Thoughts on Robert Frank

With Robert Frank’s passing earlier this month I have read lots of tributes since and I have given some thought to how his work impacted my development as a photographer.

There is no doubt that The Americans was one of the most important things to happen to the medium, I remember Bill Jay talking about that fact when I was studying at ASU, listing it as one of the three most important things in establishing the medium in the art world. I have a copy of the book, have seen his prints, know the work well and I absolutely respect and like it. But I would never look to Frank and say he is the photographer whose work has impacted me most. I am a Winogrand fan, and I know Frank’s work impacted him, and so many others that impacted me so maybe, by proxy, Frank had a bigger impact on me than I realize.

I just read A.D. Coleman’s article on Robert Frank which has some fantastic insight. One thing that jumped out to me was the fact that Frank moved on from The Americans to film and other projects. He never did another photography series like The Americans. I think its interesting because when you look at photographers like Winogrand, Friedlander, or whomever you learn a lot by comparing their photographs over a long time period. You learn about the subject matter in greater detail (in most cases our society) and you learn about the photographer personally. It is obviously different with Frank because he leaves the documentary style of The Americans behind and moves on so there is still work that offers insight to the artist but you can not follow the change of society through his work.

For me, I experience life by photographing. Even if I don’t have a camera, visually I am constantly focusing on elements of my world and framing them in my mind. Sometimes it is actually hard not to that. I think there is a lot of value in doing long term series like most of my work. I love being able to compare things over say a 30 year span and hope that many of my series will go well beyond 50 years. It would be interesting to see Frank’s work if had continued over a long period of time, maybe it would have been too much for him. Maybe the great initial success of The Americans prevented that. Lots to consider, but I wanted to take a moment and remember an icon for his contribution to the medium.

XQD vs CFexpress Memory Cards

Amongst my arsenal of cameras I have a Nikon D850 and Nikon D500, both of which have dual card slots with one XQD and one SD card slot. I often warehouse my memory cards especially the inexpensive ones. The biggest reason is for a backup system in case I lose an external hard drive plus I foresee an advantage if I ever have to transfer old data its best to have the original source if I need it. I love that you can buy high quality SD cards which are inexpensive, plus I appreciate the fact that SD cards can be found almost anywhere. My XQD cards have performed well but they are expensive, and more times than not, hard to find. I often send my RAW files to the SD card slot, warehousing those, while using the XQD slot as my JPEG image backup. I have even gone with just an SD card when I couldn’t get a XQD card. So, when I the Nikon rep demoed the Nikon Z6 and Z7 for me, as soon as I noticed they only had XQD slots I wanted nothing to do those bodies based on that alone. At the time I knew Sony seemed to be the only one making XQD cards after Lexar went through their changes and I was wary Sony would discontinue the XQD cards because their cameras aren’t using them (apparently Delkin now has a line of XQD cards).

A couple days ago I got notice that B&H was accepting pre-orders on CFexpress Cards so I decided to educate myself more about the CFexpress card because I admit I hadn’t heard of it.

Basically the CFexpress Card is the same size as the XQD card with faster capabilities and they will replace the XQD card. I think cameras with XQD card slots will need a firmware update to be able to use the CFexpress cards but that should be simple. The great thing is SanDisk, Lexar Professional, and Pro Grade Digital (new company founded by former Lexar folks) are making the CFexpress cards so there will be competition and it looks like this card will become a standard platform for a while since it’s design allows for upgrades. Apparently this information has been coming out over the last year or two but its the first I had heard of it so I assume there are other photographers out there who also weren’t familiar with the CFexpress card so I am authoring this post.

related links you may find interesting.

Kishore Sawh of SLR Lounge

Fraenkel Gallery - Friedlander "Signs" Book & Exhibition

I caught the Live Stream from Fraenkel Gallery for the opening of Lee Friedlander’s “Signs” Exhibition which is now showing until August 17th. Without a doubt one of the better Live Stream video’s I have seen lately. Whomever was filming it did a great job showing the entire exhibition as well as details of the prints. Almost felt like being there and walking through the gallery. Good to see Lee was there signing too. Probably will ad this book to my library as well, hopefully I can get up north to see the show before it comes down, looks fantastic. Below is the link to Fraenkel Gallery about the exhibition.

"The Mind and the Hand" by Lee Friedlander

I recently stumbled across Lee Friedlander’s new book “The Mind and the Hand” completely by accident.  I did a search on Amazon looking for new Garry Winogrand material and this book came up.  The book looked interesting so I took a shot and ordered; $90 isn’t cheap but I always enjoy seeing Friedlander’s work.  “The Mind and the Hand” definitely exceeded my expectations

The book is actually six 60 page softbound books in a slip case.  Each book has between 25 and 34 of Friedlander’s photographs and documents a photography icon: William Eggleston, John Szarkowski, Richard Benson, William Christenberry, Walker Evans, and Garry Winogrand.  Each book also has a brief lecture excerpt by the featured photographer which adds the right amount of information to deepen the viewers understanding of the individual.

I was familiar with a few of the photographs but not most.  I would also say most of the images are snapshots.  But these are wonderful snapshots and, in this context, they form a fantastic document of each featured photographer.  These people were Friedlander’s friends and peers and many of the moments he photographed were very personal like Winogrand’s wedding.  I love the images of these photographers out photographing.  As a photographer I am always interested in how other photographers approach the medium and Friedlander’s photographs give a wonderful insight to six icons of photography.

The book was released in April by Eakins Press Foundation and was printed by Meridian Printing in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  The print quality is beautiful and I really like the intimate size of the book of 8.8” square.  I think Katey Homans did a perfect job with the design and I am assuming that Lee Friedlander’s Archivist, Stephanie Prussin, edited the images.  I am very happy with this purchase and would suggest it to anyone interested in documentary photography.

Featured Photographers

William Eggleston

John Szarkowski

Richard Benson

William Christenberry

Walker Evans

Garry Winogrand


Book Details: 

·        Paperback: 240 pages

·        Publisher: Eakins Press Foundation (April 23, 2019)

·        Language: English

·        ISBN-10: 0871300796

·        ISBN-13: 978-0871300799

·        Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches

Printer: Meridian Printing – East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Lee Friedlander Archivist: Stephanie Prussin

Design & Typography: Katey Homans

Garry Winogrand - PBS American Masters

I got lucky and saw Fraenkel Gallery’s Instagram post about the PBS American Masters documentary on Garry Winogrand which aired last Thursday night. 

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Winogrand is my favorite photographer, I saw his 1988 retrospective at MoMA curated by Szarkowski, I saw SFMoMA’s 2015 retrospective, I saw the exhibition at Pier 24 gallery where they displayed prints of every image from his Women are Beautiful book on one massive wall, and I even attended Geoff Dyers's lecture last year at Getty for the release of his book on Winogrand.

I have seen several videos of interviews of Winogrand, have numerous books on his work, but I always want to learn more about him and his process.  This PBS documentary is amazing.  It has old interviews of Gary, lecture audio from Szarkowski speaking about Winogrand’s work, video shot by Winogrand, interviews of scholars, as well as interviews of his family and friends.  Great insight in to the man. If you like Winogrand’s work, documentary photography, or just great images, you will enjoy this film.

Also, as a documentary photographer who photographs on the street, I particularly loved these following three quotes from the film about Street Photography :

“If we applied standard definitions of propriety and niceness to photographers working in the street we’d be left without a lot of the great pictures in the history of photography.”

Jeffrey Fraenkel – Gallerist

“I find it kind of intriguing because we allow the State to photograph us so relentlessly and yet people don’t seem as bothered by that as they do by someone who is clearly an artist.”

Michael Ernest Sweet – Photographer


“It’s an artistic process, you live within this process.  So the questions of surveillance, political correctness, all of that stuff, it’s just totally irrelevant.  Now perhaps that makes the few of us who even understand what I’m talking about right now are dinosaurs or insensitive ghouls or whatever…but who cares about that?”

Tod Papageorge – Photographer