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Author Topic: John Myers  (Read 474 times)

drmike

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John Myers
« on: January 10, 2019, 03:28:06 am »

John Myers is not a photographer I had ever heard of and his active period seems to have been quite short in the 70'2 and 80's. He seems to have been 'discovered' quite recently in his early 70's and I think has had two books published recently. The first one cost £75 and sold out, his second which he spoke about in a recent talk I attended costs £150 and of a run of 1,000 it seems 780 were sold in advance. They are beautiful books.

These photographs are what he calls his boring photographs. Almost no people, no drama, flat lighting and perfect composition. All but very few taken within a mile of his some in Stourbridge in the UK which is frankly a post industrial dump. My accountant has offices there and I am always amazed how awful it is.

His style is the total antithesis of some like Steve McCurry and it was Ivo's thread that prompted me to post Ivo on Steve and John is quite deliberately different. It was a very illuminating and inspiring talk. He was even a little cheeky towards his host Martin Parr remarking that most artists develop a winning formula and then are reluctant to stray too far from that.

Take a look at some of his images here and go to the boring ones not the portraits (and the televisions and substations). Until the books were published he hadn't even printed some of the negatives simply developed them and assessed the 5x4 negatives and basically thought - job well done.

Nice guy as well.

Mike
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Ivophoto

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Re: John Myers
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 06:01:26 am »

John Myers is not a photographer I had ever heard of and his active period seems to have been quite short in the 70'2 and 80's. He seems to have been 'discovered' quite recently in his early 70's and I think has had two books published recently. The first one cost £75 and sold out, his second which he spoke about in a recent talk I attended costs £150 and of a run of 1,000 it seems 780 were sold in advance. They are beautiful books.

These photographs are what he calls his boring photographs. Almost no people, no drama, flat lighting and perfect composition. All but very few taken within a mile of his some in Stourbridge in the UK which is frankly a post industrial dump. My accountant has offices there and I am always amazed how awful it is.

His style is the total antithesis of some like Steve McCurry and it was Ivo's thread that prompted me to post Ivo on Steve and John is quite deliberately different. It was a very illuminating and inspiring talk. He was even a little cheeky towards his host Martin Parr remarking that most artists develop a winning formula and then are reluctant to stray too far from that.

Take a look at some of his images here and go to the boring ones not the portraits (and the televisions and substations). Until the books were published he hadn't even printed some of the negatives simply developed them and assessed the 5x4 negatives and basically thought - job well done.

Nice guy as well.

Mike

Because I like purely observational photography, I find this enjoyable to look at. Indeed, the boring section is nice to look at. No intellectual masturbation, just observation and registration. Things can and may be simple.

Strange how these images breath the era of making, not so by the subject, but by technical ‘quality’, or am I the only one who think to see it.

Tx for the link.
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drmike

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Re: John Myers
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 06:09:33 am »

I think John was following your line of thought. He is from a fine art background being a trained sculptor.

The images were all taken on a 5x4 Gandolfi always on a tripod and he clearly mastered the art or science of exposure and development which was quite impressive given he only took up photography in 1972 and some of these images are from 1973. He seemed to have little or no interest in sharing them at the time which seems odd but he had a full time post at Stourbridge College in the Arts department which given the heavy industrial background of Stourbridge might have been quite a challenge.

I agree with you the quality of using large format negatives can shine through. I'm guessing that these negative must have been digitised for publication but equally I'm guessing to a very high standard.

I can never quite get these guys who use film and then scan the negative to quite modest resolution. Seems to me you throw away that subtlety of tonal gradation the wet process maintains. But as ever what do I know?

Mike
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: John Myers
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 06:31:05 am »

What a pleasure to look at these I images. Thanks for posting
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Commercial photography is 10% inspiration and 90% moving furniture around.

Rob C

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Re: John Myers
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 02:57:04 pm »

I thought the quality of the light in some of the portraits was rather good, also perhaps partly due to the tonality that film gives. That said, at tiny sizes as per my iPad, most things manage reasonable tones if the images have been finished competently enough.

I have ever maintained that film photography is easy to grasp as technique; why shouldn't the man be capable of making reasonable pictures after a few months?

Regarding the buildings etc. i get the feeling of a man with a camera looking for a subject. I just don't understand the appeal of them.

At least with some of the American takes on suburbia, better yet dead suburbia, there is a sense of inevitable anticlimax that much contemporary human activity ends up producing. A while ago somebody - was it Robert R.? - gave us a link to one such shooter's stuff with dead malls and parking lots; sounds unlikely, but it provided very deep photography.

You know, I feel this analogy in music, where one can dream romantic dreams around songs of Route 66 that would never work with our own M6: we lack the scale and the history of a specific culture to ring those bells. I guess I feel our hero has the same bad luck of location.

Rob

drmike

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Re: John Myers
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2019, 02:59:37 am »

John was adamant that his work was not documentary and he suggested that in most works there are three players; the artist/photographer, the subject (which need not be a person it can be a substation) and the viewer.

I think we can agree that Lang for example always had half an eye on satisfying the viewer with evocative images.

John said that in most of his boring images he was trying to reduce this to two - the photographer and the subject and he gave no thought to the viewer who you often feel is there looking over your shoulder. Frankly I got a little lost.

But I do understand his assertion that he was not documenting his locality, not trying to say what a dreary place it was (and remains), deliberately choosing the least controversial viewpoint at eye level, choosing flat lighting. However, he also pretty much denied that he wanted people to simply enjoy the images as shape and form. It seems it was more complex than that.

When I try to explain it then it comes across as bullshit but when he spoke it made better sense and he did struggle to explain his intentions.

Mike

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