Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Marc Olivier 2011

I love the materiality of books, and I don't think I'm alone in that. Far from disappearing from our lives, books are being used more and more for things other than reading. In fact, I've devoted a pinboard on Pinterest to that topic.

One of my favorite photographers, Abelardo Morell, has done a stunning series on books. When I took some of my old books off the shelf and photographed them on Saturday, it was very much inspired by him. I like the abstraction of the pages above (the book is a 19th century history of Paris I bought a long time ago in Seattle).

Marc Olivier, 2011
 You can see the same books in this totemic stack topped with an 18th century collection of Rousseau's rantings against theater. The shot was done with natural light. I set the stack of books on a table by the front door for side lighting and then used a light reflector to bounce back some fill, which ended up giving the halo-like glow. The final photo below shows a rip in the last page through which you see the title Lettre à d'Alembert. It was a happy accident to find that little window into the book's contents. I sent about 11 book photos to the company that distributes my work commercially, but I don't know if it will fall within their needs. Four of my dictionary page photo prints are being distributed (although they are not all of the same ones in my post). Going for commercial viability is an interesting exercise and is often not compatible with what you would send to a gallery. In my opinion, the artist who best straddles those two worlds is Michael Kenna. I find his work very inspiring but I don't do landscapes. Yet.

Marc Olivier, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

put a bird on it!

(Marc Olivier, 2011)

I love how phone and power lines divide the sky. Even better when you put a bird on it :)

Queen of Spades

Eva as the Queen of Spades

She wanted this one to be creepy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Queen of Hearts

 Never mention an idea to your kids unless you are actually going to do it.
After reading a post on B about a deck of playing cards he had made through printerstudio, I thought "hey! that would be cool." What if I made a deck of cards with my kids and dog playing all of the royalty?" I was discussing the idea with my wife and as soon as I mentioned that maybe it would be too involved because we'd have to have them dress up in various costumes, Eva heard "dress up" and "costumes" and that was it. Sunday afternoon she decided we would do the queen of hearts and picked out a dress from her dress-up box. We took the photo in the bathroom, which actually has white and yellow stripes, but Eva wanted them to be pink. So we went into the man cave and watched "Barbie: A Fashion Fairy Tale" (featuring a song with the injunction to "Get your sparkle on." We also learned that "when you're in doubt, glitter it out." Words to live by.) while I retouched the photo. Next up will be the queen of diamonds. The tricky part is to do the photos with whatever we have on hand. I don't have the budget to do a Philip Lorca diCorcia or an Erwin Olaf production.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another "fair use" video and some thoughts

I saw this video posted on the copyright litigation blog and thought I'd share it:

I know I've posted about copyright before, but I think that the erosion of fair use is even more of a problem today than copyright violation.

Photographers worry a lot about people stealing their photos, and of course, that does happen all the time. Back when I was naïve enough to give clients unencrypted proof CDs (with low-res jpegs) it didn't take long for me to realize that people were printing out the crappy low-res unretouched files instead of ordering nice prints. More recently, I've moved toward a "free downloads" policy (and a price increase is coming soon) on weddings/portraits, but only print orders get full retouching. For commercial work, I let the people who represent me worry about it (they have more of a financial stake in it than I do).

As someone who loves street photography, I worry that the erosion of fair use makes daily life a legal minefield. Sure, it may be fair game (for now) to photograph people in public spaces, but what about logos, statues, art, etc.? Court cases are constantly redefining what you can and can't do. I can't keep up with all those cases, but I have noticed that fair use is under attack. Even libraries are being treated like enemies (read: "file sharers"). The common argument against fair use is the "copycat" attack, that is, people will be forced to be more creative if they can't copy. I think the above video makes a good case for fair use copying as an important part of cultural production.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moo cards promo + a random cow video

I don't do ads on my blog, but I had to send some love to Moo.com because I love their products. I bought a few hundred minicards (as in the pic at top—via Moo, not mine) when I first started my blog. I like that you can have different photo on every single card if you want. I chose about 30 different photos and carried cards on my key chain (in a little case they sell) to give to people. It always fun to pull out several different photos and let someone choose which one they like best. I was pimping my blog like nobody's business back in the day when my friend Corry and I were playing google analytics risk. The idea was to try to get the most hits possible and the moo minicards gave me an extra edge. I still haven't conquered the world (thanks a lot, sub-Saharan Africa and Greenland), but Corry has admitted defeat.

Now here's the dumb thing: I have never used Moo cards (mini or regular business size) to promote my business. I'm really good at promoting things that don't earn me a cent, but not so great at self-promo. I soon plan to change that, however, by upgrading my business cards to moo.

Imagine putting different styles of photography (art, wedding, engagement, portrait, etc.) on different cards and handing the appropriate card to the potential client. Way more effective than just a plain old white card with a url, right? So, that's my plan. The other part of my plan: do this promo that gets you a 10% discount and gets me some kind of credit (I'm honestly not sure how much). A win-win.

enough promo. and now for a random cow video:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reading and photography

"It was Tod Papageorge who said “If your pictures are not good enough, you aren’t reading enough.” (ref. via) That’s not what photographers like to hear, is it? They’ve just got used to the fact that they have to spend a lot of time on “social networking” and PR (something that clearly is taking away a lot of time from photography), and now they’re supposed to read? What’s that all about? But maybe writing has more in common with photography than one might think."
Nice post on Conscientious. Read More....