I’ve finally started reading! Firstly, The Photograph by Graham Clarke which was included with the materials for the course and secondly, The ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer, which was recommended by my tutor, Peter. I find ‘The Photograph’ really hard work, the sort of book you have to read with a dictionary sitting next to you. This irritates me because for me it says that it is intended for people clever enough to understand the author’s style of writing rather than making any attempt to open the subject up to a wider audience, none the less, I have found some interesting photographs and photographers in this book and will come back to it.
‘The Ongoing Moment’ is very different, written by a someone who is predominantly a novelist rather than a photographer or a historian, in fact he says early on that he doesn’t even own a camera. It is easy to read although I was a little disappointed that the majority of the photographers discussed are American, only because I felt this made it was quite limiting in terms of the history of photography. I’m still only 20 or so pages into the book but have flicked through and found some really interesting photographs that I feel fit perfectly with this project. The first to catch my eye was ‘Morningside Park, New York, taken by Paul Strand in 1916 (Geoff Dyer, 2006 p 144) This picture uses a series of diagonal lines, a flight of steps and some railings with upright supports which lead the eye to the top left triangle of the frame where you can see a seating area of the park, some people walking and children playing. I wondered whether, if I had taken this photograph, I might have cropped the pillar at the top right of the picture out but having thought about it, the sense of scale and different levels would then be lost. Paul Strand’s Winter, Central Park, New York 1913-1914, (Geoff Dyer, 2006, p 146) also intrigued me. It shows the twisted branch of a tree leading up to the top left corner where a child can be seen pulling a sledge. The diagonal shadows of two more trees running from bottom left into the centre of the picture again creates a division and helps nudge your eye in the direction of the child. The other picture that I would draw on here and the one I liked most of all is ‘Washington Square Park, 1952’ by Andre Kertesz (Geoff Dyer, 2006, p 147). In this picture the curve of the fenced off area in the park flows into the picture from the bottom right up and round to a shadowy man in the top of the frame. The tree in the top also helps to frame the man but without the fence this would be quite static. I have so far only read snippets of the text around these pictures I know I will come back to these photographers again.
One thing that surprises me is just how much I like this style of photography. If you had asked me what my preference was I would probably have said landscape or nature but I’m finding more and more that the photographers whose work I am looking at and appreciating most are street photographers.