I have been going through some of my parents photographs recently. I always seem to do this around the holidays. There are prints from wet plates of the family in Missouri in the 1870s, a beautiful 2 1/4x 31/4 platinum portrait of my grandmother at 16 from 1917 and the typical photo in uniform of my grandfather (army, WW1) and my dad, (navy,WW2)
It makes me wonder. Who is the greater photographer or artist. Is it the Adams and Westons of the world, or the long forgotten neighborhood or small town photographer? Which leaves the greater legacy behind? Who touches the most lives?
without a doubt the small town photographer. Now if the question is who makes the most interesting images then the answer may not be that.\\
Speaking of Weston, given any thought when we need to get together for a trip to the Amon Carter to view the Edward Weston show. Middle of Jan it comes down I think.
Well this is an interesting question. I could almost conclude that the greater artist are the ones in the small towns, then I think about the work of Curtis, O'Sullivan, then the lesser known E. Knee, M. Wood, they all fall in the shadows of Adams, Weston and the like. Yet without the small town photographers we have no images to connect us to our past. The images of people, just like the ones on this site, that are every bit as good (and sometimes just as interesting) as those of the Grand Masters..well how dull would our walls be (physical and emotional inner walls). Very few will attain the recognition of Adams or Weston, but how much recognition would they have without all of the others?
Good question...Lee, you are correct the Weston exhibit does come down on Jan. 19.
I think you are right on the mark on this one. Good thoughts.
If we accept the interpertation that a legacy is something that is handed down to succeeding generations then I find it difficult to make a determination who has had the greater impact. Certainly the hometown photographers have over time facilitated others as they have engaged in the leaving of a legacy. Have they themselves actually left something behind. Yes, I imagine that you can say they have. But what is it and what has it amounted to?
Accepting the interpertation of legacy as stated above, I also must allow for the fact that Curtis, Weston(s), Adams, Sieglitz, Strand, among a vast number of others have left a legacy that is rich and varied on the professional practice of photography.
As I see it legacies have been left by both groups. The legacies that have been left are different and both are of value.
I wonder how proficient any of us would be if we had only the hometown photographer from which to draw our knowledge, appreciation, and experience of photography as a means of expression.
I think we're talking apples, oranges, grapes and pears here. There are so many applications of photography that it is impossible to answer the initial question.
"Portrait photographers" whose function is has been to record the life of a family. Birth, weddings, family get togethers, family portraits etc. These are incredibly important on a personal level to most families.
Journalist, newspaper type photographers that cover our world and bring us a view of other places and people that we would never have seen without them. (Life Magazine, National Geographic, Eisenstadt etc)
Commercial photographers who have in the last few years set the standards for everyone else. They are the ones who do all the advertising photography we see in virtually every magazine and billboard. They influenced what peopel want their portraits to look like, they influenced what peoples homes look like and they influence what people want to think they look like as well as unfortunately try to sell a lot of crap we don't want or need. I believe they are the most influential photographers that there are today.
Fashion, illustrative photographer who also have often set the style and trends of photography and continue to do so. (Avadon Helmut Newton etc)
Landscape and scenic photographer have not only given us a record of the beauty in our world they have contributed to environmental movements to stop our devastation of these areas.
Our blending of these styles of photography has produces many sub styles of photography.
To say that one is more important than the other is very difficult.
I once had a talk with a very good fashion photographer and I told him I loved his work and was kind of jealous of his work environment (beautiful models) and his creativity. He told me that his work is essentially frivolous and irrelevant, and ends up in a magazine that is thrown out every month. He told me that it was I, a portrait photographer, who had it made because I was creating beautiful memories for people that were staying for years on their walls.
I started to think that maybe he was right and if he wasn't, it was still a very satisfying profession.
JIm68134, knew when I saw this it was going to be a good thread and so far it IS!
jdef, Rant all you want to - I think you are dead on and this is one of favorite subjects, the loss of the family album (CD, floppy, or just plain bad print).
Don, you have shared a great insight here I think. Without the master photographers, printers, etc who would we learn from. The list of good photographers that we all know are still unknown to the general public, but we as 'lovers of photography' enjoy and learn from what they did before us.
And Michael, I guess we are never sure if the path we took is the right one, but I can see where you can find enormous satisfaction from your work..just think in a hundred years someone will sit down just as jdef's family did and your work will be the inspiration of a whole new generation, where they will discuss how wonderful it was that not everyone bought into the digital age, that artist kept working in the time tested medium of silver processing...so they can see what gran-ma and gran-pa looked like way back in '03.
Wonder what the hot paper/film/developer combo will be then....And who will be the photographers they are talking about at the local museum, maybe the guy who did all those cool moonscapes in Black and White.......
Good thread, but please remember, ol' Eddie Weston was an accomplished portrait photographer as well as an Artist. Ansel whatshisname had a great career as a commecial photographer, too. So, you have to count them as "local photographers" too.
I've bought a whole lot of old prints lately, mostly out of a desire to see more examples of old printing styles and techniques.
Many of these are "Carte de Visite" or formal portraits. It makes me sad to know that noone now knows who these people were, or even worse: Someone knows who they were, but no longer care.
Most of them have the photographer's name on the back; fancy wholepage designs or squidged rubber stamps, some have it in small gold letters on the bottom of the front of the print, but very very few have the subject's name anywhere.
Great thread. Many years ago I was of the opinion that the Westons and Adams were the beginning and end of photography and their landscape photographs were the only images worth looking at. Family photographs and any commercial photography was ignored. I then met an elderly photographer who was also very interested and knowledgable about the history of photography and we had many deep and sometimes argumentative discussions on the very subject of this thread. His view was that the most important photographs were those made by the local photographer as well as those family and holiday photographs made by the general public for they would provide the historians with extremely valuable evidence as to how people lived, what they wore even how they cut their hair.
Initally I rubbished this view but eventually I realised that there was a lot of truth in what he said. He never rubbished the landscapes of the greats that I loved so much, in fact he thought that they were also great photographs, just not so important as the others. He felt that although the landscape changed it did take time whereas fashions and living conditions etc frequently change.
I recently visited Point Lobos for the first time and walked on the hallowed ground walked on and photographed by perhaps the greatest influence on my photography, Mr Edward Weston. To say that I felt humble is an understatement, I saw Edward Weston images everwhere that I looked and my mind went back to those long and interesting conversations with my friend and thought again how right he was. Weston has been gone for 50 years and his landscape has changed little but look at how the rest of the world has changed.
I am not dissmissing the work of the greats, for they have brought to all who look at the prints they left behind a beauty and celebration of the landscape for as long as the prints exist. I also think that many more interesting and valid points have been made in this extremely interesting thread, thanks to you all.