“Many books are just too superficial in my opinion. They do not feel “necessary” other than seemingly to fill a void in some person’s ego or desire to be noticed. A lot of photographers – and this is not limited by any means to the younger ones — seem to have a few interesting photos under their belt and then think they’ll make a book, so they just repeat themselves 47 more times and there you have it.”—B: Q & A with Jeffrey Ladd (via photographsonthebrain)
Robert Frank: Young Japanese often want to go to New York. I couldn’t understand why until I arrived in Tokyo. Rules can be sensed to an amazing extent throughout Tokyo, even when getting in a taxi or going shopping. The young Japanese who go to New York all want to escape from those rules.
With photography, the best thing to do is look straight at the person, place, or situation you are photographing and just press the shutter without thinking about anything. By doing this, the power of the subject comes across, and this is the strength of the photographic genre. I feel that among recent submissions to the competition, perhaps too many have been mentally conceptualized beforehand, or suffered from the overuse of sophisticated camera functions.
Photographers should remind themselves of the basic truth that if the subject is not good, the photograph won’t be any good either. They need to take more of a hands-off approach, and focus on having encounters with things and people. So for this year’s competition, I chose works that gave me the impression that the photographer had done just that.
I didn’t feel that the submissions to this year’s competition were particularly different from those submitted at previous competitions. Even so, it’s a fact that the skill level is so high now that I just assume all the work I look at will demonstrate a high level of skill. This means that it’s pointless to pick winners and losers on the basis of skill alone. In addition, elaborately produced photographs that have been forced to incorporate some kind of drama inevitably turn out to be weak.
Photographs must depict things that are important in the lives of the individuals who take them. Photographs that show you that the photographer got wet, sweated, or was breathing heavily can often move the viewer. It’s good to be honest and straightforward towards both your subject and your own feelings.
excerpt from his statement at the Grand Prize selection open-committee meeting for the 2007 Canon New Cosmos award.
I’m not saying digital photography is bad, but it seems like everyone is developing a digital attitude. It’s as if they think all they have to do is abbreviate what they do. That, and art has come into fashion, so everyone is trying to use techniques to turn what they’re making into art.
Everyone seems to think that pictures of nothing special have low levels of expression, or are some how wrong, but in fact that is the most important thing. It’s the world, the photographic subject, that is doing the expressing, and the photographer has to remember that he is the one who has the privilege to be capturing that expression. Using the subject or the era or something to mould something, that’s not the essence of photography.
I say this every year, but a sense of love for the subject isn’t there, I feel it’s getting more and more diluted. There are a lot of works with pictures of people dying, but I think people should stop making that kind of stuff. Or if they do make it, don’t send it to this contest. More than that, what’s important now is to take pictures at a moment where the subject is vibrant and alive.
More than technique or expression, first get a sense for the person and cherish the time together with them. The person right in front of you is much more important than any kind of grand concepts. If you can remember that, the result will come naturally.
I think maybe everyone has convinced themselves that they know how the world works, or that they can see what is coming next. But if you just keep shooting, you’ll eventually figure it out. To keep on shooting is to embrace life.
excerpt from his statement at the Grand Prize selection open-committee meeting for the 2009 Canon New Cosmos award.
I know a lot of people get rubbed the wrong way with this guy. I read his crazy “120 things I’ve learnt…” post and it kinda took my breath away. How do you guys feel about him and his list? It’s pretty crazy.
Dude! If you haven’t watched already, watch that documentary on Charlie Kirk!
Love that man’s saracsm! The list is really funny but there are snippets there that are great- of course, lists like that should be taken with a mountain of salt.