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Author Topic: Is the versatile photographer possible?  (Read 1816 times)
Rob C
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« on: October 03, 2010, 04:34:21 AM »
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Looking through the posts in this site, as well as through many, many books, not to mention photo-sites and stock agency files, it seems to me that the truly versatile snapper is a rare fish indeed. (Okay, a pun, just to encourage you.)

Of all of the few with whose work I am a little familiar, I come to the conclusion that Frank Horvat must be the top dog (fish?) within the limited genre of master of many types of work.

http://www.horvatland.com

His reportage/street work is very good indeed; his fashion work was ahead of the then English wild boys and he has even mastered the present world of digital manipulation (not a departure that thrills me, but that's his business).

Probably the only other guy whose street and fashion were equally brilliant might be William Klein.

I think it remarkable that one mind can encompass so wide a spectrum of work and vision.

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2010, 07:23:54 AM »
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Horvat is one of my favorites photographer ever.
Well, I think, sorry if I simplify too much, that in fact, every visual artist is doing the same picture regardless of the genre.
If you Rob, where doing sport photography, I'm almost sure that you will do a Rob.
If Russ where doing landscape, it will also be a Russ.

Maybe the most versatile artist in history was Leonardo, but whatever he did, you recognize his signature.
He just repeat over an over again, variations of the same feeling.

I guess we all have multiple skills and facettes and it would work, if your inspiration or natural orientation lead you to diversify.

Other artists have never been versatiles, and that was also in their nature.

I think that versatility is possible, if it is in your real nature. But if not, that would just not work.
In the music the differences are very clear.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 09:46:04 AM by fredjeang » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 12:09:55 PM »
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Rob, I think a lot depends on the interests of the artist. You probably could name a dozen photographers who could have been as versatile as Horvat had they been inclined to work outside the genre in which they were making a living. Two come to mind immediately: Elliott Erwitt and Steve McCurry. Horvat covered a lot of genres, but, at least to my eye, in the genres I'm most familiar with, he was outdone by some of his contemporaries. I think Fred has his finger on the situation with his mention of inspiration or natural orientation. Some of these guys specialized because they were doing exactly what moved them and they didn't feel a need or a desire to switch to something less interesting. Horvat, on the other hand, didn't specialize, and I think that was a weakness.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 02:53:25 PM »
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Those are interresting views.

I agree with Fred - and have said exactly the same thing about my own work - it really is the same old shot/emotion coming through (at least it is as plain as a pikestaff to me) - and I think I, and also most other people, just can't escape ourselves. It doesn't matter what the thing in front of the camera - the treatment seems to be coming from the same part of the brain; or is it the groin? Nah, I don't do lillies.

On the other hand, perhaps that's why I fell in love with 50s Cadillacs: those chromed breasts jutting out of the bumpers out there in front... or even the illuminating perspex lady on the hood of the DeSoto (I hope it isn't a memory failure again).

Horvat's weakness. That's a difficult one. How much of any of it - the career choices - was really down to him, to any of us? He seems to have had his fair share of ups and downs: magazines going bust on him; editors changing mid-stream; had he specialized, I wonder would he have been a better pj than fashion shooter? I think that the one led to the other: his pj stuff is echoed in the early fashion where he takes it into the steet, into bars, the races, all the new things that turned the page from the stuffy to the cool. Sieff also jumped interests a few times before landing squarely in the pages of Vogue et al.

The other complication, of course, is that some minds are more restless than others. There are those who can stick within a single discipline all their days and those who just can't for one reason or another. Again using my own example, I would have been as happy staying in fashion, I think, but it died around me. So, calendars became my escape from one burning field over the fence into the neighbouring one. The fashion days were much easier from a basic shooting point of view: the clothes were the subject. Simple as that. With the cals, one had to dream up all manner of extraneous stuff to create themes, continuity etc. etc. But, at least they got me out of the studio, and I always loved trips.

Rob C

EDIT: GIven the idea situation, and the benefit of hindsight, I think I would have rather stayed in fashion and also done straight nudes, cutting out the general calendar stuff. Not that I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but fashion, of the right kind, can give you the same opportunities for exciting femininity which is maybe the greatest buzz of all - and the nude can give you fun with shapes and light.

« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 03:02:51 PM by Rob C » Logged

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