Part 4 in my series Photography Over Time.
White Pelicans – “Ding’ Darling Wildlfe Refuge
Lovers – “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge
Sunrise – Bombay Hook NWR
Part 4 in my series Photography Over Time.
White Pelicans – “Ding’ Darling Wildlfe Refuge
Lovers – “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge
Sunrise – Bombay Hook NWR
Part two in my series of photographs taken over time.
Rivergate Tower aka the Beer Can Building in downtown Tampa (2015)
Yellowstone Park (2014)
Jenn’s Farm -Vermont (2015)
Washington State (2018)
Vermont Woods – (2018)
Elise Hooper’s Learning to See, a biographical novel about the life of photographer Dorothea Lange is a timely, fascinating read about a time in America’s history when bad times struck millions.
After moving from the east coast to San Francisco, Dorothea Lange opened a photography studio where she photographs the city’s elite. She met the West Coast top art photographers of the day including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham, the last became a close friend. Though Lange knew these titans of photography she was not one of them. They were artists, Lange was a commercial photographer catering to San Francisco’s upper class. During this period, Lange met Maynard Dixon, a well-known artist of western art. They married and had two kids. Lange continued to be successful with her portrait studio work photographing the city’s most successful in society. Her income was steady and there were many times she was the one supporting the family.
Then came the Great Depression.
Lange’s studio work started to dry up. She took her camera outside the studio and found herself emotionally moved by the poverty and homelessness that was more prevalent with each passing day. She met Paul Taylor, an agricultural economist. Taylor was working on a Gov’t project studying Mexican employment patterns in the U.S. He published thirteen monographs on Mexicans immigrants and Mexican-Americans. Taylor was impressed with Lange’s street photography. He felt it expressed what he wrote. They began working together documenting the rural poverty and exploitation of migrants and sharecroppers.
As Lange began the most important part of her career working for the Federal Farm Security Administration photographing the effects of the Dust Bowl: the poverty, the exploitation of migrant workers and sharecroppers, her marriage to Dixon collapsed.
Lange marries Paul Taylor, and while her work reached its most important period documenting social injustices, her private life became more difficult particularly with her son Dan Dixon.
This is a good book, though too much time is spent on Lange’s early years and development before reaching the most important period in her artistic growth. The book ends as Dorothea with her now-adult son Dan prepares for an exhibit of her work at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
As the author states in the Afterward, the book is a fictional version of Lange’s life based on the author’s research and the need to make artistic decisions combing and or altering some events but keeping the spirit and soul of her subject intact. She does it well.
It’s mating season or soon will be and these two Great Blue Herons’ are getting their nest ready. Photographed along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in Lake Apopka, Florida.
One of my favorite subjects to photograph are reflections. Reflections are all abstract versions of life. Using water, mirrors, windows or any reflective surface can transform an image into something richer, unique, and even artistic.
Tennessee Near Smoky Mountains
Macy’s NYC Easter Window – 2008
Sandhill Cranes Sunset
Ghost Ranch – New Mexico
Water Reflection #1
Water Reflection #2
This is the 5th installment in this series.
Klaus Voormann and Astrid Kirchherr knew each other since their days at art school in Hamburg. It was there they met Jürgen Vollmer, a photographer. Voormann and Kirchherr were lovers, though their relationship was heading toward an end. After an argument one evening, Klaus wandered into the Kaiserkeller a club in a nasty section of Hamburg called the Reeperbahn filled with drunken sailors, prostitutes, gangsters and other sorts. The artsy/beatnik crowd that Voormann, Kirchherr, and Vollmer were part of were more into jazz and coffeehouses that the raucous rock and roll or the Reeperbahn. They wore their hair long, for the times, and leaned toward wearing black clothes. Voormann’s crowd were part of a group known as exis, short for existentialists who read Camus and Sartre.
Klaus Voormann – Photo by Astrid Kirchherr
Depending on what biography you read, on stage at the time were Rory Storm and the Hurricanes whose drummer was Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, or a leather-clad group called the Beatles (the two groups’ alternated sets). Most bios lean toward the Beatles. Either way, the music was loud and raw.
Klaus found the music exciting and the band wild. He could not wait to go and tell Astrid and Vollmer what he experienced. Astrid Kirchherr was already working as an assistant to photographer Reinhard Wolf and was on the cusp of having a great career of her own. Born in 1938 in Hamburg, Germany to a middle-class family. Astrid’s father was an executive officer in the German branch of the Ford Motor Company. When World War II broke, Astrid and her family evacuated to the Baltic Sea. After the war, they returned to a bombed out Hamburg, but still managed to live comfortably.  She attended Meisterschule für Mode, Textil, Graphik und Werbung in Hamburg to study fashion design. During this period, she also displayed a talent for photography and was convinced by the school’s top photographic instructor Reinhard Wolf to switch courses. After graduating, Wolf hired Kirchherr as an assistant where she still worked when Klaus brought her to the club where she would meet the Beatles.
At first, Astrid did not want to go to the seedy red-light district. Sometime between Klaus’ first visit and the time he got Astrid to join him (timing again differs depending on the biographer), Klaus, who spoke decent English, and was a wannabe guitarist and a graphic designer, just completed a commission to do the cover of the Ventures’ Walk Don’t Run album.  He approached John one night showing him the album. John brushed him off, telling him he should talk to Stu, he was the arty one.
Stu Sutcliffe – Photo by Astrid Kirchherr
Eventually, after tireless insistence on Klaus’ part, Astrid, along Vollmer, went to the club. The three were blown away by the wild, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Little Richard songs played by the group. Astrid was as captivated as Klaus by the group, and by John in particular, but it was the sunglass-wearing diminutive Stu, the bass player who stood quietly near Lennon on stage that really attracted the young woman and the others in the arty group. Astrid, Klaus, and Vollmer kept coming back to the club, enthralled by the music. At first, Astrid hid her attraction to Stu by using her professional photographer status as a front. She asked to photograph them. The Beatles were flattered, to say the least, that a professional photographer, a beautiful professional photographer, wanted to take their pictures.
Astrid Kirchherr and Stu Sutcliffe – Photograph by Astrid Kirchherr
Using a Rolleicord medium format camera and black and white film, Astrid brought the boys to a local amusement park called the Dom. The park had only a few people roaming around that day due to inclement weather. Astrid did not speak much English at the time, so she and the group communicated mostly through various gestures and her positioning the boys the way she wanted them to pose. In those first photos, the Beatles still had their hair combed back in the standard 1950’s-60’s Teddy Boy style of the day. Stu would be the first to change his hair with the help of Astrid. She did not invent the Beatles hairstyle as so often is incorrectly reported. At the time it was a familiar style among their arty/exis crowd including Klaus. The others, except for Pete Best, eventually would follow.
The Beatles in Hamburg – Photo by Astrid Kirchherr
Astrid’s photos captured the rawness, the innocence, the attitude, the tough guy exterior, behind their insecurities, as well as the beauty of the group. For these boys, rock and roll was all there was in life. The boys loved the photographs and posed for Astrid on various occasions. The images from this period, along with photos taken by Jürgen Vollmer have become part of the Beatles legend, in their own way historical documents capturing a moment in time.
Lennon and Sutcliffe (left) George Harrison (right)- photos by Astrid Kirchherr
In 1964, while on assignment with photojournalist Max Scheler, for Stern magazine and using a 35mm film, Astrid photographed the Beatles once again during the filming of A Hard Day’s Night. She would also do the album cover for George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music. A couple of years later Astrid gave up her photographic career. She did stay friends with all the Beatles over the years though she lost touch with John Lennon after he moved to the United States. For many years, Astrid sadly saw no income from her Beatles photos though they were used over and over in many publications and bootleg albums. It was in the 1980’s when she managed to get her original negatives back and her copyright.
Astrid Kirchherr on Film
Astrid Kirchherr made it to the movie screen in the 1994 film Backbeat which as you would expect is the story of the Beatles during their early days, before fame, playing in the sleazy sections of Hamburg. Kirchherr is played nicely by Sheryl Lee who bears an uncanny resemblance to the photographer. Astrid was a consultant on the film and was interviewed by screenwriter/director Iain Softley as part of his research.
I wrote an article about Backbeat on my film blog, Twenty Four Frames. Instead of repeating much of the information, please jump over to read by clicking right here.
 An Interview with Astrid Kirchherr
 Klaus Voormann would later design the covers for both Revolver and The White Album. He also would play on many of the Beatles solo album including John Lennon’s Imagine, Plastic Ono Band, Sometime in New York City, Walls, and Bridges, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Living in the Material World, Extra Texture and Ringo Starr’s Ringo, Sentimental Journey and Goodnight Vienna. He also was in Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band for the Toronto concert and played at the Concert for Bangladesh.
 The cover of John Lennon’s 1975 Rock and Roll album features a photograph by Jürgen Vollmer taken during one of the Beatles later trips to Germany. Vollmer nicely captures Lennon’s early rebel image. Wearing a leather jacket, hands in pocket and one foot casually over the other; a combination of early Brando and a young Dylan, framed in an entrance way of an old brick building somewhere in Hamburg. The three blurred figures passing by are Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Stu Sutcliffe.
This is my fourth in a series on real life photographers as portrayed in the movies. Here we take a look at Alfred Stieglitz.
Today, photography is recognized as an art form. Photographs hang in museums and galleries right next to paintings, sculptures and other works of art. It wasn’t always like that. The change in perception was primarily due to one man: Alfred Stieglitz. As a photographer, as a cultivator of taste, an entrepreneur and as a publisher of a magazine (Camera Work) dedicated to photographic art, Alfred Stieglitz changed photography taking it away from the pictorialism style that mimicked painting and dominated photography in the early 20th century. It was a break from the past of photographers like David Octavius Hill and Julia Margaret Cameron. Stieglitz was inspired by them but did not want to emulate them.
Alfred Stieglitz was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1864 to a monetarily well off family. His father, Edward, was in the clothing business and made a financial fortune, enough so that in 1871 he moved his family to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Edward would soon retire and devote himself to overseas travel and the arts. The Stieglitz family was living in Europe with young Alfred studying engineering at Berlin’s Technische Hochschule first became interested in photography. He spent his out of class time at the racetrack, local cafes and the opera. Most of the time there was a woman by his side. Stieglitz soon dropped the engineering education as his interest turned toward photography. In 1884, with his family now back in the States, Alfred remained in Europe to further his much self-taught education in photography. By 1887, Stieglitz was an expert enough photographer to win both first and second prizes in the English journal Amateur Photographer.
In 1890, Alfred returned to America. He discovered that Kodak with the release of their first point and shoot camera along with the slogan “you press the button and let us do the rest” amateur photographers were flooding the market. Stieglitz’s goal was to prove photography, like painting, was a form of artistic expression. As a member of the Camera Club of New York, he became editor of the journal, Camera Notes. As the editor, he promoted his personal beliefs on what were the artistic qualities of photography, publishing photos of other photographers who held similar creative points of view.
As time went by Stieglitz began to come into editorial conflict with the majority of the membership. He and other like-minded photographers eventually decided to break away from the staid Club members and form their own group known as the Photo-Secessionist. They believed photography was not just a mechanical thing but like painting and sculpture involved craftsmanship. In 1905, with the financial help of Edward Steichen, Stieglitz opened the Little Galleries, commonly known and called 291 (the 5th Avenue street address). It was at the Little Galleries where Stieglitz exhibited works by photographers and artists, both American and European.
The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz
In 1907, Stieglitz made what remains today his most famous work. The Steerage was shot during a family trip to Europe. His wife, Emmy, insisted on first-class accommodations. Their passage was on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II, then considered one of the largest passenger ships. Strolling on the deck one day his eye caught the view dividing the upper first class passengers from the lower class, aka steerage. The photographer raced back to his cabin and grabbed his camera, a 4×5 Auto-Graflex. The camera used glass plate negatives. He only had one plate prepared. With that one plate, he made the photograph.
It was another week until the ship landed in Paris that Stieglitz would be able to use an Eastman Kodak darkroom and print the picture. The photographer claimed he knew he had a masterpiece right away, yet he did not publish the photo until four years later in the October 1911 issue of Camera Work.
Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz
“Finally, a woman on paper!”
Those were the words Alfred Stieglitz uttered after seeing the charcoal drawings twenty-two year Anita Pollitzer, Georgia O’Keeffe’s closest friend, and six years her junior, presented to the photographer at his 291 Gallery late New Year’s Day, January 1916. Later that year in May, Stieglitz included O’Keeffe’s drawings in a group exhibition. O’Keeffe was unaware of the exhibit and only found out through a fellow student about the work of a “Virginia” O’Keeffe on display at 291. Georgia made her way to the gallery and quickly rebuked Stieglitz for exhibiting her work without permission. Alfred was unapologetic; he was too enthused. He went on to rave about her work; how it moved his soul.
From this point on, their personal and artistic lives were entwined. Georgia took a teaching job in Texas, but they corresponded regularly. In 1918, he convinced her to move to New York, promising her a place to live and studio space where she could work. Soon after, Stieglitz began taking a series of nude photographs. When his wife Emmy found out, she gave him an ultimatum, stop seeing O’Keeffe or get out. The photographer quickly moved out and into the same apartment as O’Keeffe. At this point, they still had not been sexually intimate, but that would soon change.
Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz
Stieglitz was obsessed with O’Keeffe. Over the next five years, he photographed her more than 300 times creating in the process a brilliant catalog of work and portraits of an emerging artist. He was the teacher; she was his muse. Though over the years that would change.
He was a quarter of a century older than her and married to a staid, dull woman. Alfred and Georgia came from different backgrounds. Stieglitz, an old-fashioned, European, steadfast traditionalist while O’Keeffe was a poster child for the modern liberated woman. Naturally, their relationship was both passionate and unorthodox.
The Terminal and the Flatiron Building by Alfred Stieglitz
They married in 1924. Stieglitz continued to exhibit O’Keeffe and other artists including Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Paul Strand. As O’Keeffe became more confident and independent, they would disagree on many fronts. One major impediment was Dorothy Norman. Stieglitz met Dorothy Norman in 1927. Like him, she was married. Beautiful, financially well off and a patron of the arts, she began spending a lot of time at Stieglitz’s gallery. The photographer, always a man with a roving eye started an affair with Dorothy Norman which lasted until his death.
In 1929, O’Keeffe, with Rebecca Strand (Paul Strand’s wife), went to Taos, New Mexico and the art colony of heiress Mabel Dodge Luhan. It was the beginning of a love affair with the New Mexico landscape that would influence her life and art for the remainder of her life. To the dislike of Stieglitz, O’Keeffe began spending a portion of her time every year in Southwest. Part of her reason for getting away from New York was Alfred’s continuing affair with Dorothy Norman.
Dorothy Norman by Alfred Stieglitz
During the final years of his life, Stieglitz had a series of heart attacks. With O’Keeffe spending her time in New Mexico, Dorothy Norman managed the gallery during these times. In 1946, Stieglitz suffered a stroke. O’Keeffe came back to New York. She found Norman in his hospital room. Norman left, and O’Keeffe was at his bedside when he died.
O’Keeffe remained in New York for an extended period arranging Stieglitz affairs. In 1949 she donated over 1,300 of Stieglitz’s prints to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Later, in 1980 she would give another 325 photographs including many nudes. The total collection, aka The Key Set, is the largest collection of Stieglitz work in the world. (1)
Alfred Stieglitz on Screen
Alfred Stieglitz has yet to make it to the big screen, but made for television productions have been a bit kinder. In 1991, American Playhouse, a PBS produced series presented A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. The production starred Jane Alexander as O’Keeffe and Christopher Plummer as Stieglitz. It was written by Julian Barry (Lenny) and directed by Ed Sherin. There are few, if any, artistic couples who loom as significant in the history of culture and art as Stieglitz and O’Keeffe. Alfred Stieglitz did not consider himself a photographer, but an artist and through his galleries and his highbrow magazine, Camera Work he almost single-handedly made photography a recognized art form. Additionally, he was a pioneer in introducing the Modern Art movement to America.
To date, two films have featured Alfred Stieglitz, and as one would expect, Georgia O’Keeffe. In July 1991 PBS’ American Playhouse premiered a 90-minute film called A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stiglitz with Christopher Plummer as Stiglitz and Jane Alexander as O’Keeffe. The film was the brainchild of Alexander, a passionate admirer of O’Keeffe. She wanted to do a feature film but was unable to raise the financial backing needed. According to a New York Times article Alexander’s husband, Ed Sherin whose credits include Valdez is Coming and TV shows Homicide in the Streets and Law & Order, suggested she try the PBS route. It would be a lower cost production but doable.
Plummer was not the first choice to play the photographer. Initially, the excellent Scandinavian actor Max Von Sydow was set to play Stieglitz, but he dropped out before production began because of a conflict in schedules. Martin Landau was next, but he too dropped out. Finally, Christopher Plummer came on board. He loved the script and quickly agreed. He became Alfred Stieglitz and is as sublime in the role as Jane Alexander is as Georgia O’Keeffe. Written by Julian Barry, the film illuminates the financially strapped art world of that period as well as two of its most gifted artists. It reflects how Stieglitz was not just a superb photographer but a wheeler and dealer in the art world of their time.
Stieglitz was a bigger than life character: mischievous, loyal, and generous, yet he could be domineering, sexist, brooding and demanding. He was a father figure to many upcoming artists of his time. Plummer captures all of this in his portrayal. Jane Alexander’s take on O’Keeffe is as compelling as Plummer’s. Stieglitz was already married when he left his wife for O’Keeffe, twenty-four years younger. The two were opposites in just about every way except for artistic talent. Their life together was a constant battle of tug and pull. However, this film does not only focus on their personal relationship. Unlike most biopics, much of the time is spent on their respective arts. We see the Stieglitz photographing O’Keeffe, and how the photographer fought for and supported her work.
Creative partnerships are a rocky road; Stieglitz and O’Keeffe were no different. Her allegiance to Stieglitz forced her at times to submit to his demanding nature, including when he demanded she abort his baby she was carrying and wanted to keep. He also was a philanderer, cheating on his first wife with O’Keeffe and then later cheating on O’Keeffe after they married. Eventually, she would make her way out to Santa Fe, coming back to New York and Stieglitz on occasion. She was always uncomfortable living in New York, and even more so during their summers spent at the Stieglitz compound in Lake George, upstate New York. Alfred Stieglitz died in 1946. O’Keeffe would spend the rest of her life at her Ghost Ranch just outside of Santa Fe.
In 2009, Georgia O’Keeffe, another made of TV film arrived on Lifetime. Directed by Bob Balaban, the film stars Jeremy Irons as Stieglitz and Joan Allen as O’Keeffe. Like the earlier film, Georgia O’Keeffe had an extended gestation period. It was in development at HBO for four years before they decided to pass on it. Lifetime decided to pick it up. Unlike the stage-bound A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz it was shot on location in New Mexico including O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch just outside of Abiquiú, New Mexico. It was the first time filmmakers were allowed to film there.
Unlike the 1991 film, Georgia O’Keeffe focuses more on the complicated relationship, between O’Keeffe and Stieglitz and not as much on her art and what made her so unique. People who know little about O’Keeffe’s art will not learn much about what made her so extraordinary. The same can be said about Stieglitz, if you do not know who Stieglitz is and his importance, not just to Georgia, but to the evolution of photography as an art form, well the viewer will still be clueless after watching this film. For me, that the film’s central weakness. That said, it’s entertaining, a primer into the world of these two artists. Hopefully, making you thirst for more. Visually, it is beautiful to look at; the New Mexico locations as photographed by cinematographer Paul Elliot make you want to go there.
 New York Times, Drawn From Life, July 23, 1991, Michael Kilian
 Reuters, Kimberly Nordyke, Lifetime Paints O’Keeffe Portrait, Nov. 5, 2008
I love New England! One of the many regional attractions are its covered bridges. They scream out NEW ENGLAND! Every New England state has them. Most go back to the 1900’s and were used daily by the local population. Today, they are still used, and are major attractions to both photographers and artists looking to capture a true piece of New England architecture and landscape.
Tannery Hill Bridge – New Hampshire
White Mountain Nat’l Forest Covered Bridge – New Hampshire
Pemigewasset River Bridge (1886) – New Hampshire
Blair Covered Bridge (White Mountains) – New Hampshire
Middle Bridge – Woodstock Vt.
Martin Bridge – Vermont
Jeffersonville Covered Bridge – Vermont
Gorham Bridge – Vermont
Cooley Bridge – Vermont
Bridgewater Covered Bridge – Vermont
Quechee Covered Bridge – Vermont
Taftsville Covered Bridge – Vermont
Lincoln Gap aka Warren Bridge – Vermont
Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge, Lyndon, Vermont
Here are a few more photographs I took during our recent trip to the Palouse. Getting up extremely early (3AM) to catch the right light was worth it. All photos and more are available for purchase by clicking on my website right here.
FYI – Photographs are available in many formats: T-shirts, greeting cards, coffee mugs, cellphone cases, Tote bags, towels, and more. Check it out.
Windows let us see. They let light, air and the sun come into our lives. In art, windows have been used by many artists as a framing device, as a means of a way to make us look. Over the years, I have used windows as my own tool of expression. Below are a few example…
New York City
Church Window in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee
Smoky Mountain of Tennessee
Yellowstone National Park
Ghost Ranch , New Mexico
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