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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CICADA SUMMER

The strange subterranean world around us has opened to release the Cicada after 17 years and our yard is abuzz. My wife Tereza adores these creatures that terrify me.

To me they are red-eyed monsters. She gathers them up and lets them climb her arms, gets them out of the driveway to safety while telling me stories about playing with them as a child in Brazil. YIKES! But I have to admit, they are definitely cool looking. Scary but cool.

Monday
27
May 2013

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The Cause of the Global Financial Meltdown?

©2013 Doug Menuez
Apparently a new trend among tourists visiting the mighty Wall St. bull sculpture has been added to the previous fad to rub the bull’s balls. Now they do a head thrust. Go figure! This image is from a previous post about my recent shoot for Nikon’s new Coolpix A camera: SANDY, MEET NIKON; NIKON, MEET SANDY | DOUG MENUEZ 2.0: GO FAST, DON’T CRASH
Thursday
14
March 2013

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IN GANGNAM EVERYDAY IS GANGNAM STYLE

It took a billion hits on “Gangnam Style” before I finally got around to checking out the video. So I’m watching this crazy guy and catch some quick cuts of Seoul and wondering what the hell Gangnam Style means and something tugs a memory. This area where we were shooting in Seoul a few years back really struck me then as unusually hyper-stylish, expensive and fashionable. It was like Roppongi Hills meets Beverly Hills on crack. I was jet-lagged and flew in for two quick days shoot at Chaum, a futuristic longevity medical center. So I looked on google and yup, we shot in the Gangnam District it turns out. It’s real, forms a neighborhood on the South side of the river in Seoul, and the basis for the style driving Psy’s video. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangnam_District)

For those as easily amused by coincidence as I am, here’s a quick look at the actual Gangnam of everyday in the streets around the Hyatt and at Chaum in 2 galleries below.

©Photographs by Doug Menuez/Stockland Martel

Tuesday
08
January 2013

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Farewell, Dick Clark (from Stockland Martel Blog)

Back in 2000, veteran creative director Jeff Griffith asked me to do Dick Clark’s portrait for his Atomic magazine interview. We showed up with my longtime stylist extraordinaire, Juliette Smith, at Mr. Clark’s Santa Monica Boulevard headquarters early one morning and were put in a waiting room so stuffed full of rock & roll  history and memorabilia that we couldn’t speak. Our eyes were bugging out of our heads as we tweaked on one sacred relic after another, the iconography of the religion of rock: an early Chuck Berry guitar; Little Richard’s first 45 rpm of “Long Tall Sally”; signed kit from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, you name it. Plus, original jukeboxes stuffed with old records, posters, letters, clothing—just about everything that Dick Clark could gather to tell the story of American music and his own role in helping launch rock & roll through his seminal show American Bandstand. The collection continued down all the halls and throughout the bunker-like offices…

Read full post here >>  http://stocklandmartelblog.com/2012/04/18/farewell-dick-clark/

 

Sunday
22
April 2012

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MOSCOW PHOTOBIENNALE: “FEARLESS GENIUS” INAUGURAL EXHIBITION

Just back from Moscow Photobiennale- what an amazing experience! The Russians have a long tradition of scientific and engineering excellence and seemed to really appreciate my project on Steve Jobs and Silicon Valley in the Digital Revolution. My booth was mobbed the whole night and 600 people showed up to hear my lecture Saturday at Skolkovo, the new tech institute and business school modeled after Stanford and MIT. They want to build the next Silicon Valley in Moscow and it looks like they can do it. Education and history are so important in Russia, which are key themes in my work I hope to create dialog around here in the US. What Olga Sviblova has built with the Moscow House of Photography is so impressive, a stunning cultural landmark for photography. Also inspiring was the work of my fellow photographers. I was honored to exhibit alongside such great artists as Harry Gruyeart, Andrew Bush, Alec Soth, Alinka Echeverria, Stephen Shore, Ouyang XIngkai, hilarious madman Tim Davis, Sergey Shestokov, Jane Stravs and several others. Getting to know some of them and hear their stories was life affirming for me. The vodka, great food and the Metro – which is like an art museum itself worth the trip – were all a sweet bonus to the trip.

Wednesday
04
April 2012

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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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COPYRIGHT IS NOT DEAD… yet.

Robert Levine has written a surprisingly readable, fascinating deconstruction of the rapid breakdown of the music and entertainment industry business model that began in the late 90′s and continues. “Free Ride: How the Internet is Destroying the Culture Business and How the Culture Business can Fight Back” is a sign of life for copyright as thinking people are sorting out how to save it. He details how the rapid rise of piracy as the internet grew, along with downloading and file sharing of music and videos, killed a muilti-billion dollar industry and taught a generation that stealing was ok. He does not cover photography, but our world and methods of earning a living from the sweat of our labor, also was devastated by the fantastic and wonderful new digital technologies. Russell Brown of Adobe once said about Photoshop in the beginning that it would not kill photography, it would simply be a new tool. With a hammer you can build a house or tear it down, he said. And I agree. The tearing down phase of our happy world has gone on mostly unabated by young happy consumers of free everything. The bad karma Steve Job’s predicted for these youngster’s naive theft may be that there are no jobs waiting as they graduate with their photography degrees. It’s time to start rebuilding.

Understanding what happened is part of the process of rectifying the situation. I recommend this book highly to all photographers. I’m hoping he’ll add an addendum about photography in the next edition.

Article in Businessweek about Google’s anti-copyright lobbying -
Saturday
29
October 2011

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O SABEDORIA DO BRASIL: A work in progress

I’m just back from Brazil where I’m continuing work on a project that seeks to find the roots of a vast culture at a time of massive change. Check out some of the images below. These are just a few from a small segment of the project about the Jangadeiros of the Northeast, traditional fisherman who risk their lives everyday in simple boats. I expect this to track over a few years and will post new material as time allows.

A Sabedoria do Brasil project traces a visitor’s journey (me) through a vast country with a singular mission: to gather the favorite proverbs, idiomatic sayings and stories of diverse people from all walks of life in every region. These sayings and proverbs, while sometimes trite, often provide real comfort and meaning while revealing the hidden roots and collective wisdom of the Brazilian psyche. It’s a simple idea that yields a fresh way to look at the culture.

Brazil is on fire with change. Beaches, Samba, Carnival and fútbol, although still fundamentally part of the culture, are moving into a supporting role as business is booming. Just as the country declared energy independence they found one of the world’s largest reserves of oil. The Olympics and World Cup are coming and real estate is off the hook expensive. The economy grew at something like 7.5% last year and although down closer to 5% this year is still smoking the US and Europe. The world is watching as the previously tagged “country of tomorrow” is fast becoming the country of today. Although the infrastructure remains challenging, crime and poverty are still massive problems, there is a new expanding middle class and lots of manufacturing, technology, financial and business jobs.  Brazil’s first female president recently took office and is continuing the trade practices of her predecessor.

Yet traditions remain, as you can see in these images of the fisherman of Flecheiras, Ceará. Orson Welles began a film about them in the early 1940′s that was never finished. The cinematography was stunning, and I took that as a good enough inspiration to make the trek up there to meet and visit. One older man told us a story about his grandfather out to sea and trying to drown a cat they discovered on board eating their bait. They pulled up the line later and were shocked to discover the cat tangled in their line, but amazingly grasping dozens of fish in its claws and teeth. Shocked but happy, they kept the cat going at this and came back with double their usual catch. As I listened at first I completely accepted this story as I’ve seen a lot of mysterious stuff in Brazil at this point. But then as I questioned the fisherman he then said that he heard this from his grandfather as the god’s truth.

And then his grandfather told him: “O pescador  não mente; ele aumenta, mas não inventa.”   “The fisherman doesn’t lie–he might embellish, but doesn’t invent.”

Thursday
06
October 2011

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