Her, with the camera


~ vintage photo, early version of stereo camera designed to take stereoscopic images ~

Do you remember your first?
I do.  It was a box Brownie, bright pink plastic and I thought it was the cat's meow.
That probably was the start of everything.

Later, during college years, I collected a hoard of old relics, stacked them
on a bookcase in my tiny studio and if they were lucky
I even dusted now and then ... similar to this collection below
although not near as tidy.

~ photo collection courtesy of Flickr ~

I've simplified since then and only "collect" online images of these antiquities
 - far less space involved & no cleaning required -
and the subject matter is mostly women  using  cameras.
Don't ask why that started cuz I just don't know.

But here's some favorites ... all females, using the *tool* of the day.
Where am I going with this?  I hope it will become clear in the end.
I'm thinking these pictures may be good food for thought because
these glimpses back in time could spark a few potent thoughts about  now.

In no particular order than just because I like them ...

~ Kodak girl, 1909 ~

~ Photojournalist, Margaret Bourke-White with her camera during WWII assignment,
Time Magazine. Favorite quote: "Work is something you can count on, a trusted,
lifelong friend who never deserts you." ~

~ Myrtle Lind, posed with Graflex camera, 1919, Library of Congress ~

~ American, Berenice Abbot, portrait behind a view-camera, early  1900s.
Specialized in architecture & urban street photography ~

~ Georgia O'Keefe with her new Leica, New Mexico, by Todd Webb ~

~ Jessie Tarbox Beals, pioneer photographer working Worlds Fair, 1904.
"Her trademarks were her self-described 'ability to hustle' and her tenacity in
overcoming gender barriers in her profession." First female night photographer. ~

~ Patti Smith, with one of her Land Poloroids, circa 1960s ~

~ Maiko girls (Apprentice Geisha) with camera, Japan, postcard mid 1920s ~

~ Documentary photographer, Dorothea Lange, working on 'Dust Bowl' series, circa 1936.
Favorite quote: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." 
I've had a framed postcard of this image in my room for over 30 years - such spirit ~

~ Women holding Kodak cameras, Ideal Home Exhibition, 1971, Eastman Kodak 
eyeeee, the hot pants! ~~

~ Elizabeth Taylor with a Rolleiflex, photographer unknown ~

~ vintage photograph, little girl with her camera, circa 1910, from Flickr ~

~ Mary Ellen Mark, self portrait with Marlon Brando, 1979 (set of 'Apocalypse Now').
Known for in-depth documentary projects and portraiture - Time Magazine called her
a "humanist" photographer.  My teacher for one life-altering workshop, 1985. ~

~ Woman holding early Kodak camera, 1895. The camera was sold with
the film already loaded.  The entire camera was returned to the  factory
for film processing. Hulton Archive, Getty Images. ~

~ Diane Arbus, Central Park, 1969.  Noted for photographs of marginalized people.
Photo, Gary Winogrand ~

~ Climbing pioneer, environmentalist, and feminist, Miriam O'Brien Underhill,
Chamonix Aiguilles, France, 1929. To scale this center ridge she held her camera between
 her teeth.  She was the first woman to conquer the Matterhorn, along with other 
challenging peaks. On these treks she climbed only with other women - famously known
as "manless Alpine climbing." ~

~ Imogen Cunningham, circa 1970s. Prolific American photographer known for
her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes.
Proponent of "sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects." ~

~ College girl recording her experiences in yearbook photos, date unknown ~

~ Margaret Bourke-White, top of the Chrysler Building, New York, NY 1935 ~

~ Edwardian woman, c. 1900. Possibly the world's oldest documented "selfie"
taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera ~

Which brings me back to the beginning of this story 
and that pink plastic Brownie camera ....

This morning I read a blog post by one of my favorite  male  photographers,
David du Chemin, called  'The Place of Craft.'  He always seems to arrive at the heart of
the matter, no matter what subject he chooses to speak about.  Now, although his post is
aimed at photographers - the craft of photography - one could replace that word with ANY
other artistic discipline and his thought provoking words could still be applied.

Here's why [aside from the fact that many of them produced incredible work]
I've put up a truckload of images of women using the cameras of their day,
and why the *tool* is not the point at all.
Not yesterday ... and not today.
Excerpt from du Chemin's post:

Make your art with the tool you have. Use a Polaroid or a RED camera. Use film or digital. Use Leica lenses or Lensbabies. Create abstracts and impressionistic studies of shape and colour, or stunning landscapes that are tack-sharp @ 400%, but don't kid yourself - it's not sharpness that makes it great. It never has been. Humanity doesn't need more sharpness. That is not one of the things for which we hunger. We hunger for beauty, and meaning, for stories, and for love - among other things, things that are communicated visually through light and composition - through our use of balance and tension and movement and scale and colour and a hundred other things that you can't buy in the B&H catalog, and won't be found in the manual of your new camera, no matter how much money you spend, no matter how much better your camera is than mine. We get it. Hell, every one of us has right now, at least one camera that's better than what every photographer who created a truly iconic image before the year 2000 ever had. You can make sharper, larger, cleaner images than any of them, together, ever made. And you know who cares?

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bead sketches : month two


And now there are 8 ...

February's collection - month two of my '52 weeks : bead sketches' project - is finished.
More playing relentlessly,
more diving deep,
more showing up faithfully.

I also did a lot of wondering about why I haven't imposed 
a project like this on myself before.  In truth I suppose because the time is NOW
and I wasn't where I needed to be to take this on before now.

Just showing up to do the work has great benefits.
I'll write more on that subject later as thoughts solidify, but for now
I've an amazing sense of freedom with this work / play
that I've never, 
had before.
There's surely a lesson in this approach for me
although I can't put it all into words yet.

For this month I thought it might be of interest if I noted where
my inspiration, or word prompts, or weekly idea came from.
They are written below each photograph with links.

~ bugle bead inspiration arose from HERE ~

~ exploring some thoughts about THIS ~

~ describing in materials the meaning of THIS PHRASE ~

~ experimenting with the pattern of THESE ~

Feels  so good  to be back with my beads.

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Postscript:  A few hours after I published this post I came across some
excellent words that seem to fit right in so I've come back to note them.

You don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You need less shame around the idea that you’re not doing your best. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different life circumstances and life stages than you tell you that you’re just not doing or being enough. You need to let timing do what it needs to do. You need to see lessons where you see barriers. You need to understand that what’s
right now  becomes inspiration later.

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To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,