Journal

Weekend Links // May 23

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Esther Havens told me she thought I should pursue more opportunities to curate. I hadn't considered that before, though I absolutely enjoy the process. There's something supremely satisfying in the finding, collecting and organizing of seemingly unrelated things.

Reflecting on that conversation, I think my love for curating is the spirit behind Weekend Links.

And, in looking at the collection of thoughts & images below, I see connection. I hope, as you read & click and click & read, you see something of the world we are all forced to create in and you will be encouraged.

It is hard. It is uncertain. It is not fair. And for most of us, we will face all of this shrouded in obscurity.

Yet, we must continue forward; we must find a way to the finish line. 

1. VII Photo

In the world of independent photo agencies, few have the mystique & talent of VII. Founded by some of the greatest names in contemporary photojournalism during the editorial explosion that swept the photo world post 9/11, VII has experienced unprecedented success.

And also, as I was very surprised to learn, has faced incredible challenges.

VII member turned co-owner, Tomas van Houtryve:

 

“It seems that the media landscape has been constantly evolving, with photographers playing catch-up. It has been a very acrobatic last eight years. Iʼve had to reinvent myself, land on my feet. Iʼve been doing it for a while on my own and I thought I would try to apply some of that thinking to the wider group.”

 

To be honest, stories like this one of photographers struggling make me feel a bit uneasy. If the likes of VII can be shaken as they have been, what chance do I have? And yet, I'm left with a sense that I'm going about it in the right way.

VII's focus has shifted to become an "incubator for new ideas rather than a place that dwells on ideas from the past." 

In many ways, reading this article gave me hope that I'm ahead of the curve in my thinking on where the industry is going & validated my desire to connect myself to the larger community through membership at WELD.

Now, if only I could create images like James Nachtwey.

2. Colbert vs Amazon

A couple weeks ago, I tweeted about Amazon's insane new patent for photographing things against a white cyc. Volumes have now been written railing against this particular patent (US Patent 8,676,045), but this video from Stephen Colbert was particularly satisfying:

On a related note, I sent the news of the patent to an IP lawyer I know. My question:

 

"How is something that is universally done by all photographers & has been used for decades can fall into the domain of patentable IP? This isn’t new or revolutionary. In any way. This seems like it should be in some sort of public domain status."

 

This was his response:

 

"I understand your question, but we see this often, that is why we fight back against patents that we see have no validity.  We can challenge them in court or back in the Patent Office, but someone has to be willing to fight."

 

3. Recalibrating Concern

This Pulitzer Center story from Jeffery Sterns on perceived dangers in conflict areas really struck a chord with me. There is a big disconnect between the news I see reported while traveling in the developing world and the news that leads the nightly broadcasts here in the States.

I've been in a situation exactly like the one Sterns leads with in his piece, but with a far worse conclusion. And knew there was no chance our incident was newsworthy.

Sterns notes that while incidents like traffic deaths go unreported, "absence of evidence wasn’t evidence of absence. It’s just that when accidental vehicle deaths have to compete on news sites with Taliban raids, suicide bombings, message-sending dismemberments and kidnappings, they have a hard time making it above the fold."

My question is this: why the obsession with police scanner stories in local American news when there are much larger issues at play? Whether it's in our newspapers or our own behavior, there needs to be a recalibration of concern, but Sterns takes it one step further:

 

We know that ignoring the dangers won’t make them disappear, but much of the world ignores them anyway; and it’s this conscious ignorance that needs recalibration.

 

4. Vivian Maier — Eye to Eye

 
 

This week, FlakPhoto's Andy Adams instagrammed a photo of a new book on Vivian Maier's work. If her name is unfamiliar to you, please take a few minutes to watch the video below. It's an introduction to the illusive, unheralded photographer whose genius went unseen until 2010.

Her work is magnificent & this particular book seems to focus on her portraits. Often considered a quiet outsider, this book reveals a different side of the enigmatic photographer:

 

"These pictures show that she yearned to connect with people around her. That she often stopped them, talked to them, and always watched closely. These inspirational pictures teach us that around every corner is a chance encounter. Somebody new. But only if we notice."

 

You can order the new book, which ships starting June 1st, here.

 
 

 

5. The Mathmatician

photo by Julia Cybularz

photo by Julia Cybularz

I discovered this beautiful series on Feature Shoot. It's a haunting portrait of a man living with schizophrenia. I was previously unaware of Julia Cybularz work, but am absolutely blown away by her delicate sense of craft,  which seems to pull no punches.

Ellen Ruddick, on Feature Shoot:

 

"The natural world, a field or a pool littered with leaves, gape back at him, the vast empty space filling with his private thoughts... Through Slaweck’s eyes, we are invited to recognize the value of those tiny, banal moments which we take for granted, to seek genuine intimacy and human connection within his wrinkled eyes."

 

6. One by One Opened

On Wednesday of last week, I wrote about my involvement with One by One. The show opened on Tuesday & has started to generate a little buzz here in Dallas. CBS has a story about the show, which runs through June 22nd at One Arts Plaza here:

[The CBS embed code is broken... so, just click this to see the story. Sorry.]

7. Midnight Finish

Just over a month before I was born, NASA launched the Voyager mission sending two probes into deep space. Thirty-six years later, they are still going & last fall, Voyager 1 became the first man-made object to leave our solar system by breaking through the heliopause into interstellar space. Well, sort of breaking into interstellar space.

 
In the end, there was general agreement that Voyager 1 was indeed outside in interstellar space... But that location comes with some disclaimers - we’re in a mixed, transitional region of interstellar space. We don’t know when we’ll reach interstellar space free from the influence of our solar bubble.
— Ed Stone, Voyager Project Scientist
 

Isn't almost everything just like that? The end of one thing is nearly indistinguishable form the beginning of another. And that was the heart behind the story I launched this week about the end of my brother-in-laws journey to Ironman Texas.

I began this post with the idea that life is hard & somehow we must press forward; we must find a way to finish. There is something of a post script to Jason's story that I feel compelled to share. And that is this:

Together  best friend by his side along with friends & family and hundred of strangers flanking the finish line, all willing the two of them to the goal — Jason heard those long coveted words, "Jason, you are an ironman."

He travelled 140.6 miles in 13:51:28 to earn those words... but that was just his heliopause. Leading to that he — along with my sister-in-law & two nephews — sacrificed time, energy & comfort for 9 months to earn those words. 

But now he's there. He's finished. He's free of the influence of the solar bubble, that thing that tells you what is and isn't possible. 

Another friend of mine, Jeremy Pope, was also there. He & his family endured a similar journey to the start. I found his post race recap to be an incredible read. There is a depth of wisdom in these words that transcend ironman and, even, sport.

 

It was an unbelievable feeling to finally have made it. To have succeeded, when so many times I wanted to quit, when I knew I would fail. Only later did I find out how many people had stayed up to watch me finish live online. It was truly humbling to know that many people cared and were pulling for me.

 

Yes we must endure, yes me must finish, but no, this is not something we do alone. We are in this together.

Find your people and let their voices fill your lungs with breath when you are deflated, align with those who will make the next few steps bearable and will be there flanking the finish line with their presence and their cheers as you break into interstellar space.

Because at that point, a whole new journey begins.

Have a great weekend, y'all.


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