The simplest contest ever! All you need to do is follow Fraction on Twitter. On Thursday September 15, ONE winner will be randomly selected to win a Think Tank Photo Speed Racer v2 camera bag. The retail price is $179.75
Who are you taking pictures for?
Myself. You can't be taking pictures on the property.
Are you working security for the mall? I'm chief of security.
Well, then I'm gone. Appreciate it.
Thus went my recent conversation with a suburban police officer at a local mall.
I had been driving the access road that rings an upscale outdoor mall, camera on the passenger seat and left elbow (aka camera sandbag) on my windowsill. The mall buildings sit at the property’s periphery and face toward its center, so my vista was loading docks and steel entry doors. The photographic pickings were slim even for someone like myself, strangely obsessed with banal suburbia. At this tony mall, even the dumpster areas are tidily free of consumerism’s interesting detritus.
As I paused to chimp my meager photographic haul, I sensed movement in my left peripheral vision. I looked up as a police car moved smartly toward me from somewhere between my six- and my nine-o’clock. It pulled alongside and then angled into my lane as if to block my “escape”. It was a controlled but aggressive move, designed to intimidate. It got my attention.
The trim, immaculately-uniformed and -mustachioed officer walked briskly around the rear of the car towards my opened window, and we had our polite exchange of words. Given that he was armed, and I was technically trespassing on private property, I had no standing on which to refuse cooperation. I have no doubt that, had I chosen to be obstreperous, he would have arrested me on the spot. And there were no witnesses in sight to back me, had he also chosen to embellish the story to my disadvantage en route to jail.
Only as I drove away replaying the encounter did the oddness of several things strike me. This was the first time I’ve been accosted by a uniformed police officer while photographing on public-space private property. One wonders, is it the policy of his department to allow its officers to wear their uniforms and sidearms, and drive taxpayer-provided patrol cars, on moonlighting jobs? And was he actually off-duty from his day job? Yeah, I'm cynical.
But most strange was his question. Who are you taking pictures for? Not the usual question, what are you taking pictures of? or, why are you taking pictures? His working assumption seemed to be that I was photographing at someone else's behest, for nefarious purposes.
I freely admit that photographing mall loading docks from a car window must seem pretty odd to the average non-photographer. Why would anyone do this for amusement or other innocent reason? Terrorist plotting mayhem? Maybe, but Google Earth and the mall website have better information for terrorist-planning purposes than I could gather with my camera. Thief plotting a burglary? The cop surely knows that the vast majority of business theft is perpetrated by employees, and shoplifting is relatively risk-free. Business owners mostly fear embarrassment and litigation, so I suspect that was his main concern.
Anyone who photographs publicly has similar stories of the suspicion or even hostility our innocent, perfectly-legal activity sometimes arouses. Child-kidnapping mass hysteria is impervious to comprehension of its actual minute rarity; but stoking this fear sure fills airtime. And people out in public increasingly believe they're entitled to some zone of privacy that the law doesn't grant them --- often the same people whose kids run wild in complete disregard of the space of others.
Some of this public wariness is no doubt post-9/11 "security" paranoia. That's at least understandable, if vastly overblown. But there also seems to have been some kind of shift in public perception over the years since I started photographing. Public photography with "professional" cameras seems to raise people's hackles in a way I don't recall in years past. I'm not sure what to make of this.
Social networking is a sterile digital shooting gallery, where the product is free, every byte is lipid-soluble, and the molecules mate with your limbic receptors like chocolate-covered heroin in hot melted butter. But its inevitable downside is social-networking fatigue. Every fashionable affliction needs a support group and an onomatopoeic acronym; ergo, SNF--- like the sniffles. So hand me a tissue, and take one for yourself.
As you flit like a dragonfly from post to hyperlink to feed to page to stream to group, looking for the next particle of information you can’t afford to miss --- or important connection you have to make for your career’s sake --- social-networking becomes the deep-brain electrode whose stim-switch needs relentless hammering just to keep withdrawal at bay.
When I started photographing seriously again a few years back, Someone told me that Everyone Needs To Have a [Insert Social Network name] Presence In Order To Succeed. Well, I took Someone at her word, and pretty soon I was using regularly. I can’t recall whether Facebook was the gateway, or Twitter; but soon they were joined by a blog or two, a portfolio website, a Flickr stream, a Tumblr [?site --- is Tumblr a noun or an adjective, and can it ever be a verb?], and probably a few others I’ve left out. The means have became the end. But at least I’m part of...something. Aren’t I? Yes; the Legion of the Tired and Stressed, that's what.
So I was already weary when I caught wind of Google Plus. This --- in case you’ve been trapped on queue without wi-fi down at the DMV --- is the latest cyborg sent to aspirate our brains through hollow proboscides, mine our data, and leave behind our lifeless humanoid pelts like the molted shells of cicadas. Contemplating yet another Social Network, I felt even more like the junkie trying to stay clean while running a needle-strewn gantlet cordoned by dealers trying to entice him back into the life.
Obviously one can overdo the social-networking-as-narcotic metaphor; I spend less time than many banging away at it, trying to enjoy its undoubted benefits while minimizing its harms. But lately, as I find my available time pressed upon from all sides, I’ve had to choose more carefully how to spend the little I have. Social-networking's attractions have begun to pale compared to its real-world cognates: being with friends and family, and getting out and making decent photographic work --- as opposed to talking about making it.
Where does that leave me and Google Plus? After a bit of tinkering with it, I pronounce it Promising. I can see it consolidating or even replacing many of the other social-networking tools I use. I’ll keep trying it, and checking in with the others. But I really do want to take a step back and think about how much virtual connecting is too much; and whether the real, messy, person-to-person kind wouldn’t be far more congenial to a meaningful existence in the physical world.
Fraction is very proud to announce it's first photography show,
Fraction Magazine : Three Years in the Making at the Rayko Gallery in San Francisco CA.
This RayKo exhibition is curated by David Bram, the founder and editor of Fraction, and features images from the past 28 issues of the magazine.
The following photographers are featured in the show:
Karen Kuehn, Polly Chandler, Samuel Portera, Norman Mauskopf, Allison V Smith, Kirk Gittings, Michael Sebastian, Michael Itkoff, Ken Rosenthal, David Ondrik, David Maisel, Phil Toledano, Liz Kuball, Susan Hayre Thelwell, Emily Shur, Hollis Bennett, Geoffrey Ellis, David Taylor, Tabitha Soren, David Rochkind, Eliot Dudik, Kerry Mansfield, Kathleen Robbins, Meg Griffiths, Susan Burnstine, Antone Dolezal, Jesse Burke, Clay Lipsky, Tricia Lawless Murray, Josef Jacques
Reception: Thursday, August 11th from 6-8p
Exhibition: August 11th – September 18th
Address: 428 Third Street San Francisco, CA 94107
Thank you to Ann Jastrab and everyone at Rayko for the fantastic opportunity!
The next six months are a crazed time of family, photography and travel. I am really excited about all of the opportunities both personally and professionally.
Between now and January 2012, I will be in
Keene Valley, NY
San Francisco, CA
Fort Collins, CO
New Orleans, LA
Almost all of this travel is photo-related where I will be connecting with photographers in person, with the goal of finding more great photo projects to promote on Fraction.
As Fraction moves fully into its third year, I have plans to expand and broaden the audience by introducing Fraction V (for video content) and Fraction E (for high school and college level projects). The website will also receive a minor facelift to integrate content and conversation to make Fraction a singular destination for great photography and limit the need for redirection to other social media sites.
Although Fraction will be growing, the primary mission of showing strong, cohesive bodies of work remains the same. Giving photographers who are creating powerful collections exposure will always be the core focus of Fraction.
I appreciate your patience over the next few months if I am slow to respond to emails. In the meantime, I am preparing Issue 29 for release. I think you will be pleased with my selection of work.
The Roundtable Review is an opportunity for fine art photographers to present their portfolio to a panel of three reviewers at one time. This format allows for more dialog and problem solving about the work, as each reviewer brings a different perspective and different ideas.
The Roundtable Review is a juried review, and ten photographers will be chosen to participate. Each participant will have a 30-minute session with the three panelists and receive feedback on their work.
At the end of the one-day event, participants will socialize and network with the panelists and fellow reviewees at an evening cocktail party at the Rayko Photo Center. The wrap-up party gives participants an opportunity to continue conversations from their review, as well as show and share their portfolios with the other reviewees.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 8, 2011.