Five Decades of Bill Owens

Bill Owens: 5 Decades of Photography
Photo Central Gallery, April 17-June 18, 2009
1099 E Street, Hayward, CA [Google Map]
photocentral.org

Bill Owens is an internationally renowned photographer living in Hayward. His most famous work, Suburbia, has been exhibited in museums around the globe but it is just one part of his dynamic creative life. This exhibition is the first to feature Bill’s photographs from the Peace Corps in the sixties to the Rolling Stones at Altamont all the way to his newest video work. Bill is a vibrant “people person” who shows us our real selves with wry humor and wit. If you only see one exhibition this year-this should be the one! Learn more about Bill at: billowens.com

Important Note: Medium-sized prints are very reasonably priced at $300-500 unframed. For those on a budget there are signed Suburbia posters for $10, T-shirts for $20, and small prints for $150. The show also includes a folio of 10 prints for $900 that includes 8 silver prints and 2 color.

Books: Many people know Bill’s classic book Suburbia, but his other 1970′s books are underrated gems, especially Working (I do it for the money), and Our Kind of People: American Groups and Rituals. These two books are highly recommended, and usually available used for $10-15. Leisure is quite good, with a sprinkling of newer work. I haven’t looked at last year’s hardcover monograph entitled Bill Owens. In addition to photography, Bill is a microbrewery and craft distilling pioneer, heads up the American Distilling Institute, and has a forthcoming book on making whiskey.

Head on over to Hayward’s Parks and Rec building for what will certainly be one of the top Bay Area photography shows of the year. Hats off to Photo Central!

Aaron Hobson’s Barkeater Photography Workshop and Exhibit

Popeye's place -- by Aaron Hobson

Popeye’s place — by Aaron Hobson

Aaron Hobson’s cinemascapes are a unique combination of narrative portraiture and panoramic images. This Summer Aaron is leading a 3-day portraiture workshop in upstate New York. The shooting locations are a mix of natural settings in the Adirondacks, and fantastic abandonded places, including the remains of an iron ore mill once owned by Benedict Arnold.

The other really unique part of the workshop is that the third night culminates in a gallery show! Participation in the workshop is limited to 8 photographers and by portfolio review. If you’re interested in mise en scéne style portrait photography, I can’t think of a better instructor than Aaron. And I’m sure the added bonus of expert instruction on preparing for a gallery show will really make this an amazing experience.

The workshop runs August 13-15th with headquarters in Saranac Lake, New York. The introductory workshop price of $500 is very reasonable. View all of the schedule and location details on the Barkeater Workshop website: http://www.barkeaterphotography.com

Night Photography: An Interview with Joe Reifer

A Newport Custom with No Key reaches out -- by Joe Reifer

A Newport Custom with No Key reaches out — by Joe Reifer

[On a note related to the interview, the image above contains light painting in 2 places. Can you tell where?]

A short while ago I was contacted via email by Mark Welker, who interviewed me for a college photography class. The interview  included my ramblings about night photography, light painting, and location access. Here it is:

To start off could you give me a brief bio with some of your history with photography. When did you first start taking pictures, educational background, major influences, when did you start making money/doing shows, etc.

I got interested in street photography in college, and learned traditional black and white printing from a friend. I started as a music major in school, and ended up with an English degree. I worked in a custom black and white lab for awhile, and enjoyed shooting with crappy thrift store cameras. After college I didn’t do much shooting beyond regular snapshots, because I was focusing on playing music. In the late 90’s I started a project documenting peeling billboards in my neighborhood, inspired by my love of collage artists like Rauschenberg. Around this time I became friends with professional photographer Jay Watson, who was instrumental in reawakening my interest in photography.

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Benefit Auction: Help buy a normal lens for the New Yorker Photography Department

Obama Inauguration Ball Photos by Platon

Obama Inauguration Ball Photos by Platon

Platon became a staff photographer for the New Yorker last year, primarily shooting black and white portraits on a white seamless background. Standing in the shadow of former New Yorker staff photographer Richard Avedon has never been an easy task, especially when working in Avedon’s trademarked style. While Platon’s portraits of military personnel last Fall entitled Service showed a range of full length portraits along with tighter detail shots and a sprinkle of documentary work, his latest series of Portraits from the Obama Inauguration Balls in the New Yorker led to some concern amongst the staff here at the Words photography blog. We all know that times are tough for photographers, but we’re worried that perhaps either Platon or the New Yorker were forced to sell off their normal and telephoto focal length lenses on eBay? All of the shots in the inauguration ball portraits show evidence of being taken with a wide angle lens.

Now if you’re shooting with a 4×5 camera, and are limited to one lens, a wide angle is a great choice. With a big negative you can always crop. But for a magazine that primarily features portraits, we really recommend a normal or telephoto lens for full length work. Female subjects will really appreciate the slimming effect that a longer focal length has on their hips, and those wearing sleeveless attire will be pleased by the reduction of the dreaded “trucker arm” syndrome. No portrait sitter wants to be burdened with the feeling that their hands look really big — so until this benefit is over, we’re advising all portrait subjects of the New Yorker to keep their hands in their pockets, and to stand as parallel to the camera as humanly possible to eliminate the risk of funhouse mirror head shrinking or enlargement.

Because we want to ensure that future portrait features in the New Yorker are a bit more flattering to their subjects, we’re auctioning off a limited edition of 15 prints at a very reasonable price: the Mad Mouse Rollercoaster panorama will be available for the month of Februrary in a 5×20″ print for $40 + shipping. Please inquire via email if you would like to help the cause. If the edition of 15 prints sells out, we’ll be able to use the $600 to purchase the following items for the New Yorker photography equipment room:

  • A used 150mm f/5.6 lens for 4×5 ($200-250)
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8 AF lens ($90)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF lens $(140)
  • Bogen 055XB tripod ($160) — raises higher than waist level, in order to not cut off portrait subjects’ heads

By helping us purchase these important pieces of equipment, you’ll not only be doing a big favor to the photographers who shoot for the New Yorker, you’ll be doing a great service for over 1 million readers from all over the world. Won’t you please purchase a print today. Thousands of future portrait subjects need your help!