Author Archives: Doug Menuez


My little brother Ross Menuez has finally opened his amazing boutique in Nolita with his partner Nick Dine. Ross designs both women’s and men’s clothing, bags, scarves, accessories and t-shirts. He’s been selling through Barney’s and Paul Smith London and others for a while but this is his first storefront. The design of the interior is off the hook beautiful and minimalist. I’m really proud of my brother and wanted to share this, he is the true artist in the family. If you are in the area please check it out. 172 Forsyth Street, near Rivington NYC.

May 2011

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The crowd was roaring last night at Ground Zero, just three blocks from our apartment. The news was good and a long time coming. I will never forget that day, nor this one.

(Photographs ©2011 Doug Menuez/MAP)

Tereza and I were visiting New York on September 11, 2001. We flew in from California for a romantic weekend and I was taking her out to the house on Long Island where we first met in 1976 when her sister finally got her a visa out of Brazil. I rented a limo and was trying to show her a good time. I’d been on the road a while and was trying to make it up to her. We stopped to get coffee before driving out of town and were about 10 blocks North of the World Trade Center off of West Broadway when the first plane hit. We were in the middle of the block perpendicular and getting out of the car when it wailed past overhead, followed instantly by a loud flat bang, like sheets of steel being dropped from a great height flat onto the pavement.

Tereza ran to the corner to see and began screaming. I ran up and we could see smoke and flames billowing out of the large black hole, along with desks, chairs, papers and several bodies. I knew I was no longer a news photographer as my instinct was to get my wife out of there.

She was crying and terrified and so we jumped in the car and I asked the driver, Kenny, to get us the hell over the bridge. I wanted her to be safe, and I was determined not to do what I’d done for so many years as a photojournalist and disappear for days on a story. I was going to take her out to the Island, have our day, and stay married.

But I did have a camera with me, loaded with Tri-X, as I usually do, ever since my days on newspapers where you were trained to be ready for anything. It started to occur to me this was historic, even though we had no idea if this was anything other than an accident. We heard on the radio that they thought it was a small plane, although we were sure it had to be bigger from the sound of the engines we heard. After a few blocks, I couldn’t help myself. I apologized to Tereza, saying I just needed to get one shot, and asked Kenny to pull over and let me try to get something. Which he did, on Delancey Street by a park not far from the bridge. I lifted my camera and pressed the shutter just as the second plane hit from the South. Tereza shouted “terrorists” as she quickly triangulated the obvious impossibility of two planes hitting both towers within minutes of each other. This was truly chilling. Yet I was now in news mode, in denial of emotion, just acting on the mission–except I was acting in complete reverse of my training. Now my mission was to go the opposite direction of every other photographer in New York at that moment which I knew was crazy. Still, I felt nothing, no emotion either way, yet.

We continued over the Williamsburg Bridge and I looked back and could see both towers burning. I asked Kenny to pull off and go down to the water so I could get one last overview shot before we continued out to the Island. As I was getting out of the car I realized I was out of film and ran into a bodega and found a dusty old roll of color neg. As I came out a group of Hassidem jumped out of a minivan in front of me and I made a picture. Tereza joined me and we went to the water where I shot the towers burning. I tried to calm her by saying although it looked bad, and certainly the towers would burn until gutted, I said I was sure we would repair them and life would go on. And then the first tower collapsed, as if in slow motion. It was shocking. Inexplicable. For the first time in a long time I felt a surge of emotion. I lost it then, completely. We had been attacked at the core or our nation, and the symbolic victory the terrorists had sought was now theirs, with likely thousands of dead. A large number of people had just died before our eyes. I then also realized we had probably lost friends, which turned out to be true.

While trapped in New York, unable to get a plane, train, bus, or rental car back to the West Coast for five days we walked and walked through the city. We watched the frantic efforts at the recovery beginning. The city was changing fast with strangers talking to each other, helping each other. You could see both fear and a resolve to survive, fight and rebuild in the faces on the streets. We decided then that we would return soon, and in fact by the following summer we had moved back to Manhattan after decades away. We wanted to be part of it, the resurgence of a great city. We were New Yorkers again.,29307,1888705_1863800,00.html

May 2011

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You can’t find much about them yet. Just a few reviews from the new tour but stand by, the buzz is building…
So the story unfolds; BOBBY, a new band named for and led by a mythical character no one has actually seen has just recorded their first album and signed with Partisan Records and is now on their first tour opening for The Low Anthem. My son Paolo graduated from Hampshire in May and immediately got caught up in the frenzy of writing and recording with this new group of talented and eclectic musicians all living together in a house he found way out in the back of beyond in the woods of Mass. I drove up yesterday and shot some band photos for them yesterday.
They play the Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night, Tues, here in NYC. We are insanely excited to see this gig. The music is beautiful, haunting and such a mix of influences I can’t really describe it. But I’ve been playing the rough cuts repeatedly and I still can’t get enough. Yeah I’m biased so you gotta get the album when it’s out and decide…
Hear the single and read about it at HERE:
They will be at South by Southwest also. The dates are here:
March 2011

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Ron Dawson is on fire, with so many projects and ideas he makes me look like a stoned tortoise, sitting on a rock in the blazing sun. He has so much energy and talent that I find him enormously inspiring. I met over the phone with Ron first when he had me on his fantastic interview program F Stop Beyond. Later he and his equally talented and energetic wife Tasra came to NYC to help me with a project I’m working on, and then they filmed me for this piece which you can see on his site below. I did not realize until I saw this he’d borrowed a lens from my lovely neighbor in the studio next to mine-  Jason Groupp -small world. The best part for me was getting out my old harps- an early passion from my days in the blues band. It was the height of disco in NYC and that’s a long other story. I’m practicing again now, who knows, maybe getting the band back together :)

Menuez on Manhattan – Act 1: The City on Vimeo

Read Ron’s blog about it here:

Menuez on Manhattan – Adventures in Filming with an 85mm Lens « Blade Ronner: The Personal Blog of Ron Dawson

Filmaker, marketing consultant, author, interviewer, teacher, social media expert: Here’s some of Ron’s many world’s he inhabits in cyberspace, check it all out:

Ron Dawson « F-Stop Beyond: THE EXPERIENCE

Dare Dreamer Media | Atlanta and Silicon Valley Video Production | Specializing in non-profit, inspirational and cause-driven films.

February 2011

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Doug Menuez: Exploring the Salton Sea & Other Venues: Formal Documentary Photography on Location – Mar. 28 – 30

Please join me at the always amazing Palm Springs Photo Festival where I’ll be doing my next workshop. Read all about it and register here: THE PALM SPRINGS PHOTO FESTIVAL: CONNECT 2011 |  DOUG MENUEZ: Exploring the Salton Sea & other Venues: Formal Documentary Photography on Location

February 2011


I first met George Olson during a sniper attack in San Francisco in the late 70’s. A deranged gunman, reportedly with an M16, was firing from a high floor of an office building down onto the increasingly concerned rush hour population of citizens who happened to be on foot on the streets and sidewalks around the office building. George was clearly a professional news photographer, a photojournalist, with at least three cameras around his shoulders and a Domke bag and a serious yet studied expression betraying the slightest hint of weary jaundice… he’d seen it before… I was thrilled to see him as I imagined that I might be like him someday and be able to leave my miserable job washing cars at the Lincoln Mercury dealearship around the corner.

Since I only could afford the single wide angle lens I remember turning away from the rifle shots above to photograph the pinned down pedestrians pushed up against the wall where George was standing. His dry humor was evident from the start. He deadpanned that I might prefer to get my ass out of the street and have my back safely to the wall with my eyes looking up.

Humor is probably the hardest thing to photograph. And it’s often said luck favors the photographer who is prepared. But luck does not explain the many, many very funny images this man has accumulated. Here’s a few:

Humor is a personal thing so obviously this is my opinion, but it is just uncanny what he’s done. Sort of irritating actually because it’s just not explainable. I mean I walk the streets all the time, and if I get one image a year that is even mildly amusing I’m grateful. I think you’d have to spend almost all your time each and every day cruising for this kind of thing with an amazing antenna up for the set up– the sign that sets up the joke–and the action he’s captured. And then you’d have to be psychic because otherwise you could not possibly anticipate that someone or something was about to happen that would illustrate the opposite of what the sign intended, thus making the punchline. I mean I just don’t get it. It’s way beyond the decisive moment. I can’t even begin to explain it. And so I won’t, but I will recommend taking a look at these images here and more at George’s site:
and from his recent show at the iWitness Gallery in Portland, Oregon, here:

February 2011

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The photography universe is facing a number of threats on a scale I’ve not seen in my lifetime. When I began, there were relatively few photographers. Now with digital, everyone is a shooter, and schools are graduating thousands yearly, all hoping for a life in photography. Competition is beyond fierce.

Statistically 1 in every 500 graduating photography majors will make it.

The biggest threat remains the gradual demise of copyright and our ability to license our images. Since the US Constitution gave creators the power of copyright, culture has flourished as artists have been able to feed their families while creating, books, paintings, photography, etc. A creative life was sustainable. The system worked beautifully for two centuries and everyone in society benefited.

With the advent of digital technology, and the past two decade-long corporate push to crush photographer’s copyright trade practices, the model is broken and will surely die soon, unless photographers unify and fight back. That’s as likely as herding the proverbial cats…. still it’s a shocking thing to see photographers slitting their own throats. That’s partly due to ignorance and fear—young shooters are not taught the value of copyright and existing trade practices and say yes to whatever terms they are offered just to break in—and older shooters say yes to bad terms out of very real need not to starve to death. I get it. And clearly the music industry was first, while film and photography is getting hit now.


I ask everyone I meet this question and have yet to get an answer that makes any sense in the last year or so. Creating apps is cool, and being a consultant is cool, and those things might even get you some money. But they are not photography. These activities are not rewarding you directly for a photograph you created.

Commercial photography is broken and will not sustain the number of people trying to get in. The days of getting paid 15K per ad for even a new shooter are over. Everyone is working for less and agreeing to give up their rights without being paid for them just to keep working. Clients care nothing for quality, only the lowest price of a triple bid.

Editorial photography is broken and also is overwhelmed with young shooters and the already jam packed older mob of experienced shooters. There are just not enough outlets for all the work with the massive decline of newspapers and magazines, and they are paying less and less and rights are also a big issue with online and overseas.

Fine Art is actually doing pretty well. Here, the model holds. Artists get paid for their photographs as they always have. This area is also inundated with young hopefuls so the competition for this area is a fierce as the others but the model is holding. No gallery is giving away pictures yet as far as I know. So here’s some good news at least

CHAOS: So we have a perfect storm now with the confluence of these factors: gazillions of hungry, young shooters lacking basic business skills or awareness of how copyright could help them; the economic downturn and necessity of corporations to cut costs, along with their two decade push to crush copyright; and the advocacy of many leading digerati pushing a line about the brave new world that demands artists give up their rights and share their work freely.

First, the young and innocent: a generation has grown up downloading music and images and content for free. They feel entitled to this free content, it’s how they were raised. Many who now want to be photographers probably had one or both parents involved in the arts. Some of them probably grew up in houses paid for by the copyrighted content their parents created. Now that these kids want to make a living in photography they don’t realize the connection between say, not accepting a buy out, or accepting a fee well below accepted trade practice, and their long term ability to earn a living. I had the benefit of my elders, Jay Maisel, Greg Heisler, Elliott Erwitt and many others, strongly impressing on me the incredible power of owning my work and licensing it over and over could have. I paid for houses, put my kid through private school and sustained my personal projects through this simple privilege granted by the founding fathers. Why would I give it up?

The economic reality of running a photography studio is such that the fees you earn typically end up just barely covering your overhead. The nature of cash flow is such that by the time you get paid for a given job you need to pay old bills so that income disappears quickly. Hard to pull out profit. But when  check comes in for re-use and additional licensing, hey, it’s easy to sock that away. The real profit comes from whatever mark-ups can be found, but mostly from re-use. It has been extraordinary. And now almost every job comes with a request to hand over all rights with 0 compensation. They usually say they are sorry but they have some kid in Ohio willing to give up all rights without payment. You can’t compete with that. But at the same time that kid is getting a job that pays once, gets him through the month, but ultimately that model is unsustainable over the long term. Trust me.

As for the economic downturn, it is very understandable that this has impacted corporations and they need to cut costs. But it’s hard to accept knowing that most company profits are actually up right now and they are sitting on piles of cash. Something is rotten in the system for sure. But going back to the early 90’s, it was suggested by Bill Gates at the TED Conference to 500 CE0’s and execs of the leading technology, entertainment, and design companies (hence the name TED), that in the future no one should ever pay more than 50 bucks for a photo. Well that dream sure is coming true. I don’t underestimate the power of Bill’s words to influence corporate America. And until very recently, most corporations resisted that statement because they understood that the value of the quality of the images was intrinsic to the success of their marketing. They needed quality and were willing to pay for it. Thus they respected the existing trade practices. That has faded fast and most corporations now are pushing their ad agencies and design firms to request buyouts, without compensation, as a requirement for their work. Of course this makes no sense because the average life span today of a marketing director is around 18 months or less. So that person will be gone soon and the new person will probably want new creative. So they don’t need a buyout, except perhaps to prevent others from using the images. That is a valid concern in some cases and usually can be alleviated with proper compensation or protecting certain images. But a blanket buyout edict is unfair and will eventually destroy their own options for talent. The ultimate endgame of their strategy will result in thousands of photographers leaving the field, giving clients less creative choice. Then the pendulum of supply and demand may swing back giving photogs some new leverage. One can hope.

Photogs with brand names still can exert some leverage, but that’s diminishing as agencies and creatives have less control and power over their corporate masters who demand cheap. Agencies have lost most of their best revenue streams, so they have to cut costs since most are now public companies and the pressure is immense. This has diminished the role of creative directors also. They are our natural allies in this fight, yet we are a long way from recognizing that.

But there is another group pushing against copyright. The digerati elite. Why do so many people in the tech industry, and the young people who embrace their products, feel that copyright is an anachronism, an irritation, and worse? I guess everyone likes a good deal. These mindbenders, some are good friends of mine, seem to believe the world would be a better place if creators stopped trying to control their work. They think it’s futile to do so anyway since in the digital age it can be taken, so why not join the party and give all your work away? They are pushing for free everything, including software. Notice that many of these people made millions through sale of software in the first place. Notice that they and companies like Microsoft are not advocating giving away their own intellectual property while it’s still a cash cow. All the major software companies have investigators out trying to stop software pirating, just like the music industry. Oh, the hypocrisy.

Many digerati often propose that something like Creative Commons is a good solution and that copyright law goes too far. Libraries are up in arms and want pass the Orphan Works bill. Well, I donate pictures to libraries, students and non-profits and I think most photographers do as well, so that’s not really legitimate. Again, show me a compelling substitution for my ability to license my work, which allows me to feed my family, and I’ll consider it. I work very hard to donate my work and time to give back to my community so that’s not the issue. The basic ability of photographer’s to earn a living is at stake and giving the work away free just means no income.

But the scariest talk to come out of my friends in the digital world is the idea that someday computers will gain consciousness and when they do we’ll just jack in, upload our brains and leave our bodies behind. We’ll all be part of the hive mind. Sharing everything. No need at all for copyright or individual rights. Did these people not see Star Trek? Wasn’t the Borg the enemy? The bad guys? Hello! I was raised by radical left wing parents, but jeez, this is wierd. My hippie/libertarian/free thinking genius friends have anticipated a world that can only be described as a totalitarian fascist nightmare. As Jared Lanier points out in his amazing book “You Are Not A Gadget” in this world, we will all be slaves to the borg, writing free wikipedia entries in our minds all day. There will be no creativity, thus no culture.

In other words, take away copyright and you destroy the individual. The rights of the individual are paramount in an open and free society. Without the individual artist’s right to sell what he or she creates, there will be no artists. So yeah, resistance may be futile, but no copyright=totalitarianism! That’s my new t-shirt.

My message to young photographers: the digital providers and corporate clients do not care about you or your future. Only you can save yourself.

IF no one can think of a new model – aside from say selling iPhone apps and basically NOT doing photography – then why don’t we start a movement to bring back copyright? Why don’t photographers band together to fight for our rights?

This is what the Magnum shooters fought for in the 50’s and the ASMP shooters did in the 70’s and so it’s not a new idea. It’s just that it seems that aside from ASMP and a few aging and vocal veterans, the new generation is oblivious to the dangers. I guess they think they will be the lucky ones, that they are so talented they can rise through the dross to get the few jobs available. After all, this is the generation that got an award just for showing up to soccer practice… The most coddled generation in human history. What can go wrong when they got everything handed to them? Maybe in a few years they will wake up, look in the mirror and say “you want fries with that?”

Ok, sorry! Am I attacking my own son’s generation unfairly? Am I partly responsible? Of course, but I’m also trying to get their attention.

The reaction to my criticism from my young friends, as far as I can tell, is not very practical. They continue low bidding jobs, or thinking that if they upload to Flickr enough someday they’ll be famous and that will somehow bring money. That blogging about whatever and giving their pictures away will make them some kind of expert and they can somehow convert that notoriety into… what… a consulting gig? Advertising on their blog? I’m just not sure what they believe is a sustainable model.

Maybe that’s the point of the new digital reality. There is no one new model. There may be dozens of potential models, and what works for one person won’t necessarily fit another. But I ask again, what is an example of a new model, any new model, that is a viable substitute for licensing? That can generate the kind of income we had before?

This is not only about tradition, principles or money, it’s about saving a culture and a beautiful way of life through photography. It has truly been a gift to have had the ability to do the work I loved and feed my family. I fear for those coming up.

January 2011

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Every so often it is a pleasure to share work that I find inspiring such as  Albert Normantin’s elegant photographs of Myanmar. He’s returned 7 times to this hidden country and made a series of images well worth checking out here:

This work exhibits such effortless grace and clarity of vision that you almost don’t notice the rigor with which he shoots. In fact, at first it appears as seriously good travel photography as it pulls you in. As you go through the different portfolios you see winner after winner and the classical composition, perfect lighting combined with subjects that are completely at ease and it all adds up to something much deeper: a master photographer at the top of his game. Albert conveys a profound empathy and respect for his subjects while drawing on traditions of photojournalism and documentary work to capture moments in time. All of this is wrapped up in gorgeous light and color. Lovely to look at. Also his work is a reminder of the importance of learning the basic, classic traditions. Even if we are out to break all those traditions it’s great to know them before we try to break them. Sometimes simple is best. Thanks for the inspiration Albert.

December 2010

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Please check out David’s new special and watch for re-runs, it’s well worth it. Click producer Shelly Ross’s blog link to read more. David Blaine: “A Beautiful Struggle,” an Amazing 1-Hour Special «  shelley ross daily Xpress I’ve seen his work in person and although I spent years as a cynical journalist, I truly cannot believe the amazing things he does. There is no way to describe it other than seeing it and the show does a great job of getting the reality across. Besides the magic, there is his performance art– no other word for the combination of science, daredevil risk-taking and beauty.

Here’s David at the grave of his hero and childhood inspiration, Houdini, deep in Queens, which we shot for the Sundance Channel’s Iconoclasts show:

Magician David Blaine at Houdini's grave. ©2010 Doug Menuez

December 2010

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Charlize Theron auctions Doug Menuez photo to benefit her Africa Outreach Project « Stockland Martel

Charlize Theron + Jane Goodall in the Congo for Iconoclasts ©2010 Doug Menuez

Charlize chose this image for her auction last night for her South African AIDS foundation Africa Outreach Project. If you are interested in owning a signed version of this image we have 2 more 20×24 pigment prints left. Please email Molly in our studio:

December 2010

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