Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

June 5, 2008

Near miss

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 5:18 pm

As I worked on my project Places Amongst Us, there was the frustration that photographs that I really liked were on film and due to my image process, did not make the final cut. But I also see that I missed a short term goal, there is still the long term journey, of which this series is not completed yet.

And I find that this is also true for other aspects of my life. I some times get caught in short term goals that I lose the larger perspective of life and living. I do believe that having goals is healthy and beneifical. But not to let the goals become tyrants of your life.

Why so phyosphical today? I don’t know, but I felt like writing this. Perhaps much like why did I take this or that photograph. “Because I wanted to” is going to be the right answer for me today.

With a lot of buzz about Robert Frank’s reprinted book The Americas becoming available, I had recalled that I had many of his images in the Time-Life Photography series. These were books that my wife had purchased for me in the early 1970’s and gave me on a variety of occassions. So I just re-read the Time-Life Documentary Photography book, which includes Franks photographs and wrie up. Also photographs by Siskind & the NY Photo League, Arbus, Friedlander and Winogrand as well as the earlier documentary photographers. The book provides an interesting perspective of the thinking in the early 1970’s about documentary photography. And I think helps set the stage for a lot of documentary photography today.

Also interesting to note that Eugene Atget’s photographs of Paris are included as an early form of documentary photography, but no one’s photographs like Atget’s work was presented as contemporary in the 1970’s. Surprised? Remember, this book series was produced in NYC. I think caries a little over today, social documentary photographs that are of people versus the social documentary photographs that of the place and usually without people, but are still really about people. As a reviewer told me in Palm Springs, the urban landscape is a much more difficult photograph to understand, thus harder for her to sell.

And of course Friedlander and Winogrand going on about how the photograph speaks for itself and that they, the photographer, do not have anyting to add. Come on, they took the picture and decided to print it and show it. But the die was set, now to have really good photographs, you don’t talk about the content. Okay, you still see a lot of that today, but this is not going to work for me.

Which takes me to my “near miss” that is the photograph coupled with this post. (and you were probably wondering, when is he going to get to the point?) I have to admit, the image probably speaks for itself on the surface, perhaps almost to a cliche of sorts. The kids toys in the middle of a stone & cactus garden and the little sign, “drop zone”. Yegads. All in a somewhat idylic secene with the flower backdrop of beautiful colors.

But this photograph and many others was in my film pile that was taking too long to process. But it finally has the light of day, or in todays terms, the potential of some internet buzz.

And so I continue to work on some more near-misses and we shall see what happens, eh?

Best regards, Doug

2 Comments »

  1. It’s a real shame that some of the Blad shots didn’t make it, this one in particular, but the whole book looks successful nonetheless. I’m still prevaricating over my own Blurb publication but I feel it may all come together soon.
    With that in mind, and because I have a 50mm Distagon and feel that you really should have one too, I’ve ordered your Blurb Sharpening book today!

    Your posting on the subject of mirror shake was timely as I got out the Hasselblad yesterday for the first time in ages and invoked the mirror-up/shutter release mantra as a result. I probably would have forgotten about it as it’s a while since the camera was last used.

    Lastly, and more to the point of your posting here, I was reminded that early issues of Creative Camera (c. 1969) had an interesting – if erratic – monthly feature by Robert Frank called ‘Letters from New York’. I’ve not seen them published on the web so may well have to dig them out and post them in light of the re-re-release of ‘The Americans’ – which I have actually just bought btw, not being able to ever afford one of the earlier copies.

    Comment by Roy — June 6, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

  2. Thanks! I just received my first copy of the Sharpening book and realized that I have the last two pages out of order:-0 So I do need to eventually fix that.

    Let me know when you publish some of the Frank letters. I had forgotten that he stopped shooting still photographs some three years after the book was published.

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — June 6, 2008 @ 1:52 pm


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