The Thinking Photographer
Who's Who and What's WhatAll serious photographers should have at least a basic familiarity with the giants of the craft. Therefore, we will take some time to briefly examine a few of the "greats." This list is obviously not exhaustive or even particularly representative of the major "periods" in photography. The criteria of selection is, firstly, that each photographer possess a distinctive style; and secondly, they are fairly well-known and their work is still readily available at bookstores.
These photographers are not necessarily being presented as models which you should imitate. Indeed, for a few, the opposite may be true. To copy Edward Weston or Ansel Adams would mean queueing up in the back of a long line of imitators.
The photographs by these masters are not immune to criticism. You should judge their work as you judge your own. After all, they presume through their work to speak to mankind at large. You, therefore, hold the power to either validate their opinions and continue to cherish the images, or to consign them to deserved oblivion.
The "... he was good for his time," conclusion is not sufficient to warrant study today.
To some photographs, time is not a barrier. They are as meaningful and poignant to the modern eye as they were to their first viewers (perhaps more so). I seek the timeless idea manifested in light.
I do not wish to look upon photographs which once said something. I comb the archives for pictures which have not lost their voices, for photos which speak to me.
This topic is a multiple week assignment.
Each week, experiment in the style of the photographers we have studied. Try abstraction, documentation, still-life, portrait, landscape,...
In the last Who's Who session, discuss where to find today's photographers. Provide magazines which emphasize the pictorial.
© Copyright 1999 Brian R. Page