01 May, 2009
I'm not really sure how to describe Duane Michels.
For those of you who've met him, know him, follow his work, etc, you might understand why I don't really know how to describe him.
Unique, I guess, would be a good place to begin.
Here he is, in these pictures, right in front of you, but they don't really begin to describe him either, or maybe they do.
I remember seeing his work for the first time. I also remember seeing a show of his for the first time. I remember midway through the show turning around to see who was around me so that I could find someone to acknowledge how great the show was. Not sure why I felt the need to do that, but sometimes I do.
Duane is very funny. He is outspoken, but not in a pushy way. And he is a fantastic writer. He is conceptual, but I can actually understand the concept, and don't need it explained to me.
A week after his slideshow people are still still asking, "did you see it?"
I gave him a ride in my car, which was unexpected, but I now think about the fact that Duane Michels was in my car. It really doesn't matter, but I find it funny and very California.
There are certain pieces of photography that I think about on a regular basis, and Duane made several of them.
These pictures were made at The Palm Springs Photo Festival, Connect 09, where Duane was teaching.
I think what is most important about Duane, at least in my mind, is the sense of humor, which I find lacking in most photography, but also the fact he is not JUST a photographer.
Being a photographer isn't easy, as we all know, and sometimes we get caught up in things that really have no real importance other than the ghosts we create in our mind, and he doesn't seem to do that. Photography is a vehicle, for truth, for idea, for concept, for humor.
His work is about images. That's all. Plain and simple. Doesn't need anything else.
I also noted, during the final night slideshow, that his students made some remarkable work. I would imagine that these folks were good photographers to begin with, but I would also imagine there was a lot of Duane coming through those pictures. And I'm not talking about people copying someone's work. I talking about breaking through. Moving beyond. Thinking. Pursuing.