Monday, September 21, 2009

Photographic Jewels

I won't lay any claim as to being a wordsmith, nor as a chronicler of photographic trends or as a literature reviewer with a long history of literary postings. However, as a photographer, and an avid reader, I enjoy reading truthful and insightful writings about the craft and creative process of photography. I also enjoy seeing good photography presented in a way that inspires me and engages my creativity and my thinking. In that vein, if you have never read an issue of LensWork, I encourage you to do so. Of all of the modern photography publications that I have read, I think this one comes closest to being about the art of photography, and not the nuts and bolts of geardom, processes, and current trends. In other words, it's the end result that inspires me. It's sort of like seeing a great exhibit in a museum somewhere, except the photographs on the wall are by people somewhat like me. In addition, the commentary is very good, and the editor, Brooks Jensen, may just be one of the best essayists around when it comes to photography.

It's not an easy publishing environment right now, but it seems that Jensen is finding a way to make LensWork uh, work. Unfortunately, there are no longer any copies available on news stands, but if I understand the decision to sell only by subscription, they are not losing money with unsold copies. It's the one magazine that I eagerly anticipate in the mail. If you love making photographs in b&w, and enjoy seeing well-crafted images, you should subscribe to LensWork.

But wait, there's more! Brooks Jensen has published several books on photography and the creative process. I have read two of them -- several times over, in fact, and should be required reading for photography students. "Letting Go of the Camera" and "Single Exposures" are quite possibly some of the most honest writing that I have seen about photography and the entire creative processes surrounding it. As my title says, they are photographic jewels and belong in your hands. Jensen finds ways to sell photographs, to put them in the hands of viewers, to make them accessible, and to make them affordable. Is there is a disdain there for galleries? Yes, of course. But, you should read Letting Go of the Camera to find out why, and you'll probably find yourself nodding in agreement.

In addition, Brooks Jensen also does podcasts, which offer his commentary about photogrpahy and creativity. Certainly worthwhile listening to.

[Disclaimer here -- In no way, do I profit from telling you to subscribe to LensWork. It's just a damn fine magazine (though calling it a magazine is almost demeaning) about photography that will inspire you.]

Finally, I have to add that the recent issue (July-August 2009) was nothing but a delight to read. It honors the memory of Bill Jay (1940-2009), by presenting a number of his columns that appeared (and some that never did) in LensWork . Some might think that Bill Jay was a curmudgeonly old photographer, but he died too soon. His writing, sometimes pithy, was totally full of truth and often very humorous. I can see why Brooks Jensen had him write for LensWork. Truth, humor and beauty, all in 96 pages.

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