Photo Column Theme Idea

After a few unfortunate events set me back at work I missed the story I was planning on doing for my column. And now I was under the gun to find a new idea with less than a day to do it. So I was out and about looking around for a photo for our Our Town photo column and was thinking about different column ideas a newspaper could do.

One idea I liked I called Hour Town, a play off of the current column the Tribune does. With Hour Town a photographer would toss a dart at the map of the town and then go to that spot. Once there he or she would have 60 minutes to make a photo. If you are nice you could give them a block or two radius to work on. Or, tell them they can’t move from that spot. The rest is left up to the interpretation and creativity of the photographer.

I liked this idea for a few reasons. One it’s happenstance where the photographer is sent so the likelihood of being put in a place unfamiliar to them is high. Secondly I like that restrictions of time and place which can really drive the creative juices. Third it trades one type of stress, looking for a good idea and procrastinating about it, with another kind of stress, one that perhaps we’re not as much use to.

If you give it a try, let me know.

Half a Tank: Along Recession Road

Half A Tank is a summer-long quest to find images and stories of people whose lives have been altered by a flattened economy. Starting from home in the D.C. suburbs, Theresa Vargas and Michael Williamson are traveling around the country to experience how people are coping, struggling, even flourishing as we all reconsider how we live. Please share your reactions and experiences in the comment sections that follow each post.

via Half a Tank: Along Recession Road – A Multimedia Blog About Americans Adapting to the Recession.

Meyerowitz @

I thought this Q&A by John Saponara of Too Much Chocolate with Joel Meyerowitz was highly interesting. Especially the segment below about everything in the frame being in ‘play.’

While working on the streets of New York with the Leica I began to see that the slowness of color film and therefore the depth of space it rendered, was forcing me to slow down and make photographs from further back than I had before. This slight adjustment of space and time produced a new kind of image for me, one that emptied the center of the frame of its nominal subject, “the hook” that I had previously built my photographs on, and instead opened the frame to multiple, more fragmentary, simultaneous events. This gave me a new sense of the street as a place where everything was important; the buildings near and far; the movement of people; the basic street furnishings of light poles, phone booths, hydrants, trees, signs, store windows, all of it cohering in a way that broke open the form of my earlier work. I called these new, non-hierarchical pictures, “field photographs,” because everything in the frame was now in play, and the more complex and open-ended I could make the image the more interesting it became to me. I felt I was testing the descriptive limits of the photograph by asking; how much dissonance can a photograph contain and still be readable? Can interesting pictures be made without depending on a central event to hold it together? What does color mean in a photograph?


Jonathan Harris: The art of collecting stories

I just finished watching an inspiring talk by Jonathan Harris on

Artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris makes online art that captures the world’s expression — and gives us a glimpse of the soul of the Internet.

I think Jonathan’s ideas on new ways of telling stories is fascinating and applicable to journalists as well as any one thinking about doing a photo column.

Check out his Web site for the the projects he’s done

I have to confess though I wasn’t familiar with his work, but when I did visit his site my reaction was, “Oh! I remember that. He did that!?” Especially when I saw that he created

He most recent and notable project that I’ve seen get a lot of attention amongst the internet feeds I read was The Whale Hunt.

Common Ground

MediaStorm launched today Scott Strazzante’s Comon Ground project.

On July 2, 2002, Jean and Harlow Cagwin watched as their home — the last remnant of their 118-acre cattle farm in Lockport, Illinois — was torn down clearing the way for a new housing development. Several years later, Ed and Amanda Grabenhofer and their four children moved into the new Willow Walk subdivision, their house just yards from where the Cagwin’s home once stood.

Common Ground introduces us to the lives touched by this land, as photographer Scott Strazzante takes us on a visual journey exploring the differences and similarities of these two families while simultaneously asking us to look at what is common among us all.

Carnival of Photojournalism

Silas Crews has taken the initiative to create Carnival of Photojournalism. It’s sort of like a round up of posts by photojournalists who blog.  He explains it better in his post.

  Carnivals are like an online periodical to which bloggers submit past entries and an organizer collects the links to these submissions, edits, annotates if needed and publishes the resulting round-up on a blog in regular intervals.

Please check it out and if you blog consider lending your talents!

Metropolitan Diary


Some times there’s little to look forward to on a Monday morning. But for me the one thing I look forward to is the possibility of a Nicole Bengiveno photo running with the Metro Diary column in the pages of the New York Times. It really can make my day.

What a cool gig to have if you love shooting street photography. It’s also a neat way to add class to a reader driven segment of the newspaper.

Nicole explained a little bit about the column in an e-mail with me. She said that for awhile the editors had been using art illustrations for the diaries. About six months ago they decided to switch to using photography. “They pass on the column’s letters that will be published and I’m inspired by a particular letter, or other times I contribute my own “visual letter,” says Nicole.

She says she works by ditching the car prowling the neighborhoods when the light is in it’s magic hour.

Here’s a list of links to some recent Metropolitan Diary columns that ran with Nicole’s photos.

Blind Photographer

I’d never heard of this guy, but I’m inspired now. Michael Richard was legally blind. He was also an amazing photographer.

From a Rangefinder article:

Richard was born with amblyopia, an uncorrectable “lazy” left eye; bad enough in general, but usually the other, “good” eye can compensate. Then, in 2002, he was diagnosed with a rare choroidal melanoma, a tumor in his good, right eye. After surgery, he became legally blind.

Because Richard can’t tell what people are doing and a crowd is just a blur, he concentrates on forms, often quite abstract. “Go with your strengths,” he says with a smile. His typical photo shoot begins with him deciding on a four-block area of the city. He is dropped off there with his camera and stays strictly within the predetermined area because he cannot move too freely alone. This imposes an enforced discipline; he has to find subject matter within the area chosen. No matter what happens or how “empty” the area appears at first, he is unfazed.

Read more about him in his obit “Blind Photographer, Musician Michael Richard, 58

You can see some more work from other blind photographers at, a page for the exhibit “The View From Here: Visual Art by People who are Visually Impaired and Blind”