Specialization is the shortest path to excellence. By studying the work of the most dedicated and advanced practitioners of the medium, we can selectively apply those artists’ formalist (compositional) strategies and philosophical objectives to our own work. The goal is not simply to imitate any other single photographer’s style, but rather to create a personal style that is an amalgam / hybrid of these inspirational precedents and one’s own unique instincts and convictions.
RECOMMENDED READING AND VIEWING;
This list is highly subjective, reflecting my personal taste and interests. Some of these titles are acknowledged as milestones in the medium of photography, others somewhat obscure. An asterisk (*) indicates my “must-haves” for any reference library on fine art and documentary photography.
Robert Frank: The Americans*
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer
Lee Friedlander: Friedlander (The Museum of Modern Art retrospective catalog, 2009)
Sebastiao Salgado: Workers: An Archaelogy of the industrial age**
Sebastiao Salgado: Migrations
Josef Koudelka: Koudelka (A career retrospective & single best overview.)*
Josef Koudelka: Chaos
Steve McCurry: The Unguarded Moment (A career retrospective & single best overview.)**
Steve McCurry: South Southeast*
Raghubir Singh: River of Colour (A career retrospective & best single overview.)**
Raghubir Singh: The Ganges (also released under the title “Benaras”
Robert Polidori: Zones of Exclusion: Chernobyl *
Robert Polidori: Havana
Edward Burtynski: Manufactured landscapes
Edward Burtynski: China*
Richard Misrach: Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach*
Richard Misrach: Chronologies
Alex Webb: The Suffering of Light: (A career retrospective and single best overview)**
Annie Leibovitz: American Music*
Films / DVD’s:
James Nachtwey: War Photographer (Netflix). The world’s preeminent conflict photographer, and once a member of the Magnum Agency. Nachtwey left Magnum to form his own photographer’s collective, Agency 7 (VII).
Edward Burtynski: Manufactured Landscapes (Netflix)
Baraka (Netflix): An astonishing, non-verbal film of exquisite photography from the earth’s most compelling and evocative locations – both pleasant and otherwise.
www.gudzowaty.com The web site of Polish photographer Tomasz Gudzowaty. Current work of extraordinary quality, done in the classic Black & White “Reportage” style.
These last two sites are extremely content-rich, and together represent the best photojournalists working in the world today. Known primarily for hard-core news / reportage / conflict photography, they also represent artists (see Martin Parr, as an example) who have a lighter side and also do commercial / advertising work. At their best, these photographers have elevated their craft to a hybrid of compelling visual narrative and very personal and formally stylized high art.
www.photoeye.com Santa Fe based online bookstore specializing in photography titles.
www.abebooks.com Site specializing in out of print and used titles.
www.ted.com: Includes taped lectures with Nachtwey and Burtynsky, discussing their work.
Tags: Alex Webb, Annie Leibovitz, Baraka, Edward Burtynski, Gudzowaty, Henri Cartier-Bresson, James Nachtwey, Josef Koudelka, Lee Friedlander, Magnum Photos, Raghubir Singh, Richard Misrach, Robert Frank, Robert Polidori, Sebastiao Salgado, Steve McCurry, TED, The Americans, the TED Conference, Tomasz Gudzowaty, VII Photo Agency