You have some good points there - I endorse the view on W. Eugene Smith to which one could add Don McCullin, Larry Burrows and a few others of the era. I also think not a lot of Saint Adams - as with much of todayīs work, great sterility with perfect technical control seems (to me) to be what many photographic genres are about. It ainīt enough to have a great subject: you have to do something with it to make it an experience other than that which just being there can give everybody else, even without a camera in their hands.
Painting and photography. I am happy to see you give the photographic discipline some respect, coming as you do from a painting background. I painted a bit too, as a teenager, visited lots of galleries etc. and quickly realised that it was one thing to buy Van Gogh postcards and copy them stroke for stroke, but quite another to go out into the great big yonder and do something original. You are right, too, that photography offers fewer options for creative control. A painter only has to include what he wants to - the photographerīs life is beset with trying to exclude, to get to the nub of something. That, paradoxically, is one reason why paper rolls help photography along yet, at the same time, hold it back. Think about it: it is then all up you and the subject - no background to help either mask or distract from the faults yet the perfect way to present wonderful works. An unforgiving bitch, you could say. And yes, I know about and use Photoshop, but thatīs not the same thing.
Many painters work from photographs. I have mixed views on this, having both a cousin and his son as professional painters, the father in Scotland and the son in Canada. I know the father uses his own photographs as references, but he was well through art college before he started using them and they did not become too great an influence on his art - they remain notes - his paintings look like paintings... Yet, I know others whose works look like copies of photographs simply because that is what their work becomes: no personality input, just a painted copy of their own mundane photograph. And you know what - I have friends who rave about how brilliant an artist so-and-so is and they buy that work. You will note that I use no names.
Mr Briot. I discovered him via this site and have read what he publishes here. Strangely, of all his work, that which appeals most to me goes back to some Parisian photographs he made around the time, I think, when he was trying out, and writing about, the Epson 800(?) printer, the one before the larger 1800 model. I understand the appeal to a European of the different scale of the US panorama, why he might have felt happier to work in that environment, particularly as his English is so good. At the same time, I often feel he would have found greater subjects much closer to home. But possibly not the markets. I must stress again, just to cover my ass against attacks, that there is NO criticism meant, simply an expression of how I think about what an individualīs work does for me, a harmless extrapolation of what I see on the monitor. In a way, Alainīs experience might be an extension of the UK thing in my own early pro life, where the standard belief was that you had to go to London or Manchester to make a living in photography. I would have done the same, except that my comfortable home in Scotland would have purchased a garage in London. In the event, I didnīt have to go anywhere.
Michaelīs work: I have often posted here in response to his home page shots, and if my old memory doesnīt betray me, I have mainly felt him to be far more exciting a photographer with subjects other than landscape. This is not to knock his landscapes, which are exemplary, but to say that he has so many other strings to his photographic bow that I am happy to see him use, and which arouse my interest more. Some of those sreet shots are finest contemporary art. It would be interesting to know if he has them for sale in his gallery and how they shift compared with his traditional landscapes.
Hell, one could write forever about photography and art and what it might or might not be - letīs just be glad they both exist, even sometimes within the same work.