May 30, 2015
Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015)
  Mary Ellen Mark died on May 25. She was one of the most important documentary photographers ever. Her classic photo essay in Life magazine, Streets of the Lost, depicted homless kids on the streets of Seattle. It will will move you to tears. Unfortunately, little has changed since its publication; if anything, things seem to have gotten worse.

  I won’t add to the accolades she has received in the last few days. The Online photographer has collected many of the links in two posts, here and here. Your time will be well spent if you read some of these and look at her work.


March 11, 2015
    Fixed broken links for many of the Yellowstone pictures


June 29, 2013
Professional Photography: RIP?

    On May 20, Melissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo said, “…today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers…” She was talking about the elimination of Flickr Pro accounts, but I think the partial quotation is an accurate reflection of her thinking. (You can read the entire quotation in context here.) I can’t remember ever hearing a more stupid comment about photography; a quick search of the internet will show that many people agree. She seems to have joined the Wall Street financial parasites on the most hated list, at least among photographers.

    The Chicago Sun Times seems to have taken her at her word. A few days later on May 30, the newspaper laid off its entire staff of photographers. They claim that reporters can get the necessary pictures with their iPhones. No, I’m not making this up! Scott Bourne of Photofocus has written the most colorful commentary on this. Read it here.

    What to make of this nonsense? First, many (not all) CEOs and editors know nothing and care nothing about serious photography. More charitably (?), they make these kinds of decisions because the general public knows nothing and cares nothing about serious photography. Why waste money on good photography when the market doesn’t care?

    With smartphones and point and shoot cameras, anyone can take a decent snapshot. That’s fine for vacation pictures, parties, and family events. (I have hundreds of them.) But those who influence popular culture should be held to a higher standard.

    For an illustration of what happens when you fire your photographers, compare here the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune pictures of the Chicago Blackhawks recent victory celebration. (Click on the photos to switch back and forth.)

May 15, 2013
Seven Days in May
    In the last week I have been to three major photo exhibitions: Garry Winogrand (SFMOMA), Jennifer Wu (Viewpoint Gallery, Sacramento), and Huntington Witherill (Gallery 1855, Davis). What a joy to live in an area so rich in photography!

May 9, 2013
Garry Winogrand
    I recently went to see the Garry Winogrand retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). I have never understood street photography in general, or Winogrand in particular, who John Szarkowski considered one of the greatest photographers of his time. A few of Winogrand’s pictures are famous, and have been reproduced in anthologies and histories of photography. I have seen these pictures, one or two at a time, and didn’t get it; they seemed like glorified snapshots to me. I went to the exhibition hoping to understand what I have been missing.

    What I’ve been missing is the big picture. Seen individually, some of Winogrand’s pictures do seem like little more than glorified shapshots; lucky accidents. But seen en masse, they reveal a careful anticipation of the chaos and humor of life on city streets that we see every day, but usually pay no attention to. There are too many fascinating pictures to be lucky accidents. (I’m sure there are thousands of failures too; after all, Winogrand took literally millions of pictures. But a good photographer never shows his bad pictures!)     

    I won’t attempt to analyze Winogrand or his pictures; many others far more knowledgeable than I am have done that. If you google Garry Winogrand, you will find many interesting articles about him and his photography. There is also an interesting interview about street photography in Lenswork #97 (Nov-Dec 2011).

    If you appreciate street photography, and especially if you don’t, I highly recommend seeing the show if you are close enough to San Francisco. It is on display at SFMOMA through June 2, 2013.

November 2012
Web Site Update
    I have completely redesigned and updated this web site. What an awful job! I have tested it in as many browsers as I can, and it seems reasonably consistent. A caution: If the menus don't work properly, you may have to adjust your security settings, especially with paranoid Internet Explorer. Please contact me if you have any problems.

August 2012
Update on Tim Whelan's Bookstore
    Tim’s bookstore has been reincarnated as part of the Maine Media Workshops. The bookstore is located in the workshop gallery and store in Rockport. It is smaller and doesn’t have quite the same ambience, but it still has its greatest asset (Tim). Still worth a visit if you are anywhere close.


22 September 2010
Tim Whelan’s Bookstore is Closing
    Tim Whelan’s photo bookstore in Rockport, Maine has long been a landmark for photographers and collectors of photo books. Tim’s knowledge of photography, photographers, and photo books is encyclopedic, and if you were looking for a rare or out of print photo book, Tim was the first person to call. Unfortunately, Tim has been the victim of the economic disaster that has ruined the lives of so many people in this country, while enriching the top few percent. He will be closing his bookstore in October. For the last few years, one of the highlights of my year has been a trip to the Rockport area, to visit photographer friends and soak up the photographic ambiance of the area. I always spent time (and money!) in Tim’s bookstore. His recommendations were always insightful and honest. Sometimes he would recommend I not buy a book because he thought it was boring or overpriced. I have many books that he did recommend, and have not regretted buying any of them. Some are treasures I would have missed if not for Tim. Tim’s bookstore has been an important resource to the photographic community, and we will mourn its loss. We will miss Tim’s expertise and friendly face. We all wish him the best of luck in whatever comes next in his life. Thank you Tim.