Why did Gary Winogrand photograph that? NYT article

Discussion in 'Street' started by jtk, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. jtk

    jtk Subscriber

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  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks for the link. Fascinating. Every picture actually makes you observe, question and then try to arrive at a conclusion. In an exhibition even 25 pictures could occupy a lot of a viewer's time. They are nearly all conversation- starters with a fellow viewer if in a gallery. None need colour

    pentaxuser
     
  3. msage

    msage Subscriber

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    All though I am not a "street photographer", I like his work and I have a quote in my signature by him.
     
  4. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member

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    Winogrand was a hack.

    Sure, he had a few nice shots…the gossiping ladies, feeding the elephant, the acrobat at the parade and a few more. The usual suspects that get trotted out when his name is mentioned. But, he shot tons and tons of crap (over a million) and most of his work is absolute garbage.

    Here is something Eric Kim latched onto....

    “Winogrand almost never developed his film immediately. He said he deliberately waited a year or two in order to lose the memory of the take. “If I was in a good mood when I was shooting one day, then developed the film right away,” he told a class, “I might choose a picture because I remember how good I felt when I took it.” Better, he maintained to let the film “age,” the better to grade slides or contact sheets objectively.“


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/030131.htm

    …it is BS.

    Winogrand just couldn’t admit the was chronically behind, so he made excuses. That is the real reason for ‘marinating’ his photos.

    People like Eric Kim that just regurgitates what he reads in books latches onto this marinating idea and blindly accepts it as gospel. They propagate the wrong ways to their devotees that don’t know anything and pretty soon 'marinating your photos' becomes the thing to do.

    John Szarkowski on Winogrand…

    “To expose film is not quite to photograph, and the photographer who does not consider his finished pictures is like a pianist who plays only on a silent keyboard. In the absence of proof, mistakes multiply, craft becomes theory, and good thinking passes for art. As Winogrand fell farther behind in the criticism of his own work his technique deteriorated. The last few thousand rolls are plagued with technical failures—optical, chemical, and physical flaws—in one hundred permutations. The most remarkable of these errors is his failure to hold the camera steady at the moment of exposure. Even in bright sunlight, with fast shutter speeds, the negatives are often not sharp. It is as though the making of an exposure had become merely a gesture of acknowledgment that what lay before the camera might make a photograph, if one had the desire and the energy to focus one’s attention.”


    This sums up the aging your photos a la’ Winogrand / Eric Kim issue pretty well.

    Photogs ‘age’ their work is because they are hoping their bad photos will somehow magically look better later on. They can’t admit to themselves they have nothing good. So they put the photo away and hope it will appeal to them more down the road.

    Generally speaking, there should be no question when we have a great shot. The iconic photo never needs to age to look good. You don’t have to keep trying to sell yourself on it, hoping it looks better over time. The great photo jumps right out at you.

    In later years Winogrand had a driver cart him all over the Miracle Mile while he shot anyone on the street out of the car window. That was after he learned he could print money by selling his junk photos.

    Per the previous responder, Winogrand did have some good quotes.

    My fav is...the more I do...the more I do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  5. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    I went to a Winogrand exhibition in Paris a few years ago, and left feeling that he’d really put one over on the curators. There was a several photos of a leafless bush, and other of the inside of his car door with something like a barn in the background. I could see little artistic value in them — I can’t bring myself to subscribe to the idea that random photographs of uninteresting subjects constitutes photographic art. As far as I could tell, he brought nothing to the effort —- or, at least, much of the effort that resulted in many of the photographs I saw that day.
     
  6. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    I enjoyed most of the photos in that article - thanks.
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    The article must have contained the best of his photographs as I couldn't see many technical faults that were mentioned in the article. As he took that many rolls, there is, I agree, just a possibility that he couldn't keep up with processing and he may have made a virtue out of a necessity. On the other hand I take very few rolls by comparison but I am still behind with processing. However my experience is that the delay can add to judgement. When I took the shots, I had, in my mind, an idea of which were the best but when I eventually print the negs I am nearly always surprised that the best do not correspond with how I had ranked them on the day(s) of shooting.

    If he could print money by selling his junk photos then presumably a lot of people thought that his photos were good. Was the "market" as a whole wrong? If for instance the Nikon F5 has outsold all the rest of the 35mm SLR put together has everyone been fooled into thinking it is the camera to get?

    pentaxuser
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm fascinated by random photographs of uninteresting objects.
     
  9. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    I wish my work would be hated as much as his... LOL!
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    nothing like sour grapes !
     
  11. CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    You and me Both. :smile:
    The passing of time is Very Kind to "Street Photography".
    As far as him being a "Hack", i seriously doubt he meets that criteria. He certainly shot "hack rolls" and had "hack days".....but don't we all.?
    Guitar players
    Race car drivers
    Baseball players and other famous athletes
    Movie stars
    .......i do not put ANY of those people on a pedestal, and that includes Winogrand. I like A LOT of his photos that I Have Seen.
    But if he were born in 1970, who can say if we would even know his name.
    Same goes for Jimi Hendrix, or Jack Nicklaus, or Martin Luther King, or Joe Montana, or Marylin Monroe.
    Some people are born at the right time, and are "Of Their Time".
    My personal interest in photography is "Street Photography".....not just taking pictures on the street, and not necessarily having any people in the frame.....but rather the Photographing/Documenting of the passing of life.
    For every 36 frames i shoot, i would be Thrilled to get 5 that were Good/Great/Worth Printing and admired by unknown others as being a Good Photograph. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018
  12. Alan W

    Alan W Member

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    Some good,some bad.The best thing about this article was that it caused me to watch John Berger and "Ways of Seeing" on Youtube
     
  13. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Winogrand was as nervous as hell, even sitting down he practically had steam coming out of his ears. I think Joel Meyerwitz said that.
     
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  15. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Perhaps he was sick way before ever diagnosed ..not being able to hold a Nikon at 1/250 of a second is quite suspecr...
     
  16. piffey

    piffey Member

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    I don't think you can throw the term hack around when a guy spends 8 hours a day of his entire life, rain or shine, pounding the pavement in search of something. That's dedication -- even if you don't appreciate what he was trying to accomplish.
     
  17. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    This is a key point that a lot of people miss when thinking about this genre or pursuit in photography.

    I chase it because from the time I was a kid nothing was more interesting than real life. I have a lot of respect for fashion and fine art people who can create whole other worlds, but all I could ever see and appreciate was this one. To do it well and compellingly is no small feat.
     
  18. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Here's a quote for you: "missing the forest for the trees"

    Maybe look up "pedant".

    Sorry, but I see this type of argument and I just see the type of person who argues digital vs. film or Canon vs. Nikon. If process is all one has to criticize an artist over, then I'd say the artist is doing something right.

    That's not to take away from the idea that Winogrand may well have had some form of OCD or pathological approach to taking pictures that went beyond passion and dedication...but you can't deny the passion and dedication.
     
  19. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    I, for one, like a lot of Winogrand’s work although (or maybe because?) it is very different to mine.

    Yes, towards the end of his life he turned his photography into some kind of mania. Perhaps he was ill? or had lost his ’touch’? or he simply felt lost away from the Bronx in Texas and Los Angeles?

    Winogrand was part of a revolution in the mid 1970s for my understanding of photography that I learned about through Creative Camera magazine and Creative Camera International Year Book (what a revelation they were when all I knew was ‘Club Photography’, the RPS and Amateur Photographer). The magazine and annual book introduced me to photographers such as Rene Burri, Tony Ray-Jones, Josef Sudek, Lee Friedlander, Grant Mudford, Bruce Davidson, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Raymond Moore.

    Dear slackercrurster, you claim he was a ‘hack’. Well Winogrand received three Guggenheim Fellowships, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and published 4 books of his work and had his photographs included in the ‘Family of Man’ exhibition. What’s your CV like?

    I very much like Dyer’s writing on photography and shall definitely look out for the book in the article. By the way, I can thoroughly recommend Geoff Dyer’s book ‘The Ongoing Moment’ which is an innovative and interesting approach to considering and ruminating on photography.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  20. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    I suppose Guggenheims & National Endowments have never been given for shit. Happens all the time.
     
  21. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Maybe the articles quoted by slackercrurster and the use of the word "hack" was a deliberate "catalyst" for our ensuing discussion.

    pentaxuser
     
  22. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Guggenheim Fellows have included Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jon Lowenstein, Carlos Javier Ortiz, John Gossage, Cindy Sherman, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Lyle Ashton Harris, Brenda Ann Kenneally and Maggie Steber and Lee Friedlander (3 Guggenheims, Hon FRPS, Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement from the International Center of Photography, New York).

    All shit then?

    David
    ww.dsallen.de
     
  23. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    David, it may just be me looking back at early APUG, as was, with rose-coloured spectacles but I cannot recall the forum exhibiting the kind of "extremes" we are now seeing in a whole range of threads.

    pentaxuser
     
  24. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    I didn't say they were ALL shit. Can't you people READ?
     
  25. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    If you study the history of photography, and I mean really dig deep, you will find all kinds of interesting tidbits. My general impression of Winogrand isn't good. He knew the right people which is 90% of it.

    If you apply any kind of logic to his work and the things he said over the years everything just falls apart and makes you question if he even really knew what he was doing or if he was just full of it. One of his famous quotes is he "photographed to see what things looked like photographed." He didn't develop thousands of rolls of film though, so that is totally b.s. It doesn't seem like he cared what things looked like photographed. Or he knew that what he was doing was basically worthless.

    Later in his career he produced a ton of drivel. I've heard stories of him firing out a window with a motor drive just burning through film like some obsessive-compulsive monkey. He was washed up. If you read between the lines of what curators said about his later work, you will see they have to try hard to find anything salvageable for his reputation. It is all kind of sad. Just go back and reread what Szarkowski said about him, and Szarkowski was his friend!

    I never had much of an opinion about Winogrand over the years. I was kind of neutral, until I heard a recording of what he said talking to MIT students about Ralph Gibson in the 70s. I found his words horribly ironic. Winogrand had no intention when he photographed. They were snapshots. Gibson's early work is about more than what is there, which is one hell of a feat in photography. At the time Gibson had just published his trilogy which is still considered a milestone in book publishing. Anyway, Winogrand was making fun of Gibson to the students of MIT and this is what he said about Gibson's photographs-"They are very dull. Go find an interesting photograph in his book, in any of his books. They're boring. On any terms, on their own terms. God forbid you should miss the point there is a title. They're no place." I kept this quote because when I heard it I was awestruck at the stupidity of it. I suspect Winogrand knew he was the emperor without clothes and Gibson was the real artist. Maybe Winogrand didn't understand anything beyond the surface.

    I don't know about you guys but I'll take Gibson's work over the mushy crap that Winogrand produced. Gibson could also print, and made beautiful prints. Winogrand was a monkey with a camera, which is what A.D. Coleman said of him. Just because he was popular doesn't make him good.

    And that isn't sour grapes on my end either. Just call it an informed opinion. Your opinion might differ.

    If you want to read what A.D. Coleman wrote about Winogrand-
    http://www.nearbycafe.com/artandphoto/photocritic/2014/07/13/garry-winogrand-monkeycam-at-the-met/
     
  26. Chuckwade87

    Chuckwade87 Subscriber

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    With the amount of photos that can be taken digitally, Will the problem of sifting thru 'Digital negatives' be a similar issue for the future?
     
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