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“What?” you may ask, regarding the odd title of this post..
“what the f***??” was what i asked no one in particular when i recieved the first of what ended up being 10 mails today from middle-school students in Oregon, all seeking answers to a question presented to them on some scavenger hunt they’re taking part in.
The question apparently starts out with a quote from an article published in the New York Times earlier this year. The quote is as follows: “Cartier-Bresson is no Guoleifsdóttir” The rest of the question has to do with where i post my photos, and how many megapixels my favorite camera has. (who made up this question in the first place is what i’d like to know..)
Now, before i go any further, let me state the following:
My last name is Guðleifsdóttir, not Guoleifsdóttir. Misspelling my last name, however, was only one of several things that pissed me off about that article, that quote being another one. The way I saw it, the point of the quote was not to make me appear to be a better photographer than legend Henri Cartier-Bresson, (that in itself would have been ridiculous anyway) . But rather, to point out that if Cartier-Bresson were just starting out today, and were to post his photos on Flickr, the average flickr user wouldn’t recognize their brilliance because they don’t adhere to the aesthetic values that we modern folks have become accustomed to, in light of the extra dazzle and special effects that digital photography and photoshop have enabled even the most amateur photographer to add to their photos. The average flickr user would not appreciate the precise framing and mood of the masters black and white photos.
The point of the comparison was, in short, to point out that even tho my photos have become hugely popular on Flickr, it doesn’t count because (according to the writer of the article) the average flickr user is an idiot that doesn’t have the necessary background in photo and art history to know a good photo when they see one.
For this condescending assumption, I begrudge the writer of the article. Even tho it may well be true that the average flickr viewer does not, in fact, have any background in studying art or making profound and enlightened statements on the validity of a photograph, I personally believe the average person should not in fact NEED such a background to appreciate artwork. I’m interested in reaching not just people who can sound really smart at a snooty NY gallery opening, but normal people, who feel something when looking at my photographs, and are in some way moved by what they see.
Art should be for everyone who enjoys looking at it, and you can quote me on that.
Now, having gotten that much-needed rant out of my system, I’m going to answer the kids’ question.
My favorite camera at the moment is a canon 5D, as its the best camera I’ve owned so far.
It has around 12 megapixels;)
I post some of my photos on flickr, but as of last month my more artistic work has been removed from there, and is only visible on my personal website,
Good luck with the rest of the scavenger hunt guys.
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(i decided it was time for )
1. When i was 4 years old, i came very close to drowning. i was pulled from the bottom of the pool where i’d been playing by a stranger, a woman who’s name i never knew.
2. I had to learn how to swim three times. First when i was six, again at age 8, and again at age 9. How I managed to forget how to swim in between still baffles me. I suspect it had something to do with a suppressed memory of almost drowning.
3. Between the ages of 13 and 15, i was the biggest Led Zeppelin fan ever. I was deeply in love with Robert Plant (the 70′s version of him in any case), and spent hours drawing amazingly good pencil renditions of the photos inside the book that came with the “remasters” cassette collection my brother owned. (Later he bought all of their albums on cd, and I spent an estimated 5 hours every day listening to them) Some of these drawings were done on the inside of the loose-leaf binder I used at school, and got me more than a few admiring comments from classmates who, on the whole, had never heard of Led Zeppelin, and viewed me as a bit of a weirdo.
4. I am a bit of a weirdo.
5. When i was 15, (1993) i bought myself an accoustic guitar. I had planned on buying an electric one, but somehow my mother talked me out of it. I daydreamed about Jimmy Page teaching me how to play. I got as far as teaching myself how to strum the basic chords to “heart of gold” by neil young (even sang along, as i recall, when nobody was in earshot) , but i think i gave up on actually learning to play before my 16th birthday came around.
6. I have never seen the movie “reality bites”.
7. My temper has cost me 3 jobs.
8. I’m afraid of spiders.
9. I’ve been lifting weights seriously for 12 years, but am never quite happy with my body.
10. I often laugh at my own wit, usually when no one else does.
11. While writing this, I’m supposed to be working on updating my school portfolio… go figure..
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As those who follow my flickr page regularly have probably noticed, i recently did a school project involving a large number of paper airplanes. Months ago the idea of an empty trashcan surrounded by a mountain of paper planes popped into my head, and kept resurfacing until i just decided to use the idea for a “finished work” i had to turn in at the end of a 4-week course at school (im on my final year studing visual arts at Icelands Academy of the Arts)
Before thinking much about how i’d shoot the final outcome, i set about creating the planes, which turned out to be far more time consuming and boring than i somehow imagined it would be. After a week or so of spending an hour here and an hour there folding paper, i started feeling the whole thing was rather pointless if not downright silly. I decided to photograph the work process, and got a surprisingly good image from that, which at least made the trouble seem a little bit more worthwhile.
With a little more than a week to go before turning in, i still didn’t really know where or how i was going to photograph all these planes, and began losing interest in the project. I got a vague idea that it might be cool to get a real office to use as a “set” , but had no idea where i’d find an office.
At the dinner table one evening, i asked my parents if they had any bright ideas, and my dad suggests “why not borrow the office of the Minister of Education . It’s a school project and all.. ” My mom agrees that this is a neat idea, and i look at both of them like they’ve lost their minds, and say “right.. like she’s gonna just loan me her office to fill up with paper planes” and then my older son says “i dare you mom.. you’re not chicken are you?” and that did it.
I sent a letter describing the project to the Ministry of Education, and then patiently waited to get a “no, that’s not possible” response in return. After more than a day with no reply i started feeling like a downright fool, but then i actually got a call , from the minsters secretary, wanting more details about the project, and she says they’re considering my request. That was on a thursday. On monday morning, (4 days before i had to turn in the finished project), I still hadn’t gotten any response so i called just to make sure i’d have to figure out a plan B, but instead i was told that i was welcome to use the office that day.
My friend Sara came along to help, and we got these really weird looks from the lady working in the reception, had to assure her that we did indeed have permission to be there ( i don’t blame her really , we had 3 large bags, one of them an ugly black trashbag, filled with paper airplanes, two camera bags and a tripod, and i was dressed like a really fake looking “businesswoman” )
Anyway, i shot both film (slides film which i cross-processed) and digital, the somehow came out better for computer screen viewing, but what i turned in was a print from one of the negatives, which im going to post here for comparison.
As you can see, this is not just a simple scan of the negative, however, i’m not going to disclose, for now , how i got that weird look to it. Feel free to guess, and i might explain it in a comment below. (It looks a lot better printed large and framed, you’ll just have to take my word for it)
Why there’s a disembodied head perching on the corner of the desk is a whole other story, which i’ll explain in a later post, a week or so from now.
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Ok.. i uploaded that photo first for chuckles.. That’s my cousin Berglind and her husband, they were married yesterday, and while they’d hired a “real” photographer (i’m no wedding photographer, tho i’ve shot two weddings before.. found it’s really not for me) , she wanted me to take a few portraits as well. Funny how time flies.. there’s a picture in a photo album somewhere, taken in the year 1988, that shows me, age 9, sitting in a chair with Berglind, age 3, in my lap, at a beach house that her family was vacationing at in Sarasota, Fl. (My family was living in Gainesville, Fl, at the time, and came to visit them) Seeing her yesterday, looking raidiantly beautiful and grown up, i couldn’t help think of that photo , and how odd it would have seemed to me then, to know i’d be photographing her on her wedding day, and me still unmarried Life’s funny that way. Anyway, all rambling aside, i thought i’d use the opportunity to show off a few photos from these three photoshoots , since i never uploaded any of them on flickr.
One of the two weddings i shot last summer was when Berglinds’ older brother, Jón Þór (we’re the same age, and played together when we were less than 3 feet tall ), got married .. Jón Þór and his wife Guðrún are quite possibly the jolliest, cutest couple alive…
the other wedding last summer was shot in Eskifjörður, which is as far from my hometown of Hafnarfjörður as you can get, without actually leaving Icelnad. That was likely the hardest job i’ve ever done. I drove off at 4 a.m. , to be sure to get there with plenty of time left over. Half an hour into my trip, in heavy fog, i managed to hit and kill a bird, that just HAD to be sitting in the middle of the damn road. I was off to a great start. At Vik í mýrdal, i decided to take a short nap before continuing. Accidentally slept for over 3 hours. So off i rushed, getting more and more stressed with each passing hour. To make the trip more colorful, i picked up two 20 year old swiss hitch-hikers, who just happened to have shot a wedding together not too long previously, and they entertained me with stories of how much could go wrong during such a gig.. After dropping them off, i managed to get stuck in the town of Djúpivogur, driving several aimless circles and not finding the right exit, because by then i was panicking that i’d not only be late, i’d never even manage to find the town of Eskifjörður at all.. It shouldn’t, in all honesty, even be possible to get “lost” in a town as small as Djúpivogur. My mistake was actually driving into the town in the first place.. i thought i was supposed to go thru it. I wasn’t. I actually had to stop at a cafe there and ask for directions. Come to think of it, I imagine i’m the only person to ever, actually, get stuck in Djúpivogur. So, i drove back the way i’d come, passing the young hitchhikers again, where i’d left them 10 minutes earlier, feeling enormously stupid. After a quick, desperate perusal of the map, i figured out where i was supposed to go next, and about 2 towns from Eskifjörður, it started raining. (it had been sunny the entire trip, and i was going to photograph them outdoors..this just kept looking better and better..) I finally arrived in Eskifjörður at 3:45 pm, after nearly 12 hours of travelling, a mere 15 minutes before the ceremony started, all sweaty and exhausted.. Just had time to throw on a dress and pantyhose, which i of course managed to tear in all the rush, just a little boost for my confidence before shooting the ceremony.. Amazingly, despite the murphy’s law feel of the whole day, the actually photoshoot went well, and the people were happy with their photos. So, all in all, a great experience.
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.. and then reaching those goals, is that once the goal has been reached and is behind you, you can’t just kick up your heels and say “there. I totally aced that. ” and just feel content. Not if you’re me at least. You have to set a new one, otherwise, you get the feeling you’re not going anywhere…
To clarify: In March this year i started running again.. (i’ve been jogging off and on since i was 16, but became somewhat lazy in the last few years)
30 minutes on a treadmill was exhausting to begin with. I kept at it , and started running outdoors as soon as the weather started getting better.. Going from half an hour to 45 minutes , to an hour or more , in a rather short period of time. By May, when i managed to run for 84 minutes nonstop, I decided I would aim at competing in the Reykjavík Marathon in late August, and run a half marathon (21 kilometers)
So, i’ve been training all summer, steadily increasing my distances until the other day (or night) I ran for 108 minutes.. not sure about the distance but i figured somewhere between 16-18 km. Being impatient, I felt compelled last night to just go ahead and try for half a marathon. Yes, in the middle of the night. Alone. With no one to witness it. Doing it the other way, with the crowds and the accurately measured distance and people cheering, is altogether too ordinary.
Got up around 3:30, was off at 3:50, and ran, for what seemed like an eternity, in the morning stillness (well, it was actually quite windy and chilly, but I wasn’t passed by a single car or pedestrian, so stillness of that sort at least) . At one point, when running past a field where there’s a nesting area for several kinds of birds, I had to dodge a gull that did its very best to shit on my head.. Seriously.. it spotted me, turned and dived low, and let go with a generous glop , which landed approximately 2 feet to my left. But only because I veered two feet to the right. Too close for comfort that was. I added a generous extra half hour loop to the approximate 16 km I ran a few days earlier, and when i finally arrived back home, (ending the run with a looong grueling uphill climb, with plenty of headwind) it was 6:08. Two hours and 18 minutes of nonstop running. If that wasn’t at least 21 km, i’ll eat my running shoes. For at least an hour, I allowed myself to bask in a feeling of accomplishment, trying to ignore the fact that my knees seemed to have stopped working temporarily, and my right ankle refused to properly carry my weight.
But now what?? Does this mean i actually have to aim for a full marathon one of these days? Knowing me… probably.
But hell. For now, yay! I did it !