May 25, 2017 – Ideal

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“Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.”
~Susan Sontag

There’s little that I could even consider writing about today’s image. Sometimes simplicity and irony speak loudly enough for themselves. This image was made before a greater part of downtown Tucson was renovated. I would have to drive down to South Sixth Avenue to confirm it for myself, but I’m assuming that this business is either something completely new or has been refurbished.

Of course, it’s always possible that nothing has changed at all.

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May 21, 2017 – Drifter

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Silver City, New Mexico is a special little town. It’s the kind of town my family would stay the night on the way from one destination to another during vacation. It’s the kind of town that begs you to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and walk around for a while, with a greasy-spoon diner and some art galleries to explore. It’s the kind of town you tell yourself “gosh, if I could only find t he excuse, I’d love to live in a place like this.”

Sadly, it is also a small town and opportunities are scarce.
Sadly, it’s the kind of town that’s easy to talk yourself out of ever moving to.

So, from time to time, I would find an excuse to spend the weekend here. A drive through the Gila National Forest with frequent stops to take photographs of the landscape and wildlife. Coffee shops and leisurely strolls downtown. I’m not sure if “The Drifter” is still there, but I’m guessing it is. I could look it up, of course, but I’d rather just find out for myself the next time I roll into town.

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May 06, 2017 – Everywhere A Sign

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“Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.”
~Garry Winogrand

There’s no place I enjoy more than a back-road or alley. Old paint and little remnants from the past linger in these places. Old signs and chipped signs, reminders of a world that used to be, spark my imagination. In a culture over-obsessed with knocking down the old and building the new, disregarding legacy objects and replacing the obsolete with the shiny and new, I enjoy having the opportunity to walk where thousands have walked before and seeing what they may have seen…

And photographing it.

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April 11, 2017 – No Parking (graffiti)

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“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.”
~Man Ray

I know that many young photographers – and many of the masters – are known for their portraits.
Street portraits, especially.

I have quite the collection of faces, to be sure, but I really enjoy documented the forgotten and ignored spaces, the things we tend to intentionally disregard. Man-made environments that man tends to rarely, if ever, wander. There’s a quality to these spaces that interests me.

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April 08, 2017 – Message Board

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McNary, Arizona, is only about ten minutes down the road from Pinetop-Lakeside. Unlike the Pinetop community – with curio shops, antique malls, and a well-established network of cabins, resorts, hotels, and restaurants – McNary is a forgotten, depressed community with collapsing buildings, open dumping grounds in the middle of residential neighborhoods, and shuttered shop windows. The population is around five hundred people, eight-six percent of which live below the poverty line.

Here’s one of the old shop signs, covered with graffiti, bulletins, and the faded original paint.

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March 20, 2017 – Coca Cola

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If you’ve never traveled to Mexico before, let me just say this: Coca-Cola has won the soda wars with our neighbors to the south. Sorry, Pepsi, but you have lost. You can’t travel to a single town in Chihuahua without seeing the Coca-Cola logo emblazoned on billboards, grain elevators, street vendor carts, store fronts, public walls, and personal apparel (t-shirts, sweaters, baseball baps, backpacks).

It’s surreal.

While I can’t confirm this, I’m confident that the average Mexican drinks more soda than water. The native Tarahumara, including the smallest children, seem to be sipping from Coca-Cola bottles more than water bottles. And this makes some sense, even though it’s tragic; a liter of Coca-Cola is actually more affordable than a liter of bottled water. Just like us Americans, diabetes and obesity have become serious health issues for an ungodly number of Mexicans, and the affordability of soft-drinks (and the lack of clean water) is likely the culprit.

Today’s photo is but one example. You cannot escape the red-and-white logo. Outlandishly, it’s everywhere.

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February 17 – Hotel Monte Vista

02-17 Monte Vista postAutomobile culture reached Arizona in the early 1900s and brought major roadway projects (see yesterday’s post about Miracle Mile Road) and an increase in tourism, which delivered new money to Flagstaff in the 1920s. Fundraising began in 1926 by local community leaders to establish first-class accommodation to replace some of the outmoded and run-down hotels.

Ground broke for the 73 room Community Hotel (named in honor of the prominent citizens who funded its construction) on June 8 of that year. It was finished in six months, opening its doors on New Years Day, 1927.

My first visit was back in 2005 or 2006, when I had the chance to tag along with a friend of mine. We worked together at a local Tucson photo lab and he happened to be a drummer in a band called “The Deludes.” I was able to hop aboard for a show they’d booked at the hotel’s “Cocktail Lounge.” It was a prohibition-era bootlegging operation, but the secret wasn’t kept long – local officers disrupted the illegal business in 1931. Ironically, the speakeasy reopened only two years later when prohibition was lifted.

It is one of the oldest operating hotels in Flagstaff and is a registered historic landmark, and its sign is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Flagstaff.

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