"Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness."--Shakespeare's Macbeth
The World Wide Web takes you around the world in pictures. Our tour guides this month are National Geographic's Sarah Leen, portraitist David Ford, and Monica Marcu, a nature photographer with a sharp eye for urban landscapes. Then we'll head to Albatross Gallery for a peek at some birds that can't fly.
Sarah Leen (www.sarahleen.com) is a photographer whose sweeping images combine a sense of place with a poet's vision. This can be immediately seen in her homepage image of a young boy at the Carnival San Nicholas de los Ranchos in Mexico. A former newspaper photographer, Leen has traversed the globe for National Geographic for 20 years, capturing images of majesty and mystery but most of all caring for the people and places she photographs. Her Bio section is like her: flip, hip, but more importantly, warm.
Where many adventure photographers might have a portrait of themselves high in the Himalayas covered in snow, instead you'll find a smiling Leen hugging a sheep inside a VW bus. Most of the work on the web site is from her National Geographic assignments and books; she considers it a virtual portfolio. But you will also find some of her personal and landscape images that blew me away when I saw her presentation at FotoFusion 2003 (www.fotofusion.org). Her Images gallery contains three collections: Without, With, and Among. (I think she means people.) Without includes awe-inspiring landscapes that capture timeless moments. No, that's not Stonehenge, it's Carhenge, an exact duplicate in Alliance, Nebraska, that was created using junk cars, yet photographed not with a smirk or a smile, but with the same loving care shown for her natural landscape images.
"With" features people but also includes a few animals (she doesn't call it wildlife photography) and I think it's these two collections that exemplify the elegiac center that imbues all of Leen's documentary work, but is shown here in its simplest, purest form. "Among" includes some of her portraits where her subjects are aware she's with them and are glad to have her around--something that might not be universally said for the welcome given most photographers. Her image of a suburban American kid holding a rubber shark has the same love and respect for the subject as that of an ancient Siberian fisherman. The Assignment section contains extended excerpts from National Geographic as exotic as Djenne, Mali, or as banal as Clovis, California, but she captures both with the same blend into the scenery approach that many try to emulate but few ever achieve. Leen is a modern master; click on Calendar to attend one of her workshops.
David Ford's web site (www.davidford photography.com) focuses on fashion and fitness imagery but also contains sport, scenic, and wedding photography. His Portraiture section is full of small thumbnail images of active people and shows his unique fashion style in portraits. They are as varied as a black and white shot of a female subject in a business suit and a sexy portrait made on concrete steps. In both images, Ford puts his own unique spin and point of view on each photograph making obvious emotional contact with the subject and at the same time presenting a fresh perspective on what might easily become ordinary.
If you thought the thumbnails were tiny, the larger (when clicked) images are only semi-medium sized and although imprinted with his copyright could easily be larger to help you better appreciate his art and craft. Sport contains images of physique sports that you may like or not; I didn't. Living in The Great White North gives Ford a chance to make interesting winter images, and "Snowy Fence Post" is one of his best. The lonely aspen leaf in "Alone" would look great hanging on anybody's wall.
Ford's wedding photography manages to mix tradition with fun. His monochrome image of a bride with (what appears to be) her two brothers in a headlock is priceless as is an obviously staged, but nevertheless cute picture of a snowball fight among the bridal party. Unlike many photographers' sites, Ford's contains a complete price list for services, including session and print prices. Since he is located in Alberta, Canada, I assume the prices are in Canadian dollars. The whole site has a classy design and is easy to navigate and loads fast even on my dial-up connection. (I'm assured that broadband is coming to Brighton, Colorado, but I'm still waiting.)
No kidding, that's what it says on Monica G. Marcu's homepage (www.photomarcu.com) and I believe it. Any web site that includes quotes from Proust and showcases a (really good) picture of a praying mantis is worth a look. The site may focus on nature and wildlife photographs, but there's also some brilliant architecture and urban landscapes to be seen in the Cityscape and New Images collections. The Miscellaneous section contains everything that doesn't fit into the other sections and features an exquisite (and funny) picture called "Two Doors, No Entry." Oh, yeah. She has captions on the photographs, although I would have loved to know where that particular image was made. Many of the images feature clever captions combined with outstanding technical and aesthetic skills that when combined are most striking.
For example, "A Working Day in the Life of a Butterfly" is a colorful image found in her Flowers gallery. All galleries are displayed on the homepage and can also be accessed by a menu on the left-hand side of the screen and images are displayed in separate pop-up windows. Users of Earthlink's (www.earthlink.net) Pop-Up Blocker software will have to turn it off when visiting the site in order to see her thumbnails in a larger size. Marcu is a terrifically versatile photographer whose images are for sale at oh-so-modest prices. Check out the Order section for details. Marcu told me that she updates her web site at least once a month, so some of the details and individual photographs may change by the time you read this.
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