How’s everybody doing out there?
Long time no see! We’ve been on the road, and things have been nuts. Life, right? It gets in the way of our creative work sometimes. Spring is springing here in Madison this week. It’s beautiful and feels great. I hope that each of you is well.
I’ve been experimenting with a lot of ideas here these past few months. Something that’s been nagging at me is a desire to get back to doing what I used to do with the old FlakPhoto blog: to show pictures and drive eyes to the people who made them. Instagram is an incredible place to see a ton of imagery, but it’s not ideal for slowing down and really looking — or seeing. I’m as guilty of that as anybody, and I’ve been working on paying better attention there and elsewhere.
Years ago, I wrote a column for Photograph Magazine called Four to Follow. The premise was simple: we featured four photographers in each quarterly issue and recommended their Instagram feeds. The aim was to introduce the magazine’s readers to new imagemakers and to help those artists find audiences for their work. I want to do more of that in the newsletter this year, so I’ve been brainstorming a new feature — the FlakPhoto Spotlight.
My goal won’t be to give you even more IG feeds to follow. I want to dig a little deeper, feature a variety of work from individual artists, and show you what they’re doing with their photography. This will be a good practice of attention for me and for you. Win, win! I’m lining up some Spotlight features now and would love to hear from you if you know someone I should write about or want to show something of yours in FlakPhoto Digest. I’m always looking and love hearing from you — Please write anytime.
To kick things off, I’m reprinting the first column I wrote for Photograph, which ran in the March/April 2018 issue five years ago. (Time, flying!) The writing is a bit more formal than how I do things here, and some of the facts are outdated. My former editor, Jean Dykstra, graciously encouraged me to run these pieces here, so I may dust off some of these old columns yet this summer. Too often, we’re focused on the new, and it’s nice to look back at these images, even if they’re not representative of the current work these artists are making. I hope you enjoy them. 📸
Jessica Auer — @jessica.auer
Auer is a Canadian photographer living in Iceland, and her photography examines the relationship between people and places. She’s a frequent traveler, so her IG functions as a visual map of her whereabouts and includes views from the Yukon Territory, Greenland, Gotland, France, Spain, and the Lofoten Islands. Hers is a casual approach blending personal experience and professional practice that provides a pleasurable glimpse into the artist’s creative process. In 2017, Éditions du renard published January, a book that explores the practice of walking as an artistic activity. She is currently working on a series about the impact of tourism in Iceland and a short film about the cruise industry's impact on small communities.
Takahiro Kaneyama — @tkaneyama
Like a lot of photographers, Kaneyama shows a mix of personal snapshots and professional updates on his feed. What’s exciting is the way that IG has provided a new outlet for him to experiment with What Leaves Are Falling…, a long-term series about family, aging, and chronic mental illness. Nearly twenty years in the making, a book of these images was published in Japan in 2016, and Instagram has been a convenient platform for showing outtakes from that project as well as new images from the ongoing series. In 2018, he exhibited a selection of prints from the series at The Gallery in the Nikon Plaza Shinjuku, Tokyo, on the occasion of the Sagamihara Photo Award.
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Matthew Genitempo — @genitempo
“I made this picture in Austin, Texas, after a long day of swimming. My partner and I went to Deep Eddy Cabaret afterward to play some pool and drink the coldest beer in Texas.” Genitempo shares personal photos like this most days. Much of his work celebrates the big-sky views of the American Southwest, and his images are loaded with moody color and cinematic character. He shoots from the hip with an iPhone—a potent reminder that the best camera is the one you have with you. In 2017, Genitempo co-launched the Trespasser imprint with photographer Bryan Schutmaat. His latest series, Jasper, about men living off the grid in the Ozarks, will be on view at FotoFilmic's PULP space in Vancouver this summer.
Siân Davey — @siandavey1
Davey came to photography in her forties after a 15-year career in psychotherapy. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but her work since then has focused largely on the internal mechanics of the family dynamic. She uses IG as a venue for showing medium- and large-format photographs from her documentary projects—many of them intimate observations of her children. These are sensitive, beautiful images that provide an earnest insight into her role as an artist and mother. Davey’s photographs have been selected for inclusion in the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition for the last three years. Her book, Martha, a study of her adolescent daughter, was published by Trolley Books in 2018.
One more thing!
You might have heard about Substack Notes this week. I'm excited to see so many photographers checking it out — there are more photo folks here than I realized. I'm an old-school photoblogger, so this gives me hope. Is a photography blog renaissance afoot? Substack may be an antidote to our Instagram funk. If you're test-driving Notes, I would love to hear from you. Drop me a line in the comments here:
What is Notes?
Notes is a new space on Substack to share links, photos, and more. I plan to to talk pictures and share community news there. As a FlakPhoto Digest subscriber, you’ll automatically see my notes. You can share notes too! Head to substack.com/notes or find the “Notes” tab in the Substack app. Check out the Notes FAQ if you run into problems. See you there?
I like the format Andy. Great to be introduced to new photographers. The only one I had heard of was Sian Davey. I enjoyed this talk at the Martin Parr Foundation a few years ago.
Great idea Andy, I’d love to be introduced to work I’m yet to see or work I’ve seen and let slip. Look forward to seeing Spotlight!