Save the Date: Oct. 25 or Will the real Jens Lekman please stand up!

Long before Jen Bekman made him a household word, Jens Lekman has captivated me. It may be a little-known fact that I have a soft spot for ukele players. Yes, forget what you’ve heard about the bass player, it’s the guy strumming the uke that’s really got soul. His lyrics also got me. My first introduction was “Pretty Shoes” a paean to a much disliked former hippie friend who had no trouble compromising his principles by wearing $100 nikes sewn together by modern slave labor. Not wanting to be unfair, the narrator (protagonist) realizing that “one can’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes” decides to steal the shoes. Unfortunately this never unites the former friends but it does create one hell of a song.

My current Jens obsession is “Black Cab,” a very poppy melody about killing a party with one’s bad mood, missing the tram home, and risking one’s life in the notorious black cabs of Sweden. For those of us who remember when the metro shut down at midnight, who can’t relate? Anyway, I was delighted to see that Jens, the real Jens is coming to the Black Cat on Oct. 25. Bring your lighter, I’m sure there will be a Freebird encore. With a ukele backup, natch.


I am a Certified Photography Professional Whose Tools of the Trade are Worthy of Dissemination

I received a message in my inbox a few months back from a young editorial assistant inquiring if I had any secrets of the photography trade I might pass on. Yes, I was surprised as those of you who know me personally might be, as I am a veritable troglodyte who doesn’t like to upgrade photoshop and disdains the latest technological advancements as a bunch of “hooey.” Needless to say, Popular Photography Magazine has honored my tech tip with publication, and while I admit it is nowhere near as fine as the other contributors, I guess I got an “A” for effort.

When I read out loud (after I finished choking on a bit of hilarity-derived sputum that had gotten stuck in my throat) my “tech-tip” to my erstwhile biggest supporter and paramour, he asked me, “Do you really do that?” And yes, gentle reader, I have done it. I used this technique on the first real frame I made of my CONSUMED project, and have not used it again since. Witness the love:

Too Long at the Fair, McArthur, Ohio, 2004

Too Long at the Fair, McArthur, Ohio, 2004

My motto? Reuse and recycle!

Pictures from H Street NE

Child Care, H St NE, Washington, DC © Susana Raab 2007

Child Care, H St NE, Washington, DC © Susana Raab 2007

Scanning photos while learning how to use my new Epson 750 wet-mounting and the luminous landscapes camera to print tutorials. Where is the love??? I am so over the computer!

Who the #@$% is Martin Munkácsi?

the last warm rays of sunshine, ca. 1929 © Joan Munkacsi

Lovely autumn: the last warm rays of sunshine, ca. 1929 © Joan Munkacsi

In part due to a comment I read in another blog on “good work rising to the top” and the proliferation of galleries and museums showing the work of over-celebrated photographers, I’ve decided to add a feature, celebrating somewhat lesser-known, forgotten, or obscure photographers. Now obviously I don’t have time to research deep into the vaults of photographic obscurity, because this is already cutting into my personal shooting time as it is, but I hope that the photographers I find will serve as inspirational and cautionary tales. I realize that those of you living in vast metropolises may have seen all this before, so bear with me, perhaps I should rename this category “photographers of whom I was previously unaware,” but this list would be so vast and filled with such famous names that it would be embarrassing. Ignorance is bliss et al.

My first installation of the series is dedicated to Martin Munkácsi, who I discovered through one photo in the page of Conde Nast Traveler, but who is fortunately having a little revival now thanks to retrospectives at the ICP (in 2004) and currently at SF MOMA.

This from the source of all things internet verite, Wikipedia:

Munkácsi was a newspaper writer and photographer in Hungary, specializing in sports. At the time, sports action photography could only be done in bright light outdoors. Munkácsi’s innovation was to make sports photographs as meticulously composed action photographs, which required both artistic and technical skill.

More than just sports and fashion, he photographed Berliners, rich and poor, in all their activities. He traveled to Turkey, Sicily, Egypt, London, New York, and famously Liberia, for photo spreads in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung.

The speed of the modern age and the excitement of new photographic viewpoints enthralled him, especially flying. There are aerial photographs; there are air-to-air photographs of a flying school for women; there are photographs from a Zeppelin, including the ones on his trip to Brazil, where he crosses over a boat whose passengers wave to the airship above.

On March 21, 1933, he photographed the fateful “Day of Potsdam”, where the aged President Paul von Hindenburg handed Germany over to Adolf Hitler. On assignment for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, he photographed Hitler’s inner circle, ironically because he was a Jew and a foreigner.

In 1934, the Nazis nationalized the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, fired its Jewish editor-in-chief, Kurt Korff, and replaced its innovative photography with pictures of German troops.

Munkácsi left for New York, where he signed on, for a substantial $100,000, with Harper’s Bazaar, a top fashion magazine. Innovatively, he often left the studio to shoot outdoors, on the beach, on farms and fields, at an airport. He produced one of the first articles illustrated with nude photographs in a popular magazine.

Martin Munkacsi, photographing for Harper’s Bazzar in Long Island, taking an angle shot of a diver, 1935 © Joan Munkacsi

Martin Munkacsi, photographing for Harper’s Bazzar in Long Island, taking an angle shot of a diver, 1935 © Joan Munkacsi

His portraits include Katharine Hepburn, Leslie Howard, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Jane Russell, Louis Armstrong, and the definitive dance photograph of Fred Astaire.

Munkácsi died in poverty and controversy. Several universities and museums declined to accept his archives, and they were scattered around the world.

Berlin’s Ullstein Archives and Hamburg’s F. C. Gundlach collection are home to two of the largest collections of Munkácsi’s work.

In 1932, the young Henri Cartier-Bresson, at the time an undirected photographer who catalogued his travels and his friends, saw the Munkácsi photograph Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika, taken on a beach in Liberia. Cartier-Bresson later said, “For me this photograph was the spark that ignited my enthusiasm. I suddenly realized that, by capturing the moment, photography was able to achieve eternity. It is the only photograph to have influenced me. This picture has such intensity, such joie de vivre, such a sense of wonder that it continues to fascinate me to this day.” He paraphrased this many times during his life, including the quotation, “I suddenly understood that photography can fix eternity in a moment. It is the only photo that influenced me. There is such intensity in this image, such spontaneity, such joie de vivre, such miraculousness, that even today it still bowls me over.”

Richard Avedon said of Munkácsi, “He brought a taste for happiness and honesty and a love of women to what was, before him, a joyless, loveless, lying art. Today the world of what is called fashion is peopled with Munkácsi’s babies, his heirs…. The art of Munkácsi lay in what he wanted life to be, and he wanted it to be splendid. And it was.”

In 2007, the International Center of Photography mounted an exhibit of Munkácsi’s photography titled, Martin Munkácsi: Think While You Shoot! in conjunction with the show Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Scrapbook: Photographs, 1932-46.

Fred Astaire on his Toes, 1936 © Joan Munkacsi

Fred Astaire on his Toes, 1936 © Joan Munkacsi

I don’t know how one could burn through $100000 in the 1930’s, but I am inspired on many levels: to shoot some black and white, to up the savings in my retirement account, and to finish up this blog post to go out and shoot.

Counterculture Show at District Fine Arts Gallery

Richard Friedman informs me that 9 of his images are in a group show at the District Fine Arts Gallery through Oct. 13

here’s the 411:

Tues-Sat 11-6:30

1726 Wisconsin Ave NW

Interesting words from Alan Tompkins who is a 99 year-old painter and NOT an artist

Cathie in Red by Alan Tompkins

Cathie in Red by Alan Tompkins

Alan Tompkins is trying to define his legacy. The novogenarian says, “I am a painter. I resist using the word ‘artist’ even. But I painted. I’ve devoted my life to it, and that’s one of my wishes to be known as a painter.” Influenced by Picasso, Klee, Matisse and others, Tompkins says the inspiration for his paintings comes from life and his thoughts about it. But ask Tompkins to discuss his works in more detail and he can’t.

“If I did so, I would be speaking against my theory,” he says. “There is no verbal equivalent to a painting. The minute you try to do it, you’re off track. You’re losing your way. Words are incapable of repeating what graphics can give you.”

He goes on to say that words can get in the way of appreciating art, and believes exhibits should be viewed in silence. He mentions the silent viewings held every Wednesday at the New Britain Museum of American Art, which houses one of his paintings. And I was having such a fun time skipping through the National Gallery listening to Ralph Stanley on my IPod, but in deference to Tompkins I’m going to give the silent treatment a try.

“Think how rare that is today, ” he says. “Turn on your television set and you get a thousand images thrown at you with music. You go to the movies, always music and voice. When you use the sense of sight by itself, there is a whole richness of life that can be revealed to you through the graphical elements.” Reminds me of the story of the blind person who upon regaining her sight, wished only to be blind again, such was the sensory overload of her world now.

Tompkins was born in 1907 in New Rochelle, NY, the youngest of three children. He eventually earned degrees from Yale and Columbia (flunking out of calculus and thus avoiding a degree in engineering, necessitag his switch to art history b/c Columbia did not have an art dept at the time). In the 30’s he was awarded commissions for murals at three post offices in Indiana and a fourth in North Carolina. He eventually became director of the Hartford Art School.

Peru Needs Your Help

Mother and Child, Cusco, Peru © Susana Raab 2004

Mother and Child, Cusco, Peru © Susana Raab 2004
I am by birth and on my father’s side, Peruvian. On Saturday, Peru suffered a devastating earthquake to the south of Lima which has displaced tens of thousands of people. This is one of those situations where if we all give a little, we can help a lot. If you’ve been looking for someway to make a contribution this summer amidst bacchanals of backyard bbqs here’s how:

The earthquake of August 15, has left 34,000 families without a home, more than 1,000 wounded, countless others severely injured that had to be evacuated to Lima, and more than 500 dead. The most affected are the people of Pisco, Chincha, and Ica. They need our support. They need blood, coats, food, tents, water and money.

Luis Campos, director of @clubdeperuanos, went to Pisco and let us know that the damage is beyond comprehension, although there are a lot of people helping, the area affected is too big they need more and more help so they can reach everyone that has been left with nothing.

One way to help all of the people is with money through Peruvian organizations that are working in the affected areas or through the North American organizations that have opened exclusive bank accounts for helping Peru.

If you would like to help with food or other items, it would be appreciated, but you must also consider that the cost of transportation of this help to Peru is going to be more in some cases, than the price of the item you are donating. That is why a monetary donation is the best way to help.

How to actually help? The Peruvian embassy in Washington DC has opened a bank account at HSBC Bank. The info for this account is at the end of the communication. Also if you prefer, you can make a direct transfer to the accounts set at the Peruvian banks such as Interbank.

Another alternative to make a donation is through North American charity organizations that have established specific accounts for the victims of the earthquake. These are:

a. Unicef:
b. Save the Children:
c. Oxfam America:
d. America Cares:
e. IR Teams:

These organizations have already created a fund for our country, so you have to be sure you are specifying a donation for the victims of the earthquake in Peru.

We would appreciate if you send this letter to your American friends, so they can also help.

Bank information for donations:

For Caritas Peru: (
Account Name: “Emergencia por los damnificados del Terremoto en Pisco, Ica y Canete”
Account Number: 201030010003521
ABA: 067015355

Un techo para mi Pais:
Please go to: (You can donate there with your credit card).

Account Name: “Damnificados Ica – Peru”
Account Number: 200-0000001118
The following money transfer services will not charge any commissions for transfers to the Interbank account:
Xoom, Bancomercio, Uno, Dolex, BTS, Via Americas, Transfast, Pronto Envios, Vigo, Girosol, MFIC, Intertransfers and Mateo Express. For more information on money transfers to the Interbank account please call 1-866-352-7378

Embassy of Peru:
Account Name: “Embassy of Peru – Sismo Peru 2007”
Account Number: 389060178
1130 Connecticut Avenue, NW.
Washington DC 20036

or by sending your donation by check to:

Name: “Embassy of Peru – Sismo Peru 2007” Address: Embassy of Peru
1700 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20036
Para cualquier información adicional, por favor contáctese con el (202) 833-9860 .

If you’ve gotten this far, I want to thank you and urge you to contribute funds, a five dollar check to the embassy is not too little. So go ahead, stick that latte in the mail and be down with Starbucks at the same time!