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| p.1 #12 · Investigating an Henri Cartier-Bresson Image |
I respectfully disagree with just about everything you wrote. First, your analogy between past artists and past sports teams is flawed and unfair. You cannot relate a competition to an art. Surely, we can measure whether the teams of yore could defeat today's teams via statistics, but you cannot ever measure subjectivity in art.
Second, Cartier-Bresson's more popular works are true masterpieces. I'd literally retire if I were ever able to pull of a shot in the moment as masterful as HCB. I'll go further, if HCB were around today and covered a wedding...well, it would be spectacular. Keep in mind that HCB wandered the ever changing streets when he was making his photographs. His timing and sense of composition are truly amazing. You shoot weddings, you know. Could you imagine pulling off some of the images he made in that ever changing environment?
Third, I think the large majority of today's photography is 'empty' and without thought. I think images people like these days are much less cerebral. You mention that we use 'artistic elements that didnt exist back then'. I think many of the better documentary images back then absolutely blow todays vapid images out of the water. I also think this is a microcosm of today's 'MTV society' where we need to smack people in the face and tell them "THIS IS A GOOD IMAGE" with ubersimple photographs that are just 'pretty'.
Obviously, this is all subjective, but I couldnt feel more differently about 'the greats' than you
Not sure exactly what you're talking about, Chuck. My analogy was not made between the artists of today as compared to the artists of the 1920s, or whenever. I was talking about photography itself with the advancements with cameras, lenses, and technology.
You also have to taken into consideration that the culture has changed in terms of photography. In the 1920s, not a lot of people had cameras. They were cumbersome. Once "flashes" were made, you'd use and then have to replace it. So photographers, I'd like to think, really put a lot of thought into each picture because they had such logistical limitations. Can you imagine HCB shooting 2,000 pictures at a wedding?
So I don't disagree with you that 98% of people photography -- that's all of us, our children and their smart phones, included -- is done without any artistic thought. But there are artistic photographers around us. Check out Jordan Matters' "Dancers Among Us." Beautiful concept of dancers interacting in interesting and usually very public environments. Steve Wylie could tell you about the thought process that Jordan used in coming up with these scenes. It was thoughtful, creative, spontaneous, and fun. It played off of people's (or birds', in at least one excellent case) reactions without any direction to them.
The artistic elements I'm talking about is what we're able to do with illustration and compositing in post-processing. It would be like HCB delivering one of his photos to a impressionist painter and saying: "Make something out of this." But they didn't have that, or didn't try it anyway. So what we're able to do with our photography today is unfair to what they were able to do. Does that diminish their work? No. I'm just saying that it's different: the camera's capabilities, the technology, the culture, everything.
Maybe I'll expand on this later.