Thursday, January 5, 2012

At what age do you make your best work? Assuming you're capable of making any "best work" at all....

Pablo Picasso, 25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973
I've just come across a post by Alec Soth on his Little Brown Mushroom blog, HERE. where Alec sites the ages of those photographers who topped the Best Photobooks lists, they were: Christian Patterson (39), Rinko Kawauchi (39), Yukichi Watabe (34 in 1958), Ricardo Cases (40), Valerio Spada (39), Gregory Halpern (34), Alex Webb (59) and Guido Guidi (70) tied for 7th place. This follows a previous post HERE by Alec where he suggests that the age where photographers make their peak contribution is 25 to 35.

Martin Parr posted this reply:

Hi Alec
I just came across this posting and basically you are right. However I got bored with reading all the responses from aged 40 plus photographers telling us they were about to hit their peak. No-one really addressed your question, they just bored us with their own inadequacies. You need that raw energy and excitement that feeds into new and exciting work, associated with the 20s and early 30s. Very few achieve even that, let alone sustain this into their long careers. I once said in an interview that I thought my best work was probably behind me, and this now is quoted back to me everytime I do another interview. What is so shocking about this? You personally may never better ” Sleeping by the Mississippi”, but of course accepting this is problematic. OK we keep going, trying to be fresh, but we know too much, are too comfortable, even if you fight laziness by working hard. It doesn’t mean you cannot make a useful contribution later on, but it ain’t going to have the edge that the early work, so often delivers. There of course honorable exceptions, and on this front, I always site David Goldblatt, who is now 80 and has constantly refreshed his way of understanding South Africa through photography. He only turned to colour at the age of 65, and this is some of his best work.

My view is that you're only as old as you feel! However Martin is right, the guts of the problem is simple, we do know too much!

1 comment:

Doug Stockdale said...

Harvey, thanks for sharing this.