21st Century Stockings (Diptych)

 

The title I gave this shot reaches back to a series of photographs Dorothea Lange made during the Great Depression.  Depicting women wearing mended stocking, Lange thought these shots said much about the time in which they were made.  Her subject was the way the femininity responded to the shortcoming of the economy.

This shot is more about women’s empowerment in the 21st Century and their ability define themselves (even in eyebrow raising ways).  The value of the shot isn’t so much in the expression it caught on the frame, but rather in the way the picture allows us to reflect on how much things have changed.

If you need to be reminded or see for yourself, here is a link to one of the mended stockings shots by Lange: www.mocp.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=group&f=&a….  After that shot you might want to say about the shot above, “Those aren’t your grandma’s stockings!”

–JMG

The Magic Carpets of Town Park

Oakland’s Defremery Park has a special place in Oakland history because of the role it played in the late 60s to convene Oakland’s black community in defense of Huey P. Newton when he was charged for the murder of a police officer.  Town Park’s history is relatively recent but the spirit of the Black Panthers struggles for equal protection and civic participation is not lost since the funds to build out Town Park were raised by and for the West Oakland community.  Empowering projects like this are remarkable because they also empower those who both work on and benefit from opening public space.

Taken during one of Oakland’s most meaningful, community driven festivals, Life Is Living, this set captures the dynamic energy and form.    Beside the main stage, good food, and healthy, balanced living theme, I often visit to see the Extreme sports that go on in a section of Defremery Park known as Town Park.  In true gonzo photography fashion, what the camera froze on frame shows that the lens is an active participant in the way subject’s act and react in front of it.  I went of my way to publish some of these because it was evident the young men in them went out of their way to give me fabulous shots.  I was very appreciative of their “hard skating” and the way they tolerated an intruding eye as they glide and bust tricks on their magic carpets.

–JMG

Eastward Wind

 

Totally processed, noisy, and shot from my cell phone, the frame stands because there’s something interesting about how the Eastward wind unfurls the flag as it’s flooded with light. Scenes like this interest me because they show how symbol and structure coalesce.

Those who look closely might find a strong resemblance in this flag to the one planted on the moon by the first Apollo mission. Our lives are so entwined and predicated by ever present patriotism that we often forget that staking flags like this are often acts of domination and statements of power. In this shot concrete and cloth coalesce in a gritty way to draw out the ambivalence of American power, from the colonial period to the post-Industrial present. Depending on where you stand in relation to the colonial difference, one will ether feel pride or disdain when encountering scenes like this.

— JMG

Holding Back Desire

Oakland’s regular Friday Nights party draws out my photographic sensibility because there is a range of emotions it opens to capture with a camera. The outdoor amphitheater always challenges my technical skills as I like to shoot low light situations without flash.

This shot says tons about desire self control. It reflects the internal conversation we must have to not act on what we most want. That observation is most evident in the subject’s gaze into the wand. Holding back desire can also be read into the background. I think many would agree an interesting kind of tension is present when one encounters a fabulous dance partner.  In those rare cases, one has to hold back desire to actually get on with the dancing.

–JMG

Diggin’ the Blues

Back in the 40s South Los Angeles used to be known for its Jazz scene. Considered the West Coast’s Harlem, this neighborhood saw venues like Club Alabama (on Central Ave. & 42nd St.) feature some of the best Jazz had to offer at the time. Back then, de facto and de jure segregation shaped the city’s neighborhoods. The Central Avenue neighborhood became a scene because places like the Dunbar Hotel was one of the only locations where traveling Black musicians could find lodging during stays in Los Angeles. Yes, even when they came West for gigs in Hollywood.  Local musicians that set themselves apart in this scene include Charles Mingus, Chico Hamilton, and even Charlie Parker (for a brief period).

Despite the objects that make evident its contemporariness, I like the timelessness quality of this shot. To begin, it’s shot on film, so you get some grain and the blacks and silvers are fabulous. Add the subject’s form and energy and you get a winning combination.  I figure she’s got a little more than coffee in that mug. I love the look of outrage coming from the lady on the left. A one in a million moment of the second she decides to cut loose.

The best part of the shot is the lady to the left checking out the dancer from head to toe with a little disdain.

— JMG

Shot on Illford 400 with Canon EOS Rebel.

Romance By the Bay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Romance by the Bay, Berkeley CA, Summer 2016.

One of the things I think photographers like Cartier-Bresson had over many American street photographers is the fact that outward displays of affection are hard to find in the U.S. Growing up in Los Angeles I know the quip “get a room” all too well because it’s the off-handed observation most make when they presence public displays of affection. This became starkly evident on trips to Mexico city, where there seems to be more of an outward expressiveness between couples– young and old. Plaza’s, restaurants, train stations, lovers seem to be

This scene revealed itself once I made it up the hill as I was trying to get closer to the kites in the background there at Cesar Chavez park in Berkeley. I had to make sure not to make them self-conscious as I waited for some folks to clear far enough to set of the foreground from the background. I did the classic look to the opposite direction and walked back to get enough space to get a wide shot. The day was extremely sunny so getting the contrast right in post was the toughest in this shot.

–JMG

Shot on Olympus OMD-EM5 / LUMIX G VARIO 14-45/ F3.5-5.6

Any Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Any Man, San Francisco, CA, Summer 2016.

This was an early evening shot at a Bart station in Down Town San Francisco. I was getting ready to jump on a train, eating a soft serve cone when my eyes began to see the potential of the space below come together.

At first glance my attention was drawn because the pigeons in the background were circling the courtyard en masse. I was looking to catch the action of folks walking into the station below and the ball of birds soaring above. I hovered shooting a few minutes after I took the last bite of the cone because of the action and the shadows but the lull of people trying to catch the train revealed a homeless man. I’m not sure if he was selling Street Spirit or just asking for money but it was clear he was doing one or the other after a few minutes of observation. By that time all but the bird caught on this frame flying were grounded. I think the end result says much more than the moment. Since we cannot see the detail of the figure he can stand for any man. The bird above him adds a symbol of freedom to contrast the grounded man below.

***See more of my photography at oaklandphotojournal.com***

— JMG

Shot w/ OLYMPUS OMD-EM5 DIGITAL CAMERA                                                                         Lumix G Vario 14-45 mm, f./4.0, 1/200, 200 ISO