Monday, December 21, 2009

Films photographers would love: The Beaches of Agnes Varda

Agnes Varda, who has the distinction of being the "grandmother of French New Wave"* made a documentary (sort of) looking back on her life. In the film, she speaks directly to you about memories of her childhood in WWII occupied France, her loves, her amazing Paris home, film making, her art installations, and her neighbors and friends and especially her family. She's doe-eyed through it all, taking an equal interest in mundane things that have inspired her (the flea market scenes make me want to get a passport immediately) to the monumental things that have not (a trip to her childhood home). At 81, Agnes Varda is that kooky and brilliant, yet calming friend that you want to have brunch with at least once a month. I saw it yesterday at the Angelika. You should check out the film, too...anyhow...

The trailer captures the wackiness about the film accurately, but don't let it be off-putting, this feature most definitely has meat on its bones.

I took interest in the fact that she started out as a portrait photographer. Her photographs are threaded throughout the film, punctuating her decades old love affair with documenting people and places, continuing to this day.

On photography she noted that once she 'let go of the oppression of being in-focus' (I'm paraphrasing, but it's close) she felt free to be more expressive in her photographs. I particulary connect with her love of the blurry foreground. Makes my heart pound just thinking about Varda talk about composition and process.

* She told the tale of her traipse with French New Wave like this: 'Breathless' came out and was a huge success. The production company asked Godard if he new of anyone who could make an urban black and white film cheaply and quickly (to capitalize on the popularity of Godard's style) and he passed along the name of his good friend Agnes. Agnes Varda made her second feature film, 'Cleo de 5 a 7', in response and it garnered a nomination for a Palm D'or at the Cannes Film Festival 1962. Pas mal!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cindy Sherman film this weekend!

Celluloid geeks converge! Friday, Saturday, and Sunday showings this weekend at the MFA.

"Paul H-O became a fixture of the 1990s New York art scene with his public access show GalleryBeat. Among his fans was Cindy Sherman, the internationally regarded, press-shy artist, who invited Paul for a series of exclusive interviews. Filmed over 15 years and including interviews with artists and entertainers, the documentary paints a picture of the New York art scene that is also an illuminating look at celebrity, male anxiety, and art. Among the latter was Cindy Sherman..."


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm teaching at Leisure Learning this winter/spring

LLU catalog is updated with a class I'll start offering in January. It's called "Developing Black & White Film in Your Kitchen Sink" and I plan on making it shooper dooper fun (it's a gift). SOOOO, if you know of anyone who might benefit from this class (or one like it) tap me electronically on the shoulder and I'll be happy yap with you about it! Also, if you have a group of five or more who might like to take a similar class, let's talk!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Breaking news: Photographer shoots, doesn't kill

Tragic story of an overnight fire reveals precious little details. But this particular line caught my attention:

From the Houston Chronicle on-line:

"Dowdy said there were reports that the man and a news photographer exchanged gunfire. "

Man, I know this town is rough, but daaaaaang...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Films photographers (and kids) love: 'Wait Until Dark'

I rented another childhood favorite for me and my little one today. 'Wait Until Dark' stars Audry Hepburn as the blind photographer's wife who is being stalked by a trio of bad dudes lead by the eee-vil, Jack-Kerouac-sound-alike Mr. Roat (played by Alan Arkin who would later play John Cusack's hilariously nervous - and scene stealing - psychiatrist in Grosse Pointe Blank).

Most of the film takes place in a basement apartment - a perfect place for a darkroom studio. The darkroom itself isn't enclosed, it's just in the middle of the apartment, away from the windows. The windows in the kitchen are light-proofed with metal crank shades. During one point Susy (Hepburn) helps her husband by passing fiber paper from the stop bath through the hypo stage WITH HER BARE HANDS!! (at 8:12 above) Later, she'd outwit her adversary by replacing the flower vase water with a photo chemical. I have to admit, I thought the script should have placed fixer...or better yet! selium toner in the vase. (Take THAT bad guy!) But alas, she temporarily blinds Dr. Evil with hypoclear (slight stinging sensation, at 7:24 below).

I had forgotten about the Henry Mancini soundtrack. Groovy. And about her amazing fall coat collection. And about the child in the film. Gloria is a highlight of the film. My kid especially liked her spunk.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Processing film is so easy a 7 year old can do it least mine can!

Since I don't think his little hands are quite ready to feed film onto a plastic reel in the confines of a black bag, I did that part for him. But come to think of it, I'll sacrifice some expired film this weekend just so he can practice.

For this first venture into the world of processing, my kid poured the chemicals in and out of the tank, and kept hawk-like eyes on the stopwatch. We used Diafine since temperature and precision timing aren't critical to this cheap two-part developer, plus we can skip the Stop bath step. He was so elated to see the film be pulled off the reels. "Just like Christmas" I told him.

For next time I'll probably get some rubber gloves since the use of Fixer made me a little nervous. Academic principals reinforced: Focus, counting backwards, following directions, manipulatives. All great practice particularly if your child is ADD/ADHD.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Radio tonight: Shh! I said NO TALKing! Edition...

Yessireebob. Mutant Hardcore Flower Hour at 10pm central time tonight! DJ Paramour will be my sexy guest and we'll hear some tunes from her archives. Other sexiness will include a performance by No Talk (pictured above). Me, 10, Scott, 11, Young Burton, midnight. Give a tug.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Traci and Ashley deserve your respect.

You know what? We are home to a couple of the planet's most criminally underrated photographers. Who just happen to be exhibitionists/voyeurs. And (perhaps inadvertent) maverick feminists. Kiss goodbye to Puritan America, that's for sure.

Meet Traci Matlock and Ashley MacLean. Up until this past June, they served time blogging as "Rose and Olive" on the 'edgy' national cultural website Nerve.

They're a duo of seemingly inseparable photographers who document (and stage) their lifestyle. It's hard to tell their sexual identity apart from their photography identity, but that's not really the point.

Is there a point? There is, and they have themes (how else you gonna get funded?) I'll just let others do the academa-cizing, 'sides the themes are readily apparent. What we have here is snapshots of tawdry, portraits of tawdry, polaroids of Is-that-a-body-part-or-a-piece-of-fruit?, videos that should be pulled, tongue-in-cheek fun (pun intended), completely innocent nakedness, some not so serious, and some deadly.

The medium chosen is whatever is handy, apparently. Polaroid, black and white, medium format, point-and-shoot (hell, yeah) natural light, harsh flash, and always film (I think). Handy and quick gives the photos their un-contrived apeal.The wealth of images is also indicative. Of something, I'm not sure what. Does it matter? Sex is what brings all the visual themes together via woodsy settings, front porches, swimming pools, sand, scars, indentations, fruit, and people many of whom are not 'classically' beautiful (LOVE that).

Here's what else I adore: they explore sexuality without ever questioning or challenging moraes. Traci and Ashley take photos and/or have sex with friends and strangers alike and it's not ever treated as edgy or private. It's perfectly natural. Or it's a celebration. Or a good way to pass the time. Or an act of humility, depending on who is on the receiving end.

Their body of work (and especially the Nerve images from the last year and a half) has a love-the-one-you're-with meets Mae-West-feminism kind of appeal, if you catch my drift. And I adore that they adore one another. Of course it's this kind of no-zone, laissez faire, sexually charged photography that could only be born of Houston. I'm telling you, it's in the water.

I could go on and on about them but just go to their newest blog titled The Ingoing. Trust me, these are NSFW.

And if you're into photography documentaries, go here! This looks like a good one. I'm going to score a copy for sure when it becomes available.

We share a love of Eggleston. And a darkroom. And an interest in the seedier side. As friends, as peers, I'm happy just knowing they're somewhere in my town. I know these things don't last forever, but a toast to the here and now and the one you're with. Cheers!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Her middle name is Marianne

Steve Simels got a flurry of comments regarding his posting of a video clip of Swedish boudoir babe Anita Ekberg on his column on As he says, you can and should...check it out here. That's a nice little film blog. I'm sure he won't take offense that's I say its not the most academic film blog on earth. Very readable and witty...and you don't even have to be terribly film savvy to enjoy it.

In any case, today's post is about the former Ms. Sweden and her, uh, dancing abilities. After watching the clip, I couldn't help but look for images of her. She has the most amazing nose. And of course the rest of her is pretty easy on the eyes as well.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

RADIO TONITE: Me, Scott Butt, and three prostitutes

Welcome to the NEW me. Kinda like the old me but less tardy/more, err, lucid. Note that I start at the new happy-hour-proof time of 10pm Texas time.

Here's my press release:

Mutant Hardcore Radio Tonight







time=last call

for real: i took over the 10pm slot to avoid flaking out/being FACED on air. so no need for you to stay up late to witness a fiasco. sorry, charlies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

xTONITEx!! DJ Radio Flaky Biscuits

HEY! okay, so i goofed and missed the last train to Clarksville last week a/k/a flaked out. SOO me! this week is different than that it's a week later. Yesh. you know you had a good time with YB and SB. And since I never unpacked my bag from last week, the tunes are just as gnarly. Toon in.

Tonight, we'll be spotlighting an upcoming show that commemorates the life of Biscuit and the plight of Peter Case with performances by venerable-yet-humble punk acts AK47 and The Mydolls. IN FACT we'll have 2 AK47's in studio (If it's okay with you Scott; Burton, go back to sleep) to talk about their history and they'll be bringing some of the ol' AK47 45s with them. So if you're a fan of any of the above...don't hit snooze. (I do also believe we'll have other guests who are playing at Double Dave's in a little while. But I'll let that promoter promote.)

with Young Burton, Scott Butt and Old Fart...
91.7fm KTRU.ORG
10pm ~ 1am

10 ~ Young Burton as aprediz de todo...
11 ~ Scott Butt as majordomo comeux...
midnight special ~ Rosa, narcosnarficker...

Quejas a 713.348.ktru

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Joey Promahoney: this made me think of you

Hope all is well, friend. Let's get some Vietnamese sandwiches when you come home next.

I'm def gonna try this with color slide film I can't afford to process anytime soon.

Editing is letting go of even some of the good ones.

Separation is strange. I've been with the same, wonderful man since I was 19 years old. At 39 he decided that I needed to stretch my wings for reals.

I'm moving next weekend to a tiny one bedroom apartment in the museum district. I've never known bachelorhood and hoped I never would, but alas, here I am taping up boxes and ruthlessly editing out books I want to keep and books that need to find a new home. Special books I'm giving away. Chicano studies books and liberal political books will go to Sedition Books. Vegetarian cook books to the ex (I'm not a vegetarian, never have been, and god give me strength I never will). The rest to charity since I don't want to waste Half Price Books' time.

What's left are books on: photography, architecture, film, rock and roll, boxing, dictionaries, my Stanislaw Lems, my Borgeses, Treasure of The Sierra Madre and the Jim Thompson book Henderson gave me for Christmas. I'm also toting the Richard Meltzer books my treasured friend and film buff KB lent me including the hilarious little tome he co-authored with Nick Tocshes called Frankie Part I.

Speaking of KB, and-for-the-record, I'd like to correct my last Weegee blog (you knew I had to slip him in, right? Right.) which incorrectly stated that "Naked City" was his only photography book. KB proved me wrong by lending me "Weegee's People", 2nd printing on DaCapo originally put out in 1946. It's novel-thick with low quality images on every single page and short captions that tell a story of a city. I'm quite shocked at how similar my own zine is to it. In fact, first thing I'll do after I move is put out the third edition. If I can get five or ten zines done soon, I'll look for funding to put out a compendium, similar to his.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Analog "vs." Digital

My friend and fellow photographer, RTB, after telling him I was gonna start teaching a darkroom class asked, innocently enough: "How are you going to teach people who have only experience with digital cameras?" My exact response I don't remember but it was something akin to 'well they'll just have to accept that I find digital photography unacceptable' which was not only arrogant and defensive-sounding, but not even something I believe. Not sure why that popped outta my mouth. I don't find digital images unacceptable at all but I do find that they are a whole other animal. Not an entirely different discipline but certainly a different medium. Painting is allowed different mediums - oil, watercolor, even mixed media...And Photography is not so different...35mm, large format, medium format, polaroid manipulation...why not add digital exposure? Shouldn't art be supplemented insteada amended?

Processes: they aren't just different to me, they're downright foreign. Not estranged or divorced but, err, legally separated? I love you but I'm not in love with you.

But first: how are they similar? Lemme think. Both media are experienced visually. Both are two dimensional. When viewed on a computer screen, high res. images are pretty much indistinguishable from one another. Ditto color prints (provided that they are premium quality). Both require hardware-type-equipment that has a lens. No doubt digital camera prototypes were based on 35mm SLRs. Every new medium has to start somewhere, right? But I've never run out of memory, just film.

Experiences are real dissimilar to me. Digital: Compose, shoot, edit, adjust, compose, shoot, edit, adjust, etc. Even ad nauseum, if you ask this girl. Printing a .jpg is certainly optional. Film (documentary/street/punk) is: think, shoot, react, shoot, think, shoot, react, shoot, etc. and not necessarily in that order.

What I mean to say is that digital photography shoots its wad too soon for me...all deed and no foreplay. Which I understand totally if you're into convenience, speed, ease, and economy. True 'nuff, developing film isn't easy or interesting. What films there are left are expensive and endangered. Developing yourself takes a while and can be boring (if you're not in my kitchen playing records). But when I pull that soft, squishy, sensual negative off the reel, my heart starts beating real fast. Then, when I hold it up to the light to see if it came out I feel 1) elation just knowing that there's something there, or 2) my heart breaks when I discover I over/under exposed the damn thing. It's a private moment I don't have to share with anyone else. I need that kind of intimacy with my photography. Public (shooting), private (developing+printing+editing), public (sharing), in that order. When I shoot I'm hoping for the best while expecting the best. Faith and bravura. That's shooting with film.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

xxRadioxx tonight: We've come for your children (if that's cool with you)...

TONIGHT! Music for brats by DJs that only a mother could love. So NYAH! if you don't like it!

10pm to 1am just like most of the time

Special guest during Scott's shift will be Left of the Dial writer David Ensminger, who will fill you in on all the details of the AK47 Show he organized for the 1st. And I'll be starting the set off with a rare spinning of the 70s powerpop band The Hounds, fronted by my favorite film critic Steve Simels (formerly the music critic of the magazine formerly known as Stereo Review) who provided me with the disc. Word on the street is that all the boys in the band will be listening which means we might have more than one listener (thanks, ma)!!!. Are you listening Nielsen Ratings?!?!

10pm : On Top of Young Burton all covered with cheese..
11pm : Great big gobs of greasy, grimy, gopher Butts...
Midnight : The old lady who lived in a shoe...

713-348-ktru, ya heard?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Man, hear I go yammering about Weegee again.

Look the man wasn't a genius in terms of IQ points, but Arthur Fellig the photographer-popularly-known-as Weegee paved the way for other low brow photographers like Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman and Nikki Lee. Oh, and punk photography in general. And what I mean by that is he paved the way for low brow photography to be accepted by the grand poo pah of photography: art photography.

Weegee was ugly, poor, and obsessed with the blood and guts of his city. As a photojournalist, he got his hands dirty and wasn't afraid to break the sacred rules of journalism. He'd pose people and rearrange crime scenes for maximum impact. He wrote his own often lengthy captions and was even occasionally given license to write the articles that accompanied his photos in the newspapers he shot for. That was unheard of back then.

I finished up Weegee and Naked City by Lee and Meyer. Its a short book with a few plates but mostly words. The book analyzes the characters and circumstances that paved the way for his only photography book Naked City and his pioneering photo exhibit at the New York Photo League called Murder Is My Business. It's a terrific and easy read with a fresh approach to the man and his work. I was delighted to find out just how self aware he was of what he was doing. He the man himself is imbedded in his photos - sometimes literally - because he WANTED to be famous. He wanted people to know his name and made no qualms about it. A left leaning press was of course going to bring him on as an ally with his everyman appeal. He gave that movement street cred as much as he gave it a visual style. And being no dummy, he used this unique (but earned) respect to further his transparent goals of 1) fame, and 2) legitimacy among the fine art cognicenti. Frakkin' genius.

Weegee may have been opportunistic (how's that a bad thing again?) but he also took complete ownership of his photographs, and I'm not talking about copyrights (who cares?). I mean the man walked the walk and talked the talk. He came from the same mean streets of NY that he shot and is a prime example of the kind of photographers I admire most: those who live their art. Photographs aren't just images - that's a cynical point of view if there ever was one. Photographers are performance artists first and foremost. Self awareness to the point of obsession - 'Look at me looking at you'. We hunt and kill what we eat. Because it's only fair.

And further to the low brow point, he mastered the use of flash like nobody's business. Flash use has always played second fiddle to natural light sources or studio light that mimics natural light. But here's the truth art photography is too precious to embrace: it's HARDER TO MASTER flash. Certainly much more difficult to master than natural diffuse light. Which is secretly why high brow art hates it's use there I said it. I'll even take it a step further and declare flash-lit black and white journalistic/punk/street photography is as American a treasure as jazz or blues or dare she say it? rock and roll.

So hail to you, Weege. You punk.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rosewater Processing now open for business

Do you have a stash of black and white film sitting around in a shoebox, which you'd like to get processed and/or digitized? Rosewater Processing is now open for business and ready to take your order!

Film processing 35mm* or Holga Medium format
: $5 per roll. No extra charge for push processing.

Scanning: I can digitize your film strips and burn them to cd for 30 cents per 35mm frame and 50 cents per medium format frame. $5 per roll. I scan in at 2400dpi.

Chemicals used: For Kodak film I use HC110 or D76 and Diafine for push processing. For Ilford films I use Ilford Developer and Stop. If you don't know what any of that means, no worries, I'll be happy to counsel. *I'm sorry I don't process Tmax film.

Payment: Cash or Paypal only.

Turn around time: Weekend processing, so your film will probably be available the following Monday. If you're in a rush we can talk.

Pickup and Delivery: I have a couple of pickup spots in the Midtown and Montrose area. Mailorder is also available.

Contact me at my yahoo address which begins rosa.foto.

If you are looking for professional, museum quality processing for rare negatives, go to AZ Lab who are absolute pros. Rosewater Processing is your chance to experiment with the wonders of analog photography, at low cost, since I hand process in my kitchen sink. Erotic photography is welcome, if privacy is of tantamount concern.

To my knowledge there are only two (at most, not sure if the other is still open) black and white film labs in the city. I'm a film enthusiast and do this out of the love of the medium. In addition to darkroom instruction I received at Glassell School of Art, I'm mentored by some of this city's best. I'm proud to add to the revival of analog photography.

-Rosa Guerrero
June 20, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

B&W film photographer Lynn Johnson

I was sitting in the waiting room of Orion's tutor's office aimlessly flipping through a National Geographic, looking at all the National Geographickie photos they are renowned for, and honestly they start to get a little samey-same looking. Beautiful but single image driven. Listen, I appreciate nature photography almost as much I respect sports photography but when you lump all those images together it almost seems like one big show-off party. But that's when I saw a photo essay by Lynn Johnson about the the Zambian bush meat trade.

I'm not going to say much about that as I am under-educated in such complex histories but I'm a little richer having seen Johnson's work. Her color and black and white film photos were joltingly distinguishable from other photos in that particular National Geographic. All her photos were of people who's expressions she captured as well as her heroine Dorothea Lange (note: If you ever decide to dress up like Dorothea Lange for Halloween you're going to have to be doing alot of explaining. Just sayin'...). And I love her chaotic geometries, too - she probably uses a short lens like I do, or rather I should say I use a short lens like she does so you get lots of yummy foreground. Hey I just noticed she uses a Leica M6. Fantastic! If only I could get my hands on one...

And yes I did say "black" and "white" and "film" and "National Geographic" all in the same sentence: "...when people see black and white they understand...there are issues at hand." Aptly put.

Here's a slideshow thingy that she narrates. Check it out...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ditchwater Records Presents...Friday 05/29

Record Release show for:
$8 or free*

Ditchwater Records presents Dead Roses and The Wrong Ones at Rudyards this Friday, May 29th. Dead Roses will play a split set beginning at 10:30pm and again after The Wrong Ones finish their set. The cover will be $8 which will also get you both 7" singles. *If you'd like to attend the show but you're not interested in buying $8 shitty vinyl coasters, email me on our Myspace page, and we'll gladly put you on the guest list.

Also, Ditchwater Zine #3 will be for sale.

Eric Roy on the Dead Roses single: "Both sides are "A" sides..."
Eric Roy on The Wrong Ones: "Those songs aren't just weird, they're WEEEIIIRRD!"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mama's Day

I originally wrote this in August of 2006. Thought I would re-print it here, as a way of saying Happy Mothers Day. The photo-essay's original title was "Just Add Water":

Given my avoidance of all things "geared towards kids" it's no wonder that my idea of a fun day with my kid is one that involves long periods of time where we can laze around and shoot the breeze, undistracted by long lines, entrance fees, whirlwind itineraries, closing times, and just generally people telling us what to do and how to do it. yeah. That kinda shit cramps our style.

My kid is amazingly similar in temperament to me (and I'll describe myself by how my dad describes me): romantic and macho. now "romantic" in spanish (that would be - you got it - romantico) has another meaning other than the Hallmark Greeting Card meaning that we all know. 'Romantico' can also mean someone who is is very, very sensitive but also given to tempestuous behavior. My kid to a tee. I'm trying hard to not let him be macho but i got a little hint of it from him tonight. Again, my dad isn't referring to my machismo in the conventional chauvinist sense. Rather he calls me "macha" because when I'm in physical or emotional pain I have a tendency to grin and bear it. The mexican equivalent of stoicism, i guess.

In any case, last Saturday and Sunday and today Orion and I spent hours outside on the side driveway, under the pecan trees, barefoot and playing with the water hose. Well, playing with the hose was mostly Orion. I was mostly reading and snapping an occasional picture.

Orion was a trooper and "mowed the lawn" with his lawnmower. His lawn mower emits a little cloud of bubbles when he goes just the right speed. I devoured a Cometbus and when we were good and ready, we took off our shoes and turned on the hose.

Sounds ridiculous but it was so nice out. As long as we stayed in the shade and kept our feet wet, it was downright tolerable. Of course it helped that both days last weekend we were visited by our friend the raspa cart vendor.

Real conversation, in Spanish of course:
vendor: Does he speak Spanish?
me: A little. But he understands it very well.
vendor: Is he your grandchild?
me: no. He's my son.
vendor: Oh!
vendor, recovering: Do you have other children?
me, choosing the easy answer: No, just one.
vendor: Oh!

Ha! I could tell by his accent that my vendor is a relatively recent immigrant. His accent still had that pa-rum-pum-pum that native speakers lose after absorb the huge mixture of accents here in the states. Mexico's social norms specify that a woman of my stature (a homeowner) and social status (married) and of course age should have grandchildren (do the math. it is absolutely biologically possible.) It only follows that this traditional Mexican dude would think i would either be babysitting my grandson OR that Orion is the youngest of 10 children. He was just trying to let me save face with his follow up question. No dice, mano.

For three dollars and fifty cents we got a lime flavored raspa (for the life of me i can't remember the name of raspas in english), a quart size bag of chilled jicama, cantaloupe, and cucumber slices, and a big bag of wagon-wheel shaped potato flour fritters.

Man, there is just something about the smell of wet pavement. And saw dust. And corn masa dough that sends me hurling backwards in time to that bewildering/exhilarating place that is early childhood in Texas and Mexico.

Orion, I hope that the time we spend together going absolutely nowhere and doing absolutely nothing in particular, without any particular reason at all leaves its stamp in your memory.

I hope you meant it last Sunday when you said "Mama, this is the best day ever."

cameras used: b/w = film nikon fa silvertop, polaroid onestep, polaroid spectra, and a garage sale "panoramic" film camera that i ripped the film guard out of.

Saturday, May 2, 2009