Unreal Nature

July 22, 2010

Not Alike As People

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:29 am

“The way I understand it, a photographer’s relationship to his medium is responsible for his relationship to the world is responsible for his relationship to his medium.”
Garry Winogrand

This is from an essay The Hair of the Dog by Lee Friedlander that’s in Arrivals & Departures: The Airport Pictures of Garry Winogrand eds Alex Harris and Lee Friedlander (2004):

… He and I cut our photographic teeth together at the same time and on the same fodder — the United States of the 1950s and 60s. We were not alike as people. We lived and traveled to different places. Our personal and photographic styles were different. I always think of Garry’s working energy as a kind of touchstone that made the work work. I have good work energy, but mine is more that of a plodder, one foot in front of the other, whereas Garry was a dynamo. I still like to think of him out there working and I still derive sustenance from these memories and from, of course, the work, the splendid work. Garry Winogrand was a big man with curly hair the color of a lion’s mane and a bawdy good cheer often matched by an equal cantankerousness. He was a bull of a man and the world his china shop. Garry’s appetites were huge. The photographic one was consummated and fed by a self with such an itching curiosity as to what life looked like in photographs, his photographs. The curiosity was matched by a never-ending engine of high energy, a facile and clear mind, and the ability to summon a will to deal photographically with whatever he saw in front of him.

He wanted to photograph it all, everyday. And most days he was at it or on the way there, rarely tired or out of steam, never bored. [ … ] It was wild to watch him. For three or four hours he photographed everyone [they were in New York City] who passed him. I said: Garry, you’re doing a census. He looked at me quickly and made a grunting noise and went back to his hunt. He wasn’t going to discuss something so sacred — in doing so, he would belittle it.

… Photography seemed for Garry a kind of emotional equalizer. He once told me: If it wasn’t for photography, I’d probably be in jail.

Garry Winogrand: photo by Judy Winogrand; late 1960s

If you’re not familiar with Garry Winogrand’s work, here are the Google Image search results for his name. [ link ]



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