New Flickr assignment

Readers of this blog might remember the series of Flickr assignments I did last year in conjunction with my exhibition From Here To There at the Walker Art Center. With the exhibition now moving to the Everson Museum in Syracuse, we’re now launching one more assignment:

Rephotographing Icons

Alec Soth, Migrant MotherIn mounting an exhibition of my pictures made in America, I’ve thought a lot about the influence the American photographic tradition has had on me. Rather than run away from this tradition, I’ve come to embrace it. Recently I’ve even experimented with recreating iconic photographs much the way a painter might draw from the masters (more examples here). I’ve found the process to be both educational and just plain fun.

For this assignment, I’d like participants to do their own recreations of iconic photographs, and upload them to the group Flickr pool. Don’t forget to label your photo with the title of the original work that inspired it.

From the submitted images, I’ll chose 3 winners. Each winner will receive a signed copy of the From Here To There catalog. The deadline for submitting is January 12, 2012.

To participate, go here



4th Flickr Assignment Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 4th and final Flickr assignment. I’ve learned so much from these assignments and love the way they relate to my exhibition at the Walker. The reason this exhibition is called ‘From Here To There’ is to emphasize that the process of making pictures is as important to me as the subject I’m photographing. In a sense, my movement through America is the subject.

With these Flickr assignments, I’ve been trying to guide participants toward revealing their own process. The idea of this final assignment was to use text to narrate the photographer’s encounters. In many ways this assignment harkened back to the winner of our 1st assignment, Etienne Courtois. In fact, the runner-up, Vincent Lestienne’s hysterical abécédaire, reminded me a great deal of Courtois’ sophisticated humor. But in the end I chose the more raw and direct series, hide and seek, by Pavel KHailo.


So thanks again to everyone for participating. Hope to see you again somewhere down the road.

Flickr Assignment #4

So much of the photography I love is less about a particular subject than it is a communication of the photographer’s process. What all of the previous assignments had in common was that they were an excuse to get out the door and encounter the world. For the fourth and final assignment, I want to make the communication of these encounters even more explicit through the use of narration. This is as much a writing assignment as it is a photo assignment. But I also want the writing to be visually compatible with the photographs.

One could approach this in a similar way to the earthworks artist Richard Long:

Richard Long: One thing leads to another - Everything is connected

Or one might use handwriting like Jim Goldberg:

No fun [by Jim Goldberg]

The point is to communicate your experience through the combination of text and image. Just remember, less is more. Elaborate photographs and flowery text are incompatible. Simple pictures and simple text generally work best.

So here is the final assignment:

1)   Plan an encounter (meet a stranger on Craigslist, find the highest place in your city, go on an eight mile walk, etc).
2)   Document your encounter with photographs & text
3)   Important: combine your text and image in a single file
4)   Submit your files here. Submissions are due by December 28th. Winners will be announced by January 1st.

Enjoy the ride…

3rd Flickr Assignment Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 3rd From Here To There Flickr assignment. The assignment was to take a picture of a non-photographer and then have this person take a picture of you. My hope was to illustrate that amateur photographs are often as good or better than those made by ‘serious’ photographers. An inspiration was a project I saw in Foam Magazine called Manélud. In this series, the photographer Breno Rotatori would snap a picture of his 82-year-old grandmother at the same moment that she photographed him:

What I love about Rotatori’s project is its utter simplicity. Neither he nor his grandmother are trying to make great art. But the combination of their images allows the viewer to see things in a new way.

My favorite Flickr #3 participant, Andie Wilkinson, also captured this quality of effortlessness.


Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Andie was working with children (As some of you know, I have my own interest in his area). But I don’t want to downplay Wilkonson’s excellent work. You might remember that she nearly won our first Flickr contest with these entries. What I love about her submissions to this assignment was the way her images worked so well in combination with her subject’s pictures:


So bravo to Andie and to her collaborators. Stay tuned for the fourth and final assignment.

Flickr Assignment #3

Writing about Manuela Costalima’s (iwhishiwereinvisible) winning project for the 2nd assignment, I asked, ‘Why are amateur photographs so damn good?’ I’d like to follow up on this question with Assignment #3:

1) Take a picture of a non-photographer
2) Have this person take a picture of you (with the same camera or another camera)
3) Put these images side by side in a single file
4) Briefly describe who this person is (friend, lover, stranger, child, etc).
5) Submit as many of these double-portraits as you wish in a set entitled ‘From Here To There: Assignment #3’ on our Flickr Contest Page.

The deadline for posting is November 26th. The winner will be announced on December 1st.

Flickr Winner #2

I love everything about these Flickr assignments except for one thing: having to pick a winner. How can I choose between 9Stars infectious enthusiasm (1,2,3 assingments!),  Ashly Stohl’s sweet story, Jen Trail’s Facebook discovery, Worsham’s trailer park, Steven Lang’s palm sander, Meghan Rennie’s childhood neighborhood, Ramon Mas’s Jesus or Al Cafone’s wild night?

So many good stories…and good pictures too. But some of my favorite images were the ones that Ben Roberts found during his story: five slides, five great pictures.

Why are amateur photographs so damn good?

Then I saw the pictures of Manuela Costalima (iwishiwereinvisible). Maybe not ‘professional’ and maybe not perfectly edited, but there is something irresistible about these images. In many ways they reminded me of the light touch of Italian greats like Guido Guidi and Luigi Ghirri. The images have the feeling of an everyday glance. They already feel just as good as vintage amateur pictures.

Congratulations to Manuela! Along with her Flickr project, check out her website.

Flickr Assignment #2

In the 1st Flickr assignment, I often found myself responding to the story behind the picture. So for assignment #2, I want participants to tell a short story. But to get the story going, I’ve added the following steps:

1) Find and photograph a stranger
2) Ask the stranger to show you something (their house, their car, their cat, their body, etc).
3) Based on what they show you, make another picture, or series of pictures.

For example, photograph a man you meet you meet on the side of the road. Ask the man if he has any hobbies. If he tells you he builds model airplanes, go to his house and photograph his airplanes. Then go to a model airplane club.

The only rule is that all images should be new. The deadline for posting is October 25th. Post all of your images together in a set marked ‘From Here To There: Assignment #2.’  Add text captions to the images when necessary. Winners will be chosen by November 1st.

To join in, go to the “From Here to There” Flickr page. (and be sure to check in now and then to the Walker Art Center Visual Arts Blog).