NEW WORK: ICONOCLASTS FOR SUNDANCE

Photograph ©2010 Doug Menuez
Every once in a while one of those really special assignments come along, this year there have been a few but now I can share one that has been personally very important to me: ICONOCLASTS. Recently we wrapped this project which we’ve been working on all year with Radical Media for the Sundance Channel to document the Iconoclasts series. The show is running now on the Sundance Channel and it is definitely worth checking out. You can see three galleries of edits of my work on my main site here: Doug Menuez

You can also read more about it here on the Stockland Martel blog: Interview: What does it take to photograph “Iconoclasts”? « Stockland Martel

This really was a once in a lifetime chance for me to do what I love to do, which is document everyday life, but in this case with leading cultural figures, some of whom like Dr. Jane Goodall, with whom we spent a week in the Congo along with the marvelous Charlize Theron, have dramatically impacted the world and how we think. I was essentially embedded with the documentary film crew in order to shoot a photo essay of the creation of each show, which features an interplay and dialog between two fascinating cultural figures. I shot stills while they shot cinema verite and also was asked to shoot portraits for the Sundance ad campaign (now in Vanity Fair), busides, web promotion, etc.

My killer first assistant Demetri Fordham (and when shooting locally also with my insanely good digital tech Quinton Jones)  travelled to Australia to shoot Cate Blanchett with environmentalist Tim Flannery at Cate’s theater company and with a Komodo dragon, to the Congo to shoot Jane Goodall with Charlize Theron at Jane’s chimpanzee research station, in New York we shot Hugh Jackman with restauranteur Jean-Georges boxing and cooking together, to the Bahamas to shoot Lenny Kravitz with director Lee Daniels where Lenny was recording his upcoming new album, and to Chicago to shoot director Ron Howard with Phoenix Suns basketball star Steve Nash where Ron was shooting a new movie. The last show was shot most recently in NY with painter Chuck Close and magician David Blaine where we visited Chuck’s Soho studio and David’s inspiration Houdini, at Houdini’s grave in Queens.

What was so cool for me was having shot many, many artists, actors, musicians over the years, but particularly in my early photojournalist days in the 1980’s, there was a wonderful, easy atmosphere and complete access. Back in the day, you rarely had publicists controlling the shoots, unlike now where there is intense control. You also usually had much more time to spend with people in the early 80’s. Of course there were publicists but rarely did one ask what lens you were planning to use or approve your idea before you shot, and it was very rare that anyone asked to approve the work before publication. You could sometimes get days or a week with someone and document their daily life, building a rapport and from which would come candid moments as well as a meaningful portrait. The magazine might only want and need that portrait but you were given time to get it in an organic way that involved a lot of trust on both sides. Now with the relentless onslaught of paparazzi and general nasty coverage of personalities there has come a natural desire by the artists to control their image.

This makes sense but it leads to an impossible situation in terms of getting natural, documentary images. There has been a breakdown of trust. The publicists are just doing their jobs, even if with someone they trust their efforts actually can work against the best interests of their clients in terms of getting images that really stand out and show their clients in ways that resonate with their public. But I can’t blame them. And for Iconoclasts, a rare truce is invoked, honest interplay between the personalities on the show ensues and the results are fascinating. Anyway, this shoot was a rare breathing space for me to photograph some really innovative, creative people doing amazing work in a truly intimate way. Just a sheer joy for me and I thank Radical and Sundance and the Iconoclasts themselves of course for the stunning opportunity.

Thursday
04
November 2010

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NEW EDITS ON MAP

Please see our new edit of hands now on Menuez Archive Projects:  Menuez Archive Projects Home I’ve always been obsessed with how hands express so much of a person’s character. Along with the eyes, hands can be almost another form of a portrait. And also ck out Stockland Martel’s blog about this edit here:

Doug Menuez on photographing hands « Stockland Martel

Wednesday
13
October 2010

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NEVER SHOOT KIDS OR ANIMALS

HA! Why can’t I get that simple, age-old rule from ancient photo wisdom figured out? Because kids are endlessly fascinating. And unpredictable. And chaotic. And that’s good fun. I also think I’m attracted to shooting kids because I grew up so fast and am now starting slowly to regress to a second childhood. At least that’s a goal. And although I’ve shot kids all over the world in various cultures, becoming a parent really gave me a heightened awareness of the curious child mindset. I love to try to imagine what they are imagining. But today we are launching a special edit called “CHILDHOOD” on Menuez Archive Projects and featuring a tight edit from our archive of some favorite shots of children. You can read about it on the Stockland Martel blog here and see it by clicking the link or image below.

Doug Menuez on photographing kids (hint: Forget about being the boss) « Stockland Martel

Menuez Archive Projects Home

©2010 Doug Menuez/ Menuez Archive Projects

Wednesday
22
September 2010

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NEW SANTA FE WORKSHOP + CONTEST

I’m delighted to announce I will be teaching again at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops this winter AND you can win it (or another of your choice) by entering the first ever Santa Fe Photo Workshop Contest. The theme is “FAMILY” and the deadline is September 15, with $14,000 in prizes! Crazy, I know. Let’s go! Photography Contest | Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Santa Fe, New Mexico

My new workshop is called “The Human Experience: Making a Difference with Your Photographs,” February 13-19,  2011.  It’s about how to take your personal projects and give them structure and creating synergistic funding opportunities, how to do traditional and self-published books, new models for distribution and marketing and non profits and all that good stuff, more details soon. But I want to find photographers who are trying to make images that are meaningful and help them find ways to realize their projects. Not easy!

Santa Fe Photo Workshop Contest: Family

Wednesday
08
September 2010

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NEW BOOK: EVIDENCE OF LOVE

Please check out my new book now on sale at Blurb– EVIDENCE OF LOVE ON PLANET EARTH: PHOTOGRAPHS 1978 – 2010 | By Doug Menuez | Category: Arts & Photography | Blurb — our first book from Menuez Archive Projects. An edit of the archive for a show we did to launch and is on the them of love. Don’t we all want to find true love? Edited by famed Picture Editor Karen Mullarkey (Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone). Hope you enjoy. Artist’s statement below…

EVIDENCE OF LOVE ON PLANET EARTH: PHOTOGRAPHS 1978 – 2010

We all want to be loved––it’s built into our DNA. Along with the need for food and shelter, love, or the lack thereof, is clearly the main driving wheel of civilization and the arts. No matter how cool or important you are, how hip your clothing, friends or hang-outs, deep down you want to find and connect with that one person who will make life worth living. You just do.

Some say that every film is a variation on one of only six or seven themes from life. Most of these themes center on  love––the loss of love, the triumph of love, the betrayal and deceit of false lovers, and so on. We need love so badly that we often trivialize that need until it becomes a trite subject, masking the pain of such a profound and crucial component of our human psyches.

These images were pulled from my work going back 30 years and show moments that reflect a fundamental aspect of being alive: the act of loving another human being. Love and lust are intertwined, and there are consequences to both, of course. Selecting photographs around this theme from my archive was a wonderful revelation in that I found I’ve been particularly alert to love in its various manifestations over the years. I guess that makes me a voyeur.

Thursday
20
May 2010

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CRAZY MAD LAUNCH PARTY SHOW

Many thanks to all our friends, families, partners and supporters who all turned out in force for a massive, insane mob scene at our Menuez Archive Projects launch party Thursday. We finished printing the show of my work curated by Karen Mullarkey “Evidence of Love on Planet Earth: Photographs 1978-2010” at the last minute with help from Innova paper and Duggal Labs and it looked fantastic. With all the work to get to that point, I probably overdid it as I’m still recovering today. Thanks again to everyone who showed up! We’ll post some proper party photos by Whitney Kidder on our MAP page on facebook soon. But here’s a brief iPhone vid from Christopher Beauchamp, our Sales & Marketing Director from his special vantage point of being 10 ft tall:
Screen shot 2010-02-20 at 12.20.17 PM
Sunday
21
February 2010

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DENNIS STOCK 1928-2010.

Dennis Stock & Susan Richards after exchanging wedding vows in 2006.

Dennis Stock & Susan Richards after exchanging wedding vows in 2006 at their house in Woodstock, NY. ©2010 Doug Menuez.

Dennis Stock has died at the age of 81. He began his long career at Magnum in 1951 shortly after winning first prize in the LIFE Magazine young photographers contest. Widely known for his intimate portraits and coverage of James Dean, Dennis covered a wide range of stories for all the major magazines,  publishing at least 16 books. He was always finding the heart of the subject matter and making compelling, beautifully composed photographs that everyone of my generation grew up remembering. He was a living link to what he often called a “golden” age of photography and an inspiration to me and countless others.

Dennis made pictures that get into your head and never leave. Simple moments that articulate a whole culture. His work in jazz and covering the hippie movement are great examples. He did this with passion and grace and with an open mind and heart. This was a man who lived and breathed photography and exemplified the life well lived.

He was also a dear friend and mentor and his gift to me was a constant vigilance and questioning of what I was doing or planned to do. He helped me immensely at a time when I was at a crossroads with very generous advice. He sometimes had a harsh style and could be intimidating, but that was because of his tremendous passion and belief in his ideas. He was old school, and unwilling to tolerate the least amount of bullshit from anyone. But he had a heart of gold and cared deeply about people, the world in which he lived, and his friends and family.

In my last conversation with Dennis a few days before he died he had just been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and given two months to live. Yet it was not really a sad conversation and we made plans to visit this weekend. He was too fierce to give up and I certainly could not accept the diagnosis as any kind of reality. But it was definitely the gentlest, easiest conversations we’ve had. Usually we debated the many issues we disagreed on. We even debated the ones we agreed on actually. But in this conversation he talked lovingly of his dear wife, the bestselling author and memoirist Susan Richards, who met and married Dennis three years ago. She brought him immeasurable happiness and balance at the very end of his long life, a blessing. He spoke of his “brilliant” son and grandson and their families. He was immensely proud of his offspring and described their considerable and impressive accomplishments. We talked about his years with Magnum, about his mentors and inspirations, his longtime colleagues he admired such as Elliott Erwitt, and his battles and frustrations.

An example of the kind of thing we would talk about a lot was compostion.  During our last talk, without any sense of bragging or ego, Dennis said, “for whatever reason, I was given the ability to frame anything. I can make a great composition instinctively.” He was stating a fact. Just look at his pictures. He also deeply believed in the precepts of HCB in regard to it not being enough to capture the moment, you had to also frame that within a pleasing geometric composition. For Dennis, this is how you catch the eye of the viewer, and this is how you make your pictures memorable.

We talked about his early days and I asked him about Eugene Smith. He told a few Smith anecdotes and the story about how Smith hired and fired him and sent him to Gjon Mili. We got on to the subject of the uncanny portrait taken by Andreas Feininger that graced the cover of LIFE after Dennis won the award in 1951. Dennis mentioned that a few years back one of his workshop students came to him and asked if he could recreate that portrait of Dennis. Although Dennis was a skeptical of the idea he consented and was quite amused and happy with the result in that he had this sort of bookend set of portraits at the beginning and near end of his life.

We once had a show at our former Woodstock Gallery of his Hollywood work, which was a rare and crazy priviledge. In general, except as I said for this last conversation, Dennis kicked my ass almost every time we spoke– constantly, urgently talking to me about what I was doing, or what he thought I should be doing, with my work and my life. That was a gift I can never repay. I was truly lucky to meet him and have him in my life, even briefly.

Dennis was the real deal. He will be sorely missed.

Wednesday
13
January 2010

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

©2009 Doug Menuez.

©2009 Doug Menuez.

New Yorker’s always find the upside in any situation. Yeah, tough, but kinda optimistic too. Wishing you lots of NY attitude this holiday season.

Wednesday
23
December 2009

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THE REAL DEAL: JOHN HARRINGTON’S NEW BOOK

We all want to spend the majority of our time shooting images as opposed to managing the business and following the basic practices that keep us shooting. In the RESOLVE blog and this space, I’ve tried to share some of my experience with an underlying message about striving for longevity and how to merge art and commerce. Which is why I highly recommend John Harrington’s updated new book “Best Business Practices for Photographers.” It’s well written and compelling and his core theme is also that we must think long-term to make good business decisions. We must face up to the responsibility of our own careers and lives and John sets out a beautiful foundation to build on. All photographers benefit when we improve our business practices. Please take a look:

Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington – Rave Reviews

Sunday
18
October 2009

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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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