To quote Gerry Badger from his amazing essay on Lee Friedlander
What is [your] work about? To what does it refer, either concretely, metaphorically, formally, allegorically, or representatively? In what sense are [your] photographs documents – either of the world or of his true perceptions? [Are] you confronting us directly with our perception of reality – or merely an abstract, ultimately barren non-reality? Is [your] work an allegory for [your] view of civilization and humanity – or is it only about the medium in its narrowest sense? Is it a series of facile formal manoeuvres?
These are important questions that one as a photographer, meaning one who takes photographs, not strictly using the term for professionals only but also for us, aficionados & enthusiasts, has to at some point during work answer.
Once we develop a system, a view of photographing & a way of processing, the pieces start coming together and what we have, is an identifiable image which has our unwritten signature which speaks louder than words. Such is the work of the great masters of photography: Daido Moriyama, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, et al.
With that said, personally my style is “street photography”. I like to document life as it happens. I love to black & white but I also love color, and like I said on yesterday’s post. I think they both can have a symbiotic relationship in defining one’s style. To name just a couple of photographers that currently employ that aforementioned duality, that I think is not only artful but also has that street love which is sometimes hard to accomplish successfully but also mesh into a cohesive body work – Josh White & Wouter Brandsma. My hat goes off to these fellow togs.
So when I’m confronted with such a statements, for now, I’m happy developing my vision and I continue to learn, not only the technical aspect of this beautiful craft but also training that “eye”, not just to look, but really view things with that perceptive eye to understand that which we seek as photographers – in my case, the grittiness, the rawness of the streets, the social message behind the imagery, but nonetheless, these are difficult questions that require deep thoughts and a series of essays to continue this exploration. To finalize, I’ll use another quote from the aforementioned essay by Gerry Badger.
But as Friedlander’s vision has evolved, and as his contingent aims and interests have become clearer, to pigeonhole him categorically as a simple formalist seems unduly narrow, even trite.
. . . and so should we and hopefully our work will have that permanence with that unwritten visual signature that transcends time.