Well there are the classics that I very much appreciate. Henri Cartier-Bresson and Arnold Newman to name only two. They both left large bodies of important work. Then there is the recently discovered Vivian Maier. She lived in their era and left behind thousands of undeveloped “classic” images, but who is making great photographs now?
After Tim Hetherington died I watched his “Diary” more than a couple times. Since then I have been shooting allot more video on my iphone. Tim’s work along with legendary war photographer James Nachtwey. Sometimes makes me want to catch the next flight to a war zone to cover the conflict that never happened while I was in the military. These guys were and are very dedicated to their work. Photography that has made a difference.
I once had a portfolio review by a very well established photographer. One of his comments was that when the composition got hard I would tilt the camera. In other words I should keep the horizon level and look harder rather than take an easy way out. I took it with a grain of salt, but still question myself when I tilt the camera today. I remember the first time a saw a Ragnar Axlsson image. I don’t know where I saw it, but it was an image of an old man rowing a small boat. It is still burnt into my mind. The eyes of the man in a such a surreal setting. A testament to the power of the still image. From his latest project : “Last Days of the Arctic” You will notice a few images where the horizon is way off axis. If the composition works he doesn’t care if the horizon is so off it looks like the world is ending. This has added a little validity to my own tilting horizons. In this long term project Rax documents the people and their life styles of the vanishing arctic.
Renato D’Agostin seeks a different or fresh perspective of over shot subjects. For his project “The Beautiful Cliché “ He achieved just that of Venice. A very over photographed place. He says photographers had given up on finding a new vision there. Any idiot can go to a location and get the classic shots that have been taken thousands of times before. You arrive check out a couple post card stands, buy a map and check your watch to see if you have time for coffee before sunset. How creative is making the same thing that someone else has done? Like Chase Jarvis said; “Don’t try to be better; try to be different. Different is better.” That being said; I can see a little influence of each of these guys in some of my own current work.
Although sometimes as photographers we compete; we are really a giant collective that feeds the organism that is photography. Pretty pictures are important to me, but I would like to be creative and to help make the world a better place. That really makes me wonder what Sebastião Salgado is up to.