Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Snapshot Aesthetic

The more I shoot these days, the less ambition I have to attempt make a "great photograph", I find that this more casual approach loosens me up a bit and the image come across as more spontaneous and dynamic, and hopefully more interesting. I have been greatly influenced by the work of some of the photographers who have mastered the snapshot aesthetic. I guess the goal for me is somehow integrate a classically composed photograph (ala weston, sudek, strand, steglitz) with the looser more free flowing work of winogrand, goldin et al. I believe the shitty cameras such as the diana, brownie and holga are perfect tools for this impulsive shooting. below is a quick cut and past from wikapedia as it relates to the snapshot aesthetic.

The term snapshot aesthetic refers to a trend within fine art photography in the USA from around 1963. The style typically features apparently banal everyday subject matter and off-centered framing. Subject matter is often presented without apparent link from image-to-image and relying instead on juxtaposition and disjunction between individual photographs. This tendency was promoted by John Szarkowski, who was head of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art from 1962 to 1991, and it became especially fashionable from the late 1970s until the mid 1980s. Notable practitioners include Garry Winogrand, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Martin Parr, William Eggleston, and Terry Richardson. In contrast with photographers like W. Eugene Smith and Gordon Parks, these photographers aimed not "to reform life but to know it." (John Szarkowski, Diane Arbus) Szarkowski brought to prominence the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand in his influential exhibition “New Documents” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967, in which he identified a new trend in photography: pictures that seemed to have a casual, snapshot-like look and had subject matter that seemed strikingly ordinary.

The term arose from the fascination of artists with the 'classic' black & white vernacular snapshot, the characteristics of which were: 1) they were made with a camera on which the viewfinder could not easily 'see' the edges of the frame, and so the subject had to be centred; and 2) they were made by ordinary people recording the ceremonies of their lives and the places that they lived and visited.

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