Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/06/02

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Powerful image
From: Donal Philby <>
Date: Tue, 02 Jun 1998 21:21:56 +0000

Five Senses Productions wrote:
> You have coined a great term for the type of photography you
> describe....."anti-photography."  To the trained eye, it appears
> to have been shot by a 1 year old or, at best, a 5 year old.
> Nonetheless, some of the proponents of this new artform spend
> time, as most of us do, to create "something different."  I myself
> don't waste time trying to create "anti-photos," but I certainly leave
> my mind open to them as viable artistic creations.  This style seems
> to be quite popular nowadays, as does anti-establishment modern
> art of any kind.  It is a force to be reckoned with, to say the least.
> I, for one, actually like and admire some of the creative techniques
> some of these photographers use, and though it sometimes seems
> they are shooting blindly and creating outtakes, they are most likely
> spending as much time creating their "masterpieces" as most of us
> LUGgers do.

You make some good points.  I am sure there is some work involved.  I
have, however, met photographers doing this kind of work.  The term
"vacuous" comes to mind.  I'm sure there are exceptions.  

At any rate, I think it is a result of not taking responsibility for the
image in the classical sense.  Kind of like grunge style.  It is more
anti than something.  They remind me of the photos kids take in their
first photo class where anything weird is exciting, but they never grew
out of it.  Like when a child brings home drawing in grade school and as
a parent you go on and on praising it, even if it is bad.  It is as if
those kids grew up still expecting praise without really growing in
sophistication or discipline.

I was just reviewing a wonderful publication from Taiwan called (in
English) Photographers International.  This issue has photos by Nikos
Economopoulos, Bernard Plossu, Alen MacWeeney and others.  All BW.  Some
are of the "snapshot" style, seemingly, but upon study, most have a
complexity, a subtley, a decisive moment.  Rather than anti photographs,
they are filled with enigma and mystery.  They are done with a passion
for seeing and feeling.  They are not about the photographer, about
being cute and self indulgent, nor about being trendy.

Every period has its trendy artists.  Many of these make big money. 
They come and go.  

 But what has bound many Leica users over the decades has been a
reaching for the universal.  This is why so many famous, "powerful,"
touching photos in the history of photography have been taken with

- -- 
Donal Philby
San Diego