Monday, March 31, 2014

The goose that laid the golden egg

Every now and again something just falls into your lap ...

New York City has a habit of doing that more often than not to those open to its sense of occasion and possibly planned spontaneity.

And to this fine city comes the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt - given that this project will allow you, dear NYC reader, to participate even more freely in plus the proceeds of this egg endeavor will head to two charities, we are more than happy to promote it:

"On Tuesday, April 1 to Thursday, April 17 the world’s leading artists, fashion designers, architects, photographers and jewelers will be creating 300 unique two-foot egg sculptures that will be hidden throughout Manhattan and the boroughs. These eggs will be hunted down by the public via various social media channels and participants will be entered for a chance to win weekly prizes of Fabergé Mini Eggs. Beginning Friday, April 18 to Saturday, April 26, the culmination of the hunt, all egg sculptures will be displayed at Rockefeller Center and auctioned with all proceeds benefiting the Elephant Family and Studio in a School charities."
More information can be found at:
The egg in its shell

So why do we care?!?
Because there we were today, idling along Broadway as we 
came towards 28th St and lo and behold we tripped on an egg. 
Not just any egg, mind you. A golden egg!
Bruce Weber, "celebrity fashion photographer", had 
completely papered his egg in images of kate ...
Different angles of Bruce Weber's egg
... and in addition to the hundreds of glued images of kate coming with paper wrinkles, the egg is contained in a plexi case - already replete with a lining of dust, dirt and water - allowing one and all to create their own ishotkatemoss-nesses.

The Key Dates of this undertaking, for your reference, are:
* The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt begins April 1st, 2014
* All eggs nest together in one location April 18th – 26th, 2014
* Grand Auction April 22nd, 2014
* The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt closes April 26th, 2014

And yes, this blog is committing to post every day beginning tomorrow (April Fools') - as the hunt officially gets underway until the egg is no longer on display - our favorite ishotkatemoss-on-bruceweber's-egg submissions!

So for those in NYC, head to Broadway and 28th with your SLR, smart phone, point & shoot or other device and Observe, Slow Down, Shoot and Submit! For those not in this fine and fair city you'll just have to shoot kate through the more traditional distorted, deteriorated or derelict means ... or lay your own egg!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wallpaper, bunnies and the need for lettuce

As I sat pondering a photograph of kate last week that someone had sent to it dawned on me that the source image may not have only been viewed millions of times, but possibly more often than almost any other photograph in history. Could this actually be true?

A little bit of research showed that said image of kate in fact did not get close to being the most viewed. What did top the list - maybe it was a historical image? Maybe something that changed the world for better or worse? Maybe something that tugged at our heart-strings? Or something so important that we couldn't stop looking at it time and time again?

Then again, maybe not ... Bliss the photograph chosen by Microsoft to be the default wallpaper of Windows XP showing rolling green hills has reportedly been viewed by over 1 billion people since it first emerged in 2002 and is the most recognizable and widely viewed image in history!
O'Rear's Bliss: just because we really need to see it one more time

What I found funny while researching (i.e. googling with my two spare minutes last Wednesday) was a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald titled: "Man behind famous Windows XP wallpaper wishes he'd negotiated a better licensing deal"!

Oh dear, you know where this is going ... 
Charles O'Rear in front of his image Bliss

According to the SMH: The default Windows XP wallpaper containing rolling green hills, blue sky and fluffy white clouds may be more recognisable than the Mona Lisa, but it earned its photographer a pittance. Charles O'Rear, now 73, says he wishes he negotiated a better deal with Microsoft when he licensed it to accompany the launch of the operating system more than 13 years ago ... "If I had known how popular it would become and how many computers it would've been on I should've negotiated a [better] deal and said, 'Just give me a fraction of a cent for every time it's seen' and that would've been a nice arrangement," O'Rear said. 

Although he didn't reveal exactly how much he was paid for the photo, he did reveal how it was taken and responded to accusations it was digitally altered. Despite many thinking the photograph was shot in Ireland, O'Rear actually captured it whilst driving through Sonoma county in California on the side of the highway. On the particular day in January, 1996 he was off to see his then girlfriend, a storm had just passed through and he got out his medium-format Mamiya RZ67 camera. "Here were a few white clouds remaining and out goes the camera and there is the photograph. Bingo!" O'Rear said. Microsoft later discovered it thanks to a stock photography agency he uploaded it to that Microsoft founder Bill Gates decided to form in 1989, called Corbis. One major reason for starting the agency was Gates' belief that people would someday decorate their homes with a revolving display of digital artwork using digital frames, according to the New York Times

When I look at the image, I actually think of Richards Adams' Watership Down. I picture the rabbits at the bottom of the hill, thinking whether they should develop a warren nearby and debating the safety of being so close to Californian wine country and the invading marauders known as "celebs".
Bigwig: "I'm not so sure about the new doe"

As for whether the photograph was photoshopped, O'Rear said: "A lot of people ask was it digital manipulation? [The answer is] no." Microsoft did, however, make a few minor changes to it, such as cropping the left side of the frame and altering the color of the hillside to make it a much more vivid green and um adding the rabbits. So particularly when you are driving through Sonoma County ... Slow down, Observe, Shoot and Submit! And remember not to let people take your images without paying you vast sums of lettuce.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Photographer Series #5: jonnoshotkatemoss

One of my favorite young photographers is Jonno Rattman. 

Jonno trained as a photographer and printer. He has printed photographs and ephemera that accompanied the two-hundred-photograph Diane Arbus retrospective organized by the Jeu de Paume in Paris that opened in October 2011. Since then, he has worked extensively with other renowned photographers and archives, cataloging works, digitizing libraries, curating shows, designing books, and preparing prints for sale and exhibition. He is currently printing major exhibitions for Rosalind Solomon, Gilles Peress and Wafaa Bilal. Jonno also works with books and new media, managing pre-press production at Yolanda Cuomo Design, where he co-developed his first iPad App.

Drawing on all of these experiences to bring a wide range of skills to his own photographic work, Jonno engages the cultures, histories, and traditions contesting the American Idea. He has traditionally found a great deal of inspiration on the streets, which is why we here at were so interested in what he may find.

Jonno splits his time between New York and his native Pennsylvania, where he has been guided, in part by such brilliant photographers as Larry Fink and Bill Lowenburg - both of whom have brought an integrity to their photography that is hard to find. Just as Larry pioneered, Jonno uses flash as an important artistic tool, bringing light into his mostly black and white images in a way that captures a truth in a moment that many others would miss. I have always found his work to be completely honest - both to himself and his subject.

iskm: You have been guided and worked with so many incredible photographers already in your short career. How do you strike the balance between their work and finding your own voice?
Untitled #8: Jonno Rattman

Jonno Rattman (JR): I live in the shadow of heavies. I don't want to ride on anyone's back; at the same time, I work with people I admire and who are essential to the history of photography ... and my own development as an artist. I'm just a human being, rather than some clawing creature. I aim for sincerity, clarity, and quality in everything I do - I think that’s recognized by my mentors. I hope it comes across in my pictures. But I do remember talking with Larry about this, and he told me something to the effect of ‘I couldn’t make your pictures and you couldn’t make mine; we’re not the same person.’ I think that gets at the core of subjective photography in this context – there’s inherently the individual artists’ psychology behind it.

iskm: Why do you generally prefer black and white instead of color in your work?
JR: There's a Szarkowski quote in the introduction to Eggleston's Guide that really struck me when I first read it and continues to resonate; much color photography "might be described as black-and-white photographs made with color film, in which the problem of color is solved by inattention." I'd rather not make a black and white pictures in color; I think I can count on one hand my pictures that really work in color, in Szarkowski's sense. So I'll leave color to the colorists, who I deeply admire. Some might call me old fashioned - I'll take it. I love the 19th and 20th century masters of our medium. I'll take interesting over hyper-intellectual any day.

iskm: How/why did you select the source image/s that you did?
JR: I was out with friends one night near Columbus Circle when I saw Kate walking about in almost nothing but boots, looping on a video window display of a high-end store. Evidently she's the face of their brand. I took note of where I was and planned to return. When I went back several days later, she was still pacing around her white box. That's when I took my picture. I wanted to make an image that was interesting for its own merit, regardless of celebrity. I found Kate; I found a frame; I found a look and I put it together, hopefully in an arrangement that can live beyond its reference.

Most importantly check out his image:
iskm: What did you to your chosen kate moss image and why? Is that a reflection of you? Do you take many self-portraits?
JR: I'm really not so interested in process as much as result, perhaps because I've tried to internalize my practice so that I can work quickly without too much thinking or distraction. To achieve the results I did, I mixed hand-held flash and available light with a longer shutter than I might normally use to bring out the screen image. And yes, it is me. Sometimes a picture isn't anything without putting yourself or something of yourself in it. Look at Friedlander. I'm not obsessed with self-portraiture or any kind of narcissus complex, but for me, there wasn't going to be a picture without bringing in another element, so I introduced myself to Kate for the first time. I don't think we'll be seeing each other again.

Still image from KateMoss wears the 5050: Mario Testino
iskm: How do you feel your approach to photography affected your submission to ishotkatemoss?
 JR: I want my photographs to have an internal dynamism and narrative force, whether I'm making portraits, pictures on the street, or elsewhere. I want to make evocative images. If you see the video, you'll know what I mean by walking around in almost nothing but boots - but during the loop there's a close-up shot or two, and that's what I chose as my source image - it was the least bland, most evocative moment. I'm more focused on making interesting pictures than 'nice' ones.

If you so wish you can view the KateMoss wears the 5050 video that Jonno is referring to. 

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
JR: I'd love to see Sylvia Plachy and Larry Fink each contribute something. Sylvia has done wonderful work with surfaces and detrital images that surprise and delight. Her work is just wonderful. Larry's pictures mix beauty and humor, curiosity and sedition. He's done the celebrity circuit and has showcased its vanities.

More great suggestions as to who should participate! I would enjoy seeing Sylvia and Larry attempting to get to the root (of the idea) of Kate. In the meantime, more information on Jonno’s work can be found at and you dear reader, just like Jonno, can observe, slow down, shoot and submit!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Photographer Series #4: alexshotkatemoss

I lied ... the term "photographer" is a complete stretch.

Around the time of Kate's 40th birthday, I first saw the work of Cuban-American visual artist Alex Nunez. There were numerous images of a mainly naked Kate, covered by dazzling colors, swirls and textures.

And she was glorious.
Alex creates "portals that reveal the constant mutation of seemingly recognizable imagery", creating layers of frenetic energy that are made visible and transform the familiar. She refers often to her layering as veils "concealing the origin of activity, veiling both the process for making the work and the narrative starting point suggested in the work". Born in Florida, studied in New Orleans, Florence, Barcelona, Boston and now NY, in her young career she has already been highlighted as an emerging artist at Marianne Boesky Gallery and was recently featured in El Museo del Barrio’s Biennial.

She showed me ten pieces of art she created featuring kate, all of which are featured in the collage. Alex told me: I have been collecting images of Kate for as long as I can remember. Most of these works are from her recent Playboy spread. 

iskm: Why Kate Moss? Why is she so interesting to you?
AN: I have been using collage in my work for years. I mainly use LIFE and TIME magazines from the late 1960's and early 1970s. Even though I mainly work with older magazines, I do have an obsession with the 1990's supermodels - mainly Kate of course ... I have always been intrigued by her ability to completely transform herself in each shoot, she has an incredibly captivating gaze. I feel that these modern images are timeless and are refashioned in a manner such that when they were taken is irrelevant. 

iskm: Can you talk about the materials you use? Why do you use them as you do?
AN: I start with the image and begin the line work, varying colors and adding levels of focus. I use pastel chalk, ink and oil based pens to draw over the image. Acrylic paint is then applied in pools, with confetti and glitter occasionally sprinkled in. After waiting for the piece to dry and looking at the work over and over again, more layers of line work are added. Loose iridescent pigment is also mixed in the paint to create oil like waves in the water. The piece is a constant process of layering, knowing when to push and pull areas of focus. The most difficult part is learning when to stop.

iskm: Many of your pieces have brilliant titles (such as “my worst behavior”, “.…whips flesh as well as soul”, “Somewhere around the second whiskey I want to aggressively text you”). How and why do you title the work with the names that you do?
AN: I think of titles at various stages of progress while making a piece. Sometimes I will name a work months after it is complete. A majority of my titles come to me during my commute. These titles serve as a diary - inspiration is taken from movies, friends, experiences and my surroundings.
These paintings are a celebration of obsessive acts of recording personal history and newly formed memories. By refashioning our surrounding world, history is transformed.

iskm: So choose one of the ten to highlight to our the iskm blog readers
AN: "you could have it all" is my favourite of the series. Would love to show that.

you could have it all 2014 acrylic, ink, confetti and paper on canvas 14" x 22"
LOVE Spring/Summer 2013: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
iskm: How/why did you select the source image/s that you did?
AN: I selected the Love image because I was drawn to how she was submerged in the water, with her eyes and lips as the main focus. I also loved the blues present in the tub contrasting with the lips and LOVE title. These lines reveals a hidden aura.

iskm: The feathered lines from her eyes are really interesting and you use that technique with a number of kate images. Is this because of your interest in her gaze specifically? Is it outward looking or are you trying to draw people in towards her focus?
AN: I feel its a bit of both. With a majority of my collage work (and mainly in this series) I create feather-like line-work stemming from the eyes of the subject. When drawing these lines I always start with the eyes and move outward. However, I feel that these lines equally attract the viewer to her gaze as they do to draw attention to her projection.

iskm: Which photographer/artist would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss? 
AN: Marilyn Minter and would love to see Wangechi Mutu use kate in a collage.

Many thanks Alex. Your images are so unique, and I am so pleased we found you! For more information about Alex and to see more of her work, visit or her blog! And of course don't forget to see all ten of her submissions at  
Observe, slow down, shoot and submit!