Rob, You might like to read the article on Magnum that was in this morning's Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443884104577645882307821656.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs_comments%3D%26articleTabs%3Darticle. It fits right in with the discussion we've been having.
Thank you, Russ; as often happens, the best was kept to last, and I quote:
"That's not the fault of Magnum. What does photojournalism mean now when everybody with a cellphone can upload pictures for the world to see, or when surveillance cameras provide the most reliable way to document a crime?
More troubling is the fact that with the decline of the press and its demand for relevance, and the rise of the gallery where everything can sell, we have lost the tension between good and good-enough-to-show-the-world. When there were fewer photographers, Magnum admitted only the best to its club, and we trusted it to be our gatekeeper. Now we live in a world without Life magazine, but with too many pictures. What form of photojournalist will emerge from these conditions? Who can make images for the digital world that will show us something we can't see without them?
Ms. Panzer is a photography writer in New York."
So what happens next, indeed? I think, probably, not a lot.
With the end of the PJ magazines, with the only thing selling being paparazzo junk of nobody stars or unfortunate royals spied upon in their gilded cage, the future appears to have atrophied to the point of no return.
Television plays its own dominant rôle in the news game - I mean game - and unless one visits stations such as Aljazeera and has a longish look at news in depth, however biased or not it may actually be (who can tell, without being on the ground?) from an alternative perspective, truth, whatever that
might really be, is lost to the vested interests of politics and markets and spinners of all colours.
Magnum itself did a lot of pioneering work, as stated in the article, and I think it would be a mistake to discount its work with Hollywood. There, it also competed with Globe, who sported a very good line-up of specialists in the presentation of starlets and established actresses to the media. The thing is, those guys worked with the co-operation of the subject, with a fairly free hand it seems, and relationships were built that assured frequent collaborations, making and finding the best of what each could offer the other. Peters Basch and Gowland come to mind, as do Don Ornitz, Russ Meyer and many more whose names have now fled my fading grey matter, if their pictures have not.
When you think about those sorts of relationships, you find Marilyn coming to mind, working with André de Dienes, Eve Arnold, Avedon, Milton Greene, Bert Stern and various other NY shooters too, and those pictures have become iconic in their own right. They were shot in the tight relationships of one-to-one and with not a friggin’ ‘my people, your people’ interloper in sight. Which picture sets of the last few years have become memorable? Which little lady has become a legend due to the efforts of a dedicated snapper? It’s more likely to happen in the fashion world than the movies, Why? Because it’s all become orchestrated and controlled by PR companies and their pet photographers, the right-to-vet conditions and all the other rules that drive creativity and courage out of the equation. Safe, anodyne corporate imagery is all you ever get the chance to see. Go to the websites of some of the photographers of the moment, and their ‘celebrity’ galleries are all stereotypical, the one no more remarkable than the next. And I mean not just the photographs but the subjects as well as the shooters and, I’d guess stylists. What happened to the days when the girl would bring her own clothes and do her own face? You can’t get originality from a committee shoot! And if you can’t get originality, neither can you get immortality. How ironic, then, that personality pictures lack the one thing they should have in abundance: personality.
But this raises my pressure; I’d better say adios for the moment!