Monday, April 28, 2014

The Weaver

A friend of mine recently quite her salaried job for a part time position and to pursue her creative passion. She’s a weaver.

She’s going through the usual adjustments. The biggest of which is getting used to the idea that most of her waking hours are not devoted to making money.

It takes a while to get used to the notion that you can spend much less time making money and still keep yourself sheltered, clothed and fed. It is very difficult for most people when they decide their creative life is more important than money to adjust to the idea that the time they devote to their art is every bit as important if not more important than the time they devote to making money. And the completely debilitating idea that your creative work must earn money in order to be justified can completely kill your art.

The world needs creative people to be creative. Art and creativity nourishes the human soul and keeps cultures alive. Artists and creative work are vital to the survival of any society, the preservation of every culture and the existence of human kind.

It is a good thing to be a weaver, a painter, a poet, a musician, a story teller. One can always find a way to make a “living.” But a “living” at the expense of your art is not living at all.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Question of Expression

Since I started using the iPhone to take daily color snaps while I'm out & about I've been looking closely at how I compose in color and process the final image.

The in-camera image is always the raw material, placing colors in appropriate physical relation to each other. Knowing I will process the image in one or more of the apps on the phone I often leave space around the edges of the image to allow vignetting and exposure tools to shape the image. I also consider color saturation and usually prefer higher contrast and a muted palette.

I've found that I want to express a mood through the color image which is more pronounced and obvious than I have tried to achieve in my black & white film work, at least up until now.

It's possible the use of the iPhone in making these color images is effecting how I process my black & white film imagery. I'm liking more contrast and texture in my monochrome work these days. Certainly I'm influenced by recent studies of Japanese and Czech photographers.

But I still have issues with color and limit my use of it. I still believe, that for me. color often gets in the way of the image. Like Antonin Kratochvil has said, "The pain is in the eyes," not in the color of blood.

I disagree that color is more "raw" than black & white, as suggested by Gabriel Bauret in his book Color Photography. I strip away color to get at the essence of a thing, the essential expression. I'm looking for the tear drop on the cheek of the clown. That tear drop is often lost in the cacophony of the clown's colorful costume.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

With Liberty and Justice for All

The "Flag Project" is finally finished. The title is "With Liberty and Justice for All." The monograph was designed and put together at BigCrow Studio and will be available through MagCloud later this month. 

The monograph features 40 images selected from several hundred photographs I made over a period of seven years and includes a afterward by photographer Alyson Belcher. 

Below is the text from the forward of the monograph:

"Public display of the U.S flag is not uncommon. We expect to see it in a variety public settings. But what compels individuals, ordinary citizens, to display the flag: in a window, in front of a house, on clothing, on a car? Are these really private displays that just happen to share spaces that are at times public?

"There are of course obvious motivations for these displays of the flag: patriotism, nationalism, solidarity. But over the past decade the flag has come to represent many different things to different people. For some it provides a buffer of protection, for others it represents a different time lost to history, or an over abundance of false promises and for yet others it serves as a warning."

David W. Sumner
San Francisco, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sometimes It All Just Comes Together

The bridge in fog, Crissy Field, San Francisco, California.
©2013 David W. Sumner

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Daily Dose: September 11, 2013

A public ballet of sorts.
Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Friday, August 23, 2013

Daily Dose: August 23, 2013

Actress, model Natalie Morace. 
Kodak E100SW (Ektachrome)
©2013 David W. Sumner

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"A Sense of Place" at Pier 24

I visited Pier 24 today to see the current exhibition "A Sense of Place."

As always with any photo exhibition there was a lot of work I didn't care for, but there was in this case more I did like than not.

I found even the work of Robert Adams on view interesting. Usually I consider Robert Adams' work pointless, but the images at Pier 24 represent earlier work, from the 1960s, and demonstrates a substance and sense of composition that doesn't exist in his better known work of a New Topographics style.

There is one room, gallery #15, devoted to Lee Friedlander's series "America By Car." This was my first time seeing so many of these images together in one space and I have to say this presentation is quite impressive. It's in this context of viewing a significant number of the images as a series that the project makes sense. Friedlander's vision, complex sense of composition and always present sense of humor comes through clearly in this well curated exhibit.

In contrast was the work of Stephen Shore in gallery #20. Here three photographs stand out as having meaningful content among a random arrangement of sterile, mundane, color snapshots. With the exception of those three images gallery #20 is visually numbing, the vernacular taken to the point of agonizing boredom.

The other grouping worth noting is the selection of photographs from the Sack Photographic Trust. It includes many 19th century travel images of the classic sort plus a variety of images spanning the 20th Century some of which are stunningly poignant.

The exhibitions at Pier 24 are never disappointing and "A Sense of Place" is no exception. It's on view through May 1, 2014. The catalog has yet to be printed, but is expected to to be available with in a month and should sell for around $10.00.

Photo courtesy of