Dec 10, 2008

fuck taking pictures

Me and my brother getting a "photo with the parrot". My bro is the geeky one. Circa 1981 in NYC at some (obviously classy) restaurant in Little Italy. Photo by the Landscapist (my father)

This past Monday I drove the 5 hours to NYC to listen to Gregory Crewdson speak at the Guggenheim. I wasn't sure what I'd enjoy or relate to from this lecture. Crewdson's process and mine couldn't be more polar. He shoots with complete film-like crews, a director of photography, lighting out the whazoo, models, etc... I shoot alone with a duct-taped $35 tripod, natural lighting, self-portrait, etc... (oh and the $50k price tag difference in our work too). I guess you could say that I am the anti-crewdson of mise en scene photography.

So what a surprise it was for me to hear the similarities between himself and myself spout from his lips during the talk. Besides watching reality TV shows, what stood out most was the way he felt about his photos and picture making in general. Like my post a few weeks ago (link) where I proclaimed that I hate people with camera's or general picture taking after I took a typical Adirondack landscape, Crewdson admitted how uncomfortable he felt holding a camera. He talked about how he would much rather enjoy time with his family and children in the "actual moment", rather than viewing them through some viewfinder or fiddling with a camera. I feel the same way, that is why you'll rarely ever see any evidence of my vacations, exhibit openings, family get togethers', etc... unless the family member or friend accompanying me emails me their images of the event (link).

Luckily I also have the Flavor Flav of photographers (if Flav wore SLR's instead of clocks) living within 35 miles from me and his grandson. So family portraits/snapshots (see opening photo) are not hard to acquire.

More importantly than the refusal or disconnection of family snapshots and point and click type photography, were the reasons why he (and I) actually enjoys taking photos when he does take them. For him it was this "moment of stillness" for a few seconds after all the models were ready, camera was set, everyone was quiet and he makes the call to his camera director to shoot. I don't have a moment of silence during my shoots, but I do have 10-20 minutes of creative and emotional release during which I am making up my narratives on the spot, unplanned and in unfamiliar settings. It takes a lot of internal dialogue, gut reaction, and creativity to compose one of my scenes in this manner and it is the quintessential reason I do what I do. Even if I didn't produce a final image (which in some cases I don't get one), or if I never had my work seen in so many exhibits in such a short amount of time since I started shooting, I would still need that outlet or release. It's that internal artistic need to communicate.

One other point he made that I never thought about before is how after the whole process is over and the images are seen by others or exhibited, the attachment to them is gone. It's almost like viewing someone else's work. I again completely understand and can relate to that. That moment in the photograph, was for me, just that single moment. I don't read into the image anymore and I don't feel any emotions when viewing them, other than enjoying them aesthetically perhaps. I guess you could say in that way I am a typical manly man who after photographic coitus, just rolls over and doesn't cuddle?

With that said...I was happily satisfied by the lecture and it made the 10 hour round trip drive worth it.


jimmieknuckles said...

you do realize, that you just likened your father to a notorious crackhead and felon whose only body of work, ended over ten years ago? hmmmmm
im thinking maybe you drank the magic juice on the way in,
maybe im just an ignorant fuck,
but im not buying it,
all the "in the moment" shit, living it rather than documenting it

if this man has such a passion for the images in his head, and simply must create them,
finds such a calm, and stillnessat the moment they come together, are birthed,
and then is able to leave them, simply view them as he would another persons work,

then why choose photography,
why the camera

why not simply live in the moment, experience it, and have it pass,
for someone who doesnt care for cameras he is certainly sure to have his "stillness" well documented

p.s. what? no football

Aaron said...

"you do realize, that you just likened your father to a notorious crackhead and felon"

Didn't think of it that way, but you're right.

"then why choose photography,
why the camera"

I can answer that for myself, but you'll have to ask Crewdson for his answer. I personally need to communicate with creativity with some form or another or I would go crazy. Cut my ear off Van Gogh style or something. My dayjob is as an Art Director and art is all I've ever done, even as young as 4 years old I remember doodling pictures in books and on my walls. With the exception of an uninspiring stupid stint as a street junkie when I was 18 it's something that is just part of me? I wish I could clarify this or explain it better, but I can't.

And I chose photography and the camera because A) I can't write or draw. B) I was a high school dropout, so that excludes several fields of work on it's own. C) Since I shoot alone 95% of the time, it offers me the solitude to work on my own that say a film director or Art Director does not.

And the football series from Catherine Opie and her entire schpeel was pretty uninspiring in my opinion. I'm not so into that style of photography... i.e. portraiture borderline editorial, blah, blah, blah... it seems like everyone is doing it and not many are doing it different from the next guy/girl.

umm yeah, and peace and love and all that too...

jimmieknuckles said...

now that, i can dig,
as for crewdson,
i tried,
his director of communication isnt taking calls at the moment

Jonathan said...

Your best post....ever.

JulieB said...

I have a pic of me and my brother with that same guy!! He hangs out around Little Italy