Friday, November 12, 2010

First Fridays

I took a group of Literature of Photography students to the galleries at 450 Harrison for First Fridays last week. We played with night photography and artificial lighting. I had fun with gels.

My adventurous side has slowed down as I hit the 8th month of pregnancy, and I really haven't had the ganas to carry my heavy camera around these days. But just you wait. Once this kid comes, I will be breaking the "no photos of kids" rule all over the place.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Open Letter to my Literature of Photography Students

Dear Literature of Photography students,

I know you are spying on my blog.

Therefore, I have decided to take on a couple of the assignments I've given you lately and write you a letter about street photography. I have this one photo that I think about a lot in this context. I took it while I was in Cambodia, where I dealt with the awkwardness of taking pictures of strangers in a way I'd never done before. I'd always been more of a "sneaker," and was shy about approaching people and asking to take their picture, especially when I was clearly a newcomer to the culture, and didn't speak a word of Khmer.

I had mixed results with that approach this time.

So, here's the photo. I took it at the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap province.

I took this photo with my Nikon 18-200 lens on full zoom. Then I cropped it. This means I was over 200 feet away from this group of performers...but they saw my massive lens and they saw me pointing it at them. And they were - or at least the girl in the middle was - not pleased.

They were performers who danced or posed on demand for money. But I was not offering them money. Though I was trying to capture a "between the shots" scene like the kind Annie Liebovitz described in her series of shots of Nixon leaving the White House, what I'm assuming they saw was me stealing from them. This photo has haunted me for four years, and while I feel some guilt when I look at it, I also feel glad that I took it. I'm glad that I caught myself getting caught as the tourist who took without asking. Because, when we are tourists, we are always, at some point, that kind of tourist.

I also took some "street photography" shots that were happy stories. In this case, I saw this family and wanted to take their picture. When I asked, they were delighted. I took hundreds of shots of this little ham here.

I also "snuck" a picture of these monks, who then followed me and wanted to see the photos. We wound up spending almost an hour trying to talk to each other.

And just as fast as something like that would happen, I'd make a bad decision to follow a few naked kids and take pictures of them when they clearly didn't want their picture taken.

As my friend Patrick said of photographic subject matter, "Naked children is generally a bad idea." But we could argue that one for a while.

So there you have it. Street photography in Cambodia. You, too, could go on Semester at Sea and see it all for yourselves! It's been four years, and obviously I can't stop thinking about it.

Love, Alden

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Garlic Fest

Mums were acquired. Ducks were herded. Carrots admired.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Show at Southeastern Contemporary Art Gallery

Cell phone photography legitimized as art...

I have three photos (the three in the previous post, in fact) up in a show at the Southeastern Art Gallery. See press release:

Cell phone photography on display at Southeastern Art Gallery

Dale Newkirk, curator for Southeastern Louisiana University’s Contemporary Art Gallery, hangs cell phone images in the gallery for the show exhibiting photography collected from more than 350 submissions. The show, which is free and open to the public, runs through Sept. 25. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday.

HAMMOND – Nearly everyone today has a cell phone, and many use the device’s built-in camera to capture their environment.

That’s what artist Dale Newkirk of Southeastern Louisiana University observed at last year’s Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. And it gave Newkirk, who is the curator for Southeastern’s Contemporary Art Gallery, an idea for an exhibit: Why not display some of those images in the art gallery?

Newkirk solicited submissions from artists, photographers and the general public and received more than 350 images from 200 people around the country. The National Cell Phone Photography Exhibition opens in the Contemporary Art Gallery Thursday (Sept. 9) and runs through Sept. 25.

“The new phones today are amazing and can capture some great images,” Newkirk said.

Newkirk chose to arrange the photos in a random pattern and deliberately kept the display very minimalistic. “I wanted it to be in a very casual setting,” he said.

The exhibition will be displayed in the gallery, 100 East Stadium, next to Clark Hall. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spring Break: Looking Back

Holy Moly! Enough time has passed between this blog post and the last one that it's actually time to be nostalgic about our trip to the Dominican Republic. In that case, here are some wistful shots from our trip. It was kind of a 3rd honeymoon, taken the month before I got pregnant. Thus, it was the last time I had a whole entire glass of wine, which only serves to intensify the nostalgia. We spent a night in Santo Domingo and spent the bulk of our time in Cabarete in a really wonderful eco-tourism hotel with only a handful of cabanas, on-site yoga, and really yummy food. Surfing competitions took place down the beach. It was a heavenly winter escape. I feel nostalgic despite the oppressive heat that has defined Boston Summer 2010.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Sin Alley" in Midway Journal

I have a short story, "Sin Alley," up in the current issue of Midway Journal. The subject matter is hinted at in the photograph above, which happens to have been taken during my most recent trip to Costa Rica, where "Sin Alley" takes place.

Holding the sign above is the curator Jacob Karpio, who owns the eponymous gallery in San José, Costa Rica. My friend Karina Salguero is a magazine editor in San José. She invited me to come along to Jacob's gallery for a press release breakfast party for the show he curated called LOVE. Back when I lived in Costa Rica as a volunteer teacher 15 years ago, I would have died to have found an arts community like the one Karina is now a part of. During his welcome, Jacob said that he felt Costa Rica's time was here as a nation celebrated not just for its natural beauty, but for its arts and urban culture. Things have changed drastically and quickly in the arts community in San José in recent years. It's flourishing thanks to folks like Jacob.

In my writing about Costa Rica and the works by Costa Rican authors I've chosen for translation (mostly fiction by Carmen Naranjo), I've always tried to take on issues that had nothing to do with the environment, its wildlife, the beaches. "Sin Alley" is gritty and urban. And - you've been warned! - it's rated R.

I miss Costa Rica...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Things I Love to See #8

A reluctant (gorgeous! We dubbed her Chrysanthamum) drag queen...

Some unreluctant drag queens...

And myself with an excuse to wear a feather boa.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Things I Love to See #7

THIS as the view from my chair this morning....

Looking over the cover of my book:

Looking up:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things I Love to See #6

6. Pictures to take pictures of

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Things I Love to See #5

5. Something pretty hanging from the ceiling

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009