Blog posts tagged ‘Düsseldorfianism’ - for Picture Tags click here

It’s Taylor Wessing time. Yawn.

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

I do find it dreary when people moan on and on about the kind of work that is selected by prize juries, I really do, and I know the worthies involved feel the need to surf the zeitgeist, keep the prize relevant, all that. But I’m sorry, I think this is going to be a rant.

Flicking through the shortlist for this year’s Taylor Wessing Prize makes my heart sink. When are we going to break away from this lazy, Düsseldorfian approach to portraiture? I’m not saying there aren’t some great portraits there, Jill Wooster’s piece is stunning for example, but the jury insist on packing the list with pictures that could have been taken by one photographer.

Have we really reduced photographic portraiture to the level of mundane formula? Where is the sensitive use of light? Why are the subjects stripped of all context? And – God forbid – movement? Why do they all make me feel just so bloody glum?

There are some photographers doing great portrait work out there. Laura Hynd, for instance, or Leonie Hampton – I’m sure many of the shortlisted photographers have work that is more interesting than what was chosen.

Sadly, though, the jury serves up the usual.

Has the Düsseldorf School killed photography?

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I am indebted to Grant Scott at the UK’s Professional Photographer magazine.

In the 18th January edition this year – which I’ve only just seen – he writes a heartfelt opinion piece entitled Has The Düsseldorf School killed photography? As anyone who knows me will have heard me say, no doubt ad nauseam, I find the whole Düsseldorf imitation business frustrating and depressing. I encourage you to read Scott’s piece in its entirety, but here’s the summation:

I am personally fed up with seeing portraits of people without emotion of any kind: portraits of people staring dead-eyed into a photographer’s lens, or avoiding the camera altogether. I am fed up with seeing images of American highways, petrol stations and diners. I am fed up with seeing images of blighted industrial and urban scenes in muted tones. I am fed up with seeing deliberately amateur snapshots documenting ‘everyday’ life. I am fed up with seeing nightmarish visions of our present and future. But most of all I am fed up reading the explanations of why these images are important. Why am I fed up? Because I want to see and enjoy all forms of photography. I want to see true personal expression, not a personal expression wearing the shackles of an aesthetic. I don’t want the world of photography to become alienating and difficult. Photography is not only about challenging perception, it should also explain, provoke myriad emotions and embrace all aesthetics. Commissioned work is just as important and serious as personal projects or exploration.

Couldn’t agree more!

Contemporary Portraiture

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

What’s happened to portrait photography?

I swear to God – if I see another portrait where the subject is slap bang in the centre of the frame, looking straight at the camera, with a glum bloody expression on their face – the photographer will be in for a bloody good tweaking if I ever get hold of them.

Why do people do this? I guess it’s some kind of anti-composition statement, or anti-interesting statement.

Good. That feels better.