The other night I had the evening to myself and was searching various streaming services for something to watch. On HBO I found the Robert Mapplethorpe documentary, “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.”
It caught my attention because a fellow photographer had recommended it to me just the day before. I was also interested in it because I had recently learned in a New York Times article that his brother Edward was also a photographer and I heard that Edward appeared throughout the documentary.
If you’re aware of Robert’s work, you might feel some apprehension in watching the film. If you’re not, I will offer the caveat that there is a lot of imagery that is NSFW. To put it mildly, Mapplethorpe explored a lot of taboos in his work.
I was expecting the documentary to talk about those taboos and the body of work that is known as the X Portfolio. It did, but it’s really a biography of Mapplethorpe’s whole life, starting with his Catholic upbringing in Queens and ending a year after his death at the age of 42 when his work faced protest and censorship in the famous case of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center being charged with obscenity after hosting an exhibition of his photographs.
In the years between, he went to Pratt, he dated Patti Smith, he lived in the Chelsea hotel, he was a regular at Max’s Kansas City, and he built a huge archive of incredible photographs. I hadn’t known all those things and I was really impressed by the range of images he produced that I had never been aware of. Some of them are achingly beautiful.
The documentary does a great job of not sensationalizing the more sensational aspects of Mapplethorpe’s story, and the through-line that brings us into the present day is the preparation being made by curators at the Getty and at LACMA during the course of filming. Simultaneous exhibitions are on at both institutions through July 31, 2016. If I were in California, I would make sure to get to both museums. Since it seems like I won’t get to do that, I’ll have to be satisfied to perhaps rewatch the doc…or just look at the pictures (online).
one of the first autosides ever, shot on iphone4S, east side ATX
i remember walking around the east side with my dad–he LOVES austin and comes to visit almost every summer–and spotting this car. i photographed a car with suicide doors while in grad school and that became one of my signature images at that time (see below); even before then but especially since, i am always drawn to cars from the mid-20th century. when i posted this shot to instagram a follower tagged it “#autoside” and i’ve been posting photos like it ever since…
diptych from grad school days, shot on provia 400 film (if i recall correctly) in the funk zone of santa barbara, ca
contact print of 6×7 film shot in marfa, texas
contact print of 6×7 film shot in marfa, texas
just a few months ago a short film i worked on was in the marfa film festival. the guys i made the film with and i were SO stoked to get into this festival and SO excited to attend. the festival is young but has a great personality and there are a lot of interesting films that screen there. this year, our little film was in very good company, with films from richard linklater and michel gondry in the ranks.
one thing that excited me, apart from showing our film and getting to meet other filmmakers, was getting to go out to marfa for the first time. i was especially excited to take my massive pentax 67 medium format camera out there so i could shoot some rolls of film. since working on my thesis project for my master’s degree i haven’t had too many good occasions to take road trips and shoot rolls and rolls of film.
a trip to marfa seemed the perfect opportunity and it didn’t disappoint.
these are contact prints of one of the rolls of film i shot. more images to follow in the weeks to come.
detail of horizontal images from above contact print
detail of horizontal image from above contact print
the austin skyline, photographed with a 4×5 camera on 3 sheets of film
i’m a photographer and teacher currently living in austin, texas. “one stop over” refers to how i like to shoot photographs, by over-exposing my images to make them a little bit brighter.
as a photographer and, especially, as a teacher, i love talking about pretty much all things photography-related–from the work i’m creating to the work others are creating, from old analog cameras and processes to the newest gear and developments in software, from current trends to old masters.
as a music lover, magazine junkie, emerging filmmaker, and fashion enthusiast, i love talking about LOTS of other things, too.
“one stop over” will be my spot to share thoughts and tips on photography and all the other things i love that will hopefully make life a little brighter for others.