Photography: the art of observation
There’s something about photography exhibits that I can’t resist.
Photographs move me in a different way than other art forms. Perhaps it’s because it’s not created as much as captured: while the individual photographer is important, so are the surrounds. You can take awful photos on amazing cameras, and phenomenal photos on so-so cameras: it’s all about the person behind the lens and what fate has laid out in front of it, the happy circumstance of the right person at the right time.
Good photography exhibits inspire me, but also force me to ask myself what I’m contributing. I inevitably take a seat in front of a piece, and simply think about what I’m doing that moves people in the same way that these photos move me.
There’s also a sense of motivation. When I see a beautiful painting or sculpture, I appreciate it, but I’m unable to relate. I’ve never been able to replicate what I see in a cohesive fashion using pens or paint. And while people scare me–I’ll stick to photos of inanimate objects and sweeping landscapes, thank you very much–whenever I see an amazing portrait photography exhibit, I’m inspired. Maybe not to take a photo of someone, because just getting up the guts to ask would be too much, but to take a photo that makes someone stop, take it in, enjoy it.
Photography exhibits are one of my favorite things to see on my travels. It’s a beautiful glimpse into a local culture, either through the eyes of a local or an outsider.
52 Suburbs: One of those concepts that is brilliant in its simplicity, and shines in its execution. After living in Sydney for 30 years and realizing she was still a stranger in her own city, Louise decided to explore and photograph one suburb a week for a year. She often pairs the photos and ties them together with a concise, witty, insightful caption. Particularly inspiring because she’s in a real-life MUSEUM now, and it all started with a good idea and a blog…
Annie Leibovitz: The ultimate behind-the-scenes rock ‘n roll photographer, Annie Leibovitz can do a blow-out, glitzy celebrity photo shoot like no other. Her recent exhibit at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art had a fabulous video about her life: big-time cinema worthy in itself.
Robert Doisneau: His iconic black-and-white photos of post-war Paris are known the world over. Even if his famous kiss photos are staged, they still make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Being able to conjure up emotions like that is just as important as authenticity in my book.
Henri-Cartier Bresson: The original travel photographer. He captured the nuances of different cultures in the days before worldwide travel insurance, before Instagram and Flickr, before frequent flier miles.
Richard Avedon: He shot some of the biggest names in our modern world for Vogue, Life, Harpers Bazaar. Even so, he makes them seem like real, beautiful people with souls and flaws: unlike the “they’re-just-like-us-in-baggy-sweats-and-zits” to “they’re-so-photoshopped-they-don’t-even-have-pores” spectrum that celebrity photos seem to be on today.
*Note: For once, none of these images are mine.
Are there any photographers or photography exhibits that have stood out to you on your travels?