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Tuesday, 27 March 2012


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Thank you, that was very enjoyable. Better to talk about the world than cameras all the time.

To bad you can now be arrested in Paris for taking someones picture without their permission.

It's late and I'm pretty tired, so all I can say is what a great post. I would have loved to meet all those great photographers; specially Kertesz, and watch him take a picture from my balcony!

Mike, Thanks for this, the Carl Weese kickstarter article and John Camp's interview with David Burnett. All are a welcome relief from the current round of camera talk - as much as we all get drawn in to it.

One comment in your Peter Turnley notes caught my eye and reminded me that David Hurn said, something to the effect that, 'Photography is not a very good interest in itself, but a very good way of communicating an interest/love of something else.' I think that thought process has the ability to free us from some of the tyranny that 'being a photographer' can bring:)

Thanks again




Kertész is super important to me. A guiding light.

And I'm signed up for Peter's workshop in Paris in May.

Oh, this is too, too good.

Thanks for this article and the Burnett piece, Mike. To me, one of the saddest things about photography in the digital age is the almost total ignorance of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand.

Lovely post, Mike. Thanks.

Wonderful mementos!

"a lot of what's important about photography isn't about photography at all."

This. So many people are so "into" photography that they live for photography instead of photographing their lives, but when you get that backwards, your photography ends up being about nothing.

Wow! Just plain old wow!

What simple and difficult to complete advises gave Doisneau and Koudelka. Shoot every day and save all captioned each day.

"What we put into our pictures is our whole life and our whole intellectual discourse. Everything we know and everything we have done and everything that’s in our history goes into every single picture we take."

- Fred Herzog

What a great post Mike. I find reading articles like this very inspiring (it also makes me a bit jealous!). Photographic history is so important to photographers.

these last three articles have been just the ticket; I've really enjoyed them. I have put a small amount into Carl's project.


"It's important to remind ourselves, at least now and then, that a lot of what's important about photography isn't about photography at all."

The wisdom in these words is very powerful. Photography, certainly documentary photography, is about life. To photograph life, you need to understand it and engage with it.

For the second day in a row, I've woken up to find a simply wonderful post on TOP.

Thank you Peter and Mike.


Woah- talk about name dropping!
Doisneau, Ronis and Kertesz are three of my absolute faves, strangely I can't warm to the photos of Koudelka (or Turnley for that matter).
Tip to Doisneau fans - it's worth searching out collections of his work that were only ever published in France, often even better stuff than the well known famous shots.

Love this, but love it for it's nostalgia. This era doesn't exist any more, and people can't and don't live like this any more, and maybe never did in America.

When I talk to old photographers, the thing that strikes me is the difference between how they lived even 30 years ago and today. The time they had to accomplish what they were doing, just the pace of how they worked; and the time they had to think about what they wanted to do. Even in my life time, I remember a photographer being able to survive on a few simple jobs a month.

I met a Nat Geo photographer back in the 70's, and he said when he went to a city to take pictures, he might just walk around it for a week without a camera and look at the light at different time of day, just sit in certain areas he wanted to capture and watch the light.

Now the wolf is at the door all the time, many in the industry are working constantly and the minute they stop, the outflow of expenses just balloons. Everyone works harder, longer, and for less. There is no working "smarter". There are relative few smarter clients that would ever fund the opportunity to work like people did 30 and 40 years ago. Health insurance has sky-rocketed and can reach the proportions of rent or a mortgage, and it never stops, never stops...

I weep even for the live-ablity of the 60's compared to today, and how that allowed us to study and think and take that walk every day and shoot a couple of rolls of film...

Great week of articles here at TOP.

Thanks for reminding us that photography without a subject is at best an academic excercise, and more likely s##t. Just think of writing with no subject, mere alphabet manipulation, who cares.

I know this might go against the flow of the article (and comments) but:

Nicely brassed M4 there behind Koudelka's left shoulder.

/back to non-gearhead philosophy-of-life discussion

This has been a great week for interesting articles. And it's only Wednesday.

"I weep even for the live-ability of the 60's compared to today, and how that allowed us to study and think and take that walk every day and shoot a couple of rolls of film."

We should neither over-romanticize the past nor dismiss the possibilities of the present. I think a surprising number of photographers still do live and photograph this way, especially in the film community where "instant gratification" and "immediate results" are complete non-factors. Once a photographer declares that the act of photographing is often more meaning-filled and important to him or her than the resulting photos may turn out to be, it's suddenly no problem to stretch out the process and just let the pressures and urgencies float away.

Of course, the big difference between "then" and now is that nowadays fewer people than ever actually get paid for that kind of leisurely paced photography -- no surprise, considering how many millions of photographers would love to get paid for it! "Not being paid for it" means that most of us can't live that way all day, every day -- only on weekends, on vacation days, and in the early mornings and/or evenings. But what matters is that most of us still can photograph that way if we choose to. (Obviously having a job and not having a young family helps, but those don't seem to be the factors that keep most photographers from living and working this way.)

Not getting paid for photographing has plenty of upsides, from the option of being more of a perfectionist than a pro can afford to be (see "My Take"), to a complete absence of pressure, to having total freedom to photograph whatever and however one wants without worrying about "what the photo editor is expecting back at the office."

A contemplative, relaxed-paced style of photographing -- and of life -- is certainly available to many of those who are committed enough to rearrange their priorities in order to achieve it. But truly unplugging oneself from the wired (and wireless) world -- saying no to all of the e-temptations around us -- is awfully hard.

This post brought back wonderful memories of Peter's Paris workshop last May. I would say that Peter's intensity came through from his accounts of the work required for his photos. What we felt firsthand were his enthusiasm and his quick sense of how to make each of us better photographers. We were privileged to meet and hear something of the lives of the remarkable John Morris (now, I believe, a very young 93),Agathe Gaillard, and Voja Mitrovic. To see Voja's work is to realize how great an artist he is.

Thanks for a lovely post.

I recently received Peter's "Parisians"; and this post & the intro in the book have set me to thinking about photography and life. They remind us that photography is part of the pleasures of life, to capture beauty of subject and the beauty of light. Parisians have a different attitude than us Americans. They don't wallow in a romantic view of youth like we do, but rather enjoy the pleasures wherever they can (many are small like a snapshot of a beautiful woman in a bar). We as adults can much better appreciate those pleasures that come to us whether thru photography, a good meal, etc.. Thanks for the post.

Absolutely marvelous essay and so highly inspiring.

This is why I read TOP.

I met Peter briefly when I was at David Alan Harvey's workshop and he was giving a guest talk. He's a wonderful guy and I'm glad he's providing that spirtuel to us beginners.

Wonderfully refreshing piece. Precisely the sort of writing that makes TOP so much more interesting than the gear-oriented sites.

This is what photography is about! I second(third...) the Photography Unplugged idea! Encourages me to find greats like this around where I live (Houston TX).

Thank you for this piece!

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