May 4, 2009

Mountains and Valleys

There's a Korean saying describing sleeping arrangements for young families that goes, "the parents should be the mountains, and the children are the valley between." While the words probably sound better in Korean I like the imagery. As a kid I remember that feeling of being nestled between my parents or my grandparents as the safest most secure of hideouts. I also literally remember the adults as mountains—huge and immovable. I remember studying their arms, legs, and torsos noting patterns of freckles and wear, climbing over and around them, and even of tracing the whirls of their fingerprints. I would put my head to their chests to listen to the murmur and rumble of their internal machinery, and I would survey their slack sleeping faces inch by inch. More than once I had the thought that I should I ever get lost in the dark I could find them by scent alone. So when I wake up from a nap and sense my two year old an inch away from my face, or gently pulling at my earlobes, or studying my toes, I leave my eyes closed and play possum. I want him to make a good map.

May 5, 2009

Philippe Halsman on jumping


This is a lightly edited passage from Philippe Halsman's classic Jump Book which was published in 1959 and dedicated "To my subjects who defied gravity".

Then came the crisis which changed everything. I was commissioned by the Ford Company to photograph for its fiftieth birthday, the entire Ford family...

There was the charming matriarch of one of the great American families, and suddenly, like a pang, I felt the burning desire to photograph her jumping.

'Are you going mad, Halsman?' I asked myself. "Will you propose that she jump—a grandmother and an owner of innumerable millions of dollars?"

I asked Mrs. Edsel Ford, "May I take a picture of you jumping?"

I have never seen an expression of greater astonishment. "You want me to jump with my high heels?" she asked incredulously.

I explained that it was not obligatory. Mrs. Edsel Ford asked her children to excuse her and went with me to the hall. She took her shoes off and jumped gracefully a couple of times. Suddenly I heard the voice of Mrs. Henry Ford behid me: "May I also jump for you, Philippe?"

A year and a half later I was telling René, my brother-in-law, that I already had a collection of sixty famous jumps and that I had not met with a refusal. René who is hopelessly French answered, "America is a young nation. Inside every American is an adolescent. But try to ask a Frenchman to jump. Il te rira ua nez - he will laugh into your nose!"

The following week I had to photograph a French writer, Romain Gary, for his book jacket. Gary jumped for me several times. His jumps were both romantic and heroic. It looked as though, in mid-air he was offering his chest to enemy bullets. After the sixth jump I closed my camera. Gary asked, "May I please jump once more? I don't think I have expressed myself completely."

Vaguely Related: Bounce

May 8, 2009

Rena Effendi

The photographer collective still-dancing highlighted the work of Azerbaijani photographer Rena Effendi today. Effendi's most compelling work takes us into places most of us would have no access to, showing us the facade presented to the outside world, and then digging deeper and breaking down stereotypes and mythology in the process. As a jumping off point check out her portfolios House of Happiness and Twenty-something in Tehran, you won't be disappointed.

May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

My wife was out of town this mother's day. For her card I asked my kids to close their eyes and tell me why they love their mom. As she was on their mind, the results I think were especially true. Here are the unedited results:

Raul Andres - Age 4

Happy Mother's Day.

Dear Mom,

I love you to not wear clothes. You are like a... like a... lamp. You make me feel happy.

I want you to go in the milk and the salt.

Love Raul Andres

Now go in the sugar.

Gabriel - Age 2

Dear Mommy,

Yes. Yes. Yes. I love mommy. I love mommy, one, two, three, four, twelve!
I eat her all up.

Me Gabriel

May 12, 2009

John Thomson

Don't know if I have many readers left in Beijing, but if so, be sure to head over to the Beijing World Art Museum to check out an exhibition of work by Scottish photographer John Thomson, one of those great intrepid 19th century traveling photographers. Many of the 150+ images in the exhibition have never been shown before... Go if only to see pictures of old Beijing. Wish I could go see the show in person or at least look at more images online.

More Images: Portfolio 1, Portfolio 2, and many more hidden out there on google image search.

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