Thursday, April 2, 2009
My Photographic Top 10
Ten Photographers Who Have Influence Me
I have been behind a camera for more than half of my life. My vision has changed throughout the years but has always been influenced by those brave pioneers who came before me. Here is my Top Ten list of influential photographers.
1. Eugène Atget (1857-1927)--a French photographer whose images of city life and architecture were more than mere representations but gave the city new life, depth and beauty.
2. Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946)--an artist and entrepreneur who brought photography into the 20th century by showing the world that photography was an art form not just a tool. "The Steerage" (1907) is thought to be the first art photograph.
3. Edward Steichen (1879-1973)--originally a fine art painter, he used his pictorial approach in photography before World War I. He later moved to more straight photography and became a master of magazine portraiture, fashion photography, and advertising imagery. He brought out in the subject more than just the surface. His 1928 portraits of Greta Garbo are recognized as her defining portraits.
4. Edward Weston (1886-1958)--known for his close-ups of vegetables and nudes. In photography he was a "purist" who believed that photographs should be direct and sharp. He is know for waiting hours for the sunlight to be just right often to the spoils of his fruit he photographed.
5. Paul Strand (1890-1976)--was a photographic modernist who along with Stieglitz and Weston, established photography as an art form. Some of this early work, like the well-known "Wall Street," experimented with formal abstractions and influenced artists like Edward Hopper. He also thought photography should be used for social reform and was a founder of the Photo League, an association of photographers using their cameras to promote social and political causes.
6. Ansel Adams (1902-1984)--who not only captured the splendor of the American West but he helped increased the public's appreciation of the art of photography. He also developed the zone system, a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterized his photographs. A system that is still in use today even with the advent of digital imagery.
7. Minor White (1908-1976)--who captured things usually considered mundane, and transformed them into something special. These "equivalents" made us look at things in a new way and turned the realism of photography into more of an abstraction. It made us see where we normally only look.
8. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908- 2004)--who instead of the big box cameras of the day used a small 35 mm camera to capture everyday life and transform these slices of life into beautiful scenes. He really pioneered street photography, a style that has influenced many a photographer and film maker.
9. Jerry Uelsmann (1934- )--created surrealistic images composed of many negatives all blended together to create an allegorical story for the viewer to see. Uelsmann has a suburb skill in the darkroom which many attempt to reproduce digitally today.
10. Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989 )--was as an American photographer who is known for his large, highly stylized black and white portraits of flowers and the nude figure. Often delving into the fetish world and thus becoming controversial.
When one actually looks at a Mapplethorpe image you are taken by the tonal range, beauty of the form and how it relates to things around it. After his death his exhibition "The Perfect Moment" became the lighting rod for censorship. The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. agreed to host a traveling solo exhibit of Mapplethorpe's work without making a stipulation as to what type of subject matter would be used. Once the curator saw the body of work that included homo-erotic images, they refused to go forward with the exhibition. After the Corcoran refused the Mapplethorpe exhibition, the underwriters of the exhibition, then went to the nonprofit Washington Project for the Arts, which showed the controversial images in its own space from July 21 - August 13, 1989. Unfortunately Mapplethorpe is known more for the controversy than the art, but being one of the lucky ones who was able to see this retrospective exhibition in New York City 1989, I can only say that his work profoundly changed the way I see and shoot.
So that is my list of photographic influences and brief reason why. There are other artists who have also lent to my development as a photographic artist but that list would be much too long for this blog.