Under the Influence

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Under the Influence of Lisette Model

Introduction

“This photographic thing has changed the entire vision of the world. It will go through every activity of humanity – science, medicine, space, … for peace, against peace, entertainment, television, movies, all of them – you will not find one without photography”

If she was still with us today, one can only wonder if Lisette Model would be thrilled or appalled with “this photographic thing” she spoke of. To be specific, what would she think of the street photography genre today? The genre in which she was a trailblazer. A genre which has become wildly popular and shows no sign of slowing down.

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Under the Influence of Eugene Richards

Introduction

“It’s a process of getting to know people. That’s what photography is to me. It’s about paying attention, not screwing up and blowing a great opportunity.”

Paying attention has never been a problem for the man responsible for this quote, photographer Eugene Richards. A man who many consider to be one of the greatest American documentary photographers of our time. For over forty years, he has produced some of the most powerful social documents that the world had seen and continues to do so today.

Under the influence of Raghubir Singh

Introduction

“Taking pictures is like panning for gold. You do it again and again, and sometimes you find a nugget.”

How true are these words from the great Indian photographer, Raghubir Singh? Think about that quote in regards to street photography and the words ring even more true. Like a prospector looking for gold, we use our wits and our technical know-how to give ourselves the best chance to get a shot. But getting that shot is like finding the nugget. It’s like gambling. We work the elements to put the odds more in our favor, but it’s still a game of chance.

Under the influence of Boogie

Introduction

The Under The Influence series has been a rewarding expedition. But, I’m not just talking about myself discovering great photographs and photographers. Unearthing the photographer’s biographies has been a surprisingly intriguing and joyful task.

I’ve always been a fan of biographies, particularly reading about the lives of historical figures. I loved going into their lives and learning how they came to be the important, or infamous, men and women whose names resonate through time. However, when I began researching photographers, I did not expect to be that drawn to their histories, their stories. But I was quickly proven wrong. Vivian Maier immediately comes to mind when I think of intriguing biographies. Lewis Hine, Robert Capa and Weegee are others that come to mind. And there’s photographers with incredible stories that are working right now, still writing their own biographies. One prime example is the photographer known as Boogie.

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Under the Influence of Fan Ho

Introduction

One of the most wonderful things about being actively involved in the photographic community is the idea of sharing. Not just sharing each other’s work, but everything else. Ideas and tips, creatively and technically, flow constantly. There’s a wealth of information out there. In fact, it can be overwhelming. It’s far too easy to be distracted by the opinions of another photographer. But when all else fails, one thing still remains… the photograph itself. And all that verbal and written noise disappears in an instant when a friend or colleague shares the work of someone else with you. The work of someone outside the circle shared by both of you. It’s kind of special, this idea… that your friend thinks enough of a particular photographer to share their work with you. When there’s nothing for them to gain by doing so. When they’re that blown away that they think you just might be, too. It’s simple, yes. It’s naive and romantic. But it’s how like-minded folks spread the gospel. Word of mouth that’s backed up instantly by an image. And this minor miracle, this phenomenon, happens every day. Sometimes it makes you stop dead in your tracks and makes you almost weep in awe. That recently happened to me when a friend of mine shared an article on the superb photographer, Fan Ho.

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Under the Influence of Constantine Manos

Introduction

“The world, for me, is just raw material for an image.”

Those words are from Constantine Manos, legendary Magnum photographer. And as simple as those words may seem, they are what street photography is all about.

As street photographers, the whole world is our mine in which we work. Tapping into veins that give us the components to make up a great image. People and the surroundings in which we play out our lives. Even down to the minutiae. To the finest detail. The raw materials are out there, waiting to be seen. And seeing is a big, if not the biggest, part in becoming a great photographer. Constantine Manos is a master of seeing.

Under the influence of William Klein

Introduction

Perfection. We all strive for it when it comes to photography. Perfect exposure. Composition. Tack-sharp images. But, street photography isn’t about perfection. At it’s core, street photography is about capturing life. And life is far from perfect. William Klein, in his own way, mastered imperfection within street photography and became a trailblazer.

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Under The Influence of Daido Moriyama promo

Introduction

In doing the Under The Influence series, I keep discovering groundbreaking, game-changing and thoroughly inspirational photographers. However, upon returning to research, I’ve noticed that I’ve been geographically naive. All of the greats I have written about have been either from the United States or Europe. That is an example of terrible nearsightedness. There are fantastic street photographers all over the world and some walk among us right now, pushing the genre and influencing us and others. And perhaps even more importantly, they’re making the world a little bit smaller. They’re showing us environments we’ve never seen or may never see. Giving us moments from the everyday lives of people and cultures that we know little or nothing about. Or better yet, of people and cultures we think we know something about.

With that in my mind, I thought about this spinning ball we’re all aboard and instantly, the Far East came to mind. Specifically, Japan. A country that has always fascinated me, but yet I know so very little about. And who better to seek out than the “stray dog” himself, Daido Moriyama.

Under the Influence of Lewis Hine

Introduction

“Photography is an empathy towards the world.”

Lewis Hine(1874-1940) not only spoke those words, he embodied them. Hine was a social activist with a camera. He was a revolutionary. Lewis Hine, without any doubt, is responsible for keeping America’s children from labouring in sweatshops, factories and fields.

Hine’s story is a fascinating one. You can say it’s heroic. For a country that is forever indebted to him and his work, it is tragically ironic that he died in absolute poverty.

Hine moved to New York City in 1901 to teach at the Ethical Culture School, a school emphasising moral education founded on humanist values. In 1903, he bought his first camera and taught himself how to use it. He used his photographs in his teaching, and in 1904 he created a photography program at the school, likely the nation’s first. Hine took students into the countryside to photograph nature. He also took them into the streets of the city.

Hine saw the tenements and sweatshops. He saw the poverty. He began documenting it. An activist was born. Hine knew that the camera could be a weapon. At this time, Hine began taking photographs at Ellis island, documenting the influx of mostly European immigrants. At this time there was a strong anti-immigration sentiment in the country, not unlike there is right now. Hine portrayed the potential citizens with dignity amidst the chaos of Ellis Island. An amazing feat considering the language barriers and the stressful situation for the scared immigrants.

Introduction

” My first reaction at the very idea of this interview was to refuse to talk about photography. Why dissect and comment a process that is essentially a spontaneous reaction to a surprise?”

This quote from the celebrated photographer Marc Riboud takes street photography down to it’s lowest common denominator. It’s very core, in my opinion. A spontaneous reaction to a surprise. Those words are simple ones on their own. But, when strung together, they define what makes street photography magical to me. What makes me love it so. All the talking, analysing, criticising and researching amounts to nothing if I can’t go out there and bottle that lightning once in a while.

Marc Riboud, now 91, is truly one of photography’s living legends.

Born in Lyon in 1923 in France, Riboud took his first photograph at age 13. After joining the French Resistance in 1943, he went on to study engineering. In 1952, he made the move to be a freelance photographer.

He then moved to Paris and there he met Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson. He became an apprentice of Cartier-Bresson’s and joined Magnum in 1953. An amazing career was underway.

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