January 1, 2016: This blog is currently under renovation...feel free to read through the archive below for past entries and inspirations. For the most up-to-date information about my work, including exhibitions and teaching, please check my site at http://www.joannedugan.com.


Great Work from The Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown

The "On Seeing What's Right in Front of You" class keeps evolving. I recently had the honor of working with a group of inspiring students at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. The Thursday night open studio, as photographed here by student Mark Farber, was especially popular this year. The students, who ranged in photo experience from professionals to well-versed amateurs, filled the walls with more than 300 images created over a 72 hour period. Creative risks were taken by all. Very inspiring. Will post some more images soon.

Photo © 2012, Mark Farber


Thanks Martha!

Very happy to have my book ABC NYC featured in Living Magazine this month. And especially honored to be the company of Christoph Neimann, Tony Sarg and Miroslav Sasek. Thanks Martha!

Right Now, 5:59pm

February 14, 2012, Broadway and 20th Street


Right Now, 5:59pm

February 9, 2012, Lexington Avenue, 5:59pm


Right Now, 5:59pm

I give an assignment to my students that involves shooting an image at the exact same time every day. I created this exercise years ago as a way to keep the images flowing. It also has the added benefit of automatically creating a visual diary of daily life and when pieced together, becomes a story. I will occasionally publish the recent ones here, all shot at exactly 5:59pm. 5:58 or 6:01 doesn't count.

 February 4, 2012, East 34th Street looking West, 5:59pm


This Moment

I have been writing in the mornings. I document the exact moment that my pencil scratches the paper (yes, a pencil. A Ticonderoga #2. Not a keyboard.) I write about what I see, where I am or how cold my feet are. I try not to think back to what has already happened or ahead to what might be. I don't get too deep. I don't try and figure things out. I just write. And then stuff comes.

It's harder to do this sometimes with photography. As a supposed professional in my field, the pressure is on to be brilliant. Or at least not terrible. Time and time again, the best work comes when I get in the mindset that I use for my writing...stay instinctual and try stuff. Some of it works. And some of it doesn't. But what matters is the shift that happens from the action. 


View, Through My Morning Water Glass

Et Voila

I have collected many photography books over the years. They surround me in my studio and I just have to turn around and pick something off the pile behind me to find something beautiful to gaze at.

Today's book views were especially inspiring. I've had the pleasure and honor of knowing the creators of two of the books I was purusing (Jayne Hinds Bidaut and Paul Himmel).

And I only wish I had been around to know Steiglitz and Mapplethorpe, who worked in the neighborhood.

Apps are cool, but nothing beats the touch, smell and overall tactile experience of a large gorgeous photo book.

Paul Himmel, from "Paul Himmel, Photographs" (Assouline)

Jayne Hinds Bidaut, from "Animalerie" (Texas University Press)

 Alfred Steiglitz, from "Alfred Steiglitz Photographer" (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Robert Mapplethorpe, from "Robert Mapplethorpe" (ICA, Philadelphia)



It would be good to give much thought, before you try to find words for something so lost, for those long childhood afternoons you knew that vanished so completely -and why?
- Ranier Maria Rilke

Daily Practice: Listening to Myself, Sort of

I recently had the strange sensation of reading my own words, without knowing what the original context was. A student handed me a xeroxed sheet, which she had received in a photo class. The teacher had used my writing within a handout, which I was flattered to see. I honestly couldn't remember when I had written it, so it felt like I was reading the work of someone else.

After a little memory-jarring research, it turns out that the passage came from a contribution I did for the International Center of Photography's newsletter in 2008. In re-reading what I wrote, I realized that the thoughts are still relevant today in relation to both teaching and my own photographic pursuits:

It's All in the Daily Practice

The composer Ernest Newman wrote that "The greatest composer does not sit down to work because
he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working." Keep this idea in mind when making photographs. It's easy to believe that we must have a clear vision of a project before we even start it when in fact, the best ideas often come when we least expect them.

No matter what kind of photographer you are or want to become, be sure to shoot your own life often and shoot it candidly. Often a simple, regular documentation of the daily can open up ideas for new projects. Don't worry if it's "art" or even it it's "good." Just be sure to put aside a certain amount of time to shoot for no other reason than to enjoy yourself. This will keep the ideas flowing.

                                                                                                           Joanne Dugan, NYC
                                                                                                           originally 2008
                                                                                                           re-posted 2011


Things I've Learned to Be True in Teaching: Part Two

I am just finishing up an intensive week of teaching at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. My students took a big leap of faith together and the results were phenomenal. A few observations about the week:
- A group dynamic, when it's a supportive one, can propel photography work forward at an incredibly rapid rate. The process of sharing, showing and talking changes the work, usually for the better.
- Letting go of the outcome when working also changes the work for the better.
- Just doing something, imperfectly, is best. Shoot first, think later.
- And in the thoughtful words of Henri Cartier-Bresson, in relation to creating memorable images, "You have to milk the cow quite a lot and get plenty of milk to get a little cheese."


Limited edition prints at the Ernden Fine Art Gallery

I am celebrating ten years of shows at the Ernden Fine Art Gallery, with images being highlighted 7/29-8/4 and for the month of August. This is a place where I get to share my gelatin silver editioned prints...rarer and rarer in these digital days. Hope you can stop by! Click on the link above for details.


Photo-o-rama at the University of Minnesota

I had the pleasure of working with a talented group of students at the Split Rock Arts Center at the University of Minnesota this past week.  It was the first time "On Seeing What's Right in Front of You" was taught in this area and I look forward to returning soon.

Here, in no particular order, are the top ten thoughts about the photographic process I had while there:

1.   The best work generally starts with an idea. Or at least an approach. Working in collections is a great way to realize an idea. And it's OK, actually preferred, to have several collections going at once. And they don't have to all work out.
2.    It's also OK to not know exactly which direction you're headed when you start. The direction comes  clearer as you go.
3.    What matters most is to start, even if you don't feel ready.
4.    What matters second most is to continue.
5.    The right group dynamic can help to push the work further. Way further.
6.    Technically speaking, framing and light matter most, assuming the subject is what you want it to be.
7.    Bad pictures lead to good pictures.
8.    The best inspiration often comes from places other than photography.
9.    Sometimes writing about it all helps to clarify it all. And no one has to actually see the words.
10.  Shoot. Listen. Repeat. Or, in the words of rapper Baba Brinkman: Performance, Feedback, Revision.

Supreme thanks to Maren, Nancy, Pearl, Kim, Gabrielle, Maury, Rex, Marilyn, Louise, Margorie, Debra, David, Oren, Cynthia and Clare. You all rocked it.


The Details: Minneapolis, MN

Riverside Plaza Building

"Brutalist" architecture...from the French 'beton brut' (raw concrete). Its exteriors were featured on the "Mary Tyler Moore" show of my childhood, which is maybe why I couldn't stop looking. Some locals call it the "crack stack." I call it beautiful.

Wiseman Art Museum by Frank Gehry

I love the Wikipedia entry: "Gehry is very much inspired by fish."

 Window View, 5:40am 

Good morning.


Bill Cunningham New York: A Film by Richard Press

I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this movie. Big congratulations to director Richard Press. Every minute was an inspiration. The film is also a wonderful example about how good ideas don't always need huge productions. And as a matter of fact, a big production would have kept this movie from ever happening (see the link to the director's interview below.)

Many of my friends have been photographed on the streets over the years by Bill Cunningham. I still hope and pray for my turn, maybe someday. A girl can dream, right? : )



the champions: thoughts on a summer Monday

I am by nature a 'group' person. I have worked on many projects, both large and small, and what comes clear is that it truly does take a village to launch an idea into the world.

As I sit here at my desk this morning to plan my week, I feel compelled to look at the varied projects I'm working on and to recognize the clan of people who are helping them to get realized. Without naming names, I want to send thanks to all of those who are directly responsible for helping to further what's on my desktop: the children's book editor, the gallery director, the web programmer, the creative director(s), the art buyer, the creative services provider, the magazine art editor, the students, the corporate communications director, the designer, and the academic program directors.

You truly are champions and I am so appreciative of the support you give.

OK, ready now to start the week.


Inspiring Quote from Steve Jobs

"Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.


My New Neighbor on Union Square West

Upcoming "LOVE" Auction

I am proud to be an auction chair for this incredible organization. I have worked with many non-profits over the years and this one is truly AMAZING at all levels. One of my recent images will be part of their auction...please join us to support a great cause.

My Upcoming Classes: Be there or be square

I try to take time out of my fairly busy shooting schedule every year to teach...it gives me a perspective on the seeing process unlike anything else.  I am always honored to witness what students share of themselves in their work and look forward to these sessions. A supportive group atmosphere is encouraged and generally a great time is had by all.

Here's what's coming up soon in three different cities...email me with any questions, etc.

NYC: The International Center of Photography
"On Seeing What's Right in Front of You: Photographing Your Own Life with New Eyes"
April 11 - May 16, 2011
Monday nights, 6:30 - 9:30pm for five weeks

"Taking It to the Streets: Lessons in Intuitive Urban Photography"
June 11 - June 19, 2011
Two weekend workshop

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Split Rock Arts Center, University of Minnesota
"On Seeing What's Right in Front of You: Photographing Daily Life"
July 11 - July 15, 2011
One week workshop

Provincetown, MA: Fine Arts Work Center
On Seeing What's Right in Front of You: Photographing Your Own Life with New Eyes"
July 31 - August 5th, 2011
One Week Workshop

The Streets Were Singing this Morning

with the odd bits of things the street sweepers left....


The Photographers' (at least this one) Holy Grail: Steiglitz/Steichen Autochromes at the Met

Just saw the amazing Steiglitz/Steichen Autochromes at the Met. They haven't been seen in more than 25 years. Normally facsimiles are shown because of their delicacy. They were on view for just a week. And I loved the fact that you had to stand in a darkened room and press little button in order to see them.

Here today. Gone tomorrow. Truly breathtaking.

Happy New Year!!



What I've Been Up to Lately

International Center of Photography, NYC
"On Seeing What's Right in Front of You"
Monday nights, 6:30-9:30pm
10/4/10 - 11/8/10

"Taking It to the Streets: Lessons in Intuitive Urban Photography"
Two weekend workshop, 10AM-5PM
10/9/10 - 10/17/10

I've had numerous shoots this year for advertising, corporate and design projects.  Most notably, I shot an ad campaign this summer for
Pfizer/McCann Erickson that is launching this month in People Magazine, Reader's Digest and Good Housekeeping Magazines and will
run in numerous other publications and online throughout the year.

My portrait of the best-selling author Pamela Keogh will grace the cover of her new book "Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn?: Timeless Lessons
on Love, Power and Style.

My exhibit in August was a big success and I was so appreciative of everyone's support. Many of you have asked for a link to the
images, so here it is. All photographs were printed by hand in a darkroom (no digital!) in small editions and include handwritten text from my journals.
It's nice to still be able to keep a hand in B&W analog photography.

just for fun:


A New Blog, made in France

I have been working on a new blog called "A French Country House." It combines my true loves of photography, writing, France and food and touches on a lot of the concepts I talk about in my "On Seeing What's Right in Front of You" class at ICP. I will keep it going as long as I feel I have something relevant to say. Which hopefully will be a while. We'll see.

Click on the orange header above to link to it.


Some Summer News from the Studio

Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA
July 25 - 30, 2010
9am-12noon for five days
I am teaching a lively class called "Creating Photography Books: Ideas and Process" at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. I'd love to see some of you there as it is a small group and we do a lot of intensive work. Space is limited so let them know right away if you'd like to come. Below is a link for their photo programs. Also, as a former student and/or friend of mine, you are eligible for a $75 discount on the class...just mention it when you book the class. And if you haven't been to Provincetown before, it is simply amazing.

International Center of Photography, NYC
June 12, 13 and 19th, 20th
I am about to start a two-weekend street photography workshop called "Taking It to the Streets: Lessons in Intuitive Urban Photography" at the International Center of Photography here in NYC. Here is the link if you're interested. I believe there are still a few slots left.

I will have a solo show of new B&W photographs in Provincetown, MA. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you know who might be on the Cape in July...we'll be there for the opening and then I'll be teaching at the FAWC right afterwards.

July 23 - 29th, 2010 and through the season
Opening Friday, July 23rd, 7-9PM
Ernden Fine Art Gallery
397 Commercial Street
Provincetown, MA
(508) 487-6700

I am about to announce an exciting new project that is an extension of my books ABC NYC and 123 NYC. Stay tuned for more information!!


Connecting the Dots

I have been thinking a lot about the creative process lately. Yesterday an image from a child's "Connect the Dots" book popped into my mind. When we are children, we just sit and connect the dots. We don't really think about what the final picture will be. It's all about having fun in the process, without worrying about the outcome.

As adults we often want to know what the picture will be before we even start. Creativity to me is about having that original child's trust that something will come--often a surprise--once we give ourselves permission to just pick up a pencil, either literally or figuratively.

It seems that this way of thinking can be applied to almost any creative endeavor. I summarize five weeks of teaching with three words: Just Do Something.

image from "Connect the Dots," Penguin Books


Words and Images

I have enjoyed several spirited discussions lately about the use of words paired with images. I have revisited some longtime favorites, including Duane Michaels, Jim Goldberg, Maira Kalman and Lorna Simpson, among many others. Writing seems to help my students find a way "in" to a place in their work that they might not otherwise go. I look forward to continuing the discussions about this form, and am working on a new set of my own images for a show in July. More on that soon.


Giving Your Work the Light of Day

A good friend came over the other day and we spent a part of the afternoon leafing through my books and pulling framed fine art pieces out of their envelopes. He had a lot of amazing questions and comments about process. I really enjoyed sitting and looking, in a sense, at my entire life through my work.

I speak often with my students about how images are not just made for now, but also for our futures. We often don't know exactly why we are compelled to make an image and then, if we're lucky, it becomes clear later. The context of a photograph evolves over time, as the life of the photographer unfolds. As I wrote in a post yesterday, some images are over with quickly and others stand the test of time...just like relationships. It is those photographs that have stood this test that I am most interested in. But yet somehow, I keep making more, not yet knowing which ones will remain.


The Photograph as Object

Photographs are meant to be objects, not pixels. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. About how the technological revolution has reduced many people's experience of photography to a computer screen. Many of my students seem to quietly yearn for a closer connection to their own work and I believe that digital technology can be one of the culprits in keeping them from doing so.

When in doubt, print it out. Hang it on a wall. Live with it for awhile and your relationship with it will change automatically. Sometimes you will realize that the image you made was a quick date destined never to be repeated. And rare others will be something you want to live with, maybe forever.