For veteran New York photographer Joe DiMaggio, July 4th remains a time for gratitude. “I am one of the luckiest people in the world. Many of my friends are artists, whether they be painters, writers, poets, musicians photographers or what have you. What’s the term that is used- starving artists? Every once in a while, I tend to complain and moan about the state of the union. Several friends have reminded me if you don’t like the state of the union you can go somewhere else. To be honest, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world a couple of times. Every once in a while, I remember to get on bended knee and kiss the ground as I’m fortunate enough to live in the greatest country in the world. Think about it…
“The photograph of the model’s hand was a silhouette done on a transparent white background with 4 electronic flashes on the white background. The photo was originally done on Kodachrome 25 with the Singh-Ray UV Filter. The film was rewound and reloaded back into the camera and a 2nd front lit image of an American Flag with a fan blowing on it was shot over the silhouette. The original photo had no help from photoshop because it was actually done before photoshop existed. Well what do you know — this older image has just been selected as a magazine cover and the client asked that the transparent white background be changed to blue as it would not work well with their logo. Hmm, have we heard this before? My photoshop skills are minimal at best and I intentionally keep it that way. Twelve to fourteen hours a day is enough work. An assistant gave me a hand and we dropped the blue into the background for the client.
“This second photo was inspired as I was splitting wood for my fireplace and saw the inside grain of one particular piece of wood. I picked up a my EOS 5D Mark III, 100mm Macro with the Singh Ray Hi-Lux filter and made several frames. I then shot one of my small American Flags and my assistant was kind enough to blend them together.”
To all the ships at sea, I had an old friend call me and ask if there was anything I could do to help his daughter make a few contacts on the west coast. That old friend was Gary LaFranco. Gary is an extremely fine photo instructor at Sussex Community College and has maintained an ongoing photo business for the last 25 years in Newton, New Jersey. Over the years he’s been extremely kind to me and now I’m going to take the opportunity to see if I can repay him just a little bit. Gary, Amanda LaFranco, JoAnne, and I had a meeting on Monday morning and discussed the lay of the land in Los Angeles. Obviously, we concentrated on the positive aspects of a relocation to the city of angels. There’s no doubt that it takes a little bit of getting used to, but Amanda wants to be part and parcel of the world of film. The last time I checked, Hollywood was still the film capital of the world, followed rapidly by New York, Toronto, and the list goes on. As soon as I finish this blog, I’m going to write five or six emails to some good friends in LA and see if we can give her a little bit of a jump start. She’s an extremely bright and dynamic young lady with a great work ethic and dedication to her art. I can’t wait to see her credit on a feature film. Hey, another good day! Two in a row? That’s scary.
To all the ships at sea, last week ranged from brutal to inconceivable, and back to brutal cubed. I was suffering from negativity, which was probably my doing because I allow things to bother me. Well, enough of that. A young man showed up on our doorstep with a number 2 pencil and a tape recorder and interviewed JoAnne and myself. Separately, as a matter of fact, which I thought was a pretty innovative way of doing it (“no white lies, you’ll get caught!”). There’s something about a consummate professional; there’s an aura about them. In my experience, they’re bright, intelligent, soft spoken, and honest. I’m talking about Michael Hartnett. I normally have some minor defense mechanisms in place, but Michael was able to have me drop them in about ten seconds. Great interviewer, again I was totally impressed. We talked a little bit about some of his art and he showed me this beautiful illustration with which I fell in love. Then he explained that he makes them in the woods. Makes a record photograph and within hours it disappears. The initial concept threw me for a loop. You mean I can’t take it home? I can’t put it on my wall? It’s not archival? It’s here today, gone tomorrow? Then I gave it a little bit more thought and realized how brilliant it is. Just like us; here today, gone tomorrow. He’s written a novel called Tales of Allamucha; expect to see it on Amazon in the upcoming future. What a breath of fresh air! This is Joe DiMaggio signing off. PS, he was writing an article on JoAnne and myself for The Milford Journal. Check out the July issue.
“I hate artist’s statements. They are pretentious, and I am pretentious enough without adding to it. I have read too many statements about artists who are “exploring psycho/sexual boundaries” or artists who are “Concerned with the tension between x and y…” These statements are more for the artists, to convince themselves that they are creating something meaningful and of value. I reality you buy art because it connects with you, or it matches your couch, not because the artist was “depicting the hypocrisy of gender roles in a post modern America”. I am much more interested to hear what you think about my work, then to tell you what I think about it.”
There are very few things that motivate me to the point of screaming, jumping up and down, or possibly wetting myself. I was introduced to a young man by the name of Thann Clark and I went to his webpage. What you’ve read above is his artist’s statement. I am totally blessed that most of my friends are artists, whether they use oil, water, pen, pencil, cameras, blues, jazz, poetry, or ballet; they’re all artists. I strongly recommend to Thann that he should get his statement copyrighted and trademarked, because if he doesn’t, I’m going to steal it. This artists statement could go on from here to infinity. I’m throwing a photo in here just because I want to. Just for people to keep records, the above gorilla photograph was the number one selling greeting card for over two years. Canon EOS, 600 f4, 1/100th at f4, ISO 100, Gitzo monopod.
Why would anybody put up this genre of photograph in June when obviously the photograph as taken in the dead of winter? That’s funny, I asked myself the same question. There are two basic reasons: the first is I just found this photo I had been trying to find for the last few years for my book, so I scanned it and now you have an opportunity to see it, and the second is I just liked the feeling. It makes me feel warm. Two lovers outside a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. Very cold and snowy night. One grabbed shot, EOS camera, 85 1.2, ISO 200, 1/60th at f2. No rhyme or reason, I just like it.
Sports Illustrated selected this as the third greatest photograph from the last 100 years. I have nothing else to say except Geoff Miller nailed the closest finish, I was proud to say he was my assistant on this shoot.
On one level, if photography is magic then Ann Raine was Houdini. She put forth an unbelievable effort in everything that she did, and she reinvented herself on at least five occasions. We had very long discussions on where she wanted to go photographically, and in many ways I encouraged her with all my heart and soul. That was on the right hand; on the left hand I explained to her that the overall perception of photography was losing some of its magical powers. With the advent of digital, the image became a little too easy and a little too common. Having said that, the cream always comes to the top, and Ann was on the top and in many ways still is. Both JoAnne and I think of her all the time. There’s no doubt that she’s no longer in this consciousness but she has progressed and moved on to a finer one. Her great work will always be here; it will be archival in the truest sense of the word and last to infinity. The next time I see you, you are going to have to lead me on your workshop.
Please see the beautiful tribute from Warren Rosenberg.
We’ve heard the comments; there are no new photos. We’ve heard it numerous times. My god, I’ve probably even said it myself. It’s our job as photographers and filmmakers to always try to come up with a new variation of a theme, and every once in a while we may stumble across a fine photograph. After a certain period of years, we may even be able to predict that it will indeed be a fine photograph and not just another snapshot or cliche number 377. As photographers and artists, all we can do is continue to try. If you have a moment, please stop and check out my new Adorama TV video, subscribe to my blog, TV show, and all the other good things.
Talk to any fighter pilot from any era and they’ll tell you the only two planes that matter are P51 Mustang (propeller plane) and the F14 tomcat jet plane. TIME Magazine sent me on an assignment to photograph the last F14 to come off the assembly in Grumman. Suffice it to say it was very prestigious. Like all my assignments I always try to go a little bit further. So I got permission from the commanding officer to mount two cameras in the back with the weapons control officer. I used a NikonF with motor drive and 15mm lens, Kodachrome 64. at 1/250 at f/8. In a couple weeks you’ll see another P51 blog and see how many G’s I can go through.