Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/05/02

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Magnum
From: Johnny Deadman <>
Date: Wed, 02 May 2001 08:52:34 -0400

on 5/2/01 6:15 AM, Oddmund Garvik at wrote:

> The main photographic concern today should be the restoring of the
> image, breaking the impact of the image pollution. Barnak "invented" the
> 35mm camera. Leica made the photo reportage possible. But one day it
> (almost) stopped. Photography became too dangerous for the establishment.
> The images were too exposing and "disappeared" from the medias. Some
> medias even disappeared. The power needed another "image" and started
> pouring out anything in a total disorder, but efficiently. The image
> became banal, without any direction, any idea, any emotion. Just images.
> Thousands of images. Commercial junk.

I couldn't agree more with this... the diagnosis if not the analysis. I
don't believe 'dangerous' images disappeared from the media because of any
action by the establishment, but due to market pressures and corporate
acquisitions which forced the various media, like the right and the left in
politics, to become more the-same in order to complete. Any organ that
wasn't the-same either disappeared or shrivelled to a tiny hard-core
readership. Of course that may be exactly what Oddmund is saying in his own
political dialect.

Example: photo editors of the few magazines that still publish extended
photostories now report that they get fewer and fewer self-financed projects
coming over the threshold. Either it's no longer financially viable, or
people have just given up because they can't get the pictures out.

(I got in the mail yesterday a magazine called "Labor's Heritage" featuring
a beautiful, long photo-essay by Slobodan Dimitrov of this list, shot on his
4x5... portraits of construction workers. Stunning. Slobodan, I can't
believe you made any money from this project, but thanks for doing it! I'm
passing the mag on...)

The internet has been highly touted as a means of breaking this
stranglehold. It remains to be seen whether this will happen. I am on the
fence but not especially hopeful.
> Here and there outstanding images, and outstanding photographers and
> photojournalists. There are Magnum and some other agencies. But they are
> also becoming commercial and directed. The dominant situation is decline.

I guess it is. But we are also living in what A D Coleman calls the 'golden
age of the photo book' (see his essay at Most
of this stuff is banal nonsense, but there is riveting work out there too,
like that Larry Towell book Oddmund mentioned.
> What about restoring a photographic movement like in the past? Like the
> Photo League? This is an old idea i have, and I wote this here at the Lug
> back in 1996 (I too, start citing myself, what a horror...!):

An interesting idea! But not if tied to a political agenda. If tied to some
notion of the power and integrity of the image, and its relation to the real
world as opposed to galleries, curators, editors, ad-men, and stockholders,

- -- 
Johnny Deadman

Replies: Reply from Oddmund Garvik <> (Re: [Leica] Magnum)
Reply from S Dimitrov <> (Re: [Leica] Magnum)