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Photogs / Photo Exhibits This is the place to discuss a particular Photographer (work, style, life, whatever), as well as to post Gallery and Museum Photo Exhibitions and your own impressions of them. As we march on in this new digital world, it is often too easy to forget about the visual importance of the photographic print, as well as their financial importance to the photographer. It is also interesting to remember that some guy named Gene Smith shot with lenses that many lens test reading "never had a picture published in their life" amateurs would turn up their their noses at, as being "unacceptable."

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Old 06-22-2010   #126
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I think Gerard Manly Hopkins's statement about the impact on him of poets considered to be greater than he is relevant to this discussion: He said they caused him to admire and do otherwise.
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Old 06-22-2010   #127
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I don't know, maybe Frank's work is to subtle or to personal in an age of 'in your face' photographers like Gilden such that the message is lost if it isn't beating you on the head. But I see 'The Americans' as a body of work that not only summed up a generation, but tidied up many strings in photography up until that point and then presented them in a way that took photography forward.

It has its weaker moments in retrospect, but who's work here wouldn't be re-edited fifty years on? So lets not dwell on niggling little things like that. Its the overall sequenced begining to end poetry of 'The Americans' that makes it stand well above other bodies of similar work. Its quiet, its loud, is sad, its happy, its cynical, its optimistic, its funny. And more importantly it was 'punk' photography that insighted hate, love, inspiration and castigation. In many ways 'The Americans' was the first body of work with attitude. And thats not something that can be said about many street photographers today, who can pull out of the bag a great individual image, but who's work leaves you feeling vacant because it has no opinion to offer, nothing that makes you think beyond the image about the people, about the politics, about the culture.

So, that is why 'The Americans' is such a good book, and Frank is such a good photographer. The only photographer that comes close is Koudelka, and is perhaps the greater of the two. Many others in the genre, Gilden for instance, have a style, have a body of work, can make people's eye's open with their virtuosity, but offer it as a meal that leaves you hungry again half an hour after finishing it. Or 'all tits and tinsel' in other words.

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Old 06-23-2010   #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akremer View Post
What I'm saying is, you don't have to like everything that you're told to like or taught. That's ridiculous. I understand that Frank's work is often used in university teachings, but that doesn't make me like it. Frank's got this historical significance but doesn't tickle my eyes right.

Please tell your teacher how much I enjoy your profile portrait.
Dear akremer,

I wasn't taught to like Frank's photographs: I admired him years before I cursed my career in photography.

The relevance of The Americans can make (and did) a great and for decades History of Photography teacher think if someone who photographs seriously, looks at those beautiful and deep images and says "they don't tickle my eyes right" possibly that person has his eyes wide shut or even will never understand what photography is about... Maybe there's something (a personal fear or any other thing) that made you classify that book as a not very interesting one to you... But you're in your right... If you want to keep that opinion or not...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 06-23-2010   #129
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It never occurred to me that someone wouldn't like The Americans.
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Old 06-24-2010   #130
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Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
... Its the overall sequenced begining to end poetry of 'The Americans' that makes it stand well above other bodies of similar work. Its quiet, its loud, is sad, its happy, its cynical, its optimistic, its funny. And more importantly it was 'punk' photography that insighted hate, love, inspiration and castigation. In many ways 'The Americans' was the first body of work with attitude.
Well said.

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And thats not something that can be said about many street photographers today, who can pull out of the bag a great individual image, but who's work leaves you feeling vacant because it has no opinion to offer, nothing that makes you think beyond the image about the people, about the politics, about the culture.
I offer John Brownlow's Human Traffic as a contemporary counterexample. I think that this level of talent, this kind of coherent and singular body of work, has been uncommon all along.

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So, that is why 'The Americans' is such a good book, and Frank is such a good photographer. The only photographer that comes close is Koudelka, and is perhaps the greater of the two. Many others in the genre, Gilden for instance, have a style, have a body of work, can make people's eye's open with their virtuosity, but offer it as a meal that leaves you hungry again half an hour after finishing it. Or 'all tits and tinsel' in other words.
Bullseye.
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Old 06-24-2010   #131
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I just read an interesting piece on The Americans over and American Suburb X - great read.
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Old 06-24-2010   #132
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Dear Doug,

I feel surprised: first a forum member gives an out of post theme opinion than can be easily considered confrontational or bad intentioned towards me (irony on my avatar), and then I invite him to really give an opinion on the avatar he talked about without any fine reason... Then today I see you did edit my words, but you left the other member's first and original confrontational comment... Wow! You even deleted my explanation on the avatar being a quick snap made by a girl... Why?

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Old 06-24-2010   #133
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The great thing about 'The Americans' is that it didn't exist before it was made!

New ideas don't stay that way.
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Old 06-24-2010   #134
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Hi akremer,

I was really curious to understand what you didn't say clearly about my avatar... No one's ever told me anything about that image, and I found it interesting you decided to make public that you consider it something I just can't guess... I'd enjoy hearing your opinion: no confrontation here... And about my teacher's words, they were a bit rough to some of us when we were students, but were his real words...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 06-25-2010   #135
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semilog View Post
I offer John Brownlow's Human Traffic as a contemporary counterexample. I think that this level of talent, this kind of coherent and singular body of work, has been uncommon all along.
Thanks for the link but to my eye these are just average street shots and in many the subject matter is too far away to be of interest; rather than any sense of intimacy (or alienation) you simply feel that the photographer was uncomfortable with what he was doing.

The problem that so many photographers have today is editing their work, possibly because it is just too easy to slap everything up on the web. The result is that viewers are subjected to endless collections of indifferent photographs in the possibility of finding one or two gems.

Sorry if this sounds overly negative but it's just my honest 2p worth...
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Old 06-25-2010   #136
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Quote:
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Thanks for the link but to my eye these are just average street shots and in many the subject matter is too far away to be of interest; rather than any sense of intimacy (or alienation) you simply feel that the photographer was uncomfortable with what he was doing....
While I agree on the average part... I don't agree on the too far away part. I guess you are assuming the people are the only subject matter, but I feel that he did the right thing by including their surroundings. I can tell he was thinking of using his whole frame and made the choice to include more than just a tightly cropped person or people.
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Old 06-25-2010   #137
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http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/012.html

http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/018.html

http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/011.html

http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/005.html

Random examples of what I was referring to. Looking through these again reinforces my feeling that they would benefit from some editing. Quite a few of the photos in these portfolios are at odd angles but for no particular reason. Yes, I know we all love Winogrand but his angles tend to enhance rather than detract...

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Old 06-25-2010   #138
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I like that last image alot. The eye contact through the crowd...
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Old 06-25-2010   #139
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/012.html

http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/018.html

http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/011.html

http://www.johnbrownlow.com/phb/port...pages/005.html

Random examples of what I was referring to. Looking through these again reinforces my feeling that they would benefit from some editing. Quite a few of the photos in these portfolios are at odd angles but for no particular reason. Yes, I know we all love Winogrand but his angles tend to enhance rather than detract...
I agree that these are average, but I'm just saying the person might not be the only subject.
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Old 06-25-2010   #140
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My personal beef about this book is that I thought it unbalanced - negative / pessimist - for a photo essay that ended up regarded as a sort of social survey of the USA of the time (whether or not it was intended as such from conception). Having said that, there are many great photos in it.
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Old 06-25-2010   #141
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There seems to be a bit of confusion between appreciation and 'liking'. The latter is not necessary for the former if one is able to view the work in the big picture. As long as one limits oneself to liking or disliking a work, or an artist, then one will have difficulty appreciating why and where they fit into the larger cultural scene.

Frank's work is important. Being on the cutting edge at the time of making always gives import to works of art. That the images hold up to the cynicism of time, gives The Americans power. Whether one 'likes' them or not.
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Old 06-25-2010   #142
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My personal beef about this book is that I thought it unbalanced - negative / pessimist - for a photo essay that ended up regarded as a sort of social survey of the USA of the time (whether or not it was intended as such from conception).
I don't think it was a complete social survey... I think the thing was that the photos showed another side of the US not seen in the media of the day. To be honest, I never even felt like it was that negative.
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Old 06-25-2010   #143
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I don't feel it negative either... I don't feel it's too critic with racism or other things either... I feel it simply descriptive... From a far position... I don't feel (much) sadness after looking at it... I feel it honest, clear, clean... Just like being there...

Cheers

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Old 06-25-2010   #144
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Quote:
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My personal beef about this book is that I thought it unbalanced - negative / pessimist - for a photo essay that ended up regarded as a sort of social survey of the USA of the time (whether or not it was intended as such from conception). Having said that, there are many great photos in it.
I believe it was intended as an antidote to the sentimental and simplistic 'Family of Man' type of photo essays that were popular at the time. It is a 'sort of social survey' as you say but Frank was by the mid '50s somewhat disillusioned with the United States -- he even got arrested in Arkansas as a suspected communist, just for taking pictures! His view is certainly that of an outsider but sometimes outsiders can see more than insiders...
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Old 06-25-2010   #145
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Well, I have always liked The Americans. I pick up the book a couple of times a year and find the intensity of Frank's vision always leaves me energized. The images themselves also take me out of myself, which is what I think art is supposed to do. Much of this has to do with personal taste of course, but a collective judgment over time that a body of work is worth encountering does hint at "greatness." Shakespeare may not be to your taste, for instance, but he has spoken to the generations. And Frank may not be to a particular viewer's taste, of course, but I think he has had something to say to viewers between the moments that he clicked his shutter and now.

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Old 06-25-2010   #146
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Mostly uninteresting stuff.
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Old 06-25-2010   #147
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I was watching the Human Traffic series unfold as it was originally posted to the web. At the time, as now, I thought it an extraordinary body of work. Mike Johnston -- a critic of much deeper experience than my own -- later agreed. (Reichman's assent -- unlike Johnston's -- certainly does not help the situation, but you take your intellectual allies where you can get them, I suppose.)

Doesn't mean those who think the work mediocre are wrong -- everyone's entitled to an opinion or three -- but it does mean that serious people can disagree, and that we casually dismiss a major body of work at our peril. The Americans, of course, is a case in point.
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Old 06-25-2010   #148
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Mostly uninteresting stuff.
Uh huh. When you take a picture this iconic, could you please post it?

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Last edited by semilog : 06-25-2010 at 23:32.
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