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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Garry Winogrand 1977 interview now on line
Old 05-11-2014   #1
Bob Michaels
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Garry Winogrand 1977 interview now on line

The interview that Garry Winogrand did with a class at Rice University in 1977 has now been posted on line at the National Gallery of Art website. The 16 minutes is a great indication of how Winogrand interpreted his own photography.

Winogrand would not have been able to cut it here at RFF as he never mentioned cameras, lenses, or film and was quite dismissive about exposure. But it is interesting to hear the views of someone who only cared about photographs.
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Old 05-11-2014   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
The interview that Garry Winogrand did with a class at Rice University in 1977 has now been posted on line at the National Gallery of Art website. The 16 minutes is a great indication of how Winogrand interpreted his own photography.

Winogrand would not have been able to cut it here at RFF as he never mentioned cameras, lenses, or film and was quite dismissive about exposure. But it is interesting to hear the views of someone who only cared about photographs.
Thanks for posting this, Bob.
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Old 05-11-2014   #3
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I've seen both Winogrands & Franks photo of the statue in question & often wondered what Garry thought of Franks photo compared with his. Myself, I chocked it up to Garry being a much younger, more novice photographer. Franks photo was more storytelling in my view. Apparently Garry agreed that Frank made the better photograph. Good stuff here Bob...thanks.
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Old 05-11-2014   #4
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Thanks for posting!

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Old 05-11-2014   #5
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Full Interview... Quite long really :0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP6lP3UaP24
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Old 05-11-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
The interview that Garry Winogrand did with a class at Rice University in 1977 has now been posted on line at the National Gallery of Art website. The 16 minutes is a great indication of how Winogrand interpreted his own photography.

Winogrand would not have been able to cut it here at RFF as he never mentioned cameras, lenses, or film and was quite dismissive about exposure. But it is interesting to hear the views of someone who only cared about photographs.
Bob, its people like you is why I keep returning to this site...Thank you so much for posting this. There is no photographer like Winogrand, none in my opinion he is as good as it gets in the type of photography he does..Very few match him, even fewer are better then him..

Thanks again,
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Old 05-11-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post

Winogrand would not have been able to cut it here at RFF as he never mentioned cameras, lenses, or film and was quite dismissive about exposure. But it is interesting to hear the views of someone who only cared about photographs.
If you watch the entire video, you'll see that he actually does discuss rangefinder vs. slr cameras a bit...just a bit.
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Old 05-11-2014   #8
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Have you ever seen this? About a minute and a half or less in he talks about it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek

And this piece about the day Meyerowitz met Robert Frank
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvRyXju8Fmo
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Old 05-11-2014   #9
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Thanks for posting this link - it's a good interview. Highlights for me:

He was most impressed by Walker Evans because he "got out of the way" and that Atget was hindered by the medium of the times, not allowing him to get out of the way as much. He also wished he was invisible.

I take this to mean don't let the medium or the technique be the reason for the image. You shouldn't even see the photog there.

Also said you "learn from work"

Wikipedia claims he "developed" 8,522 rolls of film while in LA. Just think of that for a minute given the time period. That's 306,792 clicks. That's an incredible amount of work. With digital, I would think he might be in the tens of millions.

Something else...
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Old 05-11-2014   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
........
And this piece about the day Meyerowitz met Robert Frank
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvRyXju8Fmo
Both good but the Meyerowitz one is an absolute "must watch" in my mind. You watch and listen to his words and begin to thing "yea, this is what it is all about"
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Old 05-11-2014   #11
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
Both good but the Meyerowitz one is an absolute "must watch" in my mind. You watch and listen to his words and begin to thing "yea, this is what it is all about"
Joel is amazing.
Another good watch.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xumo7_JUeMo
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Old 05-12-2014   #12
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Thank you, Bob! I'm a big fan of Garry. Very interesting to listen him
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Old 05-12-2014   #13
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Excellent thank you for sharing the link!
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Old 05-12-2014   #14
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Bob, have you seen this Winogrand piece?

He's is ome of my all time favorites to.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RM9KcYEYXs
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Old 05-12-2014   #15
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Thanks for the link!
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Old 05-12-2014   #16
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This is a very good thread. Thanks to all for posting links.
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Old 05-12-2014   #17
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Starts shortly after 6 minute mark:
Quote:
How do you make a photograph that's more interesting than what happened? That's really the problem.
How do you make photograph that is more beautiful than what was photographed? That's really our problem, in the end.
Is the photograph more dramatic than what was photographed? It has to be.
Upon hearing this, Winogrand finally makes sense to me after all those years.

Just before the 6-minute mark is the story on the football game and the image that is shown there is truly remarkable, both composition and lighting wise.

I'm thinking he finally decided that chance was a big factor in images like this, and then subsequently decided that if chance was such a big part of it, why not shoot a power-wind camera from a car window. Makes perfect sense.
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Old 05-12-2014   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
Bob, have you seen this Winogrand piece?
He's is ome of my all time favorites to.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RM9KcYEYXs
airfrog: No, had not seen that one before but it is very good also.
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Old 05-12-2014   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
Starts shortly after 6 minute mark:
Quote:
How do you make a photograph that's more interesting than what happened? That's really the problem.
How do you make photograph that is more beautiful than what was photographed? That's really our problem, in the end.
Is the photograph more dramatic than what was photographed? It has to be.

Upon hearing this, Winogrand finally makes sense to me after all those years.
Agree, it is the essence of his photography isn't it? It also makes Eggleston make sense too (I never really got his work until watching the Winogrand piece).

Michael
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Old 05-12-2014   #20
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Could someone explain to me why Garry totally disses Bruce Davidson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP6lP3UaP24) ?
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Old 05-12-2014   #21
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A mad genius! Great stuff
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Old 05-13-2014   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chambrenoire View Post
Could someone explain to me why Garry totally disses Bruce Davidson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP6lP3UaP24) ?
He spoke very generously about work that he liked, but he didn't mince words over work that he didn't. Hard to say about Davidson. My guess is that he found it more in the vein of illustration or journalism which he didn't seem interested in at all.
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Old 05-13-2014   #23
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Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
"Is the photograph more dramatic than what was photographed? It has to be." - Garry Winogrand
Agree with this.
A lot of good stuff from this video.
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Old 05-13-2014   #24
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I could listen to him for hours.. I certainly wish he was still alive today..
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Old 05-13-2014   #25
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I watched the whole one hour and forty-six minute "lecture" today. He rails against SLRs at one point and it's really funny. I really wish he was around today. I'd love to hear what he thought about AF and DSLR's and digital RF cameras.
Well he might like the MM. Gibson hated digital until he tried one.
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Old 05-13-2014   #26
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I watched the whole one hour and forty-six minute "lecture" today. He rails against SLRs at one point and it's really funny. I really wish he was around today. I'd love to hear what he thought about AF and DSLR's and digital RF cameras.
I listened to the unedited Winogrand video today and then a lengthy one with Cindy Sherman. I just started them playing, then opened another tab in my browser and went back to work. When I heard something that I thought would be enhanced by the video, I just tabbed over and rewound to the part with something I wanted to see.

And the part of Winogrand's where he dissed SLRs made sense after hearing him give his reasons. Nothing to do with focusing but the subconscious mindset about "building" an image with different focus layers as shown on the screen of an SLR vs. the more direct looking through the finder of an RF camera where the image simply is or is not interesting without regard to what is in focus or is not.
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Old 05-13-2014   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
I listened to the unedited Winogrand video today and then a lengthy one with Cindy Sherman. I just started them playing, then opened another tab in my browser and went back to work. When I heard something that I thought would be enhanced by the video, I just tabbed over and rewound to the part with something I wanted to see.

And the part of Winogrand's where he dissed SLRs made sense after hearing him give his reasons. Nothing to do with focusing but the subconscious mindset about "building" an image with different focus layers as shown on the screen of an SLR vs. the more direct looking through the finder of an RF camera where the image simply is or is not interesting without regard to what is in focus or is not.
But if the image (the final one, the print) has selective focus, Winogrand's idea is not valid: an SLR gives a much better idea on the real look of the image and on how interesting it can be or not because of that selective focus...
And considering an SLR doesn't let us see if an image is interesting is a gross exageration... It would happen only in 0.1% of the cases, with a fast lens focused close while the image is about to be shot with a small aperture; totally unusual, and maybe just a mind game of his, a theory or a concept and nothing else... Millions of great shots are made with SLR's, in all fields...
I admire Winogrand a lot, but some of his comments can/should be taken with caution... Saying he was not a street photographer was another interesting comment discussed here on RFF not long ago...
Or considering him someone who didn't care about exposure... Mmmm... How do we call in English someone who never cared about exposure but exposed well a million shots? Lucky? He no doubt cared, just as much as film requires, and just like all of us do... Just my opinion, and anyone's opinion can be different and it's OK with me...
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Old 05-13-2014   #28
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If you didn't see the whole video then you probably missed the part where he says he can only tell you about his experience. He says this more than once or twice. Winogrand never claimed that his opinions were the be all, end all words of wisdom in photography. He was simply calling it as he sees it.

When you start putting absolutes into the mouth of someone who wasn't speaking in absolutes is where the problem comes in.
Hi, we all know his opinions were his...
Sorry if you see a problem coming in: I don't.
As I said, my opinion... No problem with others' opinions...
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Old 05-13-2014   #29
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I don't care... Obviously it wouldn't matter to me if he came back to life to shoot differently... I don't want that... That would mean nothing to me: It wouldn't affect my shooting in any way.
And if I see contradiction in some of his opinions, or if I just don't buy some of his self promoting attitudes, it shouldn't matter to anyone either. Both if he's a God to anyone, or not, no one should care about what I think.
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Old 05-13-2014   #30
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This has been one of the most interesting threads for a while.
Thank you for posting , Bob.
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Old 05-13-2014   #31
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Yes Bob, thanks for posting! I've seen dozens of original prints of Winogrand photographs, and I respect his work, and basically I like the same photographers he likes... I enjoyed the long interview... It's been interesting in several ways...
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Old 05-14-2014   #32
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Great video, thanks for posting!!
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Old 05-14-2014   #33
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This has been a very interesting thread.

I'm old enough to have been enthused about photography in the late 1970s, and to have been an avid reader of photo magazines at the time. I can state unequivocally that the relationship between selective focus and the photographer has changed in the intervening years. To many working professionals at that time, capturing the subject was of prime interest, rather than deploying some kind of visual gimmick to appear artsy or clever, like selective focus, which if it did occur was because the available light and film speeds of the day required a wide-open aperture. Again, it was about whatever it took to capture the subject.

All this has changed in the intervening years, to the point that artifice and affectation seem at times more important than the subject being depicted.

I'll go out on a limb here and speculate that, if he were alive and working today, Winogrand would be using a small-sensor camera like a Fujifilm X10, rather than a 135-sized sensor camera. He didn't care about selective focus, and the smaller sensor would give him intrinsically wider DOF to the point that, in bright light, focusing would be irrelevant to the success of the image. Of course, such speculation is pointless, really.

Thanks again to all who contributed to this great thread.

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Old 05-14-2014   #34
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Interesting discussion and links. I've seen many of Garry's photos, but never heard (or read) his words.
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Old 05-14-2014   #35
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WG keeps saying that Walker Evans is a great artist and yet look at any of Walker Evans photos and you immediately think - 1930s, the great depressions, some poor farmers (by western standards) and after that you wonder "so what"?

Walker Evan's work is nothing but a 'period piece', an archaic collection of photos that might have some meaning to an American viewer who's perhaps descended from the same displaced farmers, other than that its nothing special, it has no universality and it has no resonance with those who don't know the history of those photos or more importantly care.


Garry Winogrand was a man lost in his own mind, his like someone who's more interested in a puzzle than solving it. so he keeps complicating and intellectualizing about photography and yet in the end of it all what he says is meaningless theories. His right about Davidson, his right about RF and SLR but other than that all of his other theories are nothing but personal opinions.


Winogrand was a self-indulgent and egoistic photographer who could never get over his own fixations and obsessions and therefore, his work will always be a sort of window to his own psychology, which is mainly all about women...

Any photographer who has not risked his life for photos that are not about him, is not a great photographer. That is my simple parameter for someone to become a great photographer.

Winogrand was the biggest mouth in photography before Burce Gilden took that title.
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Old 05-14-2014   #36
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WG keeps saying that Walker Evans is a great artist and yet look at any of Walker Evans photos and you immediately think - 1930s, the great depressions, some poor farmers (by western standards) and after that you wonder "so what"?

Walker Evan's work is nothing but a 'period piece', an archaic collection of photos that might have some meaning to an American viewer who's perhaps descended from the same displaced farmers, other than that its nothing special, it has no universality and it has no resonance with those who don't know the history of those photos or more importantly care.


Garry Winogrand was a man lost in his own mind, his like someone who's more interested in a puzzle than solving it. so he keeps complicating and intellectualizing about photography and yet in the end of it all what he says is meaningless theories. His right about Davidson, his right about RF and SLR but other than that all of his other theories are nothing but personal opinions.


Winogrand was a self-indulgent and egoistic photographer who could never get over his own fixations and obsessions and therefore, his work will always be a sort of window to his own psychology, which is mainly all about women...

Any photographer who has not risked his life for photos that are not about him, is not a great photographer. That is my simple parameter for someone to become a great photographer.

Winogrand was the biggest mouth in photography before Burce Gilden took that title.
I guess I don't even know what to make of this post.

As for the interview itself, I coincidentally watched the whole thing a couple weeks ago. GW is always amusing to watch work and listen to speak. He oozed New Yawk and it came through in everything from his theories to his images. I would've never wanted to interview him--he tends to dismiss every question as stupid--but he would've be a blast to hang with on the street and watch him do his thing.
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Old 05-14-2014   #37
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OK. That officially qualifies as the strangest posting I've seen on RFF to date. What exactly does it mean or don't I want to know?
Kinda wondering that myself.

To each their own I guess, but Winogrand being a driven individual does not lessen his work or his professional accomplishments.
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Old 05-14-2014   #38
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OK. That officially qualifies as the strangest posting I've seen on RFF to date. What exactly does it mean or don't I want to know?
Its a question of conscience. A photographer without a conscience can never become great.

GW pounced on women with his camera in the streets corners, other photographers went to war and risked life and limb to tell the story of those who could not tell their own story.

Some photos change history, some change visual aesthetics, others like Garry's become inconsequential cliched street photographs. The proof is in the pudding, and GW has nothing to serve other than his theories.
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Old 05-14-2014   #39
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GW is always amusing to watch work and listen to speak.
That is the only value of GW, a funny photographer with cool stories -- but someone that one should not take seriously.
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Old 05-14-2014   #40
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Thank you for the links.
Rice-U is not loading, so I jumped at long version on youtube.

Never seen him in life, the video is great for it. I paused it at one hour mark now. Enjoying most of it, even with my ESL.

He did talked about RF vs SLR, very good points he made.
Also, he was checking light on the street once it was changing according to another article, but he is absolutely right how B/W film is very forgiving in terms of the negatives and prints.

Also some fundamental, philosophical and practical by same time views at photography which are very educational to me.
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