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Garry Winogrand

The feedback I received on assignment 3 encouraged me to look more into modern street photographers, including Garry Winogrand (1928-1984).

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The Fraenkel gallery displays a good number of Winogrand’s photos. Looking at these reveals the extraordinary range of human activity and emotion he captures in his work. His images capture moments of human interaction and make one wonder what was happening at the time. Viewing them is like visiting a human zoo. It is human life caught by surprise, unposed, in its natural state. And close up.

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O’Hagan comments of Winogrand’s approach, explaining that ‘while his contemporary, Joel Meyerowitz, stalked the streets of New York trying to be invisible, Winogrand did not mind being noticed. Revealingly, though, many of his reluctant subjects only seem to register his presence at the very moment he presses the shutter.’ This same approach is evident in Engler’s documentary of Winogrand at work, but we can also observe how quick he was to frame and shoot before returning to tuning his camera’s settings – it seems that some subjects are not sure whether they have been photographed or if Winogrand is just adjusting his camera.

In Resnick’s fascinating account of a workshop with Winogrand, he explains:

Incredibly, people didn’t react when he photographed them. It surprised me because Winogrand made no effort to hide the fact that he was standing in way, taking their pictures. Very few really noticed; no one seemed annoyed. Winogrand was caught up with the energy of his subjects, and was constantly smiling or nodding at people as he shot. It was as if his camera was secondary and his main purpose was to communicate and make quick but personal contact with people as they walked by.

We are also told that Winogrand used two meterless Leica M4 with 28mm lenses. A small, unobtrusive set up. This focal length adds to the feeling of being close to the subjects in his picture.

My lessons from Winograd are to frame and shoot quickly – do not send a message that you are about to take a photograph and, therefore, disturb the unfolding scene. And, close up is interesting – we can see the emotions, the whites of the eyes!

References

Engler M (1982). Documentary – Contemporary photography in the USA – Garry Winogrand. Available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RM9KcYEYXs [accessed 28.7.15]

O’Hagan S (2014). Guardian online. Garry Winogrand: the restless genius who gave street photography attitude (14 February). Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/oct/15/-sp-garry-winogrand-genius-american-street-photography [accessed 28.7.15]

Resnick M (1988). My Street Photography Workshop With Garry Winogrand. [originally appeared in the June 1988 issue of Modern Photography]. Available from: http://www.photogs.com/bwworld/winogrand.html [accessed 28.7.15]

Bibliography

Fraenkel Gallery (online). Garry Winogrand. https://fraenkelgallery.com/artists/garry-winogrand

Kim E blog (2012). 10 things Garry Winogrand can teach you about street photography. Available from: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/08/20/10-things-garry-winogrand-can-teach-you-about-street-photography/ [accessed 28.7.15]

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