Exercise S1-3: Some favorites of the moment

Faced with the problem of identifying "at least three photographers whose work you most admire", the mind goes into overload. This week (or day...) I might be able to answer with assurance, but another time I'd probably be thinking differently. At the moment my attention is turned toward photographs that don't have people in them, and that are more or less concerned with simplicity and complexity. A riffle through some of the photography books on the shelves does yield a half dozen that knock my socks off today, and a bit of googling finds me versions that I could purloin for heuristic display purposes (so I'm claiming "Fair Use" in posting them here). All are images that I wish I might have had the wit to see myself.

Paul Caponigro Soaped Window 1955
This one really did change my life when I first encountered it in Aperture sometime in the 1960s. I realized that it was OK to be serious about whimsy, and to see imaginary animals, in this case a clear and present horse, and that it was a legitimate photographic endeavor to seek them wherever they might be found. It's worthwhile to think of how this horse came to be, in the hasty movement of a soapy sponge across a plate glass window. Creating a horse was nowhere in the agenda of the workman, and the horse only existed for a short time. But Paul Caponigro saw it and lassoed it for all time.


Brett Weston Cracked Paint 1955

Another ephemeral accident, the outcome of years of weathering in which there was no artistic intent on the part of the painter, but an observant photographer saw the process and the form and captured it. I think I see a number of animals in the image, though Brett Weston probably wasn't thinking along those lines.


Imogen Cunningham Leaf Pattern late 1920s

Another bit of genius on the part of the photographer. It takes a moment to parse the figure and the ground, to sort out shadow from leaf, and to see the image as 3-dimensional.


Minor White Moenkopi Strata, Capitol Reef

Another riddle of foreground and background, in which rock takes on organic properties in an almost cubist construction that keeps teasing the eye with possible interpretations. I can't imagine that I'd have seen the possibilities myself.


Aaron Siskind Kentucky 7

Powerful forms in the found object of a weathered wooden fence. The 'A' gives the image a coherence and lets us in on the story: the fence is made out of recycled scrap wood, and the designs are the sheerest accident.


Minor White Vassar St. near MIT

What's the story here? The line of nails probably has nothing to do with the paint splash, and nobody designed this composition. It's another accident, of the sort that shows up around urban construction sites. But Minor White was there to see it as something more than simply random.


Another photographer I greatly admire is my spouse, whose work continues to amaze and inspire me. See an array of particular favorites, with comments.