By | photography

Lisette Model (who also taught Diane Arbus) talks to Eugenia Parry about her photography students:   [….] “Most of them were lazy. They photographed superficially.[….] When they hung work for me to look at, I said they all had one thing in common – MEDIOCRITY. [….] I wasn’t interested in tricks or technical perfection. I explored fear. I knew a hell of a lot about that. [….] Respond to the impact of what’s coming toward you. That’s what leads you. You don’t make the pictures. They arrive. They make themselves.”

(from a narrative autobiography “Spitting into the Mirror” ©2009, Steidl, Göttingen/©2009 Lisette Model Foundation, New York/©2009 Eugenia Parry

Diane Arbus’ photographic project

By | photography

“I want to photograph the considerable ceremonies of our present because we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it.

While we regret that the present is not like the past and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning.” [….]

Diane Arbus, start of 1963 Guggenheim Grant proposal.

2 careers

By | photography

“I have had two careers: Atget’s and mine.”

Berenice Abbott about her promotional activities concerning Atget’s very important photographs of Paris and saving his precious and fragile glass plates. She took this as serious as her own -equally important- self-chosen task of making a  “portrait” of New York.

Nancy Rexroth about her Diana camera

By | photography

“It costs about $1.50. It is a toy camera that works well. The company also makes a cheaper model that squirts water when you press the shutter.”

taken from “The Snapshot” ©1974, Aperture, Inc., New York.

Bill Brandt: description and story-telling

By | photography

“Throughout his career, Brandt used photographs to tell stories, and London in the Thirties is a collection of three stories.” The well-known photobook by Bill Brandt from which I cite, contains 96 photographs, showing in 3 chapters his pictures of a vanishing class society in what was later to become the “A day in the life of…” -style. His observations of both high and low class Londoners are individually strong images of iconic value, which in their combination tell the story of a society holding on to old values and traditions which are bound to change. The photographs describe, their juxtapositions tell a story…

quote: © Mark Haworth-Booth, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: introduction to Bill Brandt: London in the Thirties” (Pantheon Books, New York 1984)

“snapshot aesthetic” and the social landscape

By | photography, street photography

“Interestingly enough, the snapshot’s significance in modifying our attitude toward picture content and structure has been quite remarkable. [….]  [It] has contributed greatly to the visual vocabulary of all graphic media since before the turn of the century [e.i. before 1900, TS].

Friedlander on one rare occasion simply stated: “I’m interested in people and people things”. Winogrand in an interview with Mary Orovan in U.S.Camera suggested “For me the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality (whatever that is) on film….   if, later, the reality means something to someone else, so much the better.”

I do not find it hard to believe that photographers who have been concerned with the question of the authentic relevance of events and objects should consciously or unconsciously adopt one of the most authentic picture forms photography has produced. The directness of their commentary of “people and people things” is not an attempt to define but to clarify the meaning of the human condition.”

© Nathan Lyons: “Toward A Social Landscape” (George Eastman House of Photography, Rochester, New York 1966)

real greatness is in honesty

By | photography

When Winogrand seems a little blunt in his verbal statements and his answers during interviews it appears to me that this is a way of not showing his very sensitive nature. This sensitivity is clear from countless subtle hints in the visual content of his imagery and its psychological depth and implications. The clarity with which he shows us certain painful scenes isn’t cruelty, but respectful compassion, not inhibited by false shame and never shunning confrontation with what might shock us. Such is honesty – never mind the repercussions of the would-be preachers of morality who don’t even dare look at real life. Garry was a brave and passionate observer who doesn’t only show the triumphs of man, but also gives us a glimpse of human despair, failure and seediness. His endless quest for the facts (in his words “what things look like”) of his and our lives is as heroic as that of all the great artists of all times and places. It’s time people learned to see….

Ben Lifson quoted on Winogrand

By | photography

…it’s risky business, this effort to breathe life into the world by means of art […] It’s riskier still because it takes Winogrand to visual outposts at the edge of incoherence where eyes accustomed to a tamer, more polite photography might see only wildness an miss the art. It also means that as Winogrand works without preconceived visual restraints, he works without social taboos, staring at everything – failed lives, a failed society in an abundant world – in order to create his own world of possibilities. And this means he has to contend with his own conflicting responses to life as he stirs ours and entertains us.

From an essay by Ben Lifson: “Gary Winogrand’s American Comedy” ©1982, published in Aperture (nr.86)