After watching the you tube video on Bresson and doing exercise 3 I find that I neither agree with or disagree with Henri on this topic.
I’m more in line with Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck Is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, I think this sums it up most admirably.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer famous for his street style of photography.
These video clips of his interview where in many ways eye-opening.
His early childhood through to him at the time of the interview showed a unique perspective of his developement into the photographer he became.
He came across as an easy-going man who had travelled the world and experienced much in his life time.
From meeting and talking with Gandhi to his experiences in his home town brothel whilst growing up.
He also describes how he took some of his more famous images, I especially enjoyed the moment he told the interviewer that most photography is luck.
The way he got the famous image “Behind the Gate Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932″ was a good example of luck.
But was it a case of luck or more like what Gary Player said in an interview one time, the immortalised quote ” The more I practice, the luckier I get”.
I feel it’s more like the quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”.
You have to have a certain skill level, you then have to put yourself in the place where an image is likely to occur; then it’s down to luck.
This is what I think Bresson meant by luck.
Otherwise the world operates on the basis of statistical mechanics, you know; the Simians with typewriters writing Shakespeare theory.
You can see his impact on photo-journalism, what he called the decisive moment when moving things are in balance.
Any sports photograph is a perfect example of his thinking here.
At the start of this research point I was seriously questioning this course, after all what has a “this is your life” video have to do with me learning photography, not much; but it did get me thinking of Seneca and his philosophy and this, in a very round about way was the main lesson I took from these video’s.
This train of thought took me back seventeen years to my start in car sales and my boss telling me I must “Practice, drill and rehearse” in order to be succesful.
Again I have been reminded of the truth of their wisdom.
Photography 1: Expressing your Vision, page 50 mentions two photographers on one page, Gianluca Cosci and Mona Kuhn.
There can be no better comparison of art over salesmanship then these two.
I know art is subjective and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but really!
Cosci’s work, with the exception of some of his reflections in glass and the picture frames is awful.
The low to the ground, shallow depth of field urban pictures are truly bland in an epic sense.
They’re the kind of pictures, that if I took them would be relegated to the files bin on my computer.
I was a car salesman for many years in the U.S.A and knew that when I heard such gushing descriptions of something I was being sold a bill of goods, i.e something sub-standard.
Contrast these to Mona Kuhn’s work !
The use of good light, excellent framing and stunning subjects makes Khun’s work brilliant.
I may be being harsh on Cosci but if you where to display both these photographers works together, opened it to the public and took a poll I’m certain Kuhn’s work would be way more popular.
To me photography has to illicit a response, Cosci’s work does this but in a negative way.
In order for it to be considered good it must make people look and at least say “Hmmn” if not “Wow”! anything else is average.
Having looked at Alec Soths work on his web site I must say that most of his images are powerful.
When taken as a collection, such as broken manual; they also tell a story.
He seems to have the ability to relate with his subjects and get some of these wonderful characters to allow him to photograph them, the survivalist in this Gillie suite must have been a hard sell.
From the book Broken Manual by Alec Soth & Lester B. Morrison, 2010
His compositions, to me at least; are pretty simple for the most part but incredibly poignant.
There is a sense of lost hope and sadness to a lot of his work which I find depressing to some degree.
Overall I like most of his images and the stories they tell.
There were four points that stood out to me in Campany’s review of Thomas Ruff’s work that appeared in IANN magazine no.2 @ 2008.
The first was “It’s potent ability to solicit individual and global responses that cannot be entirely reconciled”, this is what I felt when first viewing his work; is it Photography, art or just a good printing job ?
The second was his questions about the information we now have at our fingertips , how it affects our lives and more importantly how it shapes our perception, morals and desires.
He also questions what we mean by ‘from the internet’? Is the internet an archive” ? , he goes on to say “In fact Ruff tells us they are from the internet”, meaning Ruff’s images.
My take on it is this, the internet is the mother of all archives; a Pandora’s box of mankind’s best and darkest thoughts and achievements.
The last point he makes is about how Ruff presents his work using very large prints that are beyond what is normally excepted for quality images i.e pixelated.
In Colberg’s review that appeared in his blog “jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/04/review_jpegs_by_thomas_ruff/” I only took one point of view and a good quote from Ruff himself.
He says that Ruff is possibly “one of the most creative and certainly inventive photographers of our time” and that the more traditionalist photographers could question whether it is indeed photography at all.
He also has a quote from the Artist himself that was an Excerpt from a conversation with Max Dax, Dreissig Gespräche, edition suhrkamp, 2009; telling how he actually came up with the concept of his jpegs during his time in New York city the week of the 9/11 attacks.
Thomas Ruff has done similar work using images from NASA entitled M.A.R.S .
On a personal note I prefer his more abstract art as I find his jpeg and mars series to be too much like Andy Warhol’s work and it’s hard to compete with Warhol.