in honor of
Walter Theodore ‘Sonny’ Rollins & Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker
Here is an interesting article called ‘Doing a double take on image appropriation’ that discusses artists using found images to make art from.
Back up link:
With my own work I seldom use other photogs photos to make my photos with. Being highly skilled at candid street and doc photography, I got tons of museum quality photos I have taken.
Selection from De Wallen: Amsterdam’s Red Light District artist’s book (Candid)
Generally I do straight photography, I am not into ‘mental masturbation’ photography, so I generally don’t need to look outside my body of work unless it is for generic photos to illustrate a blog post or for historical purposes. (a)
Although in the rare case I do I use other photogs photos, it comes under the auspices of ‘fair use’ and I don’t make any $ from their use.
Here is a recent example…
The The Birth of Nobuyoshi Araki
Concept and post processing of found photographs by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
I had written to Araki to make me a low res version of a concept I had of Araki popping out of a vagina, but I got no reply. (Maybe Araki is a part time museum curator?) So in 2016 I made The Birth of Nobuyoshi Araki from found photos.
I had tried to pay a professional Photoshopper to make The Birth of Nobuyoshi Araki for me. (I am an old film photog and have limited computer skills. I don’t know how to use Photoshop, I just use Lightroom.) The Photoshopper never came through, so I was inspired by the photo below, with the use of cutouts, to make The Birth of Nobuyoshi Araki.
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Here is an example of ‘mixed media’ so to speak. I shot the guy in Vegas handing out escort girl cards and made a border with the cards around the main photo.
Order Women Like Pizza is the world record for how close you can get and shoot a candid circular fisheye photograph. (I have them going down to a few inches from the subject…all candid.)
There is an area of other people’s photos or image appropriation that I do work in a lot and that is as Curator for the Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection.
The copyright law makes certain allowances for use of other’s photos for editorial and educational use. To me, when you start selling other’s art as your own, that goes beyond fair use. But that seems to be how it is done nowadays.
In the cases of vintage found photography, the photographer is most likely dead, the photos are generally not copyrighted. And in any case I have the proprietary right to take photos of my property…to wit, a photo of the actual photo I have bought or acquired.
Another area of image appropriation is when the photog includes preexisting art or photos into their photo and it makes up the bulk of their photo. For example here are a few photos from De Wallen and The Americans…60 years after Frank artist’s book projects…
Now, getting on to the driving force behind the bohemian artist….
In a 1979 interview entitled Inside New York’s Art World, artist Louise Nevelson said: “I think that when someone is willing to live and die for something…that means it is in the genes.” That pretty much sums it up…many an artist is willing to live and die for their art.
Being a born bohemian, I have always concentrated on doing my art rather than trying to make a living. Consequently I’ve never earned / had much $ to blow on projects.
If I can get by with some food, a roof, some SD cards and batteries I’m good. But that is how it usually is with most artists. Money is one of those irritating needs that can sidetrack an artist from concentrating on doing their art.
noun: Bohemian; plural noun: Bohemians; noun: bohemian; plural noun: bohemians
1. a native or inhabitant of Bohemia.
2.a person who has informal and unconventional social habits, especially an artist or writer.
“the young bohemians with their art galleries and sushi bars” (Well, you probably wont be eating at sushi bars if your a broke bohemian.)
Throughout history artists’ have always been on a different wavelength than the rest.
In the opening article on image appropriation, Prince was right when he talked about being freer with your art when you have no $ and assets to go after. I was talking with a young gal in her mid 20’s. She was a physicians assistant and making over $100K a year. She also liked modeling and showing off her beauty. I suggested some photo ideas to her and she said “I can’t do that, I’m a professional.” So, there you have it. Being proper and being bohemian don’t mix well.
I’ve always dedicated myself to photography irrespective of if the project was going to be profitable or even saleable at all. That type of thinking never enters the picture. If a project interests me in exploring with my camera, that is all the motivation I need. If an artist has their basic living expenses more or less met, they don’t give money much thought. Their mind is concentrated on their art.
“Poverty denotes the lack of necessities, whereas simplicity denotes the lack of needs.’ ~ Dervla Murphy
Most artists don’t do art to make lots of money, they just care about producing their art. Consequently, I’ve never had or owned much. I own no real estate, drive old cars or lease the cheapest car I can find. I use old cameras, computers and printers. I have no big job, social security can’t be attached, so not much to go after. So $ and lawsuit threats have nothing to do with producing our art. Actually, risk of going to jail or even death threats don’t stop the bohemian artist.
“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.” ~ Weegee
Now, no one is saying it would not be nice to make some money from art. But for me it would have to come as a ‘no effort’ offshoot from my own work and not as the prime goal. The only time money comes into the discussion with me is when I ask the question…do I have enough money to do a project?
W. Eugene Smith is a textbook example of the dedicated bohemian sacrificing life and family in order to do their art…
This was Smith’s famed ‘jazz loft.’ I think the rent was $40 a month.
When Smith needed some cash he would pawn cameras and lenses. I had read when Smith died he had $18 in the bank.
Smith made use of a broken window as matte box.
W. Eugene Smith’s photo through the broken window pane.
When I first started in the late 60’s I got by on very little. I just needed a 100 feet of expired film from Freestyle, a few 10 cent film cassettes and a gallon of D-76, Dektol and fixer.
A roll of 100 feet in-date Tri-X from Pan Pacific Camera on La Brea was about $7. If you were broke, Freestyle used to sell repackaged movie film for about $2.75 to $3.50 per 100 foot roll. For the real cheapskate, Freestyle had 100 foot rolls of oddball film for about $1.50. Your BW chemicals were about a buck a gallon for Microdol-X, D-76 and fixer.
Popular photography July 1962 Freestyle Sales Co. advertisement
Those were the days…everything was a lot cheaper back then, so panhandling a quarter or a buck went along way. You could even get a meal for a buck or under in the 1970’s. Nowadays photography is a real money sucking activity.
Los Angeles Diner 1971
In an intro to his review on Amazon of Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 by Virginia Nicholson, Lleu Christopher distills what fuels the bohemian life.
“Nicholson has a genuine appreciation for the bohemian spirit, and acknowledges the sacrifices made by many obscure artists, poets and others existing (often marginally) at society’s fringes. For some, the idealistic decision to forsake conventional society for a life dedicated to art, romance, poetry or perhaps a vaguer idea such as beauty or authenticity was never rewarded with any kind of material success. Was there any compensation for those living such marginal lives? Nicholson makes the case that for many, a life dedicated to art, romance and freedom is its own reward. For those who embody the bohemian spirit, material comforts and security are not worth the price of suppressing one’s creativity and individuality.”
Free Poetry Busker Subway NYC (Candid)
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.
(a) OK, every once in a while I will do a little mental masturbation…
Selection from The Broken Leg Variations artist’s book by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
A complete list of artist’s books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.