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Author Topic: Another in the Friedlander genre  (Read 4400 times)
RSL
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« Reply #40 on: September 19, 2012, 05:43:41 PM »
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Rob,

That's an excellent summation of the way things are. I can't argue the fact that a photographer, for that matter, any artist, can do both commercial and fine art. Elliott Erwitt is the classic example. He made his living in photography, but it wasn't fine art photography. He'd go somewhere -- often overseas -- with a truckload of equipment for his commercial work, but when the commercial day was done he'd get out his M3 (which you can see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aperture64/2739236380/) and do what really moved him. Nobody remembers much of his commercial work, but everybody remembers the stuff he did with that battered M3.

Yes, I raised an eyebrow at Pepper No. 30 too, but avidly read the stories of Weston's series of mistresses, and loved his nude shots of Tina. . .  not because they were fine art, which they weren't. As you know, I agree with you about landscape, though I read Ansel's books and gave rocks and stones and trees the old college try before I decided my real interests lay elsewhere. When it comes to landscape I've never seen a landscape photograph that can stun me the way, say, one of Bierstadt's Rocky Mountain ranges (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/Albert_Bierstadt_001.jpg) with linear perspective wildly distorted to give you not "the thing itself," but the kick in the gut the thing gives you the first time you see it. Problem is that a real Bierstadt is hideously expensive or in a museum.

I'd also agree not only that France is a leader in the acceptance of photography as fine art, but add that it's always been, starting with Atget and continuing with Kertesz, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Brassaï, and Ronis among others. Stieglitz tried very hard to make the U.S. the world center in photography as fine art, but his main influence lies in the sterile investment world you mentioned.

But when we get into a discussion about hanging photographs as decoration I think we begin to part ways. If it's strictly a youthful interest, then, at 83 I'd have to consider myself pretty youthful. I think you're right that the idea of "lofts" has brought about a lot of decorative photo hanging, but I don't hang photos because they're decorative. My wife hangs paintings and Japanese prints because they're decorative, but I hang photographs because they give me a jolt when I glance at them as I walk by. She gets the upstairs, which in our mountainside home is the main living area, and I get the downstairs, which has a number of hallways just made for hanging pictures. A lot of the pictures on my downstairs walls are my own, but not all of them. I also know other people who hang street photographs, and they hang them for the same reason I hang them.

Yes, I got lucky with my photo library. Frankly I didn't know what I was doing when I did it. Back in the sixties I'd have a couple spare bucks, drift into my favorite used book store while I was walking the streets looking for pictures, and see a book I just had to have. The library grew on its own, not because I was setting out deliberately to create it.

And, finally, yes, anybody with eyes to see has to enjoy Gene Smith.


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amolitor
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« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2012, 06:12:07 PM »
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Apropos of not much, and rather far off-topic, I have always loved Pepper #30. It's the only abstract I can think of that I like, and I probably only like it because it's borderline smutty.
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« Reply #42 on: September 20, 2012, 10:09:27 AM »
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Rob, You might like to read the article on Magnum that was in this morning's Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443884104577645882307821656.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs_comments%3D%26articleTabs%3Darticle. It fits right in with the discussion we've been having.
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Rob C
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« Reply #43 on: September 20, 2012, 02:11:42 PM »
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Rob, You might like to read the article on Magnum that was in this morning's Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443884104577645882307821656.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs_comments%3D%26articleTabs%3Darticle. It fits right in with the discussion we've been having.


Thank you, Russ; as often happens, the best was kept to last, and I quote:

"That's not the fault of Magnum. What does photojournalism mean now when everybody with a cellphone can upload pictures for the world to see, or when surveillance cameras provide the most reliable way to document a crime?

More troubling is the fact that with the decline of the press and its demand for relevance, and the rise of the gallery where everything can sell, we have lost the tension between good and good-enough-to-show-the-world. When there were fewer photographers, Magnum admitted only the best to its club, and we trusted it to be our gatekeeper. Now we live in a world without Life magazine, but with too many pictures. What form of photojournalist will emerge from these conditions? Who can make images for the digital world that will show us something we can't see without them?

Ms. Panzer is a photography writer in New York."




So what happens next, indeed? I think, probably, not a lot.

With the end of the PJ magazines, with the only thing selling being paparazzo junk of nobody stars or unfortunate royals spied upon in their gilded cage, the future appears to have atrophied to the point of no return.

Television plays its own dominant rôle in the news game - I mean game - and unless one visits stations such as Aljazeera and has a longish look at news in depth, however biased or not it may actually be (who can tell, without being on the ground?) from an alternative perspective, truth, whatever that might really be, is lost to the vested interests of politics and markets and spinners of all colours.

Magnum itself did a lot of pioneering work, as stated in the article, and I think it would be a mistake to discount its work with Hollywood. There, it also competed with Globe, who sported a very good line-up of specialists in the presentation of starlets and established actresses to the media. The thing is, those guys worked with the co-operation of the subject, with a fairly free hand it seems, and relationships were built that assured frequent collaborations, making and finding the best of what each could offer the other. Peters Basch and Gowland come to mind, as do Don Ornitz, Russ Meyer and many more whose names have now fled my fading grey matter, if their pictures have not.

When you think about those sorts of relationships, you find Marilyn coming to mind, working with André de Dienes, Eve Arnold, Avedon, Milton Greene, Bert Stern and various other NY shooters too, and those pictures have become iconic in their own right. They were shot in the tight relationships of one-to-one and with not a friggin’ ‘my people, your people’ interloper in sight. Which picture sets of the last few years have become memorable? Which little lady has become a legend due to the efforts of a dedicated snapper? It’s more likely to happen in the fashion world than the movies, Why? Because it’s all become orchestrated and controlled by PR companies and their pet photographers, the right-to-vet conditions and all the other rules that drive creativity and courage out of the equation. Safe, anodyne corporate imagery is all you ever get the chance to see. Go to the websites of some of the photographers of the moment, and their ‘celebrity’ galleries are all stereotypical, the one no more remarkable than the next. And I mean not just the photographs but the subjects as well as the shooters and, I’d guess stylists. What happened to the days when the girl would bring her own clothes and do her own face? You can’t get originality from a committee shoot! And if you can’t get originality, neither can you get immortality. How ironic, then, that personality pictures lack the one thing they should have in abundance: personality.

But this raises my pressure; I’d better say adios for the moment!

;-)

Rob C



« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 02:23:46 PM by Rob C » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #44 on: September 20, 2012, 03:25:38 PM »
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"10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011."

—Fortune magazine, September 24, 2012, page 166
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WalterEG
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« Reply #45 on: September 20, 2012, 04:00:39 PM »
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Slobodan,

I wonder how many Lu-La readers actually read TOP for themselves as well.


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WalterEG
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« Reply #46 on: September 20, 2012, 04:14:47 PM »
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Thanks for the link Russ,

Most formidable breakfast reading here.

W
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RSL
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« Reply #47 on: September 20, 2012, 04:21:32 PM »
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You're welcome, Walter. The Journal is great, if sometimes disheartening, breakfast reading.
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RSL
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« Reply #48 on: September 20, 2012, 04:32:07 PM »
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That the cell phone has overwhelmed us with "too many pictures" is a standard complaint from a lot of professional photographers, including some of my good friends here in the Pikes Peak Region, but it's an economic complaint, not an artistic complaint. There always have been too many pictures, probably going all the way back to cave drawings, and certainly going back to "you push the button, we do the rest," just as there always have been too many poems, too many songs, too many objects in any artistic genre that tends to dissolve toward and overlap pop culture.

Getting away from the economic part of the problem, when we look back we always look back at the good old days: the days when paintings were good, photographs were good, poems were good, and musical compositions were good. But the reason all that stuff was good in the good old days is that the crap from those days, as it always does, has faded away. Everybody loves the Impressionists, but hardly anybody knows about the flood of stuff the French art establishment was pushing while they looked down their noses at Renoir and Monet.

Nothing's going to bring back Magnum's heydays and nothing's going to bring back Mike Disfarmer's photo studio, but as far as the crap being pumped out on today's cell phones is concerned, this too shall pass away. Good photography, good painting, good poetry, and good music survives the ages. My advice to everybody worried about too many photographs is to go out and get busy shooting the stuff that'll survive. Life is short. Art is long.

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #49 on: September 20, 2012, 04:33:04 PM »
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Slobodan,

I wonder how many Lu-La readers actually read TOP for themselves as well.

Apparently, one too many... but I posted for the benefit of those who do not.
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« Reply #50 on: September 20, 2012, 04:39:21 PM »
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"10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011."

—Fortune magazine, September 24, 2012, page 166

Wow! That survey must have been difficult. I wonder what the margin of error is. I have a bunch of my granddad's photographs and I don't remember Fortune coming around to count them. I don't even remember them asking me how many pics I have in my Lightroom catalog. Maybe it's just my memory.
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WalterEG
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« Reply #51 on: September 20, 2012, 05:02:07 PM »
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Yes, and without counting digital files, I have over half a million transparencies stored (and awaiting a judicious culling) and the buggers never consulted me either.

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amolitor
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« Reply #52 on: September 20, 2012, 06:58:05 PM »
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There were 5 billion photographs on flickr. 2 years ago. Facebook, by all accounts, has far more photographs now than flickr. If Fortune's number isn't right, it's as likely to be low as it is high, and it's definitely in the general vicinity of right.

Photojournalism in the Magnum style was definitely a thing destined to live for a brief window in technological development, when photographs could be made quickly and easily, but the process was not yet fully democratized. It is remarkably similar to the arc of the idea of copyright, which only started to make sense when copies were moderately easy to make, but not yet absurdly easy. How the idea of copyright plays out remains to be seen, but change seems to be in the offing.

My sense is that the next major shift in photography will be to move from shooting photographs to curating them. Making sense of the stream of a couple billion images a year, almost all of them available from any point on the earth's surface, is a potentially fruitful field of endeavor. In some ways it resembles the act of photography itself. Rather than sifting the infinite possibilities of the world for good rectangular frames, you sift the nearly infinite stream of pre-cut/pre-filled rectangular frames.

It's not something *I* want to do, and certainly photography as the people here practice it isn't going anywhere. People still ride horses, even though commerce no longer relies on them.

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« Reply #53 on: September 26, 2012, 09:20:54 PM »
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Speaking of Friedlander...

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WalterEG
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« Reply #54 on: September 26, 2012, 11:09:20 PM »
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Now, THAT I like very much Chris.
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