But Rob, even if we where (re)producing clichés;
when I watch, let's say, Winograd or any master that size, it feels so fresh, powerfull and great that déjà vu does not matters, it is simply excellent.
Fred, Run through Robert Frank's The Americans
, and then get out Garry Winogrand's Figments from the Real World
and run through that. See any similarities? Garry was doing almost the same kind of thing Robert was doing, but he had a slightly different approach. The result is
fresh, even though there are similarities all over the place. Actually, if you go back and look at some of Walker Evans's street shots you realize that even Robert Frank was a latecomer to that particular approach, but the way Robert handled it was just enough different from the way Walker handled it to make Robert's photographs clearly Robert's.
As you can see, I just don't agree with Rob's insistence that everything has been done and therefore anything new will be a cliche. In a sense, since Cartier-Bresson no one has done anything on the street that's not derivative. But if you go back a bit further you realize that even Henri's stuff could be considered derivative of Andre Kertesz, yet, if you look at their photographs the differences jump out at you.
But somewhere, Russ pointed that if you do one exceptional keeper/year you are lucky, that is what happens most of the time, but these guys where/are able to produce many of those/ month...where is the secret?
You can learn the secret by counting the pictures in The Americans
and Figments from the Real World,
and then read the texts that tell you how many frames these guys actually shot to put together these books. When Garry Winogrand died he left behind something like 300,000 developed but unedited frames and 2,500 undeveloped rolls of exposed film. I don't think Robert was quite so wasteful, but he shot a hell of a lot of frames to put together The Americans.
You can't get this information from The Americans
itself, but you can get it from Looking In,
the catalogue for his latest show
I stand by my estimate of one exceptional keeper per year, at least for myself, but I'm not doing the kind of intensive shooting these two guys were doing. I'd be willing to bet that if you were to compare exceptional keepers to frames shot, I'm not far off from either of them. Why do I say this? Becuase I have an exceptionally high regard for my skills? Absolutely not. I say it because street photography is like fishing. You can have all the gear and all the skills, but you still have to be lucky enough to be there when the exceptional keeper (the fish) exposes itself to you.