We send our warmest greetings with hopes that 2000 is bringing you only the best.
This newsletter will bring you up to date on our photography activities over the past year and planned ones for 2000 and beyond. From time to time we wish the pace of these activities would slow down a bit, but as soon as that thought passes we just add on more. For better or worse, it seems we are incorrigible.
The two-page addendum lists current prices for prints, portfolios, books, and other things. Please note that there are a number of changes from last year.
Each year seems to bring a dramatic weather event that affects some aspect of our life in photog-raphy. This year's flood made last year's snow and ice problems seem relatively insignificant. Because we are located near the top of a hill, 400 feet above a stream, we never dreamed we could suffer flood damage. But we did. On a day when Hurricane Floyd came north after having devastated North Carolina, Michael was working in the darkroom and I was in Doylestown, twelve miles away, for an appointment. UPS called us to say they had a delivery and were unable ford our stream because it was now a raging river. Michael made plans to meet the driver at a neighbor's house. Having been in the darkroom all day, he was oblivious to what was going on outside. As he headed out to our storage building to get the hand truck, he found that water had flooded onto our porch and was a millimeter from coming under the door. Working frantically, he diverted the torrent of water away from the door and proceeded to the storage building on a path that was covered in more than six inches of water. It looked to him as if the water, mercifully, hadn't quite reached the storage room door. But he was wrong; it had. When he opened the door he was shocked to find the floor covered in water over four inches deep.
Forget UPS. Get books, photographs, and equipment off the floor. Working frantically, he did what he could. A couple of hours later I returned and after a moment of astonished disbelief started baling water out of the storage building while Michael tried to divert the flow down the hill away from the building. Early that evening, blessedly, it stopped raining. For the next six days we dried out the floor and all the soggy contents and assessed damage. Our loss: hundreds of books, a few photographs, and some equipment damage (fortunately none beyond repair). Although we were beat and it seemed pretty awful at moments, we realized it was nothing compared to those along the North Carolina coast who had lost everything, so, in our comparative good fortune, we had a celebratory dinner recognizing "It could have been worse!"
And now the news:
Travels: Tuscany and beyond
As you know, prior to last year our photographing trips have been mostly in the U.S. (the singular exception being when we photographed for a short time in Prague and the Czech Republic in 1994). Last year marked a change—our major photographing journey was in Tuscany. Although Michael had never been in Italy and I had not been there in about thirty years, Tuscany has long headed our list of places around the world that we have been wanting to photograph.
The impetus to work in Europe was provided by an invitation to teach a workshop in Austria (with an accompanying major exhibition). In the spring we shipped our old Land Rover, filled with photography and camping equipment, to Europe on a container ship. After first visiting friends and photographers in The Netherlands, Germany, and France (and making a few photographs along the way), we taught the five-day workshop at the headquarters of Lotus View Camera near Salzburg. And then it was on to Tuscany.
Photographing in Tuscany was glorious. Having all of our camera equipment in the Land Rover precluded working in cities (it is simply too risky to leave an unattended vehicle out of sight in most Italian cities), so we worked throughout the Tuscan countryside and in the small towns. Our most surprising discovery was the soft and hazy light—so different from the brilliant light we are accustomed to here in the U.S. In spite of this, we were still quite productive and had wonderful experiences everywhere we went. One example: During one of our many "mechanical delays," we located a mechanic in the small town where we were having trouble. After failing to solve our problem, he made some calls, put up a closed sign on his garage door, led us in his car to a town over twenty kilometers away where someone could fix our vehicle, explained our problem to the other mechanic, then drove back to his town to re-open his shop for the rest of the day. He spoke not one word of English and charged not a lira.
We found the Italian people to be warm and welcoming throughout Tuscany, and we will be seeing them again when we return to photograph there during May and June of this year.
And as we have done here in the U.S. with our 1961 International fire truck (which, by the way, is still very much alive), we made the acquaintance of too many auto mechanics in every country we visited. This year we hope we won't need to re-learn the Italian words for transmission, radiator, fan, thermostat...
A chance meeting with an amateur photographer in The Netherlands who had been on two major trips to Iceland led us to spontaneously decide that we will photograph there ourselves. We are now planning an extensive expedition into the interior of Iceland in the summer (when else?) of 2001. Again, we will be shipping the Land Rover. We are hoping to travel with our new photographer friend from The Netherlands, but should that not materialize, we will be needing a good local guide since the areas we will visit are wild and far inland. We hope to connect with the photography department at Iceland's only art school and cooperate in some way that is mutually beneficial. If any of you have contacts in Iceland that you would like us to know about, we would greatly welcome your information.
Immediately upon our return to the States last year, we taught a five-day workshop in Salt Lake City where we were the featured instructors at the Mammoth Camera Workshop organized by the photographer Tillman Crane and sponsored by the Waterford Institute. This workshop offered participants the opportunity to work with view cameras from 8x10 up to 20x24. It was a huge success and we will be teaching there again. It is scheduled this year from June 25–July 1. For information, contact Tillman Crane at 801-576-4914.
Vision and Technique Workshops—intermediate to advanced: We taught this weekend workshop here in Bucks County at the end of July and found it to be so pleasurable that we decided to do another one this March. Upon announcing it on our web site, enrollment filled almost immediately (several participants even coming from Europe), so we decided to offer another one for the following weekend. That one also filled up so quickly that we are now thinking of doing one in August or September to accommodate the current waiting list. These intense weekend sessions are designed to be "the last workshop you will ever need." Contact us directly if you would like to know more about the workshop dates for late summer. Call, write, or e-mail to: email@example.com.
Collections: Two museums
Last year we showed our photographs to the Director of the Prints and Photographs Division and the Assistant Curator of Photography at the Library of Congress. They responded most positively and wanted to acquire several pieces from both of us, but indicated that two of Paula's would be the most that would be possible (Michael's work is already in the collection). They asked Paula to select four photographs from the High Plains Farm series and send them for consideration by the panel of curators who would make the decision about which two to buy. The Assistant Curator couldn't decide which four from among her twenty or thirty favorites to be sent for review, so Paula finally sent thirteen for the Library to consider. A short time later, we were thrilled and overwhelmed when they called to say they would purchase all thirteen—plus seven new ones of Michael's!
Here in Bucks County, Bruce Katsiff, Director of the James A. Michener Art Museum, has led the museum's mission in collecting work of the famous and outstanding artists in the county, of which there are many. Last year, the museum and a generous donor turned their attention to Michael's work. They came to our studio to look at his photographs and discuss the possibility of a significant acquisition. A selection of possibly twenty photographs was anticipated. Later in the year we received word that, yes, they were interested, but the arrangement had changed—they will be acquiring not twenty photographs, but forty! Again, we were thrilled and overwhelmed. And we are delighted that our fine local museum will have a representative and rather large collection of Michael's photographs.
Should you want to work with your favorite museum so they can acquire a significant number of photographs from either (or both) of us, we would be happy to discuss it with you.
Web site: www.michaelandpaula.com
The year of 1999 brought us on-line with our web site. So far we have sections that deal with our books, our workshops, biographical information, Michael's writing, and technical information. Our "Photographs" section, the most important part of all, has been "under construction" for far too long (we had anticipated having photographs up by last summer), but getting our photographs properly prepared for the site has been a monumental task. Please be patient. At this moment, we have assistants scanning our photographs and a proper data base is being developed. We hope to have the first hundred or so photographs on the site before April. By the end of this year, we expect to have about four thousand on-line in a fully searchable data base. The world of internet viewing, research, selection, and selling, continues to evolve rapidly, and we are trying to present our work in a complete, straightforward, and user-friendly manner. We, with our ancient cameras, never thought we would need to be this involved with the digital age. It is indeed challenging.
Publishing: Old books and new
Paula's book, High Plains Farm, continues to garner attention and accolades. Many of the High Plains Farm photographs were featured in 1999 in each issue of a three-part special series of The Land Report (including two covers), published by The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. This special series featured writings and photographs by well-known artists.
Paula's writing and her portraits from High Plains Farm will also be featured in the March/April issue of View Camera Magazine.
And just recently, this note came from another appreciative viewer: "Your book, Paula, brought tears to my eyes, as I looked first at all of the pictures and then read your beautiful notes in the back.... The book is a sacrament, a tapestry of images of a now almost vanished way of life. And the person who came from that life, who returned and took the photos—both the person and the photos acquire a kind of deep purity that comes close, in my mind, to holiness."
Such thoughtful and moving responses are an invaluable gift in return.
Last year we announced that Michael's book of portraits, The Students of Deep Springs College, would be published in the fall of 1999, but because we discovered a new and extraordinary printer in Europe, we put the publication date off until this fall. You know that, for our books, we have always used the highest quality printing we could find. For us that meant having them printed either at Gardner Lithograph or at Becotte and Gershwin (now Becotte & Company). All of our books have been printed in 300 line-screen duotone or tritone and we thought they couldn't get any better. So we were surprised to discover this small printing firm in Europe that may have the highest standards of photographic reproduction today. With their 600 line-screen tritones matched to customized presses and specially formulated inks, the press proofs are simply astounding.
You may recall that Michael was invited to teach at Deep Springs College, the remarkable two-year, all male school, in the fall of 1995. In this new book, through portraits of all twenty-five students, he reveals the nature of this most unusual college—arguably the best one in America. The Students of Deep Springs College will also contain a foreword by a former president of the college, an essay by a former alum who is the current president of the college, and a memoir by the noted author and former Deep Springs student, William Vollman. This book is a bit different from our former books and we expect it to reach a wide audience.
And speaking of something different, for the first time, we are publishing the work of another photographer—Richard C. Miller. Unlike our large-format sharp-focussed full-scale photographs, Miller's photographs are made rapidly with a 35mm camera and have a tonal scale very different from ours. Passage: Europe, his first book, exhibits a sensitive and distinctive vision, and the foreword by the renowned poet, Philip Levine, complements Miller's poetic view of the universal human condition.
Over the years we have been asked by many photographers if we would publish their books. But even among those willing to meet our rigorous terms, until now we hadn't met anyone who had a vision cohesive enough to warrant a book. Even though, or maybe because, it is so different from our own work, we are very excited about Passage: Europe. We hope you will be, too.
This fall, watch for the Lodima Press mailings for both The Students of Deep Springs College and Passage: Europe.
Future books: After our return from Tuscany in June, we will be planning the publication of two more books (one from each of us), on aspects of the Tuscan landscape. We hope to have them ready for release in 2001.
Writing: Michael's articles
Last year, we wrote at some length about our photographic materials with reference to their rarity and extraordinary properties. In our continued effort to save the remarkable and inimitable silver chloride contact printing paper, Azo, Michael has written "Azo Update 2000," an article that will be published in the March/April issue of View Camera Magazine. This is a follow-up from his article, "How to Print on 100-Year Old Paper" published in the July/August, 1996 issue.
Last year the continued availability of Azo was threatened. We lobbied Kodak steadily to keep it in production in sizes, grades, and packaging that users of smaller quantities would need. We even sent them prints on Azo to compare with the best prints we could make on another paper that Kodak had given us to test some years ago—one they hoped might replace Azo. The current Kodak Black and White Product Manager saw the difference at once, and fortunately he has taken a keen and active interest in doing all he can to help us. He has been an effective and most appreciated ally. This paper is one of those rare and fine products that has, for years, barely survived. You may recall that a few years ago Kodak eliminated the film that we use—the incomparable Super XX— necessitating we stockpile a lifetime supply. We hope there won't be a repeat with Azo.
And Michael has another article in the works, "Advances in Archival Mounting and Storage," about new archival materials. Extensive testing has shown them to be vastly superior to standard 100% acid-free all-rag board. This article will be published in View Camera Magazine in the fall. Whether you make photographs or collect them, this is a product you will want to know about. By fall, we'll be able to tell you more about these new materials.
As we mentioned last year, we have often photographed while being together, occasionally even working side by side, but until now we never photographed jointly or collaboratively. We are in the midst of making a series of photographs together—photographs that we will both sign. You might think that would be a real test for two strong-willed highly-opinionated artists who are married to each other, but so far it has been surprisingly trouble-free and it looks like we are passing the test. The subject is still confidential, but we expect to present this new work in 2001. Stay tuned.
Paula is producing another portfolio this year: A Field in Tuscany. This portfolio of eight photographs is limited to an edition of ten. A brochure for this portfolio will be mailed in late spring. Please see the addendum for availability of this and her other two portfolios and for Michael's earlier ones.
As always, we are grateful for your interest in and support of our work. As part of our audience, you complete a vital circle and make a valuable contribution to the creative process and to the making of our art.
Whenever possible during our travels, we hope we can connect with you for a visit. And do remember that you are always welcome to visit us at our home/studio here in Bucks County.
We send you our best wishes and warm regards,
Michael and Paula
Many of you have requested updates on our print prices for your records. This addendum also provides information about our books, exhibition catalogues, portfolios, posters, and (singular) video. Please note that there have been some changes to prices and quantities remaining and there have been some additions. These are denoted with an asterisk.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Silver Chloride Contact Prints
Michael: 8 x 10 $1,250. Paula: 8 x 10 $800.
8 x 20 $1,500. 5 x 7 $600.
18 x 22 $2,500. 4 x 5 $600.
Michael is no longer printing negatives made prior to 1976. His remaining 8" x 10" photographs made in 1975 or earlier are individually priced, starting at $1,500 and going to $10,000.
The price for Michael's 2' x 5' enlargements, made directly from his 8" x 20" negatives, remains at $3,500 except for one print for which half the edition has sold. That print is priced at $5,000.
BOOKS and CATALOGUES:
• A note about the prices for our books: Partly due to our flood loss and having fewer books available (the original printing was only 3,000 copies to start with), prices have gone up for both Natural Connections (now $60) and High Plains Farm (now $70). For orders placed before April 1 we will honor the original prices of $50 and $60 respectively. If you have thought of getting either of these but have hesitated before, we encourage you to follow through at this time.
• Landscapes 1975–1979: Only twenty-one sets remain of Michael's first book, printed in a signed and numbered, limited edition of 600 two-volume sets. They sell regularly and we expect they will be gone in the not-too-distant future. (Last year at this time there were thirty-three sets remaining.) Landscapes 1975–1979, with an original photograph as the frontispiece, letterpress text, and tipped-in plates, is a rare and beautiful set of books for fine book and photography collectors. Published in 1981, it was awarded "Best Photographic Book of the Year" at the International Festival of Photography in Arles, France. One set remains priced at $1,000. After that, the price will go up by $250 each time five sets are sold. For you, however, all orders placed before April 1 will be honored at the current price, even if more than one set is ordered.
• Landscapes 1975–1979: An exhibition catalogue with the same title as the book, but with different reproductions (12). Published in 1981, this catalogue is now rare; fewer than twenty copies remain. We have seen used copies for sale for $35. It is still only $25 from us.
Michael A. Smith: A Visual Journey: Photographs From Twenty-Five Years: Published in 1992, this book accompanied Michael's twenty-five year retrospective exhibition at the Inter-national Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. 176 duotone reproductions. $85. Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $250.
• Princeton: An exhibition catalogue with five reproductions and a fine essay by Richard Trenner. Published in 1985, this is also a rare catalogue. Only thirty copies remain. $20.
• Natural Connections: Photographs by Paula Chamlee: Paula's first book—photographs of the natural landscape accompanied by selected writings from her journals. Printed in Laser Silver-Lit Tones™, 42 tritone reproductions, published in 1994. $60. Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $200.
• High Plains Farm: Published in 1996, a book of Paula's photographs and writing about the farm where she grew up on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. 81 duotone reproductions. $70. Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $200.
• San Francisco: Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block: Paula's third book, published in 1997. Printed in a signed and numbered limited edition of only 550 copies, 21 duotone reproductions and hand-tipped plate on the cover. $50. Only four copies of the Collectors Edition remain. These copies come with your choice of any photograph in the book for only $500.
• A Field in Tuscany: An edition of ten portfolios self-published in 2000, each containing eight
8" x 10" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and two sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy textured linen. Nine portfolios remain. Price available on request.
San Francisco: Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block: An edition of three portfolios self-published in 1997, each containing twenty-one 8" x 10" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and three sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy Italian linen. Two portfolios remain. Price available on request.
• High Plains Farm: A Unique Portfolio: An edition of fifteen portfolios self-published in 1996, each containing twelve photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and four sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. Each purchaser chooses their twelve favorites from the entire High Plains Farm series. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy Italian linen. Only one portfolio remains. Price available on request.
• Eight Landscape Photographs: An edition of twenty portfolios plus two artist's proofs published by Regnis Press in 1983, each containing eight 8" x 20" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted and two sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy linen. Upon completion of this portfolio, the negatives were retired; no further prints were made from them. Two portfolios remain. Price available on request.
• Twelve Photographs 1967–1969: Self published in 1970 in an edition of twenty-five, this portfolio contains a representative selection of Michael's work from this period. The 8" x 10" archivally mounted photographs and two sheets of Arches paper printed letterpress come in a custom-made portfolio case covered in heavy linen. Seven portfolios remain. Price available on request.
The four High Plains Farm posters are exquisitely printed in 300 line-screen duotone on heavy cover stock and were run through the press an additional and fourth time for extra luster and brilliance. Size: 19" x 26" for three of the posters and 19" x 27" for the fourth. Posters: $25 each or $80 for all four. A limited edition of signed and numbered posters is also available at $50 each or $125 for all four. We will send reproductions of the four images upon request.
The PBS half-hour documentary film, High Plains Farm: Paula Chamlee, produced by KACV-TV is available from us for only $25.