Friday, May 24, 2013

Look Out .... Here I Come!

In keeping with the theme of Gary Winogrand's work which I've been touching on recently, and with the subject of imperfection touched on all too minimally in a recent blogpost by (dare I say it) Eric Kim, to wit:

The frame of reference is tilted - I shot this quickly as I was emerging from the subway at Fifth avenue and 53rd street - and the men on the left and right of the frame are chopped partially. Imperfect, yes. It's a quick capture of 1/250th of a second as I experienced the instability of just having climbed two flights of stairs (at my advanced years) from darkness into bright daylight, into a crowd of people moving in the direction indicated by the arrow at the top of the frame, counterpointed by this imperious woman parting the sea of men. There's no hidden narrative or societally redeeming message, just a street shot that hums. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back At It

After a break of one week due to illness, I'm back at it. Writing, shooting, planning stuff, swimming ..... feels good to be back into my life. The downtime gave me a chance to ruminate a bit, which is not always a good thing. But since I didn't have the strength to do just about anything else, I sat in bed and read.

I've become quite interested in Gary Winogrand - his images, his methods, his work ethic. In 1981 he appeared on a show broadcast from the New School entitled Visions and Images during which he was interviewed about anything the MC could get him to talk straight about - quite a chore. The show is well worth the time to watch if for nothing else than to get some insight into the character that drove a man to rebel against so much photographic tradition and 'wisdom'. At a time in photographic development that grew out of the works of the New Deal photographers and the great documentary/war photojournalists of the 1940's, Winogrand chose to specifically not tell a story with his images. He believed that it was impossible for an image to be imbued with narrative. He didn't look for the right scene and the right position to stand so that an image would unfold before his lens - a là Cartier-Bresson and his decisive moment. Winogrand just walked around a location, with no agenda in mind, camera at the ready, and often fired off shots without ever thinking about composition. Winogrand shot hundreds of rolls of film every week, did much of his own processing and darkroom work, and kept little documentation or records of what was on each roll of film. When he died he left behind tens of thousands of rolls of undeveloped film with no clue as to what each contained.

As I read about his efforts and attitudes, I am drawn more and more to his work. The current body of work I've been at for more than a year (in true Winogrand style, I refuse to call it a 'project') is starting to take form and a develop a life of its own. And I find his ideas, of which I've been reading for about the same amount of time, apply very nicely to what I'm trying to create. I won't be posting images from that work here on the blog. But writing about Winogrand and exploring how his ideas resonate with me and affect my work will probably become a major theme for the near future. So I'll have to use images not of the current undertaking with which to demonstrate. I may have to repeat images I've posted in the past to use as examples.

This shot couldn't have been accomplished with a lens other than the Fuji 14mm on my X-Pro1. The wide angle lens gives a perspective to the background behind the woman which is only a narrow city street behind her. The people on either side of her had just crossed the street walking next to her and peeled off one step away when I snapped the shutter. All the elements give a sense of deep space and push the central character, who appears to be having a spiritual moment of listening to some music, out to the front of the frame. The edges of the frame limit the elements in the image and pull them all together to freeze a typical moment of time on today's streets of New York where all the characters are totally oblivious of each other, each in their own closed off, self-centered little world. The gesture of the hand was a lucky grab. I didn't plan it or wait for it, there's nothing decisive about that moment of time. It's just a typical 1/250th of a second that describes the disconnect that our electronic gewgaws allow for in contemporary America.