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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MY “FEARLESS GENIUS” PROJECT IN MOSCOW PHOTOBIENALE!

Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow | Exhibitions | FEARLESS GENIUS: THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION IN SILICON VALLEY 1985-2000

 

I’m thrilled to announce the world premier exhibition of my project “FEARLESS GENIUS: THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION 1985-2000″ which is opening at the Moscow Photobiennale, March 29th, at the Central Exhibition Hall on Red Square. In addition, I’m giving a lecture on the 31st on my work documenting the digital revolution at Skolkovo Innovation Centre and Institute of Science and Technology. This is a project I’ve been working on for decades, which all began when Steve Jobs let me shadow him for three years, and includes a documentary film, app, book and educational program.

This show was a fantastic surprise and came at just the right moment. I have to thank Olga Sviblova, director of MAMM, for choosing this material, and Jean Jacques Naudet for his championing it on La Lettre de la Photographie .

I’ve been working for a few years to edit and scan the work which has been insanely difficult because I shot so much stuff. 250,000 negs were counted by the master picture editor Karen Mullarkey who has been working on this since 2004 when Stanford University Libraries acquired the archive. If you’re in Moscow then please come to both.

Monday
12
March 2012

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LAUNCHING A NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH STOCKLAND MARTEL

The big news at Menuez Archive Projects this week is the announcement that Stockland Martel is now our exclusive sales agent in the US and worldwide (apart from Europe– stay tuned for more Euro news soon). They have just sent out the below email blast and we are extremely proud to formalize this arrangement. This deepens our already fruitful relationship as they represent me for assignment work as well. And our clients all know they can expect t us to leap through flaming hoops for them…

If you were at our February launch party or read about us on the blogs, you know our mission is to put the million-plus images from my archive at the fingertips of creatives everywhere. So we’re proud to report that in three short months, we’ve already expanded our inventory well into the thousands, refined our beta site and have thousands more being edited and scanned every month. But now I also understand why more photographers don’t go through this process– it’s seriously difficult and seriously expensive!  But we’ve got a great start and it’s a huge relief to be underway.

Wednesday
19
May 2010

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THE BIG MOVE

“In a very real sense, I am starting my career from this moment. In many ways it is like starting over but of course with the benefit of hindsight and experience.”

A NEW PHASE

Readers of this blog can tell I’ve been missing in action from my usual 4 am post, pounding away at my keyboard.  And why? Well for the past four months we have been negotiating a deal to fund the preservation, development and marketing of my 1 million image archive. The good news is that we have successfully closed that deal. This means that the historic images of Silicon Valley now housed as part of the Douglas Menuez Collection at Stanford University Library can be scanned, researched and made available for scholars, and we can now finally edit, scan, keyword and market the many thousands of model-released images I have that are perfect for high end advertising. To that end my wife Tereza and I are starting a new company called Menuez Archive Projects, or MAP — more on that soon– and moving my studio from Kingston to a beautiful new space in a former gallery in West Chelsea. I’ve been joined by David Mendez, an accomplished Silicon Valley entrepreneur and film producer who is the new President of MAP, our studio manager Whitney Kidder, a budding photojournalist and well trained by my agents at Stockland Martel. We are hiring some other key staff soon to arrive. We are now in the midst of moving hell and I expect that to continue for the next few weeks. Here’s the new space just before the boxes arrived:

H09_027_301I’m very excited and energized at this new opportunity to build the next phase of my career. In this space and in my workshops I’ve been trying to share my journey to merge art and commerce and my thoughts about how to refine your personal vision to the purest form and then figure out how to make a living from that. I’ve often said it’s all about creating longevity and to build longevity for your career all your decisions have to align with your values and goals.

In a very real sense, I am starting my career from this moment. In many ways it is like starting over but of course with the benefit of hindsight and experience. Still, it’s really hard to find and follow your true path and I’m reminded of that daily and I’ll continue to share what I learn as I move forward. I do believe this new iteration will be the ideal way to synthesize all that I’ve done in the past, which will pave the way for what I do next. Of course all this talk makes me itch to get shooting ’cause it’s all about the pictures, right? More to come…

Sunday
11
October 2009

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THE WISDOM OF NY: A Work in Progress

EACH MONTH SOMEONE FROM A DIFFERENT COUNTRY AND THEIR SAYINGS WILL BE FEATURED AS WE COMPLETE THE PROJECT

In New York City what we call “street smarts” is considered our highest form of wisdom, hence the rueful admiration of our “wise guys.” But there is another kind of wisdom to be found in the collective wisdom of the proverbs, sayings and idiomatic expressions brought to New York by the vast range of immigrants coming here.
Samuel arrived from Ghana ten years ago. He prays to get up early each day to work as a limo driver. "If the strength is there, if God grants me another day, I get up at 5 am and go to work... But as of now I would not say there is a future for me here in New York." ©2009 Doug Menuez.

CLICK ABOVE TO SEE ROUGH EDITS. Samuel arrived from Ghana ten years ago. He prays to get up early each day to work as a limo driver. "If the strength is there, if God grants me another day, I get up at 5 am and go to work... But as of now I would not say there is a future for me here in New York." ©2009 Doug Menuez.

A few months ago I started working on a new documentary film called “The Wisdom of New York” which is a work in progress about the sayings, proverbs, insults and jokes that people bring with them to New York City from their home country. I thought it might be great to share here some very, very rough edits of the interviews I’m doing as the project develops. What these people have to say is valuable and interesting even in rough form and so every month I’ll feature a different person from a different country. I hope you find this a new filter through which to view the city and our chaotic life here.

Although I began this as a simple, light piece, sometimes the sayings have much deeper meanings. These are everyday sayings people recite to console or encourage, or to affirm some beliefs about life, and provide a connection to their homes far away. Through these sayings we can get a glimpse into another culture. Without having grown up in the subject’s culture we may never really understand the true meanings, but we do get a fresh awareness of just how differently we all view the world and life.

Over 100, 000 new immigrants arrive here each year, making up more than a third of the population and approximately 45% of the New York City workforce. We often hear that the city is a melting pot, but to me it’s not really true. There is more assimilation with higher education and income of course but most new immigrants stay in their own enclaves. As you move through the streets it feels like a cacophony of misunderstanding as we talk past and around each other. Yet it all somehow works because everyone who comes here have the same goals: to make it, to have a home and a job, to find that melting pot and fit in. To many of those I interviewed, these sayings can be quite meaningful and helpful to the newly arrived immigrant in search of comfort for the soul as they fight their way up the food chain in the big city.

My emotional connection and inspiration for this is the convergence of my return to NYC five years ago and getting to know the city with fresh eyes with the memories of my wife arriving in NYC as an immigrant from  Brazil in the 1970′s, learning English as she worked in a garment sweatshop, then babysitter, teacher and then assistant TV producer for O Globo. To this day she always has these sayings from the rural area of Brazil she came from that to me sound crazy– something is always lost in translation even though I speak passable Portuguese. In 2005 and 2006, I was commissioned by the Mayor’s office of Ecomonic Development to document the five boroughs. That put me back on the streets, meeting lots of new immigrants. So I’m combining a lot of those still images with the interviews in the final film.

A few weeks ago we shot Samuel from Ghana, see above  video link, who had some great sayings and stories. One of my favorites of his is “If you think you are smarter than everybody, you’ll end up wishing a goat ‘Good Morning!’” Meaning, if you get too conceited or overconfident you’ll soon make a foolish mistake. Samuel’s life here as an immigrant has been difficult and he thinks he will be returning to Ghana soon. Business has been bad ever since 9/11 and the recession has made it only worse. Yet he was very positive and commented that he often bolsters the hopes of his fellow drivers and Ghanians with appropriate sayings from home to keep them going here.

Our shoot day was saved when by multitalented Ron Dawson who filled in as DP. He blogged about our day here: Shooting Doug and “The Wisdom of New York” – Blade Ronner: The Blog of Ron Dawson

Please enjoy and let me know your thoughts– that’s the point of sharing a work in progress!

Friday
21
August 2009

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A TALK & WORKSHOP AT CPW

“ART vs. COMMERCE” Workshop at CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY WOODSTOCK AUG  22/23 – Some space still available, call now!

The Center for Photography at Woodstock

AND: SATURDAY, AUG 22, 7 PM: A TALK AT CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY WOODSTOCK: Fearless Genius: Silicon Valley 1985-2000, A Work in Progress
FG cvr_sun micro_small

Please join me at CPW for a presentation about my new book and documentary film in progress: “Fearless Genius.” The project covers the explosion of new technology in Silicon Valley in the 1980′s and 1990′s, from the digital revolution through the rise of the internet. I was in the right place and lucky enough to get access to the key innovators of the era, such as Steve Jobs and many others and spent 15 years inside the leading companies. The work explores the human side of technology development; the manic passion, struggles, and joys of the silicon dream, as well as the sacrifices made to create a whole new world.

Thursday
13
August 2009

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Digital PhotoPro Master’s Issue

I was delighted to be included which such esteemed company in the recent Master’s Issue and really appreciated the excellent writing by Richard Speer. I love how he picked out a very obscure image from my youth to talk about. It fits with my current efforts to revisit my past and I’m looking for the film from my teenage years now. Check out the rest of the issue as DPP is an incredibly useful publication. I am not Mr. Technical by any means and I learn something new every issue. I start out flipping through and end up bending my brain. Ck it out:

 Doug Menuez: Master of The Long Form – Digital Photo Pro | DigitalPhotoPro.comdpp-article

Wednesday
18
March 2009

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Digital PhotoPro Master's Issue

I was delighted to be included which such esteemed company in the recent Master’s Issue and really appreciated the excellent writing by Richard Speer. I love how he picked out a very obscure image from my youth to talk about. It fits with my current efforts to revisit my past and I’m looking for the film from my teenage years now. Check out the rest of the issue as DPP is an incredibly useful publication. I am not Mr. Technical by any means and I learn something new every issue. I start out flipping through and end up bending my brain. Ck it out:

 Doug Menuez: Master of The Long Form – Digital Photo Pro | DigitalPhotoPro.comdpp-article

Wednesday
18
March 2009

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