What’s Mew Pussycat?; More Readers’ Websites To Enjoy

“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” —John Lennon

I want to bring readers up-to-date on how online changes mentioned in the February 2010 column are proceeding: my blog is on hiatus, probably never to return, but I’m continuing my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/joe.farace) for the time being because of expected changes in 2010. The new Tortuga Racing website may not be online until later this year but I started a Twitter page (http://twitter.com/joefarace) and launched a film review blog (www.ihatepopcorn.us) that movie lovers might find interesting. My Flickr page (www.flickr.com/photos/joefarace) remains online as I go through hundreds of submissions for an all-Flickr column later this year. In the meantime, I’ve collected some of Shutterbug readers’ best sites for this month’s column, starting with…

When growing up in Argentina, Marcos Minuchin was the official photographer for every family vacation until his daughters inspired him to create The Secret Life of Toys, a place where its citizens live a plastic life but not a fake one. Now living in New York, Minuchin created a website whose very design inspires the kind of wonder contained in his fanciful images of “toys gone wild.” The site contains a 4x5 grid of images that can be rotated and turned through three dimensions along with a next arrow that takes you to another grid. Clicking on any image makes it larger and you can flip it around to look at its back—much like a baseball card—but instead of stats you’ll find information about purchasing prints at most affordable prices.

© 2010, Marcos Minuchin, All Rights Reserved

This design is as inspired as the colorful photographs themselves that include clever images of Star Wars stormtroopers panhandling and holding signs looking for work. You’ll find other film and comic book heroes, including Watchmen’s Comedian, Wonder Woman, and Superman, who is sitting down to breakfast and looking at a wireless phone as if it just rang. All of these images are superbly photographed with a creative use of selective focus to make them seem more real, although obviously toys, which is part of the charm of Minuchin’s photographs. And don’t miss MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman as Batman’s Robin. The only thing wrong with the site is that you’ll want to see more photographs! Maybe Minuchin will add some new images by the time you read this. I doubt if I will find a more fun website this year.

Imke Lass shoots with a medium format camera and, she tells me, “a gentle eye.” Her classy website is complex but keeps you from getting lost by occasionally opening a new tabbed window or a completely new window, such as with her Blog, Prints, and Project sections. Her main galleries are “Travel,” “Stories,” and “Portraits” which feature thumbnails of collections that, when clicked, open into photo essays. I looked at “Savannah” first because I’ve been fascinated by the city since viewing Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but Lass provides a different, brighter view of the city filled with history and light. Her “Cajun Country” essay is similar and offers well-crafted images of smiling, happy people, mostly at play and sometimes at work.

© 2010, Imke Lass, All Rights Reserved

Her “Portraits” gallery has two collections, one for people and another for critters, including turtles. Her people photographs are warm, wry, and occasionally detached, depending on how she visualized the person and whether that person liked being photographed, I’m guessing! Surprising as it seems, many people you’re assigned to photograph aren’t always happy about it. “Stories” contains mostly assignments and Lass typically adopts a fly-on-the-wall approach, allowing her subjects to play out their roles on the stage of life as when following a man through the process of diagnosis and treatment for a brain tumor. In her essay “15 Faces of a Boat,” the subject is a large vessel with occasional glimpses of people who serve as counterpoints to the real star of the show, the MS Maersk Vilnius. Lass represents a new breed of photojournalists, one to whom color is easy and natural and she uses it and her unobtrusive shooting style to capture what’s in front of her lens, not effect it.