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Monday, 16 March 2009

How not to Photograph: The I didn't go on Vacation Slide Show

picture: Colin Pantall - from the series: I really should get out more

Even worse than The Vacation Slide Show (see previous post) is The I-didn't-go-on-vacation Slide Show.

Aka: The Stay at Home Slide Show.

Aka: The I Can't Really be Arsed Getting Out of the House Too Much Slide Show.

This isn't too much of a problem if you live somewhere interesting and exciting like New York or Paris. After all, William Klein made
New York: Life is Good & Good For You In New York! and Brassai made Paris by Night from their own homes sort of. But note that it's Paris by Night, not Peterborough by night and it's New York Life is Good and Good For You In New York, not Bridgwater: Life is Good & Good For You in Bridgwater.

If you can't get somewhere interesting or find something interesting to photograph in your hometown, do at least try to get out of the house. And if you don't get out of the house, don't make work based on how interesting the wall looks if you look at it closely enough and really explore the way that we really see. A wall is still a wall, and that goes for pictures on wall, cracks in walls and wallpaper on walls, especially the cracked pictorial kind. We all know Aaron Siskind made wonderful pictures of flaking paint, that's no excuse for you to make endless pictures of flaking paint as well. And it's no excuse for me either.


Stan B. said...

With this global economic mess, I got a feeling we're all gonna be looking at a lot more blank walls- I know I am (have been).

Anonymous said...

great picture - thanks for sharing!

Pierre-Yves Racine said...

I don't understand in which way some places (like big cities, you seem to say) should be more "interesting and exciting" than others...

Maybe your next post coud be a directory of interesting subject matters so that photographers don't waste time desperately trying to take worthy pictures in their (uninteresting) hometowns...

I am discovering your blog and some other posts were interesting, though.

Pierre Yves Racine

colin pantall said...

Hi Pierre - some places have more going on in them than others and it's easier to find something exciting in them. London and Bristol, for example are much more exciting than Bath.

That doesn't mean there isn't anything interesting about Bath or small towns and villages - but I or you have to dig deep and find out what that something is. We can't just try to replicate a photography (Klein/Brassai) that is made for a different kind of place.

If you can make original, interesting work about a place, that's a brilliant thing, however big/small, dynamic/listless the place is.