Pamela Reed Sanchez's Posts

Pamela Sanchez is a member of the Senior Staff of George Eastman House. She's a blogging neophyte just venturing into the 21st century.

Chautauqua Week on Photography – Day Four

Posted by on Jul 29 2010 | Other, Photography

Day Four and I’m starting to understand what this place is all about.  The Chautauqua Institution is a kind of cruise ship on land for smart, interested people.  Each of nine weeks in the summer has a theme – this week’s, of course, is photography, and Museum Director Tony Bannon has designed the morning amphitheatre lecture series as well as the afternoon interfaith lecture program on ethics.  But it’s not just people who are interested in photography that are here.

Since the Chautauqua Institution began more than 120 years ago, people have gathered here to explore, discuss, learn, appreciate, and be moved to action.  Some come for the entire summer, some for just one week.  There are scads of fifth and sixth generation Chautauquans – it’s clear this place gets in your DNA quickly.  And I’m guessing that once you start spending your off-time in this kind of retreat, nothing else quite compares. 

There is an insatiable curiosity here.  Every lecture, every talk, every performance, every event seems filled to capacity.  This morning astrophysicist Margaret Geller spoke about using photography to map the universe, and the audience was rapt.   She closed her talk with the following statement, which just about sums up why Eastman House is a partner here this week:

“The images we make are a measure of the reach of our curiosity – of our ability to ask remarkable questions.  Even more remarkable is that we can answer them by taking photographs.” 

This seems to sum up the Chautauqua experience,too.  Exploring our universe.  Asking questions.  Searching for answers.  And at least for this week, using photographs as a tool for understanding. 

 Chautauqua also seems to be about recognizing and appreciated the gifts that make our world better…the arts, education, culture, the beauty of nature. So, in the spirit of Chautauqua, here’s a little photo essay of what some of us have been able to experience here in just the past 24 hours! 

Walkways of ChautauquaCurator of Technology Todd Gustavson speaking at an early morning chat on cameras in the Eastman House collection.

Crowd gathering and then taking a ‘Colorama’ image in Bestor PlazaAttendees at Wednesday’s talk by Sports Illustrated Picture Editor Jimmy Colton looking at the illustrations for the talk in photo books created by Kodak. 

Part of the Eastman House display of cameras here at Chautauqua this week.

Eastman Young Professional Rachel Pikus and Eliza Kozlowski, Director of Communications and Visitor Engagement for Eastman House, share a moment with the Babe.

purple martin houses….these, combined with bat houses, keep the mosquito population at almost nil.

looking at Chautauqua Lake at sunrise

Margaret Geller sharing photographs of galaxies.

 

More later….great speakers this afternoon that I’ll be anxious to share with you. 

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Chautauqua Photo Week – Day Three

Posted by on Jul 28 2010 | Other, Photography

I’m a film girl.  I say this shyly, quietly, but pointedly.  Aesthetically, I love the look of film.

But three weeks ago I bought a digital camera for the first time in my life.  I am now hooked on its simplicity, ease, and instant gratification.   And to think I have Steve Sasson to thank for it.

Yes, Steve Sasson.  Not a household name like Thomas Edison or George Eastman.  But at least the 3,000 plus attendees at this morning’s amphitheatre talk at Chautauqua now know it.  Steve and his wife have been in Chautauqua all week, which has given me an opportunity to think a bit about the impact of Steve’s work.  How different this Week on Photography would be if Steve had not pursued this rather small and secretive project at the Eastman Kodak Company during the 1970’s.

Steve Sasson during his lecture this morning

The who’s who in photography here in Chautauqua are fully aware of how digital technology has transformed their work in one way or another.   And I’m not just talking about Steve McCurry and Ed Kashi, photojournalists who transitioned from film to digital many years ago, and whose clients insist on digital capture.

Commercial photographer Ross Whitaker is here giving portfolio reviews and teaching courses in how to take great photographs.  Not sure anyone who brought photographs for Ross to review uses film….and no one in his class brought a film camera.  Ross’s own work now incorporates multimedia digital elements of movement and sound.

Ross Whitaker taking a picture of George Eastman House Director Tony Bannon

Jeff Dunas, fine art photographer and founder of the Palm Springs Photo Festival, arrives this afternoon…I’ve talked to Jeff about this digital transformation previously — he shoots digitally for commercial work but uses film for his fine art. (I’m not the only one who loves the aesthetic of film!)

Jimmy Colton, long-time Picture Editor for Sports Illustrated is here talking about faux-tography, and while Jimmy cites darkroom examples of manipulating images, there’s no question that photo manipulation has become more pervasive with the digital revolution, raising interesting ethical questions about truth in photography.  Jimmy’s work as a Picture Editor (and Jennifer Gregory’s job as Picture Editor at the Washington Post, pictured below with Jimmy) has shifted significantly due to digital…allowing him to almost instantaneously choose images beamed to him from across the globe.

Jennifer Gregory and Jimmy Colton

I’m not completely naïve – I recognize (as does Steve Sasson) that the advances in the way we communicate and connect with images would not have been possible without advances in personal computing and video technology.  But without Steve’s work, I probably wouldn’t be sending images directly to facebook from my blackberry, and I sure wouldn’t be able to share photos on a blog 10 minutes after I’ve captured them.

So, thanks Steve Sasson.  You’ve helped meet our need for instant gratification.

…satisfying my need for instant gratification

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Chautauqua Photo Week – Day Two

Posted by on Jul 27 2010 | Other, Photography

Ed Kashi considers himself a long-form visual storyteller involved in advocacy journalism.

Huh?  Wait, let me get my brain around that…I get the storyteller part, and using visual as the adjective tells me the stories are in pictures.  For Kashi, “long-form” means the projects take place over a longer period of time than typical photojournalist projects allow.  His Aging in America, project, for example, was an eight year labor of love.

What about this advocacy journalism bit?  Is that an oxymoron?  If it is, Kashi’s not worried about it.  He believes in the power of the photograph, and wants to create pictures that instigate passion to affect change in the world.  He has seen evidence that a single image can call someone to action, and creating more of that action has become his mission.

At the morning’s lecture, Ed shared a number of his long-form visual stories with thousands of enthralled Chautauquans…his work in Madagascar, the Niger Delta, the Kurds in Northern Iraq.

His latest form of visual storytelling includes sound and voice and movement…creating multimedia pieces bringing the voices of his subjects to a wider audience.  He believes the more we can tell people’s stories, the more chance we have at change.

There is an unspoken power to the still images Kashi makes.  Pairing those photographs, then, with voices and music, moves me from sitting quietly with a picture of a landmine victim (Kashi tells us there are more landmines than people in Northern Iraq) toward a more contextualized understanding of what I am seeing….I can no longer be a dispassionate observer. I am hearing the voices of the people living these stories, and I feel their anger, their frustration, their cries for justice.


A number of years ago Kashi felt compelled to turn the camera on our own culture – and specifically on issues of aging in America.  These photographs are a marked contrast from his work in developing countries…and for some reason I hope to find out before the end of the day, are in black and white.  They are moving, glorious, heartwrenching celebrations of life and death, capturing deeply personal moments that are universal to us all.

Kashi’s work has clearly shaped who he is…he says that in his twenties, he realized, “I didn’t need to become a better photographer.  I needed to become a better human being.  That made me a better photographer. “

And now he hands his work to us – in hopes that we become better human beings with him.


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Chautauqua….Photo Week: Monday, July 26, 2010, 1:25 pm

Posted by on Jul 26 2010 | Other, Photography

I’m sitting outside the Hall of Philosophy ….a miniature Acropolis –like structure….35 minutes away from Alison Nordstrom’s talk on the ethics of looking at photographs…and it’s getting pretty packed already.  There seems to be a thirst – acute among Chautauquans, but universal to us all – to examine our connections to the world around us through images.

This morning the amphitheatre was packed with thousands of people listening intently to Steve McCurry discuss his work…including his iconic image of the green-eyed Afghan girl.  I’ve met and heard Steve twice before at Eastman House, and it’s always a privilege to live vicariously through his images – and the stories that go with them.

“I heard voices coming from inside a hut,” he said as he began telling the story that led him through a refugee camp in Pakistan to that iconic image.  He looked into the hut and discovered a school for Afghani girls…girls who had never before been photographed and may not have ever seen a camera.  The shy twelve year old with the piercing blue-green eyes giggled a bit as she became his muse….and why is it that this picture resonates with people of every age, gender and ethnicity to this day?

What makes it an icon?  Steve believes it is in part her eyes, from which light seems to spring forth.  And maybe it’s because this child is clearly on the cusp of maturity – he’s caught a moment of innocent sensuality on the face of a girl whose life has simply been pain and war and the death of her loved ones.  Somehow we see all that in her lovely, dirty face, without ever needing to see the photographs he took before and after that exposure.  And when we do see them – as I’m sharing on this blog post – what more do we now know?  I’m not sure, but for me the story is now more complete.

But maybe that’s just me – I like seeing the variant images – the unedited exposures surrounding the icons.  So here’s a couple more that McCurry shared – maybe a little tricky to see online here, but just so you know, Steve prefers the wider, more complex image.

The audience agreed…but my guess is that most of us amateurs would never have even “seen” that photograph to take it – we would have thought the person in the foreground was cluttering our pristine picture.

“I think a good color photograph should stand up as a black and white photograph,”  ~ Steve McCurry

I think most people think of McCurry as a color photographer – so I was surprised to hear him say he doesn’t think of himself that way…he doesn’t search out color, he searches out stories.  But, as he notes, the world is in color.

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Come See Us at AIPAD

Posted by on Mar 19 2009 | Other

AIPAD Show

The Center for the Legacy of Photography, a joint venture of George Eastman House and the Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology, will be center stage (literally) at this year’s AIPAD Photography Show New York from March 26 to 29.  

One of the most important international photography events, the annual AIPAD Photography Show is being held at Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory, and is presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD).    

This year, AIPAD will include an exhibition titled Cause & Effect, featuring vintage photographic prints from the George Eastman House collections. Cause & Effect is presented by the new Center for the Legacy of Photography (CLP), which is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The CLP focuses on collecting and sharing knowledge about photographic materials of the 19th and 20th centuries.  

Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, 1882-1966). Alfred Stieglitz. Negative before 1907. Platinum Print. George Eastman House collections/Gift of Alvin Langdon Coburn.UNKNOWN.0001

The exhibition will provide insight into historic cause-and-effect relationships of materials and processes. Work such as an early salt print by Hill & Adamson will be shown side-by-side with later prints in platinum and carbon. Sequences of prints by Alvin Langdon Coburn will reconstruct aesthetic choices made by the artist, and variant prints of Lewis W. Hine’s famous Powerhouse Mechanic image will be on view.  

19780999In addition, CLP Co-Director Grant Romer will take part in the panel discussion What Makes a Photographic Print a Masterpiece (Why Process and Print Quality Matter) on Saturday, March 28 at 10 a.m.  

Complete details on the event are available  here.

For those planning to be in New York in late March, please stop by booth 310 at the AIPAD Photography Show-we look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

Images

Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, 1882-1966)
Alfred Stieglitz
Negative before 1907
Platinum Print
George Eastman House collections/Gift of Alvin Langdon Coburn

 

David Octavius Hill & Robert Adamson
(Scottish, 1802-1870 & Scottish, 1821-1848)
Agnes and Ellen Milne
Negative ca. 1845
Platinum Print
Later print by Alvin Langdon Coburn
George Eastman House collections/Gift of Alvin Langdon Coburn

 

Lewis W. Hine (American, 1874-1940)
Powerhouse Mechanic
Gelatin Silver Print
George Eastman House collections

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