose to feature this project because the conceptual work of these two images are executed with superb attention and styling choice. It helps us get into his head upon viewing as he utilizes the Newton diptych inspiration.

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©Leonard Nimoy

 

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©Leonard Nimoy

 

“My dream concept is that I have a camera and I am trying to photograph what is essentially invisible. And every once in a while I get a glimpse of her and I grab that picture”. — Leonard Nimoy

 

Artist Statement as told to R. Michelson Galleries. Representing his photographs. See more of his work on the gallery site.

The Full Body Project Leonard Nimoy

“Who are these women? Why are they in these pictures? What are their lives about? How do they feel about themselves? These are some of the questions I wanted to raise through the images in this collection.

This current body of work is a departure for me. For a number of years, I have been producing images using the female figure. I have worked with numerous models who were professional people earning their living by posing, acting, dancing, or any combination thereof. But, as has been pointed out to me in discussions at exhibitions of my work, the people in these pictures always fell under the umbrella of a certain body type. I’ll call it a “classic” look. Always within range of the current social consensus of what is “beautiful.” In fact, that was the adjective I most often heard when my work was exhibited. The women as they appeared in my images were allotted no individual identity. They were hired and directed to help me express an idea—sometimes about sexuality, sometimes about spirituality—and usually about feminine power. But the pictures were not about them. They were illustrating a theme, a story I hoped to convey.

These women are interested in “fat liberation.” They hold jobs in the theater, the film industry and in business—and together they perform in a burlesque presentation called

“Fat Bottom Revue.” The nature and degree of costuming and nudity in their performances is determined by the venue and the audience, which can range from children’s birthday parties, to stag parties. I wanted these pictures to be more about them. These women are projecting an image that is their own. And one that also stems fro m their own story rather than mine. Their self-esteem is strong. One of them has a degree in anthropology and will tell you that ideas of beauty and sexuality are “culture bound”—that these ideas are not universal or fixed, and that they vary and fluctuate depending on place and time. They will tell you that too many people suffer because the body they live in is not the body you find in the fashion magazines.

My process was simple, yet different than how I had worked in the past. I was initially interested in revisiting two works of female subjects by Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton: specifically Ritts’ image of a group of supermodels, who were posed nude and clustered together on the floor, and a Newton diptych wherein the two images are identical in pose, except one image showed the models clothed, and the other showed them unclothed. The models were shown the images by Herb Ritts and Helmut Newton and they were quite prepared to present themselves in response to the poses that those images suggested. I asked them to be proud, which was a condition they took to easily, quite naturally. Having completed the compositions that were initially planned, I then asked them to play some music that they had brought with them, and they quickly responded to the rhythms, dancing in a free-form circular movement with in the space. It was clear that they were comfortable with the situation, with each other, and were enjoying themselves.

With these new images, I am now hearing different words. Sometimes “beautiful,” but with a different sub-text. I hear comments, which lead to questions. The questions lead to discussions—about beauty, social acceptability, plastic surgery, our culture and health. In these pictures these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others”.

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click to view on amazon.com

 

 A good look inside his world as a photographer 

MATTHEW JORDAN SMITH finds your future AMERICAN PRESIDENTS

New Book Reveals

100 Future Presidents

Future American President Pre Order

What would you do if you were president of the United States? That is the question celebrated photographer and author, Matthew Jordan Smith asked children from 100 families from all around the country. In his new book, Future American President: 50 States-100 Families-Infinite Dreams, Smith masterfully photographs the answers to this question, filling-up the pages with the powerful hopes and dreams of the youngest generation. Across all fifty states, within 100 families, Smith beautifully reveals the country’s potential as it lives and breathes within America’s youth.

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This book will showcase extraordinary stand-out features; a forward written by Zendaya Coleman, the star of Disney’s “Shake It Up” and “Dancing with the Stars” sensation; an inspirational quote by President Jimmy Carter, offering “encouragement and advice for generations to come”. Educational elements will feature throughout, such as originating maps of American president’s home states, and a table of contents illustrating the path states took to unionizing.

Each one of these 100 presidents was found living somewhere in America’s many and varied backyards, only waiting to realize the American dream of fulfilling every last drop of their boundless potential. However, in truth, Smith has only photographed 99 future presidents, and has been saving the last space, the 100th, to offer every parent in America the opportunity to add their child to the book! For the entire month of June (see VIDEO for Special Offer), Smith will allow children to do more than just imagine themselves as President—they will get to see themselves as president on the cover of his new book! Also, to further the chances young people have of seeing their dreams come true, a portion of the book’s sales will be given to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America!

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Matthew Jordan Smith is one of the most popular and renowned photographers in Hollywood. His successes span fashion, television and literature. He has worked with some of the top names within the entertainment business, and is also the author of two additional books: Sepia Dreams: A Celebration of Black Achievement Through Words and Images, and The Lost and Found.

Visit the author’s website at www.MatthewJordanSmith.com 

Visit the book project website at www.futureamericanpresident.com

“At first I wasn’t sure if it was possible to travel to every state in America, but I knew the most important thing was  to start, even if you can’t figure out how to finish. I started out on faith and a strong belief that anything is possible if you simply believe. The hard part wouldn’t be the traveling to every state in America — the hard part would be walking up to strangers and asking parents if I can photograph their children. However, that’s exactly what I did”. -Matthew Jordan Smith

pre-order your copy today

 

It doesn’t matter if you live in the United States or abroad, this book is an inspiration for children and families everywhere. In a world filled with video games and devices, children will find the joy of turning pages in Matthews book to let their imagination carry them into the white house as they see the 100 families photographs and the messages delivered.  

As photographers we can tell stories through our own special projects to help make our world a better place. What will be yours?  -Lp

 

See Matthew talk about the process of traveling to find and photograph these stories on an earlier CreativeLIVE broadcast.  

Launch Your Career Through Personal Projects