Photo Blog Oct 2001

Oct 2, 2001

Finally got all the prints out to everyone and even added a new one to the new section (its at the end). The print is something that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a few years — Grand Central Arches. Taken with the view camera, it just has a very pleasing tone to it, and I remember when I showed it to A. she said, “Hmm, this almost looks like art.” A nice backhanded compliment. So don’t worry, it’s not actually art — it just looks like it.

Verisign took over Cybercash a few months ago, and today I’m supposed to be switched over — but they don’t exactly say today, they say:

Your account is currently scheduled for migration to VeriSign’s Payflow (SM)
service on or after October 2, 2001.

I like that phrase — on or after. This is all suppose to be seamless, but somehow I doubt it. Since I don’t actually know if I’ve been switched over (now or after) — I guess I’ll just wait and see what happens.

* * *

Here’s how that picture of the flag looks in the Agora newsletter.

Oct 3, 2001

I thought this recent email gave me a better insight into my own shooting style and HCB etc.

Somewhere on your page, I read a comment that someone had sent to you…It compared you to HC-B (I think the writer referred to you as Dave Cartier-Beckerman, or something like that). [ed. thanks Bill]

Just one thing comes to my mind: Of course HC-B is one of my heroes, and hell, him & Leonard Freed & Jim Marshall are the three main reasons why I spent two grand on a Leica, and that’s a lot of $$$ for me, so that tells you what I think of him (and them). BUT: as much as I like HC-B’s work, LIGHT is rarely an integral part of his photos, in my opinion.

Think of your favorites among his shots, and they are probably shots that you like because of the moment captured, the expressions of the people, etc. But I rarely look at an HC-B shot and think “Wow, look at the light!” I think that more of your shots (more compared to HC-B, anyway) do contain light as an integral element – e.g., Promenade, the new shot of “Grand Central, Arches, Night Chess, Flat Iron and Equitable, etc. Of course, combining dramatic lighting with a “decisive moment” makes for memorable photos, and combines the best strength of photography (freezing a moment) with the best strength of painting (controlling the light).

Since HC-B has always professed greater interest in drawing and painting, I have always found it curious that, at least in the work that I have seen, he doesn’t seem more driven by the quality of light. Not that I would want him to be an Ansel Adams type, mind you. Anyway, just a comment.

My reply went something like this:

You know, at times you go around looking for a style, or a movement, or something to place yourself in and when someone says that you’ve got some HCB in you — sounds good to me. But the truth is, that unlike HCB, the moment in and of itself, doesn’t always do it for me. I am really just as happy photographing a rock, if the lighting is interesting. [ed. Lately, Dave seems to be walking around shooting steps that lead into buildings.] I’ll pass on the HCB mantle to someone else for now.

I actually have more in common with Ansel Adams, though many have said they don’t see that at all. Its just that my subject matter is urban rather than nature. Its hard for me to think of a single shot on the site that doesn’t have some element of man in it. Even the shot ‘Birch Trees’ which is a sort of take off of Adams, has a tree on the right which is carved with hearts and initials.

The shot, for example, Steps of Met, is only interesting because of the lighting. Yes, it captures a man in half-step, and there is a moment there, but again, if it weren’t for the dramatic side-lighting, I don’t think I would have printed it.

The shots on the subway, are also not particularly ‘the decisive moment’ but simply a moment, and I think that I’ve been as attracted to the feeling of the metal and plastic in the subway as the subjects themselves. In fact, my favorite subway shot is the Subway Car, Empty.

What is wonderful about the Leica is that it is capable of both types of shooting. It is obviously the camera to use fot the decisive moment, but one of the things that attracted me to it was the way that I could ‘feel the light’ when I was using it.

* * *

Oct. 3, 2001

Something got me to looking through old negatives and contact sheets this morning. Don’t know why. One thing that strikes me is how many unprinted negatives look very interesting to me now. Years later, in some cases decades later, I can see what I was thinking at the time, why I held the camera at a particular angle, why I chose a particular framing or depth of field. This has always been the way I work. Many, many years need to go by sometimes, before I can appreciate what I was up to at the time. Why? I found negatives taken out of the window of my old house when I was fifteen years old, that are not half bad. But I always need this distance of time to be able to see it. Its almost as if I need to have completely forgotten the circumstances, of the picture in order to feel it again freshly. The idea flitted through my mind that I could be busy just printing things that I had never printed before for the next year without shooting anything new. This phenomenon seems especially true with the 35mm stuff — there is just so much of it.

I really have to try and sort through this stuff and categorize it somehow. Right now, I have a very simple way of doing things: If I have printed it and it is part of the portfolio (which means that at some point it has been made available for viewing) — then I take the negative and give it a name, and put it into a sleeve, and then into one of three boxes, which are divide the alphabet into three parts. But this is getting unweildy. Maybe one percent of what has been shot and contacted are in these boxes. Everything else is like some raw material, sitting around in a closet waiting to be re-examined.

* * *

Don’t know if this will garner any interest, but I had been thinking about trying to find a sponsor for my site and wrote to Light Impressions — I have been very happy with their service and products. I don’t think they are the cheapest guys in the world, but when I have had a problem such as broken plexiglass, they quickly sent replacements. Anyway, they apparantly have an Affiliate Program which I just joined:

Archival mats, frames, photo albums? LightImpressionsDirect.com has been my supplier for over two years and I highly recommend them. If you make a purchase through this link I receive a small commission that helps defray the cost of running this site.
I honestly don’t expect many if any hits through this — but who knows. Maybe I’ll be surprised. Considering that there is no advertising on the site, and no annoying pop-up boxes, this idea seems like a reasonable compromise.

* * *

10-5-01

Finished reading the Bhagavad Gita for the first time. I know there’s been a lot of religious stuff here lately — eastern mostly. The Gita is the book that Openheimer quoted after witnessing the first test of the atomic bomb, the Trinity project. Where he quoted it as saying, “Now I have become death the destroyer of worlds.”

The quotation in the version I’m reading says this is a mis-interpertation, that the actual quote is when Krishna decides to show his disciple Arjuna what he really looks like, in short Arjuna gets to see how the universe is in reality. The vision he sees so startles and causes Arjuna such anxiety that he asks Krishna to return to his human shape. But the quote here is slightly different: “Now I have become TIME the destroyer of worlds.” And of course this makes sense, and in effect relates to the instinct in photography to preserve moments in time. Time is the great destroyer of all things, and photography is the attempt to preserve things as or before they are destroyed.

Through the years, I’ve been fascinated in a sporadic way with some of these ideas from Eastern philosophy, but they reached a head and were triggered again after the WTC. I can trace the desire to re-read these texts after visiting the grief and shrines at Union Square. I guess that the appeal to me is that the way to achieve enlightment and become a better person starts with an internal examination — and is not bound by the Judeo/Christian tradition which really starts with external commandments. There are no prescriptions in the Gita other than the practical advice to meditate.

But many of the ideas in the book such as not being too involved with the results of your actions, but simply doing what is in your nature, and not being attached to the results. In other words, in my own case, go out and shoot, and don’t think about the commercial ramifications. Don’t get tied up with what people will think, or whether by walking around shooting the things that appeal to you, you will be successful. Success is measured in whether you are fulfilling your own innate destiny. I can only say that this has coincided with my own feelings through the years.

For example, I never got into computer programming because it offered a way to make a good living. At the time, it simply was fascinating to me. The same is true for my photography experience. I have prints of Yosemite or other easy prints that I have never shown because they don’t really seem original to me.

* * *

10-7-01

Very busy again lately. A couple of big orders have come in over the last week.

* * *

You know, I have been pretty ignorant of the ‘rules’ regarding composition. I had developed some simple ideas, such as leaving out things that weren’t important and keeping things in which were important. Asking yourself whether you should get closer or not. Being careful not to make things too evenly divided in halves. But other than that, I’ve been pretty ignorant about rules of composition. One other thing that I came up with, early on was the idea that photographs should have more than one subject, and a lot of my ideas I realize came from early training I had in music composition. The idea of having major and minor themes in a photograph came from musical ideas. But I did pick up one interesting idea today — somewhere on the internet about the importance of the lead in coming from the lower left corner since this is how we read — at least in English. Would that mean that photographs taken for a Japanese audience or a Hebrew-reading audience are different?

* * *

For those of you who have been following these journals through the last two years, let me say that I seem to be entering a new period now. Orders are now coming in every day, sometimes for multiple prints. So now I am spending most of my time printing and matting and packing. I am not going to complain about this as I normally do, since it is really grunt work, but accept it as validation that if you are willing to sell fine art prints at a fair price, there is an audience for it. I guess my only regret, is that I’m still stuck in this tiny studio. Its almost impossible to open the door of my apartment because the little table that unfolds to become the work area for the trays is blocking the door.

Somebody mentioned that maybe sales are picking up because pictures about New York City are so popular now since the Sept. 11th attack. There may be some truth to that. But I think that I’ve been learning the ropes on eBay, and am getting more exposure there, some of which spills over to my site.

* * *

Today the military made its first strikes at the Taliban. Tomorrow is Monday. I think that a lot of people in New York are now scared (myself included) that retaliation will take place. I definitely feel trepidation about taking the rush hour train downtown tomorrow. But what are you going to do? You can’t let this stuff keep you in the house.

10-08-01

Man I am going to be in the darkroom for the next two weeks. I have received orders for about fifty prints (total) from several people over the last few days. At an average price of $40, that’s $2000 gross and a heck of a lot of printing and matting. I wish I could afford to have someone do the printing for me, but there just isn’t enough of a margin to pay a skilled printer.

10-10-01

Agora finished second exhibit. Nothing sold. But they asked if they could hold onto a few pieces.

* * *

After tremendous amount of procrastination, did twenty 11 x 14’s today. Even printed a few new things that had been shot with tri-x. My thanks to the music of John Prine which finally got me to turn on the enlarger. Somewhere during the session, I found myself singing out loud with the album for almost two hours. I hope the neighbors don’t complain.

***

Still fooling around with eBay. I put up Marsh in 16 x 20 size for $65 opening bid. The print has sold for as much as $250 at various times. The thing about eBay is that I still can’t figure out where you end up getting ranked in the listings, or how or what that depends on. When you go to the browse area in fine art, is your listing random? Is it based on the title of the item? Some of my items were shown on the first page and others were many pages down, even right after they were listed.

* * *

10-11-01

One big order down, one big order to go. Yesterday, I even printed a few new things that had been shot on Tri-x. It was fun to see the look that I remember from my youth. It’s true that these were easier to print and held up at 11 x 14, but to really get the most out of Tri-x you need to rate it at around 200 ASA and under-develop a bit — especially in contrasty situations. I really shouldn’t be fooling around so much with film at this point, but I’m going to shoot some of the new Delta 400 film next time I get out of the house.

* * *

10-12-01

[these are exercises in creative writing and are almost totally fictional – editor]

Dear Dave,

I am currently a photography student at a local college which is nearby my house and have recently received an assignment to photograph something from a unique point of view but I am sitting here in my English righting class right now and can’t think of any unique ideas at all unless possibly you could think of something that could help me since you have so many beautiful pictures on your site that have really really inspired me with so much inspiration that I can’t tell.

Can you help me? I know that you must have a hole lot of ideas that you haven’t even thought of yet that could help me because this report is due tomorrow and the only thing that I can think of write now is that if I don’t cogitate an idea that is different I’m going to be in big trouble and my parents are going to think ill of me which if the truth be known, they already due.

One other problem that might be a problem is that my camera is not working very well lately because almost all of the pictures that I have taken lately are coming out either too dark and when I say dark I mean that it looks like a totally black thing where you can just see these little white spots which might be dust and sometimes they come out totally white and this is very strange to me since I am shooting with color film which I bought because that was all they were selling at Walmart and I asked the guy at Walmart about this problem but they said that I should ask someone else which is why I am asking you. I love your photography so much and have my fingers and legs crossed to the effect that this email will find you in a position where you may help me.

Oh yeah, one other thing, photography is not my major, which is actually pre-med, and so I hope you understand my inabilitys here and if you have any old papers that you didn’t need anymore about how to set femurs, that would be of help to me also.

So, thank you in advance for the any idea that you may or may not have and I remain,

Your gratest fan.

* * *

10-13-01

Alright. I’m set up for a big printing session tomorrow. I’m going to try and get through at least 15 unique prints. My lethargy about this seems to be over. I go back to the ad agency in two weeks, and I’ve really got to get cracking. I looked into the NOVA FB vertical slot processor, but there is literally no place to set this thing up permanently, small as it is, and I am going to have to stick to tray processing. I also am wary about using replenishing techniques which you would have to do with this type of processing. And it will also be difficult to do multiple prints at the same time which I can now do with large trays. One other thing is that from what I’ve read, doing fiber paper in some of their other processors is not a great idea because the paper tends to get heavy from absorption and is difficult to handle at larger sizes (this is for fiber paper, not for RC type paper).

* * *

Picked up the rest of the unsold prints from Agora. They did keep one print, ‘Marsh’ which is hanging on the wall near the office. Doubt that anyone will see it, but you never know.

* * *

10-14-01

It seems like every piece of dust is now suspected of being Anthrax. I’m sorry, but the way the gov’t is telling us that something big is going to happen but they can’t say where or when is causing panic. Go on and live your life normally, go to the movies and buy lots of things in the stores, but be aware that something big is on the horizon. The only thing the gov’t is doing with these announcements is causing people to freak out. I would humbly suggest that if they have a definite time and place then they tell us, otherwise, people are panicky enough. In fact, they are playing into the terrorists hands by making these announcements, and I’m wondering whether it isn’t a case of beaurocratic covering of ones collective ass.

* * *

The archival washer is full tonight. Did 48 prints (3 each of 16) at 11 x 14 today. One more big day like today and the order will be ready for (not including matting and packing) for what I’ve taken to call the big order.

* * *

10-15-01

Dear Dave,

I am the same photographic student that rote you a few days ago asking for help with some unique ideas and instead of getting a reply, you put my email into your journal and I guess that you thought it was funny but the thing that you should know is that I am suffering from a disease that is very very serious and this disease causes me to rite very long run-on sentences to which I find it impossible to rite a conluding period to and that if you must know, I am currently under the supervision of a famous doctor named Thor Shortman who has been specializing in this disease that there is currently no name for and for which he says I am the first person to really really have it so much and he is very excited about this and has been investigating my history and even thinks that there are some medications which I am hoping will help me with this thing that forces me not to put an end to a sentence until it is long overdue and Dr. Shortman who is from Sweden has said that he thinks that he will be able to help me but as you can see, so far, he hasn’t been much help.

* * *

Six more orders come in today. I’m beginning to wish that I could hire someone to print for me.

* * *

10-16-01

I’m really going to have to come to grips with my reaction to orders coming in. In the last few days, another six orders have come in and I’m only half way through with the big order. I’m starting to feel like Lucy in the chocolate factory. The nougats are coming down the line too quickly and I’m the only one involved in dunking them in chocolate.

My damned studio apartment is really too small to keep going this way. Prints are drying on the large base of the enlarger and in the mounting press, screens are on the floor with more prints drying, and yesterday I received my order from light impressions for about 60 16 x 20 mats. Everytime I make a move around here, I’ve got to pick something up and take it from one place to another. On the other hand, I keep putting prints up for sale on eBay which are selling well and drawing more traffic to the site. How am I supposed to get out of the apartment and do some shooting? How am I supposed to take two weeks off and take a nice trip somewhere, anywhere if orders continue to come in? And after all, isn’t this what I was aiming at by doing the website in the first place? Its impossible to move to a bigger place if I’m going to stay in Manhattan, and if I were to move out to the boroughs, so much of what I like to shoot would be too far away. My friends and family continue to laugh at this problem — where I complain about orders coming in, and if they don’t come in I complain about that. Its true that I might be able to find a photography student to do some of the printing, but I think that part of value that I offer is that the prints are done by me (for better or worse). As much stock as I’ve built up, it still seems that someone always manages to order the one print that I don’t have a copy of. And in November I go back three days a week to the ad agency — at least through the end of the year so that I can make my 401K match for the year. The house if also filled with framed pictures from the last few gallery shows that didn’t sell. Maybe I should put some of these framed prints up for sale at a cheap price just to get them out of the house. Well, this is being written at 8am in the morning which is my normal time for bitching and moaning. Usually as the day goes on I buckle down and do what has to be done, so take this with a grain of salt or chocolate as the case may be.

* * *

10-17-01

Didn’t get much done today. My sister was having back problems and I spent most of the day at her house. Probably the only interesting thing was yesterday, when:

I was on my way to do some errands when I walked by the 86th street subway station and people were all over the place because that subway line was stopped during morning rush hour. I admit, that as long as I don’t need to get on the train, I always find this fascinating.

The entrance was filled with people on cell-phones. I am old-fashioned enough, to be fascinated with the idea of trying to capture many people talking on cell-phones at the same time, and this was a bonanza for me. I had the 50mm on the M6, and shot half a roll of film of people on cell-phones trying to figure out how they would get to work. It is the equivalent of a nature photographer who stumbles across a herd of grazing Zebra who have just been frightened by the scent of some predator and are about to take off at a gallop. For me, the lesson is always the same, no matter where you’re going, have a camera with you. In New York, there is almost always something worth shooting.
The batteries were dead again in the Leica, but I’m at a point where I can figure the light within one stop or so. I think the problem is that with the new model, batteries are drained unless both the shutter speed dial is set to off, and the shutter is not cocked. I always cock the shutter after taking a shot, so I guess I’ll always have this problem. I really should get into the habit of carrying a small reflective meter with me, just in case, or at the very least some extra button batteries.

10-18-01

Not much to say — too busy lately. But I’ll throw in a few excerpts from people who have bought prints recently — it seems to me that you don’t get much in terms of people’s reactions to prints so here goes:

* * *

Dave, just a note to let you know I received my photo’s and was very, very pleased with them. Outstanding work. They are hanging on my den wall at home. (Thanks J.P.)

* * *

Got the order today! It arrived around noon. Fab packaging job!! I am VERY pleased !!! The Equitable & Flat Iron building is one of my favorites, thanks for the really nice oversized mat .. that is impressive. Now to get the frames, and then mounted on the wall so they can be proudly displayed! One of these days I will have to get the book seller in your largest size . . . (or perhaps even larger?)… you can read all the titles on the books & mags …. That will be interesting for viewers in the decades to come. (Thanks, T.G.)

* * *

Dave, Received the Promenade print today. It is just wonderful. I will keep your site bookmarked and follow your work. (Thanks F.)

* * *

Dave, Just a quick note to let you know I received your prints today (Wednesday 26th). This is a bit longer than the 4-7 business days envisaged but in light of what has happened in the interim period, quite understandable. Very pleased with them and will be arranging to get them framed up very soon. With best regards from Scotland. (P.L.)

* * *

If I had received email saying that someone hated the print they received, I would put it up here also, but so far that hasn’t happened.

* * *

Anyway, these are some that have come in during the last month or so. Orders for another six prints came in today and everytime I try to get back to the big order, I end up spending the morning matting and packing for the smaller orders.. Dropped off a few prints at the post office today. The clerks were wearing gloves, and there is usually a long line to wait on, but today I was practically the only one there. Maybe this was in bad taste but I joked with the clerk that this Anthrax scare was keeping the lines short which was a good thing. Fortunately, she had a sense of humor and laughed. I’ve always wondered about the effectiveness of these rubber gloves. The deli people all wear them. These gloves that the deli people wear are all sweaty and dirty and personally I think if they’d just wash their hands once in a while they’d be cleaner. I think we’re all turning into Howard Hughs. I also heard that there’s going to be a new cable station AAT (Anthrax All The Time).

* * *

10-19-01

I’m beginning to feel so cramped here that I just walked out to the park the other day and sat on a rock near Turtle Pond waiting for some inspiration. I ruled out moving. Can’t afford to. After two hours of staring at the leaves floating on the water I came up with an idea. I had a loft bed built several years ago, and its pretty roomy up there. The only piece of real comfortable furniture on the ‘ground floor’ is this green leather love seat that I bought at Ikea. So, I only sleep up there in the loft eight hours. Most of my time is spent downstairs. Conclusion: Ergo: When you’ve eliminated the possible all that’s left is the answer to misquote Sherlock Holmes: Toss the Love Seat. Toss the mattress that’s in the loft area. Use the loft space for storage. And instead of the sofa, get a futon that opens and closes. This way I can take a lot of the stuff that’s on the ‘ground floor’ and move it up to the loft space. So that’s what I’m planning to do this afternoon. Only problem, haven’t got the futon yet, so for a few days I’ll be sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag. How’s that for success? If I get any more successful I’ll be sleeping on the fire-escape.

One of these days I need to do some pictures of this place and put ’em on the web. I’m sure that if people saw what the place looks like they’d stop buying pictures altogether and start sending food packages and coupons for cleaning services.

In retrospect, I think the main reason that I took all those trips out to the Southwest was simply to be someplace where you could see to the horizon without encountering a box of mats.

* * *
You know, I just printed Tree and Sprinkler — much lighter than what’s on the site, at 11 x 14, and I have to say it brought a smile to my face. I left the upper right corner burned out as almost pure white. There’s a light sprinkler of water that shows up that looks like drippings from a Jackson Pollack painting. I really liked that. And lighter, its more abstract, you’re not really sure what you’re looking at for a minute. Nice.

* * *

I was going along printing pretty well, and then was about to do ‘Sleeping Bookends’ and of course I couldn’t find the negative. This was too much for me. I went ahead with my decision to jetison the couch and the mattress. Having been moving things around all afternoon. Put the couch on the street in front of the house, it was gone in under a half hour. Another day of moving things around and I should be set up again and in good shape for the next few months. While I was moving things I found the negative along with a whole bunch of other things I was supposed to have in my portfolio box but which were buried somewhere else. I’ve got the sleeping bag out and now I feel like I’m camping out in my darkroom. Kind of fun. Maybe I’ll sit around the t.v. and sing camp songs and roast marshmellows (sp?).

I was very happy with the Tree and Sprinkler shot. Showed it to a friend who said it looked like George Seurat painting. No prompting either.

* * *

10-20-01

Now there’s enough room to work in this place. I must have put 500 pounds of stuff up on the loft bed. Fortunately, it seems well made. Otherwise, as I sit under it I may be crushed someday. Slept on the floor in a sleeping bag last night. Well worth it to have the space to work. I’m going to borrow a blow-up bed from my sister today. Also, as I was in this mood of jetisoning everything I was about to toss my Polaroid Sprintscan 4000 which hasn’t worked in four months, but I thought I’d give it one more try and sure it enough its working again. Maybe it just needed a rest.

* * *

10-21-01

[editor’s note. Beckerman seems to be trying to foister the following fiction on his readers, so no calls and e-mails please to the publisher about this following bit of so-called whimsy.]

After discussing my business affairs with the big forty accounting firm of firm of Dim, Under, Standing LTD, I’ve been advised that I should now make my work more contraversial. The theory is that prices will rise dramatically if the work engenders some sort of newsworthyness. I had the idea of taking religious objects and subjecting them to some kind of desecration but I’m informed that this is already old-hat stuff. So if religious objects are out, the other item of equal importance to civilized man may be money. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. And then it hit me. What if I photographed the destruction of money? By that I mean the actual burning of large denominations? Brilliant?

The accounting firm was especially shocked by the idea at first, but then Mr. Tweedlehouse who is one of the junior partners, came by and pointed out that according to Federal Tax Laws, the burning of money for the purpose of generating marketing exposure could actually be a deduction. Tweedlehouse assured me that for every one dollar that was destroyed, I could deduct 35% of the expense, and that given the fact that this act was also illegal, we were sure to generate additional liabilities, which were also deductable.

Although Mr. Tweedlehouse, seemed unwilling to put his advice in writing, he did assure me that the burning of currency and subsequent photographing of same, was an extremely cost-effective plan, so long as I was willing to spend some part of my later career in confinement. I told him, ‘A small price to pay for beauty’.

In fact, Mr. Tweedlehouse, after looking over my books, suggested that actually burning money might be more profitable than the current attempts I was making to simply sell photographs. The equipment that is used to do the burning, would also be given a generous capital depreciation. When he mentioned depreciation, I knew I was on to something, as this was exactly my own idea.

He suggested that instead of simply lighting the currency with a match, that I purchase an extremely expensive silver lighter, and in fact offered to sell me his at a cut-rate price. Upon examening his lighter, I noticed that it had been engraved on the back, “From Mom, with All My Love”. And declined to take such a lighter from Mr. Tweedlehouse, although he seemed quite anxious to get rid of the item. More to follow…

* * *

10-23-01

Moved things around again in the studio, and bought a twin size futon — and now I’m now longer sleeping on the floor and things are looking up. Everything not nailed down has been moved to the loft platform. The thngs I found! Negatives lying under the file cabinets which hadn’t been moved in 9 years. One of the shots that I had never put on the web, but which I had a small print of, and had been moving around from desk to dresser, to table for the last year saying to myself where is that negative. Well, I found it. And now I have a surface dedicated to matting and framing so I don’t have to setup a small table each time I do this.

Today I’ll make the big push to finish up the print orders that are sitting in a box on top of the flatbed scanner.

* * *

Received the following letter from Mr. Tweedlehouse’s Lawyer, a Mr. Bonami.

Dear Mr. Beckerman,

This is to inform you that Mr. Tweedlehouse has been placed under arrest for insider trading, and is in fact now incarcerated in an undisclosed Federal prison. Mr. Tweedlehouse’s case is still under appeal, and we hope that you will understand that our firm will continue to offer you advice as we see fit. Mr. Tweedlehouse sends his best regards. He asked whether you would be willing to send him one of your beautiful photographs for his cell?

* * *

10-25-01

Getting there. Yesterday, sent out last two orders via Fedex (which looks like a good choice given what’s going on with the Post Office) and now I continue to get towards the end of the big order. I’m hoping to be done with it by this weekend. I know I keep saying that I’m going to finish the big order, but I’ve been getting out smaller orders and can’t hold them up any longer.

I definitely have not figured out packaging for the 16 x 20 sized mats. Yesterday you would have had a good laugh, watching me cut up a box to put three of these prints in. Apparantly, the last roll of packaging tape I bought was thinner than usual, and every time I pulled it, it got all tangled, and I would rip it off and drop it on the floor. By the end of the morning this crumpled brown tape was stuck to all sorts of things. At the end of the day, I was sitting at my desk and went to pick up a pen, and there was a piece of crumpled tape stuck to it.

Light Impressions has these really good boxes for shipping mats, very sturdy with reinforced corners etc. but they cost about $15 each. That’s obviously too much for me to spend on a $40 or $50 print, but I’m seriously thinking of putting some more 11 x 14 prints on 16 x 20 board up on the site, because quite honestly, after doing this large order which is all 11 x 14, you just get much more out of the prints at this size, or at the 9 x 12 size than at the smaller sizes.

I guess I can take away the FREE SHIPPING thing and put shipping / handling charges in place. Or I can continue to keep the price of shipping built (somewhat) into the cost of the print. Fifteen dollars is a lot for a box, but on the other hand it might save me a 1/2 hours work.

* * *

10-26-01

When I was a kid, I spent several summers at Vacation Camp for the Blind, where my parents were counselors. I learned sign language and became pretty fluent with it. I taught this sign language to my friends and when we went to a Yiddish school after regular school we used to sit across from each other and sign to each other while the teacher was going on about the old testement etc. This was all we did at that school. We’d sit in the back of the room, on either side, as far in the back as we could get and hide what we were doing behind a book and sign, and sign and sign. This was a tremendous amount of fun. The ability to secretly communicate while the teacher droned on about whatever he was droning on about (how to speak Yiddish), was fantastic. We formed a kind of secret club, where everyone had to learn sign language, and would sometimes meet behind an old billboard in the Bronx and spend the entire time signing. We called ourselves the Blind Boys Club although as far as I know none of us were blind.

One day, after I had been going to the Yiddish school every afternoon for two years, my father asked me to speak to him in Yiddish. The best I could muster was:

“Vos is die nomen” [excuse the spelling but that’s what is your name]. And he looked pleased. My dad was pleased and told me what his name was, which I already knew. Then he asked me something else in Yiddish, and I was lost. He pronounced it slower, but I still had no idea what he was saying. I replied:

Me: Vos mach stu? (How are you)

Him: (In Yiddish) Fine. What else do you know?

Me: Huh?

Him: I said, what else did you learn?

Me: That’s it, dad..

Him: That’s all you learned in two years? You knew that before you started school. You’ve been learning Yiddish for two years and you only know how to vus mach stu? Is that what you’re saying? What were you doing in class? What about your friend Stan? I’m going to call his mother and find out if he knows anymore than you do. I’m going to talk to that teacher and see what he’s been doing.

He calls my friend Stan’s mother and she questions her son Stan, who apparantly knows less than me, if that’s possible.

Him: (sputtering) How can that be? How is it possible to go to school for two years, every afternoon, and learn absolutely nothing? Do you know what that school is costing me? Are you saying that you’ve been going every day?

Me: Every day, dad.

Dad walks off muttering to himself.

Later on he calls the Yiddish teacher to see if I had been even showing up for class. The teacher says, that I had been there everyday. However, he was under the impression that I might be less than intelligent since I had never spoken a word in class.. Dad saw his money go down the drain, and quickly removed me from the school and Stan was taken out of school also.

We would then spend the afternoons playing on the street.

For many years after that, dad would place me before adults and ask me to show what I had learned in two years of Yiddish school, and I would laugh and do my one phrase. Then he would say tell people how much it had cost him for me to learn three words in Yiddish. I did eventually show him how well I had learned to sign, but I don’t think that ever really helped him get over it.

The Blind Boys Club lasted for a few months, until Stan and I got this sort of laser beam radio transmission thing that you could point across the street, and when the beams lined up you could talk over the thing. What the point of this invention was I don’t know since phones were more reliable, but Stan and I lived across the street from each other, and at night, we would go to our windows and aim these gizmos at eachothers window and catch every other word. I guess this was the precursor to cell phones. Soon, most of the kids in the neighborhood had one of these light-beam radios, and we changed the name of our club to the Gizmo (don’t really remember the name of the thing) Boys Club.

* * *

QUESTION DU JOUR

I usually sign and date the print with the date that I am actually matting the print. Does this make sense. For example, a print that I may have made five years ago, if I were to date it now would say 10-26-01. Should the date on the print be the day the photograph was taken? The day the print was made? Or simply as I’m doing, the day the print was matted? I would also add that as far as the date that the negative was exposed, is probably the least accurate.

* * *

Thanks Bill for your advice on this one — put the year that the picture was taken. I’m going to start doing this on my next order.

* * *

10:40 pm

Was having an e-mail conversation with another photographer, about overcoming the normal type of fear of photographing strangers on the street. I e-mailed him some off the cuff advice, and he put it on his site as if it were of some value. Maybe it is. I guess if I had thought about it more, I might have come up with something better but so be it. I don’t really consider myself a street photographer — not like a Winnogrand etc., but I have struggled with various techniques for photographing people without altering the scene. Arguments about whether it is okay to shoot stealthy or more openly will go on forever. I maintain that whatever works for you is fine. How can I put this? Your shooting style shouldn’t be dictated by fear, but at the same time fear is real, and if you aren’t somewhat relaxed about what you’re doing, it’s unlikely that you will get anything worthwhile. Well, even that’s not true. Let’s just say that there are some times when you are up for facing your fears, and sometimes when you can’t.

And you’ve got to accept both. Sometimes, I walk out of the house and I say, I’m just going for a nice walk in the park and shoot the flowers. (Of course, you may notice that I don’t actually have any prints of flowers because they bore the hell out of me.) But I have spent days shooting the flora in the park. I just look at the negatives and put them in a drawer afterwards.

You can see my advice at: Grant Heffernan

* * *

Finished the 33 prints. Tomorrow is matting day. I was very excited to do the last one (Night Storm, 11 x 14).

* * *

Also thanks to Jim G. for the 16 x 20 packaging ideas. I’m not going to put a link to his site here because I don’t think it’s finished yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be a worthwhile site. Definitely another kindred spirit.

* * *

10-27-01

Random ideas…

Henry had been matting prints all morning. As he stepped out of the house to go to the post office, he noticed an old woman who seemed to stare at him. He continued on his way to the post office which was a few blocks away, and noticed several other people staring at him. He arrived at the Post Office with his package and as he was standing on line (which was very short due to the Anthrax scare) the security guard approached him. The security guard asked him what was in the package. Just some prints, Harry told him. And as he handed the package to the security guard, noticed that he still had his white gloves on which he used for matting.

* * *

Overheard snippet on 2nd avenue:

“I just can’t stand the idea of working alongside people who hate us!”

* * *

10-28-01

We have a Gubernatorial debate, but I’v never voted for a Gubernor? Have you? Let’s start a campaign to rid the language of Gubernatorial and replace it with Governoral.. I think that the origin of Gubernatiorial is a misspelling. Which brings me to another word that is hard to spell: misspell. How many s’s are their supposed to be in this all important word. Apparantly two. But I would suggest that we strike misspell entirely, and replace it with spelled-wrong.

For example, the person who has trouble spelling can now feel confident writing to his friend that a particular word was spelled-wrong, rather than having to worry about saying that a particular word was misspelled..

* * *

Finished up the 33 prints for England. All nicely matted, and sitting in a box waiting to be shipped. This thing was like preparing for a major exhibition.

* * *

Through a telephoto lens,
The funeral ends.
The image become real,
Through six weeks of steel.

* * *
10-29-01

Ashcroft came out today with another announcement that the terrorists were going to do something this week. He couldn’t say where, and he couldn’t say when. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, I’m not sure that this is helpful and I’m not sure that I can understand the logic behind such pronouncements. Should the entire country be notified? Or perhaps just government officials, and police and fire? Or do they think that by making such a pronouncement that people will be watching more carefully for something and thus help prevent whatever it is? I would like to hear Ashcroft at least explain his reason for making these general type statements. I understand that he can’t tell anything about where the information came from, obviously, but again I’m not sure I see the purpose.

* * *

10-30-01

Well, I’ve been pretty listless the last few days. Maybe its that the big order is finally finished. Maybe its that I’m going back (part-time) to the ad agency on Thurs (Nov.1). I went out to the park this morning and forced myself to shoot two rolls of Delta 400, but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t feel relaxed at all. I could still see the amazing things that were happening around me, but didn’t feel that I was in the zone, so to speak.

I’m telling myself that this part-time thing is only ’til the end of the year — and that by then maybe I’ll have enough confidence that I can make a living solely through the photography, but who knows. Maybe I’m deluding myself. There is no doubt that I’m doing much better selling this year (my 2nd year of selling) than my first year — I’m close to grossing $18,000. Which means a profit of about $10,000. I don’t think you can live in NYC on $10,000. On the other hand, my first year I think I grossed about $3000 if that and a lot of those early sales were to friends (thank you Y.I.)

Maybe I’m just coming down with a cold or something.

* * *

The one good thing that has come out of these four months of Leave of Absence is that I have figured out how to re-arrange the studio so that there is enough room to live and to work. I’ve also gotten to a point where most of the mechanics of shipping and printing and matting are really worked out. What I find interesting, is that even with a couple of huge orders, the work involved was so much, that I couldn’t find the time to get back out to the Met to sell again, or even do a little trip.

* * *

I’m also wondering if this Anthrax thing is going to have an effect on the mail-order business.

* * *

Dropped off a few prints at the post office. It is really deserted these days. At first, I was somewhat cavalier about it, but I’m beginning to see the seriousness of it all. The postal people all wore gloves, and the gloves seemed thicker than the last time I was there. But the woman that I brought my packages to was sans gloves. Someone behind me, the only other person on the line whispered, “This is now ground zero.” I turned around to see if she was talking to me, but she seemed to be talking to herself.

I had scratched my arm, carrying back some packages from the UPS truck, and normally I wouldn’t do much about it, but after returning from the Post Office I put a band-aid on it. Is that what they mean by the new normality?

I’m also getting nervous about the World Series game tonight — not that the Yankees will lose, but that there will be some attack. The New Normality?

* * *

10-31-01

I’m sure you’re all sick about hearing about THE BIG ORDER, but it’s done, and on its way overseas.

* * *

I also seem to have the packaging thing worked out for the 16 x 20’s. Flat Kraft Mailers with a couple of pieces of cut-up Fedex boxes. This is the best solution I’ve come up with so far. Thanks to Jim for reminding me of something I already knew. Reminds me of a line from a John Prine song — “And what I never knew I never will forget.” He’s talking about a love affair — and I’m talking about mailers. Something is wrong here.

* * *

Even though its not Sunday, I have those Sunday blues because I go back to work tomorrow (yes, its part-time) but its still a hard pill to swallow.

* * *

Received several requests from students for my thoughts on this and that. When I first started the site, I was flattered. Now I’m pretty much annoyed. Do your own homework. Sorry, I’m definitely out of sorts.

* * *

Dear Dave,

I’m doing a junior at Snutee Preppy School and my final paper is on Photography. I’ve been shooting for 3 days and I can’t seem to get photographs that are as good as yours? I’m legally blind. Do you think that might be part of the problem? I can still see blurs pretty well. My photography teacher has assigned a sighted person to actually do the shooting and printing for me, and they’ve digitalized the prints and given me a cortex implant that allows me to see the results. Any tips? I firmly believe that there are no handicaps that cannot be overcome. Thanks in advance for your help.

* * *

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Dave

My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a photographer and programmer working in New York City.