It’s National Photo Month: Put Part Of yourself In Your Photographs
There are as many different ways to construct a website as there are to make a photograph, just as there are many genres of photography. Yet all have the same goal: to make a photograph that pleases the maker and viewer alike and makes both think about the experience. That’s why I love photography; there’s so much that can be enjoyed by practitioners of all levels, whether carrying a Micro Four Thirds camera or schlepping a large format view camera around the wilderness. We do it because we love to make photographs. May is National Photo Month so remember to have fun with your photography.
Alex Fradkin originally studied and practiced as an architect, so it’s no wonder architecture is an important part of his beautifully designed website. Take a look and you’ll also find excellent examples of portrait and travel photography. His screen-filling architectural images are arranged by architect or by categories such as Art+Design that includes an untitled image of seven automobiles impaled on a gigantic spike. (Not surprising, one is a Pinto.) Other collections are arranged by architect or designer, such as Cecil Balmond’s “Weave Bridge,” shot at night, looking like a UFO that’s just landed. Like all of Fradkin’s work it embraces strong composition and an impeccable use of color and texture.
Many of his images are shot at night, allowing him to produce rich, lush colors that embrace and enhance the building’s shape, as seen in the untitled image of a mid-rise in the Frank Gehry collection. A strong sense of design informs his portraits, especially in The Creatives, where Fradkin’s interaction with his subjects shows in the affection they have for him, allowing themselves to be placed “just so” to create images designed to look “un-designed.” In The Encounters, he tosses that approach away by creating surreal but nonetheless connected portraits of his subjects. This gallery alone is a short course in environmental portraiture. His travel images are brilliantly conceived and executed; the Golden Gate Bridge images in fog are especially spectacular. Alex Fradkin is more than just an architectural photographer; he is a Renaissance man of photography using total control of the craft to create unmistakable works of art.
The first Shutterbug reader’s site this month is from Dale Carey Frame, who tells me that he used to shoot commercially but now “only photographs what he likes.” His minimalistic site contains four galleries, including Black & White, Color, People, and iPhone Artistry, a phenomenon that’s exploded on the web and one I don’t completely understand. (Maybe I’ll do a column on iPhone imagery someday to help me get it.)
Frame’s iPhone images are not what I expected—they’re macro images of flowers that run the gamut from unexpected to beautiful. There is no doubt that his image of three blood-red tulips could be called anything but art, proving once again that it’s not the tool that creates the image but the artist behind it. Frame’s Black & White images are startling because he clearly sees the world in a unique way, whether photographing tree roots or a rusty shipwreck. Both of these photographs transcend the subject matter and Frame’s vision takes you into dark, mysterious places. His Color images range from landscapes that could be called traditional to those that are purely lyrical, and you are plainly seeing a different Frame making these images. This same emotional approach is on view in his People gallery, but seldom are people front and center. Instead they’re often tiny elements inside the photographs with one image of a person on an empty beach perfectly expressing the poetry of e. e. cummings. Dale Carey Frame may only shoot what he likes, but I’ll bet you’ll enjoy them as well.
Proving you don’t need to spend big bucks to have a presence on the Internet, Shutterbug reader Mark Hopkins built his website at a cost of what he told me was “about $70—and a lot of time and anguish.” He wanted to use his Mac OS computer without learning HTML and settled on Sandvox (www.karelia.com/sandvox) as his authoring tool, producing a clean-looking site that collects his images in five galleries. Clicking on any of them, such as Nature Abstracts, produces a page of thumbnails which, when clicked, produces an image and forward and back arrows that allow you to navigate the collection. His nature photography is exemplified by quiet moments that use precise composition along with a strong sense of color to produce images with a distinctive point of view. This can be seen in images such as “Autumn Colors No. 1” that puts a unique spin on the “reflections in water” shot, splashing it with color and design. He does this in his Window Frost series as well, integrating moments of surprising color in what is often a monochrome subgenre.
In Creatures, Hopkins places small critters within their environments, often appearing only in silhouette ensconced in a colorful background, as in his photograph of a finch building a nest at sunset. In both his Travel and Hodgepodge galleries, Mark Hopkins shows he’s at his best capturing moments in which people are seen either as small elements within carefully sculpted surroundings or no people at all, creating a sense of place that makes you feel that you are there.
Chuck Bennett’s photography blog uses a classic format; photographs along with informative text are posted on a regular basis as a way of communicating with like-minded individuals. His tagline “Laugh, Cry, Work, Play” appealed to me because it echoes my own feeling of having fun with photography. Using a blog format during National Photo Month is an especially practical way because it emphasizes the universality of photography while providing a showcase for Bennett’s work. That’s why the blog includes a series of galleries covering specific subject matter, such as landscape and architecture.
His San Diego and Sedona gallery includes photographs that often explode with eye-popping color, but it was the far more subtle “Mt. Helix View” that appealed to me, with its soft blend of near-impressionistic colors. If you’re interested in the details on how specific images were made, Bennett provides exposure data for all of the images in the galleries. While Bennett’s photography tends to be intensely colorful he’s pretty good at black and white, and his untitled monochrome image made in the snow represents a completely opposite approach to his other work, making me curious to see more of this type of photograph. Back into a more familiar genre, his blog post “Navy Pier, Chicago” is a gingerbread house of color (shot at night) and clearly shows that Chuck Bennett knows how to have fun with his photography.