We live in a world of images. Daily, we are confronted with an abundance of images, pictures, photos - whatever we call them. In print or digital; they're everywhere; some praise the abundance others are critical and see it as bombardment. Personally, I love this abundance.
Media wouldn't be the same without images. I scour the media for images. Different media use and present images differently and the outcome of my image search is correspondingly different. The printed press where my approach is kind of leisurely, is the place where I tend to stumble across my best finds. This gives me an uplifting feeling of surprise and luck. Like a treasure hunt. Online, however, I have to do a more active search which involves other emotions, like impatience or frustration but also accomplishment. Tv and film offer images too, but are no good for my purpose.
What am i searching for? People. Well composed photos. I like portraits, so what catches my eye is usually photos of people. I study them, look for poses, cropping, colours, angles; whatever I can draw on in my own portraits.
In newspapers and magazines I often come across fascinating portraits or interesting scenes with people in them. The portraits are often of such quality that I completely forget the journalistic context. Some scenes are just incredible and tell me more than the text does; like this one above. Hungarian women go to the European Parliamentary election dressed in national costumes while lots of other Europeans didn't even bother to vote. More than one story there!
I found the photo outstanding and cut it from a newspaper years ago. Turns out, I wasn't the only one to admire it; Time Magazine picked it as "Pictures of the week" in June 2004. The photographer is Hungarian Laszlo Balogh at Reuters. Reuters had it in their "Oddly enough" collection for sale for a while. I found more of Balogh's work on the web, but searched in vain for some info about his background. So what, his work really speaks for itself.
Here is another photo I've saved for inspiration, the cutting didn't show a signature and I recall searching in vain for the photographer's name everywhere. I believe it's from 'Times' so if anyone recognises it I'd love to hear about it.
The example below is cropped close in order to show what initially caught my eye. The top rigt I cropped to emphasise colours and shapes. The top left is untouched, as I found it, with relevant, but disfiguring text in one corner. As my eyes scan around for people and faces I have made a habit of searching for the photographer's name as well. Not the easiest to detect, even today.
It doesn't help when the name is in miniscule print and sometimes it's only an agency's initials. I'm curious about the eye behind the work and it upsets me when the press uses a photo merely as icing on the journalistic cake. There are so many fantastic professional photographers who's work I admire, even if I will nver know their name.
It's too easy to take their work for granted particularly when in bad print quality, like news papers. Sometimes an initially good photo put there to support a text becomes something barely noticeable. The artistic eye, the focused mind and all the work behind will too often go unnoticed, unappreciated. That's a pity. Just imagine presenting the same photos in good print in a white-walled gallery... Then, see if more people would notice!
As I said, these photos inspire me. And it seems they always have; the cutting below is a good example. I've had it since I was sixteen or so. (Click on it for full size.) At that age I was really into cut-outs and arranged these images carefully on a raffia wall hanging, serving as my poster board. A show off thing (I recognised that back then, as well). Show off to prove I was a sensitive and mature person; well aware of world politics and deeply engaged by all unfairness and suffering in it's wake. So there!
Not true. I wasn't the least bit engaged in anything but horses, myself, books and boys. In that order. However, this particular clipping did mean something to me. Because of the faces. The person is Aldous Huxley. First as a child, then as a family father and finally a year before he died. Seeing them now, it occurs to me that his face through all stages personifies what I at sixteen longed to express. Namely, deep, creative and interesting thoughts and feelings.
Clearly, there must be extraordinary artists behind pictures that create such strong emotions. Strong back then, when I found them and strong now that I see them again.
Unfortunately I have no recollection of where I found this photo nor the name of the journalist who put the three photos together, it's just luck that I have kept the scrap of paper for so long.
The childhood photo has no signature; possibly, it's from a family album, but a great portrait, whoever took it. So much attitude in that small, reluctant subject.
The photo in the middle is taken by Dorothy Wilding, and the one of old Huxley is Ted Streshinsky's work. The old Huxley dates from 1962, California, one year before he died. So simple and so strong. One eye looks inward the other outward. (click on it for detail)
Dorothy Wilding is well represented in the National Portrait Gallery's collection on the web.(A great service, by the way). She did several Huxley portraits, I checked, but couldn't find this particular one. Take a look at another Wilding portrait of Huxley and his son from 1932. (Sorry, can't show it here, you have to use the link.) It's just so, oh, so good! Check the poses, the cropping, how the father is real tall and could have been dominant, but he's standing slightly closer to the edge than the boy, so it's actually the little boy that gets the focus and holds the viewer's eye.
Then, take a look here at a Dorothy Wilding self portrait. She was much in demand and did lot's of celebrity portraits, royalty included. But do take a close look at herself; she really was a cool something!
Ted Streshinsky was a photojournalist who also created portraits of many prominent personalities. I did a web-search but found mostly book references, no images on the web. After the Huxley portrait I would love to see more of his work.
When I have something good to share I so much want to show and tell and hope this honours the artists and justifies showing the clippings.
If anyone knows more about these three photos, or object to me showing them here, please let me know.