Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today in Photography History

Wim Wenders, the German  photographer / filmmaker believes 'taking pictures is a very solitary thing." He is perhaps better know for his films, one in particular, "Wings of Desire",  with the wonderful late great actor Peter Falk, was a successful first date movie for me.  Others include "Paris Texas, Until the end of the Earth, Alice in the Cities and my favorite Faraway, So Close."

My appreciation for him lies in his accomplished photography. His "King of the Road" film, together with director of photography Robby Muller, about two melancholic young men traveling across Germany.  It borrows much influence from the American photographer Walker Evans. An influence we share.

 Many of Wim Wenders photographs are of landscapes, often panoramas. He likes to shoot with a Plaubel Makina and a Fuji 617 panoramic cameras, which uses three lens to produce 6X7 negatives.  He prefers the negative, he says "the beauty of the negative is that you still see the failed pictures, the ones out of focus." He continues with " you can see how I learnt to take pictures by looking at my negatives

As a film maker he travels and he thrives on unfamiliar situations. His images are often atmospheric and highly saturated. There is a strong documentary aspect to his subjects. He feels the ideal of preservation very strongly.  Though he says he is not nostalgic he realizes "some locations are not going to continue to exist much longer, that's a valid reason for photography or for film, to show something that will vanish, because by taking the picture it is not vanishing. Something remains, amazingly enough."

His photographs reveal a fascination with architectural imperfections, unusual settings and side-lit street scenes viewed flat.  The mood shifts from abstract yet familiar, inquisitive yet detached.  If a figure appears in his photographs they rarely make contact with the viewer, often standing with their back to the lens.

He is another one who achieves a still and contemplative atmosphere with patience. "You have to search a little bit until you have the frame, " he says. He often stands waiting for the light to change, blending into the background.

He goes a long way to  compare the digital camera and its place in photography today. He believes that no matter how determined one maybe in the picture taking process when you stop to check the image "in a strange way, it breaks the spell because already you treat it as something finished."  He feels the conventional way of photography primarily the negative exposes oneself to faults and the insecurity of the "whether you have it."

There is much that can be debated on this matter, but I will agree that  to print ones own negatives is an experience that does finalize the photography process determining "if you got or not."

"Once" is a book of his landscape photography. His other publication is "Act of Seeing".

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying your blog, Yancey. The photos are great and I enjoy learning more about your process and creative influencers.

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Liz H