Too hard to choose

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    To choose only one photographer seems to me like choosing only one author, an impossible task for one who reads, equally impossible for those of us who look at photographs and are always being consciously and unconsciously influenced by the images we see. The photographs in the newspapers seem to be increasingly powerful; photojournalists today have so many more tools than their predecessors. I pay homage to them, and to commercial (advertising) photography as well, (although not everyone is a Richard Avedon), even though I rarely notice the names under the images.
    I grew up on Cape Cod. I sometimes saw Joel Meyerwitz with his big box camera shooting huge horizons blending sky and sea. His use of light and “empty” space speaks to me. I’ve lived in cities: Helen Levitt told the stories of New York through the faces of the children, in the streets, at the hydrants. The geometry of Bourke-White’s images, stark and repetitive shapes in architecture, forces me to see art in function. The bare evocative limbs and lines of a classic Steiglitz shows the body folded up like a flower. There is the intimacy of Doisneau and Brassai, the darkness and despair of Strand and Lange and Evans, the majestic nature images of Minor White and Adams. These images live with me, and impact how I see the world I live in.
    But for today, I’ll choose Atget. His formal symmetry matched something in the Parisian aesthetic. His images are both clean and rich. There is symbolism at the most representational level: a reflection in a store window; two plants in stone planters frame an empty stairway, an empty street. His are photographs without living beings, that capture a way of life.
    “He was an urbanist historian, a Balzac of the camera, from whose work we can weave a large tapestry of French civilization.” (Berenice Abbott)

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Beautifully written. You’ve mentioned quite a few photographers in this report. The point wasn’t to pick a favorite, but to look for reoccurring themes in the work of photographers you admire. It may tell you something about the aesthetic that you’re drawn towards. If it doesn’t tell you about tone (which it doesn’t seem that you have 1 identifiable tone based on your influences), then maybe it will tell you something about your design preferences, use of characters, types of characters, lines, sub plots etc.

    I really enjoyed reading this write up. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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