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Ralph Gibson article in WIRED about 'going digital'
Old 01-15-2019   #1
Richard G
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Ralph Gibson article in WIRED about 'going digital'

https://www.wired.com/story/ralph-gi...&utm_source=nl
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Old 01-15-2019   #2
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These are the kinds of things that confuse me. If I ran across those images on Instagram I'd think, ok, well done, he should offer postcards on Etsy along with the 54,000 other people doing those kind of shots.

But- it is Ralph Gibson who, I think, deserves his reputation. He's done some great work over the years. So now it's more like seeing a PBS reunion show of, oh, The Beach Boys. It reminds me of another time but it isn't that time any more. I'm sure Leica has made it worth his while.
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Old 01-15-2019   #3
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“I’m not interested in making my images look like analog silver gelatin. Right off the bat I didn't care for that. If I had wanted an analog look, I would've stayed with my film.”

At this particular moment in the photography continuum I think this is an important point, if you go digital don't try to make it look analog. Make the medium work for you.
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Old 01-15-2019   #4
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If these images are representative of what a digital Leica did to Mr Gibson's art, I think he should go back to film. ASAP.
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Old 01-15-2019   #5
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Images like those are great even with mobile phone. No Leica needed.
So, Pinkhasov beat him on this and while ago.
Well, never late for Gibson, just too late for the statement.
It is kind of late Reznick statement.
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Old 01-15-2019   #6
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I always get the strong sense that most of these film era masters of the art made stronger work on film. There are exceptions - David Alan Harvey and Christopher Anderson who both seem to be able to mould whatever medium they're using perfectly around their content.
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Old 01-15-2019   #7
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The last two dyptychs are really good.
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Old 01-15-2019   #8
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Probably didn't want to be sniffin chemicals anymore...
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Old 01-15-2019   #9
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It is interesting that he favours the 135mm lens. There is a youtube or vimeo video of him out with one, looking at detail on the street. I use it occasionally but with a SHOOC finder for framing.
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Old 01-15-2019   #10
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I love his old work, not really feeling his new stuff.

Also, this feels entirely like an advertorial. (because I'm pretty sure it is)

Leica Marketing Representative:
"Hey Gibson! Be sure to mention how much you don't miss film so we can sell more digital M cameras. Do it or we'll take away your sponsorship."
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Old 01-15-2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gavinlg View Post
I always get the strong sense that most of these film era masters of the art made stronger work on film. There are exceptions - David Alan Harvey and Christopher Anderson who both seem to be able to mould whatever medium they're using perfectly around their content.
I feel like Martin Parr is one of the few photographers from that era that still continue to produce great work even on a digital medium. OH and Jeff Mermelstein! He's really embraced it.
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Old 01-15-2019   #12
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Speaking of which, and I'm sorry to be talking to myself here.
But does anyone else get the feeling that some of the old Magnum guys are just "phoning it in" these days? The Magnum "2018 Pictures of the Year" gallery was one of the most disappointing galleries I've seen in a long while. I was super shocked at how much mediocrity it contained. Especially knowing how capable of producing better work the people in it were.
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Old 01-16-2019   #13
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The man is a master but this stuff is fluff. No better than about a million instagram timelines. Hence, Leica Gallery. I notice MoMA gave it a pass. Lee Friedlander on the other hand ...
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Old 01-16-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FalseDigital View Post
Speaking of which, and I'm sorry to be talking to myself here.
But does anyone else get the feeling that some of the old Magnum guys are just "phoning it in" these days? The Magnum "2018 Pictures of the Year" gallery was one of the most disappointing galleries I've seen in a long while. I was super shocked at how much mediocrity it contained. Especially knowing how capable of producing better work the people in it were.

Agree . I`ve stopped looking at all the Magnum feeds on social media.
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Old 01-16-2019   #15
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Originally Posted by PunkFunkDunk View Post
The man is a master but this stuff is fluff. No better than about a million instagram timelines. Hence, Leica Gallery. I notice MoMA gave it a pass. Lee Friedlander on the other hand ...
Yep . couldn`t care less if its film or digital but there is nothing special about those shots.
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Old 01-16-2019   #16
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Yes, I'm not sure the medium is even a factor. Gibson's best work is long behind him. It happens with many artists (in all fields) – in fact, I think those who produce as good or better work later in their careers are very much an exception.
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Old 01-16-2019   #17
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"It’s faster: Whereas back in the day, he might have made 15 signable works in a year, he now completes a full book in the same span."

This. A good picture per month is a golden standard, no matter film or digital.
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Old 01-16-2019   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FalseDigital View Post
Speaking of which, and I'm sorry to be talking to myself here.
But does anyone else get the feeling that some of the old Magnum guys are just "phoning it in" these days? The Magnum "2018 Pictures of the Year" gallery was one of the most disappointing galleries I've seen in a long while. I was super shocked at how much mediocrity it contained. Especially knowing how capable of producing better work the people in it were.
An interesting perspective. With that said I wouldn't completely rule any of them out as all members have proven to be exemplary photographers in my eyes.

Let's say a friend of a friend has a few friends in VII, Magnum blah blah blah. He/she wants you to know that these folks arent much different than a wire photographer or image banks/archive hustler. Volumne is key to making the bills. Add to that, as a full member, you also help keep the agency afloat financialy and in some cases, pay a large sum into the agency/collective/whatever to join.

Soooo, are they all portfolio candidates? No. Sometimes you do the work, submit the files and move on. Often, it is whole other group of people/person who decides what makes it to print/web. Portfolio material is rare. Sometimes a frame or two a year. Paying the bills material comes in volumne.
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Old 01-16-2019   #19
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I remember Gibson offering advice to not copy others, and he went on to say he doesn't want to copy himself. I see the dilemma and the need to develop, but many photographers hit their peak and then gradually go down hill. The change in direction doesn't always work.
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Old 01-16-2019   #20
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I admire this man. At age 83 he is still putting out his work.
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Old 01-16-2019   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FalseDigital View Post
Speaking of which, and I'm sorry to be talking to myself here.
But does anyone else get the feeling that some of the old Magnum guys are just "phoning it in" these days? The Magnum "2018 Pictures of the Year" gallery was one of the most disappointing galleries I've seen in a long while. I was super shocked at how much mediocrity it contained. Especially knowing how capable of producing better work the people in it were.
I recently purchased Magnum contacts book. Looking at images only and keep on asking myself - why is it special? I think, it is time to put reading glasses on and find out. It is huge book with tiny text.
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Old 01-16-2019   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gavinlg View Post
I always get the strong sense that most of these film era masters of the art made stronger work on film. There are exceptions - David Alan Harvey and Christopher Anderson who both seem to be able to mould whatever medium they're using perfectly around their content.

I had the same feeling looking at some recent digital photos by Martin Parr. Very uninspiring. But then again, most people do their best work when they're young, whether they're photographers, musicians, sculptors, writers or scientists; so maybe it's just an age thing.

-----------------------

As Irvine Welsh put it in 'Trainspotting'...


Sick Boy: It's certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life.
Mark: What do you mean?
Sick Boy: Well, at one time, you've got it, and then you lose it, and it's gone forever. All walks of life: George Best, for example. Had it, lost it. Or David Bowie, or Lou Reed.
Mark: Lou Reed, some of his solo stuff's not bad.
Sick Boy: No, it's not bad, but it's not great either. And in your heart you kind of know that although it sounds all right, it's actually just sh*te.
Mark: So who else?
Sick Boy: Charlie Nicholas, David Niven, Malcolm McLaren, Elvis Presley . . .
Mark: OK, OK, so what's the point you're trying to make?
Sick Boy: All I'm trying to do, Mark, is help you understand that The Name of The Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.
Mark: What about The Untouchables?
Sick Boy: I don't rate that at all.
Mark: Despite the Academy Award?
Sick Boy: That means F**k all. It's a sympathy vote.
Mark: Right. So we all get old and then we can't hack it anymore. Is that it?
Sick Boy: Yeah.
Mark: That's your theory?
Sick Boy: Yeah. Beautifully f***ing illustrated.
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Old 01-16-2019   #23
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The photos in Gibson's "Mono" were pretty strong, in my opinion. I think the book was done in 2013 with a Leica Monochrome camera. Akin to his work from the 1970's. I've never been a fan of his color photography. When he shoots color, he finds the same subjects as he shoots in B&W. They don't translate well as color.

I agree about the Magnum Pictures of the Year being weak.
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Old 01-16-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FujiLove View Post
I had the same feeling looking at some recent digital photos by Martin Parr. Very uninspiring.
Also Stephen Shore. I went to his show at MoMA. The earlier work is fantastic; the later part lacked everything that made the earlier work interesting IMO, though I don't know if it is really about digital/analog or simply his moving into different directions and the influence of digital imaging and Instagram on him.

I think social media can be a negative influence on quality, since it favors simple pictures that are understandable and look striking as miniatures (on cell screens).
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Old 01-16-2019   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FujiLove View Post
I had the same feeling looking at some recent digital photos by Martin Parr. Very uninspiring. But then again, most people do their best work when they're young, whether they're photographers, musicians, sculptors, writers or scientists; so maybe it's just an age thing.

-----------------------

As Irvine Welsh put it in 'Trainspotting'...


Sick Boy: It's certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life.
Mark: What do you mean?
Sick Boy: Well, at one time, you've got it, and then you lose it, and it's gone forever. All walks of life: George Best, for example. Had it, lost it. Or David Bowie, or Lou Reed.
Mark: Lou Reed, some of his solo stuff's not bad.
Sick Boy: No, it's not bad, but it's not great either. And in your heart you kind of know that although it sounds all right, it's actually just sh*te.
Mark: So who else?
Sick Boy: Charlie Nicholas, David Niven, Malcolm McLaren, Elvis Presley . . .
Mark: OK, OK, so what's the point you're trying to make?
Sick Boy: All I'm trying to do, Mark, is help you understand that The Name of The Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.
Mark: What about The Untouchables?
Sick Boy: I don't rate that at all.
Mark: Despite the Academy Award?
Sick Boy: That means F**k all. It's a sympathy vote.
Mark: Right. So we all get old and then we can't hack it anymore. Is that it?
Sick Boy: Yeah.
Mark: That's your theory?
Sick Boy: Yeah. Beautifully f***ing illustrated.

OK. And despite Bach and the guy who cracked some centuries old maths problem recently in the time after his retirement, Im going to learn from this post and finally see Trainspotting.
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Old 01-16-2019   #26
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Originally Posted by emraphoto View Post
An interesting perspective. With that said I wouldn't completely rule any of them out as all members have proven to be exemplary photographers in my eyes.

Let's say a friend of a friend has a few friends in VII, Magnum blah blah blah. He/she wants you to know that these folks arent much different than a wire photographer or image banks/archive hustler. Volumne is key to making the bills. Add to that, as a full member, you also help keep the agency afloat financialy and in some cases, pay a large sum into the agency/collective/whatever to join.

Soooo, are they all portfolio candidates? No. Sometimes you do the work, submit the files and move on. Often, it is whole other group of people/person who decides what makes it to print/web. Portfolio material is rare. Sometimes a frame or two a year. Paying the bills material comes in volumne.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Wijninga View Post
I admire this man. At 83 he is still putting out his work.

Thanks for the practical perspectives, fully agree. As I've aged, I admire long-haul persistence at one's craft more than critical acclaim, as the latter is usually fleeting and shallow. Keep on, Mr. Gibson.
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Old 01-16-2019   #27
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"Gibson took the camera outside, pointed it at a manhole cover and snapped a photo. Just as he did, a bicycle zipped by, casting dramatic, spoked shadows across the pavement within the frame."

When pigs fly.

There's no way a photographer who has mastered the art of seeing as Ralph Gibson has, would be caught with an image of a manhole cover that just happen to have this bicycle shadow appearing in it. He saw what the image would be and waited for the moment where the bicycle shadow would be where he wanted it.

After reading that ridiculous statement, I lost total interest in the article.

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Old 01-16-2019   #28
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Originally Posted by olifaunt View Post
Also Stephen Shore. I went to his show at MoMA. The earlier work is fantastic; the later part lacked everything that made the earlier work interesting IMO, though I don't know if it is really about digital/analog or simply his moving into different directions and the influence of digital imaging and Instagram on him.

I think social media can be a negative influence on quality, since it favors simple pictures that are understandable and look striking as miniatures (on cell screens).
Totally agree with the Social Media observation. It (SM) has a profound effect on photography in ways we have yet to realize (yes professor obvious).

One of those effects is a shift towards large scale palatability. Clicks equals $.
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Old 01-16-2019   #29
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Nowhere near his earlier analog work, IMO.
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Old 01-16-2019   #30
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The last two dyptychs are really good.
Totally agree and the work still looks like Gibson's work. I would also add that 2 & 3 are very Gibson like photographs. And I would argue that many now are taking photographs trying to emulate Gibson's work not the other way around.
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Old 01-16-2019   #31
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OK. And despite Bach and the guy who cracked some centuries old maths problem recently in the time after his retirement, I’m going to learn from this post and finally see Trainspotting.

Yes, my comment is a huge generalisation, but applies to most people. Unfortunately you can't beat a youthful brain.


Trainspotting: great film, greater book. The problem with the book is, like most of Welsh's work, it's written in a Scottish accent and uses a lot of slang which can make it difficult if you don't have an 'ear' for it. Both highly recommended though.
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Old 01-16-2019   #32
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After reading that ridiculous statement, I lost total interest in the article.
At 677 words, it hardly qualifies as an article.
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Old 01-16-2019   #33
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Ralph Gibson went digital because Leica gave him a special edition Monochome and a pile of money to promote their digital cameras. He now has a show whose raison d'etre is that the images are digital, hence the title.
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Old 01-16-2019   #34
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Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
Ralph Gibson went digital because Leica gave him a special edition Monochome and a pile of money to promote their digital cameras. He now has a show whose raison d'etre is that the images are digital, hence the title.

In fairness to him, if Leica gave me a load of free gear and a ton of money I'd also shoot digital.


Kidding, obviously.
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Old 01-16-2019   #35
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In fairness to him, if Leica gave me a load of free gear and a ton of money I'd also shoot digital. Kidding, obviously.
I am thinking of calling my next show Digital Images. At least it would give me something to talk about. No one ask me if my images were film or digital the last time around.
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Old 01-16-2019   #36
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Calling this an 'article' is a bit of a stretch. It's more like a pair of tweets.
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Old 01-16-2019   #37
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Per the age thing: It's pretty common for authors to produce their greatest work when they're older, and I can name more than a handful of painters who did the same.

So it is pretty common for artists to improve with age. If we don't see many photographers doing their best work when they're older, I wonder why that's the case...
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Old 01-16-2019   #38
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I admire this man. At age 83 he is still putting out his work.

This.


...& another 5 characters or so...
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Old 01-16-2019   #39
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Totally agree and the work still looks like Gibson's work. I would also add that 2 & 3 are very Gibson like photographs. And I would argue that many now are taking photographs trying to emulate Gibson's work not the other way around.
Yes, I liked 2 and 3 too.

I love WIRED magazine. I often heard about it when some new tech thing was mentioned in our local paper, "according to WIRED magazine." Eventually I found it by chance on the shelf in the newsagency at work. The graphics and layout are great and the articles are fantastic, often without fear of favour, and long enough to get the message across. The recent piece on John Allison's work for the Nobel Prize in Medicine was a terrific detective story, immunology primer and analysis of success in science. https://www.wired.com/story/meet-jim...-breakthrough/

Sure this is more of a "couple of tweets" but the point is Ralph Gibson is in WIRED. That says a lot for him and for WIRED. It's interesting. We're a tough school, which is great. Ralph Gibson no doubt has perspective on who he now is and where he is at. What is he to do? Leica want to make a silver Monochrom with his signature on it. Should he have said no? He wants to shoot a 135mm focal length on a digital rangefinder or pair his Monochrom with the DR Summicron, for the close range: are we going to learn nothing from knowing about that?

Good someone mentioned writers and painters doing good work into old age. Composers too - Richard Strauss for one. One of the advantages of youth is uninterrupted time and boundless energy. My thirties and early forties were consumed by work and family. I had more ideas in my field towards 50 and in my early 50s. Now I'm working too hard again on the core work of my work to get all but a couple of those ideas to go anywhere. I am up before dawn to write something; but I am doing this post first...
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Old 01-16-2019   #40
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Quote:
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Speaking of which, and I'm sorry to be talking to myself here.
But does anyone else get the feeling that some of the old Magnum guys are just "phoning it in" these days? The Magnum "2018 Pictures of the Year" gallery was one of the most disappointing galleries I've seen in a long while. I was super shocked at how much mediocrity it contained. Especially knowing how capable of producing better work the people in it were.
The old guys and gals (and I'm as old as they are) were the best of their age, during a time when photography was still relatively fresh and new paths presented themselves. Many made contacts by assisting earlier famous photographers. They still rose to the top of their era.

But, there's nothing difficult about photography, especially if you have the "eye" for composing in the viewfinder, which many people do. Many of the revered iconic images would not fare well in any blind competition where the name of the artist was not known. Technical excellence, while not everything, was certainly lacking in many of these images. Digital and the internet has devalued most art and its ubiquity devalues it even further.

Anyway, I give these pioneers credit for being on top of their game when it mattered.
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