I’ve been squinting through the details of Things As They Are: Photojournalism in Context Since 1955, another of those books I’ve been procrastinating at cracking. While uncredited to him, in a way this book was one of the last to fall under the shadow of John Szarkowski, who challenged the editors: “I share your hope… that your exhibition and book will be more than one more fat compendium of the pictures that editors expect photographers to make.” I think they’ve had some really admirable success in this book.
- There is nothing to deter you from making lots of photographs with your full heavy kit bag like an intense peeling sunburn across your shoulders and back.
- Spending time with your son being hurled down the “Pacific Spin” at the water park while being seriously sunburned across your shoulders and back is 100% worth the trouble.
- I thought I knew a lot about the California landscape, having driven through it and flown over it at varying altitudes countless times. Then I took the train from San Jose to San Diego.
- At night, it is better to fly.
- In Los Angeles, yes there really are people dumb enough to drive their boyfriend’s new car in between the rail-crossing barriers, panic when they see the 9:20 commuter coming toward them, decide to drive away in the opposite direction on the railroad tracks at high speed while calling said boyfriend on the celphone – until the damage to the auto suspension halts the car between streets, paralyzing all north/south rail traffic for an hour or two until an offroad-capable truck can come to haul away the car and an inspector ensure that she didn’t do any serious damage, which the police and boyfriend search for her since she fled the scene, in a less-than-optimal neighborhood, on foot.
When Gursky was here at SFMOMA a couple of years back, he commented that he had met the CEO of K-Mart, who also had a (probably “real” and pricey) print of “99 Cent Store” in his office. It was left ambiguous as to whether the exec felt that the photo criticized or glorified its subject… a little less ambiguous in Stallworth’s discovery?
I have been picking, one by one, through the many many MANY unread blog posts that have been steadily accruing in my bloglines feeds. The numbers have been intimidating. Alec Soth, 65 posts. Ed Kashi, 28 posts. Joerg Colberg, 158 posts…. even a long backlog of What the Duck. And that’s just the “Shoot Me” folder. It goes on and on. I haven’t even dared to get started on the flickr feeds.
These things creep up on me because I want to read in detail and my circumstances so rarely give me time and focus for anything more than a glance. And then the lists grow and keep growing while I’m trying to make time for it.
This post has been lingering half-written for months, I was reminded of it this morning, as I came across this post from Suzanne Revy, and prodded with the notion that in fact this little rant has been curdling in my mind for my, much longer.
Suzanne is one of an undeclared informal group, the APUG B&W Child Portrait Society, a club that includes photographers like Cheryl Jacobs in the U.S., Nicole Boenig-McGrade in Australia, & Heli Huhtala in Finland.
In all these cases we see similar sorts of classic iconography being used to similar means: to reveal, or seem to reveal, a private world in which children are fully involved and which adults can only glimpse. Even then, the contents of that private world remains hidden – only its existence is shown, and the rest is hidden through deep shadows and restrictive or soft focus (or even, as in Cheryl’s current title-webpage image, both shadows and soft focus combined with a wire mesh screen between the child and the photographer).