New Work

CPAC

A car is speeding down our quiet, child filled street in Boulder. I motion for the driver to slow down. He flips me off. As he races off I see the Trump sticker on his bumper. Later that night I land at Dulles Airpot, head buried in my phone watching the Republican debates as I wait at baggage claim in disbelief. It is the perfect intro to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Convention) heading into an UBER without looking up. The driver thinks I'm lost in my own world and cranks up the music of Afghanistan he loves. I am headed into the bunkers at the heart of battle for conservatives. I have earned a respected outsider status with years of work inside Glenn Beck’s trust. They issue a media pass for CPAC which relegates me to the penned dungeon at the very back of the huge conference hall. I go trade it out for a general audience pass which lets me roam freely. Watching Ted Cruz up close but can’t find my shot. Walk under the huge video screen by the side of the stage and look up — Cruz looks just like David Byrne in “Stop Making Sense” — his head small sitting on top of a huge torso. I am not there to make fun of anyone — so I shoot but don’t know where these shots will land. I was backstage at a Cruz rally in Oklahoma a couple of days before as Glenn Beck was introducing him. Glenn was totally over the top — which was the perfect rallying cry for the crowd, but to Cruz backstage it was all too much and he was reacting by jokingly punching himself in the head. At the same time, his campaign manager was kicking his foot in the air — and I got one of the most amazing pictures. The Cruz people asked if I would wait to share it. I am that kind of journalist, I trade my access for some patience. I have traveled with Glenn Beck for several years as the “communist” on the bus. It is a joke that acknowledges the fact that we approach politics from completely different ends of the spectrum, yet have found common threads in a friendship that bridges those political gaps. Glenn has opened doors into worlds I never imagined roaming — NRA rallies, FreedomWorks events and now CPAC. Who are all these people? My first reaction is always, “Wow — the right is so much better organized than the left.” Where are the events of this size for the liberals? These are political gatherings all based around “values and honor and principals” all wrapped in sense of right. It is a lonely world in our cars and at work — always tethered to our phones and screens. These events offer people a safe place to talk with like minded friends, eye to eye. What happens on the stage is always baffling to me. Being so adverse to nostalgia, the whole looking back at how great our country WAS is not appealing at all. The embrace of Reagan as a god, the process of using big issues (health care, abortion, defense, religion, Obama (“if he was for it, we had to be against it), the devil in Hilary….) all as litmus tests for membership feels like a close minded way of understanding how we are going to discover our common good as humans. When I roam with my camera as an outsider in a big room of vocal conservatives, I feel like any entitlement from our political beliefs is a strange way to way to navigate the world. The whole idea of a “convention” in a big hotel is so 70’s. Where have you gone Mrs. Robinson? I don’t know where to put the ties and coats and high heels and buttons and banners and red, white and blue in the mix. Is this the future of the past? I appreciate the passion — and also the fact the bookstore sells out. This is a group that reads history and is highly invested in what they believe. I also appreciate that they respect me and my work — and trust that I will be fair. When I talk to Glenn he reminds me about how little I know about the founding fathers (having seen “Hamilton” twice doesn’t count). If you were to be a fly on the wall you might be surprised at how we get along, how much fun we have, how open we are — and how deeply we are listening. The pictures I take in what might be perceived as enemy camp are even more powerful because we so different.

I always have music in my head when I am photographing. For much of the weekend, I was hearing my father’s voice singing a song Sammy Davis made famous in Alice in Wonderland: What’s a nice kid like you doing in a place like this? What’s a nice kid like you doing in a place like this? I got a hunch you won’t like it here, The potato chips are soggy and they water the beer What’s a nice kid like you doing in a place like this? You could be in pictures with that cute little face, So how come you’re hangin’ ‘round this funky place! What’s a nice kid like you doing in a place like this? Doing in a place like this? …

The Much Bigger Story

2016.03.01  

Last Saturday night I was backstage at a presidential candidate’s campaign event in Little Rock, Arkansas. The man who had invited me there was introducing me to the candidate. “George is one of the greatest photographers in the world.” The candidate nodded in a pretty disinterested fashion and shook my hand. The man I was with then said, “George is my communist friend and a good man.” The candidate, normally not very good at showing much emotion slightly furled his brow and gave me a longer gaze. His main focus was more on being blown off the map by the force of Trump than meeting a communist photographer.

The trip began as an email earlier that morning. I got it when I arrived at my son Jackson's basketball game at the Y in Boulder. “Dad, you would NEVER miss my last game would you?” No. Never. The email was from Glenn Beck asking me to join him on the road that evening in Little Rock with Ted Cruz for 4 cities - then later in the week to the CPAC convention in DC (where Glenn was the keynote speaker) and promised to be a wildly heated event.

At these events I get the access toI take the pictures you could never get. Tense meetings in elevators. Exasperated sighs in between explosions of adulation. Guard down, camera up. I am even asked for my autograph and to pose in selfies with those crowds - they know me. How can that be? I grew up a good liberal in Pittsburgh and have clung to those beliefs my whole life - even refusing to photograph Republican politicians for years. Then I met Glenn and through a series of assignments found my greatest muse and a good friend. When Glenn called Obama a racist on Fox, I called him up and said that was the craziest thing I had ever heard. I told him he had just shot himself in the foot. I then took him out in the desert in Arizona, drilled a hole in his shoe, had blood coming out, handed him a gun and photographed him shooting himself in the foot. It all grew from there. We are polar opposites politically yet both love Nina Simone. We both come from completely different backgrounds and yet we both cherish our wives and children. We talk about how wrong each other is on the issues, and yet we respect each other’s viewpoints, core values and powers to communicate. Glenn is the most courageous creative I have ever met - and pushes me to take the pictures I am afraid to take. It is a powerful relationship. With Glenn I have created a body of work that is so far beyond what I could ever have done on my own, and yet...there are the politics which are a part of it, too.

My job is to humanize people. I am am so much more interested in who people are than what they look like. That goes for movie stars. Factory workers. Presidents. And yes...right wing talk show hosts. I have been searching my whole career for how we are all connected. How we love. How we feel. It is fascinating to hang out with the people you would never normally entertain and find love.

This is a much bigger story, but for now, it serves as a short introduction to some work I want to share this week. It is always dangerous expressing anything political on social media. It allows the arrogance from the likes of Trump’s army to enter your world in the comments. I used to argue with Glenn that Republicans were hateful and racist. He always pushed back, especially in defending his core audience. Now he admits, the Trump and his supporters represent the ugliest intolerance imaginable. Glenn was one of the first people to warn of the danger Trump presents to this country. I wish every sane Republican and the media has understood that last summer before the momentum was unstoppable.

Late Saturday night in Little Rock, I was in the backseat of an Uber being driven by a wounded vet. After hearing all the cries at the political rally, here was this young guy quietly introducing himself as a “good ol’ boy”, then telling me all about love. How he loved everyone, making a point of including Muslims and African Americans - because we were all God’s children. He talked about how he was so involved with his wife and his children and his church. He was voting for Ben Carson. I asked what it meant to be a “good ‘ol boy” and he said it was about growing up in the south,loving fried foods... I stopped him there. I said, “How can you love your kids and eat stuff that is so bad for you.” He said that was how he grew up and what he loved. We stayed away from discussing global warming...

Jackson scored 8 points in his basketball game and made some great passes. While he was not happy when I told him I had to hit the road suddenly, when I returned with a whole slew of new stories and pictures, he jumped extra high into my arms. "Dad, that is what the Lange family does!"

A Photo Editor

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For years I have been a huge fan of Rob Haggart's blog, "A Photo Editor" - which helps photographers evolve as creatives, offers advice for running a business, and shines a bright light on great new imagery. Today I am featured in an interview with T. Brittain Stone talking about my work with Creative Shop at Instagram these past 6 months. Thrilled to share. Thanks to Rob and Brittain and Jon and all my friends at Creative Shop.

The Jewish Chronicle

 

I have never had a bucket list with big goals, but I do recognize big thrills. Being the featured cover story this week of Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle where I grew up is one I never imagined would feel so nice. My mother's phone has been ringing off the hook. Love that. Also love the writer, Toby Tabachnick who I met for the first time for a long chat at Pamela's in Squirrel Hill. Love reading my story through her prose.

The 45th Plate

1406012_16_01_167 I have spent many evenings the past two summers taking pictures with Meadow Lark Farm Dinners on farms outside of Boulder. Meadow Lark has tripped out a school bus as a kitchen which they park by some of the most lush, mostly organic fields. They create their menus from whatever is ripe, with the menu and whole experience dependant on which way the wind is blowing. The Meadow Lark table is set for 44 people. Somewhere, off to the side of the bus (preferably out of view) Veronica sets a small table for me - the 45th plate.

Because I am not a food photographer, or a nature photographer for that matter - I come in through a very different door. I walk through the fields unannounced and often follow my nose more than my eyes. These pictures are about using all of our senses. I bury my camera deep in the pots of steaming fresh pasta, let the oil jump onto my lens just above the frying squash blossoms, and push my hands so far into the hot smoking grill my camera smells like barbecue for weeks.

These prints are the result of a collaboration: George Lange, Veronica Volny and Meadow Lark--Nature--and a lot of Love all around! This offering is an exclusive limited Holiday Edition. The archival prints are custom made in Boulder and signed for you by me.

"The Unforgettable Photograph" in Chinese

2015.11.09"The Unforgettable Photograph" is now in Chinese! I have no clue if it translated correctly, but I love seeing my most personal images surrounded by all the strange text. The book I did with Scott Mowbray still inspires photographers everywhere. Every week I see posts of people who have discovered it. The book talks about the pictures we never take. Appreciating what makes our lives so amazing. Capturing the light in our attic. This book got me hired as the first Artist in Residence at Creative Shop when my friend Matt Jacobson shared it with the Instagram team. The book got me on the Today Show and invited to give a Ted X Boulder talk. The book allowed me to teach a class with Craftsy. The book gave my mother the perfect gift to give when she was invited to dinner parties. The book inspired thousands of pictures that never would have never been taken. The book introduced me to thousands of new friends. Join the club.#unforgettableinstagram #unforgettablephotograph#workmanpress #Iwillsignyourcopyifyoulike

IBM Carousel #2

 

The second IBM carousel that I shot just launched on Instagram. The genius of Derek Miles Scott working the projection layers live as we shot, and Spencer Mandell looking out over the big picture. Thanks also to Sangeeta Joseph and Katie Keating from IBM who were so supportive. We had the most perfect days to shoot so I have to thank my father for that. I especially love the muted city in the middle panels. ‪#‎unforgettableinstagram‬ ‪#‎ibm‬

Favorite Part of the Process

2015.10.23bWhen I shot the IBM campaign for Instagram with Creative Shop 2 weeks ago in NY, we played on the set with the projections. Those live moments when we push the limits always circle back to new ideas. I love that part of the process. This shot is with Katie Keating, social engagement strategist with IBM letting the waves scream out.

OutThinking

2015.10.21 If you see this in your Instagram feed today you are looking at pictures I took two weeks ago in NY. It represents the tip of the iceberg where an amazing team at IBM hooked up with Creative Shop at Instagram putting their finger on the pulse of the people who are doing amazing things at IBM. It is here on carousels that stories can be told horizontally and powerfully. (The full carousel will only show up in your IG feed.) And we were thinking all the great icebergs were disappearing. For those photographers interested in such stuff, the art was projected onto the subjects and all done in camera. Derek Miles Scott adjusted the layers in real time. There were some minor tweaks in post - but mostly just normal raw processing adjustments.