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August 2010
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Many people had problems with the print site over the holiday weekend. I'm pretty sure it's fixed now. Basically the site would refuse orders at the very end of the process... frustrating. The site was also down most of yesterday because the domain somehow expired... that one's on me.

I apologize for all of the inconvenience.

That said, I'm extending the print sale until the end of the week, so there are a few more days to snap up these bargains and to help the cause.

Eye Candy


"Birds and Antennas, Hama, 2006" by Kenneth Jarecke/Contact

That's what they called me when I first started doing politics, Eye Candy.

I didn't mind. I thought it was a pretty good nickname, and let's face it, up until a few years ago, political photography took itself a little too seriously. Have you ever seen a presidential race up close? They can be downright silly.

My goal back then was to just make interesting pictures. I didn't really care whether they were "useful" or not.

It's a problem, I think it's the difference between doing a photo story, and a photo essay. Semantics I know, but important none the less.

Photo stories usually revolve around a certain person or subject matter. Photo essays, to my way of thinking, should be more about a theme or an idea.

That's why I think these type of "eye candy" photos are important. Sure, these images could be used to illustrate a number of different stories, but that's not why they exist. That's not their strength.

Sometimes you don't really need a good reason to make a picture. The problem arises when we miss the frame because it doesn't fit our template. I hate to think how many times I've been guilty of this.

I was on a hillside looking down into the city of Hama, Syria when I made the image of the birds and antennas. I was there because I wanted to see where the artillery was setup that leveled this city in 1982. So really, there's no reason to make this frame, except that it's nice, even peaceful.


"Beijing Opera #2, Beijing, 2007" by Kenneth Jarecke

The same can be said for this picture. It could work to illustrate a number of things, but traditional journalism would most likely reject it.

The eyes though, the eyes love this kind of candy. Technically, graphically, it shouldn't work, but the eyes disagree.

I can't tell you how many times, since those early years, that I've overruled my own eyes. Man, just make the frame. Sit on it awhile, let it simmer for a few months. That's the ticket.

This frame from the Beijing Opera wasn't in my original edit. I don't think I really even looked at it for a good six months. I discovered it when I was printing one day. Gave it a look, cranked out a few test prints (to see what it really looked like) and now I think it's one of my favorites from the trip.

Bad pun alert...

I guess the eyes really do have it!

OK, the threat has passed. Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system.

To recap, I'm doing a special print sale to pay for some unexpected medical bills. I'm offering ten different images in two sizes at a super low rate.

Click here to see the collection.

Thanks again.





The Rose

"The Rose, Beijing, 1989" by Kenneth Jarecke/Contact

Normally, as a photojournalist, you try to fade into the background. You have to be in the room, but you can't be part of the show. Tricky. Self-promotion is another tricky skill. It's pretty much the opposite of the cloaking device we normally try to deploy. Few great photographers enjoy both skills. Some do, like David Hume Kennerly, or Vincent Laforet. They can make a great image and then make sure it gets seen. This is a skill I admire, but sadly don't share.

That said, let me say with all humility, that this image is a keeper. It's a real piece of history captured on a 35mm slice of Kodachrome 200.

See, now I feel all uncomfortable.

It was early in the morning during the first big week of the Tiananmen Square student protests. There were about a million people demonstrating at that point and the rest of the world was starting to take notice.

I was working with an Australian photographer that day.

I remember we'd just left a hotel where we caught some breakfast. We were walking east along Chang'an Avenue towards the Square and came across a huge crowd mingling around some government bureaucrat housing. It was hard to see what was going on. When we managed to make our way to the front, we found this lone hunger striker sitting in silent protest in front of a row of (I believe) PLA soldiers.

I'd photographed this guy the previous two days. At that time he was pretty much on his own. Now he had a following. They didn't want to let us inside their makeshift security perimeter. It took some negotiation, err, heartfelt pleading, but they eventually relented.

I think they made us take turns. I don't quite remember, but once I got inside, I worked this scene with a 200, 85, 35 and a think this frame was made with a 28mm lens. I shot vertical, horizontal, centered, and framed to the left and the right. This scene could have been published a hundred different ways. I made so many versions you probably could have done a tri-fold. I used Kodachrome 200, two kinds of Ectachrome (an E-6 film that allows for quicker processing) and maybe even Kodachrome 64. If I had some Polaroid, or Tri-X, I would have shot that too.

Usually, you don't really know if you made a good frame. This wasn't one of those times.

It was a double-truck in Time the following week. I think the version they used was centered to the left and made with the 85 or the 200mm.

This view, straight forward, clean, no gimmicks, is the best. The drum scanned K-200 just sings.

I saw this guy a few days later. He was collapsed and rolled up in a blanket. There was no way I could get anywhere near him again. I have no idea whatever happened to him.

I think, "The Rose" is an apt name for this image.

Here's the link. Give a thought to purchasing this print or one of the nine others.

Thank you.