I think most of you reading this are photographers, right? So it’s safe to say that my primary audience is other photographers without anyone likely to accuse me of lying. There’s a very simple reason that having an audience of primarily photographers is going to be challenging. Nearly every photographer I know would rather be making photographs than doing ANYTHING on the internet. Now if you’re a writer, it’s a different story, especially if you’re a journalist. Being connected and in the know is apart of your job, so naturally you won’t see the web as some big waste of time. For a novelist or screenwriter, I’m sure the web is the devil.
Working on the web as I do can be a bit strange the more I think about it. I spend a good majority of my time reading and trying to better understand online communication and behavior.
And since the focus of my work is primarily the world of photography, I feel like I’m living in photography’s hivemind. It can an interesting place but there’s always that constant vibe of everyone wanting to be somewhere else making photographs. For example, right now I’m going to stop working on this article. I’m going to grab my camera, walk out the door and then wander around Queens for a few hours. When I get back I’ll add a few links and quotes of note. See you shortly!
Links of Note
Photography is boring… always has been, is now, and always will be. The enabling factor of digital imagery and the mass production and availability of images for our insatiable consumption has temporarily allowed us to believe that photography is exciting. Exciting like Television and Video. Sorry, It isn’t. Photography requires us to slow down and look for subtle nuance. The internet, like television, does not encourage or allow for nuance. Everything is built for speed and impulse. Instant satisfaction and rapid eye movement. The false reality of our times. When people spend the greatest part of their lives living on the internet, the internet becomes the greatest part of people’s lives.(1) We naturally want to include photography in our internet lives, however disappointing that relationship may be. We very quickly get the sickening and disheartening feeling that we have seen all there is to see.
So relax and settle in for the awesomeness of Alec Soth. Because he is the Springsteen of photography. He isn’t groundbreaking. His artistic roots are always clear in what he does, and he has executed his art at such a high level and with such enthusiasm, it’s hard not to want signing along.
While Borenzstein exhibited and received acclaim for the work at the time, it has largely disappeared for various unknown and perhaps all too common reasons. Fortunately, Todd Hido helped revive interest in the work and eventually got it published. One of the many surprises and pleasures of art is the way work can gain new currency and meaning as it ages and is rediscovered by new audiences and generations. It would be untrue to say that this work was unknown or had completely disappeared. The most obvious answer might just be that the ever-fickle art and photo world had moved on. Although over twenty years old, the work has been given new life and attention through this wonderful new book.
Photography is perhaps the most prolific artistic medium of our era and today’s young artists are eagerly exploiting the infinite possibilities it offers. It is also a rich vein for collectors and auction houses, which in 2011 sold nearly 14,000 “signed” photographs worldwide, generating a total revenue of around $150m. In recent years, the sky high prices achieved by Andreas GURSKY, Cindy SHERMAN and Richard PRINCE (each of whom has a personal auction record of at least $3m) have stimulated the secondary market for works by young photographers already bold enough to face the harsh judgment of auction houses although still in their twenties.
It occurred to me that my mother and my sister and everybody on Facebook is showing their world to each other using these apps. That ‘look’ is not at all exotic to them. So when a ‘professional’ photojournalist like Kuwayama or Michael Christopher Brown use an iPhone and app in a conflict zone, perhaps it actually helps communicate what is going on in, say, Afghanistan to people in the suburbs because it looks like the way they show each other their world.
…context is much more specific than one might think. When we look at photographs, we process them according to the context we find them in, the context they’re used in. Different contexts work with very different rules. This is also why there still are so many debates about aesthetics: The same aesthetic can have very different meanings in two different contexts. Crucially, for certain contexts we are trained to see certain types of aesthetics. We can talk about photography as much as we want, but it’s not one monolithic entity, where one size fits all, where every discussion automatically makes sense for every context. Thus when we talk about photography, we have to make sure we establish the context.
I made a conscious decision when I set out working on my own that I took on work if I thought it’d be good for the evolution of my career. I don’t focus on money,” Mahaney says. “I focus on doing the best work I can do, regardless of the budget…. You obviously have to be reasonable and can’t only take on nonpaying jobs, but too many people let their egos get in the way and refuse doing work for free. Some of my favorite portfolio pieces are from jobs where I either got paid nothing or even worse, had to shell out money of my own to pay for some of the expenses. Getting work in a magazine is an advertisement for you and your work every single time. Sometimes some of the most beautiful layouts and tearsheets come from the independent and more artful publications that have no money to pay you.
The work is connected to the history of street photography,” he explains, “but also to the 20th-century ready-made movement. So leaving those artefacts in the image is extremely important. In the bottom-left corner of each picture is a link that says, ‘Report a problem’. Maybe in the middle ages you passed somebody in trouble on the road and were confronted with the moral dilemma of whether to help them. Then came a time when you could call the police. Now we’ve reached the point where it’s a hyperlink. That represents just how alienated we’ve become from reality.
“The other guy” was cooped up in his apartment all day glueing shit to shit, arranging, turning the lights up and waiting for something else to happen. He’s thinking and that’s fine. But is the spontaneous guy somehow thinking less? It’s more than just being there and leaning on a shutter. He knows what he wants—that’s why he’s there. He didn’t spontaneously appear. His lack of control and direction in front of the camera—I just think that he knows what he wants. His presence can direct it.
If I don’t sell out I’m making a lot of furniture out of books. It’s a number that I know I can sell. It does also make it pretty collectible. Any more books makes it a hell of a lot of work to get rid of. With only a handful of book shops who only take 5 books at a time that’s 70 book shops you need to be in. I do feel like I am doing a disservice to the artist as I would love their work to be seen by more people.
Nadav Kander talks about his approach to photography and portraiture.