Tag Archives: Artistry

Did Your Early School Days Influence Your Photography? Episode 70

We’re back, baby! And talking school… OLD school. No, not that “old school” but rather the school that we used to go to. From Kindergarten through the 12th grade, all three of us had experiences that, in one way or another, shaped our photography later in life.

Working it old schoolDid you have a nasty teacher? Or a great one? Listen to the show and see how seemingly unrelated experiences taught each one of us some of our most valuable pieces of knowledge in photography. From learning about the importance of layering a scene to being told (in a roundabout kind of way) that art and creativity take a backseat to the other classes like math and English, each of the guys recall memories from their school days.

How about you? Please let us know your thoughts. Any memories from your days in school that, looking back, influence you today as a photography? Let us know on the website!

And please remember to support the show by using our Amazon link from the web site. Each show we will highlight a specific item but get anything you want!


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Visionaries: Are There Any Visionaries Left in Photography?

Visionaries – It’s a word that evokes a sense of artistry, focus, vision (d’uh) and, apparently, confusion…

Are There Visionaries in Photography?

The guys get down to discussing the finer points of the role of visionaries in photography until they realize that theymay not be talking about the same thing.


Still, the guys have a lively debate about whether or not we can recognize visionaries while they’re actively creating art or if we can only recognize their influence after they’re dead – or at the very least, after the influence is over. Kind of like a gambling streak in Vegas, right? You never know you’re on a streak, you only ever knew that your were on a streak.

And what about the tie, or bond, between visionaries and technology? Can technology create, or destroy, a person’s vision? Or is technology truly just a tool that visionaries can use to bring their vision to life?

Our Artists

Our artists, on one hand, could not be different. But you can easily argue that they are very similar if we look at each one’s influence in their respective worlds. Either way, they are truly visionaries, even if you hate their stuff.

Was Robert Mapplethorpe one of the biggest visionaries of the 20th century?

Robert Mapplethorpe – love him or hate him, you can’t deny the importance that Mapplethorpe has had on the art world. Then, when you realize the time period in which he was most active, you can see see the boundaries that he had to cross and the limitations he had to break through. Definitely check out the documentary on him, Black White + Gray.

Emily Carr is one of Canada’s best known artists, was influenced by both modernism and post-impressionism and that is readily recognizable in her artwork. Her role as one of Canada’s artistic visionaries is still maintained and celebrated today, particularly in the province of British Columbia where she was also influenced by the indigenous peoples of the West Coast.


P.S. – Rick and Tony are totally wrong: Rob is freaking FUNNY!

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Inspiration – Episode 32, How Do We Deal With a Lack of Inspiration?

When You Find Yourself Lacking Inspiration

At one time or another, every photographer deals with lacking inspiration. It’s frustrating as hell, knowing that you want to shoot but you end up just sitting there trying to figure out what to shoot. But don’t worry, you really aren’t alone; we all go through it. It’s just a matter of how you power through it, right? Right? Hmmm….

It’s easy to be distracted and blame other things like spending too much time on Facebook, or shooting only for clients/income, etc. But, in truth, sometimes we just get burned out and we seek out those distractions. Fortunately, we don’t leave it on such a negative thought – we also talk about how to get past it.

Rob is starting to shoot new material again and has gotten deep into hybrid photography and that’s seems to be the catalyst for finding inspiration again. Rick’s finding inspiration by specifically not going out and shooting for clients. But, for both of them, allowing themselves to be open to new creative vision and direction has brought a certain spark and inspiration back.

Just watch out for the “analysis paralysis”!

Today’s Artists

Dogfish Head Brewery constantly shows the inspiration that their brewers bring

Dogfish Head Brewery constantly shows the inspiration that their brewers bring

Tony chose the artist and, as you can guess, he went way outside the box. But, if you can believe it, he doesn’t choose a musician. Yeah, we’re surprised, too! It’s Sam Calagione. Who? Sam is the president and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. All three of the guys are into home brewing (big surprise, right) and Dogfish Head provides plenty of inspiration not only for their home brewing but also on a higher creativity level. Sam, and Dogfish Head, don’t allow themselves to be constrained by what’s been done before or by thinking that experimental beers can’t (and shouldn’t) be done. By allowing the creative spirit to flow, Sam and his brewery produce some of the most exciting and creative beers today. And there’s some huge lessons for all of us who are photographers in that approach.

Rick chose Joel-Peter Witkin as the photographer. It’s artistic and Witkin’s work shows his level of inspiration but, as a warning, his work can be very disturbing and definitely not safe for work. His composition techniques are quite strong and his use of black and white really brings a timeless feeling to the images. His subject matter, though, is where we have to warn you. From his bio on the Acid Skull site (that’s the site we’ve linked his name to): “His works carry the delicate tonality of a 19th-century ambrotype, showing morphed scenes with human body parts and deceased subjects with a strong satirical sentiment against vanity.” Here’s the link to his work on Acid Skull.

And PLEASE, check out our Cafe Press Store to support the show and don’t forget to leave a comment!

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Into the Looking Glass, Part II (Let’s Try This Again)

Wow, our first two-part series! Into the Looking Glass continues this week with a greater focus on the art and business of photography. In episode 14, we ended up being pretty technology-heavy which is never the intent of our podcasts. And, as time ran out on us (yet we continued to blather on and on), we didn’t have time to address the other areas of where we have seen the business and the art of photography come from and where we see it going.

Rick's absinthe fountain that we discuss in the opening.

Every episode, we start with what we are drinking. Into the Looking Glass is no different! Rick refers to his homemade absinthe fountain and here it is.

Today, we try to right that wrong.

Business & Art as Seen Through the Looking Glass

So many topics and rants in today’s episode. From Rob bitching (again) about the cavalier approach that people have toward intellectual property (and the unintentional theft) to the value we place on the art we hang on our walls. From the bad signal-to-noise today to a great quote (well, “great” according to Rob):

Many of the pix out there on the internet are such a no-frills, in-your-face slam dunk of plastic sexiness that the creator with his camera seems not to be an inquisitive, interested gentleman, but more like a drunk at a bar sidling up to a hot chick and blurting out, ‘Wanna boff? (Joe McNally)

Also, by listening to this episode, you’ll hear a for-realz disagreement between Tony and Rob as to the role of the traditional business model vs. the idea that maybe it’s okay to let your work get stolen. Spoiler alert: Rob thinks that Tony is fucked up!

Today’s Photographer and Artist

Into the Looking Glass - Arthur Frellig

When talking about the Looking Glass and where photography has come from, you can't skip over Arthur Fellig (aka Weegee)

When talking about the Looking Glass and where photography has come from, you can’t skip over Arthur Fellig (aka Weegee)

Tony’s choice for photographer today is the New York City street photographer, Arthur Fellig. Also know as Weegee, he was known for start black and white crime photography. Don’t know him? We’re willing to bet that you know his work!

Our artist is Anna Mary Robertson Moses, much better known as the renowned  American folk artist Grandma Moses. Want to know our opinions about her? Make sure you listen to the show and leave us your comments. We have some listeners who have been fantastic about leaving comments – even though sometimes they disagree with what we’ve said – and we could not appreciate that more!

A final thought… There is no “X” in espresso!

Thanks for listening to Part II of Into the Looking Glass – don’t forget to leave us your comments!

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Into the Looking Glass – What Does the Future Hold?

What does the future hold for photography? Can we tell by looking at the past? In today’s episode, Into the Looking Glass, we talk about what we think will be next in photography. More than just technology – although talk about that enough – but also about where we might be heading in terms of art, expectations, and legalities.

Bear with us, though, as Rob is still overcoming his bronchitis (6 *$^@ weeks, now) and due to some technical issues with Skype, the show sounds a bit rough in places. But, without the great editing skills of Tony, it would be far, far worse.

What Do We See in the Looking Glass?

Is the point and shoot dead (Tony sure as hell thinks so while Rick and Rob thinks the PnS is still dying)? How about the traditional model for the SLR? Are moving mirrors going to go out of existence? Rob’s been playing with his new A65 from Sony, which has a pellicle mirror,  thinks it will. Will high-end medium-format cameras come down in price so that Rick can finally get that Hassey he’s been drooling over for 20 years? Our predictions form that basis of Tony’s question, what can we see in the looking glass.

As we peer into the looking glass, Helvetica's place is secure

As we peer into the looking glass, the work of our artists for today seems secure - Helvetica is here to stay for quite a while yet.

Listen as Tony regales us with tales of his new iPad, while Rob’s jealousy causes him to tell Tony to go screw himself.

But, getting back to our topic, we talk about how we think technology will change, what the future holds for photojournalists vs the citizen journalist and will the amateur photographers feel confident enough to challenge egregious demands by law enforcement and, more commonly, overly zealous security guards who say photography is illegal?

If you find today’s topic interesting, you’re going to love this – they guys discover that this is just too damned big of a topic to cover in one episode. So our next episode, number 15, will be more like episode 14B – we’ll cover how art has changed over the past five years and how we think it might continue to evolve over the next five.

Our Artists

Our artists tonight are the team of Max Miedinger & Edüard Hoffmann: the creators of the Helvetica typeface. If you have more than just a passing interest in typography, check out the documentary on the typeface.

Tonight’s photographer is Sally Mann. We explore her work and look at the evolution she’s gone through starting with her early work. Word of warning, she did a lot of shooting at the Body Farm and you will see image of corpses in various stages of decomposition. A switch from looking at nudes like we did a few weeks ago!

Don’t forget to leave comments on the show and check back in two weeks as we finish up our topic, Into the Looking Glass.

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The Nude and Shooting Fine Art – Episode 12

After months of Rob talking about nudes, we finally get around to dedicating a show to the fine art nude. And of all times for Rob to have bronchitis. But, for the sake of the show, he powers through it with a lot of help from Rick and Tony!

Topics today include the difference between a fine art nude and a glamour nude, the kind of subjects Rob likes to work with, what’s it like to have a nude model in front of your lens, trust and vulnerability for both the photographer and the model, and whether or not arousal is the intent in fine art. There’s more… a lot more. After all, these are three guys talking about nudity in art.

Finding Inspiration for the Nude from Other Artists

Does the Open Clam Shell reflect the nude?

What do you think? Was Georgia O'Keefe invoking the nude form in this painting?

Today’s artist is Georgia O’Keefe and we discuss her floral paintings and whether or not there is an inherent eroticism in the painting. We spent a little more time today actually looking at the difference between overt sexuality/nudity and images where the nude has obviously been an inspiration. O’Keefe’s work is the perfect catalyst for this kind of topic.

Our photographer for this topic is Mary Ellen Mark. We focused primarily on her portraiture and celebrity work. She has an ability to connect with her subject and pull from them a real reaction, even when the subject isn’t paying attention to the camera. Check out her shot of John Belushi from the set of Blues Brothers.

We have questions for you! Would you pose for a fine art nude? Why or why not? Would you be interested in learning to shoot nudes? Do you have a moral or ethical aversion to fine art nude photography (remember, we are talking about fine art and not glamour)? Is there a difference for you between glamour and art? How would you describe that difference?

Let us know here on www.PolarizingImages.com or send us a tweet @PolarizingImage.

As always, thanks for listening!

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Why Do We Shoot? Episode 10 Tries to Answer That


Never stop asking why or questioning yourself. Don't let it be a barricade to making art but let it be an inspiration and a drive to keep going.

Why do we shoot? There are so many reasons: from helping to overcome tough times to being inspired by others to ‘just because’. In today’s episode (#10 – yay us!!) we share what has brought each of us to this point in our photographic and artistic lives.

We’ll be honest, at times we may ramble a bit and, quite frankly, today’s episode probably raises more questions for us than it answers so we’ve decided that this is our “lost episode.” Have you been wondering why Rob is drawn to his exploration of figure studies and minimalism? Why does Tony focus so much on alternative print processes? Great questions and this is the episode where you get to start learning about us.

Thanks to everyone who has already become a loyal listener of our show – we really appreciate.

Oh, and a note to our listeners, don’t forget to join our Flickr group, follow Rob, Tony, and the show on Twitter, and if you are a woman with a background in dance or yoga and would like to work with Rob on some of his work in the studio, drop us a line.

Oh, and we finally start to show TAI some love.

Tonight’s featured photographer is Abelardo Morell
Our featured artist is Richard MacDonald (site auto-plays music)

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People On the Other Side of the Lens

Holy shit – almost an hour and a half?! But it’s worth it, trust me… Topics today include dealing with the different types of people who land in front of your lens and how to help them relax and enjoy the photo shoot. Rob surprises an unsuspecting and long-lost friend and then Tony asks her to reveal what would creep her out. Surprise, she answers!! Sorry, B_Mo, no Van Heusen shirts here! Internet “models” need not apply.

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Scene 5, Take 2

Yeah, we’re a week late getting the recording out but we’ve dealt with it and so should you! After figuring out our technical issues, we’re back with this week’s topic, the Artist’s Statement. We cover the why and, to a bit, the how of the artist’s statement. Find out, if you don’t have one, why you need one. It’s about legacy, style, and telling people who you really are.

Our featured photographer on this show is Clyde Butcher and our artist is Brett Whitely. Word of caution, Whitley’s web site automatically starts playing an audio track of the artist speaking so turn off your speakers or jump to another page to make it stop!

B_Mo, you know we’ve mentioned you, so we know you’re going to listen…

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Rants and opinions on post-production (especially poorly done post), several tangents, and what it means to be a professional podcaster – or not. Four episodes later and Tony finally drops an f-bomb while, somewhere in the episode, we mention Brian and TAI. Hey, whatever it takes to get listeners!

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