Saturday, May 25, 2013

We're all artists - - - it's how you look at it

At the Laura Rathe Fine Art in Dallas 2013
It was interesting meeting up with Steve McCurry at the opening of his show "The Unguarded Moment," on Thursday Mary 23rd in Dallas, Texas. He's now an artist!

We first met in 1977 outside of Philadelphia on a farm near Valley Forge, he talked about quiting his newspaper job and going off to freelance. Rather than starting with an assignment, he was going to visit India and then bring back photos. Going with his girlfriend Lauren, who wasn't a photographer but his assistant and worked to sell the photos. All McCurry had to do was just take the photos. 

Hearing him talk about how he had initially majored in film production which required classes in theater, speech, English and and beginning photography. Introduced him to the medium of photography, he realized that shooting still photos was a statement by one person, unlike film which is a team effort. Sort of like tennis versus football.

McCurry discovered he liked finding the picture and not having to rely on a team and a storyboard, this led to a job on a small weekly in Valley Forge, PA, where he took photos of the  volunteer fire departments, weekend festivals and high school sports.

And he liked to travel, had been to Europe, so he decided to check out India  His girlfriend returned with the film and started showing off his photos to publications and his 90-day tourist visit turned into 2-years covering events in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan for major publications worldwide. He was a photojournalist. Reporting with photos of people, he wasn't a war photographer he says, he concentrated on local people, not soldiers. 

For me, I still consider myself a journalist, covering issues affecting readers for newspapers  in black and white, Tri-X, fills a need for me to share information. (like blogging) I always felt  photos told the story along with words. (I get pissed when writers start telling what you can see in the photo. I want to show the who, what, wheres that was happening. Let the words, give quotes from people, and tell the rest. 

But for McCurry, he's pulled by the art, the face, the dress and color in the photo. 

Feeling that color is bad for the story teller, it takes viewers attention away from really looking at what's in the photo, their faces, gestures and the facts. But as technology advances I have had to learn to capture images in color (thank goodness they can easily be converted back to B/W), and now see how it is evolving into video. I'm learning to shoot video, it's become a one-man operation, I can do it all!

McCurry isn't interested in playing in the darkroom, Kodak even invited him to shoot the last roll of Kodachrome, he never learned Photoshop or Premier, he says he's now the artist.  Let technicians tone and color correct his digital files.

 His photos are not reporting on specific events, they're art. Nice to look at. As my Webster dictionary says " purely aesthetic."
McCurry in 1979 -Afghanistan

And it's true. His photos are great to look at, they aren't tied to any particular timely event. You don't need to read a story to appreciate what it says, like you do with journalism

The pictures just look good. 

Where I use to carry multiple cameras to be ready to capture fleeting images, he carries one camera and one lens looking for interesting people. Not celebrities, just people in the town.

Ansel Adams was an artist and photographer, who took full control- - - from customizing the developer to making the print. Adams also said his specialty was photographing beauty. Especially landscapes.

McCurry is also focused on beauty, but instead of landscapes his specialty is people. Not fashion photos but life in southeast Asia, third world countries and getting it in color.

He sees color, contrast and composition. They're nice to look at, but also tell a story.