Monday, June 16, 2008

my heroes have always stared out windows (oftentimes while smoking)

A good friend pointed out the other day that my blog really sucks lately. Yeah sure, I'll take that. Just awfully busy answering to tasks that have deadlines and/or pay. But, that said, all of a sudden here I find myself done with school for the summer (well, I still need to post grades), and down in Los Angeles for the next week. Not a lot of free time, but still, I'm going to try to build up a little blogmentum here. But that said, I just realized that I've got about twenty minutes and then have to leave for the day. I'm going to cut through the bullshit and get to the core…

Yesterday, after my breakfast partner left me at the hotel restaurant to finish my coffee, I had a long and awkward moment with myself. The hotel's mirrored walls left me in an empty restaurant, staring at my remarkably egg-shaped head. Though it wasn't exactly fully conscious, I realized that I kept picking up my coffee cup and staring out the window, while trying to peek back and watch myself doing so. Here it was, that awkward moment my subjects feel when I'm doing an editorial job, only I was there as both photographer and subject, confused in both roles, trying to figure out what the other wanted, painfully self-aware the entire time.

This moment brings up one or two incomplete thoughts that I'd love to just throw out for discussion:

• band photography: is there a way to photograph a group of painfully self-aware 20 somethings in their hipster finest and not have it reek? Please, let's talk about band photography- show/share. My favorite band photo of all time is the inside jungle hippie photo from an old Three Dog Night album, but I can't find it online. I just remember it had a pregnant woman and a watermelon in it and, in a sense, is somewhat reminiscent of Justine Kurland's contemporary work.

• I recently came across something where a curator said that they did not want to see "disaffected young people staring into space." The phrase has stuck ever since… I think it's certainly one of those contemporary clich├ęs, but again, one that I lean toward defending. By keeping the gesture ambiguous, don't we (photographers), create a sort of space for projection? I don't know, it's a hard line to tread. Maybe overused because it's so effective?

Hmm, we'll come back to this. Gotta run.
Robert Frank, the Americans

Anton Corbjin from the film Closer

Justine Kurland


Aaron Fallon said...

On band photography---- How do you feel about reportage and band photography (not really talking about live performance shots). Unlike of a bunch of 20 something's self aware and posing for the camera, reportage of bands (in the Jim Marshall sense of it) can be incredibly interesting work-----going on tour, following them backstage, getting those absurd, intimate, pensive, or even common moments that a photographer may have unique access to... And I think that applies to present day as well. A lot of interesting work can come from going out on the road with a band.

Jim Marshall

Christopher Wray-Mccann

Aaron Fallon said...

Clarification... Not that I'm saying they're not self-aware when it comes to reportage, just that it's a different kind of awareness and often, there are really interesting moments...

Mike Wood said...

That Justine Curland image is very cool. very hippie, earth-mother like, life amongst deforestation. And the Robert Frank shot is like so many road trip me-driving-in-the-car images you everywhere, and yet it's not. Both very cool. Thanks for sharing those with your post.


bd said...

This is the best band photo ever taken. Or maybe one of them. Okay, no-where near the best but I love it.

That said... It's the lack of self-awareness that's wonderful. They're doing their thing... maybe that's the trick. Getting them doing the thing at which they're brilliant (assuming there's something at which they're brilliant) and letting the energy of that shine through, rather than putting them in a false environment where it's all about THEM and expecting them not to be self aware.

I love you.

bd said...

forgot the link: