Revelations

If there was one book in my photography book collection that I would grab first in the event of a fire this would be it !

Diane Arbus – Revelations 

The Question of Belief by Sandra S Philips 

The following extracts are quoted in Diane Arbus – Revelations the Essay by Sandra S Philips. Some are quotes from Arbus’ own writings and some are quotes from the Author.

Arbus:  “For me the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture. And more complicated.” 

Arbus: There’s a kind of magic power thing about the camera. You’re carrying some slight magic which does something to (the subject). 

Sandra S Philips: On Winogrand and Friedlander  – “The street work of Winogrand and Friedlander is less obviously composed than her photography. Their photographs often play upon happenstance and the irony of finding what strange and marvellous conjunctions occur within the frame” 

Arbus: “Everybody has this thing where they need to look one way but they come out looking another way and that’s what people observe. You see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw. Our whole guise is like giving a sign to the world to think of us in a certain way, but there’s a point between what you want people to know about you and what you can’t help people knowing about you. And that has to do with what I’ve always called the gap between intention and effect” 

Arbus: ” A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know” 

 

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Another Place

 

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I’ve been suffering from a bit of anxiety and depression just lately. It happens from time to time ! It’s been a bit of a shit year what with one thing and another. I looked up ‘anxiety’ on the internet and some of the symptoms listed  I could identify with. It’s not an easy thing to define or deal with. No matter how much I kept telling myself that there were hundreds of thousands of people much far worse than I was and how lucky I was I could not lift myself out of this dark pit that I felt I was in. I had this dark negative mood hanging around me and as much as I tried to smile and feel happier I just couldn’t and there was absolutely no reason other than things that have been happening this year that I could do about it. I felt oh so tired as well. It wasn’t that I couldn’t be bothered, it was just tiring.

A few days away at a lovely hotel on the West coast has lifted my spirits somewhat. Amongst other things we visited Anthony Gormley’s Another Place on Crosby Beach. I was under strict instructions to leave the Fuji X-Pro at home so just took along my Lumix GF2 ( I told you I was lucky ). I counted about ten photographers on Crosby Beach, all taking photos of Another Place. So ! the question for me was this; how do I go beyond the mere recording of it ? How do I capture the essence of it, what the artist themselves was trying to communicate while at the same time initiating a more personal response ? Something that resonates with the place and the work of art while simultaneously adding my own creative stamp. As photographers this is often what we are dealing with is it not ? We deal with what is in front of us and the challenge is to create something else or personal. 

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Dorothea Lange

 

The following quote by Francis Bacon was tacked onto Dorothea LAnge’s darkroom door in 1923, where it remained until her death in 1965 

The Contemplation of things as they are        

Without error or confusion 

Without substitution or imposture 

Is in itself a nobler thing 

Than a whole harvest of invention 

The following notes have been extracted from this book; 

Notes From :  Dorothea Lange – With a critical essay by George P Elliott – Museum of Modern Art. Second Printing 1968 

In every are glancing is an enemy of vision, but in none so much as in photography. Mass journalism has trained us to glance, and the big money photographers have made themsleves masters of the craft of the quick impression: visual elements so whimsically juxtapsoed that the effect is to jolt or tickle the viewer. 

It is the photographer’s faith that anything really seen is worth seeing. 

There are ways to get a viewer to second look at photographs which do not make a socko first impression, and the photographer can do something about some of these ways. However essential pre-condition is beyond his control: the viewer must be willing to pause, to look again, to meditate. 

On “Migrant Mother” 

This picture, like a few others of hers, like a few others of a few other photographers, leads a life of its own. That is, it is widely accepted as a work of art with its own message rather than its makers, far more people know the picture than know who made it. There is a sense in which the photographer’s apotheosis is to become as anonymous as his camera.  

What had come to matter to her most was that a photograph, perfect or not should say, “Here is what these people look like now”. 

“Vision” has religious or mystical overtones. Yet no art is less mystical, by its nature, than photography , especially referential photography 

The appearance of actual things, which comprise photography’s subject matter, are by definition superficial and often illusory or deceptive as well. 

A paradox: glancing is a foe of art, yet a person walking around in the world with a camera in his hand must see in glances. A camera shutter does not glance so much as super glance. Glancing for so short a time, it takes out of time what it sees. 

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Migrant Mother – Dorothea Lange 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laugh it isn’t funny !

“Laugh it isn’t funny, no respect for pain ! If you give him money he slings it down the drain. You’re looking for Mr Right ? his type need not apply. He doesn’t play the white man. He doesn’t try” – 23rd by  John Cooper Clarke.

For some reason I’ve got the following verse from 23rd going around my head in a continuous loop. I’ve tried playing the excellent Don’t Delete the Kisses by Wolf Alice on You Tube but it doesn’t do it. Was delighted for Wolf Alice at the Mercury Prize giving last night. I’d never heard then before but straight away said to myself, these’ll win. And so they did which just goes to show that at my age I’ve not lost it yet.

Been over on the Yorkshire Coast for a few days and managed some images while sitting on a bench on Filey front eating an ice cream. To walk along the front is to ‘promenade’

 

Photograph life itself !

I’d really like to get hold of this book but at £34.85 for the hardback cover I’ll wait a bit. Geoff Dyer’s an excellent writer on photography and his book The Ongoing Moment is a must read. I’m a particular fan of Winogrand after having completed an essay on him for my Masters Degree back then. I think it’s fair to say Winogrand is the Godfather of street photography. Certainly inspired me. I’d like to think he’d approve of this image below. Winogrand once said “when I’m photographing I see life, that’s what I deal with”. You don’t really need any more of an excuse to go out with your camera than that do you ?

 

The Invisible Man

 

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I asked this chap, “what’s all that about then?”. Dr Griffin is the Invisible Man in H G Wells’ classic tale of a man who manages to make himself, well invisible ! Not having read this classic tale I obviously didn’t know. I asked this chap buying an ice cream if I could make an image to which he replied, “No I’m invisible”. Make your mind up I thought to myself. Nevertheless I admired his intelligent humour although I suspect the joke would be lost on most people as it was on me.

Further along the High St I got chatting to this chap. I say chatting but actually he was talking to me.  He’s from Rumania and as friendly as he was I struggled to understand what he was telling me although I picked up the words ‘discrimination’, ‘IPCC’, ‘Chief of Police’ and one or two others of a similar vein. I smiled and told him it had been nice talking to him. It had. 

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