Roger Farrington: Celebrity in Boston


Roger Farrington, Jason Landry and I have been talking about exhibiting Roger’s celebrity photos for the last several years.

All throughout his career, Roger was the go-to guy to photograph countless Boston cultural events. He was everywhere, shooting everyone. The photos that are in Roger Farrington: Celebrity in Boston reflect the crazy mix of celebrities that have passed through Boston and in front of Roger’s camera for over four decades. It was tough for the three of us to select only 50 images from the thousands that Roger has in his files. We didn’t always agree, but in the end, we think that the images we chose tell a story that anyone who is a lifelong Bostonian (like me) will bring back more than a few memories.

This is an exhibition unlike any exhibition in recent memory. Where else can you see a photo of Reba McEntire and John Candy at the Boston Pops or Elizabeth Taylor being honored as Woman of the Year by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding? How about Anthony Quinn & Sammy Davis, Jr. at the opening of Zorba the Greek?

If you are a Bostonian, it’s an exhibition – like the events Roger photographed – not to be missed.

From the Panopticon Gallery website:
Roger Farrington: Celebrity in Boston

Panopticon Gallery is pleased to be exhibiting for the very first time an exclusive selection of fifty of Farrington’s classic candid shots of internationally known celebrities who visited Boston between the years of 1976 and 1996.

Curated by the former Executive Director of the Photographic Resource Center, Jim Fitts, and Panopticon Gallery owner, Jason Landry, the black and white photographs hark back to pre-internet times – the time before the “instant celebrity” of Facebook, Instagram and “the selfie,” before digital photography (even auto-focus) – to a more innocent time when black and white still ruled print media. It was also a time when celebrities were Celebrities and Andy Warhol’s famous dictum, “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” had yet to be realized. (Yes, a cool shot of Warhol on Newbury Street in 1985, is featured in the show.)

The facts:
Roger Farrington: Celebrity in Boston
January 28 – April 10, 2017
An artist’s Gallery Talk and Closing Reception will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 1:00 – 4:00pm
Panopticon Gallery
502c Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
P: 781-718-5777

All photos: © Roger Farrington 
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






Chinook: The Ice Eater – Matthew Hamon

Matthew Hamon lives in rural Montana.

I think that the fact he lives outside a large city, and relates to the lifestyle of the subjects he shoots, allowed him to create his series “Chinook: The Ice Eater”, featured below, with an honest eye. On his website Matthew has several other strong series such as “The Stand at Standing Rock”, “On the Hi-Line”, “The Gleaners”, and a wonderful series taken at a nudist camp located in Ontario, Canada, “Gymnosphy”.

Matthew Hamon sent me the following information on “Chinook: The Ice Eater”.

Chinook winds are dry, warm, down-slope, foehn winds that occur on the lee side of mountain ranges in the interior West of North America. Chinook is claimed (incorrectly) by popular folk-etymology to mean “ice-eater.” Climate change issues in the post-rural West are also encoded in this title. The photographs here are from an emerging project that includes landscapes, portraits, and architectural images of the rural American West, that contemplate drosscape between industry and wildlands, progress and stasis.

Post-rural describes themes emerging out of, and tangential to, a pastiche of Postmodern concepts. The themes, narratives, objects, and aesthetic sensibilities present in these images consider the boundaries between urban, suburban, rural and wilderness areas of the American West. Generally, post-rural themes consider the commodification, narratives and shifting mythologies of rural areas since the 19th century and earlier as urban areas encroach on rural lands or mechanized agriculture draws workers away from the rural landscape.

Such hybrid, incomplete integration seems to be a new and important demographic vector in the West, seen in other economies beyond academia. Indeed, the grafting of non-place-based industries, like data server farms, package processing depots, health care centers and internet start-up companies imply a more partial and contingent relationship to the land than ranches and mines. Perhaps this marks a redefinition of this place so steeped in mythic and legendary history.

The facts:
Matthew Hamon
You can see more of Matthew’s work here.
All photos: © Matthew Hamon
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955


The Golden Decade begins with the following statement:
“Two months after the Japanese surrender on board the battleship Missouri ended World War II, Mrs. Charles de Young Elkus, Jr., president of the Columbia Foundation, sent a letter to Eldridge Theodore “Ted” Spencer, the president of the San Francisco Art Association. The letter, which was dated November 1, 1945, stated, “I am happy to inform you that the Board of Directors of the Columbia Foundation has approved a grant of $10,000 to the San Francisco Art Association for the establishment of a Department of Photography at the California School of Fine Arts …” With this letter, the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) Department of Photography came into being.”

The Golden Decade, Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-55 chronicles the history of the Department of Photography at the California School of Fine Arts during the years from 1945 to 1955. It details the creation and the evolution of the department as well as the immense contributions by teachers including Ansel Adams and Minor White, and such notable visiting instructors as Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, and Lisette Model.

The Golden Decade includes personal accounts from students on classes, assignments, and teachers as well as first-person narratives like “Field Trip to Point Lobos” and “The Grove of Akademus – A Student’s Tale”.

The biggest great joy in the book comes from seeing the numerous black and white images from 35 student portfolios. Some of the student’s names are familiar, many are not, but almost all the images are remarkable and document a unique time and place in the American photographic history.

The facts:
The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955
Edited by Ken and Victoria Whyte Ball
Text by William Heick, Ira H. Latour, C. Cameron Macauley, Ken Ball, Victoria Whyte Ball
416 pages
11.5 x 11.5 in. / 28×28 cm
375 photographs
Clothbound hardcover
US $75.00 / Euro 58.00
More information here.

Robert Hollingsworth, San Francisco CA, 1953

Lee Blodget, California, C. 1948

Helen Howell San Francisco, CA, 1949

David Johnson, Boy and Flag, San Francisco CA 1947

Charles Wong, Untitled, C. Early 1950s

Lost Downtown – Peter Hujar


This modest volume (just 15 photographs) of Peter Hujar’s portraits of his Lower East Side celebrity friends is a soft-spoken, unpretentious gem. 

The book was a perfect companion to my Sunday morning cup of tea.

Peter’s portraits capture his group of friends in a very gentle manner. Many of the personalities are known for being, – shall we say – over the top. Not here. Peter’s photos show their quiet side. It is as if Peter said “relax, let me take a couple of quick shots”.

Even the heartbreaking, minimally staged portrait of Candy Darling near death, in full makeup, has a hushed quality.

The understated design by Duncan Whyte compliments perfectly the tranquil quality of Peter’s portraits.

In a time when so many photo books are calculated to shock, it is refreshing to have this book to turn to.

From the Steidl website:
It’s a vanished world, and Peter Hujar was right there in it. The Lower East Side between 1972 and 1985 — filled with artists, wannabe artists and hangers-on — was a community of the misbegotten gathered from every town in America and relocated in the mean streets between Broadway and the Bowery. Nothing but their talent, their flamboyance, their rank gender-bending mockery and their arch irony supported them. Some made their names. Many came to grief. A few made art. In those days, the gutted streets of the Lower East Side looked like a war zone. Everyone lived and worked on the extreme outer margins of money and art, penniless and unknown. As a community, Downtown was a counterstatement to the rich New York of the banks, museums, media, corporations … and the art world itself.

That Downtown is forever gone. Time, gentrification, disease and death have taken their toll and turned this vibrant epoch into a chapter of art history. But before it vanished, its extravagant cast sat for Peter Hujar’s camera — and is now alive again in front of our eyes.

Featured among others: Joe Brainard, William Burroughs, Remy Charlip, Edwin Denby, Divine, Ray Johnson, Fran Lebowitz, Charles Ludlum, Susan Sontag, Paul Thek, John Waters, Robert Wilson, David Wojnarowicz.


The facts:
Lost Downtown
 by Peter Hujar
40 pages, 20 images
29.5 x 32 cm
ISBN 978-3-95829-106-5
1. Edition 09/2016
Available here.






Here There Are Men – Patrick Wack

Patrick Wack’s environmental color portraits portray a wide variety of Chinese citizens.

Below is a write-up on the series that Patrick forwarded to me.

Here There Are Men: Patrick Wack’s Portraits of China
Among the extremes of China there are wide fields of farmland, treacherous mountains, stark plains, thrown-together cities and cutting-edge cosmopolises. And there are men.

Patrick Wack’s series Here There Are Men features portraits from various locations in China (Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Yunnan and Shanghai). His portraits of everyday men and women in the midst of their daily lives and typical surroundings go beyond the strictly documentary to elevate the subjects into representatives of mankind. Roadside in a steaming concrete menagerie or in a stream nestled between mountains of lush greenery, Wack juxtaposes personae against the changing cultural and environmental landscapes of China, finding beauty in faces, sceneries and light.

With a calm optimism, these portraits of Chinese people capture the commonalities of the human spirit through differences in age, gender, class and location. Resonating with the collective unconscious, Wack’s photographs present subjects as fellow humans rather than individuals from distant lands, as neighbors rather than strangers. A combination of natural and artificial lighting adds a unique sheen to the reportage, and though his work is anchored in reality – real people, real situations – his style incorporates narrative elements, composing the human figure against its environment to recount everyday livelihoods while leaving individual identities a mystery. Capturing and elevating the overlooked, Wack’s style of photography reinvents a sense of truth about the human portrait and the humanity it represents.

Here There Are Men: Patrick Wack’s Portraits of China bridges the distances between the people of China, tapping into the idea of the collective unconscious through Wack’s photographic representations of the heroism of the everyday figure. His images are poised and serene, exuding a sense of Chinese-idealized harmony and equality among mankind. Here there is a fiction borne from reality. Here there are men.

By Bonny Yau / Art+ Gallery

The facts:
Patrick Wack
You can see more of Patrick’s work here.
All photos: © Patrick Wack
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






Nudes – Joshua Going

Below are a few photos from Joshua Going’s series of nudes in nature.

Here is Joshua’s bio from his website:
Joshua Going was born and raised in Saco, Maine. At 19, Joshua moved to San Francisco, California to pursue his Photography degree. This was an incredibly impactful time in his life. After completing his Associates, Joshua decided to make a daring move back to the East Coast. Joshua currently resides in Brooklyn where he’s diving head first into the commercial and art world.

Joshua thrives by putting himself out of his comfort zone. Whether by exploring new places, new people, or new subjects in his work, Joshua takes challenges in stride. He seeks out new environments and styles in order to create innovative imagery. Versatility is an understatement when describing Joshua and his work, and routine and repetition will never be a part of this artist’s work or lifestyle.

Because of this versatility, Joshua flourishes as both a fine art and commercial photographer. Joshua is eager to learn all aspects of photography through first hand experience, and has chosen not to limit himself to one specific area. Joshua’s portfolio is evidence of his multi­faceted nature, and to specialize would only limit him from creating a wide range of very successful work.

The facts:
Joshua Going
You can see more of Joshua’s work here.
All photos: © Joshua Going
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.






John Brook

A brilliant Boston commercial and fine arts photographer has passed away at 92.

I spent many hours with my friends Jason Landry and Thom Adams reviewing the life’s work of Boston photographer John Brook. I was unaware of either him or his work until Thom brought it to my attention. Sadly, John recently passed. He was yet another undiscovered brilliant photographer, and I can only hope that Boston (and maybe the world) will get a chance to see how wonderful his images are. Below are a few of his photos and his obituary written by his friend, Thom Adams.

John Brook, a Boston Portrait Photographer, and Known for his Expressive Images is Dead at 92
John Brook, a renowned Boston photographer during the mid-20th Century, died in obscurity on July 29, in a Boston area elder care home.  After an accident in the early 1990’s he became permanently disabled. His career ended.  He sold his photographic equipment, and destroyed all of his negatives telling friends that he could no longer preserve them. He gave scores of his remaining prints to the Boston Public Library, which has the largest holdings, and the remainder of his prints is held in private and museum collections.

Brook was born in 1924 in Woonsocket Rhode Island to parents who emigrated from England. He was a self-taught photographer, who at an early age, was encouraged by his father to experiment with photography.

When he was 12 years old one of his photographs received first prize in a national competition.  “ When I was 12, I began taking available light candid shots of my school teachers and classmates, he wrote. “The teachers did not like the pictures (although one was published in the magazine, Mademoiselle).”  For most of his years since then he tried to “preserve in photography the human face.” Like Nietzsche, he believed that every “ profound man wears a mask.”  In 1960, Brook quoted James Agee, in a biographical sketch for the Eastman House, “The simplest and the strongest of (us) has been designed upon his experience that he has a wound and a nakedness to conceal, and guards and disguises by which he conceals it.” Brook attempted to establish a rapport with his subjects to create unguarded moments during which those being photographed would unmask themselves. “I believe that the relationships between people – the giving or withholding of love, the effort to share or resist sharing with some other human being that solitude, which is so inescapably a condition of humanity – these relationships are more important and endlessly varied a subject for photography as the unguarded moments of expressiveness in a single face.”

In 1952, his first European one-man show was held in Milan, where in 1960, he won a gold medal in Milan’s Third Biennial photography festival.   He was one of 20 of the world’s major photographers whose images were chosen for The Power of Seeing portfolio featured in the 30th Anniversary Edition of Life magazine. His photos were also exhibited at the 1965 World’s Fair in NYC at Expo 67 in Montreal and in the Kodak pavilion at the 1970 World Fair in Osaka.

In his senior year at Harvard University he began to photograph graduates for the yearbook, and after gradation in 1947, he opened a portrait studio on Newbury Street in Boston.  His reputation as a portraitist increased his stature as a photographer bringing commissions from world-renowned celebrities: including symphonic conductors Sir Thomas Beecham, Colin Davis, Boston’s own Serge Koussevitzky and Charles Munch; composers Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith; jazz musicians Duke Ellington, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk; and Maria Tallchief, the first Native American prima ballerina; and Eleanor Roosevelt, among many other notables. This led him to become the staff photographer of the Boston Symphony.

When the father of a family commented to Brook that he liked the effects of lens flare in a portrait of his family, Brook began exploring this effect in his photographs.  He built a lens from the optical glass found in other lenses to create this effect consistently in some of his photographs.  His books Along the River Run, 1970, and Hold me, 1977 best illustrate his use of optical aberration to enhance the otherworldliness, and dreamscapes – like images of people experiencing solitude with another.  In the preface to Along the River Run he wrote, “It is in loving and making love that we come close as we ever can to joining one being with another.”  He used available light to shoot these images for he eschewed technical lighting.  His final images were not manipulated in a darkroom to enhance them. They were printed as captured on a medium format reflex camera.

Brook was a Boston Expressionist, a group that was influenced by European Symbolism and German Expressionism. These Boston painters and photographers, including Jules Aaron, and other artists’ works are evocative of people in their search for meaning in life.  They used black and white and color, and stretched the boundaries of reality in their paintings, sculptures, and photographs using bright colors, distorted lines, abstractions, and symbolism to evoke emotion from the viewer.  Brook using light aberrations and distortion as expressive devices to evoke emotion from the viewer.

Brook’s extensive photographs of landscapes, people, events and visual effects were also published in major periodicals including, Life, Time, New York Times, Newsweek, Christian Science Monitor, Aperture, Downbeat, High Fidelity, Jazz Review, Vogue, Camera Art, Popular Photography, Realities, and many more.

The Boston Public Library archive has the largest holdings of Brook’s photographic prints, followed by the private collection of Robert W. Rogers, a Brook’s patron.  Other area museums that have his images in their permanent collection are the Danforth Museum and the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Worcester Museum, The Thom Adams Archive of Photography at the New Hampshire of Art, Manchester, NH.  The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City, the National Historical Museum in DC, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Eastman House in Rochester, NY, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ, and the Virginia Museum of Art in Richmond, many private collections.

In 2015, Jason Landry, owner of the Panopticon Gallery, Jim Fitts, a fine art photography and curator, and Thom Adams, founder of the photographic archive at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, reviewed a vast number of Brook’s original prints. Adams commented afterwards, “Brook’s work has come out of the miasma – the dust bin of history.” Landry noted, “His use of scale and light is impeccable.”  Upon learning of his death, Fitts wrote, “The time I spent as a team reviewing John’s work at the Boston Public Library has convinced me that he is an important part of Boston’s photographic history and a very underappreciated master of the craft.”

Thomas Adams

The facts:
Further information, email photoweenie.

A self portrait






A Dozen Failures – John Gossage


How do judge success from failure? Can our photographs be both?
John Gossage addresses the issue in his new book. 

He wrote this in his introduction to A Dozen Failures.
“I had a conversation with Robert Adams long ago. We were talking about how it felt to be out in the world photographing. Bob in his eloquent way, saying something similar to what he later wrote down: that when you have a good day making pictures “You bring back proof, that the world is orderly, meaningful, and sometimes beautiful” but on the days that nothing seems to be working “you make things that prove to yourself that everything is chaotic, meaningless and often ugly.”

What rings in my head as I try to write this is the question if either of these “proofs” is a failure, or just things we want or don’t want to know? Just because you don’t get what you hope for, do you have any right to call it a failure?

I’m afraid I simply have a willingness to be pleased.”

From TIS Books website:
A Dozen Failures is both a singular statement as a photobook and a commentary on a life spent making some of the classic photobooks of our time, among them The Pond, There and Gone, The Romance Industry, and Berlin in the Time of the Wall.

Every photograph is in some way perfect (as a technical feat) and in another way a failure (as representational “residue”). So what makes a picture a “failure” – something worthy of further contemplation? It goes far deeper than merely being a mistake. Failures teach us about life and the self in ways as powerful as – and far more confoundingly than – successes. Or, as Gossage says, they show us “a love lost through lack of skill and misunderstanding.”

All photographs © John Gossage 

The facts:
A Dozen Failures
 by John Gossage
Size 9.5 in x 11.5 in
Three piece case
48 pages
18 tritone plates
one fold out tritone poster, 17 in x 21 in
Available here.






“Cuba Black and White” – Anna Mia Davidson


Cuba is very much in the news these days.
Both the President of the United States and the Rolling Stones were able to visit Cuba in the same week.

It hasn’t always been that easy.

In 1999, a 25-year-old female photographer began an eight-year journey through Cuba with a Leica and a desire to photograph the people of Cuba from a perspective that was almost unknown at the time. Due to the embargo and the controlling political structure, few people in the US had an understanding of what the day-to-day life of the Cuban people was like. Even fewer people saw images of what that life looked like.

Anna Mia Davidson was able to capture the everyday moments of the Cuban people in stark, Tri-X black and white. Anna’s book, Cuba Black and White, is a collection of ninety-five of her photos of Cubans at work and at play.

The photos show the resilience of the Cuban people, and the desire on their part to enjoy every aspect of life. There are images of Cubans working on their farms, training in neighborhood boxing clubs, and fixing vintage American cars. Anna’s photographs don’t try to profess any political bias; instead they portray the aspects of society that are common to all of us.

All photographs © Anna Mia Davidson from the book Cuba Black and White published by Steidl.

The facts:
Cuba Black and White
 by Anna Mia Davidson
Texts by Anna Mia Davidson
Book design by Anna Mia Davidson
and Gerhard Steidl
144 pages
11 × 7.1 in. / 28 × 18 cm
95 black-and-white photographs Tritone
Clothbound hardcover with dust jacket
Available here.






Transformadoras – Sarah Pabst

Sarah Pabst’s series “Transformadoras “ give us a glimpse into the difficult lives of two Argentinian transsexuals.

From Sarah’s website:
Cintia and Cecilia, both transsexuals, try to make a living in the streets of Mar del Plata, Argentina. Although Argentina adopted a law in May 2012 that guaranties free choice of identity, transsexuals are still discriminated and prostitution is still often the only chance for an income. Mar del Plata, called La Feliz (The happy one), is not only Argentina‘s capital for summer tourism but also for prostitution and human trafficking.

About Sarah:
Sarah is a German-born (1984) documentary photographer and painter and lives since 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Besides her personal intimate work she mainly focuses on women and identity topics. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

She was awarded with the 3. Prize in the ‘Women in Society’ Category of the Picture of the Year (POY) LATAM 2015, the Canon Profifoto Förderpreis (Grant) in 2014 and her work was published in Vice, Lensculture, Le Monde Diplomatique, Profifoto, Burndiary, Zeit Online, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Revista Pecado, Brigitte Young Miss, Deutsche Welle and the Max Planck Journal, among others. She’s a featured Instagram photographer since 2015.

“To me, photography is a way to tell someone’s story through your very subjective and emotional view. I am not interested in the big issues, but in the small stories of people anyone would listen to. To these people that let me be a part of their lives for a moment that can be a miserable, difficult or also euphoric one, I have a responsibility. “

The facts:
Sarah Pabst
You can see more of Sarah’s work here.
All photos: © Sarah Pabst
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.