Fazal Sheikh, Ramadan Moon

Predominantly a portrait photographer, Sheikh uses his work to highlight humanitarian and other issues (refugees, migrant workers are among his more common subject matter). Rather than simply taking stock images of the other, Sheikh is in no way condescending towards his subjects, and their portraits are all instilled with a dignity and respect despite their plight. Continue reading “Fazal Sheikh, Ramadan Moon”

Bertien van Manen

This photographer is of particular interest to me since she works in the documentary tradition and (on some earlier projects) in the same geographical territory as me – namely the former USSR: “I did not focus on poverty, but the average living conditions are, of course, poorer than in the West. On the other hand I did not try to show happiness and lightheartedness where it does not exist.” Continue reading “Bertien van Manen”

Francis Giacobetti, Francis Bacon portraits & last interview

Looking up some quotes from Bacon, I came across the following interesting and inspiring words:

“The feeling of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment, because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.” (Francis Bacon) I think this is so true, and have always maintained that to create a piece of art, a piece of the artist must of necessity suffer, perhaps even die. I never photograph on a full stomach – hunger hones the quest for creating images, actually helps me to see better. Continue reading “Francis Giacobetti, Francis Bacon portraits & last interview”

Nan Goldin

Another photographer hailing from a middle-class suburban background who plunged headlong into the abyss of a drug-fuelled life, Nan Goldin also uses documentary technique to narrate a story that is not about the other, but essentially an autobiography: “People commonly think of the photographer as a voyeur, but this is my party, I’m not crashing.” Continue reading “Nan Goldin”

Larry Sultan, The Valley

On a different note, the author also mentions Larry Sultan’s work, The Valley,which at first glance is simply a behind the scenes documentary of the porn industry. Both pornography and documentary rely on the viewer suspending disbelief and playing along with the notion that the subjects were unaware they were being filmed or that the whole scenario had not been staged or choreographed for the cameras. Sultan is using the documentary tradition to raise a number of questions, mostly concerning the production and consumption of those very images. Continue reading “Larry Sultan, The Valley”

Karen Knorr, Marks of Distinction

Karen Knorr’s work is similarly laden with irony. Her images are also of the documentary style (recall the depression-era interiors of Evans), as well as bearing some resemblance to Arbus’s subjects posing in their homes. In this case the freaks are the aristocratic and wealthy classes. Continue reading “Karen Knorr, Marks of Distinction”

Martin Parr, Cost of Living

The tradition of documentary photography is to shoot pictures of the Other, to enter an unfamiliar or foreign situation and reveal it to the outside world. Since photographers generally come from middle class backgrounds, the other is predominantly working class, developing world, poor, weak, diseased, abject etc. artists breaking with this tradition (of pointing the camera downwards, as Rosler put it) include Martin Parr, whose Cost of Living looks at his own middle class roots, and Karen Knorr’s Marks of Distinction, which turns the camera on the wealthier strata of British society. Continue reading “Martin Parr, Cost of Living”