1 December

Gus And The Creeping Iphone Photo Wars

by Jon Katz
Gus And The Iphone Wars: Photo by M (Ansel) Wulf

I love this photo so much I wish I’d taken it, it was actually taken by my wife, Maria with her Iphone 8 plus.

This week, a cheery soul messaged Maria saying “I hope your egomaniacal husband knows that you are now taking better photos than him.”  Nice. Maria banned  her, she sends a nasty message monthly.

We both got a chuckle out of it, we are both intensely competitive people who pretend all the time that we are never competitive with one another.

In a global context, we are never competitive with one another.

We support one another completely, and cheer when the other succeeds. Still, if we are being honest, and we strive for that, the obnoxious social media warrior had a point. When we met, Maria didn’t have a blog, didn’t write much,  never took photos or videos.

Now, she has a blog, takes popular videos all the time with her sweet new Iphone, writes beautifully and openly and powerfully, makes beautiful art and sells all of it,  and is now taking first rate photographs as well. And very often.

I do sometimes feel tip toes creeping up on my aging body, you have to stay on your toes around here, we are both savage in our commitment to our creativity. Although she is a good deal younger.

The truth – I cannot say I’m surprised – is that she is a brilliant and driven creative, she does everything she does well and learns and grows, and she quite often takes better photos than I do, she got a good one this morning of Gus in her studio, the composition is beautiful, so is the light and the emotion.

Her videos are increasingly popular.

Maria thinks about her images, photos and videos all the time, because she works at it every day, she gets better all the time. We are simiiar in that way, we never stop thinking about our work, it is almost inevitable I would feel some hot breath on my neck.

I would be other than human if I was not aware of very good work  pouring out of my wife daily, so much of it along the same lines as mine – blog, photos, writing.

What kind of true creative does not ever look over his or her shoulder? Not this kind.

Maria’s nasty online friend thinks I must be one of those men who can’t bear their wife’s success. I am sorry for her life and marriage. People who don’t ever get competitive are not really alive. You have to see it, recognize it, laugh at it, and clobber them. Kind of turns me on.

We live very separate lives creatively otherwise, she is in her studio all day, I am in my office. I have no involvement whatsoever with her art, she has nothing to do with my writing other than to read it and tell me what she thinks.

I am also aware that Maria is enormously popular and respected. Once, I was the only one here.

I don’t have the words to say how happy this makes me, even she outperforms me from time to time (often.) It does not bother me nearly as much as it gives me joy. This is the kind of person I love, respect and wish to share my life with.

When I get off a great shot or column, I run to show it to her, and when she takes a photo like the one above, she rushes to show it to me. I love that very much. And this little edge keeps me young and on the move. I can’t afford to get lazy or lax.

We utterly support the creativity of the other. We are also humans and will be human. She also has a great camera in that phone, and can take any kind of  photos she wants.  I still have the better equipment and a few extra years of experience – my Canon and my Iphone X.

I will put up a helluva fight, I’m not dead yet.

Boundaries are important with us, we live and work within yards of each other, and we cannot help the fact that we both are very serious about my work. James Joyce said a piece of every artist dies when another succeeds, and I think there is some truth to that.

I sometimes wince when she takes a photo like this, not because I begrudge her doing it, but because I begrudge me not doing it.

When she texted me this photo of Gus – she was justly proud of it – I texted her right back, “I”m going to steal it.”

She came sputtering into the farmhouse. “You can’t steal it,” she said, “I put it up on Instagram,” she said.

“So what?” I replied, “I’ll put it up on my blog. Nobody will see yours.”

We both couldn’t stop laughing. It is sometimes fun to be challenged To not care is first death.

Go Maria. I’m right behind you.

In a flash, her photo was up on Instagram, so yes, I am aware she is taking wonderful photos. Are they better than mine? Not for me to say That one is in the hands of the fates.


  1. Oh Jon, I dearly love yours and Maria’s writing, pictures, and work – I love it all. You and Maria are the REAL deal.

    1. Thanks for the thought, but no calendars from me, I don’t want to be a stationary store, it’s not what I do.

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