I believe that Kaizen, a Japanese business philosophy that believes in continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency, is the cornerstone of any occupation. This is the main reason I constantly take classes and workshops to improve my photography skills and try to get a better understanding about my development as a person who has an inner desire to record the outside world using a photo camera.
During our recent experience at the Palm Springs Photo Festival (I started writing about it last week), not only did I learn from the workshop’s leader, a renowned photographer Roger Ballen, who came from South Africa to teach this class, but also from other participants and teachers, as well. One of them, a well-known photographer, Melvin Sokolsky, pointed out that you cannot learn how to become a good photographer unless you have a gift, which we call talent (in my view, this reflects all artistic or creative endeavors). According to him, you either have it or not. I’ve seen it again and again while looking at the photography work of other photographers. At the Festival, there were 20 workshops to choose from. I ended up taking “Success in Fine Art Photography.” This was not my first choice, since I’m only starting to see evolvement of my photo-work as an art form. Besides, after checking Roger Ballen’s photography online, I was not initially interested, but I’m glad I made this choice. During the workshop with eleven participants, we shared our own photo images, as well as Roger’s creative art. We also had discussions about what it takes to be an artist and how to make a living doing what your heart desires.
Two days were spent photographing around Palm Springs. Before our trip, we visited antique stores where we had to choose props, which we would use for our creative process. My eyes caught two items – a beautiful silk scarf from India, a present for my wife, and a framed sign with the word LOVE written on it. The first hour and a half trip was to the Coachella Movie Ranch, which offered us an opportunity to use our creativity to create and photograph our masterpiece. On the second day we drove to another unusual destination – The Salton Sea. This place has an interesting history and certain areas which have abandoned houses filled with junk and graffiti. Some of them, like the Bombay Beach Estate, became a destination for artists. I used both locations to create images which incorporated my LOVE sign. Someone in the group, seeing me all the time with LOVE sign and listening to my remarks about life, called me “Mr. Lover”. I liked the idea, and upon my return, I decided to create a Facebook and Instagram page called “MannyKaganLove”. I hope this idea will catch on, and others will start sharing their LOVE images as well. When we focus on love, many other issues in our lives might disappear.
I would love to share my love with you In the four images I photographed during the trip.
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If you live in San Francisco, I am sure this headline got your attention. However, the solution is not what you had in mind. I am currently writing from Palm Springs; possibly the hottest city in California, where an average temperature in July is 108°. During the dinner with friends who live here, they told me that one of the benefits living in this hot place is the absence of parking meters. Even large parking lots are free. Wow! I am here together with my wife Elfa to attend the Palm Springs Photo Festival. This is an annual event where I have participated in the past as well. This year, I am taking a workshop taught by the renowned photographer-artist Roger Ballen. I will write the details of this experience next week, since this time I wanted to share with you some of the trivia related to the place which was known many years ago by the name given by the native Cahuilla people, who settled in the area about 2000 years ago. They called it “Se-Khi” (boiling water). The United States Government established the Agua Caliete (hot water) reservation in 1876. Nowadays Cahuilla Indians, of whom about 400 live in the city, are the largest landowners. The city became a fashionable resort in 1905 when health tourists arrived with conditions that require dry heat. But even then, as it is now, many people moved to the cooler places during the summer. Movie stars started to make Palm Springs to be popular in the 1930s. Since the early 1950s the city had become known as a spring break resort. By 2017, the population had grown to about 48,000 people. It has one of the highest concentrations of same sex couples of any community in the United States. I was told that this trend exploded during the HIV epidemic, when gay men with AIDS moved there to die. Thanks to medical developments, their death was delayed. Since life here was cheaper than in other cities, like San Francisco or Los Angeles, their friends and parents followed soon after. I found another explanation online, as well.
Today the main source of revenue in the area is tourism with over 1.6 million people coming here every year, who in 2017 spent $5.5 billion. Not far from Palm Springs, other towns have developed with country clubs and high end shopping.
Another place to visit while here is Joshua Tree National Park. We might come back to Palm Springs next year to attend another workshop. For me the results, which you’ll see next week, are worth the effort and the cost.
P.S. The four images are some of the encounters I had in Downtown Palm Springs.
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I received an email recently, informing me that a business acquaintance died from a heart attack at the age of 48. For me, being seventy-two years wise, the news made me think. Since I plan to accomplish many things in the remaining years of my life, I thought about how long that might take; consequently, how long do I plan to be around? When I asked some of my friends how long are they planning to keep me, most responded that it is not up to them to decide, since there are higher powers that usually take care of this business.
There is a saying in Russian, “Chelovek predpolagaet, a Bog raspolagaet”, which means,“Man Proposes, but God Disposes”. The history of the saying goes back to the 5thcentury BC. If this is the case, how can we plan anything in our lives? This reminds me of a story about a student who proposed marriage to his girlfriend. His family was very excited about the news. Nevertheless, the mother of the bride asked her husband to find out how the young man is planning to support his family. For every question the father asked, the student answered — “God will provide”. When he returned home, the father reported to his wife that the young man has no plans of how to provide for his family. “However, the good news is, that he thinks that I am God”, the father said.
There is a saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Of course, no one can plan how long they are going to live, but they can plan to extend their lives by having a healthier lifestyle, by being conscious of what goes into our body, and by what goes into our brain. I am doing this just by planning one day at a time; while at the same time, having a vision of what I am planning to accomplish for years to come. For example, when I worked on my first “42 Encounters” book, I decided to produce forty-two books – one per year. Thus, my last one is going to be published when I’m going to be one hundred and fifteen. Meanwhile, I just finished writing the third photo-story book, “42 Encounters with Pairs in San Francisco”. What is left – to edit the text and put the book together. After that, it is going to be printed and by the end of the summer you will be able to hold the book in your hands. As another saying goes, “If you can perceiveit, you can achieve it”. Meanwhile, while you are reading this story, I am in Palm Springs. We came here for me to attend a photography workshop. I’ll share the results with you in next week’s story.
P.S. These four images are part of my personal growth as a photographer. They are from the collection I called “Singularity in Dualty”. I put them together to show at a workshop. Now I am considering producing a separate new photobook with those images. Meanwhile, you can buy my previously published “42 Encounters in San Francisco” and “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” on Amazon.com.
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This phrase was tattooed on the chest of Lyle Tuttle, who was once called “the granddaddy of modern tattooing.” Mr. Tuttle died on Monday, March 25th, at the age of 87. I learned about this in an article published on March 30, 2019, in the San Francisco Chronicle. During a 2002 interview for the Chronicle, Mr. Tuttle said, “show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past” (he was quoting Jack London). I do not think that a person with “an interesting past” needs a tattoo. I do not have one. For me, the reason is very simple – Why to have any markings on my body, which cannot be seen or changed? Judaism prohibits tattooing for a number of reasons mentioned in an interesting article online titled “Tattooing in Jewish Law”. Nevertheless, it was Lew the Jew from New York who at the beginning of the 20thcentury became one of the most influential tattoo artists in the United States. I recently checked out a current exhibit about him and other Jewish tattoo artists in the early 20thcentury at the San Francisco Jewish Museum. Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least the Neolithic times, which began about 12,000 years ago. Despite the fact that I would not get a tattoo on my body, it is very popular, especially among young people, and I have a story (titled Tattoo) in my next photo-story book “42 Encounters with the Pairs in San Francisco”.
The text in my upcoming book is based on one word, which corresponds with the image. One of them is of a man and woman who are both tattooed. I will leave the suspense of seeing the image, but will share the story:
It was Captain James Cook’s voyages to the South Pacific that imported the Polynesian word tatau, which was later changed to tattoo. Tattooing existed in many parts of the world, dating back to approximately 6000 BC.
Different countries had different purposes or reasons for the painful adornments of their countrymen’s bodies. In ancient China, bandits and folk heroes were known to sport tattoos. In Egypt, women displayed the majority of tattoos, and the markings often indicated status. In the Philippines, native groups also used tattoos as a sign of rank or power. During the Christianization of Europe, tattoos were considered elements of paganism and were prohibited. In Japan, they served for spiritual and decorative purposes but also were used for criminals as punishment. The Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, who are the descendants of the Samurai, used tattoos as a sign of belonging to a specific group. The native people from the Ohlomes and Miwoks tribes, who settled in the San Francisco Bay around 4500 to 5000 years ago, tattooed both men and women. In the modern Western world, tattoos have become very popular for a variety of reasons: memories, art, love and passion or just as a fashion trend.
P.S. These four images attest to how tattooing has become popular among some women. I encountered a dog owner in Fort Funston with a dog tattoo on her arm, of her deceased best friend. One of the images in the book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” came from our trips here with Max. You can buy the book on Amazon.com.
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