Saturday, October 17, 2015

Paul Graham - The Whiteness of the Whale - reviewed by Colin Pantall on photo-eye blog and how to keep work moving


Please don't think that every second post on this blog is about Paul Graham. In fact this post is not so much about PG but the following statement Colin Pantall made in his review of Graham's collective bookwork The Whiteness of the Whale: of the great challenges of making interesting work is to keep moving, to keep making new work that is different. If you’re not Daido Moriyama, don’t make work that looks like Moriyama’s. If you’re not Lucas Blalock, why bother copying him? And if you’re not Garry Winogrand, maybe keep your Leica in your pants for now. Because if you don’t, there is the danger you might end up becoming a caricature of yourself, a human Xerox machine chugging out pictures that become ever-fainter shadows of the originals. There are too many pictures made that look like other people’s pictures. 

That statement is so true, but making it work is not without difficulty. For starters we are all stuck with a particular "visual handwriting" and it's almost impossible to step away from that. Overlay that with own own cultural hard-wiring and preferences, priorities relating to what we want to look at and how we see things when we do. It seems to me that the secret to keeping work moving and making it different is not so much about concentrating on what it may look like but what the work says. This is Paul Graham's strength, his process is a conceptual process where the ideas come first. Once he has his ideas sorted the pictures take care of themselves. And it's the breadth of his ideas that make the work different. To restate one of his quotes from a previous do I make sense of that never ending flow, the fog that covers life here and now... Graham then lists all the possible things he could photograph... and he says yes, yes and yes to all of them.

You can check out Colin Pantall's website HERE where you will find a link to his blog. Pantall is not only a perceptive writer he makes great photographs too. And you can read Pantall's complete review of The Whiteness of the Whale on the photo-eye blog HERE.

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