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Friday, 01 December 2023


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He was the master of dog street photography, the best.

Okay, I won't use the word "great." Bur I will say that he was the best photographer of the second half of the 20th century. A lot of people did some things well. He did more things better than anyone else. As for his "snaps," no one else came anywhere close to the number of poignant, incisive, perceptive, photographs he turned out by the thousands. I wrote about him on my blog today -- alifeinphotography.blogspot.com

That's a telling portrait to be remembered by... certainly gives one a clue!

[The portrait Stan if referring to is not the one that's now included in the post. —Mike]

How do you write a blogpost like this Mike? You really make it look easy.

I'm talking about getting the details and important bits, woven in with whimsy and insight. Where the flow of it seems so seamless that it couldn't (or must?) be by happenstance.

Do you make a framework of notes on the scale to hit, ahead of the actual writing - like an essayist.

Or just cuff-it like Monk?

[It gets easier if I can just make a start. First draft is the hard part for me. --Mike]

"He was what we all wanted to be." Truer words were never writ. Or more precisely I wanted that specific perceptual quirk that he had, or that he seemed to be able to turn on at will. What would you call it? "Right-place-right-time-ism"? "Serendipiosity"? Surely not "luck," as no one who produced as many memorable images as he did was relying on chance.

Maybe what I am saying is that I wish I could amuse one 1/1000th as many people as he did, as as easily as he made it seem when doing it. How could the man who produced those images not have had fun in the process?

I feel at his passing a little like I did when Ray Charles died, or Harold Ramis: that we will not see his like again, and that the world is a bit less warm, a bit less welcoming without his sensibility in it.

It is no small thing, becoming famous for touching people's hearts and making their days a bit better for having passed through the world doing what you loved to do. Think of it: we have the millions of image makers out there furiously clicking away, Flickring, Facebooking, Tick Tocking. But not one of us million monkeys has come close to pounding out a consistent body of work like his.

Part of me thinks that all of the technology in all of my wunder-karmeren roots its appeal in the whisper that with more MP and more FPS, more MORE, that I could capture . . . well, what he did routinely. Nope. As often as I fall for it, I don't have enough Serendipiousity in the tank.

Internet Sentence of the Week! Full marks for Creative Use of the Double Negative.

"He was a man who never didn't have time for another picture of a pretty girl or a happy dog."

Hey! What's with the bait and switch portraits!?!?

Much as I like the Rangerette shot, what happened to the impish B&W studio?

[I got a rather ominous note from the rights agency. Technically, Fair Use allows for the use of portraits of the deceased right after someone dies, but I sure don’t want to have to prove it after being sued by an entity with much deeper pockets than I have. —Mike]

Also passing this week was Larry Fink - a photographer with a portfolio of great variety, from the streets and farms to the Beats to Hollywood.




Makes me wonder - who of the current generation(s) will we remember as the "greats" in the future?

Also on same day, the passing of Larry Fink. His book Social Graces had a big impact on me.

The NY Times has a full obituary, with pictures, here:https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/30/arts/elliott-erwitt-whose-photos-are-famous-and-often-funny-dies-at-95.html

Following up on Larry Fink's passing, I happened to run across this wonderful interview with him that was right before he died https://dinalitovsky.substack.com/p/my-last-conversation-with-the-late

FYI…The Amazon video mentioned shows up on Amazon but is listed as “ Not currently available. “

I think of the word "nonchalant" when I think of Elliot Erwitt.
We are lucky that he showed us how he saw the world.
Beyond that I defer to Mr. Marks, above.

I once submitted several images for consideration for an exhibition to be held in Madison, Wisconsin. The curator of the exhibition was Larry Fink. To my surprise, he selected two of the images for inclusion in the exhibit. I had a chance to talk with him at the opening and he was kind and gracious. For me, a memory to save.
There is a very pleasant video out on YouTube, I believe, of Elliot Erwitt shooting an assignment for a whiskey distiller in Scotland. Bit of a joy to watch. He was a favorite.

My god. The quality of the Magnum photographers is enough to make you not dare to try.

As a counterpoint though, being a Magnum does guarantee access to people and situations that facilitate more opportunities for greatness.

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