SoCal PhotoExchange

In Focus: The Tree at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Posted in Art Museums, Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 21, 2011

Tree #3 copyright by Myoung Ho Lee

An Oak Tree in Winter by William Henry Fox Talbot

Treehouse Freese Road, Varna, New York copyright by Rhea Garen

For millennia the tree has been a symbol of life. Celebrated by most ancient civilizations, the tree has stood for the center of the cosmos and the origin of creation. Represented throughout art and literature, trees feature in the earliest photographs from the 1840s as well as in contemporary works today. This exhibition, drawn entirely from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s permanent collection, presents a range of photographs that reveal various artistic responses to the perennial subject. Documenting primeval forests and cultivated nature, these images explore the tree in its many connotations—as a graphic form, an evocative emblem, and vital evidence of the natural world in which we live.

For the image at right, South Korean artist Myoung Ho Lee worked outside, but cleverly employed a common photography prop that is typically used inside: the studio backdrop. After he digitally removes all evidence of supports used to hoist the sheet, the image reads as an elegant portrait of the natural world. His images of single trees isolated against stark canvases, yet still within the context of the countryside, create an interesting tension between the genres of landscape and portraiture.

Talbot captured this oak during winter, when the deciduous tree had shed its leaves. The stark silhouette of the trunk and branches creates a lace-like pattern against the blank sky. Talbot invented the calotype process, an early form of photography that employed paper for both the negative and the positive print. Unlike the highly polished metal surfaces of daguerreotypes, paper prints were softer in appearance, often compared to drawings or watercolors.

J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687

Phone: +1 (310) 440-7330
Fax: +1 (310) 440-7751
E-mail: (for general Museum inquiries)

By Jim McKinniss

Jane O’Neal and Robert von Sternberg exhibition at DNJ Gallery in Bergamot Station

Posted in Photo Galleries, Photograph Exhibits, Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 21, 2011

Image copyright by Jane O'Neal

Image copyright by Jane O'Neal

Image copyright by Jane O'Neal

Image copyright by Robert von Sternberg

dnj Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition of new color photographs by artist Jane O’Neal entitled “Environmental Memory Part II: Taking Flight.” Gallery II presents the show “Intersection,” featuring the work of Robert von Sternberg.

Jane O’Neal’s second solo exhibition with dnj Gallery uses the same palate of strong, vivid colors which is shown throughout her Environmental Memory series. In “Part II: Taking Flight,” O’Neal shows a current and poignant body of work shot from the seat of a commercial jetliner. Fiery sunlight glows over jet engines gliding into fields of soft clouds. Smoky black plumes of exhaust appear through a sea of effervescent blue and white. O’Neal’s stunning images capture familiar scenes through the artist’s lens, evoking both a prettiness and seriousness at 35,000 feet.

In 2007, dnj Gallery debuted O’Neal’s 1970’s work in a group show with four other artists. She created her Environmental Memory series in 2009, with “Part I: Home Grown.” O’Neal’s work has been exhibited across the United States and is in numerous permanent museum collections such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Los Angeles Museum of Art, The Fogg Museum at Harvard University and The Center for Creative Photography in Tuscon, Arizona. O’Neal has also worked in the television and film industry as a still photographer for over twenty years. Her films include Peggy Sue Got Married, The Lost Boys, Beetle Juice and Rumble Fish.

Robert von Sternberg employs complex compositions of vacant lots, extensive spaces, alleyways, and empty highways to demonstrate his ideas of man intruding in nature. Also with a bold command of color, von Sternberg pictures the unusualness of a glacier with an orange traffic cone in the center and a strawberry cart out of place at the edge of a parking lot. Using humor and wit, von Sternberg’s images ultimately lead his audience to the discovery that in a world saturated with images there is still a reason to look. von Sternberg started taking photographs in his early years in Hermosa Beach and sold his very first image taken to Surfer Magazine. He has exhibited his work since the sixties and has pieces in collections at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.

This exhibition runs  February 5 – March 19, 2011

dnj Gallery
Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Avenue, Suite J1
Santa Monica, CA 90404
tel: (310) 315-3551

GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

By Jim McKinniss

February 2011 PhotoExchange meeting

Posted in Photographers, Photography, tPE members by douglaspstockdale on February 20, 2011

Photo Exchange meeting at Irvine Fine Art Center, February 2011 > photos by Billy Bob Blackberry

Michal Giedrojc: Works of the unreal

Posted in Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 15, 2011

Image copyright by Michal Giedrojc

Image copyright by Michal Giedrojc

Image copyright by Michal Giedrojc

Most of the information provided by this blog is concerned with established or famous photographers. But there are thousands of extremely talented photographers in this world who get little attention in the “press” for a variety of reasons. I have decided to occasionally show the work of the lesser known photographer. Michal Giedrojc’s work was brought to my attention by Leonid Khodyrev who is a Russian photographer I know through an online photo community.

The following is taken from You can see more of Michal’s work there.

Michal Giedrojc in his work resists the urge to convey the true personality of his models. Rather, he presents his human subjects in unreal and hostile surroundings, exiled from everyday reality and the comforts it provides.

He photographs models with blank or grim expressions, and then manipulates their surrounding to appear almost post-apocalyptic, highlighting the mood of alienation and discomfort. He prides himself on creating dream visions—images that would be impossible to perceive with our senses.

Giedrojc’s work has been nominated in competitions across Europe and featured in various art magazines in Poland.  Michal resides in Slupsk, Poland.

By Jim McKinniss

Carlo Van de Roer: THE PORTRAIT MACHINE PROJECT at M+B Gallery

Posted in Photo Galleries, Photograph Exhibits, Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 14, 2011


Images copyright by Carlo Van de Roer


M+B is pleased to announce The Portrait Machine Project, an exhibition of new color photographs by New Zealand photographer Carlo Van de Roer.

Exhibition dates: April 16 – May 14, 2011 with Opening Reception: Saturday, April 16, 2011 from 6 to 8 pm


Van de Roer’s images combine lush romanticism with striking intimacy, creating an immersive visual experience that dazzles the eye with its attempt to capture the unseen. The exhibition opens April 16, 2011 and runs through May 14, 2011, with an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, April 16 from 6 – 8 pm.

The images in The Portrait Machine Project function as robust examples of the way photographs represent not only visual moments, but also the complex and ongoing relationship between artist, camera and subject always at play in portraiture. Created using a Polaroid aura camera developed in the 1970s, Van de Roer’s photographs of friends and personalities of public note—including artists Miranda July, Aurel Schmidt and Terence Koh, as well as author James Frey— draw on traditions of portraiture and spirit photography as they examine classic photographic interests. Designed to capture a subject’s aura in the same manner as a psychic might perceive it, the camera translates biofeedback into near-fluorescent colors that engulf the subject in the resulting Polaroid, as well as a computerized printout analysis which interprets the subject’s potential, present emotional state and future possibilities.

The Portrait Machine Project explores the scientific authority of photographs by parodying the indexical, objective nature of other biological imaging systems such as x-rays. The artist mines the (in)ability of photographs to represent the real and the reassertion of analog photographic processes in the post-digital age. This objectivity problematizes our common understanding of the artist-model relationship by undermining expectations of artistic authority and control. The mechanical nature of the aura camera removes a measure of artistic manipulation and suggests that the camera itself offers its own interpretations, independent of the artist’s or subject’s expectations. As the artist himself puts it, “The tension between the subject and the camera’s interpretation of them is interesting. I am including subjects whose personalities or jobs deal with identity.” By including well-known personalities, Van de Roer asks what it is a viewer wants from a portrait, particularly a portrait of someone they think they know. Ultimately, The Portrait Machine Project functions as an exploration of the possible truthfulness of images and to portraiture’s ability to in some sense accurately represent the character of the sitter.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1975, Van de Roer received a BFA from Victoria University before working and exhibiting internationally in the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France. Van de Roer has received the ADC Young Guns Award, the APA Silver to Pixels Award for Fine Art, the PDN Pix Award, named a Top 50 Photographer by Photolucida and received the Honorable Mention for the BMW Paris Photo Prize in 2010. His work has drawn notice by The New York Times, INTERVIEW magazine, Vogue Italia, Wired magazine and NPR. Van de Roer currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and this will be his first exhibition with M+B.

Location: M+B, 612 North Almont Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Show Title: Carlo Van de Roer: The Portrait Machine Project

Exhibition Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 16 from 6 – 8 pm

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm, and by appointment

For more info, please contact Shannon Richardson at M+B at (310) 550 -0050 or



By Jim McKinniss

Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg look at a bigger picture

Posted in Books & Magazines, Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 11, 2011

Photo copyright by Adam Broomberg/Oliver Chanarin

Photo copyright by Adam Broomberg/Oliver Chanarin


The following is a reprint form the Los Angeles Times article of February 6, 2011 by Robyn Dixon. All copyrights held by the Times

Instead of taking pictures of death and destruction, the war photographers choose a subversive path.


Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa

A British soldier dozes on a military flight to Helmand province, Afghanistan, beside him an ordinary brown box, like a mail parcel.

It contains a fat roll of photographic paper belonging to two artists and photographers, Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg, who are “embedded” with the British forces in 2008 — traveling with the military as a photographer, camera operator or journalist, on its terms.

“We decided the only way we could be subversive in this situation was to not take photographs,” Chanarin recounts.

In a zone where people are in danger, the cardboard box is picked up by soldiers, put down, carried and treated as important, all filmed by Chanarin and Broomberg. “They [soldiers] became unwitting actors in this slightly absurdist Dadaist stunt,” said Chanarin.

On day No. 1 in Helmand, an Afghan man working as a journalist and translator for the BBC named Abdul Samad Rohani is found dead after being tortured and shot. Chanarin and Broomberg are rushed to the scene. But they do not take the expected photographs. They’ve put a sheet of photographic paper from the brown box in a jeep, the rear blackened as a darkroom. At the scene, they open the doors of the jeep for 20 seconds and close them, recording nothing more than a moment of light.

The resulting abstract image — beautiful, haunting, obtuse — can’t be decoded as a record of violence and human suffering without an explanation from Chanarin and Broomberg. It’s part of a series titled “The Day Nobody Died,” included in an exhibition of their work at the Goodman Gallery here that seeks to challenge the very nature of documentary photography. The images are displayed with the film of the box and its journey, also titled “The Day Nobody Died.”

“We actually carried a camera with us as a decoy but deleted the images at the end of each day. Some soldiers were concerned that we were not documenting the usual things, while others became quite intrigued by the box. Some even named it — like a character,” Chanarin recounts.

Needless to say, Chanarin and Broomberg didn’t last long in the war zone.

Their journey to Afghanistan was designed to subvert the idea that war photographs present a painful truth, or that photographs can ever convey the pain and horror of human suffering. Once the military realized they weren’t doing what war photographers usually do — take photographs of war — they were shuffled briskly out of Helmand, according to Chanarin.

Chanarin describes the emotional connection between photographer and subject (often a victim of some horrific event) as “dangerous.” “It’s like this shortcut to empathy. You’ve looked at it and feel like you’ve done something.” That’s why the pair removed any photographic creativity from the Helmand series, reducing it to opening and closing a door.

One of their main criticisms is of what they call a sanitized depiction of war by embedded photojournalists: They argue that heroic photographs of American soldiers get play and attention while newspapers have largely avoided the other side of the story, dying soldiers and coffins.

Chanarin and Broomberg are also bothered by the hunger with which people consume images of horror. “Photographs of human suffering are incredibly seductive. There’s something about looking at photographs of human suffering that’s incredibly pleasurable,” says Chanarin.

They see images of suffering — an HIV positive women nursing her child, an exhausted soldier, children playing with guns, grieving women, charred human remains or a malnourished, dying child — as so clichéd that they have lost their meaning.

With a camera and video in every cellphone — and even on bombs — there are plenty of witnesses to war these days. They’re calling for “a new language in photojournalism — one that presents images that are more aware of what they fail to show; images that communicate the impossibility of representing the pain and horror of personal tragedy.”

Broomberg was born in South Africa, and Chanarin spent part of his childhood here. Both reside in London. Neither was trained as a photojournalist. Broomberg studied sociology and art history, Chanarin, philosophy and artificial intelligence. They collaborated on Colors magazine, the international quarterly presented around a theme, traveling to ghetto communities and interviewing people. They’ve worked together for more than a decade and produced six books, including “Fig.” (2007), “Trust” (2000) and “Ghetto” (2003), all of which examine the nature of documentary photography. In photographing people living in ghettos the duo felt a growing doubt about the iimplicit promise from photographer to subject, that somehow the photo would change the world. “Fig.” is a collection of more than 80 captioned images – a muddle of fact and fantasy that plays on the photojournalist’s role, traveling the world “collecting” images and “evidence,” like the colonial adventurers and collectors of earlier centuries.

Their work questions that moment of collision between the worlds — the photographer and subject — the power relationship and issues of selection, subjectivity and motive. They were invited as judges on the World Press Photo awards panel in 2007, later breaking a confidentially agreement and exposing a judging process they found disturbing, bordering on abusive.

They wrote about the process of sitting in a dim room for up to 20 hours a day, each juror clutching a button attached to a computer (originally designed for a Dutch game show) to kill or keep images in the competition.

“The twelve strong jury must endure a barrage of photographic clichés over a period of seven days and nights, in order to locate one single image, the World Press Photo of the year,” they wrote in an essay titled “Unconcerned but Not Indifferent.” “Each of us clasped a voting button in the half darkness, and as the images flashed across the screen we voted anonymously to keep it in the competition or ‘to kill it.’ … At times this feels obscene. We are asked to judge whether for example a photograph of a child suffocating to death in a mudslide is sufficiently beautiful to win a prize. On this occasion it seems not. The effect is numbing.”

Instead of changing the world, they contend, photojournalism has turned its audience into passive voyeurs.

“Do we even need to be producing these images any more?” they ask in their essay. “Do we need to be looking at them? We have enough of an image archive within our heads to be able to conjure up a representation of any manner of pleasure or horror. Does the photographic image even have a role to play any more?

” … But since we do still demand illustrations to our news, then there is a chance to make images that challenge our preconceptions, rather than regurgitate old clichés.”


By Jim McKinniss


Argentinian photographer Agus Mascitti-Salvado

Posted in Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 8, 2011

My Wedding copyright by Agus Mascitti-Salvado


Mili 1 copyright by Agus Mascitti-Salvado


Low or High Perspective copyright by Agus Mascitti-Salvado


Every once in a while you come into contact with a person who  impresses you. For the last year or two I have enjoyed corresponding with photographer Agus Mascitti-Salvado who is from Argentina but currently resides in Tunisia with her family. I became aware of Agus through mutual friends Jan and Melinda Isachsen who I have known for over 5 years now. Jan and Melinda travel a lot because of Melinda’s work and found themselves in Tunisia a few years ago where they met Agus.

Most of  my correspondence with Agus has been about her family which includes her young twins. So knowing her as a photographer has been in large part enjoying the photos of the twins or her with the twins. Only recently have I become aware of her range of talent as a photographer. I discovered this because I recognized one of her online photos from Tunisia that I also had seen in a video from Melinda Isachsen that I received a few years ago. So for the last two years I have known her and I have known some of her work but I had not put the two together.

So now there is a new dimension to my friend Agus. Just another example of how photography can touch the lives of people.


By Jim McKinniss


Preserving the world of Burton Holmes

Posted in Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 7, 2011

Copyright information available through The George Eastman House.


Burton Holmes is one of the lesser-known figures in film history, yet he did much to further the medium of motion pictures by traveling the world, filming far-flung cultures and giving immensely popular lectures on his experiences abroad.

Patrick Loughney, Ph.D. touches on Mr. Holmes’ contribution to the world of motion pictures and discusses efforts to preserve a collection of his work.  Dr. Loughney is the Curator of Motion Pictures at the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House as well as Director of The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation.

The following pod cast is courtesy of The George Eastman House which retains all copyrights


By Jim McKinniss

Hiroshi Watanabe at Kopeikin Gallery

Posted in Books & Magazines, Photograph Exhibits, Photographers, Photography by douglaspstockdale on February 4, 2011

Love Point, Copyright 2010 Hiroshi Wantanabe

An exhibition of Hiroshi Watanabe’s recent project and photobook “Love Point” will be held at the Kopeikin Gallery on February 19th to April 2nd, 2011. There will be a reception and book signing (book review can be found on The PhotoBook, here) with Watantabe on Saturday, February 19th, from 2 to 8pm.

Charles Brittin dies at 82; photographer who chronicled movements of 1950s and ’60s

Posted in Photographers, Photography by Jim McKinniss on February 2, 2011

Image copyright by Charles Brittin

Image copyright by Charles Brittin


The following is excerpted from the Los Angeles Times Obituaries by Valerie J. Nelson.  Copyright by Los Angeles Times January 29, 2011.

His unblinking yet compassionate photographs in the 1950s and ’60s documented Los Angeles’ beat culture and emerging art scene, the civil rights movement here and in the Deep South, the Black Panthers and antiwar protests.

Yet Charles Brittin was relatively unknown.

Sidelined by declining health beginning in the ’70s, he faded from the scene as documentary photographers were first being recognized as artists, said Andrew Perchuk, deputy director of the Getty Research Institute, which holds Brittin’s photographic archive.

While donating money to the Congress of Racial Equality, the couple attended a meeting where the group posed a question: “Who is prepared to be arrested this week?”

“In six months, Barbara was teaching techniques of nonviolent resistance, and I was taking political photographs,” Brittin said in The Times in 1999.

He made dramatic black-and-white prints of protests in Southern California and in Mississippi and Louisiana, where he and his wife spent three months in 1965. By the end of the ’60s, Brittin was chronicling the Black Panther movement.

“He had an absolutely phenomenal sense of composition,” Perchuk said. “Even when he was in the midst of action at a demonstration, he found a perfect way to frame it that conveyed very precisely what was going on.”

From 1963 to 1970, Brittin worked as the official photographer in the Los Angeles studio of noted midcentury designers Charles and Ray Eames.

Throughout his career, he also photographed still lifes composed of unlike objects such as a woman’s high-heeled feet with an iron-link chain or doll heads.

Brittin’s photographs will be featured in “Pacific Standard Time,” an exhibit of collected works scheduled to open Oct. 1 at the Getty Center.

When a slowly progressing condition caused his health to deteriorate, he put his cameras away until the 1990s, when his health improved after his transplants.

With Barbara, he lived for decades in Santa Monica Canyon. She died at 74 in 2003. He has no immediate survivors.

Before the civil rights movement, he did not have “the confidence to exploit the opportunities that came my way,” Brittin said in the 1999 catalog. “Then, something more important than my personal comfort was at stake, so I was able to be aggressive and do things that seemed unnatural to me.”

“He was an absolutely critical figure in Los Angeles, because he was at the intersection of so many things that were happening,” Perchuk said. “He also was one of the great civil and political photographers of the age.”

Brittin, who had liver and kidney transplants in the 1990s, died Sunday of pneumonia at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, said his lawyer, Salomon Illouz. He was 82.

One of the first subjects to fascinate Brittin as a photographer was a sleepy Venice Beach, where he took pictures “freighted with a hushed beauty and forlorn sweetness,” according to the book “Charles Brittin: West and South,” scheduled to be published in April.

He preserved a pre-gentrified Venice that has all but vanished: Oil derricks jockey with houses and a waterway and decay creeps into the frame of a once-grand colonnade. In “Big Head, Ocean Park” (1957), a slightly disturbing and clownish ticket booth stands sentry at a funhouse.

A chance meeting in the 1950s with seminal beat-scene artist Wallace Berman pulled Brittin into a circle of avant-garde artists who hung out on La Cienega Boulevard at the Ferus Gallery, the influential contemporary art gallery.

Brittin’s Venice Beach shack became the group’s second home, and he turned into the unofficial house photographer of a crowd that included actors Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper, artist John Altoon, curator Walter Hopps and poet David Meltzer.

“He was probably the beat generation photographer,” said Craig Krull, a Santa Monica gallery owner who exhibited Brittin’s work in 1999.

“A lot of the people Charles took pictures of ended up becoming legendary figures,” Krull said. “His photographs are more than just documents of artists and events. They are very incisive and powerful and poetic and tough.”

They also have a “romantic resonance,” because many of the elements in them are “gone forever,” Brittin said in the catalog for the 1999 show.

As the beat movement gave way to civil unrest in the 1960s, Brittin took his camera to the front lines, and his often tightly focused images were filled with raw emotion. One from a 1965 protest at the Federal Building in Los Angeles shows no faces, only body parts — the splayed legs of a black female protester being gripped by a white officer.

His political activism had its roots in his childhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Charles William Brittin was born May 2, 1928.

He was the youngest of three children of a father who quit teaching and eventually ran a grocery store. “Keenly aware” that his family had “lost status,” he came to identify with the oppressed, Brittin recalled in the catalog.

At 15, he moved to the Fairfax district in Los Angeles with his mother after his father died. The liberal student body at Fairfax High School influenced his political views, and he was soon a Marxist “on my way to changing the world,” Brittin told The Times in 1999.

He moved again, to Pomona, and after graduating from high school spent several years studying at UCLA.

In the 1950s, he married and divorced twice — and bought his first camera.

His third wife, Barbara, whom he married in 1961, shared his commitment to activism.


You can read the complete LA Times article at


By Jim McKinniss