There is an exhibit in my town featuring Joel Meyerowitz's post-9/11 photographs of ground zero.
I had a chance to see them today while I was photographing the university campus where they are being shown (commercial job, all day, lots of gear, demanding client and a now a headache...anyway...)
To be perfectly honest, I was a bit disappointed.
Oh, the images are powerful enough. Some are very, very moving. And maybe that is what really counts. After all, the photos are unique...Meyerowitz was the only photographer allowed on the site... and they do/will stand as the only photographic record of that site in those days.
But the photo-tech-geek in me was just a bit frustrated. Tthe print quality and the presentation was simply not what I was expecting. There are some shots that are obviously large format others seem 35mm or medium format. All the images are very large (30x40?) and in colour. Some are a bit out of focus or perhaps show camera shake...some are relatively grainy, others a bit underexposed. Frankly, none are not what I would consider excellent prints. They seem, well, a bit dull. I was expecting colour prints from 8x10 negs to have a bit more "wow" to them but these prints were kinda flat. The shots from smaller formats where simply over-enlarged in my opinion.
All the prints were mounted to what seemed like a sheet of black plexiglass which was mounted to a larger piece of frosted plexi-type of material. Looking closely I noticed that several of the prints were actually peeling off of the substrate a wee bit in the corners. The prints were either on semi-matt paper or had some sort of spray coating applied...not a great look IMHO.
Anyway, as I mentioned, the show left me feeling somewhat frustrated. I was expecting a much more polished presentation and higher quality prints.
I was also quite surprised at my own sense of guilt at feeling this way. I mean the power of the subject matter really should transcend the mediocrity of the presentation, right? Is my fine-print snobbishness getting in the way of truly appreciating this show?
I would not feel guilty, yes the subject matter is powerful..but then that should mean a much better job was done at least on the presentation. There really is no reason for the prints to be pulling away from the mount and as to the quality of the exposure/image...do you think it was any more difficult than what the guys during WWII went through or the other pj who have brought back so many Good images (and some of them were just trying to stay alive). I would think that at the very least a strong effort with the presentation should have been made..based on you description that was not the case.