“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)

the art of straight photography

By | photography

You can only photograph what’s there, I think we agree on that. Not what’s in your phantasy. Some photographers have photographed “scenes from their phantasies” that they had to construct before these could be photographed. And as a black and white film photographer I’m not even thinking of  the “artistic” horrors of extreme photoshop manipulation… The constructing part – be it arranging people and things, or putting together things to suggest a non-existing reality – is in fact introducing another art form like performance or sculpture in its widest sense, then simply putting it on film. The photographer, in all his freedom [to quote William Klein: “anything goes”], nevertheless should realize this, so he isn’t fooled into believing such photography is the real “art photography”. The real “art” in photography is in my opinion in the elevation of the image from its purely representational “reality” level to a higher (non-anecdotal) symbolic function, which could be enigmatic or even of a metaphysical nature.

text 2

By | street photography

Photography to me is not just another graphic technique, but an independent medium with its very own iconography and specific means of expression. There is evident mutual influencing by other artforms, but personally I prefer photography in its pure form that in no way tries to imitate or tries to be like other graphic arts. It does not seem very clear to some people, by the way, why some photography is supposed to be art, and some is not. I think what makes it art is defined by both the design (which is often instant and spontaneous, therefore intuitive to a high degree) and by the psychological impact of the photographer’s personal selection from reality. In these aspects photography can be totally autonomous.

(from introduction, graphic arts exhibition containing my photography, The Hague 1997 © Tom Stappers)