It seems not an online discussion thread about large format photography can go by without invoking Their Holinesses, Ansel Adams or Edward Weston. Great photographers, both, who made significant contributions and had significant influence. But they’re not saints or gods, and the inevitable, genuflecting references and predictable ensuing debates tend to make the conversations essentially the same. Different actors type out different parts of the same script on fora and recite them in darkrooms everywhere. Maybe it’s time to shut the fuck up about them for a little while and open our eyes to other work.
Thus, I propose that we declare September Annual Photographers Who Are Not Adams Or Weston Month, where neither of their names are spoken, typed, or their work or accomplishments even referenced. Where we just give it a rest already. Where we attempt to actually think for ourselves. Where we go out and hunt down some forgotten greats from the last 150 years, and some shining new potential stars who might help us see things in a different flavour of light.
Then on the first of October we can go back to our mindless droning, forgetting that colour large format photography actually exists, and thinking there’s little in LF to learn but what Ed and Ansel "bestowed" upon us, and that if we could just see as they saw and print as they printed, all would be well. But please. Let us have September.
ansel adams, Edward Weston, large format, Photographers Who Are Not Adams Or Weston Month, september
When I saw this heading in the groups page on Flickr I didn’t bother clicking on it because of the expectation of finding exactly the overdone reverence you talk about :)
Well said. I was experimenting with pinhole LF this past week, trying to apply color filters for contrast while I was in the Olympic mountains (I want to see if I like those ink-black skies and eye-popping clouds in my own work). Don’t know how much work the worthies you mention did up here.
They *are* over-cited but that happens in any art form. Rock guitarists are compared to Hendrix or Clapton, writers to Hemingway or Faulkner, painters to Rembrandt or Van Gogh, etc.
A corollary to this is the idea that if you buy the equipment of master X, you can do their work. Well, assuming I could even find the stuff that Weston or Adams used, that doesn’t follow. Likewise the others. A writer or painter can do more with a pencil that I can: that suggests it’s not the pencil doing the work. Yes, using good quality materials or tools matters, but only to a point.
[...] “Photographers Who Are Not Weston or Adams month”, I offer you Yousuf Karsh for consideration. His name was completely new to me just this month, but [...]