Garry Winogrand Interview

One of the most memorable things about studying photography at college was being introduced to work that I hadn’t come across before. During one crit, I was told to go and look at the work of Garry Winogrand and in particular the book ‘Public Relations’….

For me this was one of those special moments when suddenly the lights go on. At the time there were a couple of agencies working for the political/trade union press in the UK. There were some nice images being produced, but it was hard to differentiate one photographer from another (This may have been due to the fact that most of the photographers working in this area were either working for or had worked for the ‘Report’ agency run by Simon Guttman).

The Garry Winogrand images blew me away, there was a style and humour to them that made them unique to him. If you are interested in in finding out more about Garry Winogand there are a couple of resources that I recently found on the internet:

The first is an interview with him, where he discusses his unique approach to making images: http://www.jimarnold.org/downloads/winogrand/flash/

Another is an article by OC Garza who studied with Winogrand:
http://www.ocgarzaphotography.com/documents/ClassTimewithGarryWinograndlink.pdf

Photographer Arnold Newman Dies at 88

Arnold Newman the celebrated portrait photographer died last week. He was famous for environmental portraiture (capturing the subject in a setting reflective of his or her vocation and personal creativity). There is a gallery of his work here.

His approach to portraiture is best summed up in his own words: “A preoccupation with abstraction, combined with an interest in the documentation of people in their natural surroundings, was the basis upon which I built my approach to portraiture. The portrait of a personality must be as complete as we can make it. The physical image of the subject and the personality traits that image reflects are the most important aspects, but alone they are not enough…We must also show the subject’s relationship to his world either by fact or by graphic symbolism. The photographer’s visual approach must weld these ideas into an organic whole, and the photographic image produced must create an atmosphere which reflects our impressions of the whole.”

There is an excellent article about him and interview on the Digital Journalist site.

360 Social Documentary Panoramas

Mickael Therer, is a Belgium photographer that has been taking VR pictures in Mali of Médecins Sans Frontières operations. VR pictures are 360 degree panoramas. The technique involves taking a series of still images with a digital stills camera and then using software to stitch the whole lot together. The final piece can be viewed online using the QuickTime player.

Whilst a lot of people use the technique for landscapes, what sets Mickael’s work apart is that he is using it for social documentary work. With some of his images he also includes sound files to enhance to ‘reality’ of the scenes. Having experimented with the technique myself I am aware of how much skill and effort has been put into this work. Check out his site here.

Henri Cartier-Bresson A Biography

Over the holiday period I read Pierre Assouline’s biography of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Whilst it was an interesting read, I still finished feeling slightly disappointed. Henri Cartier-Bresson was obviously one of the great photographers of the twentieth century and I was interested in finding out more about him as a person. Whist the book gives a good chronological account of his life and discuses his early artistic influences, I never felt we were getting inside the photographer.

HCB as he has come to be known, is a figure steeped in legend and myth. I was hoping to understand why he took pictures, to learn more about his politics and philosophies. Whilst these areas are looked at, it is only on a superficial level. It could almost be summed up with ‘he had lefty sympathies and once read ‘Zen and the Art of Archery’.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was obviously a very private person, and so just getting access to him and his archives was a feat in itself. For me the author seems to be only a conduit for what HCB wants us to know.  His private and family life is dealt with in a very fleeting way, as is his relationship with fellow photographers at Magnum.

The author is very poetic about some of Cartier-Bresson’s images, he tries to understand how they were taken. He even goes onto say that he was unclassifiable as a photographer because ‘he created his own genre, part head, part eye, part heart all lined up and on a level’. But photographers reading the book will understand many of the thought processes that HCB went through. It wasn’t some divine/magical inspiration, but the product of many things, especially the person that he was and what he had to say – unfortunately these are the areas that I found missing from the book.

A short biography can be found on Wikipedia.