Recent Discoveries

07Aug13

Please pardon this long post, but I’ve had a burst of photography thinking.

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Over the past few weeks and months I’ve been mentally paring down my life to the things that are most important. Mine involves a triptych of sorts – family and friends, work and photography. Family and friends involves many things, such as time together, traveling, preparing and eating wonderful meals, helping and watching the kids grow up, catching up over good wine, and so on. Work is required, of course, and for the most part I enjoy what I do (no career is ever 100% perfect). The third requirement in my life is photography. As much as I try to let it go (you’ve heard my frustrations) I simply cannot. It is there, with deeply implanted roots, unstoppable growth, and it needs sustenance.

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A few recent books, blog posts and discoveries of new (to me) photographers have sparked a vigorous revitalization of my interest in photography. First, let me point you to this interview with one of my favorite photographers Gerry Johansson. In the interview he talks about beauty, and I find his point of view refreshing. Some of today’s photography is overtly “serious” and discourages any notion of beauty, advocating the idea that beauty has nothing to do with art. But I don’t follow that direction and in my case beauty plays an important role. I find beauty in the natural world and in materials, and that’s what I hope comes across in some of my work. I also appreciate his opinion about projects. I, to, stress over trying to pull together projects, and I’m finding that projects, and at least for, are not created but self-organize and evolve over time. Even though I have ideas for “projects” I find it difficult to focus exclusively on only one thing at a time. And naturally my time for photography simply disallows any notion of taking them on; they require time and time alone, two things in short supply in my case.

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I simply love Gerry Johansson’s books. I have Deutschland, Pontiac and Hattfabriken/Luckenwalde and each is pure pleasure. Pontiac is the only book that I’ve ever paid a notable amount for used. Photography books have a way of going quickly out of print and some of them accrue significant value in the used market. Apparently, this is because of photobook collectors, a group with which I hope to never to associated. Yes, I buy photobooks and I have a serious photobook problem (there are worse problems, aren’t there?), but I don’t buy them to “collect” them; I buy them to view them, read them, study them and simply enjoy them.

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Another body of work that recently came to my attention is Ash by Muge, a Chinese photographer. There is a stunning beauty (that word again!), simplicity and elegance to his vision. If only I could create a collection similar to this kind of work. The book is available through a Japanese bookstore, but they are out of stock at the moment. Hopefully I can snag a copy soon.

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About a week ago a book arrived in the mail from Ireland. I feel that one of life’s greatest pleasures is receiving an international parcel. When they arrive I simply hold and admire them for a moment before opening them. The book is called We Make the Path by Walking by Paul Gaffney and the book itself and the photography are both astounding. For this project the photographer walked over 3000 kilometers taking pictures. This reminds me of … and … I’ve been carrying this book all around with me and both studying it and simply soaking it in. Another example that I hope to follow in the footsteps of some day.

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Finally, I stumbled upon the work of Janelle Lynch. Simply stunning! And relatable too – she has a project called Ground that is similar to my own ongoing work I call Ground. It is amazing to me that there are people around the world who find the same things interesting that I do. It boggles my mind that anyone else wants to take pictures of the ground. Her other work looks just as compelling and I plan to study it. She has an upcoming book that I plan to “collect” soon.

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I wonder how many photographers out there I have to discover…?

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