Photographer

An early critique at the Camera Club of NY

(This post is cross-posted on the Camera Club of New York blog)

Last weekend, I looked through the Camera Club of New York's historical archives. They are safely kept in 18 boxes under Bryant park at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, also known as New York Public Library's main building. I will return over the next few months to dig around and choose a few pieces from the archive for this blog.

One of the first pieces I ran across was a clipped article by Theodore Dreiser on the Camera Club from Ainslee's Magazine.

One of this images in the article is this one by Camera Club of NY member and the Club's Vice President, Alfred Stieglitz.

Alfred Stieglitz, The Letter Box, 1894

Alfred Stieglitz, The Letter Box, 1894

The article describes an early account of a photography critique (circa 1899)—not dissimilar to those of today. I love the details and the phrasing:

Very few photos are perfect, and the critical zeal of the camera masters is exacting far beyond the pale of humble human accomplishment.

And yet it occasionally serves to make an humble student of a self-opinionated and self-exaggerated individuality. A case in point is a now distinguished member who came from Brooklyn.

"I was fine in Brooklyn," he remarked one time. "My experience there gave me a good opinion of my work. I began to make lantern slides and exercised my individual taste, with the result that my work was admired. Gradually I began to exhibit it more and more. I joined a local club whose fad was lantern slides and became a star member. Finally I gained such repute that I decided to come to New York and astonish them. I decided that I would quietly enter my plates for exhibition, and, in the vernacular, 'sweep 'em off their feet.'"

"Well?" I inquired as he mused reflectively.

"Oh, I exhibited. They walked on me. One of my pictures made them laugh, and it was intended to be sad. There were twenty-seven objections made to another. My best one came off easy with three criticisms, and all valid. Oh, lord! I thought I would never get out alive."

"Were they fair?"

"Yes; that was the bitter thing. I could realize that it was all kindly said and meant, and was good for me. After it was all over, one gentleman, who noted my crest-fallen state, came up and told me that my work was not bad. It was only the high standard of the club that laid it open to so much criticism. This was too much, and I went home in despair."

"And yet you profited by it."

"It was the best thing that could have happened. I began studying in earnest after that, merely to blot out my terrible defeat. In another year I exhibited again, and the whole set passed the 'test' audience with only a few suggestions."

Below is a photograph from this article and possibly the room that this critique took place.

Here are some pictures from some more recent critiques:

Ansel Adams – Conducting A Critique Session, Courtesy the  Ansel Adams Gallery .

Ansel Adams – Conducting A Critique Session, Courtesy the Ansel Adams Gallery.

A recent critique at the  Yale School of Art's Photography Department . The panel:  John Pilson  making a point on the left,  Lisa Kereszi ,  Shirin Neshat  and  Richard Prince . Image  from this post  by Photographer  Davin Ellicson .

A recent critique at the Yale School of Art's Photography Department. The panel: John Pilson making a point on the left, Lisa KeresziShirin Neshat and Richard Prince. Image from this post by Photographer Davin Ellicson.

The Chain Project

'Make love to me' (set by Beso Uznadze) Photograph by © Harlan Erskine

 

A few months ago curator, Stuart Pilkington, asked me to work on a new project called The Chain. The Project operated similar to an old parlor game called Exquisite corpse. One artist thinks of a title of an image. The title then gets passed on to the next artist and they have to make an image based upon that title. I was given the title 'Make love to me.' At first I really was uninspired by the title. But as it settled in I started to think about lover's lanes and found out about a lovers lane beach in New York near Coney Island. I drove out there with my camera totally unsure of if I would find anything I could use but I had to start shooting. Below is the final shot I submitted for the The Chain and it is the first frame I shot of that beach walk. I'm still working on the rest of the images I made that day and I'll be posting more about what they are in the future. Needless to say  it was a very productive walk on the beach.

Here is the link to my Chain page. http://www.chainproject.co.uk/harlanerskine.html

Here is the full list of the photographers involved:

A
Aernout Overbeeke 
- Dutch
Alejandro Cartagena
- Dominican
Alexey Tikhonov
- Russian
Aline Smithson
- American
Amy Eckert
- American
Amy Stein
- American
Andrea Chu
- American
Andrew Phelps
- American
Annabel Clark
- American

B
Beso Uznadze
- Georgian
Beth Dow
- American
Bieke Depoorter
- Belgian
Björn Sterri
- Norwegian
Bob O'Connor
- American

C
Colin Blakely
- American
Colleen Plumb
- American
Corey Arnold
- Norwegian

D
Daniel Shea
- American
Darcy Hemley
- American
David Bram
- American
Diana Scheunemann
- Swiss

E
Eamon Mac Mahon
- Canadian
Elinor Carucci
- Israeli
Elizabeth Fleming
- American
Elizabeth Gordon
- British
Erika Larsen
- American

F
Faisal Abdu'Allah
- British
Flavia Sö'llner
- German
Flora Hanitijo
- Chinese
Francisco Reina
- Spanish
Freya Najade
- German

G
Geert Goiris
- Belgian
Geoffrey Ellis
- American
Gonzalo Puch
- Spanish

H
Harlan Erskine
- American
Harry Borden
- American
Harry Watts
- British
Hin Chua
- Australian
Hiroshi Watanabe
- Japanese

I
Igor Starkov
- Russian
Iosif Kiraly
- Romanian
Irina Rozovsky
- American

J
Jake Stangel
- Canadian
Janaina Tschäpe
- Dutch
Jennifer Boomer
- American
Jenny Riffle
- American
Jens Lucking
- German
John Stathatos
- Greek
Joerg Colberg
- German
Juliane Eirich
- German
Justin Maxon
 - American

K
Kate Hutchinson
 - Canadian
Kathryn Hillier
- American
Kelli Connell
- American
Kevin J Miyazaki
- American
Klaus Pichler
- Austrian

L
Lane Collins
 - American
Laura Hynd
- British
Laura Pannack
- British
Li Wei 
- Chinese
Lisa Wiseman
- American
Liz Kuball
- American
Loan Nguyen
- Swiss
Luis Diaz Diaz
- Spanish

M
Mac Adams
- British
Maïa Roger
- French
Marie Sjøvold
- Norwegian
Marina Gadonneix
- French
Mark Denton
- British
Mark Mahaney
- American
Martin Amis
- British
Martin Beckett
- British
Matt Eich
- American
Mauro Corinti 
- Italian
Mayumi Lake
- Japanese
Michael Itkoff
- American

N
Nick Turpin 
- British
Noah Kalina 
- American

O
Olivier Despicht
- French

P
Paul Plews
- British
Philippe Herbet
- Belgian

R
Rachel Hulin
- American
Rachel Papo
- American
Renee Chartier
- American

S
Sarah Small 
- American
Seba Kurtis
- Argentinian
Shane Lavalette
- American
Shannon Taggart
- American
Simon Winnall
- British
Sophie Gerrard
- British
Sue Parkhill
- Australian
Susana Raab
- Peruvian

T
Taj Forer
- American
Tema Stauffer
- American
Thomas Mailaender
- French
Tom Janssen
- Dutch

V
Vanessa Winship
- British
Victoria J Dean
- British

W
Wendy McMurdo
- British
Will Steacy 
- American
Wolfram Hahn
- German

X
Xavier Delory
- Belgian

Y
Ye Rin Mok
- Korean
Youngna Park
- American

Z
Zhang Xiao 
- Chinese
Zoe Norfolk
- British

ps I now have a tumblr: http://diary.harlanerskine.com/