Reportedly 65 % of all photos are taken with smart phones,30% with digital cameras and the remaining 5 % with film cameras (of course,I wonder about the source of these numbersbut I wouldn’t argue that today most photography is digital). Launching into photography around 1967, when my then girl friend gave me a Pentax SLR with a standard f 1:8 50 MM lens, I have watched with no small amazement and some greater vexation as the art of writing with light has (as has all else) been both refined and trivialized.
One consequence of this digitalized world is that there are exponentially more photos taken today than ever. Leading, I think, to a depersonalization where we no longer care or ask,”Who took that photograph?” perhaps being unable to picture a human agent participating in what no longer seem to be decisive moments. Given those premises I find it a wonder that publishers continue to publish photographic arts books, especially those exhibiting the amazements of black and white film. It’s no stretch to assume there must be a small but persistent audience for these treasures.Propitiously, currently you can find the exemplary photography of such masters Bill Brandt, Garry Winogrand and Abellardo Morrell on the walls of American metropolitan art museums.
Michael Somoroff collects portraits of Brassaï, Cornell Capa, Ralph Gibson, Horst P. Horst, André Kertész, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Arnold Newman, Helmut Newton an more in A Moment. Master Photographers: Portraits (Damiani)
You can view them here
Photo Journalists on War (University of Texas Press) is the culmination of a five-year oral history project documenting the role of photojournalism and the Iraq War. Assembled by war photographer Michael Kamber, it collects real eye witness testimony (both visual and oral) from 36 photographers representing most major news agencies. In nearly 300 pages 108 photographs, some never before published, we get an acoount of the Iraq disaster as it was unfolding including now barely recalled moments key moments such as the battle for Fallujah, the toppling of Saddam’s statue, and the Haditha massacre. Highly regarded war correspondent Dexter Filkins provides an introduction to this superbly printed and designed book
If the entertaining films Under Fire or EL Salvador(well,John Savage playing a combat photographer does come to a bad end intoning the name of Robert Capra)are your frames of reference for the what photojournalists endure, then you might not believe that its a deadly, risky business. Veteran director Michael Mann makes sure you understand and feel the relentless danger , producing four documentaries for HBO under the rubric Witness
Robert Capra’s statement “If your photos are not good enough, you are not close enough” (white type reversed out a black background) opens the the four films feature that four photojournalists and four war zones (Juarez, Libya, Rio, South Sudan). Each documentary exhibits the special ordeals and adversity involved in reporting from war zones.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 20 journalists have been killed in 2013 (985 since 1992) The Libya segment of Witness mentions the death of Timothy Hetherington in 2011 and there are now a book and a film that commemorate and pay tribute to that courageous photographer.Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer
Alan Huffman (Grove Press) recounts Hetherington was a an award winning lensman, having been nominated for his work on the Afghan war documentary Restrepo with friend Sebastian Junger (who has made a film entitled Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, and he was dedicated publicizing the brutal realities of people living in extremely difficult circumstances
As Sebastian Junger intones:
The reality of war isn’t that you might get killed out there, the core truth about war is that you are guaranteed to lose your brothers
Currently reading Local Folks by Allan Gurganus (Liveright)