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Author Topic: Sacred cows of the past  (Read 859 times)

OmerV

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Sacred cows of the past
« on: May 18, 2018, 04:57:17 pm »

Like others here, as a photographer my eyes were opened by the work of folks such as Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Gary Winogrand, Elliot Erwitt, et al. But that was 40-60 years ago and as we all know, things change.

Surely there must be new torch bearers?

https://world-street.photography/en/
http://www.burnmyeye.org
https://www.lensculture.com
http://www.fractionmagazine.com
https://www.flickr.com/groups/failure/pool/

Anything else?

RSL

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2018, 06:50:16 pm »

How about people like Picasso, Omer? He's from the same era. Is his work obsolete sacred cow stuff?
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OmerV

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2018, 08:58:39 pm »

How about people like Picasso, Omer? He's from the same era. Is his work obsolete sacred cow stuff?

Picasso was a true great artist, and perhaps a genius though I'm not qualified to say so. But he did change, leaving behind styles, techniques, approaches and even vision as he continued working. I didn't say those photographers are obsolete, but the world changes and new photographers with new visions are born. Do you think Frank, Levitt, and all the rest would not want new and different photographic visions to come forth? Of course they would.

There's no going back. We either hang like bats or learn to hip-hop. Uh, okay, since most of us have hip implants we'll leave out the hopping.  8)

drmike

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2018, 03:26:36 am »

Thanks for the first two links, look interesting. I fell out of love with Lens Culture although I'm not sure why. It was around when they made a mess of the child rape issue (I think that was it), it wasn't so much the photograph but how badly they dealt with it I think.

Mike
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RSL

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2018, 07:35:52 am »

Picasso was a true great artist, and perhaps a genius though I'm not qualified to say so. But he did change, leaving behind styles, techniques, approaches and even vision as he continued working. I didn't say those photographers are obsolete, but the world changes and new photographers with new visions are born. Do you think Frank, Levitt, and all the rest would not want new and different photographic visions to come forth? Of course they would.

There's no going back. We either hang like bats or learn to hip-hop. Uh, okay, since most of us have hip implants we'll leave out the hopping.  8)

Omer, please tell me what you mean by "new and different photographic visions." Do you mean pictures of people dressed differently from the way they dressed in the days of those out-of-date photographers like HCB, Frank, etc., or do you mean movies made with a "still" camera, or do you mean digital pictures (that seem awfully similar to the film shots made by, say Levitt)?

Actually, how about an example of at least one of these new and different visions.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2018, 07:40:33 am by RSL »
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OmerV

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2018, 10:06:01 am »

Omer, please tell me what you mean by "new and different photographic visions." Do you mean pictures of people dressed differently from the way they dressed in the days of those out-of-date photographers like HCB, Frank, etc., or do you mean movies made with a "still" camera, or do you mean digital pictures (that seem awfully similar to the film shots made by, say Levitt)?

Actually, how about an example of at least one of these new and different visions.

Russ, I can't tell if you're joking or what. I mean, "...people dressed differently from the way they dressed..."? What?

But wanting an example of what I consider new and different is a good question. The truth is I can't be specific because I've given up on following individual photographers. I no longer buy books and in fact rarely re-read the dozens of picture monographs I have. All boxed up. I know the work of those past photographers and would rather see what contemporary photographers are doing. But it is not easy being a curator so I depend on photo web sites to do the leg work. Even then, it seems there's so much interesting new photography that browsing is mostly what I do.

Not what you're asking for I know, nevertheless it is evident that good and different photography is being done. But here's a thing; if you are predisposed to dismiss work made after, say the year 2000, then anything I point to won't matter. I hope I'm wrong and maybe I missed the time you pointed out a photographer that was born after 1980.

Still, here is yet another site that I like:

http://lenscratch.com/street-photography/


PS  Helen Levitt's color work is indeed terrific.

RSL

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2018, 10:29:08 am »

Omer, in other words "new and different photographic visions" was just a phrase. You didn't have anything specific in mind. Let's go all the way back to Ecclesiastes: "There is nothing new under the sun." And so it is with photography. Photography grabs what's out there in front of a camera, and though people of a different era dress differently and sometimes act differently, they're still people. Which is why good street photography from any era can grab you and give you a shake. Painting can do stuff that gets far, far away from reality, but good photography can't.

I'm certainly not predisposed to dismiss work made after the year 2000. Unless you're dead set against books, check out Street Photography Now, edited by Sohpie Howarth and Stephen McLaren. It came out in 2010. There are later ones on my shelves but I don't want to get up and go hunting for them right now. What I've been pointing out is that people like HCB, Levitt, Frank, defined street photography. There's plenty of stuff that came after them that's really good, but that's different from being one of the pioneers.
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OmerV

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2018, 12:11:53 pm »

Omer, in other words "new and different photographic visions" was just a phrase. You didn't have anything specific in mind. Let's go all the way back to Ecclesiastes: "There is nothing new under the sun." And so it is with photography. Photography grabs what's out there in front of a camera, and though people of a different era dress differently and sometimes act differently, they're still people. Which is why good street photography from any era can grab you and give you a shake. Painting can do stuff that gets far, far away from reality, but good photography can't.

I'm certainly not predisposed to dismiss work made after the year 2000. Unless you're dead set against books, check out Street Photography Now, edited by Sohpie Howarth and Stephen McLaren. It came out in 2010. There are later ones on my shelves but I don't want to get up and go hunting for them right now. What I've been pointing out is that people like HCB, Levitt, Frank, defined street photography. There's plenty of stuff that came after them that's really good, but that's different from being one of the pioneers.

Being a pioneer does not on its own infer timelessness, or eternal relevance:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/23/henri-cartier-bresson-the-decisive-moment-reissued-photography

I donít have the specificity that you want Russ, but beyond the safety of what is known, you seem as unspecific as you claim I am.

Though Iíve not read it, Iím sure the book Street Photography Now is good. Still, a book is limited and can get dated. Iím confident in saying that the web sites Iíve listed are that book and othersí equal, and certainly more up to date.  :D

Let go of your heroes Russ, they would surely understand.   8)




Rob C

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2018, 04:48:31 pm »

Russ, I can't tell if you're joking or what. I mean, "...people dressed differently from the way they dressed..."? What?

But wanting an example of what I consider new and different is a good question. The truth is I can't be specific because I've given up on following individual photographers. I no longer buy books and in fact rarely re-read the dozens of picture monographs I have. All boxed up. I know the work of those past photographers and would rather see what contemporary photographers are doing. But it is not easy being a curator so I depend on photo web sites to do the leg work. Even then, it seems there's so much interesting new photography that browsing is mostly what I do.

Not what you're asking for I know, nevertheless it is evident that good and different photography is being done. But here's a thing; if you are predisposed to dismiss work made after, say the year 2000, then anything I point to won't matter. I hope I'm wrong and maybe I missed the time you pointed out a photographer that was born after 1980.

Still, here is yet another site that I like:

http://lenscratch.com/street-photography/


PS  Helen Levitt's color work is indeed terrific.

That's a good link you gave us, Omer; thank's for that - I spent a good while looking at a few of the people featured.

Joel Meyerowitz sure manages to be a pretty ubiquitous hombre: can't go anywhere without bumping into his name, books or just pictures!

Thanks for the fresh window!

Rob

RSL

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2018, 03:51:46 pm »

Being a pioneer does not on its own infer timelessness, or eternal relevance:

I disagree, Omer. I think being a pioneer does, on its own, infer timelessness. It may even infer eternal relevance. I think, for instance, that Albert Bierstadt's early paintings of the Sierras remain timeless, just as I think Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel remains timeless, and holds something as close to eternal relevance as we'll experience in this world.

Photography? Well photography hasn't the cachet awarded to painting, because after all, all you have to do is raise the camera and go click. It's not like having to work for hours and days with a brush. But HCB created what we now call street photography, and if you actually study The Decisive Moment you'll see that many of his images are as timeless as Bierstadt's. People who see something "new and different" in photography evidently think that because in earlier photographs people dressed differently and perhaps acted differently, in those days humans were different, and therefore what we're seeing in photography nowadays is new and different.

What I often see in "new and different" street photography is (1) a failure to grasp the essence of what's in that early work, and (2) an attempt to go beyond photography's limitations in order to do "something new and different;" an attempt that falls flat. There are subtle messages about relationships between humans and humans and between humans and their environment in that early work that usually are missing in the stuff that's "new and different."

But it's not a dead loss. I also see plenty of street photography that grasps what HCB and his contemporaries taught.

I thought it was interesting that a number of people jumped on my "Telephone," which is pretty good street, but basically a visual pun. Everybody got the pun. It sort of jumps out and hits you. But nobody seems to have tumbled to the story in the picture I titled "More Real Street." That one doesn't jump out at you, but it's a hell of a lot more significant in terms of human interactions than "Telephone." That tells me something I guess I'd really rather not know.
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OmerV

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Re: Sacred cows of the past
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2018, 05:15:59 pm »

I disagree, Omer. I think being a pioneer does, on its own, infer timelessness. It may even infer eternal relevance. I think, for instance, that Albert Bierstadt's early paintings of the Sierras remain timeless, just as I think Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel remains timeless, and holds something as close to eternal relevance as we'll experience in this world.

Photography? Well photography hasn't the cachet awarded to painting, because after all, all you have to do is raise the camera and go click. It's not like having to work for hours and days with a brush. But HCB created what we now call street photography, and if you actually study The Decisive Moment you'll see that many of his images are as timeless as Bierstadt's. People who see something "new and different" in photography evidently think that because in earlier photographs people dressed differently and perhaps acted differently, in those days humans were different, and therefore what we're seeing in photography nowadays is new and different.

What I often see in "new and different" street photography is (1) a failure to grasp the essence of what's in that early work, and (2) an attempt to go beyond photography's limitations in order to do "something new and different;" an attempt that falls flat. There are subtle messages about relationships between humans and humans and between humans and their environment in that early work that usually are missing in the stuff that's "new and different."

But it's not a dead loss. I also see plenty of street photography that grasps what HCB and his contemporaries taught.

I thought it was interesting that a number of people jumped on my "Telephone," which is pretty good street, but basically a visual pun. Everybody got the pun. It sort of jumps out and hits you. But nobody seems to have tumbled to the story in the picture I titled "More Real Street." That one doesn't jump out at you, but it's a hell of a lot more significant in terms of human interactions than "Telephone." That tells me something I guess I'd really rather not know.

It seems we both agree that good photography is being done now. I didn't mean to debase Frank, Windogrand et al. I mean, God knows Helen Levitt may be my all time favorite photographer. And some of my heroes go back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. But I don't live in those times which means I had better accept what I see now or toss my gear. Look at Robert Frank's women; they just don't exist anymore. Levitt's street kids are ghosts of another universe. Obviously we still feel, but how and perhaps what we feel may be different.

Suggesting limitations is a banana peel. If painting is any indication, I think photography has many reincarnations yet.
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