Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Every year seems to pass faster than the last and 2013 was no exception. I can't believe it's almost 2014 as I write this. 2014! It sounds like a date in a Sci-Fi film. 

My photo year has been action-packed. I've had shows in several cities. Shows are fun. Sort of. The best thing about them is they're an excuse to explore new places and meet new friends. If you're reading this and we crossed paths in 2013 over beers or photographing a grimy alley or just in passing, it was fun to meet you. And if by chance I slept on your couch or guest bed during one of my photo junkets, I am eternally grateful. Except you, Carl. Your "couch" sucks. But Stephen, Brian, Luka, George, Chris, Faulkner, Loly, Bryan, and Chamo Kim, thank you so much! Hopefully I wasn't an inconvenience. And if anyone wants to offer me a show/couch this year in, say Lagos or Tokyo or Pittsburg, or some other city I've never been, I will be there, prints in hand. 

But wait a minute, I hear you saying. That's not how it's supposed to work. You're supposed to build a career strategically, not willy-nilly. Well cancel all that. I can't pursue the standard path. Too many issues to go into here. But basically I'm like the guy whose tattoos extend above the collar. Fortune 500 jobs are forever closed to him. But not the NBA. And as for phlebotomist, well that's hard to say. I'm in the same boat. It isn't about gunning for MoMA or private collections or bigshots buying your prints or anyone giving two shits about them. At least for me it has definitely not been about those things, although I wouldn't turn them down. No, it's about flying to a new city, munching Neccos, and partying hard. And trying to find your way "home" later, shutter button blazing the entire time.

I've been through some changes online too. I became active on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Python, and Griswold. I took a blog sabbatical, enjoyed many stimulating interactions, and I've gradually come to terms with the fact that I can't keep up with every online development. 
After all I just turned 45. I've been writing this blog more than half my "adult" life. I'm on the verge of my dotage. The photo world is quickly changing and many things will just pass me by, and I'm ok with that. "Let it go," said my mentor many years ago. Then he snarled, "It's fucking mine." And I said, "It's all yours, Fred." Because if the NBA is his dream, who am I to stand in the way? I'm man enough to let it go.

As usual I've seen a buttload of photos this year, mostly online but also in books and on gallery walls, and spread across gorgeous centerfolds, and as loose prints laid on the kitchen table. There's an incredible crew of talented photographers working today and it's been a joy to engage with new work, and old work too. I think you know who you are. But even if you don't, like say you have amnesia or Alzheimer's or something, your photos have still been a true pleasure. It's OK, I know you won't remember. That's why I've written it down.

But of course the highlight of any photographer's year is making photos. I've made a ton, and I've even grown to like some of them. As I enter my late 40s I am slowing down a bit. I'm working at more of a marathon pace than a sprinter's. But I can still shoot any of you young whippersnappers under the table. I'm well on track toward my eventual goal to take more film photographs than anyone else alive. If I outlive Araki, Cunningham, Weber, and about 15 others, and film continues its swan song, the title should be safely mine.

Making photographs is the most important thing! If you are a photographer you already know this, or at least you should. I realize that sometimes we get sidetracked by unimportant concerns, especially online.  This blog, for example, is just a silly sideshow compared to what's really important: fast cars, bling, and the fact that Photographers Make Photographs. I know it's cliche but it's ever so vital. Not to be preachy but sometimes you've just got to Google search griffenholtz.

As always, I appreciate all B readers. I know you have many sites to choose from, and that some of them offer free cheese blintzes. And many don't disappear for 3 months with no warning. So any page views that come my way are very welcome. I wish I could promise more quality content in 2014 but honestly I have no fucking clue what the future holds, and neither do you.

The only certainty is that 2014 is upon us. It's time to put the rest of life aside and get cracking. Stop reading this. Go create shit, starting now...

With pride and affection,
Your faithful Cantrol,


Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

300 PPI:

10 PPI:

117 PPI:

72 PPI:

36 PPI:

150 PPI:

20 PPI:

51.46 PPI:

101.101 PPI:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Favorite Photobook Lists of 2013

These are the glory days of Photobook Lists. Just a decade ago there were very few to choose from. But the past decade has seen an explosion in such lists, transforming listmaking from a rather listless condition into veritable list lust. More importantly, listing has become democratized. While 10 Top Ten lists were once the exclusive province of large media conglomerates and perhaps Dave Letterman, the internet has allowed anyone to join the fray. 

And join they have. Every year hundreds of Photobook Lists are published. They now come in a wide variety of sizes, designs, and quality, offering something for all. A healthy Photo List collectible market has developed, and indie stores selling Photobook Lists are popping up all over. We're living during a true Photobook List renaissance. The unlisted number of Photobook Lists is not just astonishing. It's probably beyond listing. 

Although Photobook Lists are produced throughout the year, most are published in late November or December. It's in December that certain figures make their list, then check it twice. And this is also when critics and tastemakers edit their lists of the year's best Photobook Lists. A Photobook List published in December is more likely to be remembered, and so naturally the last few weeks have been a listmaking bonanza, as listers scramble to have their lists noticed. My list below is no exception, and I hope it will find a spot on your list of favorite lists.

Even though most lists are concentrated in one period, it's still tough to keep track of them all. Fortunately someone has booked a list of Photobook Lists. In the past, Eye Curious and PhotoEye have filled the role. This year, Photobook List collectors Photolia and QT Luong have compiled lists of 2013's book lists on their respective sites, with Luong's ranking listings by number of times listed.

I'll admit that I didn't see every list listed this year. Some were published and went quickly out of print before I could list them. Other lists were produced in small quantities or with limited distribution. I can only list the lists I've personally encountered. Please know that although I listened closely to what was out there before listing, this list is not meant to be any objective measure of merit. It's merely a subjective impression listing some of my favorite lists. Last but not least, lest my list seem laced with sarcasm, I assure you that possibility was not lost on me as I made my list. 

My Favorite Photobook Lists of 2013:

Tom Claxton: A Year in Ten Titles

Expectations were high from this long overdue publication and on release, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Startling light penetrated every voyeuristic detail while the list’s manic sequence/design further intensifies this energetic experience. Never fully aware of what is being observed, this is a chaotically charged document, blurring the real and dreamt. 

Microcord: Swell Books of 2013

The idea seems to have been that of a tolerably good package of decently sized titles, held down to a very palatable price. It’s a collection of “solitary moments of disconnection” (in the lister’s words), or perhaps of indecisive moments (not his words). We see individuals listing, individuals not listing, scenes likely to start one listing — yes, it’s free-ranging. There’s even the occasional crowd, though the individual seems in a pocket of space within it. And many pleasing plays of light and shadow. 

Eric Gundersen: Personal Favorites of 2013

"It's been an interesting year. SO many lists, and in the past I've relied on those lists to source out a lot of books in my collection. This year was different. This year I did a lot of my own research. I've gone hunting a lot more and I think I've ended up with a collection I really love and appreciate." I did not see a more heartfelt sentiment on any other list. 

ABC: Worst Photobooks of 2013

Comprised of mainly postcards, contracts, meeting minutes, advertising agency reports, newspaper clippings, scripts, scripting notes, and correspondences, it only contains a few titles and they are old. Nobody needs to see this stuff. Or do they? This list is a paradox that keeps on giving, even as it sucks you dry. That you can get it covered in your choice of four sickeningly garish colors makes this a no-brainer for my top ten list.

Roger May: My Favorite Photobook Buys of 2013

Roger has a heart bigger than the English Isles and it rings true in his list. We can all learn a lot from him. It’s the epitome of what I look for in a list: maps, smart layout, and a balance of titles by the observer and text/interviews with people in the list. I’ll never be able to reassemble this list the way it was put together (it’s not bound), but whatever. It’s just beautiful.

Joerg Colberg: My Favorite Photobooks in 2013

Colberg makes the political and the state of the country a large part of the list, mirroring what appears to be a growing feeling that things seem to have gone off the rails a bit. This is the kind of list that re-engages an audience with a photographer’s work smartly. It’s the kind of list where I thought I had it all figured out, and then I didn’t. I’m a bit surprised I didn’t see this list on more lists this year. 

Clement Paradis: top 5 Photobooks You Can Actually Afford

Don’t expect him to talk again about books like Broomberg and Chanarin’s Holy Bible. He already has a bible (that he paid 2 bucks for) and he doesn't open it often, so don't expect him to buy another, even for the sake of sarcasm. Yeah you got it, he's just in a bad mood cause he can’t afford those lists. And really who can? The blogger making a list of favorite Photobook Lists? They get them for free you know! A suitable list for those on a budget or people who already own a bible, and a jackpot for those with a foot in both camps.

Tim Clark: The Best Photo Books of 2013

Incorporating sculpture, performance and photography, this beautifully designed, tautly-edited list is at once a heady mix of the abstract and the figurative, reality and illusion, and a resonant testimony to the market’s organic and temporary nature. Through his intervention, Clark has not only rescued a corpus of vernacular photography from oblivion but produced a hugely significant, complex, and most crucially, unassuming list.

Matthew Carson: Ten Photobooks from 2013

Some people out there cast doubt on the whole idea of creating a list. Ten photobook lists. Why ten anyways? Carson has this ability to submerge you in nature. Who doesn’t like blurry nature? His list is filled hallucinatory titles from Tokyo, Paris, London and New York, a grainy and black and white list that screams off the page.

Alec Soth: My Top 10 Photobooks of 2013

“A photograph is a secret about a secret,” Diane Arbus said. “The more it tells you the less you know.”  Every book listed in this photographer’s depiction of photobooks is an item of unintelligible secrets. I really wanted to dislike this list, but I was completely won over by the pictures, design and even Soth’s essay. “I don’t want to be famous,” he writes, “but I hope this list is remembered for ever.” I have a feeling it will be.

John Sypal: Favorite Photobooks of 2013

The vertical format makes this list feel somehow more novel-like, the pictures within flow along as a possible tributary headed towards the Styx. Instead of a written response the list answers this question with what appears to be Sypal’s kindest or at least warmest titles yet- although this may be thanks to his stunning subject more than anything else. It’s excellently made and designed in a way that makes no apologies for being intensely personal. With a very particular sense of detachment Sypal's list is intriguing. The theme of reflection isn’t at all subtle but it is moving.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Eugene is not exactly a hotspot for strong photo exhibits. There are a few venues around town that regularly show photographs, but they generally focus on local artists. Which is fine. After all Think globally, act locally was the Whole Earth motto growing up, and it still has its place. The problem with photo shows in Eugene is they're think locally, act locally. It's a very provincial vibe in some ways.

But beyond Eugene's myopic focus is a larger problem. The photography here is locked in a past era, specifically the f/64 movement which dominated photography in the mid 20th century. Even though photography has radically evolved over the past several decades, that change hasn't really penetrated the scene here. Photographers may have traded in their view cameras for Phase-One backs but they're still shooting the same shit as 60 years ago: Refined monochrome renderings of barns, mountains, and nudes. 

I've talked with local photographers about exactly why that is. It's hard to draw any firm conclusions. Some think it's the legacy of Bernie Freemesser. Maybe it's just the way it is in smaller cities. Who knows. In any case, if one were forced to guess the year using only Eugene's photo shows and the Country Fair as evidence, it's been 1973 here for four decades and counting.

The current show at Emerald Art Gallery is no exception. It's a relic from the past. Fortunately it is exceptional by just about every other measure. It's probably the strongest show I've seen locally this year.

Imogen Cunningham was a towering figure of 20th century photography, even if she was slightly overshadowed by other figures during her life. But make no mistake, she was brilliant and original and had an epic career. And her son Rondal was no slouch either, learning at the foot of the master from an early age. He helped his mom in the darkroom at 5, and it was only a few years until he was assisting Dorothea Lange. 

Mother and son have now combined to put together a powerhouse dual show featuring a mix of vintage and recent prints in silver gelatin, platinum, and ink jet. If the work seems slightly old fashioned, they have a good excuse. Cunningham isn't copying f/64. She helped invent it. 

Most of the prints at Emerald are smallish. Few of the Cunningham prints are larger than 8x10. It's a welcome respite from current bigger-is-better fashion. The viewer is forced to go toe to toe with the photos, to engage them intimately. And the photos hold up their end of the bargain! Unlike large ink jets (for example, the show currently at Blue Sky), these works just get better and better the closer one gets. Within 2 inches, however, the rule of diminishing returns kicks in. Viewers may experience eye damage or hallucinations. If unsure where to stand just remember the cucumber-in-the-pocket rule of thumb.  

It doesn't come across well on a computer screen but in physical form this Cunningham shot of a boy near a classical statue glowed with a vibrance that stopped me in my tracks. The fact that it's a young Brett Weston is icing on the cake. Brett F-ing Weston!

Complementing the Weston shot is the famous Cunningham photo of her father slung over a cane at age 90, looking old and withered and alive. Together they bookend the show thematically. Two lives in photos. 

I know Cunningham's work fairly well but before this show I wasn't as familiar with Partridge. I browsed his book 10 years ago, that's it. Tuns out he's still going strong today at 96. Like his mom he's a perfectionist, a virtuoso shooter and printer. Craftwise few photographers nowadays can come close to what these two accomplished. To create something with visual interest and strong physical presence from a mundane daily scene is not an easy trick. Just ask any Instagrammer. No, on second thought don't.

Like his mom I think Partridge approaches life and photography with a sense of mischief. His photo of Yosemite here is probably my favorite in the show. I mean, how hilarious is that? Up yours, nature! Ha! Or maybe he's saying, up yours, Ansel? Either way his wry commentary is a welcome slant on the dusty old f/64 world. He's old school, sure. After all he's almost 100. But I think his photos still have a lot to teach us.

The show closes next Friday and I'd encourage anyone within driving distance to see it. It's an old fashioned relic, but a good one. If you are sometimes tempted to dismiss this style of photography out of hand, the Emerald show may change your mind.

Emerald Art Center, 500 Main St., Springfield, OR, Open Tues - Sat, 11 AM - 4 PM

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Regarding Your Recent Submission...

Magic 8 Ball Gallery Response Generator:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite Photobrooks of 2013

That time of year again. I saw many great brooks in 2013 and as always it was very tough narrowing down my choices to a short list. Here are my favorites, listed below in no particular order:

Gingham's Brook, Worcester, MA

This garishly bright creation has an energy and handmade feel that mischievously plays with notions of still life and whitewater. As far away from traditional riparian structure as you can imagine, but oddly intoxicating. Various holes and eddies allow Gingham's Brook to revisit its own past without ever seeming anti-diluvian. 

Foster Creek, Durango, CO

Foster Creek splashes into the international scene while stretching the boundaries of what a brook can be, quite literally. A beautiful, lyrical artist's stream, composed primarily of glacial melt and exhibiting great craft and a poetic vision, full of sentiment without being sentimental, not to mention plenty of sediment. Streaming will never be the same again after this brook.

Cottingham Beck, Wales

A fine example of how powerful and expressive small streams can be when the stake is personal, Cottingham Beck beckons both the angler and the casual picnic with equal flair. Daisies and ferns introduce botanical relief while emphasizing the sort of thoughtful touch that separates landmark brooks like this from the common gravity-led rabble.

(Untitled) Rivulet, Giverny, France

A lot of brooks are made about the creek's relationship with the ocean. This is one of the more intelligent and interesting in an aquatic sense. One of the few seasonal rivulets to make the list, this poignant meditation on gravity and memory is as evocative as it is beautiful. 

Yat-K00 Run, Mongolia

A natural dell brilliantly reimagined as an artist brook, this minor freshet perfectly encapsulates the ephemeral beauty of nature. Yat-Koo Run pulls back the digital curtain and teases apart the possibilities of the image in the 21st century while careening down its sobering journey through the back trails of Western Mongolia. The surrounding deciduous canopy invites viewers to wade right in while affirming that one can't judge a brook by its cover.

Cripple Creek, Flint, Michigan

A beautifully produced volume of water from one of the true original voices in hydrology, Cripple Creek buffers a dying auto city and offers an affecting portrait of America struggling in the face of depletion and worn-down dreams. Water flows through a land of modern ruins and ancient mysteries that never offers solutions, only questions and riddles. The third brook from this waterway is a truly original vision and once again hits top form on its inevitable course downward to stasis.  

Regal Rush, Queensland, Australia

What a pleasure to discover this well produced and designed brook nestled at the bottom of the world. Regal Rush may not have the velocity or flash of its peers, but its calm pooling effects allow the viewer to discern a level of polish and personal reflection too often missing from today's common rindles. Make no mistake, gravity's hand is at work. But also the imprint of natural genius. A promising debut.

Upton Brook, Darjeeling, India

The tireless and brilliant Upton makes the list yet again. This special edition coursing with rocks and assorted ephemera abuts a beautifully tipped in slope, allowing the current to become as visceral as it is transgressive. The unbound design unlocks Upton Brook's latent aquatic characteristics, allowing it to flow inevitably and cathartically downstream like, well, a river to the sea. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Void

Eugene has been blitzed the past week by a serious arctic system. Since last Wednesday the temperature has not emerged above freezing, plunging into single digits and lower (Fahrenheit) every night. 

I know what many of you are thinking. Big deal. That's winter. But for Eugene it's quite unusual. We're used to mid 40s, overcast, and wet. Instead it's been sunny, white, and frigid. The snow which fell last Friday normally would've normally melted by now. But it has lingered for days. The city doesn't plow or use salt, so the streets are still white and frozen as I write this on Wednesday morning. Schools have been closed for 5 days. Every day the forecast promises a thaw, but every day that future thaw date is extended further. It's like the friend who says he needs a couch for the night. He never announces when he will leave exactly. Surely it can't be too much longer? But every morning he's still there. 

On the plus side, I've gotten a good chance recently to shoot snow. In monochrome, snow is an endless playground. It's so malleable. If you shoot it one way it can be snow. But look at it from another angle and it's the void. It's pure negative space. So I've had fun the past few days mixing sky and snow and content and emptiness up in formal stew barely recognizable as Eugene. It's my familiar haunt but every corner is brand spanking new. 

I guess I knew all of that about snow before. It's not like I'd never seen it. I lived four years on the east coast. But this is the longest it's ever hung around Western Oregon. Snow and I have really gotten to know each other this past week. We've become, well, not exactly pals. But we're no longer strangers.

I'm reminded of an ancient Japanese concept, and since ancient Japanese concepts sometimes confer an aura of mystique and wisdom on blog posts, let me mention it here: Kikkoman-Soya.

But there's another ancient Japanese concept which is more topic-worthy, and that's Nōtan, the study of light and dark shapes as they interact in imagery.

For a black and white shooter like myself, Nōtan comes in handy. It's not the subject. It's the translation into shape. Photographers could learn a lot from Nōtan

Of course I'm not the first photographer to play in the snow. Shooters have been exploring snow's negative space forever, from Callahan...

...to Giacomelli...

...to contemporary shooters like Dimitri Mellos...

....or David Maisel.

But for me the snow master is Friedlander. He had a way of confusing the character of his subject without eliminating the essence, and he did it through his trademark layering style. 

Take foreground, middleground, and background, throw in some snow and shake well. Who knows what you'll find? Friedlander does this with all types of landscapes but in snow he seems to really shift into gear. The white stuff is like his supersecret sauce. It's the Kikkoman Soya of photography, adding visual confusion. That's a good thing.

So Friedlander has been in the back of my mind lately as I roam the white streets. How can I mix snow and non-snow and confuse myself? Sometimes it helps if I spin circles quickly. Then the world gets very confusing. I get dizzy. The snow is slippery and usually I fall down after spinning just a few circles, and the snow and non-snow combine all over my ass.

But I don't let that stop me for long. I've gotta get right back on that horse. I lift myself up, brush off the non-snow, and keep searching for the void.

Monday, December 9, 2013


The first round of work print orders is going out tomorrow. If you placed your order on or before November 28th, please expect it within the week (allow longer for international). If you ordered after that, it will take slightly longer. I will be in the darkroom Wednesday and I'll make a few hundred more prints. Then the second and final shipments should go out to everyone Friday. Thanks for your patience. If you don't receive prints by year's end something is awry and you should let me know. Note, this offer has no expiration. I will fill any orders from now going forward indefinitely, but they won't ship until January.

Secondly, it's come to my attention that several of the names on B's recent list of 50 Photographers You Should Know were inadvertently translocated from the program to last week's Roosevelt Middle School Winter Orchestra Concert (which was lovely, by the way). 

Abraham Dominquez, Margot McNeeley, Max Ritzow, and Mason Rubino are not in fact internationally recognized photographers. They instead attend middle school with my son. B sincerely regrets the error and any emotional or reputational damage it may have caused. Because I have already explained this in private correspondence and feel it may come up again, let me state publicly that I categorically reject any claim of liability, damages, or monetary compensation from the aforementioned misnamed subjects.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

9 street photography lessons from The Odyssey

Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus, Jacob Jordaens, c. 1635

1. Don't be lazy
Odysseus could've shacked up with Calypso eating grapes on the beach forever. She was built like a goddess. Literally. Everything was right there for him. But no, lounging ain't for pros. Wanna know how many lotus eaters are in MoMA? That's right, none. Get too relaxed and your cohorts might just release your top-secret bag of winds, blowing you back to square one. And let's not even talk about Penelope's lazy suitors. The lesson is clear. Get focused, get active, and stay that way.

2. Blend In

Whether escaping the cave of Poyphemus tied under sheep or returning to Ithaca disguised as a wandering beggar, Odysseus employed a variety of costumes and subterfuge evading his enemies. Street photographers should do the same. Dress like the rabble. Blend in. Then go forth and conquer.

4. Empathy gets you nowhere
Do you think Odysseus sat around feeling sorry for his enemies? Poor old giant with only one eye? Not even. More like, in your face dick. Handmaidens with shaky allegiance? Men who happened to linger at the estate upon his return to Ithaca? Same deal. Friggin bloodbath. No prisoners, no regrets. I'm not saying you need to hack up pedestrians. Just don't get too hung up on their feelings. Do what you need to do, then move on.

3. Ignore hot chicks
I'm not saying you need to shove wax in your ears or walk the city streets tied to a mast. But for undisciplined shooters, the siren call of hot chicks can be a dangerous distraction. Or hot dudes if that's your thing. Take a cue from Odysseus and just ignore them. For emergency vehicle sirens it's just the opposite. They can lead to good photo ops.

5. Don't name your kid Telemachus
I mean seriously. What the fuck kind of name is that? He'll probably complain about it as a teen, and you'll wind up in this huge family argument and once the lawyers get involved you can kiss your shooting time goodbye. So just name him Jim or something. Trust me.

6. There's no subsitute for experience
Odysseus spent a decade sailing, adventuring, swashbuckling, consorting with various gods and goddesses, teaching, leading a fleet, surviving shipwreck, and finally reclaiming his throne in a violent ambush. Oh yeah, and there's this little thing called the Trojan Horse you may have heard of. Invented it. The dude lived. It's no mystery why he was king. So take your cue from him. Go wander the globe for 10 years, then pick up a camera. 

7. Travel in packs
The beauty of crowds is that problems can be deflected. For example, if you're trying to thread the needle between Syclla and Charybdis, it pays to carry expendable crew. Same thing in a cave with a man-eating cyclops. And same thing on the streets. In a group of photographers making street candids, it's not always the shooter who winds up in hot water. It's the slowest sprinter. 

8. Pros get the shot
Odysseus strung an impossible bow and shot an arrow through 12 axe heads. One shot, first try, no warm up. So I don't want to hear about your problems with autofocus, camera shake and white balance. He nailed it, and he lived before electricity and cars and shit. So what's your excuse again?

9. Created works of lasting value
When Odysseus needed something to sleep on, he didn't shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. No, he built the foundation from a living tree. Try to move that. Try to accidentally toss that out in recycling. Hey, I'm not saying it was comfortable to lay on. But it was there when he needed it. When you shoot photos, plan on them being around a while. Make them last. Who knows, maybe someone will write about them 3,000 years from now.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Carol or Herb or something

I've had fun following this recent Mike Johnston column and its aftermath. 50 Photographers You Should Know. Where does one even start? Any such list is bound to be problematic, but it's also a fun parlor game, the type of topic it's fun to discuss into the wee hours over beers. Who should be on it? Who shouldn't? Why 50? What does should even mean? What does know mean? Everyone seems to have an answer. So far the post has generated a few hundred comments. They're all over the map though generally skewing toward the straight documentary shooters that compose a large part of TOP's readership.

I'm guessing Johnston's post was inspired by this book published a few years back. I don't own it but I've peeked at it in the bookstore. It lists Evans, Frank, Cartier-Bresson, and the usual suspects, plus some others slightly further off the beaten track. I can't really argue with any of the picks. Photographers probably should be familiar with the folks in this book. Hey, relax. It's just a suggestion. Take it or leave it.

One thing that makes Johnston's list different from the book and quite intriguing, is that he's restricted it to the 21st century. In Johnston's words, "people who have been important, or formative, or who emerged, post-2000." Hmm. Now that's interesting. In fact that changes everything. All of the sudden we can get out from under the shadow of the photographic canon and start over from scratch this millennium. Who has emerged since then into prominence? In other words, who should be on such a list now that would not have been on it in 2000? Warning: Wee hours may be required answering this.

Against my better judgment I've decided to make my own list (with some input from trusted photo friends). I'm slightly embarrassed about it. I don't want to call it 50 photographers you should know. The internet has enough lists like that. I'd rather call it Carol or Herb or something innocuous. In this case the meaning of should is quite clear. I know I shouldn't make such a list but I did it anyway. 

I'll get to the list in a moment but first let's pin down that word should. It sends shivers down my spine. Should has probably created more damage than just about any other word in human history.  You should follow my god. You should accept these geographic boundaries. Etc. I'm very uncomfortable telling anyone what they should or shouldn't know, do, say, or think. It's not my business or anyone else's. If someone doesn't know of Edward Weston or Diane Arbus I'm a little uneasy, but who am I to say they should? In fact a good argument could me made that ignorance is helpful to photographers. It fosters originality. So fuck should. 

But... common reference points are sometimes helpful. It's fine if you don't know Weston but you might find yourself repeating him unwittingly. What's more, photography tends to build on itself. You can't get to Friedlander without going through Evans. You can't get to Soth without going through Sternfeld. And so on. The photographers who are prominent now are laying the groundwork for what's to come later. Reference points mark the terrain.  OK, maybe that still doesn't mean should know certain photographers, but it might be helpful. Sure, you can be a rock musician without knowing the Beatles. But it's tough. Not that any of the folks on this list are comparable to the Beatles. Yet. But you get the point.

Finally, a disclaimer about demographics. I know my list is biased. Some dates are slightly stretched, and I know it contains a disproportionate number of whites, males, Americans, and generally people like me. Sorry, that's just how it is. I'm me. You're you. Your own 50 may be very different. But instead of posting a nasty email or comment about how lame my list is, why not put forth your own suggestions? Throw out some names? Who should I know? 

Carol or Herb or something:
Roger Ballen
Asger Carlsen
Broomberg and Chanarin
Gregory Crewdson
Thomas Demand
Dorothee Deiss
Rineke Dijkstra
Abraham Dominguez
Carolyn Drake
JH Engström 
Roe Ethridge
Jason Fulford
Stephen Gill
Andreas Gursky
Mishka Henner
Todd Hido
Rob Hornstra
Pieter Hugo
Ron Jude
Rinko Kawauchi
Saul Leiter
Richard Learoyd
Deborah Luster
Loretta Lux
Margot McNeeley
Ryan McGinley
Vivian Maier
Raymond Meeks
Enrique Metinides
Ed Panar
Alex Prager
Max Ritzow
Torbjorn Rodland
Mason Rubino
Viviane Sassen
Collier Schorr
Michael Schmelling
Lieko Shiga
Taryn Simon
Malick Sidibé
Alec Soth
Miroslav Tichy
Mark Steinmetz
Zoe Strauss
Juergen Teller
Ed Templeton
Wolfgang Tillmans
Michael Wolf
Mark Wyse