Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Genius of Photography

"Bichonnade Leaping," by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, © Jacques-Henri Lartigue Foundation

Photographer, Kenn Ellis, was good enough to send me the BBC's incredible, 6-part series, "Genius of Photography," on DVD. Thanks again, Kenn!

Leave it to the BBC to produce a quality series like this!

Sometimes, I think American broadcasters don't have a clue about what many Americans are interested in... other than cops-n-robbers, doctors-n-patients, lawyers-n-lawyers, and so on. Few hobbies are as widely embraced (with plenty of money spent on it) as photography. Yet, if what you see about photography on the tube is any indication--from PBS to Reality TV--you would think shows about photography and photographers don't have much of a potential audience.

All that aside, watching the BBC's "Genius of Photography" is an entertaining experience as well as a comprehensive learning experience covering the history of shutter-snapping, complete with bios of its most memorable practitioners and with plenty of images and keen insights into the creative minds of many photo-artists . It's a classy, literate, and memorable crash course in the art and craft of photography.

If you have the opportunity to view this program, I highly recommend doing so. By the way, the image at the top, "Bichonnade Leaping," by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, was shot about a hundred years ago. Recently, I viewed some images by an up-n-coming shooter. The images are called "Floaters." Some art critic types were calling this photographer's images--of people jumping and frozen-in-the-air with the help of fast shutter speeds (as if they're floating, get it?) new and original. I wonder what Lartigue would have to say about that?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

War Photographer

Recently, a reader and fellow photographer, Kenn Ellis, sent me a copy of director Christian Frei's documentary film, "War Photographer." He also sent along the BBC's most-excellent series, "The Genius of Photography." (I'll post some words about that series in a future update.)

I know I've posted about Nachtwey a number of times on this blog. I suppose, in part, because I so admire the man and his work. I think you'll agree, my admiration (and most likely yours) is well-earned.

"War Photographer" examines the work of photographer James Nachtwey. It provides many insights into the photographer's working life as well as his thoughts on his experiences. It also contains scads of powerful images he's captured plus plenty of footage of Nachtwey shooting in dangerous environments. His images are often captured in places where the closest many of us will come to them is by reading about them in print or watching sanitized video clips on the news.

I was mesmerized by this film. If any of you have opportunities to view it, don't hesitate. It's powerful, illuminating, and thought-provoking.