LEARNING LOG: THE DECISIVE MOMENT

RESEARCH FOR ASSIGNMENT 3

I had already researched some street photographers for Assignment 2, in particular Alex Webb, Garry Winogrand and William Klein, as well as reading tips from Eric Kim (see link). I have researched Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank during this project’s exercises and additionally investigated these photographer’s to further broaden my view.

Additional research in preparation for assignment 3 

Robert Doisneau

A French humanistic photo journalist (1912-1993) who was a “deft and amusing observer of the minor aspects of life and culture which define frenchness” (Golden 2003, p 62). He considered that “The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street (Pollack 1977, p 144). His work bridges documentary and art. He was innovative and combined modernism, surrealism and narrative in his photographs.

In 1950 Doisneau created his most recognizable work for Life magazine – Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photograph of a couple kissing in the Paris streets. Apparently he never liked the photograph, perhaps because he had posed it. More typical Doisneau images of the 1950s are unposed, but still carefully stalked and framed (children, prostitutes or market porters, and other street-dwellers in the unfashionable, parts of Paris). “He would often find a location, or a “stage” as he called it, and lie in wait for many hours for the right action or characters to arrive.” (Lichfield, 2010).  He has also been described as a photographer “with an eye on the world and a love for others” (Clark 2016).

Doisneau   Doisneau 2  Elliot Erwitt 3

Elliot Erwitt

A French documentary/commercial photographer with a sense of humour, who has captured some of the defining images of the 20th century. His images may sometimes look simple but on closer inspection are not. A “gently mocking and probing eye that has always preferred to look at life’s absurdities rather than its ills” (Golden 2003, p 74). He has been called a purveyor of the “non-photograph” and “combines a deceptively casual approach with an unrivalled, sometimes gloriously silly, visual sense of wit. (O’ Mahony 2003).

He has a masterful technique although believes that the instinct that creates great photography is casual and uncontrollable. He is widely considered a ‘master’ of the indecisive moment, as he captures the irony and absurd of daily life.

Elliot Erwitt 2   Elliot Erwitt Elliot Erwitt 3

Joel Meyerowitz

An award-winning New York photographer, who is a “street photographer” in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, although now workings exclusively in colour. He was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of colour photograph. Speaking to Sean O’ Hagen he said “A lot of what I am looking for is a moment of astonishment,” (Guardian 2012). He believes in “recognition and the power of the frame to put disparate, unrelated things together” (Kim). Meyerowitz often uses juxtaposition or constructs relationships between subjects.

Meyerowitz 1   Meyerowitz 2   meyerowitz 3

References:

Clark, D (2016) Diverse Doisneau in Amateur Photographer 18.14.16p 30-31.

Golden, R (2003) Masters of Photography. 3rd Ed. London. Goodman.

Kim, E (unknown) 82 lessons from the masters of street photography. E book.

Lichfield, J (2010) Robert Doisneau: A window into the soul of Paris, Independent Sunday 5 December 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/robert-doisneau-a-window-into-the-soul-of-paris-2151370.html (accessed 30.1.16)

O’ Hagen, S. (2012) Joel Meyerowitz: ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’. Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/11/joel-meyerowitz-taking-my-time-interview (accessed 30.1.16).

 

Advertisements

RESEARCH FOR PART THREE: TRACES OF TIME

Project 2 A durational space

Michael Wesely

Michael Wesely is a German art photographer who is best known for his photos of cities, buildings, landscapes, and still lives of flowers taken with a special ultra-long exposure technique, sometimes of two to three years.(http://petapixel.com/2012/03/16/photographs-captured-over-years-with-an-open-camera-shutter/ accessed 28.1.16).weselyThe life and death of a bouquet of flowers. http://www.slideshare.net/Alanevans25364/in-depth-photographer-wesley

His response to “The decisive Moment” was to turn it around and say “okay, I cannot collect the best moments, or cannot find them in the contact sheets, so I’d better collect millions of moments in one picture” (Open Shutter, Michael Wesley Museum of Modern Art 2004).

In the 1990s, he began using the technique to document urban development over time, he used filters and extremely small apertures to reduce the amount of light entering the film, producing images that capture both space and time. In 2001 he began photographing the Museum of Modern Art’s renovation project, exposing for 34 months, using 8 cameras at various sites around the construction site.

wesley 2

Between 2001 and 2004 over a 13 month period he recorded the rebuilding of Leipziger Platz and Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

wesley 3He claims that he could take exposures for up to 40 years. http://www.unfinishedman.com/the-long-exposures-of-michael-wesely/, accessed 28.1.16.), although his method is of course secret. Wesely has made exposure the essential concept for his photography and less of a technical matter, whilst most photographers expose for a long enough time to register the image and a short enough time to halt the motion.

 

I find that his images have a ghostly nature as the long exposure eliminates any evidence of humans being in the shots and yet we know that they must have been in the shots. The transparency of the building also adds to their visual eeriness. In fact whilst a camera would usually record reality of a situation, though possible represented in a variety of ways in many ways the reality in these urban images is partially hidden. Certainly the camera here is creating a psychological dram to me.

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Japanese New York based photographer is known for his minimalistic contemporary series projects, often with blurred out images creating surreal haunting images. One series is minimal stylised seascapes shot with long exposures with blurred horizons down the middle.

sugimotohttp://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/seascape.html

His theatre series used different timed exposures, taken with the shutter open for length of the movie, this leads to just white light being captured on the screen and the people do not appear to have been there due to the radiant white light from the screen (www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY3nGoZqw9U accessed 22.1.16.).This is very different to the effects of the long exposures by Michael Wesley, although the reality of the situation is also misrepresented as the time lapse essentially wipes the theatre screen to white space; these images also have a haunted image just as Wesley’s do to me.

sugimoto 2

http://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/theater.html

He also photographed dioramas of stuffed animals and waxworks in museum displays in an illusionist manner. Sugimoto believes that photography is the best medium to make people think about time and period but that it is also young medium, for instance when he uses it to imitate paintings by photographing wax models (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nluiGJ4opt0, Autobiography Hiroshi Sugimoto Part 1, accessed 22.1.15).

Maartin Vanvolsem

He uses a moving camera to capture frames sequentially to build an image up over time, instead of a subject being captured and frozen in a split second. This however produces images that are the result of technology rather than the human eye. These images gain their meaning as the lines change over time because of the moving film and camera, causing sharpness and blurr. In these images the subject is important rather than how it is depicted.vanvolsem

http://kusseneerscom.webhosting.be/portfolio_page/maarten-vanvolsem/ accessed 5.2.16.

Christopher Doyle

Is the Cinematographer who shot the opening scene to Wong Kar-Wais Chungking Express (1994) at 1/8 second employing a “stutter-step effect, most likely by removing every second frame-or even every second or third frame- and duplicating others” (http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/221-how-wong-kar-wai-turned-22-seconds-into-an-eternit/ accessed 5.2.16). This gives usually gives blurred movement and interestingly it is effectively neither slow or fast-motion. Having watched the sequence it is fascinating how the eye does naturally read a sequence of frames as movement.

 

Francesca Woodman

She took her first self-portrait at 14 and from then until her death at the age of 22 took some 800 photographs using innovative techniques. She frequently used time exposure, which blurred and diffused her figure. She was both presenting and dissembling herself and “she clearly sought to escape the strictures of the single image and still, frozen photographic stasis” (http://www.gerrybadger.com/francesca-woodman/ accessed 5.2.16). Apparently her work derives partially from the seventies American tendency to combine “personalised psychodramas with temporal and spatial displacements of long exposures and blurred movement”. (http://www.gerrybadger.com/francesca-woodman/ accessed 5.2.16), but in simpler terms, yes the shutter is creating psychological drama.

Woodman

Robert Frank

His work in the book The Americans (1959) is said to have changed the direction of photography and changed many of the rules set out by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Travelling round parts of America he shot 27,000 images and reduced these to 83 for the book. He used a handheld camera with movement and tilt producing grainy blurred images. Many reviews were disparaging, such as Practical Photography who dismissed the book’s “meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness”. (http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/07/robert-frank-americans-photography-influence-shadows  accessed 8.2.16) He preferred to present things as they were rather than romantically and therefore at the time was even accused of being anti-American.

frank

 

I find some of the photos that he took inside Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn the most interesting, photographs with a grainy blur and this one “ two lines of men at work, blacks and whites side-by-side and facing each other across the assembly line that runs up the middle of the picture” (http://www.npr.org/2009/02/13/100688154/americans-the-book-that-changed-photography accessed 8.2.16).

Frank 2

Of these photographers I have a strong preference for the work of Robert Frank, I intend to research him further and in time would like to try photographing using his technique.