All Leica All The Time: Big Changes

Hey photo peeps and friends who may have noticed me testing the Leica SL over recent months – it’s official, I’m now shooting all Leica all the time – a Leica photographer! I’m so in love with this SL and have been really thrilled with how it’s working on both commercial and personal documentary shoots. Using it for video too on our Fearless Genius doc. Not a small thing to switch after 30 years with another brand. Yet this camera truly fits my brain, my eye and supports how I think and shoot like no other. I’m not a gear obsessed guy, cameras are simply tools to me. But iI get asked so often by pros and passionate amateurs so please watch for a video I’ll be posting soon explaining more about the camera and my decision…

Sunday
04
June 2017

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MY NEW PORTFOLIO V.12.2 2016

New port cover_500xI’m very happy to share my latest portfolio update: a mix of new commercial and personal work merged with some of my favorite projects here: http://bit.ly/21aoyD3  Many thanks to my agents at Stockland Martel for patiently working on this with me. I’ve been so lucky in my career to be able to collaborate on global brand campaigns for A list clients. That work is fun and satisfying because I’m being hired for my eye but also because it funds my personal documentary projects on subjects I care about. (see www.fearlessgenius.org)

The process of creating a portfolio is sometimes gut-wrenching. You end up doing a lot of deep thinking about everything you are doing and why, and probably that’s a good thing. I was reminded recently by a former student of an essay I wrote in 2009 about creating your “fuck you” portfolio; a liberating process to find your true voice by letting go of fear. This is about making a portfolio that shows what you truly, deeply, passionately love to shoot. And want to get paid for. The essay still rings true to me, despite all that has changed for photographers since: http://dougmenuez.com/on-chaos-fear-survival-luck/

TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVE TO EMBRACE ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The idea is that if you are trying to make your living solely from your photography you can’t just follow the herd and present what is selling at the moment. Although that will get you started, perhaps, it won’t last as tastes change and ends up crushing your soul. You have to do the hard work to figure out what you see that no one else does.

Once you have refined your eye, you have to build a solid financial foundation and business structure to support your vision, like all entrepreneurs who chase a counterintuitive idea. Imagine a lifetime of satisfying, creative challenges. It can happen but it’s extremely hard, no different from a tech start-up in many ways.

The problem is that if you follow my advice you are more likely to fail. But if you don’t you won’t ever hit it out of the park and live the dream. You just can’t be for everybody, only the best creatives who get what you bring.

I’ve failed hard a few times and find that the path can be a more of a cycle that we end up repeating now and again. I’m still on the journey, learning new things as I face new challenges. But I know from experience that the reward for risking everything and pushing myself to grow is indescribably sweet and worth all the pain.

 

 
 
Sunday
06
March 2016

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Something to SAY

Legendary creative director John Doyle recently asked me to make portraits of kids who are working to overcome severe stuttering problems with the help of a nonprofit organization called Our Time, which John is rebranding as SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young. I have an old friend who built a career as a top photojournalist despite a severe stuttering problem. From him I learned a lot about the challenges people who suffer from this disability go through and was so impressed by how he overcame his problem to succeed. Shooting kids is always a tough job. Even as a parent and someone who has always shot kids, I know from experience you can’t push things or try to control things too much. You have to be patient and open to the kid’s frame of mind, and try to connect. Essentially, you are a passenger on their train.

John said he needed a lot of portraits, all in one day to save money as the project was pro bono. In this case, we were talking about young kids but also teens. Which raises a whole host of other issues around self-esteem, identity, and general discomfort with self-image that are just part of the package of growing up. Add in a disability like stuttering, and I knew it might be tough to deliver the portraits I envisioned.

I wanted to connect emotionally with the kids and try to show their sense of pride and accomplishment for what they were overcoming. It was an exciting opportunity. John and I talked at first about photographing to seven or eight kids, then maybe 12 or more. I thought on the outside we could get to 15.

Then he asked if I could shoot 20 kids—in one day. Hey, I’m game for anything. But to connect with these kids and shoot a range of images in the time allotted with a limited crew and budget (the crew was paid) was a daunting thought, to put it mildly.

Then came the shoot day––big surprise: The kids came in and rocked the house. They burst into dance, they sang, they talked and talked. We had a blast! It was such a gift to meet them and be part of their world. And we got the 20 kids done, barely, as the natural window light faded and our studio time ran out. It seems the Our Time/Say program is working wonders with these bright kids. And I just got a lovely note from John thanking us and saying how happy everyone was with the pictures. It’s a project I’m extremely proud to have been part of.

Sunday
09
March 2014

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La Lettre Features “Fearless Genius” Project

For constant inspiration, education, and exposure to the unexpected please visit the vast photographic universe that is La Lettre de la Photographie. The range of material they present is incredible, eclectic and global. I know of no other source quite like this. We all get locked up sometimes in our own private hell of work. We know we should go out and see the shows. When we do, our world brightens a bit, we get ideas, we get energized. La Lettre is like that, but via the internet. Cé tout.

So I was honored to see my long-term project about Steve Jobs and the development of new technology in Silicon Valley during the digital revolution in the 80’s and 90’s featured on La Lettre. I must thank Jean-Jacques Naudet and Gilles Descamps for the lovely presentation. Gradually the project is progressing, with a lot of new scans, plus getting some interviews done for my film and book. But seeing it here makes it a bit more real after all this time working on it. Have a look if you get a moment:

La Lettre de la Photographie

http://lalettredelaphotographie.com/archives/by_date/2011-12-06/4844/doug-menuez-la-saga-de-silicon-valley

Tuesday
13
December 2011

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GEORGE OLSON: A VERY FUNNY MAN

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: georgeolsonphotography.com
and from his recent show at the iWitness Gallery in Portland, Oregon, here: http://www.pnwcp.com/iwitnessgallery/galleries/George_Olson/George_Olson.html

Thursday
03
February 2011

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EFFORTLESS BEAUTY: ALBERT NORMANDIN

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: http://www.myanmarphotographs.com/

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.

Sunday
19
December 2010

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CK OUT 100 EYES: CHRISTIAN POVEDA TRIBUTE

Photograph ©2009 Nanni Fontana from "Honduran Death Trip"

Photograph ©2009 Nanni Fontana from "Honduran Death Trip"

Andy Levin’s always amazing blog features a tribute to the slain photojournalist Christian Poveda who was gunned down at 52 in El Salvador while covering the gangs. Ironically he was just having a resurgence of success with his work on the deadly Maras gang and documentary “La Vida Loca.” Reportedly the gang was demanding money as they learned of the increasing success of his work. Many issues to think about and discuss here. Nanni Fontana’s outstanding images from her essay on gangs in Honduras illustrate the tribute to Poveda with an essay by Carlos Lopez-Barillas. See it and all the other stunning work on 100 Eyes here:

100Eyes: Photography Magazine and Photo Workshops for Emerging and Professional Photographers

Tuesday
15
September 2009

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100 EYES: Stunning New Issue

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Photographer Andy Levin has created a singular publication well worth following, but with a new issue out he’s brought together an extraordinary collection of important photo essays. Please take a look:

100Eyes: Photography Magazine, Photo Workshops

Tuesday
07
July 2009

F Stop Beyond: Interview with Doug Menuez

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interview audio

Ron Dawson is the rarest of talents– he has built a career and business around his passion and is a special example of how to merge art and commerce to live your dreams. An exceptionally gifted and accomplished writer, director, and award-winning video producer, speaker, instructor, and columnist, Ron also conducts some of the most useful and interesting interviews with photographers I’ve come across. Check out his show F-Stop Beyond: The EXPERIENCE. Ron asks all the right questions, getting photographers to open up and delve into the deeper issues behind the work.  And that’s what he did with me, pushing me to question my own beliefs and understanding of the issues. Everything is changing so fast these days, the more discussion the better it seems to me, and Ron helps focus the discussion around how to maintain creativity while surviving these times. Here is our talk: interview audio

Sunday
31
May 2009

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INSPIRATION #4: Driftless

 

©Danny Wilcox Frazier, from "Driftless"

©Danny Wilcox Frazier, from "Driftless"

Danny Wilcox Frazier’s new piece on the rural life in Iowa is breathtaking in it’s simple power. Working with Brian Storm, Bob Sacha and the team at MediaStorm, Danny has created something that not only gives us a profound understanding and new respect for the farmers who struggle to bring us our daily bread, but a perfect, elegant film that synthesizes moving images with still. This will be a lasting document of a place and time. Well worth a look.

 

MediaStorm: Driftless: Stories from Iowa by Danny Wilcox Frazier

Tuesday
19
May 2009

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