this week i was at a friend’s house and his roommate showed me “few comforts or suprises: the arkansas delta”, eugene smith‘s first book, from 1973. then he added: “unlikely most of photographers, he was also able to write and to do it good”. in fact. the texts that accompany “few comforts” are really amazing – and, as most of real amazing things are, very simple, very precise. and i don’t have to say the pictures are also brilliant. do i?
i am always confronting myself with this issue, words vs. photos, not only because i worked as writer for years but also because i love doing it. and no, i don’t believe an image speaks more than 1000 words. i truly disagree with that. and i’m always asking myself why photographers want their images to speak for themselves. i wonder wether it is a problem for a filmmaker to have his moving images accompanied by sound, for example. as it seems to me also that there is no problem for a writer to have his text accompanied by illustrations or pictures or whatever. this type of “self-pressure” i see only on photography.
are words that annoying? i mean, using complementary words to a photograph makes it less good?
“domestic slavery”, from raphael dallaporta, is the perfect example of how a photographer can not only use words, but incorporate them to the work itself. and in dallaporta’s case, even frame the words and put it on a museum wall. i saw dallaporta’s exhibition at foam, in amsterdam, two weeks ago, and was fascinated by the fact that image and captions are one, framed together. not only very enriching for the understanding of the theme itself, but also a great reflection on the role of the photograph. and, before you wonder: yes, the pictures are great. and no, the work would not be as strong as it is without the texts beside them (my friend breno even thinks the words are more important than the fotos). and i can’t believe that bitch is only 31.
then in leiden i found for adorable 4 euros an issue from the asmp magazine (american society of magazine photographers), published in 1957. that was – as the editor explains – a special issue: the photograperhs were invited to write about their own works. sorry, nothing can be more fascinating than that – specially if you think that, back then, there was no internet to make us accompany a photographer’s work in progress as we can do now. on the mag you can read eugene smith speaking his mind about “place schweitzer”; fritz goro describing the making of “tradition”; and the fascinating, well writen text by suzanne szasz on her “friend” series… honestly, great experience for only 4 euros haha
months ago i read this post on lpv magazine and was wondering… i don’t think photographers are unable to write, neither think i that they “should” write more. i just think they might not want to do it, because people might think that they are writing for their pictures don’t speak enough. a nice counter-example is alec soth and his eloquent blog (but yeah, i admit his books are very economical on words, at least the ones i’ve seen) or even jörg colberg and his conscientious. even though, in this case, i tend to think his texts and concerns on phtography are better than his photos.
on my case, writing a lot and writing about photography in brazil made only people confused about what the fuck do i do for a living hahaha should i stop writing?