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.”
While I was in Australia, I decided to do a walk about. Invariably, when you start a trek like that, you’re going to run into inclement weather. In a rain forest very close to Cairns, Australia, JoAnne captured me during a storm on my walk about. Ok, if you don’t believe that, raise your hands. Wow, thank God you all raised your hands. JoAnne was shooting an ad campaign and needed a model for a test and used me. Never going to be on the cover of GQ! It was shot right outside the studio, the studio lights were still inside, obviously being protected by the rain????? It’s a special type of rain, it’s called hose rain. Sometimes a photo isn’t what it appears to be. But I do try to keep my sense of humor. I did get the hat and coat in Australia. It’s pretty amazing stuff, it’s an oil cloth. I hope it still fits. To all the ships at sea, keep your powder dry, your legs crossed, and a bit of lip gloss never hurt anybody.
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.
I remember the first time I heard the words, “Photo” and “Hills and Valleys”. It was at TIME magazine end of year party. A great up and coming assistants decided to quit. When I asked him why, he said too many hills, too many valleys. The valleys are just too deep. I’m gonna take a 9-5 job. Suffice it to say, I was totally shocked. He was poised to be a staffer in a few years. Well we all make decisions we have to live with. The last 2 weeks I’ve been in a valley. This morning I went to the gym and watched the sun come up. It was glorious. I closed my eyes and I could still see every bit of that sunrise. My iPhone was playing an angel, Mary Travers. The combination of her voice, my eyes shut tight and that sunrise, I got out of the valley and onto Kilimanjaro. It’s amazing how music and photography really go together. No sooner I said that- I went looking for this Mary Travers photo which will be the first photo in my new book. The problem is I can’t find the negative and I’ve been looking for it for about ten years. I made a litho print and hand colored it…not my strong suit. That’s all I have for you today guys. The moral of this story is take real good care of your originals, make sure they’re put away properly so you’ll be able to retrieve them when you’re getting ready to do your memoirs.
It’s a little known fact that JoAnne and I had an illegitimate son, by the name of Dylan (just joking.) Please understand across the studio just came a comment…”You’re out of your mind what are you saying?.” So let’s just be honest, I am out of my mind, I agree, it’s just the nature of the beast. Dylan at a very young age had a babysitter, by the name of Dennis Wheeler. Dennis’s art is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art. In my humble opinion he is one of the finest artists of our time. In those days we lived on the sea and rainbows were relatively commonplace. They usually happened after it rained…I never quite did figure that out. One day Dylan decided to paint rainbows. He painted, I don’t know, somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty different rainbows. I think JoAnne said to him one day, “Why don’t you sit outside on the stoop and maybe you can sell the rainbows to people who pass by.” (You can tell who the mercenary business person is in our small company) That’s why she is the brains and the beauty.
Dylan sat outside with the rainbows as people would come by and pick them up for 2 cents each. The timing on this was approximately ten months after Musician Doug Stegmeyer went on to playing bass on a different plateau. There was a knock on the door and it was Peggy Stegmeyer, who lived down the street. In her hand was one of Dylan’s rainbows. She very softly said, (I am paraphrasing) “Joe, this is the first time a smiled in almost a year.” I’ve been known to say, all the great things in the world are free and occasionally a great piece of art may only sell for 2 cents. But it made some one very happy.