Friday, July 11, 2014

Two things happened to me in the last two days that have had an impact.  One was a Charlie Rose interview with Sally Mann in which she demurred having talent, but acknowledged having tenacity.  To that end, she declared a willingness to rephotograph a subject as many times as it took to get it 'right', and then persistence in the darkroom to realize the best the good negative could surrender.  The second was the purchase of two monographs.  The first was 'here far away' by Pennti Sammallahti, and the second was Wynn Bullock, 'Revelations', a retrospective.  Their impact was to smack me upside the head about what it takes to 'make a picture', rather than render a negative.  Without Photoshop, these traditional artists bring drama and dynamic tension to what would be very ordinary images by intense burning and dodging.  Sometimes those techniques are so subtle you don't notice they've been applied, but the success of other images is entirely due to those blatant manipulations.

I'm in a learning process with the slave cabin pictures.  I need them to be much more dramatic, and that's not easy given what they are in reality.  Here are two that I've pushed to the edge of credibility, although they still look less than I want them to.  So, I may have to rephotograph the lot in a different way.  Tenacity and patience are the crucibles of progress. 


Anonymous said...

Agree on the work of Wynn Bullock. Another would be the recently deceased Ray McSavaney. His book "Explorations" demonstrates what can be accomplished in the darkroom to bring out the iconic possibilities of the mundane. Tabby is a difficult photo subject which was frequently used in SE for all types of buildings.

John Voss said...

Thank you for your comment, A. I hope to get the McSavaney book as soon as I can afford it. I always wanted to know more about him since he seemed to be a co-teacher with John Sexton for most workshops. I'm glad there's a book of his work.