The picture necessarily fails both its maker and its subject matter. As painful as that sounds, it's actually ok: as a new thing in the world, the photograph is not to be judged by fidelity to mind or referent, but by its own internal standard of usefulness.
Who better to roam the French capital with than Mark Steinmetz, author of Paris in my time? We started our conversation over breakfast in a bustling café in Montmartre and then made our way to the Place de Clichy, with Mark all the while making pictures (listen closely for the shutter) for an ongoing project. We talked about Atget and Cartier-Bresson, light and weather, punks and tennis. About Winogrand and exceeding yourself with a camera.
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A couple months after our publication of John Gossage's A Dozen Failures, we talked with John about that title, some of his previous projects, and the history of photobooks running from Atget to Evans and Frank to Baltz and up to today. The conversation was edited into “A Walking Conversation with John Gossage,” for SPOT magazine, published by the Houston Center for Photography.
And that failures book he talks about? You can get your own copy here.
I’d always thought of the title of William Eggleston’s The Democratic Forest as a sort of mischevious redundancy. Left to its own devices, a forest is a model of democracy, and it can hardly be otherwise. It takes human intervention in the form of monoculture to strip the diversity from the woods, making them more easily exploitable but less able to survive in a challenging environment on their own. In its recent and weighty Steidl expansion, Eggleston’s forest has suffered just such an intrusion. And to similarly ill effect.
My copy of Beauty in Photography is pretty heavily underlined throughout, and nowhere more than in the title essay. But with all the marks and margin notes I’ve made, there is only one instance of double underlining:
Why is Form beautiful? Because, I think, it helps us meet our worst fear, the suspicion that life may be chaos and that therefore our suffering without meaning.
There’s much to unpack in that short Q and A.
Books are fun. Music is fun. People are fun (lots). Pictures are fun. Lists are fun. This past year was fun, for the most part.
Here are a few things that gave me hope in 2015.