A few days ago I was asked to do an interview by answering some questions by my friend Joanna of the amazing RocketClowns team who designed my website. Generally speaking I don’t like interviews too much, because my experience is that all too often the interviewer only wants to hear what proves his point, or what in his opinion the public likes. That won’t do for me, but in this case I trusted the interviewer and her intentions, and the texts would not be interfered with. So here it is: you will find the interview under http://blog.rocketclowns.com/?p=587 .
I looked up this old tape I had with a Bill Brandt interview. The sound had deteriorated some, but then he did not talk much. Bill Brandt, then already an old man, was not just a gentleman, but a gentle man. Soft-spoken, almost shy, he looked at his own photographs as if he had not seen them for a long time, reliving the moments of their taking, but without sentimentality. Looking at each picture for a long time he remembers the circumstances, the light mainly. Composition: that’s how it was, what it looked like – almost an excuse. “Decisive moment?” – there is a naughty boyish smile on his face – “sounds like Cartier-Bresson”, he says, “no, I don’t believe in that.” Several times he remarked that his nudes were his favorite photographs, but at the time nobody liked them. He was fascinated by playing with perspective, such as including the ceilings of rooms and the optical deformation of parts of the female body done with a special camera with a wide-angle lens. He tried color, but did not like it. When the portraits come by, he is surprised by the remark that almost every person is placed very excentrical: “O, really, I hadn’t noticed that” and starts checking. A very modest man indeed.
Garry Winogrand, my favorite photographer and doubtless the greatest street photographer ever, nevertheless hated that term as he hated categorisations in general. Here are some more interesting quotes from his famous interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein: …”I think that those kind of distinctions and lists of titles like “street photographer” are so stupid. […] I’m a photographer, a still photographer. That’s it. […] People are just dumb. They misunderstand.”[…] “I’m pretty fast with a camera when I have to be. However, I think it’s irrelevant. I mean, what if I said that every photograph I made was set up? From the photograph you can’t prove otherwise. You don’t know anything from the photograph about how it was made, really. […] The whole discussion is a way of not talking about photographs. [What is really important] is the photograph.”
Asked what he wanted to evoke with his photographs, he answers: “I have no ideas on that subject. I’m not making ads. I couldn’t care less. Everybody’s entitled to their own experience.”
Garry Winogrand (tv interview by Barbaralee Diamonstein ©1981 “Visions and Images”, Rizzoli Int. Publ. Inc.)
“When things move I get interested, I know that much.”……….”I think that there isn’t a photograph in the world that has any narrative ability. Any of them. They do not tell stories, they show you what something looks like. To a camera.”……….”It’s the subject. I think I’m interested in how a lot of things look.”……….
……….Q: You shoot every day? Winogrand: Yeah,sure.
Garry Winogrand (tv interview by Bill Moyers, © 1982)
……….”the photograph isn’t what was photographed, it’s something else. It’s about transformation.”……….”there is a transformation [of the banal] , you see, when you just put four edges around it. That changes it. A new world is created.”……….
……….Q: Do you (….) think of yourself as an artist? Winogrand: I probably am. I don’t think about it (……) But, if I have to think, yeah, I guess so.
Garry Winogrand (tv interview by Barbaralee Diamonstein © 1981, quoted in the book “Visions and Images”, Rizzoli Int. Publ., Inc.)
(quotes edited and selected by Tom Stappers – for more: click red tags below this post)