by fernand de Beauvoir
being in Prague, and commenting to a friend, there is always a “linear description” to the way I see photographically. it’s something like Josef Sudek+ André Kertész+ Saul Leiter, and I want to include a second Czech Photographer: Jaromír Funke. it feels more comfortable to realize this after some years, than start aping them from the naïve beginning. that is, go about photography in a autodidactic way, then realize what’s happening, and study these photographers. to be able to sense their environments is also a very pleasant surprise, despite the distant era.
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. »
NB: yeah, Miles Davis‘s Bitches Brew was a strange pairing, but once absorbed into the NYC state of mind, it works nicely.
I have been pursuing a project in Instagram, under Kerteszian, to bring simplicity onto a photograph with a sense from André Kertész‘s The Polaroids. a kind of emotional Haiku in a simple photo, be it made to look like a Polaroid or BW. the main thing is to reduce the visual noise when looking, before a photograph is taken. aside from the simple composition, there is André Kertész‘s use of shadows. while he was more graphic in the use of shadows, as in not necessarily used to obscure or create a negative space, my use is more into the negative space use of the shadow. none of this quite in the dominant language from Saul Leiter, as his negative space seems to be derived from obstructionism of other objects. (I think that both photographers also strive from that emotional Haiku.) however, it seems that in using too much shadow, the photograph (as shown below) goes to some place between André Kertész‘s and Saul Leiter‘s signatures. (NB: this is not an allusion to a similar quality, as that is not the point of my photos, rather to have an incomplete description as “photograph= photographer1 + photographer2 + « je ne sais quoi » “)
alternate version to that posted on Kerteszian Instagram account
[ link ] Kerteszian on Instagram
[ link ] fernand de Beauvoir on Instagram
sometimes, luck strikes. for Saul Leiter himself, I am not sure, as he was dismissive of praise, but lucky for us, because it is the rare instances in art when a talent makes it through despite how they approached a road to fame. since Early Color was released in 2006, and now on its 6th printing, the embracing of Saul Leiter has been one of those rare moments of happiness in art that a deserved talent has a reach. we can realize this rise by noting how people have come to identify the indelible Leiter style: misty windows, big negative spaces, and more importantly, a big room for the imagination by cropping. (mind you, this is cropping by elements in the scene, and not some André Kertész style cropping of the negative.) aside from the obvious taste in composition and elements that have made Leiter such a favorite among many, it is the cropping that makes the biggest impression on me. below is, perhaps, my most favorite photo from him.
link: Gallery 51 (Antwerp), an early proponent of his work.
by Saul Leiter from Early Color