Monday, March 19, 2018

I mean, my god, LOOK at these

I am reading a history of women in photography, and portraits turn up from time to time in reproduction. These are literally just snaps from the pages of a book. Just grabbed at random. Flipping back through the book to snag the captions I found handfuls of pictures of people I liked even better.

Trude Fleischmann portrait of Alban Berg

Florence Henri, Woman with Three Bracelets

Madame Yevonde, self-portrait

Lucia Moholy (Moholy-Nagy's decidedly better half), portrait of Florence Henri

Gertrude Käsebier portrait of Robert Henri

Julia Margaret Cameron (duh) portrait of George Frederick Watts

Now compare there with, for instance, anything whatever you find on Frank Frost's web site. Frank is mostly famous because his wife (or, possibly, Frank himself) writes "satire" under the pseudonym Missy MWAC, in which she promotes trained professionals with years of experience (i.e. Frank) over lame-o amateur craigslist photographers. Now, the latter may be terrible, but if you gave me a portrait by Frank I would slide it quietly into the trash.

While I don't know for sure, I suspect that Frank and Cheri would be literally unable to see what it is about the attached portraits that makes them so much better than anything Frank has ever dreamed of shooting. Frank knows how to place lights and sharpen eyes until they pop. He doesn't know anything about engagement, and I suspect that he can't even see it.

Even if Frank can, there are 1000s of very similar practitioners that cannot. All they'd see in the photos above are blocked up blacks, exposure issues, focus issues, and lighting problems. And that is why they're stuck. That's why Frank is reduced to having his wife write angry rants about what losers his competition is. It's because Frank is constrained by his lack of vision to a narrow market in which literally anyone can credibly compete.


  1. What's the title of the book?

    1. A History of Women Photograhers, by Naomi Rosenblum. I don't really know if we should consider these pictures as Startlng Examples of The Best of the Best, or if they're just the ordinary day to day work of quite skilled practitioners.

  2. No less than Jeff Koons, Frank Frost has raised kitsch to a modern art form -- and without the tedious, faux-pomo-irony. Frank is achingly sincere, just as Jeff is achingly laughing all the way to the bank. Thank you for bringing this emerging young photographer to my attention!

  3. HI Andrew.
    I'm new to your blog readings so forgive me if the ground has already been tilled.
    A rule of thumb provided to me by a wise man:
    'Never place your photo next to a photo belonging to someone else. People will be tempted to compare.'
    Frank, whomever that might be, will have good intentions, unless he intends the photos as souvenirs of the victims of a malicious crime. Making a comparison between his and others is wasteful vindictiveness.
    I did sneak a peek at one or two of his shots. I didn't care much for them either, but I don't like broccoli much either.
    I've enjoyed reading your blog so far. Allow me some pleasure in continuing to read your words. If you thing less of Frank than you could, just say so. It's far more effective as an offense if you call him a wanker than to deride his inanimate photos.

    1. I think that perhaps you are missing the point. While I am certainly having some fun at Frank's expense on account of his appalling wife, his portraits are qualitatively different from the ones I attached.

      The degree and kind of engagement the subjects have with the camera, the photographer, is strikingly different, to my eye.

      While I dislike most of the various aesthetic choices Frank makes, these are not the point.

    2. As with any photo, Andrew, I chose which part interested me.
      I’ll try harder next time to find your point.

    3. You are, of course, welcome to take away anything you find useful or interesting! If i I choose to reiterate some "point" don't take it as correction, there is no right answer. It's just a response.

  4. Hi Andrew, speaking of portraits, if you get a chance, you might want to look at Oli's portrait work on tumblr. I find it extraordinarily impressive.