Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

— George Eastman.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kodak Exits Bankruptcy

Kodak emerged from bankruptcy on Tuesday, but it is a Kodak that few of us will recognize. Swamped by digital photography, technology that Kodak invented, it has shed all consumer product lines. Gone are film and digital cameras, film sales, and consumer photo developing. The "Kodak Moment" is dead.

The "new" Kodak will concentrate on printing technology for corporate customers, touch-screen sensor components and film for the movie industry. Having decided to hang on to the motion picture film business, Kodak already announced in mid-June that it would stop making cellulose acetate, the base for movie film. At that time Kodak spokesperson Christopher Veronda said, “We have years’ worth of inventory that we have built up.” So, even as the "new" Kodak clings to motion picture film, it has stopped making such film. With the continuing development of digital motion picture cameras by Arri, Red, Canon, Sony and others, Kodak may never get to use up all of that "years’ worth of inventory".

I wish Kodak all the best, but I fear for its future. Kodak invented consumer photography 125 years ago and I am concerned about Kodak's abandonment of consumer markets. It faces tough competition in its remaining commercial markets, where Kodak has limited market share. Kodak has laid off 47,000 workers since 2003 and shed half of its remaining workforce in bankruptcy. I see more layoffs in Kodak's future. Antonio Perez, Kodak's CEO, said, "Kodak has a very strong brand all over the world." Unfortunately, it is a brand that will no longer be associated with photography. Let us hope that it becomes a brand of the future, and not just a brand of the past.

2013 iPhone Photography Awards

This is an article in the Huffington Post about the winners of the 2013 iPhone Photography Awards. I think you will agree that it proves that "the best camera is the one you have with you".

There are 2.5 billion cameraphones in the world. The iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr. Equal numbers of people, 73%, take pictures with their mobile phones as text with their mobile phones. 91% of smartphone owners take pictures once a month, compared with 73% of digital camera owners.

Each of us has our own unique personal vision. It would seem that our cameraphones are giving many of us a way to realize that vision.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Top 10 Most Expensive Photographs

 Number 10 – $2.3 million – Billy the Kid – Unknown (1880) 
 Sold at Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Denver, CO – June 2011.
 This is the only authenticated photograph of Wild West gunslinger Billy the Kid.



Number 9 – $2.7 million  – Untitled #153 – Cindy Sherman (1985)
Sold by Phillips de Pury & Co., New York – November 2010 – 67 x 50 inches
Cindy Sherman was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship



Number 8 – $2.9 million – The Pond/Moonlight – Edward Steichen (1904) 
Sold by Sotheby's New York Auction – February 2006
This early color photograph was made with manually applied light-sensitive gums. One of three prints still in existence, each is unique because of the hand-layering of the gums.



Number 7 – $2.9 million – Los Angeles – Andreas Gursky (1998)  
Sold by Sotheby's London Auction – February 2008 – 62 x 125 inches
Cibachrome print, numbered 3/6 on the reverse


Number 6 – $3.3 million – 99 Cent II, Diptychon – Andreas Gursky (2001)  
Sold by Sotheby's London Auction – February 2007 – 82 x 133 inches
Cibachrome print mounted on acrylic


Number 5 – $3.4 million – Untitled (Cowboy) - Richard Prince (2001-02)  
Sold by Sotheby's New York Auction – November 2007 – 50 x 70 inches
This is a "re-photograph" of a Marlboro cigarette magazine advertisement


Number 4 – $3.7 million – Dead Troops Talk – Jeff Wall (1992)  
Sold by Christie's New York – May 2012 – 90 x 164 inches
Cibachrome transparency in aluminum light box,
This digital montage was staged and shot in studio


Number 3 – $3.7 million – For Her Majesty - Gilbert & George (1973)  
Sold by Christie's London – June 2008 — 57 x 138 inches
Gelatin silver print, in thirty-seven parts


Number 2 – $3.9 million – Untitled #96 – Cindy Sherman (1981)
Sold by Christie's New York – May 2011 – 24 x 48 inches.
This photo is from a signed and numbered edition of 10.


Number 1 – $4.3 million – Rhein II – Andreas Gursky (1999) 
Sold by Christie's New York – November 2011 – 81 x 140 inches.
Digitally manipulated, cibachrome print mounted on acrylic.

Here's the bullet list. 

  • 10 photographs
  • 7 photographers
  • $33.1 million
  • $10.5 million for one photographer's work
  • 2 historic techniques
  • 5 images processed digitally
  • 1 photograph of a photograph

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Alfred Stieglitz on the current state of photography 

"Yes, there seems to be millions on millions of photographers and billions of photographs made annually, but how rare a really fine photograph seems to be. ‘Interesting’ shots. It’s a pathetic situation. So little vision. So little true seeing."

           – Letter from Alfred Stieglitz to Edward Weston, September 3, 1938
              Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Friday, February 22, 2013

Celebrating 66 Years of Instant Photography

66 years ago, on February 21, 1947, Edwin Land (1909 – 1991) – co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation – demonstrated the first instant camera with self-developing film. The Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 used a patented chemical process to produce finished positive prints from the exposed negatives in under a minute.

Although Edwin Land is rightly credited with inventing the Polaroid Camera, it was his daughter who conceived of the idea. While on vacation at the Grand Canyon in 1943, she wondered why developing photos took so long and asked to see the vacation photos right away. Her idea preyed on Land’s mind and he started working on the concept that the whole photographic process from taking the image to seeing the finished product shouldn’t last longer than 60 seconds.

Polaroid manufactured sixty units of this first camera and fifty-seven were put up for sale at Boston’s Jordan Marsh department store before the 1948 Christmas holiday. Polaroid marketers wrongly guessed that the camera and film would remain in stock long enough to manufacture a second run based on customer demand. All fifty-seven cameras and all of the film were sold on the first day of demonstrations. Starting in 1948 the Polaroid Corporation made at least 1.5 million of the Model 95 folding viewfinder camera for his instant roll film, including the variants 95, 95A and 95B.