Monday, December 31, 2018


VICE is THE BEST movie on politics Hollywood has ever made. It is one of of the best political movies ever made by anyone, anywhere, period. Run, go, see it...

That's pretty much all you need to know. And if you are in any way interested in history, politics, "justice," and power- it is a most definitive must see. Yes, it's entertaining, it's more than two hour length seems to fly right by; yes, it is funny- no small miracle when its protagonist is as unfunny as a human can possibly get. And yes, it does edify one as to what was happening, (more or less) right in front of our eyes. And without whacking one over the head, it doesn't gloss over the consequences of Dick Cheney's legacy- something we most obviously do need since we have yet to learn that lesson... A lesson and legacy that well continues on to this day!

What lesson is that? Well... Republicans at the time were quite fond of saying that "... we create our own reality." And how right they were... In what "reality," where you or I have ever lived does the person, who was carelessly and oh so callously shot in the face with a shotgun, apologize to his shooter?!? In what reality does anyone (over five) actually believe that you're going to build a multi-billion dollar wall, and that another country will pay for it?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

'18 Into '19

2018- let me count the ways in how you truly sucked! And 2019 bodes hardly better- if only for the very real fact that we've been scheduled to be irradiated 24/7 Morning, Noon and Night with High Frequency 5G Micro Wave Radiation from an antenna directly across the street from our apartment! That alone is enough to fuck up anyone's upcoming year life, period. And make NO doubt- they are coming to your backyard as well...

Photographically, I really tried to get my work out there this year, and having accomplished pretty much nothing for the effort- I'll just continue to slog on taking a photo here, there, wherever and whenever possible... same-as-always.

So what if anything does my anonymous and soon to be fully irradiated body have to look forward to? Two names, one you're familiar with, and one you will soon be: Robert Mueller and Letitia James!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Cloak JOKE!

How many of you bought/were gifted one of these major photographic wonders? Think of everything you can now accomplish with the one technological necessity whose absence has held you back from every major photographic aspiration you could possibly imagine- whether you know it, or not!

PS- I can't possibly think of one thing that could get your ass kicked more quickly or thoroughly- the very end result I'm assuming this thing was meant to prevent! In fact, I'm betting this cloak joke of a company closes shop soon after the irate family of the first user who ends up either in the hospital or the morgue ends up suing them Big Time...

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


From the opening credits, one senses they are in the knowing hands of a master story teller, film maker and B&W cinematographer. ROMA slowly unveils both the little moments that consume everyday lives, as well as as the larger ones that alter them altogether. It's told around the life of a Mexican domestic servant named Cleo, the kind prevalent throughout Latin/South American countries that speak to issues of class, culture and inequality. Lives that are lived both together, and apart, parallel existences that share more than those on top are willing to acknowledge or admit. It's... complicated.

The film is based on the director Alfonso CuarĂ³n's own youth and family life in Mexico City, and I found myself strongly connected to many of the scenes, while feeling oddly at distance with others (mostly with the rituals of "the haves," as in real life). And he goes about showing how these lives both vary and intersect with some of the most creative and beautiful usage of B&W cinematography, some of which could stand on its own as panoramic stills.

My favorite scene was when the wife and mother of the household returns home drunk and privately reveals to Cleo that no matter what anyone tells her- women are doomed to be alone in the world throughout their lives. Or as John Lennon once said in song, "Woman is the slave of a slave."

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ghosts In The Night

Photo: © Stan Banos

Evening comes early these days, as I took this photo on my way home from work with the last remaining vestiges of light. A depressing but hardly uncommon sight here in San Francisco. He would slowly crawl, stop and repeat in ritual manner- yet another, homeless, mentally ill, drug addled denizen living off our city's streets. 

And yet, what really shook me that evening was the person I'd meet but two blocks later. A young White female, neatly attired for work and talking endlessly, as many a person her age does on their phone to friends, family, business associates- but as we drew closer about to walk past each other, it became obvious there was no phone, no earphones... no nothin'. She wasn't babbling, in fact, her "conversation" seemed quite incisive and level headed, as she continued to expound her position on the matter at hand- if only someone had been on the receiving end. Standing stationary before me, I considered asking, "Excuse me?" To what end, I wasn't sure. But as I briefly contemplated that interaction, it became evident she was looking right through me, and well beyond me. Walking around her on a narrow neighborhood sidewalk, curiosity eventually prevailed, as I turned to watch her eventually talk her way down the descending street...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lord, Send Us A Sign... Why Didn't Vivian Make (Exhibition Quality) Prints?

There are those that would have us believe that Vivian Maier did not want her work seen in public in any way, under any circumstances- that's clearly why she didn't make (or have made) any proper, exhibition quality prints during her lifetime. Perhaps.

I think a very strong argument can be made that she didn't want her private life made public, but as for the work itself... I don't think we'll ever really know. But I can say this: The vast majority of photographers make decisions and compromises throughout their lives that revolve around their financial situations. Vivian Maier was far from destitute most her life, although she had obviously fallen on hard times towards the end. She had a Rollieflex, a Leica; at times, she even went on European and Asian vacations. To make that a reality, she lived quite frugally most of her life on a very modest income and equally modest living accommodations (that in turn, did not accommodate space for a darkroom).

I know what that's like, I've lived a comparable life. I have (decent) camera equipment, I've gone on European vacations- outwardly I appear "middle class," despite the fact that I live in a 1BR apt with my wonderful wife, do not own a car (never have) and do not have, could not afford and (fortunately) never wanted children. I'm certainly not in any way poor, neither am I "Middle Class." And although not quite there yet, without a pension or any kind or substantial nest egg, it's certainly not unimaginable that I too could share much the same fate in my final years...

Photo: Vivian Maier (taken in Puerto Rico)

What I'm trying to say is that we all make sacrifices, we all make compromises. When I came into a wee bit o' money a couple of years ago, I could've gone hog wild and bought me a digital M. Instead, I bought an X-T1 at half the price of the then brand new X-T2, a couple of lenses, saved a little for vacation, and... at long last, finally had some prints made- being without a darkroom since 2002, I could count on one hand the number of inkjets I could afford since. Today, I have around thirty beautiful and reasonably priced color prints, a dozen B&W inkjets, and aim to slowly increase those numbers as finances permit.

If your commercial printer* is competent, the quality of your prints now relies on the quality of your digital files. That wasn't the case in the analog days of yore; before I had a temporary darkroom going, I (and other serious photo enthusiasts) would take our negs to Modern Age Gallery in NYC; while they did have a small gallery space- they were primarily a custom printing service. They had three levels of service: a straight print, a "customized" print, and the top of the notch Custom Print. The latter reached three figures even back in the early 70's and was prohibitively expensive, so I would save up my pennies for the medium package- end up disappointed each time, and promptly stopped. While better than drug store prints, they never came close to what you wanted or imagined- and even when able to afford their top of the line just once, it still fell well short of what I could eventually achieve. Point is- ya needed THE BIG BUCKS DELUXE for made to order portfolio prints back then. 

Vivian was eccentric- but hardly stupid; I made the same sacrifice, made the same logical choices and concessions that she did- go for the gusto, and get the images in the can, while-you-can... One doesn't get a second chance at youth! Worry about displaying the evidence of a life well lived later on, in what will hopefully (hopefully) be more abundant and comfortable times to come (one can still dream a future worth living while young). Sometimes, it even works out, sometimes...

Now, how on earth was she able to sharpen her eye and improve her shooting skills without the crucial feedback provided by decent quality prints (particularly in the '50s when she hit her stride)? That is the question well worth asking, and one that rightly adds to the Maier mystique!

BTW- One final thought, could you see dear ol' Vivian making prints in a... communal darkroom? Yeah, neither can I!  

*We literally do not have room for a printer in our apt.

Monday, December 10, 2018

SONY End Of Year Give-Away... Act Now!!!

Photo: © Stan Banos

Too late- Ya snooze, ya lose! SONY No Baloney came though Big Time with the best promo ad campaign imaginable, combining: winning color and set design, imaginative graphics and an ingenious use of social media...

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ever Tell Ya How Much I Hate, Hate, Hate...

Guys standing around photo gallery openings with pristine Leicas hanging off their shoulders and around their necks? We get it- You-are-a-serious-photographer! Serious...

PS- Now that you I mention it, I have never, ever seen a woman doing that!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Gotta Give It To The... French!

Photo: Veronique de Viguerie

When their government fucks up- they hit the streets en masse and let it be known! Right or wrong- none of the sheep like, wait till elections, take it on the chin behavior ya get here...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Van Gogh (in the 1950's)

Photo: Vivian Maier

Recently, I had a bit of a conversation with another photographer (mostly on his blog after commenting on mine) concerning Vivian Maier. Now, not gonna get into the particulars, but let's just say it was a might spirited, which I quite enjoy and hoped to further, when it suddenly turned... downright awnry and personal- amusing I thought, since, if anyone, I'm the guy that's supposed to fit the stereotypical, hot blooded Latino not quite in control of their emotions. Continuing to play against type, I wished him a happy (holi)day, and went on my merry way...

One of the more pleasant side effects of the whole exchange was that I once again immersed myself in Maier world, not a bad place to be far as I'm concerned since I am absolutely captivated by her photography, particularly from the mid fifties to the early sixties when she seemed at the very peak of her artistry shooting at least a (12 exp) roll a day. It was interesting to learn from Pamela Bannos (what an intriguing... last name) that Maier obtained her Rolleiflex in '51, followed by a dearth of photographs far as '52 was concerned, then... BOOM- from '53 on, she was photographing with the confidence and refined eye of a master!

Then there's the idiot London gallerist who declared that Maier was "a good student," not a true artist, because "she didn't take her photography anyplace new." Her work was... derivative. Well, I hear what he's saying, but ask yourself this- how many photographers other than Frank, and perhaps Klein, were taking photography anyplace "new" in the fifties? Most "masters" of that time (eg- Eugene Smith) were simply busy refining photography as it existed into the language that would be the very basis from what others would then later diversify and diverge from. The early sixties saw the development and refinement of visions that would produce the names of Arbus, Winogrand, Friedlander, etc in... the mid- Sixties. And that said, one can see in the wide variety of her work, many of the themes that anticipated much of what those names proceeded to concentrate on...

Maier continued to photograph (and film) for many years hence, but at least, from what we've seen thus far, her creative zenith seems well entrenched in that mid-fifties/early-sixties stretch. And I for one, will be forever more than a tad grateful that her work was salvaged from oblivion at the eleventh hour...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Post Holiday Musings...

 Yet, another repeated "holdout" I finally nabbed during recent holiday (and consequently sucked of all life by Blogger software)...  
Photo: © Stan Banos

In addition to taking a couple of snaps during the Thanksgiving holiday, I was finally able to catch up on a few things (the rain helped) and even had a bit o' leisure time to myself. As a kid, I a had  a fascination with slot cars (HO and 1/24 scale), I even built one of the latter from scratch, even though I didn't have the proper tools- didn't win any prizes for speed or looks, but it ran alright. Then in the '90s, I noticed they opened a major track right in Manhattan; tempted as I was, I never visited- did not want to risk yet another addiction (repeat or otherwise). Don't recall how I stumbled unto this video- but my, how things have, uh... "progressed." They were pretty freaking fast in my day, but this-is-plain-clear- Insane!!! 

Another childhood preoccupation I imbibed was my utter fascination with... tanks! Several of these online videos put out by The Tank Museum feature these rather curiously unique personalities leading the tour of their personal faves- all of which, in turn, have their... various and very distinct personalities. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

On Monuments...

Well, it has to be more than just a silly ol' plaque- I know, let's put it inside this giant sized rock, and then, and then, put a statue right on top of it and, and a flagpole... on either side!!!

Upon first visiting Golden Gate Park back in 1989, I happened upon this rather curious, if not outright comical conglomeration of a monument right off the park's main drag located in this small, secluded, sunken meadow. For all it's tranquil, idyllic loveliness however, no one ever seems to venture into it. Of course, I had to have a look see, was humbly taken with the site and its forever young and noble resident, but could not get a decent angle to take a photo that I thought paid it justice. I've tried several times since in the intervening years, but always came up short, and pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it would forever remain one of those things that just had to be experienced, period. Fortunately, that all changed this past holiday weekend when we had a break in some desperately needed rain that finally quashed CA's biggest fire in history and scrubbed San Francsico's air clean, and the light really played to its favor (which Blogger software rather successfully flattens and obliterates).

A short walk away from that most curious of landmarks lies one that is... stranger still- an irregularly shaped monolith with hundreds of names carved into it dating back to WWI. This bizarrely shaped monument is also just off the main drag, but totally hidden in a forbiddingly dark thicket of trees. To this day I don't remember how I first came upon it. I've also been trying to get a decent shot of this most formidable "blob," and well, this too is perhaps the best I'll ever get. 

The latter was obviously a tribute to the area's fallen from WWI, but I purposely let the former doughboy monument (which looks like some kind of idealized elder boy scout) remain shrouded in mystery. Now that I've officially documented them, I did a little research- including brushing up on a very forgotten unknown piece of history post WWI.

Photos: © Stan Banos

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving...

Taken 2 weeks ago...

I suppose the fires that have engulfed CA this month have me reflecting on loss. People have lost their homes, their jobs, their lives; and in San Francisco, this city of new found technology, wealth and homelessness galore, on holidays as this when so many have left town to celebrate and reunite, the vacated streets are left to those who wander aimlessly about, having lost all semblance of who they once were and who they might still be...

Photos: © Stan Banos

Monday, November 19, 2018

And Speaking Of Goddamn Fuckin' IDIOTS...

Behold, a man so overwrought and consumed with empathy and emotion that he actually forgets the name of the town he came to visit, the name of the town he was just at not five minutes prior, the name of a town that was wiped clean from his thoughts faster than the very fire that consumed it...

Good Thing Climate Change Is... A "Hoax"

Photo: NASA
We've had our days of smoke in SF before, to be sure- but never this severe or prolonged in my years here. Ten days going on... and they say the the Camp Fire causing it won't be out till the end of... the month!

In the meantime, I've come down with a nasty cold and sore throat while becoming privy to the very latest in fashion concerning filter masks: round ones, square ones, pointed ones, bulbous ones, flat ones, designer ones (in leopard print no less)- even a futuristic looking metal device that only covered the nostrils. Somewhat post-apocalyptic when a quarter of the population in town go about their business wearing masks.

Kind of reminds me of the overall greyishness I encountered in Moscow, although the air here now is No Joke- no cigars for a while. And here I am whining, while those 144mi North have lost life and home...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Zen While It Lasts

Now, I'm not the type to incite or promote violence...

I have this little fantasy where I buy a Leica Q  (probably the sleekest, coolest, best looking digital camera made thus far). Light (actually, no, I held one- looks light, but it's a veritable brick in weight and feel) and portable, it's all I could ever need and use as I take it everywhere shooting only Leica worthy photos for the remainder of my life...

Actually, I'd be quite happy using one of those fellows, but...  I do need a 20mm~ when shooting events. And as far as spending $4,000+, well, that certainly ain't gonna happen. Fact is, I'm pretty happy with my GR and X-T1 (mated with a 28mm~, the latter looks pretty damn cool itself- even if the one on the GR is sharper), and I may upgrade in a few years, or not. Sure, the GR has always acted up a bit on the rare occasion (probably why I got it so damn cheap "as new" to begin with), and the the X-T1 does miss focus now and then, but truth is, I just don't shoot that much to warrant any immediate upgrade. And technically, I can't complain about 16in medium format quality prints from instruments that small and light, and (relatively) cheap!

After forty years of B&W... I'm quite happy with color, no regrets whatsoever. Limited as my shooting still is, it's way more keepers than before with my everyday GR and the option to go Square, not to mention, spending way less time in post- going back to actively shooting B+W film (still got quite the backlog) is nowhere on the radar, least not anytime soon. I'll always have fond memories and much respect, but truth is: it was much more labor intensive, and ultimately, more limiting creatively...

But, If you're gonna punch anyone...   Photos: © Stan Banos

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Photo: © Vivian Maier

Waiting to see the new Buster Keaton doc, I chanced upon Vivian Maier: The Color Work at a local book store, expecting to see the usual hodgepodge collection capitalizing on a name. Boy, did I ever get that wrong. If anything, this book proves Maier's outright expanse of photographic genius- she was not only a superbly accomplished B&W photographer, she also had the refined chops and natural instinct to understand and successfully navigate the world of color whenever she so chose! These are not the results of occasional, haphazard experiments, they are proof positive of a firm grasp and mastery of the medium(s): square, monochromatic, or... otherwise. Those who'd continue to pooh-pooh this woman as some kind of idiot savant, second rate artist, only reveal the limits and inadequacies of their own prejudice.

Photography is the easiest art, which perhaps makes it the hardest. - Lisette Model.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Touch Of Class...

Photo: © Stan Banos

Tinted windows- gotta admit, they always add that certain veneer of... class- do they not? Anyway, we had a record number of car break ins last year (most committed by organized "crews-" who knew?)- always thought they were just random crimes of convenience, but that really doesn't attest to the numbers, does it? Shattered car windows are just another common San Francisco sidewalk obstruction to avoid along with the: vomit, discarded needles and piles of human shit that abound. Step lively!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable

The one, the only, Gary Winogrand (with the picture sent from God).

I had pretty much given up on ever catching this, started to think I just dreamt it up- so I did quite the double take when I rechecked the week's meager movie offerings just before I was about to call it a wash. And there it was...

I'm old enough to have caught the master doing his little dance on 57st and 5th on a coupla occasions, methodically moving in and out of humanity's flow. And I've always found it a joy to view his photographs, masterful combinations of humor, subtlety and directness that they are. He brought the (street) game up a whole 'nother level- both in terms of quality and quantity. I had thought him rather coy and flippant when discussing photography, in retrospect, he strikes me as disarmingly honest, with a definitely unusual directness...

As for the film itself... can't say it was a great doc, or that I learned anything particularly insightful. They talked about his personal life, Women Are Beautiful and the latter years of shooting "blind" and at a distance, amongst other things. Perhaps I already know as much as I need- he took some really incredible photos... lot's of 'em!

Thursday, November 1, 2018


Photo: © Stan Banos

Love this photo, personally idiosyncratic as it may be. The most desperate of people spilling out their most intimate of feelings in the city's most overlooked and unseen nooks and crannies. This one written out in... toothpaste? Who was the person who wrote it, who betrayed them, and... why?

Monday, October 29, 2018

Wings of Desire Redux

Well, I've yet to see the Gary Winogrand doc anywhere, but did get to see an old friend this weekend- and it's looking fine! Wim Wenders Wings of Desire got a multi year 4k restoration that brings this B&W (and color) masterwork back to its pristine origin. Hadn't seen it in some time (even forgot that Peter Falk was in it) and it was amazing to see Wall Era Berlin come to life again (they're back in vogue, ya know). It held up quite well, but also had a good laugh at the stereotypical complaint of how European "art" movies are always inundated with serious looking people talking pretentiously to themselves. I suppose the younger me found it a welcomed relief from the usual American car crashes, now I find both a tad tedious- not to take anything from it...

One of the things I so love about the flick (in addition to just plain looking at it) is that it is a contemplation, a celebration of those things small and ordinary in life, those things so often overlooked that make everyday life so worth living, and experiencing- some of the same things that certain people with light capturing devices try to highlight and share...

Otherwise, it can just be a matter of:

Photo: © Stan Banos

Friday, October 26, 2018

Photo Eye Daily

Photo: ©John Meyers

I've said it before- if ya don't subscribe to Photo Eye Photo Book Daily- you're really missing out on discovering some really great photographers- and the occasional good deal! For instance, never heard of either John Meyers or Lars Tunbjork- both formidable photographers, and a Bill Burke book for... $20- I'm in! 

Photo: © Lars Tunbjork

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mark Peterson- Eugene Smith Grant

Photo: © Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson's news images are quite noteworthy to be sure, what I find particularly "noteworthy" however are how Trump supporters' comments mock both the images and the award itself as yet another "liberal" hoax and attack on their cherished beliefs and... "freedoms." 

Meanwhile, with all the backlash against anything even remotely... "intellectual," I'm waiting for our first official book burning- I'm somewhat surprised it hasn't happened yet... perhaps we have the internet to thank.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

It Just Never Stops... EVER!!!

Yeah, it's been going on for years, decades... longer than I've been alive. But then the frequency and frivolity really got outta hand until it's become almost (almost) "comical." White folk going completely outta their ever lovin' way to get in other people's (ie- those considerably darker) business for no real, rational, discernible reason. As if unjustified police shootings and racially biased voter suppression still isn't enough...

All 1- 2- 3- 4 of these racially biased latest examples happened within-a-period-of-a-week!

Yeah, Well...

Been saying it for years- Would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have Elizabeth Warren President of these Semi-United States! But unless she figures out a way to effectively counter, and get past our current POTUS and his juvenile name calling- she will continue to get pummeled long before she even enters the ring, to the extent that he won't even need the Electoral College to save his orange spray tanned ass.

Welcome to Empire 2020 folks- A land, a time when science, facts, and common sense no longer matter, that small maniacal slice of time when Ignorance x Arrogance rule supreme and herald the inevitable economic, societal and environmental collapse of most of what we once knew. All told, it was an interesting ride at that...

Monday, October 15, 2018

Work Worth Remembering...

Photo: © Joel Sartore

Photography- the instrument, the technology, the very essence of how we best capture the heart and soul of the moments we deem most worth remembering in our lives. Many photographers like to think that at least some of our photographs will be worth reflecting upon long after our departure from this fleeting mortal coil. Joel Sartore needn't ponder the inherent value of his work, despite the fact that its very size and scope borders on insanity.

In a future condemned to environmental collapse, his work will testify to all that we have lost, and all that we have caused to lose; each and every photograph of The Photo Ark a testament to what we were given, and what we sacrificed to our own greed, shortsightedness and stupidity...

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Usually, I hate, Hate, HATE when someones mugs for the camera. But this guy brings a smile to my face every time. From the tip of his Super Hero mask and goggles (complete with nostril harness), to the wires that appear to run from small battery packs on either hip, right to the very base of his winky- and let's not forget those complementary matching doilies on either side! Not sure what the calligraphy signifies- but one BIG Thumbs Up!

HURRY! HURRY!! HURRY!!! That's right folks, years in the making; forget the rumors, threats and back door dealings- this is
 The Photo Event everyone's been waiting on...

OK, OK, so it's a goddang BLURB- how excited can one get? Yeah, it is, what it is. That said, I'm kinda thrilled to see just how well these guys stand up all assembled under the same roof! After repeated rejections over the years of trying to get any of 'em published, it's good to see that they most certainly... Represent! 

Granted, AT THE FAIR may not exactly be everyone's cup o' tea. But content matter aside, these images live up to the aesthetic considerations that go into any "good" or "serious" photograph- and humorous as some may well be (and I did tend to edit towards the lighter side), I think there's an obvious stretch of humanity that runs throughout the series. I'm neither Gay, nor into S&M- but if you can't step back and see just a wee bit of yourself in the continuing insanity that is the human race, you're either neck deep in denial or just not a very fun person to begin with...

Not sure what either of their super powers would be, but I'd definitely see the movie!  Photos: © Stan Banos