Banal Photography - New Genre of Photography? A Debate.

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by tom_kondrat, May 22, 2022.

  1. The music of The Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas are in many ways like snapshots of my youth. The work of Warhol and Rauschenberg snapshots less of my own youth but maybe more of an era. The power of recall in art can be strong. It dances with the original power it had in context and often a timelessness that goes beyond both.

    Speaking of dance …
  2. It's not central to the photography. They're not all that old. I like the 60's and 70's cars. Other features are still the same. What's important is the way he sees and composes his pogotgraphs and the beautiful rich color processes he uses.

    Is he still taking photos? I tried to ask on Google and doesn't give an answer.
  3. This is the best I could do in my own search. The last line brought a smile to my face.
    Not a bad way to end his career. :)
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  4. Indeed :) I saw him at his exhibit in L.A. a few years ago, and there was some 40ish women hovering over him as he signed autographs. They also had a grand piano with a guy playing jazz. I thought I read that he loves to play the piano. Here's a quick photo I took it on a Ricoh at way higher ISO than what it's good for.

  5. According to Wiki: 'Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental or conceptual photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world.'
    Unlike in abstract photography, the object still matters and is recognizable in banalography.

    I would argue that both Weston's peppers and Kertesz' forks belong to still life photography. Why? Because there are some many versions of them, so it seems to me that they arranged those objects carefully before taking pictures. I would also put them in the fine art genre as well.
    Sanford likes this.
  6. Well... the comedy value certainly increases with age. And like a mature cheese, so does the cheesiness.
  7. If you've driven the deep U.S. south- or the deeply rural U.S, any where on back roads, much of the sort of thing Mr Eggelston photographed still exists- although perhaps in disuse or run down condition.

    But perhaps not.

    I love this sort of stuff (for whatever reason?) and have always been drawn to shooting it, and love biggish sort of graphic-y signage and whatnot. I can't make any claim to my stuff always being so colorful, however as I also like the gritty look of black & white and the feel that goes with it..

    Columbus, Georgia


    Frackville, PA


    Eastern Shore of Virginia


    Bolivar Peninsula, TX


    somewhere in Virginia


    somewhere in New Jersey


    Raleigh, NC

    Silbey, MS


    Columbus GA

  8. Nice set of photos,
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  9. Thanks, Sanford
    Sanford likes this.
  10. Love these photos.
    Ricochetrider and Sanford like this.
  11. Thanks so much.
  12. Many of my banal photos were not intended.
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  13. Banal photos I shot of 60s and 70s cars. The trick is to jazz them up with music and tell a story.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  14. ha ha nor do I intentionally look for banality in my subject matter… I pretty much shoot whatever catches my eye (for better or worse :cool: )

    Were I asked to categorize or slot the above photos, I’d probably call it Americana.
    But I am a-ok with folks calling it whatever they want.
  15. Question Number 1: How do you tell the difference between a photo of a banal subject and a banal photo?

    Hypothesis Number 1: Most Americana is charmingly banal.

    Categorization Number 1: Your photos seem documentary.

    Opinion Number 1: The photos are humble and convey the humility of their subjects.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2022
    movingfinger and Ricochetrider like this.
  16. Thanks, Sam…
    well this whole thing of “banal” -for me at least, has grown out of the discovery of the original New Topographics crew- who of course splintered off and branched out from that genre of “human altered landscapes” (or whatever) to Dom many other things. As soon as I became aware of New Topographics, I looked through my photo files and realized I’d been shooting a lot of real similar stuff.

    Only in recent months, like the past year or so, have I become aware of “banality” as a genre of photography. But I’ve also only recently come to understand that much of what I’ve always done with a camera has been documentary style- capturing places I’ve traveled to and shooting what I’ve seen here and there.

    BUT more to your point- as a subject, a photo of something banal could be shot in an exciting and imaginative way- that takes it above & beyond the banality of the thing photographed. A “banal photo” might just be a not-well-composed snapshot of the exact same thing?

    As I’ve come to understand it tho, one goal for any photographer might be to develop one’s own style. Not sure if there’s a way to do that intentionally? I’m not in a position to judge my own photos here but you folks have all been very kind to me and have brought me further along “the road” and I really appreciate it.

    movingfinger likes this.
  17. It's questionable as to whether there are any banal subjects from a certain point of view. Banal photographs are just that, banalities, boring etc. The art is transforming what might be considered a banal subject into something interesting, even beautiful. To me that's a job for the photographer, to be able to somehow transform the commonplace and make it into something visually or otherwise interesting by the way one sees.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  18. I made a short presentation video (for my studies) about the subject:

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