A Conundrum

Wednesday, June 4, 2008




I’m a big fan of Patrick Smith’s work. (See images above and below.) He has a good eye, a nice sense of scale, a feeling for light, and a pleasing way of putting a picture together. But what do you do when you’re a photographer whose pictures are somewhat reminiscent of other photographers who have gotten more exposure than you? In Smith’s case, Massimo Vitali, Peter Bialobrzeski, and Walter Niedermayr in particular. These photographers all deal with large format landscape where the figure is minuscule, and where photography’s relationship to traditional landscape is explored along with man’s relationship to the environment.

It’s a problem that I’m sure affects many photographers and I guess the only advice is to keep taking pictures and looking for places to photograph that differentiate your work based on the originality and freshness of the subject/location. Skiers have pretty much been done, so have beaches. So is it off to the jungle? The desert? Liechtenstein? None of this is to say Patrick Smith is a copyist - he has a much more pictorial sensibility than the more cerebral three mentioned above - but it's an issue that can't be ignored.

In the face of so much photography, it is increasingly clear that we are in a post-post (and maybe even one more post) modern world where concept comes first followed by execution. After that it’s a race to the finish line. It doesn’t matter if you’re Hillary Clinton, the Zune, or “Infamous”. (If you’re scratching your head, “Infamous” was the second film on Truman Capote released in 2006 .)





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