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Author Topic: Garry Winogrand said:  (Read 5532 times)
Rob C
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« on: February 18, 2014, 02:32:31 PM »
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From a conversation between Garry Winogrand and Bil Moyers.

GW: " I think that there isn't a photograph in the world that has any narrative ability. Any of 'em. They do not tell stories - they show you what something looks like. To a camera. The minute you relate this thing to what was photographed - it's a lie. It's two-dimensional. It's the illusion of literal description. The thing has to be complete in the frame, whether you have the narrative information or not. It has to be complete in the frame. It's a picture problem. It's part of what makes things interesting."
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WalterEG
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2014, 03:46:12 PM »
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Aaaah, THAT man.  Self absorption to the nth degree.

So, what of the narrative qualities of imagery that have fostered the movies and television.  It may well be delusional, but what is wrong with that.  Sartre, Camus and I all think that all of life is delusional.  But we can be comforted and content with delusion, so what does it matter?
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RSL
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 04:05:22 PM »
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It would be interesting to know when this conversation took place, Rob. Late in his relatively short life Garry began to lose contact. As you probably know, after he died 2,500 undeveloped rolls of his film turned up. If you look at his later work you see that what he was saying about the narrative ability of photographs applied to most of his own work at that time, though there were a few gems among the stuff. But I agree with him that a shot has to be complete within the frame. That's one problem I often see over in User Critiques, a frame that's not complete within itself. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Garry is one of my all-time favorite photographers. Some of his earlier work is astonishing, and contains loads of narrative information. Anybody who wants to do street photography would be well advised to become intimately familiar with Garry's work.

I love the story about the time he was lecturing to a group of museum curators. He had, I think, this photograph projected on the screen: http://adequatebird.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Garry-Winogrand-imgSrv_020.jpg. With his nose in the air, one curator who didn't really think of photography as art asked, "Mr. Winogrand, how long did it take you to produce this 'work of art?'" Garry turned around and looked at the picture for a minute and then said, "I think it was 1/100th of a second."
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Isaac
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2014, 04:20:52 PM »
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...the narrative qualities of imagery that have fostered the movies...

A sequence of images, not "a photograph".
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WalterEG
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2014, 04:37:06 PM »
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Aaaah, fresh words from the sciolist dilettante.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2014, 04:41:07 PM »
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I don't care what these people think.
I am the greatest.
Cheers
~Chris
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Manoli
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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2014, 06:33:21 PM »
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I love the story about the time he was lecturing to a group of museum curators. He had, I think, this photograph projected on the screen: http://adequatebird.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Garry-Winogrand-imgSrv_020.jpg. With his nose in the air, one curator who didn't really think of photography as art asked, "Mr. Winogrand, how long did it take you to produce this 'work of art?'" Garry turned around and looked at the picture for a minute and then said, "I think it was 1/100th of a second."

Great anecdote.
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churly
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« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2014, 06:37:53 PM »
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But I agree with him that a shot has to be complete within the frame. That's one problem I often see over in User Critiques, a frame that's not complete within itself. "

Russ - would you mind expanding a bit on what you mean by 'complete within the frame'.  Don't you think that there are images for which the narrative is carried by hints at what might be outside of the frame?  I'm thinking about some of the images in your Ghost series for instance. Or am I being too literal?
Chuck
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 06:39:42 PM by churly » Logged

Chuck Hurich
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 06:40:13 PM »
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Aaaah, fresh words from the sciolist dilettante.

Most of us have the basic reading skills required to understand that the Winogrand quote was about the photograph, not the movies.

Is your knowledge limited to snide remarks or do you actually have something to say about narrative and the photograph?
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2014, 03:22:21 AM »
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It would be interesting to know when this conversation took place, Rob. Late in his relatively short life Garry began to lose contact. As you probably know, after he died 2,500 undeveloped rolls of his film turned up. If you look at his later work you see that what he was saying about the narrative ability of photographs applied to most of his own work at that time, though there were a few gems among the stuff. But I agree with him that a shot has to be complete within the frame. That's one problem I often see over in User Critiques, a frame that's not complete within itself. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Garry is one of my all-time favorite photographers. Some of his earlier work is astonishing, and contains loads of narrative information. Anybody who wants to do street photography would be well advised to become intimately familiar with Garry's work.

I love the story about the time he was lecturing to a group of museum curators. He had, I think, this photograph projected on the screen: http://adequatebird.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Garry-Winogrand-imgSrv_020.jpg. With his nose in the air, one curator who didn't really think of photography as art asked, "Mr. Winogrand, how long did it take you to produce this 'work of art?'" Garry turned around and looked at the picture for a minute and then said, "I think it was 1/100th of a second."



http://www.americansuburbx.com/2009/06/interview-garry-winogrand-excerpts-with.html

Apologies; I should have posted the link.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2014, 03:33:14 AM »
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I love the story about the time he was lecturing to a group of museum curators. He had, I think, this photograph projected on the screen: http://adequatebird.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Garry-Winogrand-imgSrv_020.jpg. With his nose in the air, one curator who didn't really think of photography as art asked, "Mr. Winogrand, how long did it take you to produce this 'work of art?'" Garry turned around and looked at the picture for a minute and then said, "I think it was 1/100th of a second."

That's a great image - in my opinion - and a fine example of 'street' not doing anyone any harm. I can see it as encouragement to go out there hunting serendipity. It's unfortunate that so much 'street' contains elements of cruelty and what seems to be expression of testosterone-laden visual aggression. Maybe my own testosterone pumps never functioned well enough, but I can't say I ever felt any desire to be aggressive with the camera... definitely not a street-fightin' man!

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2014, 08:31:27 AM »
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Russ - would you mind expanding a bit on what you mean by 'complete within the frame'.  Don't you think that there are images for which the narrative is carried by hints at what might be outside of the frame?  I'm thinking about some of the images in your Ghost series for instance. Or am I being too literal?
Chuck

Chuck, The best I can do is say that the picture has to be a gestalt: "A configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts." Yes, there may be hints, even strong hints at what's outside the frame. The picture, "Las Animas," a collection of storage tanks that I shot seven years ago outside the city of that name in southeastern Colorado certainly implies that more of the tanks lies outside the frame, but the parts of the tanks inside the picture, and the hairy-looking ladder up the side of one tank convey, to me at least, an experience that's more than the sum of the picture's parts: sort of an H.P. Lovecraft nightmare. There are very strong hints at what's outside the frame, but what's outside the frame is immaterial to the gestalt.

I guess I'd echo what Alan Greenspan said after a lecture he gave to a senate committee : "If I have made myself clear, then I've misspoken."
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Telecaster
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2014, 02:27:21 PM »
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But I agree with him (Winogrand) that a shot has to be complete within the frame. That's one problem I often see over in User Critiques, a frame that's not complete within itself.

My friend Bruce, an illustrator & sculptor who (like me) takes photos mainly for the sheer pleasure of doing it, prefers triptychs to single images. He often does this with drawings too. I wonder if some of the people who post in the Critiques section might be series photographers who either don't realize it or who feel compelled to follow the prevalent norm?

I do like photos that are complete unto themselves. That Winogrand is a classic. But I also like groups of photos that might not stand alone quite so well but still make a complete collective whole.

-Dave-
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RSL
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2014, 02:45:55 PM »
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I agree with you Dave. I like sequences too. But I'd call that documentation or reportage. It's not quite the same thing as that single photograph that's complete within the frame. By the way, Elliott Erwitt has done some hilarious sequences. The one I like best is a series of three where a man with a dog energetically throws a stick into a pond for the dog and the dog just sits there and stares at it.
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2014, 03:09:09 PM »
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I agree with you Dave. I like sequences too. But I'd call that documentation or reportage. It's not quite the same thing as that single photograph that's complete within the frame. By the way, Elliott Erwitt has done some hilarious sequences. The one I like best is a series of three where a man with a dog energetically throws a stick into a pond for the dog and the dog just sits there and stares at it.


That's why some dogs eventually get stuffed: failure to perform. Poor mutt.

;-)

Rob C
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barnack
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2014, 08:41:29 AM »
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...Garry is one of my all-time favorite photographers. Some of his earlier work is astonishing, and contains loads of narrative information. Anybody who wants to do street photography would be well advised to become intimately familiar with Garry's work.

I love the story about the time he was lecturing to a group of museum curators. He had, I think, this photograph projected on the screen: http://adequatebird.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Garry-Winogrand-imgSrv_020.jpg. With his nose in the air, one curator who didn't really think of photography as art asked, "Mr. Winogrand, how long did it take you to produce this 'work of art?'" Garry turned around and looked at the picture for a minute and then said, "I think it was 1/100th of a second."
I will agree wholeheartedly about Mr. Winogrand and his work. 

As for self absorption to the nth degree, I think that description fits the nose in the air curator (quote, above)  like a second skin.

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Alan Klein
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2014, 01:11:14 PM »
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From a conversation between Garry Winogrand and Bil Moyers.

GW: " I think that there isn't a photograph in the world that has any narrative ability. Any of 'em. They do not tell stories - they show you what something looks like. To a camera. The minute you relate this thing to what was photographed - it's a lie. It's two-dimensional. It's the illusion of literal description. The thing has to be complete in the frame, whether you have the narrative information or not. It has to be complete in the frame. It's a picture problem. It's part of what makes things interesting."

I disagree with Winogrand.

Some photos have to be explained.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/12197590215/in/set-72157625796644064/

Some don't.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanklein2000/12197936803/in/set-72157625796644064/
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RSL
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2014, 03:22:26 PM »
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Depends, Alan. If the photograph is a work of art it needs to stand on its own feet without explanation. What you're saying is that you've made some pictures you'd not consider to be works of art. Don't feel too uncomfortable about that, we all do it from time to time.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2014, 11:00:28 PM »
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Whether they're works of art have nothing to do with whether they work or don't work without a separate narrative.
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pluton
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2014, 08:47:49 PM »
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Aaaah, THAT man.  Self absorption to the nth degree.

So, what of the narrative qualities of imagery that have fostered the movies and television.  It may well be delusional, but what is wrong with that.  Sartre, Camus and I all think that all of life is delusional.  But we can be comforted and content with delusion, so what does it matter?

The movies and television, and the captioned Life and National Geographic magazine picture stories folks of my age were told were the apotheosis of documentary photography, add drama, which is the fake, uh, err, I mean 'storytelling' part.
If you have to be told what the photo is about, either verbally or by it being placed in a dramatic context, then the photo wasn't standing by itself as a singular work of [attempted]craft or art, was it?
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 02:54:42 AM by pluton » Logged
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