Early Color has been a book that has shaken the photography world, as well as the latter years in the life of Saul Leiter. now in its 6th printing, one can hope it remains in-print forever, and perhaps begin to rival Robert Frank‘s The Americans in terms of influential books. after perusing All About Saul Leiter, from the recent Japanese exhibit, there was some hesitation that a “greatest hits” book on Leiter would be a let down (as other books have been). then, it is also paperback. but… but… it works wonderfully. perhaps, I think, it is the book to get initiated with Leiter. in American terms, “a Christmas stocking stuffer”. I think the range and selection are great, but the little detail I truly love to wrap everything nicely? quotes. the quotes do not directly affect the view of the next photo, but it affects how a humble point of view is also revealed in them.
to break with tradition of these posts, there are some selected quotes that are good to places here.
« there is a tremendous advantage to being unimportant »
« I didn’t walk around feeling that I was important… I had not spent my life feeling important »
« the important thing in life is not what you get but what you throw out »
« photographs are often treated as important moments but really they are little fragments and souvenirs of an unfinished world »
« his lab assistant once remarked in boredom: “not umbrellas again!”
to which Leiter replied, “I love umbrellas!” »
« a window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous place »
« it is not where it is or what it is that matters, but how you see it »
« I take photographs in my neighborhood. I think that mysterious things happen in familiar places. we don’t always need to run to the other end of the world. »
« I like it when one is not certain of what one sees. when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of the sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion. »
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