Thursday, July 16, 2015



THIS BLOG IS A YEAR OLD. I frankly thought I'd be finished with the thing by now, so I suppose the great surprise of this project so far is just how much worthwhile - or at least worth talking about - work I've been excavating from my files.

I intended this to be ultimately about reassessing my work when I started posting here a year ago, but any meaningful conclusions I can make about its worth might still have to wait. In the meantime, now is as good a time as any to look at how this blog has affected my work, and my "career" as a photographer.

The first real by-product of the blog came late last year, when the nice people at Catholic Insight - thanks to my friend and editor Paul Tuns - used one of my images from the "Church Shop" post for the cover of their October issue. I'd appeared in CI as a writer before, but it was a special thrill to get one of my "portraits" of the Virgin out of the files and in front of people. I had a very nice response, and intend to revisit the Church Shop shoot again this year.

At around the same time I put up a post looking back at the influence Irving Penn had on my work and that of my good friend Chris Buck. I scanned and posted a group portrait I did of cartoonists Seth, Chester Brown and Joe Matt as an example of that influence at its most blatant, and after sending a link along to Seth, he told the nice people at his publisher, Drawn & Quarterly, about the shoot.

They were in the process of compiling a massive book celebrating their 25th anniversary, and asked if they could use the contact sheets from that shoot as part of a double page spread. It came out late last spring and I think it looks fabulous. I also intend to revisit my shoot with Seth, Chet and Joe later this year, in much greater detail.

In December, I posted a selection of the photos I've shot over the years of Jon Spencer and his various bands. Out of courtesy, I sent a link to his publicist and within a couple of hours got an e-mail from Jon, who ended up asking if he could use one of the shots of the Blues Explosion from 1993 on the back cover of the band's new record. Naturally I was thrilled; I had always wanted to see my work on a Blues Explosion record - who cares if it took twenty years?

I was quite pleased with the result, and when the JSBX passed through town on tour earlier this summer I used it as an excuse to try my hand at live music photography again after a long layoff. The gig ended with an impromptu portrait shoot with the band, and was probably one of my most rewarding evenings with a camera in many years. Thank you very much, Jon, Russell and Judah!

Rowland S. Howard drawing by Alice Cauchois

Traffic-wise, my most popular post on this blog to date is - yes, I'm surprised, too - one featuring my photos of Rudolf Nureyev, followed closely by The Replacements, Lollapalooza '92 and Karen Finley. (And no, I don't know why.) On Tumblr, my Green Day photos were by far the most popular set, but the most satisfying response I've gotten this year was from my photos of Rowland S. Howard and his band These Immortal Souls, shot in 1988 and unseen since then.

I posted a link to a tribute page to Rowland S. Howard on Facebook, which prompted a very warm and enthusiastic response from his fans, and in short order one of them did the very fine drawing above, using one of my shots as a model. Lovely work, and thank you, Alice!

The biggest disappointment this year was coming this close to getting one of my portraits of Spalding Gray published in the New Yorker. Looking forward, there are a couple of projects involving my shots that I'm not able to talk about at the time, but I'm quite excited about them, and hopefully there will be more.

Probably the best result of this blog is that I'm excited about shooting again, though the conclusions I'm coming to about the viability of a career in photography at this particular point in time are hardly encouraging. I'm not quite at the halfway point of my excavation through my files, so if luck and enthusiasm holds out, I'll be able to do this for at least another year. Thank you all for reading, and if you'll notice the little spot of blegging below, I'd like to ask you for a bit of help.

AN APPEAL: This blog is a year old, and hard use has taken its toll on my old HP scanner, which now only produces clear scans on a narrow strip on the right margin of its glass. I'm on the market for a new scanner, but the only comparable replacement costs several hundred dollars beyond my budget, so I'm asking anyone who's enjoyed what I've been doing here - and wants to see more - if they can chip in and help. There's a PayPal button up near the top, and anything would be appreciated. Also, if you feel moved, please click on my links - a small percentage of anything you buy helps fund this blog. Thank you so much in advance.


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