A fitting set of images and sentiments for today. The Boston Public Library has an incredible set of old-time winter scenes shot in and around Boston during the early 20th century. What’s piques my attention in these photographs is the fact that many of the pictured moments are so similar to those of today —from snow filled streets to a towering stack of Christmas trees— though the times are obviously vastly different. To see the packages piled high at the train depot (South Station I believe), the range of photos of people digging out from blankets of snow and the empty nighttime streets after what must have been cold hard days fill me with ideas about what life must have been like way back then.
These days we are rarely without a camera, yet how often do we hold an actual photograph? We flip through streams of jpegs, on Tumblr, Instagram and the rest, we “like,” reblog and create virtual slideshows. We get daily dispatches from friends on alpine treks, course-by-course accounts of elaborate meals, and inspect carefully curated interiors. It’s so easy to create an evocative filter that we’ve become suspicious of what we’re looking at. It was not always thus.
Bunny Yeager’s photographs are direct and bracing. They remind us of the basic power of controlling the image and the elemental act of provocation. It should be mentioned that she was a pinup girl and named “world’s prettiest photographer” of 1953. You can enjoy her handiwork in the new book Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin-Up Photography’s Golden Era, (Rizzoli).
The Library of Congress never ceases to amaze me with its incredible archive of images. While going through a collection of newly digitized photographs, I came across this set from 1915 which documents a winter training maneuver of a New York National Guard unit in the Westchester County town of Peekskill, N.Y. Looking back, one could only assume that these soldiers ended up in Europe a few years later as part of the American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War.
A little while back I went to the preview for an auction of William Eggleston prints at Christie’s, a sale that was arranged to benefit the Eggleston Artistic Trust. It was a particu;arly interesting event for me for a few different reasons. First because I absolutely love Eggleston’s photography (and the man is one of my favorite living artists), and also because the auction consisted of large format digital pigment prints, a rare departure from the dye-transfer prints that helped solidify him as one of American’s greatest photographers.
The search for a camera strap for my DSLR is over for good. Finally someone came up with something that is both comfortable to wear (especially important while traveling) and functional when it comes to actually taking photos. The strap is called Cinch and it is designed and made by Portland, Oregon-based Luma Labs. The key to what makes Cinch special is the ability to easily make the strap longer so you can quickly bring up your camera to take a picture — then tighten it all right back up and be on your way. The other huge plus is the fact that the design puts the camera in a perfect cradle while you are on the go. This is a very important aspect if you are walking around all day, because no one likes a camera impaling you in the side the whole time. Or maybe you do get down like that, though probably better if we don’t talk about it.
Nick DeWolf spent nearly his entire life carrying around a camera and documenting the places he went and the things he saw. The scale and scope of this is incredible, especially when you consider it was all done in a time before digital photography. Over the past four years I have been following his life, roll by roll and slide by slide, through Flickr. The photos are being shared with the help of DeWolf’s son-in-law Steve Lundeen, who has been methodically scanning and cataloging DeWolf’s life’s worth of photos — a project nearly as daunting as the original.
The photos have been working their way through the 1960s into the 1970s until recently when pictures from a vacation to Europe in 1959 began playing out through the Flickrstream. The trip begins in May of 1959 on an SAS flight from Idlewild Airport (now called John F. Kennedy International Airport) to Stockholm, Sweden. From there the adventures continue on through France, Switzerland and Italy. The images from this journey are some of my favorite from the tens of thousands that have been published by DeWolf.