Thursday, August 19, 2010

Alter Ego

Todd Edelman sends me the best links. Today, I finally caught up with a link he sent a while back, the Denver Post's Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943. Check out these resonant dust bowl imagery from the Library of Congress. This one, my alter ego. Thanks, Todd.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Apples to Onions

Guess which apple and which onion came from my CSA share.

Hint number one: It's fun to get a gob of random produce every week in our CSA bag. No matter what surprise awaits us, it will be in season and small "D" delicious. This year's crop of Gravensteins is just starting. The crunchiest, tartest apple on the plate.

Second hint: One of the (capital "D" delicious) apples came from the Fillmore. At the end of a show there the other night, we showed our teenager the basket Bill Graham always filled with free apples for any hungry hippie to have something to eat. Happily, they still give them out to house audiences. Love the 1960s tradition, but does anyone know the Fillmore's produce buyer these days? Let's get them to buy fresh buy local!

Third hint: The small onions are also crunchier and sweeter than the big kahuna onion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Shirt On My Back

People ask, "What's your most important piece of equipment?"

Of course, there's the fave lens, fave remote, fave whatnot. But during the summer, one of the most important things in my bag is a flimsy, white cowboy shirt. It's the longest lasting sunscreen, mighty delicious air-co on a hot day after I drench it with water, and when it gets too stinky, it's easy to wash and quick to dry. Plus, it weighs nothing. I always travel with three. Without them, I'm an overheated, burned gringa. No good at'all for shooting pics.

This morning, I started packing for my next photo junket to the Four Corners area.  Yeah, it's three weeks away, but I saw my white shirts in the closet and got inspired. Pulled 'em out, rolled 'em up, I'm ready to go.

Monday, August 9, 2010

International Museum of Women ~ Please vote ~

Dear Peeps: Please visit the Economica show online at International Museum of Women and "recommend" my pictures of diverse women who grow food around the USA. Merci!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Economica ~ Picturing Power and Potential

Here I am at the Economica: Picturing Power and Potential opening with one of my subjects, Lady Shanju, originally shot for the SF Victory Garden project. Thank you San Francisco Arts Commission and International Museum of Women for providing the space and sponsorship.

Fab group show.  Go see. SF City Hall, lower level. Through September 4, 2010.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Folks I Get to Meet

While scouting a Silicon Valley location this week, my tour guide insisted I meet one of the company gurus, Jim Williams. His desk is not full of "junk," thank you. He simply has a big resource pile. OK, a couple big resource piles.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Watermelon (without) Sugar: A Recipe

In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar.
-Richard Brautigan, "In Watermelon Sugar"

My family hates when I use the sink as a veggie scrap holding tank. I admit, it doesn't bother me at all; the stuff eventually makes it to the compost bucket.

Here's a particularly happy sink clog before I moved it all to the pail.

A fine and messy recipe:
Watermelon chunks ~ blend, then strain
Lime juice, to taste
Crushed ice, recommended
Sugar, not necessary
Mint sprigs, optional

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Yesterday's shoot with the fabo young Olivia Lee, aspiring actress. "She's gonna be big," says we.
Boundless gratitude to Chris McDonald makeup and assistant Stefanie Renee. You guys are the bomba.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Selected for ASMP Best of 2010

I'm thrilled that my work made it into American Society of Media Photographer's Best of 2010 show. Thanks for the honor, ASMP, and thanks for all you do for us media photogs. Here's what I wrote:

A year ago, my friend Amy Franceschini asked me to shoot some West Coast farms for a book about sustainable agriculture around the United States. Yes, definitely, this is my passion, but I had one request. I wanted to shoot all the farms, across the country. Happily, she gave me the green light and I had my dream project. No need to mention the insane deadline, I was thrilled.

I pieced together a jigsaw puzzle of sixteen farms and 13,000 miles of connecting roads, mapping a big loop around the continental United States. I fit harvest schedules into my own furious timeline, and somehow it worked. I was one happy camper. Literally.

I camped on the banks of a coyote-howlin’ Colorado irrigation ditch, in a candlelit yurt on the side of an Appalachian herb garden, on the dusty floor of a Bakersfield farm workers’ dormitory, and beside a roaring freeway outside Chicago. The miles were fluid, the farmers amazing, the deadline met.

This image is from Joel Greeno’s organic dairy in Kendall, Wisconsin, the last farm on my loop. I followed him up into the haymow, lurching with my tripod over bales of fresh alfalfa. When I saw the cathedral ceiling of the old barn and the way the slats and knotholes filtered light into the dusty air, I clicked for the joy of it. When we were done, I loaded the car, stopped in town, bought a purple Western shirt with pink pearl snap buttons, and drove North.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How to Make (Soup) Stock Video

Thanks, Melinda Stone for showing "Stock" to the How-to-Homestead crowd at Southern Exposure Gallery.

To save me from the dizzy method of clenching the Flip in my mouth while slicing vegetables, I called on my pal Josie Iselin to shoot some of the footage.

In case you missed the world premiere, here it is. Go ahead, slurp it up.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farm Together Now: Spring Letter from Joe at Mountain Garden

Joe Hollis walking through his wasabi patch, high on an Appalachian mountain in Burnsville, North Carolina

Hi Anne,

I'm glad to hear from you. Daniel has alerted me to the book's progress, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it. I looked through the new website and noticed the back-to-back 'gorgeous book' comments. I love the photos you sent of me and Steve and am eager to see what else you've chosen.
There is quite a lot going on here, very productive year so far. Six apprentices plus usually a WWOOFer or two. Best group of apprentices ever. We've got a large food garden planted and moving along with Chinese herb and native wildfood projects. The big excitement at the moment is wasabi: after about 20 years, starting with one plant, I now have about fifty large flowering specimens and a thousand seedlings, and I'm about to launch a wasabi industry in the area. The greenhouses, coldframes and many spots in garden are filled with a beautiful violet-magenta mustard from China which I randomly acquired years ago. The flowers are big and bright and tasty, as are the greens; and this year I'm trying to grow a really big crop of seeds. I think this plant will be in every seed catalog in five years. The apprentices have about finished a new Steve dome, and one is set to move in - he's a mushroom man, so we're growing mushrooms of many kinds all over the place.
This is looking like the year in which many projects which I've been working on for 15-20 years are coming to bearing fruit, and the book will be a big part of the overall Mountain Gardens project coming to fruition.
And it has been the best spring in my memory for the plants: some close shaves, but no killing freezes. Plants I established 25 years ago are going to bear fruit for the first time. I'll write about all this and attach pictures for your blog (and mine) as soon as the spring rush subsides.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Farm Together Now: Bonsai's Tree

The view from atop Bonsai's evergreen, and my view of him under the plum, for the Farm Together Now book.
It was the middle of the hottest day of the century. Not having the luxury of golden afternoon light, I was chasing my minuscule noon shadow around the garden at Tryon Life Community, a rural oasis in the middle of Portland, Oregon. Bonsai Matt, a resident at the intentional community, came to my rescue while I was shimmying up the tallest tree to get an establishing shot of the landscape. When my courage came to its end, I handed my 5D off to him and he scampered on up.  He sent this note after I told him the news that one of his high angle images got into the book with credit given. wonnnnnnderfulll anne.... thanxomuch for the love and the sweet sweet images... i'm so glad that the picture from the tree will be in there! great work and please, for the love of the children and their children's children's children, keep up your good work...thanks again and much love to you and the gang ~ bonsai!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Curiosity is What We Share

Yesterday, my assistant Garry and I were shooting a tricked out, all electric Mini Cooper developed at the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Davis for Sierra Magazine.

We were working in a tucked away corner of the university's arboretum, near one of the biggest collection of oaks in the world. We were just wrapping up, when a curious fellow photographer stopped by to look at our 10 foot scrim. I persuaded him to stick around while we gathered our subjects' model releases and said our goodbyes. Then I nabbed this portrait of him with his homemade portable studio rig.

Allan Jones, our new friend here, takes close ups of specimens from the arboretum's oak trees when they blossom once a year. He's adapted a cardboard box to capture these flowering samples bathed in gorgeous scrimmed and bounced sunlight. My kind o' light.

Here's to curious, crazy shooters. Big, small, cardboard, aluminum. We love our gear, we love our light.

Hunter Joerger Teaches Me A Thing or Two

This year I mentored a student at my son's high school, Mr. Hunter Joerger, while he created his senior signature project.

In the project, Hunter illustrated his neuroscience research about the connection between brain growth and the development of identity with photographic portraits of young children. This week all the graduating seniors celebrated with a school wide party and display of their projects. Hunter's wall of photos rocked the audience. Compassionate, clear, and sensitive, his exhibition was sophisticated and riveting.

Here's my favorite quote from Hunter's paper:
"Photography can be used to examine the root of perception of identity because it can be analyzed both analytically and viscerally. And it is at the connection between the analytical and visceral that the importance of identity and the ability to perceive it can be understood."

Yes, Hunter's paper taught me how the superior colliculi and thalmus collect and pass visual information and non-verbal awareness on to other parts of the brain. But Hunter himself taught me a thing or two about being an educator. Like how much more important it is to listen than talk. That it's far wiser to be patient than insistent. And that there is great benefit in allowing a flower to bloom, rather than tear the petals apart in search of color. A project develops much as the brain itself does. One lives. One learns.

Thanks for the lessons, Hunter. =]

And bravo! Toss your hat into the ring of experts. You da bomb.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Freewheelin' Farm delivering in the City

Yesterday was Freewheelin' Farm's first San Francisco CSA delivery and the strawberries for the record, were scarlet, not red.

Here's beloved Amy helping Anya, a giddy new customer, select her treats for the week.

Heh, San Fran-ola! Sign yourself up here and pick your own bag of treats out at Garden for the Environment, corner of 7th and Lawton. Easy peasy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farm Together Now: Strawberry Time Again at Freewheelin' Farm

It was a year ago I started the Farm Together Now project and circle, circle back around... just turned in the final images to our fabulous designer Brian Scott. Time to celebrate!

It's full-on strawberry season, so I got me a case of organic red juiciness from the Swanton Berry Farm and am gorging myself and goading my family to eat more, more, more with a drippy smile on my face.

Swanton Berry Farm is a story unto themselves. They strive for the complete sustainable package, providing a living wage and health insurance for the farmworkers of their profitable, chemical-free berry business. They have a union contract with their workers, a roadside farm store that houses a museum on the history of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, a successful U-Pick and wholesale operation, topped by a killer view of the vast Pacific Ocean. Check them out on Highway One, south of Pescadero.

One of my favorite local farms is featured in Farm Together Now: Freewheelin' Farm down Swanton Road - Santa Cruz way. I met Amy Courtney back a few years at my first Ecological Farming Associaton conference. Her tiny acre of ocean side heaven was a stop on that year's farm tour.

At that time, she ran the operation by herself mostly, without a tractor, on land loaned by Jim Cochran, (sustainable agriculture hero and owner of Swanton Berry Farm) and delivered her farm fresh deliciousness by bicycle into Santa Cruz.

Now, Amy has two partners, Kirstin Yogg and Darryl Wong and they've added a tractor or two, 8+ acres in production, and a brand new CSA in San Francisco. Heads up San Francisco! Starting June 1... next week... they'll be delivering to your house by bike, or dropping off the goods at Garden for the Environment on 7th and Lawton for you to pick up. Sign up now. You'll love these berries!

Freewheelin' posted a gob of the photos I shot on their farm. Check them out.

Read my older post about Freewheelin' Farm's annual fundraiser art party here.

Strawberries + bikes + documentary photography + public art. Ain't nothin' finer in my field of dreams.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Farm Together Now: Endpaper scrapbook

Brian Scott of boon design is doing an amazing job of making my photos sing together now. (And "now" is the operative 'cuz we are goin' to

Yesterday, I received this mock up of the book's front and back cover endpapers. Meaning, I just found out we are including even MORE images of the inspiring folks from around the country. Thrilled? Ja mon. Sixty-four more images. Who cares about a tight deadline? I'm all over it.

Info on the book here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Farm Together Now: Cover Gurl

Happiness Alert: We're closing in on the final galleys of the Farm Together Now book, yippy ... and here's a sneak peek of the cover. It will hit the bookstores in December, but I can't help myself.  Look at this little piece of color, color, color ...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day 2010: Beauty Below Me

Beauty before me, I walk with.
Beauty behind me, I walk with.
Beauty above me, I walk with.
Beauty below me, I walk with.
Beauty all around me, I walk with.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Farm Together Now: They are all me.

The design process for the "Farm Together Now" book is quickly moving along. Right now, I'm taking a break from digging through my notes, double checking the spelling of names, and writing photo captions. And a couple days ago, while doing a final edit of pix for the book's endpaper, these two faces popped up in combination on my Lightroom screen. The photo of Julian, a Wisconsin organic dairyman paired itself with Chris, a vegan food security worker in Atlanta. Some things you just can not plan. Sometimes the clouds open up and illuminate the landscape. Or the brain.

All portraiture references the photographer, quivers with the tone of our own vocal chords, pounds out our own heart beat. We tell other people's stories, but always by framing the light bouncing off our own retina. More than mere "style," a photograph is both a document of the relationships we forge with our subjects and a thinly-disguised self-portrait. Me thinks.

Leonard Freed put it this way: "I was here. I was hot. I was cold. I was happy. I was angry. I experienced this. It took time. It is a part of my life. I remember the situations. It is not just a photograph, but a life experience. They are my people, my characters. They are all me."

Julian and Chris and Jim and Lane, Devon, Joel, Kirstin, Sam...they are all me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

George Steinmetz's horizon line

Great article in this week's New Yorker about George Steinmetz, the first photographer I ever assisted and also one of the hardest working, and most hilarious, guys out there. George taught me how to load a Nikon in an instant, pack a flight case to the max and run for the final boarding call.  He flys an ultralight paraglider over the sunset sands of the Sahara and beyond, shooting down from as high as 1000 feet. He says the best stuff is often at 500 feet, following Robert Capa's advice, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

I shot this pic of him when we had a day off at Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. We were shooting oil field wildcatters, usually at sunset, and back then, from the ground.

Cheers, George! Here's to two shrimp and a granola bar on the next red eye. Long may you fly at just the right height. See George's beautiful work.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sky in the Pie: Next Gen

Sky in the Pie space, which I started back in 2007, continues on the corner of 25th and Mission. Sam Slater (on the left) created "The View From Here" by teaching high schoolers at Pie Ranch about photography and public art. He encouraged the students to work with "the camera as tool, much the way a farmer uses tools to harvest a crop that has been planted and nurtured." He continues, "Each week students took 35mm manual cameras into their own environments, with the goal of harvesting their perspectives and offering them up the their community." The results of their explorations can be seen outside Mission Pie.

Javi and Andy Gutierrez, the coolest brothers evah continue to serve up deliciousness inside the sweet shop. Their seasonal offering is Shaker Lemon pie and ....yummy... is it a winter winner. I worked with Javi on the Sky in the Pie mural series and I taught Andy down at Pie Ranch myself. Special brothers, those two. Hearts as golden as they come.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Urban Farmer

Smack dab between a whirring freeway and a public housing development lies one of San Francisco's laragest urban farms. I've been going over to Alemany Farm for inspiration and to understand the nature of the volunteer. The Wall Street Journal just profiled them as an example of how urban farms can not make up the difference for land lost to development. Praise to those that gotta try.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dr. Edgar Wayburn: Rest in Peace

Ed Wayburn passed away this weekend. This monster conservationist preserved 100 million acres of land in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Think of him next time you walk along Ocean Beach, Tennessee Valley, Crissy Field... pretty much over any hill or valley in the Bay Area. Our divine spot on this planet would look very different without his lifelong efforts.

I took this photo of Dr. Wayburn for the cover of his memoir,  "Your Land and Mine: Evolution of a Conservationist." He liked the spot on top of Mt. Tamalpais where I took him. Looking out over the land he said, "This is where it all began; the drive to save the land started here and we just kept moving South."

Hats off to you, Dr. Wayburn.  We thank you kindly.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Givers Gain

The Walter and Elise Haas Fund asked me to create a piece for their office space and I decided to document their philanthropic work.  Easy to say, but because they support so many amazing efforts here in the Bay Area, it was challenging to settle on which threads to pick up and follow.

Speaking of process, last night at an ASMP gathering, Geri Meiglicz of Story4 talked about how the time spent with any nonprofit client, determining which subject best illustrates their storyline, is very likely the most important aspect of making successful multimedia collaborations. Journalism 101 meets Journalism 901.

The great folks at JFCS-EB, SFNCT, RISL, SFCMC, ANA helped me find the people that told their particular storylines. A shout out to all of you. And another shout out to Frances Phillips and everyone at Haas, Sr. for your support in making this all happen. Thank you.

Cantilever Project has been up on the west wall of the fund's San Francisco headquarters for the past two years. If you are near the San Francisco embarcadero this month, pop into One Lombard and take a look. The piece is coming down this month and the prints will be donated to each of the nonprofits.

Full circle. Givers gain.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Farm Together Now, Oakland

First stop in the Farm Together Now odyssey: over the Bay Bridge, into West Oakland. City Slicker Farms. They collaboratively build backyard gardens and distribute fresh produce for free throughout their cash-strapped neighborhood.

Serendipity happens: I craved a high vantage point to shoot the corner where City Slicker was born, et voila! Here comes a gentleman with a dump truck he is donating to the cause. Up I go with two cameras and a big load o' gratitude.

Friday, February 12, 2010

9 Qualities of a Great Photo Assistant

Yesterday, in the proverbial dawn's early light, my assistant Brad Wenner and I drove spring-green Hwy 280 to a shoot in Palo Alto. Cruising south in my MBZ bomber under blue sky after rain storm ~ spray of pink clouds, we spotted a crescent-shaped haiku: a most perfect arc drawn by a most perfect compass. And I realized it was the last day of ox-year! This little beauty of an orb was ushering in the tiger-year new moon of today.

Our shop talk was silenced by the sight of this dainty white line, and we were, like, "When was the last time you saw an old moon in a clear sky at dawn?" Made me think about what I look for in a photo assistant. Weird, but true.

So, here's my list-in-progress.

My perfect photo assistant...
1) knows more than I do about some stuff, and doesn't hesitate to share.
2) does odd duties with a glad attitude because we are in this together and because I always pay day of shoot.
3) will work to the cliff of big hunger, and carries condensed calories in this eventuality.
4) anticipates my needs to the point of being psychic.
5) makes their own art, in whatever form (being a voracious reader of literature counts).
6) has upper body strength.
7) is a great conversationalist (see number 5) while traveling to and from, but is quiet during shoots.
8) arrives exactly on time, not early or late.
9) is a master of the Easy Hang (see number 7, then times it by an airplane ticket and a rental car), with the capacity to share spiritually-uplifting moments that happen randomly along the way.

Yesterday, at the sight of the fingernail clipping of an old moon, Brad and I both kind of drew in our breath. The sound of a good assistant.

Gung Hei Fat Choy to the great assistants of my past/present/future. You make me look good, and you are Masters of the Easy Hang.

All you future assistants out there, send me your resume. Seriously.