Garry Winogrand – A Master of Street Photography

Garry Winogrand at Rice University

Visions and Images: Garry Winogrand, 1981

Garry Winogrand MIT Q&A with Winogrand Photographs

Garry Winogrand is one of the most iconic figures in the history of street photography. He is renowned for his candid and often humorous images of everyday life in America in the 1960s and 70s. He was a master of capturing the spontaneity and energy of the street, and his work is still admired and studied by photographers today.

Winogrand was born in the Bronx, New York in 1928. He was raised in a working-class Jewish family, and developed an interest in photography as a young man. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in City College of New York, where he studied photography under the influential teacher and photographer, Sid Grossman. Winogrand was also inspired by the work of street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who he admired for his “decisive moment” approach to photography.

In the 1950s, Winogrand was employed by the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force to document military personnel. This provided him with the opportunity to hone his skills as a photographer, and he developed an eye for capturing the energy of everyday life. In the early 1960s, he began taking photographs on the streets of New York City, and his work quickly gained recognition for its candid and often humorous nature.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, Winogrand continued to photograph the streets of New York and other cities across America. He developed a distinct style of street photography, characterized by his use of natural light, wide-angle lenses and fast shutter speeds. He often took shots from the hip, allowing him to capture his subjects in a candid and unguarded manner. His photographs were also marked by a sense of urgency, as he sought to capture the fleeting moments of everyday life.

Winogrand’s work was often seen as a critique of American consumer culture, as he highlighted the absurdity of contemporary life. He was also a pioneer in the use of color photography, which he used to great effect to capture the vibrancy of city life. His work was included in numerous exhibitions, and he was awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships in the late 1960s.

Winogrand’s career was cut short in 1984, when he died at the age of 56. He left behind a vast body of work, which continues to inspire photographers today. His photographs are a testament to his masterful technique and eye for composition, as well as his commitment to capturing the energy and spontaneity of street life.

What can other photographers learn from Garry Winogrand? Firstly, he was unafraid to experiment with different techniques and styles, and he was willing to take risks with his photography. He was also a master of composition, and his use of light and wide-angle lenses enabled him to capture his subjects in a unique and powerful way. Finally, he was dedicated to capturing the energy of everyday life, and his photographs demonstrate the importance of capturing the “decisive moment”.

Garry Winogrand's work is an inspiration to photographers everywhere, and his legacy continues to live on. His photographs are a testament to his skill and commitment to capturing the energy of everyday life, and his work is still admired and studied by photographers today.

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