Discussion in 'General Photography Discussion' started by mokeiyong, Sep 8, 2017.
Thank you so much for putting this up! Btw, the work by DAH shown above, are they in 3:2?
Most of the book seems to be 4:3 or 5:4, but I wouldn't necessarily assume the images in the gallery are the same as Pauline had said that many of the photographers made different decisions for the gallery than they did for the book. The first image with the umbrella measures approx. 4:3 in the book though. (17.5 x 13 cm) I suspect the pic I took sort of exaggerates the horizontal a bit to make it look more like 3:2, but it's probably also 4:3. The pic of the little girl is B&W in the book but color in the gallery so it's entirely possible he made other editing differences too. Most of Alex Webb's images in the book are 11 x 4 cm, which is an interesting ratio. I assume he will discuss that decision at the lecture tomorrow.
It is always interesting to know photographers’ decisions behind their choices, especially from the people of Magnum’s calibre. 11:4 is a very unique one especially coming from AW. Wow, this project is full of surprises and fresh inputs. By the way, I just learnt that they are bringing the exhibition to two additional cities, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Alex Webb's gallery tour was pretty amazing yesterday! Unfortunately, I had to leave and couldn't stay for the lecture / slide show presentation, but he was really cool at the earlier smaller session and answered a bunch of my questions. I should have taken notes but didn't, so hopefully everything I'm repeating here is accurate. If anyone else was there and I'm getting something wrong, please feel free to correct me.
Right off the bat he admitted the work was very different from his previous work. These images were taken at Wellfleet, MA, a small Cape Cod town where his parents had a summer home. His brother's family had ended up with it and at some point Alex and Rebecca bought it from them to start using as a retreat. He said they like to do book layout there as there is so much room compared to their Brooklyn apartment, and the lighting and calm help them with editing and layout. His dad was an amateur photographer and Alex remembered some pics his dad took of the bay in the fog that had a zen-like quality to them, and that was the inspiration behind the pics in the HOME project that were all taken last summer into fall. (So after the Houston project he did for Pacific Standard last spring.) He said he took some images that were more his typical style during a 4th of July parade and other events, but they didn't really connect with him like these did. There were only 4 images at the gallery, but there are 17 in the book. I asked him about the way the book was edited, and he made it clear that he sort of let the book editor do what they wanted, so it wasn't really his decision. I also asked him about the aspect ratio, as 11:4 was sort of interesting. He said they were shot panoramic in camera on the GFX. I was a little unclear if that meant panoramic mode that stitches files together, or if he just meant a pano aspect ratio.
After his work, he briefly walked us around the gallery to discuss the other photographer's work. He seemed to be drawn to what Thomas Dworzak, Chien-Chi Chang, Antoine D'Agata and Alessandra Sanguinetti did the most. I asked him if he could comment on Trent Parke's work, as I mostly know it from Minutes To Midnight, and this was totally different. (Also, the colors and shadows look more like what I associate from Alex so I was curious what he would say.) He Trent has been doing color for years so it didn't surprise him, and the fact that the town where he lives is totally flat leads to some really amazing light in the late day / early morning. He talked about most of his own books and projects are self-funded (as did DAH), but sometimes he'll talk a magazine into paying for part of it as an assignment. He also talked about doing mundane corporate work to make money as he was coming up. He's talked about this before in Memory City, but he used Kodachrome for most of his career and when it was discontinued he was finally dragged into the digital era. He shoots a Leica M Type 240 I think, he said 24 though, and he said he was too cheap to splurge and get an M10 although he might in the future. He liked the Fuji and actually bought it (I guess they were just on loan) so he could use it to continue with the images from Wellfleet. He said he does very little in post, and it sounded like he has someone he works with on that before publication. He didn't sound terribly interested in a lot of post editing and prefers to get it right in camera.
Several questions by myself and others were aimed at his work process. He said he does a lot of research and will drive around looking for interesting areas to shoot in a town. Basically he tries to put himself in a area where something might happen, at a time where the light is interesting as well, and watches as a scene develops. He said he will interact with his subjects or not, it's sort of up to them, but he never ever gives any sort of direction. When I asked him about whether he would ever give direction to some of the kids in some of his more complex compositions, he said "if I wanted to do that, I might as well have been a painter." He clearly likes the spontaneity of the street even though he says he fails 99.9% of the time. Someone asked something along the lines of whether he could get a good image every time he goes out, and he said there are 120 pictures in "The Suffering of Light" and that spans 30 years so he probably gets about 4 really good ones a year. He mentioned he has a couple of ongoing projects including one in Brooklyn.
Rebecca was there too and clearly the lecture was going to be a joint presentation. "Slant Rhymes" was on the table so I'm guessing they discussed that a bit, but unfortunately I had something I couldn't get out of and I had to leave after the gallery walk. I'm sure it would have been very interesting, but I'm glad he was so receptive to questions on the walk.
Thank you so much for writing this! Great to know AW's about the background story for the HOME project.
Trent Parke's Minutes To Midnight B&W works are from early 2000's, since then his work a lot on colour in his sunny home country, Australia.
This working process is very similar to that described by David Hurn in his book On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide, where there is not much that a photographer can control besides where to position onseself and when to release the shutter.
Good to know that he is still working prolifically.
Once again thank you!