I can’t even believe I wrote that title. Honest to God, I can’t. Never in a hundred million years could I have imagined that I would be writing a blog post protesting (vehemently) the characterization of Thomas as some kind of upskirting downshirting whacko photographer type.
But I am. Last Friday, for some unintelligbly inexplicable reason, Thomas was tossed from the San Francisco MOMA by Simon Blint, director of Visitor Relations, after taking photographs in an area where non-flash photography was expressly allowed.
There wasn’t much conversation. There was certainly no reasonable discussion. According to this so-called “director”, Hawk’s 14mm ultra wide-angle lens was a “telephoto” lens that Thomas was using to shoot photos from the 2nd floor looking down; specifically, down the blouse of a female employee wearing a low-cut blouse.
Thomas writes in a follow-up post:
One allegation that has been raised is that Blint threw me out because he felt that I was shooting down a low cut blouse of one of his employees sitting in the atrium below where I was shooting. The photo above is a photo that I snapped of Blint as he was publicly admonishing me from the floor, that’s him with his arms crossed there — he’s about the size of an ant in the photo. As you will see, the female employee in question also appears in the photograph (the ticket taker next to Blint). She is not wearing a low cut blouse. In fact she’s wearing some sort of a yellowish/orangish sweater or jacket sort of thing — she’s sort of hard to see as a 14mm lens makes people look super far away. Her arms, shoulders, in fact every visible area of her except her hands are completely covered in clothing.
I have never heard anything more absurd in my life. As one who has had the fun of doing a photowalk with the guy in Santa Monica along with many others, I can attest only to this: Thomas Hawk is one of the finest photographers and artists that I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, and he would be free and welcome to take my photo from two inches away or two stories up. I absolutely trust his artistic sense and sensitivity with his camera. In fact, I’d be honored if he did it. I’d even let him keep his $2.
Because seriously, the man has an eye like no one I’ve ever seen. One hour watching him is worth 10 figuring it out on my own. Not only should he have not been ejected, his work should be hanging in the SF MOMA.
Oh, by the way, here’s an example of the type of photo he was taking:
And here’s Simon Blint, in high dudgeon upon being informed that the entire incident would be blogged:
For the life of me, I cannot understand why a man with such a lack of gift for managing visitors and visitor issues has been placed in a position of authority over visitors. It boggles the mind. The guy has no clue when it comes to photography for sure, because anyone who would mistake an ultra-high wide angle lens for a telephoto probably relies on his cell phone for any pictures he takes. I could even forgive that, but to simply refuse to hear the other side and forcibly eject Thomas for an utterly bogus, trumped-up charge uttered in the heat of a hissy fit? Unbelieveable.
I count myself lucky to be the beneficiary of his lens, even in shadow. (Did I mention that this shot is in his fav10 set?)
Simon maybe doesn’t feel the same way. That’s his problem. If the SF MOMA has any sense at all, they will require Blint to make a formal, written apology to Thomas, retracting all suggestion of impropriety or misbehavior, and then should immediately reassign Simon away from the public to garbage management.
What a frickin’ putz.
(Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk)