Sean O’Hagan over at The Observer has published an interesting profile of famed NYC street photographer Joel Meyerowitz, who had some pretty harsh things to say about his fellow NYC street shooter, Bruce Gilden:
I ask Meyerowitz about the combative, confrontational style of street photography espoused by the likes of fellow New Yorker Bruce Gilden, and he grows visibly angry for the only time in our conversation. “He’s a f**king bully. I despise the work, I despise the attitude, he’s an aggressive bully and all the pictures look alike because he only has one idea – ‘I’m gonna embarrass you, I’m going to humiliate you.’ I’m sorry, but no.”
Meyerowitz says that his street photography style is based on his boxer father’s advice to “pay attention” and anticipate the actions of the people he photographed. So here’s the difference between these two famous street photographers: one anticipates, and the other instigates.
Joel Meyerowitz: ‘brilliant mistakes … amazing accidents’ [The Observer]
P.S. Last month we wrote on how Gilden’s street photography attitude carries over into his teaching persona as well.
Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!
Image credit: Joel Meyerowitz portrait 11/03/2012 reception by Jill Gewirtz
Every photographer probably has at least one story of a photo opportunity they missed simply because they decided not to press the shutter. Photographs Not Taken is a new book by photographer Will Steacy that offers 62 stories told by photographers around the world about moments that never became photographs. Sean O’Hagan of The Guardian writes that the decision is often an ethical one:
Consider the story related by Sylvia Plachy who, on a street in midtown Manhattan just after the twin towers of the World Trade Centre had collapsed on 9/11, encountered a dust-covered man “who had walked though hell”. He was, says Plachy, “the icon” of the human tragedy. Many people took his photograph. She did not. “I would have had to step in front of him, interrupt his frantic pace,” she writes. “I felt ashamed. I hesitated. I questioned. It didn’t seem right. In an instant he was gone. I didn’t do it.”
Plachy spent the following fortnight roaming the streets of downtown New York looking for another picture as powerful as the one she had not taken. “His image haunts me to this day,” she writes, adding ruefully, “Diane Arbus would have done it.”
This story, it seems to me, gets to the heart of the matter. Many photographers share Arbus’s view that you take the picture whatever the cost – to yourself as well as the subject. I have always been uncomfortable with that notion. It says that nothing is too intimate, too private. It insists, too, on the primacy of the photograph over the experience.
If you have your own stories of times when you couldn’t bring yourself to press the shutter, please share it with us in the comments!
Photographs Not Taken (via The Guardian)
Image credit: Empty Frames by THEfunkyman