Monthly Archives: February 2017

Old School Photography

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Perhaps the most meaningful personal shoot of the year comes every December. We sit down and talk about what the year meant and how to capture that in a photograph. How to express where we were at that time. I shoot the annual Ann Street Studio holiday card photograph in the same format each year, on a 4×5 film camera with black and white Ilford film.

This year’s image crossed continents twice from start to finish. It begins in France, taken in the afternoon light of Provence with flowers I bought at my little town’s Saturday farmer’s market. After I framed the flowers just so, I used two magazines to manipulate and block the natural light of part of the background and on some of the arrangement while the shutter stayed opened for 30seconds. I shot somewhere around 15 plates with variations on lighting and exposures then packed them up and brought the sheets of film back to New York with me to be hand processed at LTI.

As always, I took the processed film and contact sheets to my favorite darkroom lab in Boston which I pilgrimage to every winter and spent two days hand printing the set of 200 on Ilford warm tone fiber base paper.

I brought the final 200 back to France with me and spent days by the window light addressing each one, some with added personal notes, to be mailed out all over the world. It is a long process but one that brings me great joy in a digital age. To give someone a physical object you made with your heart, soul and abilities is like having a small piece of me in your home. The sense of pride I feel when people send me photos of the image framed in their home makes me feel grateful that I am a photographer. However, for the most part I don’t know what people do with them. I like to imagine someone using one as a bookmark to later discover again years from now. I like to fantasize a child or grandchild will come across one decades from now in an old box and feel a connection to me or at least to who I once was. They don’t have to know me personally but I hope they know my work.

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Below, in my beloved darkroom in Boston. 

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Below, back at home in France addressing each envelope. 

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The text that accompanies the print:

This is a limited edition fiber print of a simple bouquet of flowers  was photographed in the afternoon light of Provence in the South of France. Shot on 4×5 black and white film, this image was hand processed, printed and pressed but the artist.

We believe if you take away the color of a photograph, what you are left with is the life it represents. In “Ranunculus #8” the delicate bouquet was captured at different stages of bloom and in an array of colors wrapped around each other as a representation of all ages and races of humanity. The past year was uneasy and sometimes heartbreaking for many around the world and this photograph represents 2016 as a reminder that we are more beautiful when we all come together. The falling petals are the tears we may have shed but are caught by another in an act of love. We hope you join us in our belief that it is the differences in us which make life an endless gift of discovery and enriching beauty to be celebrated.

We thank you for coming along on our journey and hope that you cherish this print as a way to say thank you for an amazing year. Each bring is signed, numbered and dated.

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“Ranunculus #8”

See 2015 here.

See 2014 here.

See 2013 here.

See 2012 here.

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Paris in the Fall

A black and white film story by photographer Jamie Beck of Paris in the Fall...

Another autumn has come and gone, another year of memories with fleeting snapshots from Paris to add to my archive. I love Paris in the fall, the dynamic sky, the ease of getting lost in the day just wondering and watching, and the romantic nights when she beings to sparkle like no other. With each passing year I always reset my eyes on this city of photographic love.

“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

A black and white film story by photographer Jamie Beck of Paris in the Fall... A black and white film story by photographer Jamie Beck of Paris in the Fall... A black and white film story by photographer Jamie Beck of Paris in the Fall... A black and white film story by photographer Jamie Beck of Paris in the Fall... (more…)

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When Pigs Fly…

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When I first started my journey to France I got a new piece of jewelry, something that represents my approach to life. It was a signet ring by Retrouvai, a modern heirloom designer based in L.A., with a flying pig engraved in gold in the middle.

I love signet rings with their classic monograms so this was a bit of a departure but the symbolism of the flying pig to “embody strength to overcome life’s greatest obstacles” was exactly the reminder I wanted to give myself to be strong on my new journey in a far off land with a foreign language I did not speak, I was in a town I’d never been and was living in an apartment I’d never seen before, in the middle of nowhere. Fast forward five months and everything worked out.

It wasn’t always easy.

I have cried from frustration, fear, exhaustion, confusion but now I’ve grasped the swing of things. I’m a better person. I’ve learned so much about myself and grown immensely by doing something so completely different than the life I had created in New York. I am stronger. I’m a better photographer, I’m an inspired artist. But perhaps more important than any of it, I took the courage to live one of my dreams.

When you test what you can do you realize that anything is possible. The limits we create in our mind are just that, creations of the mind. Every time I slide this ring on or off or catch glimpses of it reflecting the light I think about that line engraved on the inside, nestled against my skin, a message that is one of the things I most believe about how to live a fulfilling life… “Anything is Possible.”

“A wise man once said anything is possible when you stop believing it is impossible.”

More stories from my life in Provence here.

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Winter in Provnece

Life fell into a quiet pace. In the mornings I count the bell tolls while the angular winter light rakes across the crumpled bed covers. In the evenings the cry of the starlings marks 6pm as they dance to their symphony in the sky.

fireplace-provence-cinemagraph-615 The distant sound of a person’s footsteps on the quiet ancient streets, the soft ambience of rain outside my aged glass window plane. Most days nothing is happening. The stores have closed for the season, the visitors have gone home to Paris and on many of the restaurants old signs hang saying closed until April.

I go for long walks between the towns, the vista dotted with chimney stacks dancing with smoke. A dusty blue haze settles in before each sunset, a faint reminder of richer blues skies ahead.

It’s better than I imagined, the quiet after years of thriving on noise. Life noise, street noise, work noise. Manhattan just seems to constantly hummm. I used to be afraid of silence but now I find myself in it and it is there in the void where I can paint all the worlds I dream of.

As I work in the short hours of afternoon light I watch as it scans with each passing minute through the room I photograph in. It always seems to start with such gusto and by the time it reaches the last corner before slipping away it slows to a linger like taking that last sip of champagne.

The nights are illuminated by roaring fires and home cooked meals. For years I cursed the winter, I never knew it could actually be so warm. I watch the trees and the vines and the rosebushes rest… and I rest… because with spring awaits new wonders to discover .



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