June 11, 2016


Camera week: Faculty meetings have finished for the year and I can finally spend more time here in the Spy Vibe lair. Our school culture of artists and teaching continues to loom large on my radar, however, and my thoughts gravitate toward the notion of curiosity. It is one of the key elements of our school's mission, and in my opinion, it is the foundation of culture, and the driving force in our interactions with each other and in our perceptions of self and the outside world. To be curious is to be engaged. And because the impulse to engage brings with it those stimulating acts of investigation, inquiry, synthesis, reflection, and revision, there may be no better to way to model and practice this process than by teaching art. I've taught primarily Photography and filmmaking for almost 30 years and one of my favorite experiences is introducing the camera. I talk with students about engaging with their environment, their perceptions, their emotional and intellectual responses to what they observe- or create- and we talk about Seeing. This little machine, with its glass eye, draws our curiosity to the surface; it opens us up. Photographer Dorothea Lange once said, "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." Whether we're talking about early inventions, pinhole, film or digital, the camera also becomes a friend to the one who keeps it near. To be a photographer is to constantly observe and take notice. And that little box of metal or plastic dangling from our necks, or living inside our phones, calls out its invitations. We often talk about how Photographs are ephemeral moments frozen in time. As a celebration of each moment, perhaps to take a picture is indeed a form of mindful meditation, just as traditional Japanese calligraphy and archery are practiced. Anyone who has attended a concert in the last ten years also knows the camera can become a barrier, as people remain outside observers instead of letting all the senses of the body take in experiences. Susan Sontag said, "The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own." As an artist, it is difficult sometimes to shut off that impulse to organize and make visual sense of what I'm seeing. The mind loves a puzzle to solve! To look -to photograph- is a beautifully direct act of curiosity. Richard Avedon often spoke about how Photography is a fiction and how pictures communicate opinions rather than facts. Through the technology, lighting, and approach, it is a rich form of storytelling. We can witness some fantastic moments of curiosity among these images of The Beatles in the 1960s. Scrolling down through the batch, from camera to camera, they seem to be in a perpetual state of engagement. Even when they were immersed in recording, we can see the urge to observe and snap! The Beatles brought their Pentax cameras with them around the world. It was Photography fever! The group even performed on a themed stage on November 25th, 1963 with "Beatax" camera props and designs. Spy Vibe celebrates these acts of curiosity and creation today. Below: The Beatles with their cameras. Note the photo of George Harrison's original Pentax from the 1960s. Join the discussion in the comments section below. If you want to see the 1960s fascination with cameras illustrated in a cool mystery, check out Antonioni's Blow Up. See also Ringo's recent photo book, Photograph. Be curious! Carry your camera with you today! And please stay tuned for more Camera Week on Spy Vibe. Enjoy the site? Please consider making a donation in the virtual tip jar top left of this page (and help a teacher).  Project news: Spy Vibe book coming from Hermes Press in 2017; my first novel, Miki Zero, is now out with agents. Updates will be announced as these missions develop. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Esterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art Interview, Fergus Fleming Interview, Avengers: Alan Hayes InterviewJaz Wiseman Interview, Diana Rigg BFI InterviewCasino Royale Interview: Mike RichardsonLost Diana Rigg InterviewHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming Memorial, Portmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJohn Buss interview, Saint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore CalypsoCynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., Comics Week: Archie, Comics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IRodney Marshall Avengers InterviewRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixCold War ArchiePlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Catsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.


  1. In all that film they shot there must have been some amazing pictures the rest of the world will never see.

  2. True, Richard! I wish we could see all those photographs now. Ringo has thankfully published a book and had a show. Paul made man experimental films when he was living in London in the mid-1960s and famously lost them to theft (I think the event was channeled into She Came in Through the Bathroom Window later on), and maybe he lost photos, too.

  3. A conversation on FB brought up some related points that are interesting to share with readers:

    Beth: Blow Up was amazing. So is your article. Churning in my mind these days is curiosity about the long-term impact of the current obsession with what I'll call the zoom of the instant snap (selfies, etc). It's as if these are like Pac-Man gobblers; hurriedly consuming moments of life, accumulating in machines, scrubbing all emotion, and replacing authentic living memories. I am thinking about this phenomenon.

    Jason: that is a strange phenomenon. it is a different behavior than traditional self-portraiture. it reminds me of when i planned to take Japanese students to the US and the town officials wanted us to just visit the landmarks and check them off a list- i took them to real life experiences instead, like making maple syrup in the woods.

    Beth: I vote for the woods!

    I love her mention of Pac Man gobblers, because maybe there is a kind of instant-reward at play that is stimulating this routine of selfie behavior. What do Spy Vibers think about that?