In honor of
Louis Faurer & Eugene de Salignac
As I finish up my book project for The Americans…60 years after Frank, I am amazed how much things have changed in 60 years. I can’t help but wonder what America will look like…100 years after Frank.
Open Carry Las Vegas, NV
If you have not looked at Robert Frank’s The Americans for a while, crack it open and give it a look-see for yourself.
Here are a sampling of some of the photos I took for the project. (See footnote:a) While I didn’t try to anally follow in the footsteps of Frank, if I was already in the area, I hit a few of his old haunts. If you are interested in a more sentimental type of Frank jounery, check out this DVD:
I try to be a balanced social documentary photographer. I can’t afford to concentrate just on the pretty or just on the ugly aspects of society. I seldom censor, but I am discriminatory in what I do present. If it is legal to shoot and I like it…I shoot it.
Yes…Yes…Yes…photography is like that and there’s no maybes. All the maybes go to the trash. There is a tremendous enjoyment in saying yes, even if it is for something you hate. It is an affirmation…Yes!” ~ Cartier-Bresson
Campground outside of Columbus, OH
(Not staged – As I walked by there she was sitting on his lap with a hand on her breast. I asked for the photo and shot it.)
While street photography is an important part of the mix, it is not the only thing I do. My photography has to go beyond talking pictures of people walking in and out of shadows or finding funny signs and waiting 20 minutes for someone to walk by it. Still, if I can inject a little ‘art’ into my work I do while still being true to the subject matter. While I like to do straight photography, I also bend it a little if it works to the benefit of the image.
Multitasking Campground outside of Columbus, OH Infrared flash photograph (Candid)
A photo is not like a video or movie. The photo must catch our attention and tell the story in one image. There are many tools the photog can use for this job and I try to make use of them all. I hold no prejudices to any genre, whether it is B&W, contrast, HDR, color, lighting, sharpness, selective color, bokeh, grain, or motion blur. In a world of 2 billion cell phone cams at large, these are some of tools the photog can use to garner attention for their image
Lost Princess Wheeling, WV (Candid)
Agricultural Fair West Alexander, PA (Candid…ish)
In 2016 if your a male photog shooting stranger kids on the street…you’re labeled a sexual predator. And this is especially an issue for someone like me in their 60’s.
Barefoot man with soiled pants eating from the trash Los Angeles, CA (Candid)
I don’t make everything black and white nor do I make everything color. I let the image speak to me and go with the treatment I think is best. The ‘I only shoot BW’ photogs can lose important information if they stick to their dogmatic position 100%.
Faces of Gentrification Wheeling, WV
Now, I used to be one of those ‘all B&W’ types back in the 1970’s before branching out to color in the 1980’s. I would look down on the color photogs…I was a purest. It is all ego driven nonsense. Sometimes the image will work either way. If so, do what you like. Other times it needs to be in color or BW only. Do what is best for the image, let it decide and don’t let your ego get in the way.
Ernst Hass on the subject …
“There are black and white snobs, as well as colour snobs. Because of their inability to use both well, they act on the defensive and create camps. We should never judge a photographer by what film he uses- only by how he uses it.”
Campground outside of Columbus, OH Infrared flash photograph (Candid)
Pinky The Grove, Los Angeles, CA (Candid)
…a big challenge nowadays is to get a photo of someone without a cell phone in hand.
Bronze memorializing civil rights sit-in Wichita, KS
Gravestone Cincinnati, OH
Pucker Up! Hollywood, CA Infrared flash photograph (Candid)
To see a diversified mix of America I traveled through 24 states and D.C. for this project. While shooting I didn’t have the luxury of sticking around for hours until the sun or weather changed into something I may have liked better. That is the domain of the anal landscape photog with tripod in tow. My challenge was to get a great shot in 30 minutes and move on.
Of course, that is the hallmark of the expert documentary photog. They must go to strange lands they may know little or nothing about and out-shoot the local photogs to bring back iconic images usually under the demands of a short time schedule.
Sometimes I am successful, other times I fail…but I always try. As the old saying goes…if I knew how to take great photos…I do it every time! On the photo forums you always see photogs that don’t even try. They have convinced themselves they will fail before they even start. Don’t fall into that trap if you want to get ahead.
Being self-funded and not rich, the budget is always a concern. When shooting in Manhattan the only way I could swing it was to stay at a campsite in Jersey City and take the transport into NYC.
Campsite Jersey City, NJ
It cost $65 a day to sleep in your vehicle or $55 a day to sleep in a tent. (You supply the tent.) I asked if I could sleep in my vehicle at the Ferry parking lot in NJ, but they said no. If they would have allowed it, it would have cost about $19 a day.
I thought about taking a bus / hotel package to NYC, but the hotel killed the deal. The bus was only $28 for a one way Greyhound from Pittsburgh to NYC, but the hotel was $2750. Only bad thing about tent life is you have to carry all your gear on your back for fear of theft. I prefer staying in vehicles as I can hide some of my gear under the car seats and trunk.
I boondock all over to save $…Wal-Marts, casinos, motel parking lots, rest stops, truck stops…even a church parking lot. If your working with a limited budget that is how you do it. When I’m on the road I can wash up in any bathroom I find or hit the showers at the truck stops every few days for $10 to $13 a pop.
A good boondocking trick is to make a 25% dilute alcohol / water mix and use it to wash your body with a washcloth. Then wring out the cloth and use a water soaked cloth to go over your body. If you want privacy for a sponge bath, go into stall and stand or squat on top of the toilet.
Thornville, OH (Candid)
…but you can only be ‘so candid’ when your using white light flash.
Holy Water Bowl St. Patrick’s Cathedral NYC (Candid)
As I looked around at the churches it seems to be of interest to older people more so than the young. But this depends on what location of the USA we are talking about. From my limited view, religion seems more popular in the Southern Baptist region.
Los Angeles, CA (Candid)
The lady above died a short time after I shot her and the long bench was torn down. Her house was the concrete bench at L.A.’s MacArthur Park. I’m glad I was able to document her for my book. This is the gift photography provides to mankind – a way to go back…a time capsule of sorts.
Here is how Cartier-Bresson described it…
“I prowled the streets all day, feeling very sprung-up and ready to pounce, determined to ‘trap’ life – to preserve life in the act of living.”
The gift that photography provides me is a way to make sense of my world. I don’t do photography to make money or to try and ‘change the world’ for the better. I am not a god, I don’t claim to know what is better. But, I can freeze time to get a better look of it at home.
You see, if freezing time is in your blood, being a do-gooder or making $ does not matter. If your dedicated to your art, you must produce and keep producing, whether you have an outlet or not to make $…or even have any practical use for your output.
Art is the way many of us make sense of our world. A wordsmith sifts it all through their brain and writes a book or article, a musician composes a song, a poet pens a poem, an artist sketches a drawing or does a painting, a photog shoots a pix, a sculptor forms a statue, a choreographer creates a dance. We each express what is in us and make sense of our world through our art.
Georges Simenon summed up how it is for the writer and this can go for any of the arts as well.
“Writing is considered a profession, and I don’t think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.”
Irrespective of recognition, fame and riches, dedicated photogs all have one thing in common…we know photography is our life blood and as long as we can keep pressing the button and freeze time, we fell the better for it.
Weegee on the subject…
“Sure. I’d like to live regular. Go home to a good looking wife, a hot dinner, and a husky kid. But I guess I got film in my blood.”
NYC Subway (Candid)
My old home town L.A. has changed tremendously since Frank’s time. They have more people living in tents and under tarps than many American cities have population.
In the shadow of City Hall – Homeless tent encampment Los Angeles 2015
(In the shadow of City Hall was shot on the fly, through my car windshield while driving, unframed.)
Times Square Food Stand NYC Infrared flash photograph (Candid)
Alley Ohio Valley
In 2016 having roommates are very common if you don’t want to end up on the street. I asked a guy living in Santa Monica how much he is paying for rent in a apartment building at the beach. He said 3 guys live in a 1 bedroom and split $2600 a month rent. He told me they take weekly turns at sleeping in the bedroom. I read in NYC they can get 4 roommates into a 1 bedroom apt.
Privacy beds are a popular roommate option for packing people in. Although in NY they are experts at making illegal walled off little cubicles for privacy.
Life is very complex nowadays, it is nothing like the 1950’s when all we had was 3 on air TV stations…
With the high cost of living, people seem more frantic nowadays to make a buck…any way they can.
In the mid 1990’s they had a black homeless lady that hanged around the portajohns at Santa Monica beach. She would ask passerby’s, Give me a dollar and I’ll show you my clit.
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
I can see why it is easy to become homeless if you lose a foothold for a month or two and you are living paycheck to paycheck. Cold water flats are a thing of the past.
Cold water flat
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
One months rent of $1800 for an upscale apartment in Pittsburgh would have paid for six years rent on a cold water flat back in Frank’s day.
Busker Las Vegas, NV
Sad Buskers Times Square, NYC Infrared flash photograph (Candid)
One of the gals was crying because no one wanted to pay them to take a photo with their boobies out. (See footnote:b)
Gas Panhandler On the road from Vermont
He brings an empty can over and asks if you can spare a little gas while you are filling up. He waits at the station as long as it takes bumming gas until he fills up.
God, how things have changed in America. Who would have ever thought you would need a ‘poop map’ to navigate San Francisco?
Poop Map San Francisco
Image: Human Wasteland
The family has changed a lot…
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Stats tell us 50% of the marriages fail. Families are no longer close-knit, family affairs living on the farm, where multi-generations live and die under one roof. Nowadays families scatter to the four winds to fend for themselves.
Cotillion ~ Viennese Winter Ball Wheeling, WV (Candid)
Wedding Reception Ohio Valley (Candid)
Marriage is in decline with kids. They got their cell phones, hook-up apps and can get ‘fuck buddies’ on demand…so why get married?
I was at a concert in Ohio and saw these 2 standing beside each other. I asked him if she was his girlfriend. He said “No, she’s my buddy” and he gave her a little hug. At the time I did not know of the term ‘fuck buddies’ so I didn’t think to ask him, “Are you fuck buddies or just plain buddies?”
Well, young or old, humans thrive on affection…
Campground outside of Detroit, MI
The benefit of a committed relationship / marriage / family support is it gave people a back-up if there was a financial emergency. I was talking with an old gal in her 90’s. She said during the depression they had almost 10 people in their extended family living under one roof trying to get by. The few that worked helped to support the family members that were unemployed. Without family support 6 of the 10 would have been homeless.
Our food supply has changed a lot…
Left: Farmers market (Kennebec) ~ Middle: Dole (Red) ~ Right: Green Giant (Idaho)
Potatoes stored in a root cellar for 6 months.
When I was a kid, simple things like finding untreated potatoes that were not irradiated or chemically treated so they would not sprout was not a hard job. When I surveyed the supermarkets in my local all the commercial potatoes, even organic potatoes were treated one way or another so they would not sprout. It was not a novelty to see peaches with fuzz on them that actually tasted good and had a wonderful fragrance when ripening.
Many of our products have changed since Frank’s time. A lot of those products are extinct, those that survived have evolved. Look at how Ivory soap shrunk just over the last 2 years. You now pay more for 8 smaller bars of ‘original’ Ivory soap than you would have paid for 10 larger original bars…that is 1.58 pounds of soap now versus 2.40 pounds of soap then.
Lets go back in time to David R. Shackelford’s retirement party in the 1960’s, courtesy of The Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection…
Back then workers stayed with the same company for 25 or 30 years then retired with a pension. Once flipping companies became the rage on Wall Street, the pensions had to be spun off as companies were being dismantled left and right during the ‘takeover craze’ years. This coupled with people changing jobs like people change their socks also contributed to the pension’s demise.
David’s’ party sported real china, real metal cutlery, a linen tablecloth and fancy folded napkins…and a bunch of white guys.
Greenwich Village, NYC
Nowadays…white people are worried they may be extinct one day. Scientists do support this theory, with an eventual muddling of many of the races.
Politics and politicians…
The Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Magazine rack at supermarket – border of Kentucky and Ohio
The Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
In the early 70’s, before the oil crunch, gasoline was .23 cents a gallon. A one bedroom apartment in L.A. was $150 a month. Studios were $75 to $95. Tuition at L.A.C.C. cost $6.50 a semester and Cal State L.A. was $63 a trimester. For one tuition fee a student could take as many classes as they liked.
If you attended a junior college for the first 2 years, a bachelor’s degree could be had for $450 to $500 in tuition costs. Houses in L.A.’s Miracle Mile district, that sell for 2 to 3 million dollars now, only cost $25,000 back then.
Huffin Thornville, OH (Candid)
In the news this year they claimed in the distant future robots will be taking 75% of the jobs. Who knows the real number of jobs to be lost, but it is the American way. We are a capitalist country and money is god.
I select Kimberly Taskrabitt’er
Gigs, freelancing and ‘winging it’ by a growing army of freelancers, temps, contractors, part-timers, day laborers, micro-entrepreneurs, gig-preneurs, solo-preneurs, contingent labor, perma-lancers and perma-temps seems to be the new normal.
‘Lette Thornville, OH
If we were bees or ants then humans could be successful communists. Can you imagine bees and ants working as greedy, self-centered capitalists? They would be extinct…wouldn’t they? But we can see when greedy and ego based human nature is mixed with communism it becomes worse than the capitalism.
In a world that requires continuous consumption to work, something will eventually have to give, unless the resources are infinite. I don’t pretend to have the answers…all I can do is document my world.
Free Poetry Busker NYC Subway (Candid)
As I am writing this post they are now talking about a Universal Income for each citizen as a tool to combat the invasion of the robots. Someone threw out a figure of $13,000 a year as an allowance. The gov would abolish Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps and the rest. OK, fine, a person could survive on it if they had a couple of roommates, shopped at thrift stores for clothes and rode a bike or took the bus. But what happens when they raise the price of bread to $500 a loaf? Will the allowance keep pace?
Staten Island Ferry NYC (Candid)
Beside Trump, Islam is in the news a lot nowadays. A 2015 Pew Study predicts Islam to be the worlds most dominant religion. Will Sharia Law be what controls the world 100 years after Frank? Are you worried? If so, in 2016 that makes you Islamaphobic!
I had read that Tinder, Facebook and some others have expanded their gender identity list to include some of these options. Wow, things are very complex now. I need a guide book for figuring it out. I looked some of them up then forgot what they mean. Looks like they left off Lesbian Separatist.
Female to Male
Male to Female
Melissa Los Angeles, CA
Over the years the ability to transition from male to female has improved greatly for all those unhappy with their birth gender.
Jennifur Los Angeles, CA 1974
Bathroom 2016 Ohio Valley
A lady complained to me that she didn’t feel comfortable having a guy with a penis use the same bathroom as her just because he thought he was a woman. I told her I’ve known a lot of trans people over the years and most of them have no interest in women, they like men.
Joe at doorway Hollywood, CA 1974
I told her just in case you run across a trans poser that is after women, get some pepper spray. Are you worried about this topic? If so, in 2016 that makes you a homophobic!
Infrared flash photograph Near Columbus, OH (Candid..ish)
The Kiss Thornville, OH (Candid)
Art Installation LACMA Los Angeles, CA
Reinbeau…her toenails matched her fingernails Las Vegas, NV
Little Dicky The Lucky Chops from NYC (Candid)
Sunday on the Ohio River Wheeling, WV (Candid)
Thornville, OH (Candid)
Water is in the news a lot nowadays. I wish I had a sample of 1950’s tap water to test to see how it would compare to the dirty water we drink in 2016….was it worse or was it better? A lot of America’s water comes from polluted rivers. The rivers not only get the factory chemicals dumped in them the rivers are where many cities dump their human waste.
If your city gets its water from a river, you may be drinking recycled human waste.
Distillation residue from 1 gallon of tap water from Wheeling, WV.
Water source: Ohio River
Even if you have a clean source for your drinking water, some locals seem to be having a hard time keeping pace with our ever growing population.
Drought marker Hoover Dam Arizona / Nevada
A ranger told me it has been decades since the high water mark was last reached.
The missing beat girl…our girls used to be natural…no tattoos or pierced clit hoods!
While working with the Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection, an area that stood out like a sore thumb was the lack of tattoos that the gals had back in Frank’s time compared to the girls of today.
Freemont St. Las Vegas, NV Infrared flash photo (Candid)
And believe me, I’ve seen every type of gone gal under the sun from the beat era! Over the last couple years I have looked through about 125,000 photos of naked beat girls from the 1940’s to 1960’s and many more tens of thousand beat girls with their clothes on. Out of all those photos I only found one gal with a tat. She had a small one about as big as a half-dollar on her hip.
Well, when I find the beat girl with the tat I will have to post her here. It is a real rarity, but she is lost in the archives as of now…
Selections from Girls of the Beat Generation 6 volume artist’s book series
by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
…OK, they did have the tattooed lady at the freak show.
The Americans…60 years after Frank is scheduled for printing in 2018.
(a) Photos used in this post are for illustration only. Not all photos shown are from The Americans…60 years after Frank
(b) I generally don’t interview my subjects or seldom talk to them. Any description I use is just my best guess of the situation at hand. Surface appearance is not always reliable and I may be wrong.
(c) If any image is fuzzy, click on it for hi-res version.
A complete list of artist’s books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.