Jeff Wall: “I Begin by Not Photographing”

Here’s a short inspirational video featuring Canadian photographer Jeff Wall in which he talks about his method of allowing his eyes to do “photography” first before using his camera.

(via Xataka Foto)

  • guest

    I’m pretty sure every photographer does this.

  • Ndt

    What a load of pseudo-arty babble. Im sure the intellectual MOMA groupies would find this guys process amazing and inspirational, but it is a natural and basic method of making a set up photograph. Simple idea to realisation.

  • Marcus

     I agree with Ndt

  • Dodger_spoke

    i really could not help but laugh at his comments about ‘not photographing”. I was expecting him to say something like “I like to make a statement about photography, by not actually taking any photographs… i like to call it photographic minimalism. my blank prints have been hung in galleries all around the world” He could have saved the tool factor by saying he does what photographers all around the world do every day… observe and capture.

  • parleton

    i laughed as well with his pseudo-babbles. where’s that Arty Bollocks Generator?

  • Michael

    Pretentious much?   He could have at least talked about some decent photos, not the snapshots he did.

  • magoo

    It’s these glib comments that make it hard to be an artist these days. One could take what is said, digest it and spend some time thinking about it, or conversely, taking no time at all. Looking at his body of work and seeing where his comments lie within the context of over 30 years of photo-conceptualism, you would you see why he said what he did. To look at a 2 minute video and ascertain a full scope of an artist’s vision, well, that’s the internet age for you. We believe the presented facts as quick as we are to forget what we see, as the next thing is immediately there for us to consume, but not without our ignorant comment as our mark on another’s vision. Is anyone happy to have our work available to the world for an instant? 

    Maybe the funniest element of this is that prior to Jeff Wall, photography was mainly about documentation and attempting to capture reality. His work with “set-up” shots changed photographic arts in such a way that you find it too commonplace and worthy of ridicule, as if it has always been there, and just added fancy adjectives along the way to flame your ignorance. It hasn’t, and it takes an artist to provide these new views on our world. 

  • Spider- Man

    I’m a ‘not photographer’ when i leave my camera at home. It sucks when I am a not photographer cause what I saw was more than likely a better photo than I could ever re-stage….

  • photoflo

    As a fan of street photography I was initially captivated by some of Mr. Wall’s photography when I saw his works for the first time a few years ago. I did not know who he was and after a little reading on his methods was extremely disappointed.

    The hard pill to swallow for me was finding out that some of Mr. Wall’s “street” photography wasn’t actually street but “re-staged” from memory. That completely changed my feelings on is works especially on that first photo the video showed of the man with woman making the “slant” eye gesture to the Asian man passerby. What initially was a powerful photo that a photographer was able to take in an instant turned to instant dislike. I don’t think Mr. Wall is trying to convince anyone that his photography isn’t staged but he does a very good job making it look impromptu and unfortunately is not enough to inspire me knowing that it isn’t done at the time the action is unfolding.

    My preference is for those who shoot it on the street as it is with the likes of Cartier-Bresson, Joel Mayerowitz, Costa Manos, Helen Levitt and Trent Parke just to name a mere handful.

  • photoflo

    …sorry, the previous comment I made should read Joel Meyerowitz NOT Mayerowitz. Still waking up here on the west coast. :(

  • Jeff Wall

    these comments are inspirational… until Mr. magoo came along to spout nonsense and ruin what was an otherwise beautiful exchange of ideas and well informed opinions.

  • Ndt

    @magoo. I dont argue that artists are important. They are, and i know a lot of them. Good ones. Ones that present their work proudly and make their work from a deep place.  I just think that Mr Walls choice of words make him sound as though he is trying to intellectualise something so basic to the art of photography. Im sure he is a lovely man and  very important artist but this interview makes him look pretentious. It is the type of artsy double-talk that  people can smell a mile away.

  • dish

    He doesnt observe and capture, he observes and later recreates the scene and then shoots it. Not everyone does it that way but yes he does sound overly pompous about it.