Jul 282009

Oh dear, so much has happened since the last post! Where shall I begin? OK, I’ll begin with answering some of the comments to that rant about style.

Ted, I guess we disagree much less than you think we do 🙂

I looked up Reed Dixon, and I very much appreciate what he does. If for any reasons he will still do the same kind of images in 30 years (or if he did it that way all through the last 30 years), I most probably wouldn’t.

What I did in my post, was to define the word “style” (for me!!!). I am aware of the fact that style is frequently used to denote outward attributes of an image that can best be characterized as mechanical. I mean things that could be cast into a Photoshop action. Other people call that “effects”. To call something like that a “style”, does not make sense to me at all. The only meaningful definition of style that comes to my mind is connected to a way of seeing. If anything, for me, just like for Paul Maxim and Ove, style is an attribute of personality.

We have a photo book in Carinthia, a very expensive and very beautiful book with portraits done by Henri Cartier Bresson. On Sunday I took the opportunity to have an intense look at these images, and what I did was looking for the signs of a distinct style.

Frankly, I didn’t find anything that would allow me to pick out an HCB from the mass of photographs. There are some hints though, for example that he didn’t seem to care much about the “Rule of Thirds”, and if he did, he frequently placed the head of his subject in the lower third, including a seemingly undue amount of background. In other words, he didn’t follow rules, he broke them.

Unfortunately he didn’t break them in any consistent manner, thus taking away the fun that we could draw from instantly recognizing him.

It goes on like that. It’s easy to recognize the Erwitts as long as there are dogs in the image, but if not? I doubt it.

But this is not specific to photography, it’s just by accident that we discuss it in that context. In my eyes style, when that word makes sense at all, is a certain way of seeing the world, of judging one’s own work, ever evolving until we die. Style is a statistical entity that can be seen as an inconsistent and evolving, but still recognizable pattern in the background of a large body of work. If it is not evolving, well, then the artist probably has found something that sells.

The market does abominable things to artists. Capitalism is not everything, and from a perspective of art it fails miserably. Why? Because it tells artists to stick to their recipe, to basically repeat themselves, or better, to repeat whatever they found that sells. THAT‘s the reason why some Artists continue to produce the same things, over and again, for 30 years and more.

Hopefully this has cleared things up a bit. Enough of that.

As I said, so many things have happened, and although I’m late to the party, I should at least send you over to Cedric’s blog, as he has written a very clever post about artistic ambivalence and ambivalence in general, all circling around the question what photographs tell about the photographer.

As to these pictures, well, they were all taken with my new (and cheap!) Sigma 28/1.8, and they demonstrate perfectly why I like this lens: With its ability to focus down to the front element, it opens up a completely different world. Nice bokeh, huh?

The Song of the Day is “Living In A Different World” by “Honeydripper” Roosevelt Sykes. I have it on disc 57 of “The Ultimate Jazz Archive”, and if you aim for something cheaper, you can get it as well on his “Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 8”.Hear the song on Deezer.

  3 Responses to “1018 – Living In A Different World”

  1. The bokeh is truly lovely! Amazing how you can get a train window this beatiful, it is a such, right? Anyway, lovely colours and bokeh, seems to be a very good lens. But half of it (at least) is you.

  2. You are making this lens look awfully good. There may be some disappointed buyers who wonder why there photos don't match up to yours.

  3. Thanks. Well, I was a disappointed buyer myself. Pretty much a year ago I bought this lens the first time, used it for a day and finally traded it in for a Nikon 85/1.8

    I have no idea if that lens had been really worse than what I have now, but then I had some AF problems that I don't have at all now.

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