A Small Tribute To Stella Tennant.

Stella Tennant's passing in late December 2020 came as a really unexpected surprise. Her career had an enormous impact on me as a young photographer in the 1990s and I still looked up to her through the present day. Not many words can do her justice, but she was a very unique presence in the industry.

After spending nearly 30 years in the fashion world, her light vanished from here, but it will always remain with us through the power of photography. Here are a few random images shot by several of the photographers she worked with; -just a brief sample from the hundreds of editorials she appeared in during that period of time. Some of these photographs are well-known and others are more obscure. However, her glow is in all of them.

Farewell, Stella.

  1995 © Arthur Elgort 

2007 © Benjamin Alexander Huseby

2006 © Craig McDean 

1996 © Ellen von Unwerth 

2014 © Josh Olins

2015 © Craig McDean

1996 © Nathaniel Goldberg

2012 © Mario Testino

2006 © Patrick Demarchelier 

1993 © Steven Meisel 

2016 © Sarah Moon 

1995 © Terence Donovan

2001 © Steven Meisel

2004 © Steven Meisel 

2005 © Tim Walker 

2005 © Tim Walker

Woodstock: 50 Years of Peace and Music • 1969-2019 • Artifacts of a Long Time Gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about what the 1969 Woodstock Festival means, and specifically how it affected me. Since it undeniably did, -not only from a musical perspective, but from a very visual one, writing this post was important to me.

In context, I was born 6 years after Woodstock, in 1974, very far away from White Lake, Bethel - NY, where the festival was originally held. 

My copy of the Woodstock vinyl album - Released 1970 © Cotillion/Atlantic Records - Album cover photo by Burk Uzzle. 

I've lived in New York for a long time now, but so far haven't visited the site of the original festival: Max Yasgur's farm. Located in a treasured part of New York State, up in the Catskills, the place is mythical. There are a few reasons for not having been there yet (-basically work in NYC keeps me busy!-), but the main one being that I believe the people who were really there 50 years ago are the only ones who can have a real grasp of what the event did for them and their generation. The location and its significance can only be truly described first-hand by them, the attendees. Only they can really know how everything has changed in these 50 long years -though some may not remember at this point. 

But, for those of us who were magnetically drawn to the experience of the festival, especially through the film and the original soundtrack, Woodstock is also is a huge deal. It wasn't only "3 Days of Peace and Music". The legacy has been with us a full fifty years in time, since August 1969.

My copy of the Woodstock Two vinyl album - Released 1971 © Cotillion/Atlantic Records - Album cover photo by Wadleigh-Maurice Film Crew.

I discovered Woodstock and its older sibling -1967’s Monterey Pop-, when I was about 12 or 13, through an uncle who was a great music lover. Monterey Pop had an amazing lineup, and the film was masterfully directed by D.A. Pennebaker who we just lost a few weeks ago (R.I.P.). It really is an absolutely stunning visual and sonic piece of work, and The Criterion Collection did a gorgeous job on the remastering of the Blu Ray. Monterey Pop is one of the greatest films in my collection and is up there among my top-five favorite films of all time.

But Woodstock, the film, the documentary, is also up there. Directed by Michael Wadleigh. Edited by Wadleigh, Stan Warnow, Martin Scorsese, Yeu-Bun Yee, Jere Huggins, and Thelma Schoonmaker. All the editors deserve full-credit as this was a massive undertaking that masterfully compressed over 78-hours of filming into a 224-minute feature (on the director's cut version) -yet most people only cite Scorsese as the principal editor.

More of my Woodstock collection. Books by Michael Lang, Abbie Hoffman, Elliott Landy and memorabilia of posters, ticket stubs, DVD's, Blu Ray's, etc. © PBS, Reel Art Press, Elliott Landy, Michael Lang, Abbie Hoffman, Life Magazine and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Woodstock became the staple for every important festival that would follow. Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight, Live Aid, Lollapalooza, Roskilde, Coachella, Bonnaroo and all the others that are held today owe basically -everything- to Woodstock. And you can really SEE that when you see a full-screening of the film.

On those 3 days (actually, 4 -when counting Jimi Hendrix's performance on the morning of the last day, - / a Monday that implied that thousands of people had already left the originally 400K+ crowd because they had to go back to work), the appeal of the massive gathering that coexisted without peril, and under the psychotic weather, was enhanced by the thrill of witnessing such a lineup of artists perform on circumstances quite different from the ones we have today.

At some point after Joe Cocker's Sunday's performance, it all seemed to be approaching the verge of catastrophe, with the threat of collapsing/scaffolding audio towers and the risk of general electrocution, which funnily enough is always a thrill to watch.

The opening to the experience of Woodstock is really all encompassed in the film and in the original soundtrack. But mostly in the film. Every filmmaker or cinephile should watch Wadleigh's  Woodstock, and every musician should listen to at least 5 performances of the many ones recorded in the festival. Oh, and I know people who are filmmakers and consider themselves very cultured but have never watched a minute of Woodstock. They don't know what they are missing on every possible level.

So, now you can see how since I was a teenager I have been collecting almost everything that has been released about Woodstock and Monterey. 

These are just some of my Woodstock artifacts. Vinyl records, cd’s, magazines, newspaper articles, dvd’s, blu rays and books. No matter how much I look at the pictures and hear the sounds of the 1969 festival, I always find something new and exciting about the unfolding of the event and the energy it transmits. 

Another look at the quintessential artifacts: The soundtrack and the film. The original vinyl records and the 40th and 45th Anniversary editions of the films in DVD and Blu Ray discs. Packed with extras, they have a ton of previously unseen material. A real joy to watch and listen to in Hi-Fi. © Cotillion/Atlantic Records - Warner Bros. Pictures.

In a time when everyone seems to be bashing Michael Lang and company for not being able to make deals and secure permits to make a 50-year celebration happen, I think it’s totally fine (and probably better) that it didn’t happen this time. Nothing beats true originals. The music of today and the industry that merchandises it has very little to do with what was happening in the late ’60s. These are different times, and not necessarily thankfully.

* A very short text-less post about the festival (but with more pictures) was posted on my Instagram account on the exact date of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the festival, here

I'm sure I'll visit the location of the 1969 festival sometime soon; the bowl that held all those thousands of people. Woodstock turned it into a place of legendary status after being just a dairy farm. The farm owned by Max Yasgur, who believed in Lang, Roberts, Rossman, and Kornfeld, masterminds behind the festival's conception... Aren't we all supposed to go back to the garden anyway?

Eye Candy from Philippe Halsman / Dalí Atomicus (The Original Shot)

Wow 11 months have passed so far this year and I have been away. Tons of work, and fun, hence my blogging tasks left abandoned. But here's a little eye candy to make up for the lost time.

Philippe Halsman (no introduction necessary) met most of the members of the Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1930's while he was living there, and since the early 1940's he started a successful collaboration with the Spanish surrealist master Salvador Dalí.

This, perhaps the most iconic result of the collaboration was shot in 1948: "Dalí Atomicus". Most people know the final/retouched print of the photograph (which was done manually also in '48 -pre Photoshop era, of course, and I suppose very painstakingly in a darkroom, with extra careful attention to detail).

So, I was stumbling upon the many photographs I used to collect for photo-educational purposes and discovered this treasure that well deserves to be shared: Dalí Atomicus: The Original Shot, (in music terms, the remastered bonus track, or in film terms the extra feature on the Blue Ray/ DVD). It shows the cables that were holding things together and a pair of hands clutching the legs of the chair on the left side. It is a very rarely seen photograph in its original form, shot most probably in 8x10 (large) format and printed as a contact sheet.

Enjoy. It's a click away.

Dalí Atomicus - 1948 © Philippe Halsman 

(The more famous, manually retouched print that can be seen at MoMA in NYC)

The Timeless Photographic Past. Part V.

It's been a while since I posted in the "timeless past" series. This post covers 1970 to 1980.

My generation was born in this decade. Events in the field were unfolding so rapidly. Photography was everywhere by now, and almost everyone had an Instamatic camera to shoot or spare. Paralelly, professional photographers were charging enormous amounts of money for their commercial work. It was the strongest era of the printed magazine, and this lasted for another decade.

"Digital" was a word rarely heard of, and it meant computerized technology mainly, or something expensive and sophisticated, -related to science, and probably unreachable as the future, yet it felt as something relatively near and approaching.

The fine art world was also starting to recognize photography as an art form, and photography galleries were now opening in the major capitals of the world.

As an early son of 1974, I must confess that I cried as a child whenever a picture was being taken, especially if a flash was used and pointed at me (haha). It scared me to see so much light in front of my eyes. Very paradoxical, as I never knew I would become a photographer, and I always dreamed of being an architect.

My father inherited his duly Instamatic to me and I played with it, sparely. I remeber being interested in photo albums more than in the actual camera then. But all of that changed when I got my first Canon AE1-P, years later. I fell in love with it, and never let it go -until it was stolen inside of a good friend's car.

So speaking of photo albums, here's the historical compilation of some of my favorites from this decade.

Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg - 1971 © Benjamin Auger

 Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richards and Friends - 1971 © Dominique Tarlé 

Martinique - 1972 © André Kertész

Plank Piece -1973 © Charles Ray

Still from World on a Wire - 1973 © Rainer Werner Fassbinder 

Untitled (Red Veil) - © 1973 Shomei Tomatsu

The Red Ceiling, Greenwood Mississippi - 1973 © William Eggleston

Photo Transformation - 1974 © Lucas Samaras

Jack Nicholson and cast on the set of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - 1974 © Mary Ellen Mark

2nd Street East and South Main Street - 1974 © Stephen Shore

Michelangelo Antonioni on the set of "The Passenger" - 1975 © Floriano Steiner

Red Coat / Fifth Avenue NYC - 1975 © Joel Meyerowitz

Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles CA June 21, - 1975 © Stephen Shore

California - 1976 © Ernst Haas

Jodie Foster -1976 © Terry O'Neill

Frozen Foods - 1977 © Irving Penn

Mario Alberto Kempes after scoring with Argentina (vs. Holland) - 1978 © Unknown Photographer / Getty

Accelerator Bullet Hits Apple - 1978 © Harold E. Edgerton.

Sick of Goodbys (Sic) - 1978 © Robert Frank

World Trade Center Twin Towers, Lower Manhattan - 1978 © Thomas Struth

French Chris on the Convertible, NYC -1979 © Nan Goldin

Pedestrians Crossing a NewYork Street inWinter Time Cast Long Shadows -1980 © Ernst Haas

Untitled (Green Car) - 1980 © Helen Levitt

Blind Twins, Saint Mandé, France - 1980 © Jane Evelyn Atwood

Blooming and Ready.

These guys have been showing up around the windows.

With spring in full bloom now, they're feeling the warm-up of the season and getting ready to nest.

While giving me a chance to do some long tele-photo work, they're also making me some sort of weekend bird n' flower paparazzo. : )

Spring, New York - 2013 © Miguel Gómez.