Photography Books

I've been approaching my study of photography a lot how I was taught to approach writing poetry.  When you try to become a good writer you have to write, daily and regularly.  You also have to immerse yourself in reading great poetry. It's a practice.  That's how I could have been a poet once but now that I don't write or read much poetry I'm not really a poet anymore or at least I'm not a practicing poet.  I think I could become one again. Anyway, with photography I feel like I need to be shooting as much as possible and I need to be looking at great photographs and reading about great photographers.  The next step will be to let photographers I respect critique my work. All in due time.

So I have been enjoying some great photography books lately from the library.  I have found a few to be very inspiring.  The first once I read,  Annie Leibovitz at Work, was so great.  She is very visual in her writing and passionate about her work. She's a true artist.  She talks a lot about her life and work and about the things I would ask her if we were in the same room. I'll definitely going to buy this book.

Here's an excerpt from the end of Annie Leibovitz at Work.

I have a small but carefully selected collection of vintage photographs.  Pictures that mean something to me.  One of them is a black and white picture of a two lane highway stretching through the center of the photograph until it disappears into the flat horizon.  The highway was the route families took west, looking for work during the Depression.

The picture was taken by Dorothea Lange in 1938 when she was traveling around the country for the Farm Security Administration.  It makes me think of the story Lange told about one of her earliest field trips.  AFter spending a month on the road in southern California she was finally heading home.  It was raining and she was exhausted and she had a long drive ahead of her .  She had been working up to fourteen hours a day for weeks and was brining back hundreds of pictures of destitute farm workers.  Somewhere south of San Luis Obispo she saw out of the corner of her eye a sign that said PEA PICKERS CAMP.

She tried to put it out of her mind. She had plenty of pictures of migrant farmers already.  She was worried about her equipment, and thought about what might happen to her camera in the rain.  She drove for about twenty miles past the sign and made a U-turn.  She went back to the sign and turned down a muddy road.  A woman was sitting with her children on the edge of a huge camp of makeshift tents.  There were maybe three thousand migrant workers living there.  Lange took our her Graflex and shot six frames, one of them of the woman staring distractedly off to the side while two of her children buried their faces in her shoulders.

The image of the woman and her children became the most important photograph of Dorothea Lange's life and the iconic picture of the Depression.

When I'm asked about my work, I try to explain that there is no mystery involved.  It is work.  But things happen all the time that are unexpected, uncontrolled, unexplainable, even magical.  The work prepares you for that moment.  Suddenly the clouds roll in and the soft light you longed for appears.

1 Comment:

  1. Wendy said...
    Everything looks beautiful Sally!

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