Rubin, “Monterey” (2011)

I’ve been teaching this workshop this year and was recently asked if I could summarize the principles and constraints I use in my photos. So here’s the short presentation.

I used to show the fifty prints that inspired me while growing up (“The 50”) and I’d tell people that simply by looking at these photos, even with no explanation, a person can learn composition. I learned photography solely by looking at these pictures and I’m convinced anyone can; what I didn’t realize at the time was that these principles emerged from looking at The Fifty, so it’s no wonder they…


Jerry Uelsmann, Untitled (1977) — This image was my key inspiration. It took one curvy shaded line to make the rock alive and sexy. This was on the wall in my living room when I was 14 and I looked at it for countless hours.

I grew up in a home covered in historic photos from folks like Adams, Cartier-Bresson, and Kertesz. But to be honest, I was more interested in the nudes. Maybe it would be better to cop to it and just admit that I was a horny teen boy and these were sexy to me; I was well aware that I couldn’t go to a 7–11 and buy a Playboy magazine but I could sit around my living room and look at any number of naked bodies photographed by Ruth Bernhard, Jerry Uelsmann, Lucien Clergue, Harry Callahan, Ed Weston… as a teenager…


ALSO: THE TABLE OF CONTENTS

Selfie at the deYoung, 2015

Hey everyone!

This is me: I have been a photographer for more than 40 years, a writer for fewer, a long time resident of the Bay Area, but moments away from a big move to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

When I was a kid, I was a young protégé of Jerry Uelsmann; his surreal images were everywhere around me. I’ve never been a professional photographer; I’d say I’m a professional amateur — and spend my time evangelizing photographic exploration for consumers. Some of my work these days involves managing a large photographic collection of classical works of midcentury modernism.


My discovered negatives.

Around the time I was applying to college in 1980, Time magazine ran a short piece about the college application process (coincidentally, at Brown); in it they described an applicant who had soaked her application in water, then let it dry completely, so it got warped. Admissions officers noted that her application wouldn’t sit neatly in the stacks they had to go through, and so it kept landing on top of their piles, getting more attention, and for a range of reasons, it worked. She was admitted.

I thought about this for awhile. …


Rubin, 2021


Staircase, Riomaggiore (Rubin, 2015)


Christmas Eve (Rubin, 2020)


Denali towering over the 10 thousand foot foothills. (Google Images)

When I was 16, a group of friends and I took a summer road trip to Alaska. We piled into an RV and we drove from Salt Lake City, through British Columbia and the Yukon, and into the largest state in the union.

Eventually we found ourselves camping in Mt McKinley National Park (as it was called back then). We were excited to see the largest mountain in the continent, sitting at 20,300 feet. They say that it’s so foggy in the park that the mountain is only visible a few days a week, but ten teenaged boys were going…

M. H. Rubin

Living a creative life, a student of high magic, and hopefully growing wiser as I age. • Ex-Lucasfilm, Netflix, Adobe. • Here are my stories and photos.

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