For anyone who’s followed this blog it is no secret that I find most popular photography to be excruciatingly bad.
But that asks the question, well then, what is good?
Of currently active photographers, one that appeals to me enormously is Jeff Wall.
Follow this link to this photograph – Property Line
It’s a landscape. A desert shot. I have many like it from the American west and South Africa. What I don’t have is two surveyors in the act of marking a boundary.
It’s masterful. Immediately it calls into question wilderness vs. civilization, ownership vs. freedom, conformity vs. freedom. And many more dualities if you care to look for them.
This is art. Real art. If you like this photograph, it’s almost inevitable that you are going to reject the sterile, over-processed and crushingly unoriginal garbage that garners hundreds of likes and fills up the photography websites.
As much as the photograph portrays a type of divide, the photograph itself represents a type of divide. The divide between technique as a tool for emulation vs. technique as a tool for artistry. Wall didn’t just walk out one day and snap this shot. He spent days preparing the scene, hired the surveyors and waited for exactly the type of light he wanted. Note how everything about this photograph counteracts the prevailing trends in popular photography. Flat light, centered and diminished interest, masses of foreground. Masses of background too, for that matter. No tone mapping, no HDR, no over-sharpening, no boosted vibrance or saturation.
Even though everything about it is staged, the feel is very much the opposite. What one might see out of the corner of your eye as you drive a long lonely desert road. I’ve driven roads such as these. I love them. This is how they look. Really look.
This is real photography.
More on Jeff Wall here.