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Not a new series but I had long forgotten about Tatsumi Orimoto’s work—heck, I’d forgotten his name even—until one of his photos came across my Tumblr feed. Not much to say about these except that, as sort of mean as these are, I find them funny and they remind me of my grandmother.*
*My grandmother got dementia before she died. As tragic is it was to see her decline, we often couldn’t help but laugh at how she dealt with things. And it was always especially amusing to see her routine get shaken up and her not really notice at all.
The photographs in Haunted Air provide an extraordinary glimpse into the traditions of this macabre festival from ages past, and form an important document of photographic history. These are the pictures of the dead: family portraits, mementos of the treasured, now unrecognizable, and others.
Another through the tumblr wires. In this case, while these are indeed striking images from a historical point of view,* it’s really the portraiture point view which is more interesting to me here. Being a parent has reminded my of how important Halloween costumes are to us when we’re little. These are all family portraits which function as portraits despite, and because of, their uncanniness. The masks don’t hide anything. They never hide anything.
*Before Halloween became dominated by slickly-manufactured costumes and merchandising tie ins.
I don’t have much more to add which isn’t already covered by @kukkurovaca’s writing on Meatyard and hope that this post encourages him to migrate some of those over to this blog.
Start with the snapshot. Start with the connection. Figure out why grandma cares about the subject and make that the keystone in a photograph. Then pile on the better gear, experience and technical tricks to make it a better damn photograph than grandma can take.
The irony of dismissal via snapshot is that “snapshots” are almost always the most-posed and edited photos in the album. Seriously. Think about all the photos your parents, relatives, friends’ parents, etc. took of you. “Everybody get together. Smile. Stop screwing around! You too! Okay let me back up and get everyone in. On three. Okay, I think someone blinked, let me take another just to be safe. etc. etc.”
Aspiring to take meaningful and good family photos is all I truly care about in my photography. That this is somehow an inferior practice? Please. Those are the only photos most of us really care about.
“Look, I’m one of these people, I do not have a green thumb. I look at plants, and they wither and die. And so I had this empty flowerpot that was sitting in my studio, and a mother came in with this little 6-month-old baby, who was wearing a little woolen hat, a little fluffy woolen hat, and I saw the flowerpot and I thought, well, wow, she’d look like a lovely little cactus. And so we sat her in the flowerpot, and it was a black-and-white image, and that was that.”
From humble beginnings to a publishing powerhouse. And yes, it’s totally important to look at photographers who are popular but not necessarily good or important* since it forces you to confront issues of taste and why you like or dislike something.
Geddes is easy to use as a punchline. But she’s popular and a ton of people want to ape her style when taking photos of their kids. I have my photographic influences as well. I’d like to think that I’m not aping them just because I like what the images look like.
In a new series called Off the Radar, LightBox asks celebrated photographers to write about image makers whose work they admire yet may be unknown to a wider audience. Here, Mark Steinmetz celebrates a group of women who documented life in the Northeastern United States in the 1980s.
I would like to call attention to some remarkable photography made in the late 1970s and early 1980s by nine women in Massachusetts.
So this is cool and important. It’s always nice to find out about new photographers and I really like the “off the radar” idea. It’s also great that the off-the-radar choices are a different demographic than the person doing the choosing. All too often we pick someone like ourselves in this situation so props to Steinmetz for not doing so.
All that said, I’d still like to see women photographers get featured who aren’t primarily taking photos of people.