Thursday, May 1, 2014


-->The concept of the “selfie” isn't new, as the photos below show. What is new, is the media dissemination of them.  Before, they were taken for private visual consumption. Now, they are made mainly for public dissemination.

Jim Radke


Erin Waters

Mark Glovsky

Joel Rotenberg

Robert E. Jackson

John Van Noate

Stacy Waldman

Randall de Rijk - including a recent photobooth selfie.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I collect 19th and early 20th century U.S. cabinet cards.  I know people associate me with snapshot collecting, but as the years have passed since the 2007 D.C. show at the National Gallery which used my collection to tell the story (or a story) of the history of the snapshot, I have searched for another area which might yield some interesting finds and which there would perhaps be less competition for images.  I found it in cabinet cards. The area is rich in content, understudied, undervalued (generally), and underappreciated (mostly). There is no book written in English which deals exclusively with the cabinet card and its history. Not a one. Nada. 

My thought would be that if ever a museum show is mounted using as its basis my cabinet card collection (or images from many different cabinet card collectors) , the last room or final wall would be devoted to how contemporary artists are using this 19th century photo medium as the groundwork for creating their own art. I am a big proponent of the idea that some collections find me, I don’t actively look for them. That is the case with altered cabinet cards. I didn’t know such work existed and then I started seeing them mentioned on Facebook, etc. And I became intrigued and starting purchasing a few as a natural offshoot of my collecting the originals.  People make contemporary dags, cyanotypes, etc., but the cabinet card is the only 19th century photo medium I know where artists use the physical object as the basis of creating something new and exciting.  In other words, I don’t see or hear of many people taking an old tintype and painting on it (although it has been done to a limited degree).  And while there are altered CDVs, the larger size of the cabinet card offers a richer canvas for creativity.  Going down this road has meant dealing with fine art galleries as some of the artists included here are represented by galleries and don’t sell their work outright to collectors. This work is not sold as photography, but as painted or collage pieces using the photo object as its basis. 

So without further ado, I would like to share some examples of what artists are doing with the cabinet card.  And I should note that this isn’t every artist or altered cabinet card I own, but a representative sample. There are a few artists who are still working on pieces which will hopefully end up in my collection.

 Artist:  Anne La Fever

Artist:  Tom Butler
He is represented in the U.S. by Aucocisco Gallery in Portland, Maine.  His work was recently the subject of a show there entitled "Inner Worlds."  See

Artist:  Warren Munzel

Artist:  Bill Lee

Artist:  Mike Wellins

Artist:  Jonah Samson

Artist:  Amy Johnquest

Artist:  Alex Gross
His work is represented by the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in NYC.
This piece is entitled "Legolas."

Artist:  Colin Batty
Batty's work will be featured in a show at The Peculiarium (founded by Mike Wellins who is one of the artists featured here) in Portland, Oregon, from 4/2 - 5/15/2014

Artist:  Lynn Skordal

Artist:  Marianne Clancy
Encaustic (Heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added).

Artist:  Margaret Meehan
From her "Barnburners" series
Gouache and vintage glitter glass

Artist:  Rachel Phillips
From her "Divinations" series
Note website and process for making this work on the featured folder for the work above.  Her cabinet card art will be featured in an exhibition in July at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

PAIRS by Joel Rotenberg

From the collection of Joel Rotenberg.   His blog is Looking For Snapshots.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I asked a few collectors to share a new acquisition and and say why they like it.  Upon looking at the photos, it seems to me that no explanation is needed, but I've included them anyway.  Have an idea for a new blog post?  Please share it with me.     

Stacy Waldman

The facelessness of the mother and child and the invisible father behind the lens set a wonderful stage. Angle, contrast, and composition enhance the photograph.  But, most importantly, memory informs this image for me.

Mark Glovsky

Sometimes verbal material in a photo strikes the eye as a sort of comment. Here the surface crud (which looks like bird shit but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be) adds another layer: it comes across as a visual image of the word and strengthens its comment on the action. Effectively it’s like the action lines or “stink” wiggles in a comic panel. I know just what this garbagy ranter feels like! Probably his listeners are just embarrassed or pretending to be amused.

Joel Rotenberg

I came across this little snap drama recently, and as always, realized it could be the fodder for dozens of stories. I'm not quite ready to make up a list of possible grievances for our crying man, (maybe his shirts got lost at the cleaners), but I do know that these recorded moments are a rare treat for a dedicated snap diver.

Ken Brown

This is a recent purchase that I couldn't justify because it doesn't fit into any of my main collection categories, but somehow I needed to have it. It makes me think of fairy tales — maybe because of the hood and the "forest."   Or maybe because of the child's wondering look. Also, the focus/clarity of the crocheting is quite amazing, and the little garment looks a lot like a tea cosy.

Pat Street

I'm very interested in the time(seconds) a photographer takes between seeing what's in front of him, composing the image in the viewfinder, and finally releasing the shutter... It's now etched onto the film plane and one's memory.

 Now, which paper to use? How big to enlarge it to recreate this feeling?

 Something magical is happening here just because of the paper.

 It's just a simple sunset over a lake landscape, right?
 But the paper tells another story. It's as if we are seeing it through a screened hotel window.  Thinking we did make  the right decision - getting the room with a view.  

Randall De Rijk

A mirthful photo for the House of Mirth blog.

Richard Hart

The Polaroid was taken on a TWA jet in April 1962 and came with 3 others of the same guy. Each is in a little folder.

The dag measures 4 x 5 and was finished in April 2013. It is a modern daguerreotype by Casey Waters that had an "Invasion of Mercury" spots. He decided to do something a little bit different with it. The scan is an approximation. In hand, the piece has a more uniformly silver tone.

Erin Waters 

I love coming across photos that unequivocally evoke a particular era, and I think this cyanotype has that quality in spades. For one it’s a cyanotype, a photo process that saw its heyday during the 1890s and the first decade of the 20th century. Then there is the image of happy Edwardian daytrippers (including the dog!) whose seemingly sunny E.M. Forster world, we know with hindsight, would soon be overtaken and lost forever in the storm of World War One. 

Robert Young