like many industries, it is difficult to accept changes n fashion photography. yes, fashion is about quarterly/yearly changes to the clothes, though we can see that fashion photography was pretty stale for many years— and that stale view can still be found today. it seems that that Deborah Turbeville was not a fan of the fashion world, still, it may have been this disdain that propelled her to be subversive, in a way, with her photographic work within that industry. « It is the psychological tone and mood that I work for… », she said, and thus it is not only a “lo-fi” approach to otherwise saturated/sharp (and stale) fashion work that was subversive, but also what the fashion photograph should convey: as if she wanted to integrate the scene, and not just differentiate the clothes. in my view, an integrative view of composition and presentation can produce a stronger work, rather than concentrating on equipment and photographic rules/clichés (such as “rules of thirds”, sharpness, small or large DoF gimmickry, and the fads in post-processing). Deborah Turbeville took an assault on fashion photography norms from many different angles which reverberate through today.
info: her fashion photography has been compiled onto the book The Fashion Photographs. for a look at integration versus elimination (differentiation), the article from Malcom Gladwell, for The New Yorker, on the advertising targeting via psychological integration vs differentiation classification can be found at [ summary ]
there seems to be a flood of Polaroid books in recent years, and I personally, have been lowering my threshold of what is a good book to buy. it is not a “pass”, rather, it has to do with an attempt to understand a distortion/transformation (or two). that is, there is the transformation that Polaroids shifts in color relative to the real world, and there is the transformation on the photographer/subject by using the Polaroid equipment. among the early books, themed on Polaroids, that I obtained was from Sibylle Bergemann. I watched the video-review (by Jörg Coldberg), and was hooked— and no, it didn’t require for me to lower my threshold on photo books that I would own. I am glad to see that more of her work is being given a book release, as her talent, demonstrated in The Polaroids, gets an immediate spark of interest on how she saw the world. further to this interest, and despite the fact that I have not taken that many Polaroid photos because I completely avoided it when the company was viable— heck, I even worked a summer at Polaroid near Boston and was not interested in the camera— then, it is strange how much it influences my perception of color in presenting a photo… and perhaps, if I get to understand the second transformation: what a portrait should convey.
one of my favorite mantras for photography comes from Albert Einstein: « make it simple, but no simpler ». it rings true, yet, in something as objective as mathematics, or even algorithm design, it is quite the challenge: there are no instructions. in the subjective field of photography, the liberty of seeking simplicity can lead to, not only good photographs, but also a discovery of how we see. a friend posted a quote from Sarah Moon:
« I spend my time eliminating things with the hope that there will be something left that will surprise me, that will make me forget I am in a studio, in front of a model I have booked, on a set on which I have spent hours fussing. »
and that is a characteristic to be loved about Sarah Moon, which sits atop the very alluring Polaroid work that she has done. approaching the snap of a photograph with her idea of simplicity is not very simple, and can lead to many photographs not being taken. however, the learning is gained, and subsequently to less clutter to process.
one goes to museum, as one can do here in Paris where there is so much access to photography exhibit. I had not heard of Albert Renger-Patzsch before, though it is clear now that in 1920s he was having some thoughts/approaches on what we would later see from the New Topographics: from the Bechers, all the way to Stephen Shore, but perhaps more to do with the approach of Luigi Ghirri. (I have an uneasy interest in New Topographics, though I will appreciate all the words from Robert Adams, and the words/pictures from Lewis Baltz.) while Albert Renger-Patzsch‘s thought were focused and insightful, his photography did a bit more migration on subject. in the 1920s he was treating subject just as the Czechs’ photographers of the time were doing, and then under a commission, he did a great service to architectural photography. in the photo below, less like what Becher would pursue and more like what Lewis Baltz would do later, there is the strong geometry within the frame— and the shadows brought up to an equal level of importance.
links: to Albert Renger-Patzsch on Wikipedia. New Topographics on Artsy
this is a striking photo, in the sense that it recalls many things at once: and I really like that. first, there is the Paul Strand feel to the composition and light, as well as the facial expression on the lady (at right). second, the tonality and balance between light and shadows are effective.
the great reveal in photography styles, for me, is that of what is classified as fashion photography. it is rather surprising, even after all this time, that I discover a photographer of great appeal, and it turns out that there was much work done in Fashion photography. some of them, like in the 50s with William Klein and Saul Leiter, were just a few commissions likely to bring some income— yet, we can see their daring (at the time) work as superb. this work by Annelie Vandendael may not be classified as such, but it could be. perhaps Annelie Vandendael‘s work is a more of a work of post-Fashion Photography that may have been begun by the likes of Deborah Turbeville. any way that one would like to map this progression, the results here are wonderful.
lucky to visit Lisbon for the first time, and it was fantastic in many ways. photographically, the supernice thing is to have a reset: each city makes a different connection, and obviously impresses on how to photograph it. the hills, the tiles, the shades… and on this visit, it was mainly the search for texture and shadowplay that piqued my interest. cities have become a tricky balance for me: in some ways, I like to abstract them, while retaining some hints that would keep them from being anonymous. (this photo also marks the link to my Instagram account, where this blog becomes the place where I post photos such as these.)