masters of photography

January 19, 2009


Alec Soth

October 28, 2008

During the past few months I have made book suggestions or shown videos portraying photographers that I like. Among them Richard Avedon, Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark and others.
The more I look at this I notice that there is a certain way of approach towards people that most if not all of these artists seem to share. Their images might be very different but they all show a direct interaction between the photographer and the subject. This is not about a “decisive moment”, capturing brief situations between people on the street… it is rather building up a personal relationship with the person then portraying this character in a setting that resembles this particular individual, the place etc.

Alec Soth is a contemporary photographer from Minneapolis, Minnesota and member of MAGNUM. In his approach and style he reminds me very much of William Eggleston and/or Joel Sternfeld. His images are well composed, in color, and almost surreal in their expression. The arrangements appear almost static, however, there is an intensity in the communication between the people portrayed and the camera that always leaves me fascinated, wanting to see more.

Check it out, he’s worth it!

Mary Ellen Mark

September 15, 2008

Mary Ellen Mark is also surely one of my favorite photographers. She has a talent to build up a relationship to the people she is working with that really translates into her photography. Let it be formal style portraiture or 35mm documentaries… the images seem to show the inner self of the portrayed people. Very emotional, moving, capturing the imagination of the viewer.

Mary Ellen Mark is also standing out as a photographer with a social conscience. Her documentary publications about drug addicted teenagers in America are remarkable. And the work she did in India about circus artists, or her photographic documentation about brothels in Bombay, are just breathtaking. With this she has managed to change my personal view on the world.

Sally Mann

August 1, 2008

One of my favorite photographers is Sally Mann. A lot of what she shows in her images really represents my own feelings about photography. She has been highly controversial showing fine art photographs of her family and especially children, being accused of feeding pedophile phantasies etc.

I don’t agree. As Sally Mann states in this video, you can only truly portrait what you love and what you really know. Showing your children the way they are, naked and beautiful, doesn’t make the pictures pornographic or pedophile. The same applies to the wonderful photographs of Jock Sturges.

Abuse of these images is another question and may be a problem. But art should never give in too much to zeitgeist.