#83 Private, with Jason Langer

ON THE WALL of Jason Langer

Irving Penn, Mouth, “L’Orial advertisement” (1986)

Irving Penn, Mouth, “L’Orial advertisement” (1986)

#81 Balance with Brooks!

Color transparency film
4 x 5 in

2199 Market Street | San Francisco  from Investigation I

2199 Market Street | San Francisco

from Investigation I

4325 Ocean Blvd. | San Diego  from Investigation II

4325 Ocean Blvd. | San Diego

from Investigation II

565 Castro Street | San Francisco from Investigation II

565 Castro Street | San Francisco
from Investigation II

240 10th Street | San Francisco from Investigation III

240 10th Street | San Francisco
from Investigation III

1499 California Street | San Francisco from Investigation II

1499 California Street | San Francisco
from Investigation II

7101 International Boulevard | Oakland from Investigation II

7101 International Boulevard | Oakland
from Investigation II

Brooks Fletcher

Brooks Fletcher

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#80 Our Photo (Party) Game

On second thought, it’s not much of a game, but it is fun to try to picture these in your mind from our descriptions, and then see them here. That’s pretty much the extent of it.

Zdenko Feyfar, “Flax (near Jilemnice)” (1944)

Zdenko Feyfar, “Flax (near Jilemnice)” (1944)

Elliott Erwitt, “Siberia” (1967)

John Guttman “Omen” (1934)

Pirkle Jones, “Cowboy, AZ” (1957)

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#77 Take Her Picture. Let Her See What You See.

Prom, 2019

Prom, 2019

“Take her picture. Don’t wait for her to ask. Don’t make her sheepishly hand over her phone and pose because that’s the only way she can get a shot of herself in her life. Don’t expect her to recognize every picturesque moment. And don’t make her interrupt those moments to snap a selfie. …

So take her picture when she’s with her babies. Take her picture when she’s laughing, and cooking, and sitting across the table from you. Take her picture when she’s doing something she loves, and when she’s looking at people she loves. Take her picture when she’s simply walking down the street. Take her picture. Let her see what you see.”

— @sundays_are_for_lovers

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#76 Not Quite the Quote Show

Suzanne Saturated, by Rubin, After Recording

Suzanne Saturated, by Rubin, After Recording

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
Dorothea Lange


·       “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”
— Annie Leibovitz

·       “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
— Diane Arbus

Imogen Cunningham, “Unmade Bed” (1957)

Imogen Cunningham, “Unmade Bed” (1957)

·       “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind

If you like our show, please subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcasting app, and please rate the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Neomodern Facebook group to discuss the show, share your photos, hear about specials for printing or framing your best images. Thank you!

#75 Risk, with Documentarian Andrea Pritchard

Yunghi Kim (2018) by Andrea Pritchard

Yunghi Kim (2018) by Andrea Pritchard

Photojournalists Alexandra Avakian, Carol Guzy and Yunghi Kim reveal their stories. What drives them to the frontline and keeps them returning. A documentary that gives insight into a very small group of brave and passionate women committed to the engagement of conflict, even after all the other cameras are gone. An intimate portrait about a select group of story tellers.  A documentary by Andrea Pritchard

Photojournalists Alexandra Avakian, Carol Guzy and Yunghi Kim reveal their stories. What drives them to the frontline and keeps them returning. A documentary that gives insight into a very small group of brave and passionate women committed to the engagement of conflict, even after all the other cameras are gone. An intimate portrait about a select group of story tellers.

A documentary by Andrea Pritchard

Yunghi Kim, Carol Guzy and Alexandra Avakian


Bruce Davidson “ Brooklyn Gang” (couple necking in car) ( 1959)

Bruce Davidson “Brooklyn Gang” (couple necking in car) (1959)

If you like our show, please subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcasting app, and please rate the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Neomodern Facebook group to discuss the show, share your photos, hear about specials for printing or framing your best images. Thank you!

#74 Genuine, with photojournalist David Burnett

“That’s Dave Burnett — he’s the guy who walks into a room and disappears.”

— Some senator’s press secretary

See David Burnett in person on July 11 in San Francisco at the Leica Gallery


50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, photos by David Burnett

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David Burnett is a photojournalist with more than 5 decades of work covering the news, the people, and visual tempo of our age. He is co-founder of Contact Press Images,the New York based photojournalism agency, now entering its 44th year. American Photo magazine named Burnett one of the "100 Most Important People in Photography." (That made his mom very happy.)  In the spring of 2019, David was officially named an "Artisan of Imagery" with the Sony professional photographers group.  

In the spring of 2018, David was awarded the Sprague Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Press Photographers Assn., though he claims he is now trying to figure out what his subsequent 'lifetime' work will be. here is a link to that announcement at the Northern Shortcourse... Here on this site are images of history unfolding: war, sport, politics, the famous, the infamous, and the Unfamous. Work is constantly being added, so come back and see one person's view of what our world of the past 50+ years looks like.  The last few years, David worked with Photographers for Hope to create a workshop for homeless news vendors in Glasgow, Scotland, and in 2017 the P4H team descended on Newburgh, NY, capturing the revival of a great American City. There,  they shot for two weeks and produced a 100 print show at the Ann St. Gallery followed by a book of those images -- "Newburgh Rising" -- which was published -- in 2018.

For a quick tour of the last 50 years, in David's Pictures, have a look here:

“The one advantage of digital is you know right away if you’ve screwed up.”

— Burnett, paraphrasing David Hume Kennerly

He has recently taught workshops at the festival in Dubai - a long way on an airplane to get there but really great fun, and the "Big Game" workshop at Stanford University - Palo Alto. It was great fun, following the century old Cal-Stanford football rivalry. He writes, too - sort of -- check out the blog ( ) he writes with his wife Iris.

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Burnett (at right) with Peak Design founder Peter Dering (by Rubin, Carmel, 2019)

Burnett (at right) with Peak Design founder Peter Dering (by Rubin, Carmel, 2019)

Burnett’s amazing camera (by Rubin, Carmel, 2019)

Burnett’s amazing camera (by Rubin, Carmel, 2019)

In case you missed it: Manhattanhenge:

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Flip Schulke, “Muhammad Ali Under Water”

Flip Schulke, “Muhammad Ali Under Water”

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#73 Seductive, with artist Rachael Dunville

Connection, Relationship, Intimacy, & Storytelling

Rachael Dunville, “Sim” (2006)  Chromogenic Print   ON HER WALL

Rachael Dunville, “Sim” (2006) Chromogenic Print


“I’ve never met a stranger.”

— Rachael Dunville (quoting her mom)



CAROLYN and I conspired, long before the immediacy of the selfie-culture, to chronicle our overlapping obsessions—portraiture and her own disarming image.  

Since 2003, I've provoked my timeless, exhibitionist friend, exploring her projections of femininity, vanity, motherhood, and maturity. 

Objectifying her willing figure, I’ve observed the nuances of her illustrative gesture, her unabashed aging.  Decorative garments, or lack thereof, fail to disguise the tenor of her countenance, weaving between terse, lascivious, overwhelmed, or even void. 

These fifteen-years have revolutionized the medium of photography and witnessed the rise of digital narcissism in tandem with Carolyn’s vulnerable confessions.  I, too, shifted perspectives from behind my various lenses—from curious admirer to privileged spectator, from fellow collaborator to dedicated confidant.

What remains is an ongoing portrait of complicated, transformative self-identity as an Xennial woman.


Nicholas Nixon “Sisters” (1978 Harwich Port, Mass. and 2010, Truro, Mass.)

Harry Callahan, “Eleanor”

Show Me State

SHOW ME STATE is an ongoing, 20+ year portrait of the Missourian allure in which I grew up and to which I belong.  With striking impunity, its residents (friends, strangers, and intimates) gaze straight into the camera, and therefore, straight into me.  This oscillating event, of looking and being-seen, circulates desire and tension—fundamental to the act of making a portrait.

In an era where reticence and obscurity define our mortal guise, where personal significance is tangled between selfies and self-worth, these individuals evince unflinching presence, eccentricity, curiosity, and vulnerability. 

Unveiled in our hushed interface is a state of emotional undress, an intuitive exchange, a subtle seduction between willing participants.  


Matthew Pillsbury, “HBO’s Rome. Thursday October 13th 2005, 12-12:50am” from the “Screen Lives” series.

Matthew Pillsbury, “HBO’s Rome. Thursday October 13th 2005, 12-12:50am” from the “Screen Lives” series.

Katy Grannan, Claire (Burned) Baker Beach (2006), from  The Westerns

Katy Grannan, Claire (Burned) Baker Beach (2006), from The Westerns

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#72 Seeing: Your Eye is Not a Camera

This was a magical tree, in beautiful light. But it looks flat and unfocused here. What gives?

This was a magical tree, in beautiful light. But it looks flat and unfocused here. What gives?

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#71 Living on Both Sides of the Lens: Meet Ellian Raffoul


Shooting on Instagram:

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Modeling on Instagram: @ellian.raffoul

Modeling contact: @scoutmodelagency 

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If you like our show, please subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcasting app, and please rate the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Neomodern Facebook group to discuss the show, share your photos, hear about specials for printing or framing your best images. Thank you!

#70 Where the Photo Meets the Frame: Meet Artist Jefferson Hayman


“Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style.” – Chuck Close


William Joseph McCloskey's 1890 trompe l'oeil still life “Oranges in Tissue Paper”

William Joseph McCloskey's 1890 trompe l'oeil still life “Oranges in Tissue Paper”

Robert Frank - Pedestrian Crossing Center White Line on 34th Street, NY, 1948.

The version I am more familiar with…

The version I am more familiar with…

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art and  The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Together, by Jefferson Hayman

Together, by Jefferson Hayman

Leaned Photos .jpg


The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.” ― Chuck Close


Speaker 1:               OPENING

Rubin:                        Hey Suzanne.

Suzanne:                  Hey Rubin.

Rubin:                        How are you doing this morning?

Suzanne:                  Doing really well. How are you?

Rubin:                        I'm good. Um, today we have a very different show and I'm very excited to introduce to you Jefferson Hayman. Hey Jefferson (Hello). So Jefferson, I mean, let's see how to introduce you properly. I, uh, you know, I grew up with this collection. My father, you know, has been collecting stuff since I was young, but um, around the late nineties, I guess it was the beginning of 2000, um, uh, new artists showed up in our, in our work. And I remember kind of putting these pictures into the database and they were haunting and um, really, uh, magical. And I saw the name Jefferson Hayman and like everybody in our collection, I just assumed it was like a dead guy from the turn of the century. They had, everybody thinks they have a kind of a Stieglitz, um, pictorial quality, some of that early 2000 stuff.

Rubin:                        Uh, anyway, I didn't know who it was and I really liked it. And then there's this moment about, I don't know, five or six years ago when I was at apad in New York and met you, I was like, "oh my God, you're alive."

Suzanne:                  Which has gotta be the craziest thing for someone to say to you when they first meet you.

Rubin:                        Yes. Yeah. You're living, you're still alive. So Jefferson, I love your photography and youre in our collection, but your, your work in the past bunch of years is sort of qualitatively different. The, the pictures feel very similar and they have the same kind of hauntingness, but you've done something that I've never seen anyone else really do. And that is this pairing with framing, with the frames. Can you, so who are you and how did, where did you come from and what are you doing and all that? Can you, can you talk about that?

Jefferson:                 Absolutely. First. I totally forgot to say thank you. I'm delighted to be on and talking with both of you. This is, this is really thrilling for me. Um, and I always enjoy talking about my work and Michael, I just, uh, I have to say before I forget, I just absolutely adore what you're doing, you know, just everything. It's really inspiring. (Thank you very much. Um, you know, we all love photography. Come on.) We do you think that's the common thread? Absolutely. So, um, yeah, so just to touch upon what you said earlier, you know, I consider the guys like Strand, Stieglitz and Steichen, the, the old masters on photography. I always, always, always returned to them as a source of inspiration and that, and frankly as a knowledge base in terms of a way of seeing, like I, I don't think that they really followed trends as much as they just had a strong way of seeing the world light and shadow and composition and it informed everything, you know. Um, and like I said, I always go back to them. They're always, um, something that I can find as a, as a source of inspiration and renewed interest.

Rubin:                        Um, and I, and I feel the same way. There's something about that work that's so inspiring. It's so elegant and it's not like conceptual photography, it's just beautiful photography.

Suzanne:                  What's interesting about both of you though too, is you both have a de Saturated Palette and so there's kind of this timelessness to both of your ways of shooting and what your, or what you're shooting and what you're producing.

Rubin:                        Yeah, yeah. Anyway, sorry, Jefferson, continue.

Jefferson:                 Oh, no, that's quite all right. So, and to answer your, um, the second part of the question about my frames is what I became intrigued on earlier on in my career was ways and mechanisms and methods to make my addition of prints, whether they be additions of nine, 12, 25, more of a unique statement within that addition. And what I eventually came up with after kind of years of kicking around ideas was to use the frame as that mechanism. So, um, I would buy antique frames at flea markets and online and then I would hang them on my studio walls and my apartment --empty--and they would inform, um, the longer I looked at them, what they should hold, the cityscape, a seascape, still lives or portraits. And then I would take the sizes of those frames to the darkroom with me because at that time I was, I was analog only, um, and I would print my prints to fit that format and crop them. And then what you'd have is something that was kind of a unique statement within an addition. Like W I would still call in addition to have nine or four of nine, but collectors started to realize that hey, this is really something interesting and I have to be honest. Then also helped with sales because you know, collectors would see this and they would realize that the next one's going to be different and if they wanted it and really had that desire to live with it, then they needed to jump on it. Right then.

Rubin:                        That's so interesting. It's interesting to me because so many photographers, fine art photographers struggle with honestly. How do you, how do you sell your work? How do you get noticed? How do you get collected? I've seen wonderful photographers just give up at sub point where they just, it's just so hard and I feel like you have really um, found something cool and brought new life to two already. Wonderful photography. But I can't get over how amazing the pairing of the frame and the image. It's like sculpture meets, meets the photography and so I liked what dot Jefferson was saying that they are truly unique combinations and it tells, it even tells more story. That's, and your pictures. Tell me about the pictures. I mean they're, they're isolated and simple and sometimes it's just a, a shot of ocean water or who hat or like there was one that was just three blueberries on the tea on a table or something. And again, you'd never think of putting up a picture of three blueberries. Like what, what is that? But in the, this sort of white frame at that feels almost like a Maine countryside day and it probably back to collecting blueberries in May, like in a way that a picture wouldn't have done.

Jefferson:                 Right. I mean that's, and um, that's a great question because I think that, what am I about to say is a, is kind of a cliche for photographers and that phrases that I use the camera as a visual journal. Um, basically any car, any guys ever picked up a camera or girl can say the same. Okay. Obviously we're documenting our life on our travels in our existence, but what I want to do is a little bit more meta with that. Like the, like, I'm really, really, really just getting spa inspired by what's around me, the blueberries, the raspberries, uh, the series on apples. Um, my son, who's now seven, he goes through these phases where he gets a little obsessed over a certain foods and he'll eat them nonstop for a few weeks. And that is the reasoning behind those subjects. He was eating blueberries all the time. And you know, as I would get him ready to go off to school, I just, I'd see these blueberries getting hit by this morning, sunlight and think, well, Jeez, that, that's my next subject, you know, and off you'd go to school and I would take his blueberries that were uneven and form them into his fill life. Now that is where the artist comes in because I can't tell you Michael, how long it took me to arrange those three simple blueberries. So it was just so, I mean, like all the little compositional elements that, that drive me nuts sometimes searching for diagonals, spacing between the objects, you know, that's where the, um, the work really comes in. Uh, or I guess you could say the, the artistry. Um, and you know, you just keep shooting and shooting and shooting until it's right. Um, the same thing with my hats and my shoes. You know, the seascapes or all trips to visit my parents who live in Virginia Beach. Um, the solitary objects, like coffee cups or whatever, or my coffee cups, the shoes, they're all my shoes. I wear one pair of shoes until I can't wear them anymore. And then they become a still life objects, you know? And then it just kind of documents my time here on this planet.

Rubin:                        Wow. So all of your pictures are real, are real moments of your experience as opposed to you get up and you think, what can I shoot? Like I'm going to go look for, for a cool scene. You're actually finding in what is really happening, the elements that become your still lifes? Yes.

Jefferson:                 I would say about 95% of the time. That's true. I can't light sometimes getting totally inspired by an image that I see either a photograph or a painter and then having to essentially recreate that. Almost like a catharsis, tend to get it out of my system, if you know what I mean. Like sometimes I got, I can't even remember the last one. Um, oh, it was a, I was a painting that I saw by uh, oh what? I'm Joseph mccloskey, a California painter who specialized in painting, painting oranges [inaudible] and that was his recipe. He, he knew how to paint oranges like nobody and he made an entire career off of it. And Joseph are mccloskey, I think is his name. And I remember seeing a painting of his, and I thought, this is so amazing that I have to do this. So I went out and bought oranges and I went to my backyard and I took stems off of trees and I superglued them into the art just to make them look like real orange stems. I'm still waiting for that orange expert to call me out on that by the way, are not orange stems. Um, anyway, so I arranged it just so, and then like a, like a song that is stuck in your subconscious. I, I was able to get that, that painting out of my brain.

Suzanne:                  I love that metaphor of, it's kind of like a songwriter, you know, where you're just like, yes, at this beginning of a melody and you take that in, you're sort of working through it, working through it, and then you have that breakthrough and it's like, I'm going to take existing oranges and other branches and find the light, find the, I loved how you described the diagonals and things like that. Can you talk more about what you look for when you're making art?

Jefferson:                 Sure. Um, so I'm, I'm, I don't know if I ever told you this, but you know, I'm not a, I'm a self taught photographer. I have a degree in drawing. Um, and I studied a lot of art history and I did a lot of painting as well. I came to photography later in life. So, um, formal compositional skills were kind of, I'm eating into my subconscious by my professors and I'm so glad that that was the case because I actually think that composition is one of the great untaught skills in, in art school these days.

Rubin:                        Can, can I interject in there? So yeah, composition and teaching composition are sort of issues for me. And I'm always curious about how photographers approached this. Do you, um, subscribe to the idea that there are like formal rules of composition that students, if photography should learn or its composition and emergent property of organizing stuff and it, I mean, how do you think about composition? Is the rule of thirds important? Is a leading lines important?

Jefferson:                 Yes, all the above. And when I teach, sometimes I do a private one on one, uh, photography tutorials. And when I hear myself trying to teach composition, I mean you guys are probably the same. It's almost like it's a, it's a bizarre language that makes no sense. Because what I always find myself saying is, will in composition never do this unless it works? And, and always, always, always do this unless it doesn't work out because you always have that thing where like Michael, one of the images of mind that you mentioned earlier on that that solitary tree in central park, that's breaking the first rule of composition. You don't want to put something dead center unless of course it works, but you know, which it did in that case

Suzanne:                  actually that tree is in... Rubin put together a list of like the top 50 photos too, be that you should see and that you should look at to see photography differently. And that image is one of them.

Jefferson:                 Oh God, I'm honored that it's in the 50. Um, yeah.

Rubin:                        But okay, Jefferson, I'm going to go to the mat on this one.

Suzanne:                  This is the third. Isn't it different than saying I was like, oh, Rubin's gonna flip...

Rubin:                        You know, I just don't buy it. I don't, my argument is that it's not helpful to photography students to think about, to have in their head these ideas like leading lines and rules, rules of thirds because uh, in reality that isn't, I don't think that's how you compose a picture. You and the reason why you say here's a rule, but until it doesn't work, I think that's actually sort of Monday morning quarterback and you're sort of saying do what works. And sometimes it, it fits this and sometimes it doesn't. And so to me, the composition is really about taking the objects you want to put in the frame and moving them around in the frame effectively until, you know, what can I say? There's a harmonious thing happening there in some way. It doesn't mean you're putting the subject or that you can even isolate a subject. Your pictures are very simple, but for most photographers, they are, do not have the luxury of an isolated object in a neutral field where you can put that object to anywhere in the field. The reality is it's you have a bunch of objects and you're moving them all, you buy perspective. And parallax to occupy different parts of the frame until they, Ikebana-like have balance and harmony and something, right. Isn't that a better way to teach beginners then to tell them to put a subject at a one third point in the frame or to look for a line?

Jefferson:                 Absolutely. Again, to get back what I mentioned to about, uh, the term ways of seeing, um, I think that's what needs to be taught and there is, there is once you get a composition, um, you just get it and you'll be able to realize that's something just works because it works and that's what you run with. But I am totally in agreement with you Michael, about rules of third and um, the golden section. They can be quite limiting. And I also think that they can provide a false confidence. I think that, um, students will say, oh, it has to be good at, it's on the rule of thirds or this is the golden mean proportion. So there I'm done, you know, and then not say like, uh, it does this really work. I mean, and the interesting thing about this is years ago I was at Christie's and um, uh, I, I would assume everyone's a big Robert Frank Fan.

Jefferson:                 So obviously I've adored Robert Frank since I could, uh, uh, understand about photography. And Lo and behold, on the wall was a contact sheet by Robert Frank and it was a mind blowing experience for me because I saw the image that he chose, but the rest of that role of 24 or 36, we're the ones that he decided not to go with. And they were very, very, very close. And when I saw the one that I knew, I would like, wow, now you get inside of Robert's brain and you understand that why he chose that composition because it had a more dominant diagonal and there was also a little bit of motion blur on the, on the subject. And it was, it was just enlightening. And um, and you get to see like that's what, that's how the grapes thing, that's how they make their decisions.

Speaker 2:               Huh. Oh, I wanted to ask, I'm like, what is your contact sheet look like for the blueberries? Well, it's, it's a lot more than 24, 36. I have to tell you, how long did it take you to get that shot?

Jefferson:                 Oh God, that was only maybe three or four years ago. Um, I don't know how to answer that because I only use natural light and I have a front porch that is, um, filled with antique window panes on three sides. So the light changes and shifts every 15 minutes as the sun moved. So, um, I just kind of roll with it. I set up my camera on a tripod, I shoot with a bounce, you know, like a piece of foam core. Basically. It's all very simple. And then I come back and 15 minutes to shoot again and to rearrange and, and then it goes to the editing process, kind of, you know, the same thing that we were talking about with Robert Frank's contact sheet. You, you almost get a second shot that's around to write for the editing process. And then for me, I actually get a third round, which the frame sometimes dictates a final composition.

Rubin:                        Interesting. It's so funny because I have two kind of competing thoughts. So first, Robert, frank, um, so you know, my father got a bunch of Robert Franks and uh, one of our favorite pictures was, is called street line. I don't know if you remember this picture. It's a vertical shot and uh, there's a person walking across the street and there's just this long line down the middle of the streets. We get to support. Yeah. Okay.

Speaker 2:               It's a cool shot. But, um, the picture that we own is not the, like I googled it once to sort of, because I was putting it into this database and I googled it. And the picture that is famous isn't the one we have. It's the one that's famous is I think the frame or right before it. And the one that we have, he only made a couple of, and I don't know why he only made a couple of them because I, I mean, maybe because I grew up with it, I like it a lot more than the one that's famous. But that's so interesting to me that compositionally just very subtly different. And maybe he was wrestling, I mean like a lot of photographers, you'd probably printed both of them and stared at them for awhile until you decided which is the one he wanted to I don't know, putting the show or something like that or sell to somebody actually.

Suzanne:                  Actually Jefferson, I'd love to know a little bit more about your background, obviously with photography. Um, that has one sort of aspect of being an artist in a, in a visual, a creator or visual maker. But as far as this sort of foray into combining photography and the visual image with almost sculpture with these frames that you're finding and sourcing and making that connection between the two. Is Sculpture Part of your background?

Jefferson:                 No, it's not. Um, drawing, painting and art history. Our, our, um, our, our, what I studied in school and I came to photography later in life. Um, I, I hadn't done that much sculpture, but I will say a little word about the framing and, uh, it just kind of, some of it came to me and kind of a very serendipitous way was that when I was early. Um, early on in my career I would want to get my work framed, whether it be my photographs or my drawings. And if you walk into a frame shop, um, you know, you're starting to look at something that's like $100 just to start, but I could walk into the Chelsea flea markets in New York City and find an antique frames for $5. And that frame came with its own size that I would have to work backwards into. But it also came with its own story and its own character and its own personality and sometimes even its own family photograph placed inside of it. So I could know who owned it beforehand. And a lot of that, um, can influence and inform my work.

Suzanne:                  Oh, that's so interesting. So if you buy a frame and it has a family photo in it, um, what, like what does that lend itself to that you wanted then put inside? Can you give an example of a piece where you've done where you've done that?

Jefferson:                 Sure. Well, um, it just kinda lends a magic I have to say is if I know I'm that undefinable term, right. If I know or see an image of the family that you know, once owned this frame and possessed it 120 years ago, um, it just, to me, it makes it a little bit more special. And I remember that like, I remember all the frames that have come through my hands. Um, and like, here's, here's an example is one frame that I took apart recently. I, um, you know, how the back of the frame people will use newsprint or basically whatever is around to kind of fill the space in the back of the frame. So I was taking the frame apart and there was a little girl's homework in there from 1896 96. Yeah. And she was doing arithmetic and she was doing, um, penmanship and her handwriting was impeccable.

Jefferson:                 I mean, it was stunning, absolutely stunning. And this little yellow piece of paper was an actually pretty good shape because it was kind of, um, not completely hermetically sealed, but it was, it was in case. So, uh, I found this page and I hung up in my studio wall. And it just, things like that are those little magic moments that you can find. Um, I also sometimes you find the handwriting on the back of the frame or newsprint, um, that they use to kind of cover the art, really fascinating kind of a, of a provenance of each piece.

Suzanne:                  Can you just kind of the frame that had the little girl's homework in it and then what piece of yours you ended up putting in that frame?

Jefferson:                 Sure. Um, it actually, um, it led me to think that I needed to put something special in it. So, uh, I had figured that this girl was in a rural area because a lot of the terminology she was using were, um, farming a measurement. Like, uh, I can remember a Bushel and pack like I have. Yeah. From guys and dolls. Yeah. Oh, I see. I never, I heard of a Bushel, but I never heard of pack is a unit of measurement before. Anyway, I'm a lot of these farming on agricultural terms were on this page, so I thought it fitting to include a landscape in this. And now I'm a little bit of a frame historian. So, um, the date on the homework was, I believe it was either 1896 or 1892 and the frame was that same exact period. So I, I knew that this was, um, you know, special and I knew it was, uh, um, you know, belonging to them.

Rubin:                        And what did you put in it? The landscape?

Jefferson:                 I put on a very subdued and serene landscape.

Rubin:                        Wow. I mean all your stuff is kind of subdued and serene. That almost be the, the terms I'd use to describe. Okay, wait, you do these limited editions, like you might do six or eight or whenever you were saying there, but if each frame is unique and it sort of dictates what picture goes in it, how do you navigate that? Because he might have that blueberry picture, but that's not going to go in every frame or is it, does it transfer?

Jefferson:                 There's so much variance in my work. Um, not only does each piece gets it and get its own frame within the addition, but size is also very within the addition. Um, so I can make a postage stamp sized print if it's readable in that size and I can also make it as a 30 by 40 or 40 by 60. Um, if it works. So there is um, there's, there's a variance there and I have to admit that I enjoy doing that because what it allows me to do is I price my work based mostly on the size of the print and then the frame, the rarity of the frame also has a little bit in secondary influence on the price. But I like being able to offer a lower priced and smaller print, to people who could not afford a 30 by 40 because what that allows for me to do is to allow anyone the ability to acquire my work. And I really enjoy that because I don't, I've never believed that art is, is like an elitist thing. I think that everyone should be able to afford it and live with it in some manner.

Rubin:                        And photography in particular is a, is a popular started for many, uh, not only can anyone own it, but almost anyone can do it and decorate their own home with it if they were so inclined.

Jefferson:                 Correct. Yeah.

Suzanne:                  Well I think what's interesting too from like the consumer point of view is it's two fold. One is if you're buying a print or you have a Brenton, how do you frame it to be what you want. But with this it's like you get the artist's intent. Like this is truly what they intended, the complete artwork to hang on your wall. Um, it's actually a perfect segue to a question we love asking. What is a photograph that you have hanging on your wall that is just your favorite or truly inspirational to you? Could you describe it? And then we'll ask you to send us a photo too so we can put it in our show notes.

Jefferson:                 Oh. Oh boy. Okay. So you've really stumped me now because we're in the middle of a home move. Um, so everything is kind of in boxes and moving around. Um, as I'm doing this, I'm looking around to see if there's anything. Um,

Rubin:                        and we usually, um, by the way designate two images. One that's one of your pictures that you have up. Like what's a picture of yours that you have displayed on your own wall and what's a photograph? These are photographs that someone else has done that you keep displayed on your wall.

Jefferson:                 Oh, okay. Well, um, for the one that's my photographs, um, this one is a slightly larger than usual work. I'm looking at it right now and it's called Together and it shows two vintage hats. One is a top hat and one is a bowler hat and they're sitting on top of each other. And um, yeah, one one's on top of the other and it's called together. Is the Bowler on top? Not that on top of, yeah, the, the bowlers on top. Yep. And um, the title is important, um, as I described the story because, um, and also I must say, I'll send you an image of this, but the image is, is, is it truly looks like it's a 19th century piece. I really pulled out the stops on this one in both toning the print and finding a frame that was majestic and really important. So I can recall that the origin of this piece, I can recall, uh, watching a video clip when New York state, uh, legalized marriage equality and governor Cuomo was trying to gather the final vote that would allow this. And he was either at a table or a podium, I mean this is, this was many years ago, but he was banging his fist trying to try to get his guys on board to pass this legislation. And when he did, he was, he was just elated. He shouted into the microphone. New York is now a marriage equality state. And I was watching this going, wow, this is a real moment in history. So then I thought like, well, how can I incorporate this into my work? So I took two symbols of, of masculinity, basically masculine object or a bowler hat and the top hat, I've put them one on top of the other on a white background and I called it together and it's a very kind of subtle thing. Like, not everyone gets it unless I really tell that story because it just looks like a pair of men's hats. Brilliant man. But there's symbolism behind it. There's current events behind it and um, I'm able to use that, incorporate it into my work while at the same time producing an object that looks like it's from 1864 or something.

Rubin:                        It's, I mean, again, uh, Robert Frank and digression, my fit. I think my favorite photo in the ever that I have ever owned is Robert Frank's a picture called The city of London or The Banker. Oh yes. And it's a guy in a top hat walking down the street in London, drenched in fog and it feels like it's from the turn of the century. I believe he shot it in the 50s, but it has that same feeling like that must be a hundred years old. You know, it's just magical. But yes, I am looking forward to seeing your picture. I've um, what's the one that is not by you That's up.

Jefferson:                 Um, okay. Let me look around. Um, so those, that, those, the little girl's homework, does that count? Does it up? You gotta grab it? No, it's not a photograph. Let me go down to my studio here and uh, look around.

Suzanne:                  They should have like a walking there. Can you describe your studio? What is your, what is your studio like?

Jefferson:                 Sure. All right. So it's a pure mess as any artist studios should be. Um, because I'm a framer and a photographer, both worlds collide in my studio. So there are boxes of glass and there are broken apart frames and there are frames that are partially restored and being, um, coated with oil and Shellac. And then there's the whole other side that has stacks and stacks and stacks of prints. Um, my latest book is, is out here as well, stacked up. And um, I have a chair to meditate in. I meditate every morning. Excellent. To kind of get my focus down. Um, and then there are all these objects. There's a sailor hats and a vintage shoes and vintage cameras and old wine bottles, um, dug up from the earth. Uh, there is a comb that used to belong to my father. Um, all these little things that mean things and that I've kind of shown my path through the years as an artist and as a human.

Rubin:                        That's cool. I was inspired by the way you isolate these family objects. A picture that I did around that time that I saw your early, this work, um, was an object of my fathers, uh, did I did at, um, just to when he had died and it was, it's a worry grinder. It's a strange object that he and my mom found an Iowa in the sick in the fifties or sixties, and I photographed it the way I think you might've photographed it and hmm. Uh, I think of you whenever I actually, I mean it's in that I can see the inspiration in that, uh, that isolated cool objects, but it's different than if I just found something at a flea market myself. It's important because it was my parents object and that I grew up with it.

Jefferson:                 Exactly. Yeah. That you just reminded me of, of something that I, I hope I don't get off on a tangent. You go for it. I'm the photographer. I'm Ralph Gibson. Has a theory that, I'm kind of paraphrasing here, so forgive me if I don't get it completely right, but he has a theory that the artist I, the artists, I activate an object and I know that that gets into a little bit of the metaphysical realm. But I think what he is saying is, is that because an artist is looking at a subject or letting it pass through his, his mind and I that in some way it lends a little bit of that indescribable magic to that object.

Suzanne:                  How is that making sense? Absolutely. Yeah. It's just kind of, yeah, I'm really taking that in and mine sort of blown. It's like the idea of an artist is able to activate an object or even a person with their gaze and if they're capturing that moment, then the, that's how they share that activation with the world.

Rubin:                        Interesting. I think of that. Um, I, I've often felt that when you're looking through your pictures, you're trying to find the great one. Like you know, the street line from Robert Frank or all that. You look through all of your pictures and you say, this is the iconic picture, this is the gorgeous picture that's going to, that's way better than the rest. And sometimes I might argue they're all great. It's impossible to discern any difference. It's like two roads, partying in the woods from Robert Frost. There are identical and yet by choosing one that's made all the different scents. And I would say that when you choose a picture to print and make that the print that you've chosen that imbues it with this specialness.

Suzanne:                  But even the straight line, as you said, there's multiple prints of this. There's multiple frames that he's chosen, right? You have a different one.

Rubin:                        I do have a different one, but, but it's not like you're trying to find the great picture. You make it the great picture by printing it and deciding it is, I think that's a version of what Gibson saying in some way. Yeah, the magic from the process. It's not a merchant of the object.

Suzanne:                  What I liked about what Jeff said earlier to, sorry, we're talking over you. I'm just like what he said, but you, you sort of described your process in three phases. Like one is taking the picture when he's editing the picture and then one is a further edit when you're pairing it with the frame, it's multiple rounds of almost activation or process curation.

Jefferson:                 Yes. Yeah. And I also have to say that at each round, failure can occur and you know, failure is, is right around the corner and how you can get to this third stage. You know, like, I'm so close to my work as all artists are that, you know, I think I have this great union of image and frame and print and all together and I send it off to exhibitions and it comes back, you know, um, and it keeps coming back and nobody wants to live with it. And then what I have to do is kind of re-examine it. Like, did I not do this right or should I reexamined this or, or whatever. It's just, it's such an amazing process.

Suzanne:                  Did we get to actually do the other photo that wasn't his, oh yeah. What was the other picture?

Jefferson:                 No, we didn't. Um, let's see. You know, um, I am, I have to admit, I'm drawing a little bit of a blank on that.

Rubin:                        You can't look around. There's nothing on your wall. You can look up at it and say, oh, that one. Well, and to be fair, he's moving. It's all in boxes.

Jefferson:                 Yeah. That's why it's so hard. MMM. Um, you know what, um, yeah, here, here is one. Um, there is a photograph. It can it be a photograph just not mine. Yes, absolutely. That's the point of me. Yeah. Um, so we live on a historic street. Uh, we live right outside of New York City and this area was a very important during the American revolution. And, um, you've all heard of the American, a trader or Benedict Arnold? Correct. Okay. So Benedict Arnolds conspirator, his liaison was a British spy named Major John Andre. And I'm Benedict Arnold got away, but Major John Andre didn't, he got caught with the plans that Benedict Arnold gave him hidden in his boot and he got caught around here and they caught him and they tried him for treason and the local tavern, which is, um, I can see it outside my window and they, um, they found him guilty and they marched him up, uh, in front of my house in the year 1780 and hanged him and buried him there. Wow. And, um, his existence on this planet and the fact that he got caught with the secret plans is basically the history of this country. Like had he gotten away and never been caught, we would have lost the war. It was, there was that pivotal, that important. And the fact that I'm looking out at his monument right now out the side of our house window is, is really amazing. So over the years people have known that, uh, we live right near this historical marker and they have sent us little momentos little postcards and books and everything about, um, Major John Andre. And, uh, that's what I'm looking at right now on my wall, a, a vintage postcard of the monument.

Suzanne:                  Cool. Great. Sorry, I have goosebumps to be honest. That's really cool. Um, I have another question. Your work is so powerful almost in its subtlety and beauty and sort of stillness. I find myself looking at these images with them, seeing them on Instagram or whatever, but much longer than I look at other images. How would you describe your work in one word?

Jefferson:                 I describe my work. Boy, that is a tough one. Um, I would have to go with peaceful. Hmm. Yeah. Or now that I said that, now I'm going to change it to meditative.

Rubin:                        Okay. I find it ironic that your photographs are the, I mean I, I think of you as a photographer even though they are these sort of multi, uh, mixed media creations really with the frames that um, they're so simple, you know, like three blueberries or an empty thing. And yet I feel myself looking at them for a long time in the way that you would normally think. You look at a picture that has a lot of complexity that there's a lot going on and, and you're, you want to print it out to kind of feel then all the little nuances in there, but your pictures are so simple and yet they still command that kind of, um, falling into them and spending time with them. Experience, which I find so ironic.

Suzanne:                  You are using a word earlier before we started recording about this idea of drift. And I felt that that was a great word for his work where you sort of just drifted in and it felt like almost like time sort of move was still moving, but it was very slow and you got sucked in

Rubin:                        drift. I was point, I showed her, I shook Jefferson, I showed her the picture from about 2003 maybe. I'm certain it's New York. It's like a building and a blimp. And the building. Oh yes. Quite vertical in the blimp is not quite horizontal. It, whenever I look at that, it's like I remember it all the time ever. In fact, every time I see a blimp I think of it. But um, yeah, it just is, it's like a leaf in a still thing of water, but it's not still, it's just move. It's just moving a little bit

Suzanne:                  was like, I stare at the pictures of hoping something will change, like a shadow will shift slightly or the way we'll move. Like I just expect that to happen.

Rubin:                        Well, think about Fred Barnes stuff. Remember we interviewed a photographer a couple weeks ago and he creates animations out of his still images, but they move slowly. It's like he's doing what you do, but with video, like he's trying to create that and using real motion to make it happen and you're doing it in a still image, if that makes any sense. Oh, I love it. I'd love to see his work. Well it's a couple episodes ago. We will connect to you. Yes. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love that spark to Michael. Okay. Oh sorry. I love that term drift by the way. Love it. Do you, do you, does that resonate with your, like as you think about your, I mean I don't see the drift maybe in like the blueberry picture, earth earth. Some of them they, but they again, they, they pull you in. Maybe the drift is not, it's not literal.

Suzanne:                  You are using it as like a literal, like a, an alignment, um, word. But then the way I interpreted it was, and I was like, Oh, I love that word for him. Cause it was almost like my ex, my feeling as I sort of fell into it and I was waiting for again, like that little bit of motion. Like you're drifting.

Rubin:                        Yeah. The tiny, tiny like Brownie in motion, you know, the, yeah, kind of movement. Um, can you tell me a little, so you photograph all these still objects. I don't think of you as a portrait photographer, a landscape photographer in any kind of classical sense. Maybe, maybe you're a still life photographer and yet you have this other set of pictures of your children and yes, they're just gorgeous. As you would imagine, they would be from a wonderful photographer who has a sense of drift. I guess you just been shooting your kids, like your daughter's become a supermodel from this, is that right?

Jefferson:                 Yeah. Um, yes, they're a constant, constant source of inspiration and I eventually plan to do a book, um, showing all these years of works of me documenting their, um, their, uh, their lives and everything. Um, but yes, my, my daughter, I'm oddly enough, um, my daughter named Harper. Uh, she's 10 years old now. Um, she was our first child, so I was, you know, this new creature, this new being is in our lives all of a sudden. So I'm photographing or constantly, and um, she, uh, has super blonde hair. Like, I mean, it's almost like silver. She looks like a, like, you know, the queen of dragons from today's, I was going to say she had tar Gary and [inaudible]. She's a tiger and yes. Um, anyway, so I was photographing her and just kind of posting these images on social media. Hey, here's my daughter and next thing you know, somebody finds it and picks it up and forwards it to someone who owns a modeling agency. Uh, that was, uh, let me think about this. That was six years ago, uh, when she was four and we get a call out of the blue and can we meet you and your daughter? And next thing you know, she's a, a professional model. And, um, and now she does it with, um, you know, a lot of regularity for some, some, some big brands, Tommy Hilfiger and, um, uh, let's see what else? Um, uh, Anna Anderson and, uh, uh, Zappos and uh, yeah, she's working on a lot of different projects right now, but yeah, my, my children are a constant source of inspiration for me. Uh, my son to Beckett, we named them after authors. There's Beckett, uh, named after. Sam Beckett and Harper and named after Harvey.

Rubin:                        What do you think of, um, photography on social media? Instagram in particular?

Jefferson:                 Oh boy. Well, this brings up a question that I could literally spend three or four other podcasts on. Maybe you should do that, that we can have. That is basically the state of where we are. Right? And I'm sure you both have thought about this a great deal as have many others. Whereas, um, where are we right now in the history of this medium where if you have, let's say two to $3,000 that you can, um, that has disposable income, you can arguably possess gear that is very, very close to what the professionals have an own. So anyone can have that level of technical competence or um, or, um, potential, let's say technical potential with this gear. But then obviously it takes so much more than that. So we're overrun with everyone having a camera right now, but not everyone being a photographer. And I, it brings me back to a quote that I just heard from Chuck Close yesterday was that photography is the easiest of all art forms to become technically competent in what the hardest to find your true voice.

Suzanne:                  That's a great quote. Wow. I love that. I think, do you think it has to do with the fact that it seems like the tools are so, especially the tools we have access to now or on our phone that we carry with us, but these tools are so sophisticated that you have to, you know, that you're like, you get to a base level of medium pretty quickly, but then to truly be great if it's so much different than picking up a paint brush, I can see when someone's an awful painter, but so it's clear when they get really great, you're like, oh wow, they're excellent at photography. There's still that medium level that is reached so easily.

Rubin:                        Well, I mean the technology democratizes all this stuff like it. It used to be a lot harder to be a writer or a, an artist of kinds of filmmaker, a music maker, and the technology lowers the barrier to entry. Everyone can be a marginal writer or marginal musician pretty easily, but you still have that, I dunno Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours in, right? It's still hard to do. I think one of the things that I'm always, um, am I saying, what am I neo modern soapboxes is that just, I feel like there should be a renaissance in creative photography now that everybody has cameras. It doesn't mean that everyone's a photographer, but people can get, learn to do it and get better at it by doing it. It just doesn't come by just taking a lot of smart phone pictures. You really need to work at it, but you can, and I'm hoping there's like a renaissance in creative photography because so many people have cameras in our exploring this, do anything.

Jefferson:                 There will be, I do agree with that and I actually think it comes down to, uh, uh, a mere understanding of numbers. The more people that do possess the technology, the greater number of people who are really going to devote themselves and go with the Malcolm Gladwell Gladwell rule of, of logging in those, those 10,000 hours to become something more than just someone who, who photographs the blank stare.

Rubin:                        Do you think it hurts photography that everyone's doing it? I mean, a lot of people say photography is dead because everyone's got a camera and it means nothing anymore to take a picture.

Jefferson:                 No, I don't, I don't believe that I've heard that argument and I don't subscribe to that. Um, I still think that the people will shine. The great ones will shine throughout the, uh, the, the rest of the people who are just kind of like doing it half heartedly. And I don't mean, I don't mean to say halfheartedly, not everyone needs to be an artist. Of course. You know, um, again, this is why I thought first off the bat that this is such a deep subject. Um, yeah. I, I don't know. I don't know where.

Suzanne:                  Okay. I'm thinking it's definitely another, uh, another episode. So I would love to have you back. Um, but before we kind of closed the show, you mentioned that you've, uh, you've written a book, you've a bunch of copies in your studio. Can you, do you want to plug the book?

Jefferson:                 Oh, sure. Yeah. The book is called a things I saw without you and it's a thank you. It is A It's divided into different subjects, a still life cityscape, uh, ocean scapes. Um, and a few pictures of my children are in there as well. And um, I am, it's my first self published book and I'm, I'm really enamored with it now and I want to do a new book every year. Um, in fact, um, this, this, uh, book has a subtitle that's just called one because my next book is going to be wait for it two, I see where you're going to be a, it's going to keep going and keep going. And um, yeah, it's printed with, um, uh, addition one out in Berkeley, California. I'm a great company with a great team and making the book was, was incredibly enjoyable. And a I will, I'll send you a copy.

Suzanne:                  Oh, I'd love to see it. You wonderful. It'd be really cool. Um, where can they purchase this? Um, online?

Jefferson:                 Uh, if you go to my website, which is Jefferson,, um, you can, um, see the availability and send me a request. We will put it in,

Rubin:                        in the show notes. It sounds, sounds awesome. Um, Jefferson, this has been fantastic. I could talk with you all day. Um, I feel like your family, I mean I've known you only for, I don't know, 15 years. Likewise, even part of your part of my family. So I, uh, I love your work. Um, I, I can't wait to show people some of your images because I think they're going to just be stunned. Again, it's not just the images, the image frame combination, uh, like Stephanie from the other day. It's not always just the image. There's so much about context and what's near it and what's around it. Uh, you know, neo modern is a framing business and we tell people it's about the picture and it's not about the frame. Like, you just want a classic, simple frame to highlight your photograph. And then here you are with this amazing different kinds of framing combination and you know, prove me wrong. So thank you.

Suzanne:                  That definitely next level. Next level. Thank you so much. Absolute pleasure. Everyone listening. Go buy his book. I want to make sure I get this title right, things I saw without you. Is that correct? Correct. Yeah. Wonderful. Um, the first of many books or show was recorded and produced in San Francisco. Go to neo to get show notes, see photos and post comments, leave reviews and ratings on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you subscribe. And don't forget to tell your friends

Rubin:                        we get new visitors. Are you telling everybody in spreading the word? If you know someone who might get something from us, please send them the link. Thanks to Mitchell foreman for our theme music, Jefferson, for joining us and all of you for hanging out. We appreciate your attention and hope you've given me some things to think about and tell him next time.


If you like our show, please subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcasting app, and please rate the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Neomodern Facebook group to discuss the show, share your photos, hear about specials for printing or framing your best images. Thank you!

#69 Storytelling with Photos: Meet Stephanie Heimann

Photography at THE NEW REPUBLIC magazine:

Danny Wilcox Frazier /VII for  The New Republic   (insta: @dannywilcoxfrazier)

Danny Wilcox Frazier/VII for The New Republic

(insta: @dannywilcoxfrazier)

Amy Lombard  for  The New Republic   (insta: @amylombard)

Amy Lombard for The New Republic

(insta: @amylombard)

Stephanie Heimann

Stephanie Heimann

Stephanie Heimann is the the Photo Director for The New Republic based in NYC. She has garnered several awards for the magazine, including a 2018 National Magazine Award nomination for feature photography and the 2017 Magazine Picture Editor of the Year Award from the NPPA. She has worked on many international and domestic magazines and was Al Gore’s photo editor on the sequel to his book Inconvenient Truth. Her career began as a photojournalist covering post-Soviet culture and the first war in Chechnya, and she spent almost ten years as an expatriate photo editor based in Moscow, Hong Kong, and Europe.


ON THE WALL of Stephanie Heimann…

Stanley Greene, “ CHECHNYA ” Grozny, Tchétchénie, 1995

Stanley Greene, “CHECHNYA” Grozny, Tchétchénie, 1995

Thomas Dworzak/Magnumphotos
CHECHNYA, Grozny. 7/1996. The shrapnel-splattered wall of the Central Exhibition Hall.

Vincent Cianni, “Fourth of July fireworks, Water Street, Newburgh, New York” (2016)

If you like our show, please subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcasting app, and please rate the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Neomodern Facebook group to discuss the show, share your photos, hear about specials for printing or framing your best images. Thank you!

#68 Printing on Glass: Meet Fracture

Neomodern isn't the only company with a passion for getting images off your phone and onto your wall: Fracture is a growing business that has tapped into the challenges of printing on glass, in the tradition of Ansel Adams' and even the original Daguerreotypes, all photographic processes on glass.

We spoke with Herb Jones, CMO of Fracture, about their mission and process.

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 2.50.15 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 2.42.10 PM.png

ON THE WALL of Herb Jones

by Herb Jones, 2016

by Herb Jones, 2016


Rubin:                        Hey Suzanne.

Suzanne:                  Hey Rubin. How are you?

Rubin:                        I'm good. Um, dare I ask where you are?

Suzanne:                  Um, in the vicinity of San Francisco, but I'm not in our usual recording studio. It's a bit of a, an Improv studio today.

Rubin:                        Wow. I think, um, well that's our hallmark is that we--

Suzanne:                  literally taking our show on the road quite literally.

Rubin:                        Um, all right, well, cool. Suzanne [inaudible] I'd like to introduce to you Herb Jones. Herb, this is Suzanne. [Hi, Suzanne. Hi. Herb.] Herb is CMO... Herb is CMO at a company called Fracture and they, like Neomodern, um, really believe in printing stuff. So I thought we would bring on someone who's like at least like-minded. I don't have to argue with anyone.

Suzanne:                  The importance of printing your photos, getting them off of your phone and onto your wall. Um, I know, I think we're all believers. It is, it is wonderful to meet you here. What I'm actually familiar with your work, uh, commercials. I saw them and I remember telling Rubin, I'm like, have you heard about these guys? I was, I was at, this is great. So, uh, it's so exciting to have you on the show.

Herb:                          So cool. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Rubin:                        Where are you today? Where her, where are you today?

Herb:                          I am in Sunny Florida and uh, it's a rather nice weather today. It should be working from outside someplace. Um,I don't know if you where we're located. We're located in Gainesville, Florida,

Rubin:                        Gainesville, Florida. I don't know if you know this, but I'm from Gainesville, Florida. What are the odds of that? That's the key. [Does have so much in common. ]That's awesome. I never know anybody from Florida. This is so cool. Um, have you been, are you from Gainesville?

Herb:                          I moved to Gainesville in, uh, 1996, um, to attend the University of Florida. (Oh, you're a gator) and I am a Gator. And so I, um, moved here in 96, graduated 99, uh, met the love of my life in 2000 while I was starting my first company. And, uh, just we fell in love with it and decided there was a place where we want to raise our family.

Rubin:                        Wow. Well, I, well I can certainly support that. I was raised in Gainesville. I was born, born there and went to Gainesville high school. Me and Tom Petty, you know, that's a long time ago. Well, okay. We didn't actually overlap, but he was like in our neighborhood. Yeah. One of the cooler things about Gainesville's that a Tom petty and the heartbreakers or from there and you. Yeah. So tell, tell us about fracture.

Herb:                          So tell you about fracture. So I'm not, so for clarity, um, I've been with fracture now. I joined fracture, uh, in September of 2013. So it's been a really fun rocket ride with fracture is a fun. Um, just a fracture is a very fun, um, lovable company that has, um, just an incredible mission. And that mission is we want to fight ephemera and get people to fall in love with the printed image and really focus on the moments in their lives that matter. Yes. And it is, yeah, I mean it is, it is something that over the past five and a half years, um, I've really taken like the core company beliefs and they just really resonate with me. I have four daughters. Um, so maybe that makes it more personal. I have a 12 year old, I have a nine year old and as of today, I twin eight year olds. Is that actually the birthday that we'll be in birthday mode later tonight. But I mean I have all these incredible life moments. Um, and so being part of the Fracture family over the past five years, it just really reinforced the need to like celebrate these moments and print out these special moments and put them on the walls and, and give them as gifts and remind people that this is what's really important.

Rubin:                        Well, I'm 100%, I'm 100% behind that philosophy. What makes fracture? Why fracture? What does that even, what does that mean? How does that fit in there? You know, so

Herb:                          So I wasnt around when they named the company, but the s the, the tail that I've been told, um, was that, um, essentially just take two words frame and picture and you mash them together, you get fracture. Of course, we get a lot of fun ribbing online, you know, the, uh, you know, I don't think a a month goes by on Twitter when somebody doesn't mention how it's an unfortunate name, but we laugh at it and we've had a lot of fun. We've had a lot of fun just engaging with all the people on social media that I think are realizing the same thing about just sort of that Ephemera that exists, you know, with social, Instagram, especially Facebook,

Rubin:                        don't you find that Instagram, the whole, the way that Instagram has both popularized photography in a certain kind of way and really crushed it at the same time. It's just the people that take a lot of pictures, but they're just, there's just nothing. It's just something that you do it, they don't, they're not designed to be kept or looked at.

Herb:                          Wow. There are gone in an instant. You have five likes and um, they're gone. Um, and that's unfortunate.

Rubin:                        And what do you do for, oh, sorry, one more. I'm just so, so you're printing, you're printing on glass, is that, that's right, right? Yeah.

Herb:                          Yeah. So a little bit about fracture. Um, we are a photo do core company and our first product, so to speak, and the product we really been honing and focusing on over the past 10 years. Now this, this is actually fractures tend to year is a printing your favorite photos directly to glass. Um, that it gives it a really, it's, it gives your photos and incredible effect. Um, and it's just a really more modern alternative like traditional framings are traditional canvases. Um, and so if your taste or more minimalist, um, we're, we're contemporary. Um, fractures might be a very good option for you.

Suzanne:                  Refresh. My memory isn't actually printing on glass, like part of the historic way of printing photographs. Isn't that what like Ansell Adams used to.

Rubin:                        Well he didn't print on glass. I mean there are negative, they're all old printing processes like to Garrett types and things like that that were done directly on glass. Um, you guys have invented some sort of a different process. It's not easy to put an image on glass. You need to do a lot of stuff. And so you must have figured out a way to make this work. It's not an easy thing. I mean I, you can just stick a piece of glass in your printer. You've got to do something right.

Herb:                          It's, it's required a lot of testing, um, a lot of, of attempting, you know, different iterations of the process and just really honing and honing over years and years and not only honing the process, um, because the process was pretty well in place when I came on board and the new challenge that I threw in, um, as chief marketing officer was trying to maintain that same level of quality and then scale. So, um, and I think that's what's been most impressive to me in my five and a half years is just seeing how production has been able to scale because I'm sure as you guys know, I mean we can't take prints and stock them on the shelves. We can stock raw product. But the real big challenge is the fact that we're a on demand manufacturing company. And for example, right now for mother's Day, um, it's unfortunate we have people that are coming to the site, they want to get their mom a gift and give it to her on the 13th, but, um, you know, despite the fact that our production capacity is increased significantly since I started, um, you know, our, our shipping dates right now are out to May 20th.

Rubin:                        Oh Wow. So they've already as they haven't, if they hear about this, there's too late for mother's Day for these guys.

Herb:                          Absolutely. Um, you know, there's gift cards as an option, but at the end of the day, um,

Suzanne:                  as fast as the chief marketer though, I want to make it funny. Happy.

Rubin:                        How much, what's your throughput like? How many can you make in a day? A lot. Really?

Herb:                          Well, I mean, I mean the throughput is actually very, very high. Um, you know, we, I, I don't want to give you a specific number because it's really a function of, of a manufacturing unit that we use to standardize across all different sizes. So we are through, we look at it from a manufacturing unit unit would really make any difference to anybody, but the throughputs increased I'd say by a power of 10 are the past few years. Wow. So, wow.

Suzanne:                  How has your own photography changed since you've worked at fracture? Since now you get to see all these pictures that other people are making, kind of come through the system and, you know, get shipped off to go on their walls. How has, how has your photography changed?

Herb:                          You know, that is a fabulous question because, um, I, you know, I like many people, you know, you know, the my primary, you know, my primary photography was Oh, you know, my smartphone. Um, and it just what you have, you know, when, you know, when you're in the moment, when that special moment happens, you grab whatever you have in most of the time. That's something that's in my pocket. Um, and as a parent of, of little children, um, I was always packing all this extra gear, you know, diapers and everything else, you know, that you need for little kids, you know, and food. And so what I ended up doing, um, probably about a year after I joined fracture, um, and really wanting to hone my own personal craft is I bought a four thirds microwatt and Olympus four thirds micro with, uh, with the prime lens too. I was trying to go back and basically serious. Yeah, yeah. Am I zoom is my feet and, and I absolutely loved shooting with that thing. Um, most of the fracture prints, I have it hanging up in my house. I've taken with that Olympus. It's a fabulous little camp.

Rubin:                        I mean, the phone cameras are really getting better. I mean, when you guys started, they must've been really crappy 10 years ago. You couldn't really get a decent print out of a smartphone, but now they're like, like Lika's they're amazing. So I mean the microphone thirds is great, but your phone could kind of do it right? Yeah, yeah.

Herb:                          Yeah. And I still, I have plenty of prints on my phone, but I'll tell you and that nothing, nothing compares to just having an amazing lens. Now that being said, um, for father's Day, uh, my ask is the anamorphic lens from moment to moment. Camera Lenses. Have you seen those oh moments. Great.

Rubin:                        Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. We've been talking to, to moment as well. It's like, I like those guys. They got some really, oh yeah. Yeah.

Herb:                          They make awesome products. So hopefully for father's Day I get that little nice little moment set up.

Rubin:                        Did you take pictures before, like before you got into the picture business, would you say you were a photographer? Did you take a lot of pictures?

Herb:                          No, I was a marketer. I can't, I came at it from a digital marketing perspective. Um, I, I took lots of pictures, but you know, my photography Iq is so low, so low. I, I would hate to call myself a photographer on any level because I understand how much goes into the craft now. He still scratching the surface.

Rubin:                        Do you guys have to do any, so when people send in their pictures to get them put on glass, is there something special you do? Image why, I mean, I know this, it's a complex process to get in or to adhere it to the glass. But um, in prepress or whatever you'd call it, pre production, do you need to change the contrast or the color? Sacha, is there something you do to make it more look better on the glass?

Herb:                          Not really. Um, it's just naturally, yeah, we, we have a 60 day happiness guarantee. No questions asked. We will make your image right if you don't like it for any reason. Um, and I, you know, oftentimes we're addressing image quality issues because somebody had an old black and white, you know, and it was torn or ripped. And it was crinkled, but it was the only picture they have at the great grandfather or something like that. And they want to get that printed on fracture. And so we, we, we ended up doing a lot of consultation and we, and we can even, you know, take that image and put it in Photoshop and do everything we can for the client. But it's really a point where, you know, the customer asks for it. Um, we don't really volunteer those level of services because we have, you know, we have customers all across the spectrum. You know, we have, you know, the 80 year old grandma and this is the only picture she has of her dad, you know, and you know, maybe she's even trying to send us the hard copy of that. And then all the way down to like professional photographers, you know, major influencers, you know, and we have people that, you know, they absolutely, they, they, they would be horrified if they found out we did any kind of preproduction touchups to their images. You know, they have their colors perfect and they know exactly what they want. So it's really a point where that when the customer asks for help than be cage,

Suzanne:                  is there an image that you've printed, um, on fracture that you, you knew you really liked going into it, but that when you actually saw it printed, um, that kind of made you gasp or made you just really, really excited to hang it on your wall?

Herb:                          Yes. Um, I can actually look over my shoulder and see the hanging right by my front door and it is how can we see it? I could, I could actually take you down there if you want it to say. Um, but um, yeah, let me do that really quick. I'll show you. Um, and we actually use this print in a mother's Day ad probably four years ago. Um, I'll just run you down really quick.

Rubin:                        It'd be cool to get a still image of it at some point cause we can show that cause not everyone's going to watch. We're, we're not gonna show the video.

Herb:                          Okay. Yeah. I'll say I'll show you. There's an image that very quickly, um, so right behind my, my in here, let's see this image right here on the beach. This is my wow. But this is my lovely wife and my now nine year old daughter. She was pretty teeny tiny at the time, then on the beach and so cute. She was probably three years older when we, um, when we did the, um, yeah, she's probably two or three years older than, than at image when we did the mother's Day shoot. So we actually had her holding it and giving it like she was giving it to. Huh. And that was a pretty fabulous one. Yeah.

Rubin:                        Did a professional take that or did you take that or how did that come from?

Herb:                          I took that with the Atlantis.

Rubin:                        Oh, you do like that camera. It's a good camera. Yeah.

Suzanne:                  So great. I mean just like the rhythm of their bodies and how your daughter is like kind of kicking up her foot and then the, yeah, like ribbon of water is almost like reaching out to her hand and then with your wife's body position, it's, it is a great photo. Great Movement. And then, um, just so meaningful to you that it's two, two of your favorite people in the world.

Rubin:                        Do you, do you find any, um, uh, group more tuned into what you're doing? Like, is it better for senior? I know, I know that ultimately you have a wide audience, but, um, our kids, the dominant group, is it seniors? Is it, like, what can you characterize who like is into this the most?

Herb:                          Yeah, so that, I mean, that's a great question. Um, and it's hard to nail down who we appeal to the most, but I can tell you, um, I, I think the images that we see the most frequently, um, obviously lots of life milestone moments. Um, lots of babies, lots of pictures of kids. Um, lots of pictures of family gatherings and that and you know, tons of pets, tons of pets. Um, gosh, I mean, dogs really make fractured, go to the point where we have our, our office dog Raja, who's in there everyday with this. Um, and at the same time, you know, we just see, I'd say ballpark say maybe 15 to 20% of the images we see you have a dog in. I'm at some point. Um, we have cat lovers too, but dogs. Yeah. Dogs. Just interesting on the special where photographers have dogs, I guess funny correlation. It's just uh, um, I mean really like I would say like these middle aged families and I think it's because they've reached more milestone moments in their life. So you know, you know, you think about who you want to appeal to and you want to think about who has the most milestone moments they're starting to stack up. And young couples, you know, maybe they bought their first house, you know, you know, there's going to be a need there, you know, baby wedding anniversaries, special moments with family. And then, you know, as you get older, you know, as you get maybe get to my age or older, you start looking at it printing or Framing other things in memorial. Um, you know, parents that have passed away or grandparents that have passed away, um, you know, then you start getting into graduations and kids leaving the house and then they're getting married and they're having no kids. And so all of a sudden you've got a flurry of, you know, grandparents, you know, that we're printing pictures of kids and their own special moment. So, so it's, uh, it's a, it's a pretty interesting sort of big monstrous demographic we appeal to, but I think probably that core is like the youngest families, the younger families.

Rubin:                        Are there any kinds of pictures that reproduce better on glass and others? Um, or is it like too black and white work as well as like color? I Dunno. Is it just the, the, because of the substrate being shiny, I wonder if that lends itself to certain photography just really being advantageous in that medium.

Herb:                          Um, so I would, I s the p personal preference, right? I mean, um, I love pictures with a lot of bright color, bright, vivid color. Um, I love the nature of photography, that I see, um, and we just have some incredibly gifted photographers. It send stuff through, um, you know, stuff that absolutely inspires me as a photographer. Like, you know, just wow, I never would have thought of like approaching that shot from that angle or you know, wow. That macro lens right there work so well, you know, uh, I mean to the point where sometimes I'm even trying to look up the epic's data and try to understand more about like what their settings where we are getting the shot. Um, black and whites look amazing. Um, and I don't know if that's just the frameless appearance, um, but I've seen some black and white shots that are just incredibly moving, um, portraits. Um, just, yeah, I mean,

Rubin:                        and then, I mean, it's funny. I mean, so neomodern art, my company, uh, we have the same fundamental belief, the how important it is for people to get things off of their phone, out of the cloud and into some sort of physical, tangible form for, for us, it's funny because we only were like in the same way that you really have crushed specialized and how to get it on glass and make it look amazing in that format. We specialize in paper. You know, I, it, it seems old school, but, um, there's something about, for me, the tactile nature of holding the physical print that I like. So it's interesting to me that we have this different, uh, execution feeling, you know, feelings about that, but really the same underlying, um, passion for the printed image. I think that's cool. I don't know. I just, that's me.

Suzanne:                  Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that. I would, I would even my further that question I've heard, what would you say is, for you, what is the most important thing to get people's pictures off their phone and onto their wall? What do you mean? Of course, like most, uh, what's the most important reason that you see? Why, why do you think people should really get away from this, that a femoral fleeting image and, and commit to it and get to see it all the time?

Rubin:                        Because it's certainly convenient in, in a digital format. I mean, we, we can embrace that. It really takes, mix it frictionless for sharing an image in a lot of ways and posting it on social media and all that. But yeah. How do you describe getting it off the phone? Like why is that so important?

Herb:                          Um, well, I mean, been research that's been done that really illustrates the like savoring, like those special moments and printing things is good for you from a health perspective. Um, I think one of the most inspirational, I think one of those inspirational interviews we've done for our blog as we interviewed a guy, and I believe he's a priest. Um, I could be wrong, but he, um, he was battling cancer and he did, he took it upon himself. He made the decision to just surround himself with like, like images that he absolutely loved. And I don't think they were only family members or special life moments. I think they were just generally just images that brought him joy and, and he decided to make that a part of his, just his environment there and to help him. But for me, uh, I mean life is short. I mean, and I think the older you get, the more you realize that, you know, there's going to be some people that you're spending quality time with today that you don't have any guarantee they're going to be with you tomorrow. Um, you know, I lost my mom in 2011 and, you know, one of the big regrets that I have is, is that I don't have more images of her. Um, and I spend a lot of time there at the end. While she, she, she, she, uh, struggle with brain cancer for about a year and I took some pictures of it then, but I wish I had pictures, you know, for years before that. I wish it had been more of a focal point for me. Um, lost my father when I was 16 years old and I have some great images of him, but I wish I had more. Um, so I'm, I'm constantly emphasizing that to my girls. I'm like, one day you guys are going to love all these images that we constantly take and you guys will be able to go through these images and be able to really walk through a lot of details that you're, that you're just gonna Forget.

Rubin:                        I also would add that, you know, you don't want to give your kids 100,000 digital files in a cloud somewhere. It's like to let you go through that and pick out the ones that you think that they would want to have or keep or that they would want to do it while you're alive. You to go through some of that process. Um, I don't know. It just seems to me part of, part of the process, you know, going through and picking out the pictures that are good that you want to be the, the classic family shots.

Herb:                          Yeah. I mean a a 64 gig memory card, that's, that's a couple years to go through a review of just for us. So that definitely makes a lot of sense.

Rubin:                        Um, so where's fractured going? Like what's your vision over the next bunch of years?

Herb:                          Um, good question. Good question. So in a very tangible way, um, we actually just got the keys to a brand new facility, um, uh, brand new carbon neutral facility, hearing her in Alachua, Florida, which is the town just, just adjacent to Gainesville. And um, we're actually in the process of moving in there now. So that's pretty exciting for me is, is the marketer and has been really charged with helping grow the company. You know, being able to get us to a point where we literally just have to move into a much larger facility. You know, this is a box that I've been wanting to check off for a long time, but I mean we, we have a product roadmap we've created and we want to find ways to get beyond glass and offer people other products, but innovative products. I mean we want to find a way to get people products. So even if a glass print that's going to hang on your wall isn't Your Cup of tea or it's not your specific use case, maybe you prefer frames or you maybe prefer canvases. We want to find other types of products to get out there and offer you. So there's going to be some pretty tremendous growth in the future. Both with our current line. Um, we'll be able to offer, we're, we're in the process of working on different aspect ratios. Currently we only offer four by three in square prints right now. And how large, how large can they go? Um, our largest size right now I believe is 26 inches at the, at the maximum dementia.

Rubin:                        Yeah, that's pretty, that's a, that's fair. It's not a lot of people's pictures can get that big.

Herb:                          No, you're exactly right. So I apologize. Um, because you were to four, three aspect ratio, it doesn't come out that like nice clean numbers, right? Like, I mean, but when we, when we started offering to buy three is we'll start offering poster size 24 by 36. Um, but currently are lots of sizes, 21, six, 21.6 by 28, eight guys and our a square. It's, it's decent size, uh, for sure.

Rubin:                        Um, I find people do that. Is that a common, I mean, what are most, what's the size that most people see their stuff at?

Herb:                          So that is a, that is a pretty common size. I mean, the price alone is what, you know, tends to, uh, you know, take it down a notch in terms of overall sales. Um, our largest square print is 23 by 23. Um, but especially due to seasonality and the fact that I ballpark at least half of our orders are gifts. Um, the smaller sizes tend to dominate our, our smallest rectangle, which is, you know, essentially a five by seven. It's 4.8 by 6.4 inches. Um, that's our most popular product.

Suzanne:                  Hmm. Do I wanted to ask you a question? Um, before it was something that made me think of, um, just where you talked about the priest and, and printing for health and then your kids in their memories. I just, I'm reading the whole brain child right now and it's talking about the importance of sort of reliving memories with your kids as, as they happen to revisit things that are great memories and also things that aren't, but the idea is to kind of, it helps them develop to have these memories that you, that are discussed and brought up more than once. And so I've never put it together before, but I love the idea that actually that's what photos are on walls there. They're actually tools to help your children build better memories a better sense of, you know, storytelling in a better sense of, um, kind of creating their own story and capturing it.

Herb:                          That's awesome. For both our la yeah, I just dropped out in the chat, but that's an old blog post we did. Um, I'm pretty put this can make you a happier person. Oh, awesome. And uh, yeah, trying to get that message out there. That's really interesting. The whole brain child you said?

Suzanne:                  Yeah. It's the whole brain child by Daniel Siegel,

Rubin:                        the link. Um, if we talk about it and I might put the link in the podcast notes so people can check that out. That sounds good.

Suzanne:                  Yes. Yeah. I feel so much about photography right now. Um, or at least the mentality I'm trying to get away from is take a picture or record it. I did it, I was there and move on. And it's almost like it's like I checked the box instead of actually enjoying the shading these moments. And so when I print them, I do get this moment. I do, I get to relive those moments and they become even more meaningful. So I, I, I love, I hope anyone else that is trying to help tell that story too. I think it is so important to sort of see your work and that it can evolve, that you don't have to just print something once you, some print other things and the wall can change and grow as your children age and as you know, as your family continues to grow. Yeah.

Herb:                          It's funny. Um, I try to take down fractures of, you know, I have prints in our hallway, like a running down her hallway of, of, of my daughters when they were younger and replace them with newer prints and um, they don't want me to don't like they like four years ago, three years ago or two years. Like they like seeing the younger version, they'd like remembering that moment. And I, and I love that that's something that's being instilled in them. You know, at a young age, you know, it reminds me,

Rubin:                        um, a lot of people when they come in to neomodern and the question is like, is this picture good enough? I have a bunch of these and there's a, there's always debate about it. And for a long time I used to think our work was to help people figure out which picture was the iconic picture, the best picture. And now after doing it for awhile, it's really, it goes the other way. Choosing a picture, any picture makes it the iconic picture. It's not like it's a, it starts out that we're trying to identify which one is great. I, it's often just pick one and by virtue of choosing it and putting it on your wall, it becomes iconic. And that's what the experience experiences. You can't take it down. It's become this emblem of our childhood or that trip. Even though there's a dozen other pictures that becomes the one. But that's it. That's a better proposition in a weird way then trying to labor yourself with figuring out which is the greatest picture here and it's not good enough in some way cause just printing it will make it good enough.

Herb:                          Yeah, that that is, I, I, I absolutely loved that. That's something we struggle with so much. I mean that's what we hear from customers all the time. We hear, we hear from people all the time and say, oh I love fracture. You guys were awesome. And you know, my first question is, you know, well how'd you hear about us? You know, as a marketer I want to be attribution. And secondly it's like, oh well you know, have you printed anything yet? Oh No, I'm still looking for that perfect image. You know, I've looked in to flip that on its head and basically say the perfect image will be the way of what you, what you choose. Right, right. Yup. I mean that's, that's an interesting way to look at the challenge, but it is a very real challenge.

Rubin:                        I mean very well for us, I would say that is the single barrier to entry, which is, God, this is amazing. How do I pick which one, which is one of the

Herb:                          reasons why we have this as a concierge thing. Because we would say just upload 10, like let's look at them with you. That's brilliant. When I saw that on your site, I was like, that is so brilliant because you're helping overcome that first giant hurdle. Yeah. You know, and they just don't feel confident. And I think part of that is, you know, Instagram and social media and you have this fake version of people's lives and yeah, people will like, you know, I, I have a friend, she has a daughter who's 17 years old and we took them, um, we took them someplace up in North Carolina up in the mountains. And just, I mean, there was a whole period of time, you know, there's probably like 10 minutes when she's like just taking pictures of her daughter and a whole variety of different poses and then they went through them and then got the perfect one. Okay, I'm putting this on Instagram and I'm like, wow. Like you could have just sat here for 10 minutes and enjoyed this majestic view. What'd you do? All that work for something. It's got to go on Instagram and like 30 seconds later and nobody's going to see it or care about it. Right, right, right. But whether it's fracture or whether it, any other brands, um, I would just really stress, and this is something that I, I love seeing with younger generations is just be thoughtful about the things that you buy. Um, be thoughtful about the companies you buy from and make sure that there are companies that are actually really trying to do good in the world. Um, and we're not just contributing to a lot of the, the challenges that we have as a planet at a larger scale. I think one of the, what are the beliefs and values that has grown on me the most with fractured, was just being, being a good steward of the earth, being a good earth citizen. We're a carbon neutral company and that's really difficult. I mean it's, it's really difficult to do. Um, as a manufacturer you have to jump through a lot of hoops and we're, and we're looking at every aspect of the manufacturing process of our offices in general and trying to be as thoughtful as possible and trying to reduce our carbon footprint and then we offset whatever's left.

Rubin:                        Wow. Nice job. Nice job. Herb. Thank you for joining us and I'm so excited that you're in Gainesville. I'll come visit you and I'm visiting my mom next time. Again, it's that bias. Um, our show is the coordinator and produced in San Francisco and partially Gainesville. Go to to get show notes, see photos, post comments. Please leave reviews and ratings on iTunes and to get to subscribe from you, telling your friends and spreading the word. If you know someone who might get something from us that in thank you to Mitchell Foreman for our theme music and all of you for hanging out with us. We appreciate your attention and we hope we've given you some things to think about. Until next time.


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#67 The Life/Time Project

I’ve been trying to figure out how to best execute this idea since 1989. First as a book. Then a Hypercard stack, then CD-ROM… CD-I… Website… then Wiki…

The first proposal (looking for an agent) in 1989

The first proposal (looking for an agent) in 1989

2019-05-07 09.11.36.jpg
from Chapter 17

from Chapter 17

from Chapter 28

from Chapter 28

Ross Goodwin, the guy at Google that Suzanne mentions…

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#66 Are Still Photos Dead? Meet Frederick Barnes
“The Road to Pt. Reyes” by Lucasfilm/Pixar (1984): A one-frame movie.

“The Road to Pt. Reyes” by Lucasfilm/Pixar (1984): A one-frame movie.

“… I am a filmmaker [but] I’m very much akin to a toy-maker. If i wasn’t a filmmaker I’d probably be a toy-maker. I like to make things move, and I like to make them myself. Just give me the tools and I’ll make the toys…”

—George Lucas, 1974

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#65 The Zen Arts & Photography. With Chris Lunt

The Zen Aesthetic, Or Wabi-Sabi

Zen has a unique aesthetic, which includes a great appreciation for moderation, asymmetry, imperfection, rusticity, and naturalness.

This Zen aesthetic concept is called Wabi-sabi, and it sees beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. In art, Wabi-sabi is manifested in modest, humble, unpretentious and earthy artworks.

Hokusai 's   The Great Wave off Kanagawa  , 1831

Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1831

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)

Horikiri Iris Garden (Horikiri no hanashōbu), from  One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,_published_by_Uoya_Eikichi_-_Horikiri_Iris_Garden_(Horikiri_no_hanashōbu),_from_the_series_One_Hundred_Famous_Views_of_Edo_(Meish..._-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Horikiri Iris Garden (Horikiri no hanashōbu), from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,_published_by_Uoya_Eikichi_-_Horikiri_Iris_Garden_(Horikiri_no_hanashōbu),_from_the_series_One_Hundred_Famous_Views_of_Edo_(Meish..._-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)   Asakusa Kinryuzan  (Asakusa Kinryuzan [Sensoji Temple]), from the series  Meisho Edo hyakkei  (One hundred views of famous places of Edo)

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)
Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kinryuzan [Sensoji Temple]), from the series Meisho Edo hyakkei (One hundred views of famous places of Edo)



Seeing the universe in everything.



Embrace flaws. The articulation of wabi-sabi



Balance and harmony of elements.



Effortless elegance.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)


Poetic constraints.

How admirable

he who doesn’t think life is fleeting

when he sees the lightning.



Put wings on them

And they’re dragonflies


Mushotoku represents a state of mind where the spirit does not seek to obtain anything. This is the attitude of a mind that do not get attached to objects and that seeks no personal profit.

Hishiryo is a state of mind beyond thinking and non-thinking. During the practice of Zazen, it is the normal condition of the consciousness.

Zanshin is a concept found in Zen, Budo (Japanese martial arts), particularly Kendo, and in many Japanese arts, such as Ikebana (flower arrangement), chado (the tea ceremony) and sumi-e (ink painting).

Fudoshin is the 'immovable mind', that is, the mind that has met all challenges of life, and has attained a state of complete composure and fearlessness. This state of equanimity is essential in the practice of Zazen and Budo.

Mushin is the essence of Zen and Japanese martial arts. Mushin literally means the "mind without mind", and it is commonly called "the state of no-mindedness" 

Satori: As opposed to what many people think, Buddhist Enlightenment is not a special state of mind. It is simply a return to the original, natural condition of the human mind.

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#64 The Power of Scale, meet Bryant Austin, Photographic Artist

Bryant Austin, “ Minke Whale Composite Portrait I - Detail”  (2009)

Bryant Austin, “Minke Whale Composite Portrait I - Detail” (2009)

“I don’t even create any more, I connect… I connect to Earth’s reality. And to myself.”

— Bryant Austin

BRYANT AUSTIN’S ARTIST STATEMENT: I am mostly known for creating life-size photographs of whales, with an emphasis on the inquisitive expressions of their eyes. A process that encompassed twelve years of my life to create fourteen life-size whale portraits. Everything I create expresses an awareness that all photographs taken throughout history, are the cosmos taking a self-portrait. It is this feeling of connectedness that I seek to convey through every photograph.

Bryant Austin, “ Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II  (2005)

Bryant Austin, “Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II (2005)

My new work reveals the sun’s surface in vivid detail, as viewed through Earth’s varied atmospheric states. Dramatic landscape elements anchor the experience to challenge our perceptions of reality and our place within an infinite void. The process is complex and often requires the use of three telescopes equipped with infrared cameras and a monochrome video camera with scientific filters. This equipment is often backpacked in the Sierras to capture Sun/Earth interactions that occur only a few moments each year.

Following my father’s death in 2015 and a near death experience of my own a few months later, I felt compelled to explore the oneness I felt with whales through other subjects. My creative journey revealed an avenue for deeper connection to the cosmos, personal transcendence, and peace of mind.

This creative practice has led me to feel that the disconnection we experience - from one another, from nature, and the universe - is an illusion. Closer to home, this awareness has challenged me to explore ways to deconstruct the divisions we create between subjects found in nature and contemporary photography.

Bryant Austin, Sperm Whale Composite II (2011)   8 X 36 feet

Bryant Austin, Sperm Whale Composite II (2011)

8 X 36 feet

Bryant Austin, “I'm Here”   Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2016)

Bryant Austin, “I'm Here”

Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2016)

Bryant Austin, “Precession Study - Panel II”   Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2017)

Bryant Austin, “Precession Study - Panel II”

Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2017)

RUBIN NOTE: I was thinking of Peter Beard, not Nick Brandt, when I was recalling African images of Africa and dead animals. The following is about Nick Brandt:

Nick Brandt, Lion in shaft of light, Maasai Mara (2012)

Nick Brandt, Lion in shaft of light, Maasai Mara (2012)

In December of 2000, Nick Brandt was in East Africa directing a music video for Michael Jackson. When the shooting for the video was complete, Brandt took some time off and visited some of the wildlife preserves. He took along a medium format camera and began to photograph the animals he saw from the car. Now, six years later, Brandt is out of the music video business. He devotes himself full time to photographing the animals of Africa.

Brandt’s approach to his work is unique…perhaps because he was never trained as a still photographer. Although he take photographs of wildlife, he is not really a wildlife photographer. He’s not interested in documenting the actual lives of real animals in the wild. Instead he creates romanticized images of animals in an equally romanticized setting.


Bryant Austin, A Mother Listens, (2006)

Bryant Austin, A Mother Listens, (2006)

Clyde Butcher, INDIAN KEY 6 Everglades National Park, FL (1997)

Clyde Butcher, INDIAN KEY 6 Everglades National Park, FL (1997)


Rubin:                        Hey Suzanne. Hey Rubin. How are you? Good. I'm, I'm uh, I thought we could check, check before we start, but I'm not, I don't want to Chit Chat actually had to the business. I'm the, I keep telling you like I think we should talk before the shows get going and then I'm the, yeah, it's my, I'm the PR. I am usually, I'm the problem and this is what it looks like.

Suzanne:                  It's cool. And we can, we can just jump right in. I'm also excited. Uh, Bryant is here today. Okay. You want to, you've met him before, right?

Rubin:                        I have. We'll, okay. So, okay, so everybody, this is Bryant Austin. I just want to tell a little story. Bryant, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. So I don't know, I haven't really heard your version of this. So I'll tell my version and let's see how they fit together a little bit. And I could be, maybe I'm completely made this up, but my recollection was many years ago, maybe nine years ago or eight years ago, I met someone who had a gallery in Carmel and she and I were hanging out and at some point she said, I want to show you somebody work that I think you'll like, cause I know you love photography. And I looked at this, I looked at one of your photographs and my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe she explained this. She explained what you were doing to me. And at the time I was going to these conferences in Carmel and I guess, I don't know if you lived in Carmel or maybe she was in Carmel, but I invited, I showed the pictures to the people from the conference of the Eg conference and everyone was like, that guy's awesome. And, and then one day I was at the conference in there you were and that's how I met you was at the club. Thank you. Is that, wow. Did I make that up?

Bryant:                       No, that, that sounds right. Yeah. And I really appreciate that you connected me with EG because I met a lot of great people there and uh, some people that took my work to new levels. So thank you.

Rubin:                        Well, the, I, I, I have to say for people who are, who don't know your work, the pictures that I saw that just were jaw dropping, again, stop me if this, if I'm remembering this in a dream, but it was a life size photograph, a lifesize photograph of a whale. And Yeah, I have the whale was the size of my head and I'd never seen anything like this. A life size photo. And you know, if you take a picture of a whale, you're going to distort it. But it was undistorted what was I looking at? What was that?

Bryant:                       Yeah, those are life sized portraits, you know, there their portraits, uh, emphasizing the eye and uh, the varied expressions in the eye. Um, and those portraits are roughly four by six feet to six by 10 feet. Oh. And that's the first thing I always do when I'm with a whale is, uh, to see if I can get the portrait of the eye and the surrounding head if that's the first thing you do when you see a whale. Yeah. Well, no, I mean the, for a second, I hope for it and I, I'm very careful to hopefully achieve and if the well spends more time with me, that's when I started to think about doing the whole body. And, and so that's when I'll start photographing their body and five foot wide sections going up and down and then making this really massive composite, highly detailed composite of their body. They're done this done with a medium format camera. [inaudible]

Rubin:                        are they holding still for this? Did they know what you're doing or what?

Bryant:                       I do that there. It's both. So most of the time I stay still and, and if you're, if you're by yourself in the ocean floating alone, they're more likely to come up to a new way for them to come up to you. Because if you swim up to them, they, they most likely leave. And so you have to really just wait. And when they come up to you, they can come up to you for four minutes to five hours. And I've had both. Wow. And, um, so generally I do let them swim by my camera, so they'll make multiple passes and then I'll just take pictures as they move by my lens. And they're generally like five or six feet, six feet see outer limit. It's really four or five feet that really gets the detail, gets the color and the tones because you can't use artificial light. What? Excuse me, wait, sorry.

Rubin:                        The photography or the whales. I mean, were you a diver and you thought I should take pictures of these or were you a photographer thinking, I think I should get in the water? Yes.

Bryant:                       Yeah, it is. That's a long story. I was a kid just completely out of touch with my truth and it took years to peel back all the layers and then, and my truth, I realize, you know, um, I was a painter most of my childhood and it burned me out. I wasn't satisfied. And then I realized photography is my medium. And the other layer that slowly got peeled out back was that I'm really connected to the ocean in a big way. And, and in particular whales. Wow. Yeah. This is just waking up to your truth and just feeling that resonance, you know? I was like, wow, okay. Yeah, this is, it's pretty obvious. This is my purpose and my truth, you know, connection with these animals.

Rubin:                        So, how did that project, is it, that's the eye of the whale project? Is that what you call that?

Bryant:                       No, no. Well, yeah, I mean, I, I, you know, even though I don't, I haven't done it for a couple of years now, it's always been our practice to me and uh, yeah, I don't know what it's called. You know, it's just a, it's just a practice. It's a way to connect, uh, with nature in a way to connect with yourself and really just blur, blur the lines. You know,

Suzanne:                  I heard a, uh, um, a talk that you had given or an interview that you've given and you were saying it's, it's 15 to 30 photographs her per whale and it takes months just to composite the images, but it takes months to build a computer that can process the amount of, uh, kind of data to make these images possible. Can you talk about that? That amazes me that you have to make your tools.

Bryant:                       There's tears like in doing this work. I mean, it's highly experimental. It's never had been done before or since. So there's tiers, like, you know, and, and getting the computer as part of it, like having the processing power is that, so it's like, I'm okay, I'm in the field, uh, and I'm in the field for five weeks to three months. It's really expensive. Okay. Oh, I got something. You know, what happens if you're in the field for five weeks? You're lucky if you have one good encounter, you know, for, for five minutes or an hour. Okay. It's like, okay, what do I do with all this data now? All these photographs, um, I can't do anything with them. So no, I, cause the computer I had was from the last field season from two years earlier and I'm, I'm, you know, everything's getting bigger. And, uh, so yeah. Uh, I've, I've built three computers, uh, over time to tackle each one. And the last computer that was built, it was built just to make one photograph and it's measures eight by 36 feet. Uh, and that was completed in 2012. Uh, that was my last one. Um, I spent 12 years of my life to make 14 lifesize portraits. And that one was never printed. So, uh, you know, it's, everything I do is done to archival standards, so they'll last for hundreds of years. So future generations and kids can see what we may lose our lifetime. We're or may not, hopefully not, but I really want to solid record of what, what we're coexisting with right now. And uh, and that's when I decided to take a break because like, wow, I've spent, yeah, that was finished in 2012 and then for another three years I just tried to raise funding to print and mount it to a, to an archival standard, which is, you know, it's like 60 or $70,000 and then you've got a store it and transport it and find a venue for it. And it was just, yeah, it wasn't crazy anymore. And it was, that part of my mind was going, you know, atrophied.

Suzanne:                  How do you feel when you're in the water with just kind of waiting for a whale? Like is it meditative? Is it, yeah. Peaceful.

Bryant:                       No, no, it's very peaceful. Um, so there's a lot of surrender and it just comes naturally for me. Um, and like I said, I do work alone in the water so I can be, and 3000 fetal blue water. Um, my boat can be 800 feet away. Uh, and I'm just with whales, I'm floating, I'm at a distance where we can have a visual connection to each other, but that's it. And then I just wait and um, yeah, it is meditative. You, uh, I breathe up in a way a, I'm a free diver, so that's breath, hold, dive in. So I'll, uh, I don't generally dive with whales. They don't like it. They leave. So they're very sensitive and, but it's just a way to relax. So I'll saturate my blood, you know, to nearly a hundred percent o two and my heart rate, I can lower my heart rate through my breathing in the way I breathe. And yeah, it's just very relaxing very much in the moment.

Rubin:                        But you're holding a camera and you're, you are in hoping a whale comes around and sure you have to concentrate on the photography part as well as not, you know, dying cause you're holding your breath underwater.

Bryant:                       Oh yeah. The breath holds not, not, I don't do too much of that. Um, you know, I, I've been held by wells and, uh, almost taken down by a young, whale that just held me in his arm, his Pec fan, and I think he was about to take me to go see his mom and his mom came up next to us. And so, um, he let go of me. You have to be able to navigate those channels, you know, those things when they come up. Wow.

Rubin:                        Are you more comfortable? I was glancing, I've been going through your portfolio, your newer work, you're on the land that looks right safer. Is it still meditative? Is it the same kind of process? Yeah. So tell me about that. Excuse me. Project.

Bryant:                       Yeah. So it really, um, yeah, I had to take a break from whales just because, um, it's, it's just, um, yeah, it's a long story. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Like really that the ultimate thing issue was I could make it sustainable and, um, it, it, it Wa it was sent, you know, yeah. It was a long story. It wasn't sustainable. And I thought I can either just try to be a salesman and not take photographs for, you know, I did that for three years. Yeah. I can just keep doing that. Or I could just create and find a way to, to have a daily creative practice. And, uh, I made that decision. MMM. MMM. In 2015 so then the idea was, okay, yeah, wells will go pull you into the present moment. Um, the word will is meaningless. When you're with them. They're there, they have a presence. You feel their presence, their consciousness. It's all very evident and you know, you, you can, you know, they can bring you closer to an enlightened state where you just feel connected to everything and feel one with everything. Uh, it's, they can easily take you there, especially when you can just touch them and they're looking at you, their eyes moving and studying you. Huh. Um, but I always wanting to know, I mean it's available to us everyday. All of us everywhere. We don't need to be with a, whale five feet away. We could that, that same thing can, those emotions can be stirred from by a flower or a tree, uh, or, or the sun or the sky. And I thought, I just want to explore ways to evoke that same emotional state, uh, that I felt with the whales in everyday life. And, uh, so that sale. Um, well I'm sorry.

Rubin:                        So what did you do? Like, I mean I've seen some of your pictures, but maybe you could describe what you came to.

Bryant:                       Well, you know, it, it, um, it was a decision I made in an emergency room. Actually I had a close call with a medication. Um, uh, it just, my body just did not like it. And, uh, I just thought, you know, laying in the hospital bed, like, what am I doing? You know, and, uh, and I just came back to this idea of connecting every day. And you know, the, I, the idea is, you know, when you connect to the present moment, when you can create work that reminds us, our, our can connect us to the present moment, you realized that the cosmos is right here. And I just wanted to start exploring work that can connect us to that reality. Um, I'm not sure if I answered your question though.

Rubin:                        Not at all. Not even live in the slide. Well, I mean, I, what I've seen are they look like landscapes and then there are these almost scientifically amazing images of the site.

Bryant:                       Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rubin:                        What am I seeing?

Bryant:                       Um, yeah, that it started with the sun and the telescope and um, you know, like, you know how we have narratives in our head like that can keep the kind of hold us back. You know? And I think during that three years I wasn't taking photographs. I was so focused on the whales, getting back to the wells, getting, you know, really doing all this stuff. The narrative was I can't do anything else. Like it's whales and, and anything else I do is less. And, and there's a, in my mind almost created like a hierarchy, like wells are at the top of this hierarchy and they're not. And um, and uh, so I, I, you know, I'll just real quick just because it makes sense to explain this. I had, I was having Gi issues and the medication was to help the GI issues, but it sent me to the emergency room and the doctor said, you don't, if you take antidepressants that can help your GI issues. And I thought, I don't need the antidepressants, I'm fine. They're saying, you're fine, but your stomach and your intestines, they'll benefit from it because they have lots of serotonin receptors and like, okay, let's take him. And I was like, Lo and behold, I, where's my narrative? And it was just like, oh. And it was like, I was like, could be a child again. I could create, I could run out. I, you know, I had a telescope and the garage that my wife's parents gave to me as a gift for the Venus when Venus transited the son in 2012. I was just explore with this. You don't see where it goes. And it was just a giving myself a pass to play and explore things that have been with me since childhood. Um, and so yeah, it started with the sun and it started with a tree and it's very childlike and, and you know, honestly, it's very unoriginal, but we all like to align the moon and the sun behind things and the tree and this and that. And I just gave myself permission to do that and I wasn't prepared where it would take me. And, and I just, I was, I had no agenda. I'm not creating a body of work. I don't have an exhibition schedule. I'm not trying to do anything with it. I just want to see where it would take me. And it took me on a journey I wasn't prepared for. Um, it moves has moved me more than an all my time with whales. Oh really? Yeah. Connecting, starting with the son. I don't even know where to begin, but yeah. Um, there was a moment where I was photographing the sun rising behind a six foot Jeffrey pine on half dome that had been photographing for the last four years. I've photographed the tree from a two and a half miles away with a telescope. And right. The idea is like, oh this get the sun in the tree and that's cool. And then it's the things I would see beforehand. I would see the way the sun, you wouldn't see the sun, but you would see the way it would illuminate the tree and then the edge of the granite right out until it goes out of the frame and cause it telescopes roughly like 2000 millimeter magnification. And then you would see before the center merges, you'd see the insects flying the look like stars. They're like, this guy's black by the way, everything's black except for this, this drama unfolding, this micro world I'm seeing from two and half miles away. And then birds would fly over airplanes that fly over and they would flash the sun and look like comments just rocketing through the frame. And so you're just connecting to all these things. And it was a day like that with half dome and this Jeffrey Pine where I looked over my shoulder, I'm waiting for the sun and I don't use a watch. I just look over my shoulder and can see the shadow coming down behind me on the valley, on the wall. Um, and the shadow hit the valley floor. And we started moving towards me and I kept looking over my shoulder, shoulder, looking at the shadow. And in a, in a moment I looked over and I, I swear I could feel a presence in that shadow. It's like earth Earth's rotation is evident in that shadow approaching me. Wow. And I felt a presence and as a shadow came up to me and move past me, um, I, I, for that moment, I could feel the cosmos experiencing itself through me. And then a moment later, it was, I felt experienced itself through me until there was no longer a me. And, um, yeah, that happened last year and after three years of just following the sun and it's forever changed the way I create now. And I don't even create any more I connect to, to, you know, reality or reality, um, into myself. Um, but you're, yeah.

Rubin:                        But you're using the photographs as a vehicle or is it as a part of that connection? Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Suzanne:                  I think the sharing the connection, I mean, it seems like you get to share your connection with the world because we get to see these moments in a way that the rest of us aren't even, our eyes aren't even open for.

Bryant:                       Yeah, I hope so. You know? Um, initially I thought, well, if I can just create every day, it's a way to get myself out there and, and maybe it's a way back to the whales, but it was kind of more of just a way back to yourself. You know, your true self.

Suzanne:                  Well, what's so interesting is that when you've taken the, like the creature on our planet, um, and given them this like this soul and this, this texture that is sort of unseen, unless you're really there. Um, and this, you talked about this before, but just this like calmness in their expression, in their eyes, and then you kind of have moved to now obviously these large, um, orb that is, you know, in our, in our solar system is true and you've added this level of like texture and edge that, that I've never seen before. I've, I've, I've really never seen these photographs that there, and I don't know if it's the, the addition of them being black and white that adds this almost like abstractness abstractness of the, the contrast and like this texture. It's how do you really compelling. Yeah.

Rubin:                        Yeah. There's texture in the sun. Yes. Where it's almost always blown out every picture of the sun that humans, it's going to be blown out and exposed for all. Now for the ground. And here you've, I dunno, through a series of unbelievable solar filters have brought out the texture in the Cronin would add or what did you call that? The Corolla.

Bryant:                       Chromosphere and, uh, the, the krona we can say during the eclipse. Then there's the chroma sphere and there's different layers of the sun's surface that you could see through different filters. And yeah, I use a hydrogen alpha filter. Um, son's been very quiet for the last year, so I haven't done any imaging on the solar surface since. Yeah. Yeah. But you get, you get really connected to the service cause you'll see the storms and the spots and they move each day that I set up an image, you'll see it. You'll notice that the spot over a little bit more and a little bit more of that, you know, that son spending too. And um, wow. An amateur can do this, can get a filter easily. Yeah. Easily. Yeah. You could get a filter for $100 for if you have a telephoto Lens. Um, like if you have a 500 millimeter, like I have a two to 500 millimeter Lens, a Nikon that I use for my Sony cameras and it works beautifully. I put a doubler on it and a solar filter and you can see the surface and beautiful detail. Just what? Yeah.

Rubin:                        And those are straight shots. Those ones I saw with half with half dome and the Sun.

Bryant:                       Oh yeah, that's, yeah, there sure. Through a huge long lens. Right. The ones that online, uh, that I have online, some like the one was half dome, that's just one telescope and a solar filter. But to get to get the surface of the sun get its detail, to get the dynamic range of an eliminated atmosphere. Like whether there's high humidity and you have like a, you know, you have something in the air to that reflects light that makes it white. You know, it's not quite clouds but it's, it's something forming. So you want to get that and then you want to get a foreground subjects in focus. So I uh, for awhile it was using three cameras, so I'd use two at the same time for the sun and the atmosphere and the foreground subjects, kidding. I guess focal, dynamic range and then that illuminated dynamic range I guess. And then for the surface of the sun, I would either image it separately before, after these events. And to get the surface detail, you use a monochrome video camera and the sensor is really small and you can only image about one eighth of the sun's surface at a time and you'd capture about 4,000 video frames and you do that takes about an hour and a half and then you run it through a program that picks out the sharpest frames and stacks them into a 16 bit print quality tiff. And then a program like Photoshop can render it seamlessly into a disc. And then I can't do this with my phone. Uh, you could actually probably probably be very original. I don't know if anyone has yet. We can modify your phone with a monochrome sensor, tick box and call it cultural. Right. And what,

Rubin:                        I'm curious what, I mean, it's clear what inspires you or they're photographers who inspire you, who got you to here that taught you something.

Bryant:                       There are photographers who inspire me now, like not, not when I was up and coming. I mean, like when I was up and coming when I was just trying to connect to myself and my passion and purpose, you know, uh, you know, I don't know if you've heard of Bob Talbot? Hmm. It, he photographs whales in the eighties and nineties. And he always showed me, um, what's possible if you, if you care about your subject and his wealth photography stands out, there's just no, there's no comparison. There's no equivalent. I'm very sensitive to atmosphere, see surface reflectivity states and, uh, and the behavior of the whale or dolphin. Um, and, you know, and then know Nick Brandt

Suzanne:                  famous collection is it? And like the name is familiar. I, I'd read an interview you gave, actually need mentioned him before, so I googled him. Oh, okay. It's like the, the Talbot Collection and Talbert collection. Yeah. You're, I think you're, yeah, that's it. Yeah. They're definitely iconic images like the eye Ruben, I think you'd, if you, um, if you look at them, they're, they're, they're, they're images you've definitely seen before. Okay. He was like, from the eighties and nineties. Is that right?

Bryant:                       Yeah. And he moved on into filmmaking. And I think he made a couple of imax films and no, I don't know what he's doing. You know, I've only met him a couple of times and uh, yeah, so, uh, that he's influential early, but like, you know, someone like Nick Brant really inspired me. Um, again, it's like, you know, if you really care about a subject photographing nature, uh, as an art form is really hard. Um, I mean obviously just to find, to, to capture it in a way that's original and compelling and then to get out in the world is really hard.

Rubin:                        Was Nick Brandt a conservationist? Um, I don't remember my thinking of his picture is there are always, for some reason there's dead animals in them. Is that my just imagination?

Bryant:                       He's, he has done most of this flash photography, but he also has these amazing, like you talk about like the life size portraits. He does, uh, portraits. He's, he has done portraits of animals like lions. Like he'll sit next to him, wild animals and Cheetahs and, and just wait for that moment. You know, when the, like what the one with the line where he's waiting for something to happen and the wind picks up and the sun comes out from a cloud and it just, if he's using a, um, you know, uh, portrait lens on a medium format camera and um,

Rubin:                        and the lion.

Bryant:                       Yeah. Yeah. And so he, he's an amazing photographer and he, uh, he's done good with it. You know, he started a foundation that protects these animals. They, they hire rangers that, you know, hunt down poachers and I've always admired that. Um, cool. Cool. Yeah, yeah.

Suzanne:                  We have an expression wait to make it great. And I feel like you absolutely encapsulate that.

Bryant:                       It's, yeah, the one thing that I do, um, it is, uh, the for, I think for me to be able to see, to, to, to conceive what I do is like, I have to constantly emotionally decouple from all the financial influences and pressures to create work. And when I can remove that pressure and decouple from it, I see like I can all of a sudden it's like, you know, veil is lifted and, and, um, um, yeah. So I, I think that's really helps. Specially with a whale photography.

Rubin:                        You're really the antithesis of a commercial photographer. I'm sorry to say. You're, you're completely not trying to make, I mean, you're not out there doing this. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? It's hard to be an artist, right?

Bryant:                       It's hard. Yeah. Yeah. But it's so important, you know, and what you can, how you can, what you can connect, you know, what you can share with humanity. Things are so important that, that we can't see, you know, and uh, yeah.

Suzanne:                  Is there any place that I just, I'm so drawn to and just kind of almost in disbelief that you've made these amazing, um, portraits of, of whales one to one. Is there any place that we can go that we can see them? see, yes. Portraits.

Bryant:                       Um, the, I have, um, smaller portraits and smaller photographs on display. Uh, uh, Cape Cod at the focus gallery. Uh, that's the only gallery showing my well photography and it's shown you around.

Rubin:                        Wow. Okay. We'll put a link down to, so people who are on these phones of queue, can you get over there? Um, I see a behind you, a couple pictures, something we'd like to ask. Everyone who comes on the show is sure to for, to pick to describe two photographs that are on your wall right now in your home, one that you took and one that you did not take that photo.

Bryant:                       Okay. Yeah. Um, I can share this one right here behind me. Sure. Um, so I mentioned I spent 14 years to make 12 or no, 12 years to make 14 lifesize portraits. This is my only photograph above water of a whale. It's a well tail out of the water. It's entitled, a mother listens and it's a mother doing just that, most likely listening for other whales. And um, you know, it was a moment where I was completely stripped down emotionally, financially, everything. Um, I had left my job, cashed out, my retirement, sold everything I owned, um, and you know, my boat, everything, my car and I had tried for years to photograph whales in the tradition of Bob Talbot above water on Laura Bay, you know, with my own boat and a team of volunteers and all that. And here I am like trying to make a life size portrait and the whale is sticking her tail out of the water for 20 minutes and just tell us slowly spinning three 60 around me. And so I spent about three minutes with that vote with her above water trying to make this photo and I made it and you know it's this weird like you know, I sold my bowl but yet I'm floating alone in the ocean with us. Well making an above water photograph, you know like literally the, what is Ami is all I own. This camera, I have a laptop back on land but that's pretty much it. It's like just completely stripped down. And then I put that photograph away. I never thought about it. That was done in 2006 and I just focused on the portraits and I'm Cindy Bellino who owns the focus gallery, reached out to me in 2013 to say I'll represent your work if you really set photograph. And the thing that blows me away is that that photograph has sustained me for the last, you know, six years. Oh wait, it's sold out. We released it, um, in three different sizes in additions of 20, and there's only like two prince left. And that has allowed me to, yeah, just go all over and explore this new body of work and just keep going. So, so grateful to her. Yeah. Is that a, is that an archival print? Is that like a print behind you? Oh yeah. Yeah. That's one of the last prints that I have. It's not, not, not releasing it to the public, but, um, it'll probably stay with the body of work that I have that goes to museums. That's great. Then a beautiful storage. No, thank you. Yeah. Okay. And then when you didn't take, yeah, there's one right here. I don't shut, I show you, or if you could send us [inaudible]. I'd like to like you to post them if it's okay to, yeah, of course. But what's on your wall? Well, my wife Cheryl, um, really spent her formative years in, in the everglades. She's a planacologist. And um, before we met, she really grew attached to a photographer named Clyde butcher. His work is black and white as well, you know, landscape of the everglades of Florida nature, but he's very sensitive to atmosphere as well. And um, you know, and um, you know, it works with these giant view cameras and I'm really an amazing photographer, so we have a little one of his, um, uh, on our wall and I'll, I'll share a picture of that with you. And um, yeah, Cheryl has a bunch of his photographs. Oh. And it's just nice that his aesthetic is similar to mine in the way we connect with nature.

Suzanne:                  You said that you have a daily, um, photography practice. What does that entail? What do you do?

Bryant:                       Um, I don't know if I take pictures every day. I try to, um, definitely when I'm inspired, but um, you know, I just, especially when the sun's out, I can really just, I can just walk outside. And, and connect with earth's spin. It's rotation just by just sitting with the shadow and it looks static, but you just sit there and watch it move across asphalt across the cracks, things going out of the cracks. You just see the shadow move and it's like, and you start to wonder like, can anybody see this? Um, and then you look okay, so you see your head, you see the shadow cast over your head and you know, the sun is right there. So, um, you can, you know, I'm just talking about my driveway where I live. Um, I'll see a shadow of a branch and I'll go walk up to that shadow of the branch and tell my head is in the shadow. And then I just look over my shoulder and the branch is illuminated on both sides. You don't see this anymore. And then you see, you'll see insects and spider webs moving around and um, it's infinite. That's what I realized in, um, when, when I mentioned that moment earlier, when I felt the cosmos experience itself through me, it changed the way I see. And, um, it's changed the way I connect at, you know, um, yeah. So it's like you're connecting to the infinite and, and connects you to impossibilities that are infinite. So it's overwhelming. So I find that I had to put a governor on it or I don't take pictures cause it's too overwhelming. So I try to go out in small doses and go outside and um, yeah.

Rubin:                        You know, I, I talk sometimes in the show about the modulating force that a camera is that sometimes the energy oh yeah. In front of you is so to two great to experience directly whether it's sometimes it's love or sexual, sometimes it's personal but or a war happening and it's violent. But the camera transduces that in a way. And it's, and again I'm hearing you describe this, this sensitivity to something out there that's almost too much to experience in the camera. Is it opportunity to translate that into something we can kind of understand? Yeah, absolutely. Cool.

Suzanne:                  One last question. We like to ask all our guests, but if you could describe your photo in one word or sorry, your photography in one word, what word would you use?

Bryant:                       Oh, one word. You can hyphenate. Yeah, we're flexible. Is a self portrait. Um, hyphenated. Is that self portrait? Yeah. Wow. And, and yeah, that's beautiful and beautiful. This self is the illusion.

Bryant:                       I'll buy that. Okay. Brian, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming and joining us. You bring such a different perspective for people getting into photography. We've talked to commercial people, we talked to artists and educators and you're a perfect kind of another point, another point of view that I think will really be inspiring for people.

Bryant:                       Oh, well thank you and I look forward to putting your podcasts on on my long trips. Say somebody in the coming months.

Suzanne:                  Yeah, thanks. Yeah, absolutely. Well first and foremost, thank you to Brian. I think just talking to you has made me feel calmer and somehow more at peace with the world and I feel, I feel like that's the thing I struggle with in my photography is just is waiting and being patient. And so thank you so much. It was a really, really, really lovely chatting with you.

Closing:                     .


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#63 Los Angeles (and Sock Puppets)

Rubin: Wondercon, Anaheim (2019)

Rubin: Wondercon, Anaheim (2019)

Yours truly, and animation director (“Book of Life”) Jorge Guttierez

Yours truly, and animation director (“Book of Life”) Jorge Guttierez

PopSockets were invented by David Barnett

Suzanne’s generic “PopSocket”

Suzanne’s generic “PopSocket”

“In 2010, our founder was looking for a way to stop his earbud cord from getting tangled, and he achieved this by gluing two buttons to the back of his phone and wrapping the earbud cord around the buttons. As ugly as the buttons were, they worked. In the course of improving on the idea, he developed about 60 different prototypes, making the buttons expand and collapse via an accordion mechanism, so that they could function as both a stand and a grip.

In 2012, Barnett launched a KickStarter campaign for an iPhone case that would have two PopSockets grips integrated into the case. In addition to getting successfully funded, the KickStarter campaign enabled Barnett to show the world his dancing prowess.

Two years later, in 2014, Barnett launched the business out of his garage in Boulder, Colorado, and has subsequently sold over 40 million PopSockets grips around the world.

The work of Alexa Meade:

“Alexa Meade’s work may look like something you would see hanging on the wall in an art gallery, but Meade isn’t like any other artist. The artist’s work is different in that she literally paints human beings, turning them into living, breathing portraits. Alexa creates the illusion of a world where 2D and 3D have become one.” Business Insider





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#62 The Syntopicon: Russ, Doug, Kris and Nigel

This episode is our review and discussion of our first four guest shows — Russell Brown, Doug Menuez, Kris Sanford and Nigel Barker.

Doug Menuez, “Hacienda de San José del Refugio Amatitan” (2001),   from his book  “   Heaven, Earth, Tequilla   ”

Doug Menuez, “Hacienda de San José del Refugio Amatitan” (2001), from his bookHeaven, Earth, Tequilla


“The two volumes that make up the Syntopicon comprise a distinctive kind of index. The term "syntopicon" means a collection of topics. In these two volumes there are nearly 3,000 topics parceled out among 102 ideas. The purpose of these volumes is to provide a subject-matter index to writings included in the Great Books of the Western World. Underlying the creation of the Syntopicon is the conviction that the books in this set have an overall unity in the discussion of common themes and problems. Such a unity exists because all of the books belong to the western tradition…” — (Philosopher and editor Mortimer Adler)

Our syntopicon will periodically insert episodes into the mix where we review and synthesize ideas and threads that move through different conversations with our guests. What does Russell Brown think of the use of Photoshop vs. journalist Doug Menuez. Or artist Kris Sanford. How did they learn composition? What photos inspire them? And so forth.

A few of my pictures from the Photowalk at Fort Point (Join our Meetup group to participate! Bay Area Photowalks)

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