Dear <<First Name>>

Happy Thanksgiving weekend.  Thought we would take a look at what a photograph is and what it does. Not sure any other art form or medium works on quite so many levels.

“Why can't a photograph be all four things at once? -be an art object; be a document, whatever that means exactly, but deal with content; be a formalist exploration; and operate on some, metaphor is not the right word but, resonant level "– Stephen Shore

What a Photograph is: At its most basic a photograph is simply a two-dimensional registration of light on cellulose negative (today, digital sensors), then printed on silver halide paper (or today shared electronically). Photography comes from the Greek words photos and graphos, literally meaning “drawing with light.”

While that is the technical definition, we can take it a step further and note that a photograph is a document of the world at a specific point of time. It is a historical record of a specific place, time and thing at the moment it is captured by the camera as an image.  The photograph is a record of content.

That image, with its specific subject matter, comes from the point of view of the photographer taking the photograph. He/she decided what content was in the photo.  They determined the lighting and exposure. They determined the perspective we are seeing. So, while the image is of recorded content, the content is ordered, arranged and shown with a point of view – the photograph is a selected view that has been created from the messiness of the world.  It is put together within a set of formal constraints.  It has a visual grammar. The photograph is someone's perspective.

The photograph can also be a physical thing, an object, a print. Even as a digital image it is an individual image to be viewed and/or shared. It is flat (screen or print) with edges and it is static. In this respect, it has its own life in the world – on your wall, on a museum wall, in a shoebox or on your computer.

Stephen Shore notes in his recent book, Modern Instancesthat “In the 1964 edition of Beaumont Newhall’s The History of Photography, he included a final chapter titled “Recent Trends.” He described four trends for what photographs are:

  • the document, a photograph that points to something out in the world and asks us to pay attention to it;
  • the straight photograph, a self-conscious work of art that asks us to pay attention to the picture itself;
  • the formalist photograph, a picture that explores the structural qualities of an image or the formal nature of the medium; and,
  • the equivalent, a photograph that embodies or engenders a state of mind or an emotional state (what T. S. Eliot might have called a picture that functions as an “objective correlative”).

What the Photograph Does:  The photograph starts by making us pay attention to things in the image, as noted by Shore's commentary.  The photograph shows us a fact and/or expresses an idea, an emotion or, more generally, a world view.

At this time of the year, we take pictures of friends and family to record time together, to make memories.  We look back at old pictures to inform our current lives and, often, trigger emotions and memories of our lives. 

Images can also help us interrogate history and apply that to the present. For example, Gordon Park’s images of the south in the middle of the 20th century both document and interrogate, even celebrate, the south. They also help us understand our present. Check them out here or here

Gordon Parks
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 
Gordon Parks Foundation

The photograph disseminates information across traditional barriers.  Photograph Magazine, in reviewing the recent Wolfgang Tillmans exhibit at MOMA, noted that "photography has continually broadened the accessibility of the medium and the circulation of images. In this regard, the photograph’s impact on the dissemination of information is incalculable, vaulting barriers of language and class; photography provides the fundamental grammar of diversity, altering mobility and identity – and, tangibly, dissolving the categories of public and private.”

As we noted a couple months ago about photography changing everything; it changes what we want; it changes what we see; it changes who we are; it changes what we do; it changes where we go; and, it changes what we remember.

That’s a lot of stuff going on in the image itself and its impact.  Hard to imagine that little horizontal image doing so much in our world.

those images “that captured a fraction of a second of activity and fueled narratives for generations" --curator Glen Helfand

Powhatan's burial mound is located on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in King William County, Virginia

A Virginia Thanksgiving Tradition
For 345 years, the treaty between the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Tribes with the British has been recognized the when the Tribes present the Governor of Virginia and the First Lady with gifts, in recent times the day before Thanksgiving.  Last week, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Tribes gifted wild game, art and jewelry to the Governor and the First Lady.  The ceremony is known as the annual tax tribute ceremony.  The tax tribute tradition dates back to the Treaty of the Middle Plantation in 1677, in which tribes agreed to recognize the British government with offerings of beaver skins instead of taxes. In exchange for these offerings, the British government acknowledged the land use and hunting rights of the tribes. 

Of the 18,000 acre reservation established in the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation, the Mattaponi now occupy 1% and the Pamunkey occupy 7%. The rest of the land has been transferred out of Native American tribal control. 

A wide variety of fish live in the Mattaponi River and provide the Mattaponi people with food. These include American Shad, Striped Bass (also called Rockfish), Catfish, Herring, and Perch. These fish are a staple of the Mattaponi diet.  ​​​The Mattaponi Riverbank also supplies the Mattaponi with clay for pottery.  Tribal members also farm tribal lands.
The Pamunkey Indians have depended on fishing, hunting, trapping and gardening for hundreds of years. One of the main staples of the diet for the past one hundred and fifty years has been fish, specifically shad and herring. Members of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe also bartered these fish, making them an integral part of the Pamunkey economy.  From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, shad was the most valuable food fish harvested in the mid-Atlantic region.

The Pamunkey maintained a philosophy that if you took fish from the water, you should put some back. They started an indoor fish hatchery in 1918, with an 800 gallon holding tank, gas-powered motor, hatching jars and holding tanks. As soon as the eggs hatched, they were gravity-fed back into the Pamunkey River.
Pottery School, Pamunkey Indian Reservation, King William County, Virginia. 
Home of the Pamunkey Potter's Guild since the early 1930s.  Ceramics were produced and used on a household basis for a multitude of purposes including cooking and storage. The period of initial European contact resulted in the first marked shift in European influence on Pamunkey pottery production in which pottery shifted from production for consumption to production for exchange.  During the nineteenth century, the Pamunkey potters had a thriving peddlers' trade throughout the Peninsula area. By the beginning of the 20th century, only a handful of potters remained, but all the senior members of the community could recall a day when their grandparents made a living, at least in part, from peddling their stewing pots, milk pans, and other pottery vessels throughout the country.
Pamunkey Indian School was a one-room frame schoolhouse established in May 1909.  Students from grades 1–7 attended the school. As a result of the school segregation laws enacted in Virginia, students wishing to continue their education either had to leave home to attend a government school specifically designed for Indigenous or Native American peoples in other states or they had to quit school before completing their education.
The Indigenous and Native American peoples, including Virginia Indian tribes, were not considered American citizens even after ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. They often faced discrimination and were denied the equal protection of the laws. Under segregation laws, Virginia Indian children could not attend public schools in Virginia unless they were willing to attend schools established for Black children. Between 1880 and 1920, many Indigenous and Native American communities established their own schools rather than attend Black schools.

Pamunkey School closed due to low attendance in 1948, and the remaining students were transferred to the Mattaponi Reservation School.
Binhammer Photographs Website

Holiday Gift Ideas 
Giving Tuesday and Photo Gifts

The holidays are upon us, gift giving ideas

Giving Tuesday, November 29th. The Work of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center:  Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to counteract the spending of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with philanthropic giving to charities in need of support. It started in the U.S. and has quickly made its way across more than 70 countries. 

If you are looking a for cause, please consider my friends who do such great work at the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Mississippi.  Their Giving Tuesday efforts are focused on the belief that every student should know about Emmett Till and his impact on the world. You can ensure that Mississippi Delta students learn about the life and legacy of Emmett Till and use this truth to create film projects that transform their communities and their world. Learn more and donate on their web page

Prints as Gifts: of course, just a reminder, a work of art can be a unique and wonderful gift. If you are interested in original photography for your home or for others, just email me and we will organize a gift certificate and/or I will work with you or the person you are giving the art to to ensure it is the perfect image.  Explore the images at the limited editions web page or Instagram or on the blog or just email me and I will pull together images for you to review too.  

Roadside America, the book: The Roadside America book, in color or black and white infrared, are available for sale on Blurb. You can preview them fully to be sure you are going to be happy with your purchase.

Our America, A Book for Your Coffee Table:  From one of our most treasured filmmakers, a pictorial history of America—a stunning and moving collection of some of Ken Burns’s favorite photographs, with an introduction by Burns, and an essay by longtime MoMA photography curator Sarah Hermanson Meister. In Our America, Burns has assembled the images that, for him, best embody nearly two hundred years of the American experiment, taken by some of our most renowned photographers and by others who worked in obscurity. We see America’s vast natural beauty as well as its dynamic cities and communities. There are striking images of war and civil conflict, and of communities drawing together across lines of race and class. Buy on Amazon.   Read more here and here.  Excerpt from essay.

Photo Exhibits and News
Worth a Look Around the Web

Cindy Sherman, 1977-1982 at Hauser & Wirth’s LA Gallery One Revolutionary Artist. Over 100 Groundbreaking Works. Preferring to work alone, Sherman was not only the photographer, but also the makeup artist, hairdresser, and director, casting herself as the star of staged, fictional tableaux. Sherman was inspired by depictions of women in television, film, and advertising and her characters explore a range of female stereotypes to confront the nature of identity and representation in the media in a way that remains surprising and relevant today. Created over forty years ago, these bodies of work are touchstones of contemporary art that continue to inspire and influence the course of art and image-making. Gallery Link to check it out.

The Unseen Saul Leiter, the American photographer who was a key contributor to the New York school of photograph.  Upon his death in 2013, Saul Leiter left behind a collection of more than 40,000 colour slides, only a fraction of which had seen the light of day. A new book showcases the images from that extraordinary photographic treasure trove. It has been meticulously curated by Margit Erb and Michael Parillo of the Saul Leiter Foundation, with the images saved in different ‘source boxes’ by Leiter while he was alive. The Unseen Saul Leiter is co-published by Thames and Hudson and D.A.P. All photographs: Saul Leiter Foundation.  Article with lots of images in The Guardian.

Following up on the last newsletter about photography and artificial intelligence. Picsart AI Image Generator, launched on November 2, is already being used to make a million images a day.  Here is a story and images of two people pushing the artistic boundaries of AI and photography.  And, for a look at visual artists experimenting with different techniques and creative approaches, check out some of the featured artists at Lens Culture’s Photo Awards site.

Tony Vaccaro: The Centennial Exhibit from the folks at Monroe Gallery:  Two new exhibitions will celebrate the 100th birthday of acclaimed photographer Tony Vaccaro in New York City and Santa Fe. A pop-up show in New York City presented by Monroe Gallery of Photography will be on view at 21 Spring Street from December 13 through 18, 2022. A second show will be held at Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe from November 25, 2022, through January 15, 2023.  Vaccaro is known for his photographs of WWII, which were the subject of a 2016 HBO documentary, and his editorial work for Life, Look, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and countless other publications. Tony Vaccaro: The Centennial Exhibition, will juxtapose the living legend’s powerful war images with the lyrical mid-century fashion, film, and pop culture photographs that came later. From the battlefields of Europe to the rooftops of Manhattan, Vaccaro trained his inimitable lens with a sensitivity derived from early hardship as an orphan in Italy. A Video. The Gallery Website

A New Photo Fair in NYC alongside the Armoury Show, September 2023:  A new contemporary art fair for photographic and digital-based work will take place between 8 to 10 September next year at the Javits Centre in Manhattan. Comprising around 80-100 exhibitors, it will run alongside the Armory Show, held in the same location. Story at the Art Newspaper

Anthony Barboza: Moments of Humanity at Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC: Beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the present day, Anthony Barboza (b. 1944 New Bedford, MA) has enjoyed a long career in photography. One of the most important African American photographers of his generation, Barboza poetically captures the resilient spirit of Black Life in America by engaging with his subjects on a personal level. He joined the Kamoinge Workshop in 1963, a prominent movement of African American artists who work together to redefine African American art, images and representations, which was then headed by critically acclaimed photographer Roy DeCarava. Gallery Website and images

Hope your Thanksgiving was great and serves as a beautiful kick off to the holiday time when we all get some quality time with family and friends.  
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