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external “Shutter Madness”: The Photos Garry Winogrand Left Behind —The Awl

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Garry Winogrand used to say that he took photographs of things to see what they would look like as photographs. He took a lot of them. He photographed relentlessly: crowds, zoos, dogs, cars, parties, sidewalks, train stations and women, always more women. He’d describe a good night as “thirty-five rolls.” A good year might involve a thousand. He was always slow about editing. He had a rule that he wouldn’t even look at an exposure for a year, so that emotion wouldn’t cloud his judgment, but towards the end of his life he wasn’t even doing that anymore. He just let his rolls pile up in trash cans and in the fridge.

When he died, of gallbladder cancer in 1984, he left behind more than half a million exposures. Most of them were unedited. Most of them he had never even looked at. Winogrand had always been prolific—but this was something else: three hundred thousand pictures (at a minimum), barely sorted, unorganized, with no indication of why or when they were taken. By most counts their quality didn’t keep up with their quantity.

 
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