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« civilized ku # 2161 ~ mysterious | Main | the life in my kitchen* ~ imagination »

civilized ku # 2160 ~ READ BEFORE OPENING

Canada War Museum ~ Ottawa, CA • click to embiggenFeatured Comment: Sven W (no link provided) asked/wrote:

"Do you think it was curiosity that drove Winogrand? From reading about the guy, he strikes me as pessimist and an obsessive-compulsive. A lot of his photographic negatives where neither developed nor printed [by him], so how much did he care about the images?"

my response: In consideration of the following quotes from Garry Winogrand, I think it would reasonable to state that he did care about his pictures:

The photo is a thing in itself. And that's what still photography is all about....I photograph what interests me all the time. I live with the pictures to see what that thing looks like photographed...The photograph should be more interesting or more beautiful than what was photographed.

Why would anyone who doesn't care about his pictures live with them? Not to mention the fact that, as he stated, "a photo is a thing in itself" - a thing, aka: a print, which illustrates how a "thing looks photographed". Which is, as he believed, "what still photography is all about". At the very least, I believe it can be reasonably assumed that Winogrand was indeed curious about how thing looked photographed. And consequently, without it being too much of a stretch, he "cared" about his pictures as well.

IMO, Winogrand, like any other great artist, was also most undoubtedly "obsessive-compulsive" about his art and the making thereof. Once again from the preceding quote, "I photograph what interests me all the time".

In that statement, I believe the expressed sentiment would be true of almost any truly great artist, photography division most definitely included. I believe that to be true because most great artists, if not all great artists, are driven, sometimes to extremes, to their task of the making of their art. Hell, Leonardo da Vinci went to the extreme of dissecting corpses in the pursuit of his art - an activity that was rather frowned upon at the time.

In any event, Winogrand, back in 1974, made one of the best and most concise statements about the medium of photography and its apparatus:

What I write here is a description of what I have come to understand about photography, from photographing and from looking at photographs. A work of art is that thing whose form and content are organic to the tools and materials that made it. Still photography is a chemical, mechanical process. Literal description or the illusion of literal description, is what the tools and materials of still photography do better than any other graphic medium. A still photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how a camera saw a piece of time and space. Understanding this, one can postulate the following theorem: Anything and all things are photographable. A photograph can only look like how the camera saw what was photographed. Or, how the camera saw the piece of time and space is responsible for how the photograph looks. Therefore, a photograph can look any way. Or, there's no way a photograph has to look (beyond being an illusion of a literal description). Or, there are no external or abstract or preconceived rules of design that can apply to still photographs. I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.

Many a "serious" amateur would do well to add that quote, on a laminated index card, to his/her camera bag. Better yet, taped to the outside top of the bag with the admonition to "READ BEFORE OPENING" writ large thereon.

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