Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The '70s: Photography and Everyday Life


The '70s: Photography and Everyday Life is both a refreshing and nostalgic review of a small slice of the diversity that was photography in the '70s. And make no doubt, as diverse as the photography is in this book, it is but a small, very small representation of what was going on in that decade.  A decade that first brought photography to the forefront of the art world, only to have itself reinvented yet again under the guise of color photography!

It would be very easy to Conscientiously isolate a stereotypical B&W street photographer from that era and proclaim his work representative of the entire period- that would be as accurate as proclaiming Leroy Neiman its premier painter, or Ryan McGinley the photographic icon of the first ten years of this century. One of the great things about this digital age is being able to bookmark anything and everything available to us online- and how  many photographers today do not have some kind of digital presence? True there may have been fewer photographers back then, but certainly not a lack of approaches, or styles- and unfortunately, it's now often hard if not impossible to find many of the photographers who prominently graced the gallery walls of that era. I would hunt out The Village Voice back then just to gaze in awe at the weekly portrait by James Hamilton (who preceded Slvia Plachy there)- one of photography's premier portraitists who could coax strikingly compelling visuals from the most basic of compositions. And yet not one book, website or retrospective today celebrates his contribution.

One could just as easily argue that color photography today is in as big a rut as B&W ever was- or that neither particularly was, nor is. And you'd be hard pressed to find any kind of photographic "style" (short of that derived from digital specific technology) that wasn't practiced, refined or even initiated back in that golden analogue era.

3 comments:

beatriz said...

I "found" photography in the '70's and in the USA...some great work but also some heavily dogmatic ideas about photos. I worked in a membership darkroom (in the west coast Ansel Adams-Weston tradition) and saw what photographers were striving for...tonality, texture, the rules of composition etc. I think of the 70's as being a transition period, from trying to prove that photography was "Art" and recognizing that photography already had its valid, intrinsic features that needed to be explored.
I found Anders Petersen last year and think he is one of the best photographers in the world. So great to see one of his photos here.

Tom White said...

Who was the photograph of the couple in the yard by? A Dutch friend of mine years ago showed me this picture - it was taken by a family friend of his but I cannot for the life of me remember who it was - I remeber there were a ton of other great pictures though...

Stan B. said...

Good question Tom, I was pressed for time and somehow couldn't locate it myself. I'll give it another go- but it may be some time before I have the opportunity. In the meantime, if anyone else...