Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The List

Each term in my intro digi classes, I force each student to draw a number out of a hat, and then give them an hour of class time to research the photographer that corresponds to the number on "the list." From that research, they're expected to give a 5 minute presentation basically covering the time frame of the work and the big ideas & images. I also schedule an additional 5 minutes for me to correct, add, blab, etc.
So basically we cram 170 years of photography into about 4 hours.

Each time I do this though, I can't decide on the list itself. In some cases, a photographer makes it on simply because their contribution must be noted. In some cases, because their work uses some important element that I feel like I should talk about and can't really think of anyone better. So, I guess I'm asking for input/advice/argument. Unless someone changes my mind in the next 6 hours, the list, this time around anyway, is going to be:

Niepce vs. Daguerre
Timothy O'Sullivan
August Sander
Lewis Hine?
Paul Strand?
F-64 (Adams, Weston, Cunningham)
Man Ray
FSA (Evans, Lange)
The Family of Man
Robert Frank's The Americans
John Szarkowski's Mirrors and Windows
Eggleston's Guide
New Topographics
Richard Avedon's In the American West
Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills
Gregory Crewdson
Maggie Taylor
Sherrie Levine and/or Richard Prince
Jeff Wall
Jason Salavon?

Who am I missing? Who am I including who I should let go of?

Also, keep in mind the academic context: community college, 4th week of class in an intro digi class.


Anonymous said...

atget for photo predecessor to 20th century
robinson/rejlander for pre-photoshop
pedro meyer and zone zero for beginnings of digital imagery

shawn said...

all great, but keep in mind that for this to work, I have to limit it to right around 20 photographers (actually 18 would even be better).


Anonymous said...

Wynn Bullock, Bernd and Hilla Becher , Shomei Tomatsu, Andre Kertesz ... not sure how to fit these into you scheme. Who am I to know? Just some photographers I really like.


shawn said...

Yeah, I hear you. It's hard, isn't it? I especially like the idea of adding the Bechers.

We do look at plenty of odds and ends and individual photographers over the term, but this particular list is meant to cover the important points in photo history.

shawn said...

hmmm... I didn't mean for that to sound like Kertesz & co. weren't important.

Thanks Luke.

Blake Andrews said...

Any photographers living in the Portland area should know Watkins, maybe Kinsey too.

Star Rosencrans said...

I had to do a similar thing in my first photo class, and ended up with Roy DeCarava.

Which I think is a pretty good pick, actually.

Robert said...

Artists that addressed abstraction, design and the connection to painting. Aaron Siskind, Ray Metzker and Jerry Uelsmann come to mind.

shawn said...

all good, but then back to that question of who to cut out to allow them in. watkins instead of o'sullivan perhaps? roy decarava should be in there, but who do i kick out? perhaps the limitation of 20 is just too flawed. maybe i need to increase it to say, 30, and be expected to talk about 10 myself.

Suzanne Revy said...

Great way to teach the history of photography.

Steiglitz seems absent. Though I expect pictorialism would cover the photo-secession, and that whole crowd, but he is important to the history of the medium, and not just to the pictorialists.

Blake Andrews said...

Yes, Watkins over O'Sullivan because he shot Portland, and in general an emphasis on Western photographers would be good for the same reason. Make it real for the kids. Instead of talking about dead Europeans point out a nearby landmark and say "person X shot that" As a bonus they might get some local history drilled into them. If they stick with photography they'll find all the rest of it in due time.

Robert said...

I think if the course is part of a visual art program it might be better served to connect the history of photography with the scope and methods of image making. Photographs can be very misleading about history and geographical landmarks. O'Sullivan's ruler in the landscape is a good example of that.

Anonymous said...

How about Cartier-Bresson/Magnum instead of the Family of Man, some Moriyama or Tomatsu, the Bechers for sure, drop Crewdson (but that's just my prejudice, I can see the point), cut a few from Hine/Strand/Pictorialism/F64/FSA, drop Szarkowski, add some photojournalism to go with Cartier-Bresson/Magnum, a bit of fashion maybe for a contemporary feel.

And someone who does the family thing - Larry Sultan or Richard Billingham jump out.

Add something new? Add something collage/photogrammy

shawn said...

yeah, I think I might agree. We made it halfway through and it got to feeling a little redundant with Hine, FSA, etc.

I've got Szarkowski there to encompass Arbus, Friedlander, etc. and also because the concept of that show is something easy to understand. The Bechers are included in the New Topographics... Family of Man I've got in there to talk about the importance of the heyday of photo magazines- Life, Look, etc.

As for fashion photography, I'd kind of take the stand that Avedon and Crewdson are both fashion photographers.

Tomatsu? I need to do some learning myself. I also need to be able to make soundbite sense of Jeff Wall and Sherrie Levine next week.

Maybe the cover song concept is a way to make sense of Sherrie Levine's appropriation.

Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

this was the most interesting contextualization of sherry levine's work, i've seen:


not sure if that's helpful or not.

as for the list, have you noticed that your first female photographer doesn't appear on the list until early 20th c? and after that, the representation is still pretty light. what about anna atkins, julia margaret cameron, lady hawarden, gertrude kasebier, bernice abbott, lee miller, lisette model, nan goldin, lorna simpson, nikki s. lee, etc. not to mention the role of women in early darkrooms - women were hired to do much of actual "darkroom" work given those "slight and nimble hands."

anyhow, just a thought. its a long list. you make it much longer and it turns in to a photo history text. have you considered making the list specific to the idea of image "editing?" the exhibition "making it real" at the kieth de lellis gallery as an exaple.

regardless, good luck with the next round!

dr.brown said...

Don't forget Shore!