"Abbie Hoffman," by Al Kaplan

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by james mitchell (dc), Jul 20, 2004.

  1. This is a very nice print. I'll let Al fill in the technical details. It scanned a bit better than I had anticipated, but again the print has better balance and tones.
  2. Hoffman was a rabble rousing anti Viet Nam war activist and he was about to start a press conference here in Miami. I'm not sure which publication I was shooting for, but likely as not it was an "underground" (what would now be referred to as an "alternative")newspaper called The Dailey Planet. I was using my old double stroke M3 with a black 85mm f/2 Nikkor. Film was Ilford HP4 and probably rated at 400 in D-76 1:1. Obviously it was shot by available windowlight. Back then the TV guys were still all shooting film and tended to overlight everything with flat boring lighting so the best pictures were before they'd get set up. The print is on double weight Ilford Multigrade.
  3. Actually, looking at it again I guess it was with the hot lights! Sorry guys.
  4. No need for an aplogy Al. Those were the days of flashbulbs and wet-cell strobes, it would've either been that shot or the typical newspaper flash-in-the-face. I've still got an Auto-660 Strobonar I bought in about 1969. It could give someone a mild sunburn from 5 ft ;>) BTW Abbie Hoffman was more than your garden-variety anti-war activist, he was a Yippie and one of the Chicago Seven. I believe he commited suicide in a hotel room several years ago.
  5. Here's Al in 1970, with two of Abbie's chicks during the press conference.
  6. Al, I don't think I've seen a better Abbie Hoffman shot, particularly from when he was that young. And your shot, in half-profile with the dark figure in the background, is more artistic than news photos I've generally seen of Hoffman.
  7. While I can't speak for Abbie's activities 30+ years ago, I can certainly speak for his efforts in the 80's. At that time, he'd been living down the road from me in New Hope, PA - working on the Dump the Pump project (an environmental effort to save the Delaware - long story short). In Abbie you had a fellow who was very much involved in the community, particularly the local High School's involvement in something called the "Environmental Olympics." He truly was a good soul. Incidentally, he loaded up on barbituates and booze - his body was found in bed, at his home (a converted chicken coup) on Sugan Rd. At that point, in '89, his Dump the Pump efforts were unravelling and, well, you know, he was distraught.

    Cheers and thanks for the photograph.
  8. Jay, I figure half the people here would have no idea who Abbie was anyway, ancient history, but l suppose l should have supplied more details! Those weren't actually Abbies chicks either. The one next to me was named Jill, I last ran into her about 15 years ago, and I have no idea who the other girl was. That was the old 163rd St. Shopping Center that they're now completely rebuilding for the second time, this time into a Walmart! Fun times!
  9. The girl on the right, as you look at the photo, sure bears a strong resemblance to Barbie Benton, Hegh Hefner's ex-girlfriend.
  10. Al you looked a little like Keith Richards then, too. Except it took more than salt air and nicotine for him to get looking like he does ;>)
  11. Oh wow, Abbie Hoffman. Who's next? Jerry Rubin?
  12. Naw, none of these long-dead minor celebs. I'm waiting to see Al's current work, the infamous and celebrated North Miami City Council.
  13. Nice photo Al. Please keep posting your 60's stuff, I love it.
  14. John, someplace in all those boxes IS Jerry Rubin! Have no fear! I have a whole bunch of "counter culture" and "black power" folks amongst the flower children and mainstream political types.

    Jay, Councilman Scott Galvin is scanning some of my pix of himself, the mayor and rest of the council, along with some kids, for some newsletters he's putting together. I'll try to get some posted here too. I know how badly you want to see a city councilman performing his official duties wearing his Al Kaplan T-shirt.
  15. Hey dude, the girl on the right is my wife. She grew up in Sky Lake! Whatch what you say!
  16. al, i agree with eric. this is one of the best shots of abbie hoffman i ever remember seeing. he was also author of a book entitled "steal this book" which was fairly well known when it was published.

    thanks for sharing.
  17. the best pix BY FAR of abbie hoffman are by avedon.....sorry al
  18. btw, is that dark blob back there travis?
  19. For what its worth, I'd crop the photo to remove the mic, which Hoffman isn't relating to in this image, and whatever that thing is in the foreground. I'd leave the dark figure, which could represent Hoffman's demons or "The Man." I'd make lit side of Hoffman's face a bit lighter and I'd burn in the window, which is a little bright and distracting. (I only have PhotoDeluxe on the computer I'm on right now, so no dodging or burning in this suggested image).
  20. Thanks Grant. Avedon mostly did studio shots, a lot of large format stuff back then, often 8x10, all posed, carefully lit, make-up artist and hair stylist on the set, time was of no great concern, the whole nine yards. Apples and oranges. This was a get there, hope it would happen on time, get on to the next place, newspaper asignment. It must be really easy to sit there at your keyboard, pontificate, and pretend to be Wilson Hicks. (Wilson who? Look it up.)The best intelligent (mostly) put downs are by Jay. He might not always agree with someone but he knows what he's talking about. You're not even a close second...sorry.
  21. Michael, she might well be your wife. I honestly don't remember who she was except that she was there with the other girl I guess. For those who aren't familiar with the area Sky Lake is perhaps 2 miles to the north of where the photo was taken.
  22. why so sensitive al? i do many on loaction shoots as well, i know the deal.....you captured something OK, but seems to be 'more' simply bc its a 'celeb'....chill out...
  23. I disagree with Grant. While I admire much of Avedon's work, his most famous photo of Hoffman comes across as staged and forced (I don't get the inclusion of the gun):


    Hoffman was, at heart, a gritty street activist. He loses something in Avedon's studio that Al's photo captures. At least that's MHO.
  24. what makes als shot is knowing who this is. without that knowledge, its anybody with a fro...
  25. nah grant
  26. you get 'rabble rousing anti Viet Nam war activist' from this photo...?
  27. grant, i am guessing you a)weren't born or b)too young to realize there actually was an intellectual content to this movement. that is what i like about al's photo
  28. Well, without knowing who it is, its a cool shot of a guy with a fro. Its also one of the best of Hoffman I've seen. I like it better than the with the gun and the bird, too silly.
  29. Al, I really enjoy having you on the forum and I'm looking forward to seeing many more of your photos. Any of us who post photos here should expect criticism of whatever opinion. Personally I think this is a pretty nice portrait, although the background isn't ideal. The crop certainly looks better to me. Of course it's of historical interest, and the fact that you did it 'on the job' is to be respected.
    [edited by moderator]
  30. Al, I like your shot better than Avedon's. His is too stereotypical of the whole Yippie movement. It's what you expect from Abbie--it's predictable. You picture offers another side of the wild man. Good show.

    Do you still have that belt?
  31. Nice shot of Abbie. I stole 'steal this book' and wrote a review for our high school newspaper. Still waiting to see the Dylan pics. How about Zappa? Will you be selling prints?
  32. post more AL!
  33. m_.


    Al, this is a great shot of Abbie.

    I never got that far to steal his "steal this book" but I hand copied it when I was a poor student who just landed in this country some 16 years ago and was going around chasing the rainbow gatherings - should that count for some credit?

    I think your original print is still the best. The background looks fine to me. Just post more please.
  34. <<but seems to be 'more' simply bc its a 'celeb'....chill out...>>

    of course it is "more" because it's abbie hoffman. just like the joplin photo. you think if janis was only a neighbor of al's from the 60's that he would be selling prints? what you fail to see in your holier-than-thou approach to every post is that it isn't always only "about the picture". hoffman is an historical figure, and the fact that al has photos of him, even if they don't meet with the Almighty Grant's critical approval (when do any, except your own, grant) make these of interest. grant, you are the one that needs to chill out.
  35. Nice shot Al... as is.

    To bad people have to inflict their god almighty opinion on a documentary shot by
    comparing it to a contrived studio portrait ... that arguably wouldn't get a second look if
    not of a historical person, compounded by the fact it was shot by a famous photographer.

    Then there are others who even compulsively alter a documentary shot to fit their personal
    POV, and in the process eradicate the context chosen by the person who actually shot the
  36. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Marc - Is everyone supposed to like it because it's by someone here? Is everyone's idea of a good portrait of someone supposed to be the same? In this case, I think the black blob of a shadow is terrible, destroying what would otherwise be a good portrait. We would never accept this of Avedon, should we just say it's great because it's done by someone here?
  37. "America" w/ Tom Waitts = way too cool
  38. Jeff, should we say it's bad because someone else took a photo that a person HERE says is
    better? There's always someone better. But I doubt people like to constantly hear that no
    matter what you show here, someone else did it better. It's just human nature.

    IMO, there are a thousand photographers better than you and Grant combined. I like both
    of your works. But I could say it's been done before, and a lot better to every photo you or
    Grant have ever posted here... and mean every word of it. And you certainly could do that
    to anything I've ever shot and then some.

    In the end we just disagree on how to enjoy the works of others.. or just let it go.
  39. I agree with what Quiche said re: 'intellectual component' to the Yippie movement.Grant
    ,if you weren't there,you don't know.The mainstream media gatekeepers are notorious for
    obfuscation and revisionism of the historical facts.Outstanding photo,Mr.Al,thanks for
    posting it.
  40. Doug Ford or anybody else wanting to purchase a print, yes I do sell them. I've been printing on double weight 11x14 Ilford Multigrade with wide white borders, the image being 8"x12" or 9"x12" if I do a slight crop. A signed print including shipping in the U.S. is $200.
    Contact me at preacherpop42 (at) aol (dot) com. Thanks!
  41. Lee, the belt leather is all dried out and cracked but I still have it with the buckle. I'm waiting for it to come back in style.
  42. We've all posted work that's less than perfect. Some people said they like this and some don't, what's the big deal? If no criticism is allowed let's refrain from high praise then too. Hell, Al's been around long enough, he should take it all in stride. Looks like he is....$200!
  43. I don't see anybody wearing a "Grant" tee-shirt.
  44. Tell you what! If somebody buys an Abbie Hoffman print I'll pay photo.net for Grant to get one of those nifty patron icons next to his name. Then he can constantly be reminded of my crappy photograph.
  45. Al, I am willing to contribute $5 towards a fund to buy Grant a signed Abbie Hoffman print. If 40 people (or one dentist or doctor) pony up, Grant can get an early Christmas gift.
  46. Al, if it works, will you throw in a signed t-shirt for Grant too?
  47. Thanks, but I meant that if one person bought the print I'd pay for the icon. If Grant wants a print let him buy it!
  48. Sure, but would Grant want the shirt? Would he wear it? I'd love to see a photo of him here wearing the shirt...LOL
  49. errr, al? didn't you admonish me for something earlier? it was edited out by the moderator. that's ok, it must be "happy hour"
  50. Claudia, yup I did! Email me at preacherpop42(at)aol(dot)com please.
    I have trouble getting email addresses with this new system here. Thanks.
  51. id love a shirt.....u can never have enuff clothes...
  52. or chik repellent. 2 birds 1 stone.
  53. "...If no criticism is allowed let's refrain from high praise then too.."

    That's not the point Ray. Don't like something? Just say so and why in a reasonably decent
    way, rather than evoking some God of photography as having done it better. THAT
    argument can be used to dimminish every photo posted on PN.
  54. You all sure can get your knickers in a twist. This is a great shot.
  55. Don't like something, say so, why compared with someone else? You wanna compared all the street shots here with HCB's and WInogrand's? Sure go ahead, but what's the point? AIn't no competition here.

    ok Marc already said that..
  56. To Al: you must be a nice guy! You're selling these historic prints for way to little. I for one appreciate the low price on the prints you are displaying. I live In Berks County, Pa where folks don't have a clue as to what a good black and white print is worth and I get 250.00 for the same size print you are selling. Take your stuff to NYC, get a gallery to represent you and sell the prints for a $1000.00. Yeah thats to much of a hassle and my bet is that you don't care about money that much, only photography. One of the good guys!
  57. Thanks John! I've been selling locally for $250. I said early on when James first got me started on this project that I'd sell to forum regulars for $200, accept personal checks no hold, and pay for shipping in the U.S. I'm not having to pay any gallery comission doing it this way. Yes, I have some leads to some galleries and some feelers out to see about doing a show. Three years ago I had a gallery here in North Miami (there are several of them here) wanting me to hang a show. The owner and I went through piles of contact sheets picking out images. That's where a lot of these selections came from. Then I got side tracked by other things, went through the emotional turmoil of breaking up with my lady friend of ten+ years, and never followed through with it. In the meantime that gallery got a new owner.

    Now James keeps prodding me along, I'm actually getting some printing done, and I really apreciate everyone's encouragement.

    Think of this as an opportunity to purchase some genuine signed Al Kaplan prints for a fraction of their true value because if the gallery thing happens and I get that book published (which I am working on) you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be too busy making $1200 prints to make prints to sell at the discounted price. Also, this is a major investment in time on my part, plus materials, so anybody buying a print now is really part of the project. And of course if my prints do start selling for $1200 each your $200 purchase is suddenly worth that also. Thanks!
  58. Hey Al The Janis Joplin print I bought from you arrived today and it is great! Thanks! I saw her in the Fillmore in 1968 and the print brought back a lot of memories. I love the Dylan shots. Please keep posting your old shots from that era. They are wonderful.
  59. Kevin, I'm glad you like the print. Enjoy it! Yes, I'll be digging more negatives out of my files, printing them up and posting them. It's turning into a really fun project, but it also makes me want to go out and do some more shooting. Thanks!
  60. Did you know Abbie back when he was married to Anita, living on St. Marks by the UUU?
  61. "Hoffman was, at heart, a gritty street activist."
    He was more -- and less -- than his popular image conveys. He was a hustler, and after recently comparing notes with another old friend who knew him better than me, I came away... glad that I didn't know him better than I did.

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