End of the Age of Photography : Danny Lyon

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by jtk, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. jtk

    jtk

    http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/08/danny-lyon-end-of-age-of-photography.html
    I think he's right about tats and young morons and upgrades and the seductive beauty of the instant erasability of images (tho "sharing" online makes them eternally non-biodegradable).
    I've admired Lyon's deep-immersion documentary work (not street) since "Toward A Social Landscape" in the late Sixties, when I bought the heavily abused Heritage/Eastman House book that's on my desk: http://www.amazon.com/Contemporary-Photographers-Toward-Social-Landscape/dp/B000Q5VEMM
    And I applaud his success with print sales...he reports some wonderful property, including a fishing camp.
    What I take from Lyons essay is mostly this: The factor that distinguishes throw-away photography from significant photography is the fine enlargement, or print publication, maybe even the garish 4X6 prints, cared-enough-about to be assembled in albums (bets on the future of the family or memorial to broken hearts). Not chimping or glowing monitors. In addition to being potentially eternal, digital storage and display inherently implies nothingness...it won't even return to dust.
    What do you think?
     
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I think Danny Lyon is a terrific photographer. After reading this article, especially the first couple paragraphs, I still think he is a photographer but I really don't want to know him. I don't think it would be a pleasurable experience, and I have no interest in his opinions. The amount of prints he's sold and the farm etc etc don't make him any more valuable as a commentator on photography, although he seems to think it does.

    For a much more reasonable view on this topic, and it is a quite different opinion, read Pedro Meyer's recent article. Pedro is able to talk about photography without making it about his own financial success.
     
  3. I don't follow the digital persistence = nothingness notion, I'm afraid. But I do agree that people who see - online - some of the stuff I shoot in the field, or who point e-mail links to it for their friends' casual on-screen consumption, react in a completely different way when shown a large-ish, carefully made print.

    Just on Friday I delivered a large print, made on fine paper. The woman who paid for the session (with her child and the family hound dog) had been admiring and Facebooking/etc the shoot's proofs, and really enjoying them. But when she saw the print I'd labored over, she said that it's got her thinking in a completely different way, and that she wants some of those same friends to come over and actually look at it in the flesh.

    It was interesting moment (and she paid in biodegradeable cash!). But her appreciation of the print on her wall doesn't make the stuff that she continues to look at online (the images from the rest of the session) and share with her friends a bit of nothingess or (to her) throw-away. These are two different ways of experiencing the work.

    As for moronic youth... that is a universal condition.
     
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    As for moronic youth​
    Well that's part of what I find so offensive about the whole thing.
    He complains that someone is a "moron" because they are listening to music on earphones. Does he want to go back to the boom box days, when an entire subway car was assaulted with one person's music? And why is someone a "moron" for listening to music? Music is universal. It's something almost everyone enjoys at some level. Why view that person as a moron instead of someone taking pleasure in something really basic to virtually every culture?

    The whole article is a downer. It's a crank, a Scrooge, someone who is obviously mad at the world ranting.
    While most youth lack the experience and wisdom, they make up for it in exuberance. There's a lot that can be learned from that. And you won't learn about it by calling them morons.
     
  5. Exuberance, no matter how thickly laden with the most opulent finery, will never, ever become a substitute for wisdom.
     
  6. A competent, talented photographer unencumbered with the political correct filters we in the arts are used to passing our opinions through...
    I love it!


    Yeah, he is a little over the top, but hyperbole is the lead in the pencil, the anchovies on the pizza, if you will. I for one am glad to read the words of an artist
    putting things the way he sees them. I actually agree with much of what he says. The emperor has been running around naked for a very long time, and
    the author of the piece places a well aimed, sharp elbow at his chest to keep him at bay.
    Bravo.
     
  7. He seems pretty mad at the world, I wonder if his life is going as well as he would want us to believe?
     
  8. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Exuberance, no matter how thickly laden with the most opulent finery, will never, ever become a substitute for wisdom.​

    Who said it was?
     
  9. Of course, he is right about consumerism and its need for evolution to make money, and the probable short lifespan of many digital files (the "best" will be propagated by copy) but the young people he refers to as morons are simply living their generation, no more, no less. They are influenced by adult decisions of their society. Pedro Meyer makes more sense when he suggests that the digital camera revolution, the ease of producing palatable images (at least exposure wise), are allowing many more people the opportunity to be creative without requiring craft talent. A good thing. A first step to more engaged activity perhaps, and at the very least a beneficial outlet for interests and emotioins.
    Exhuberance and commitment are likely very necessary paths to later acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. How many of us purchased like sheep the latest in-fashion clothes or boots or went walking in winter cold with minimalist protection as teenagers? Moronic? Possibly, but only short-lived, as other priorities came and we learned there are other things to occupy body and mind.
    I wish that the desire for fine prints also reached other fine photographers. He probably sells all of his, but without either of the qualities of artistic talent or marketing skills, many fine prints get exchanged only infrequently. He is talkng about the masses but reflecting really only on his own very singular position. I think Pedro gives a more balanced view of what is happening in digiworld.
     
  10. Scott:
    I think it is a mistake to assume he is mad at the world. I share his implicit disdain for what passes as art these days. But, perhaps I am reading more into it. A fine black and white darkroom print has more intrinsic value than the very best inkjets, in my opinion, and I think this is what he is alluding to. For example, Picasso posters may be had for as little as $30; a hand pulled lithograph, signed by the artist, has far more intrinsic as well as monetary value (and is arguably far more beautiful to behold).
    Jeff:
    "While most youth lack the experience and wisdom, they make up for it in exuberance"...
    Perhaps I am misunderstanding this statement. I fail to see... never mind.
     
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    never mind.​
    OK, now I understand why you like Lyon's essay so much.
     
  12. "A fine black and white darkroom print has more intrinsic value than the very best inkjets"
    A fine black and white darkroom print has NO intrinsic value. It has the value that the photographer and the viewer is willing to put on it. Same for inkjet prints and screen images.
     
  13. "moronic youth"
    Said the "old fart", lol. Why should they care about his silver-gelatin prints, or about making their own, when he seems to be talking about non-photographers mostly. His attachment to a photograph's tangibility - to the material world - is not that much different than the i-generation's attachment to i-pods and i-phones, etc...as vessels for their 1's and 0's.
    It's a romantic view though.
     
  14. jtk

    jtk

    It's fun to see the oxen Lyon gored. :)
    Maybe some will remember his life-threatening participation in the Civil Rights movement, and his affectionate embrace of blue-collar youth/biker culture. Not mere "street," wonderful though that can sometimes be...he committed bravely to central things and took deep risks, particularly in the South. Admission of strongly held personal values is too-often crushed by kumbayah.
    As for asserting his PRINT SALES success... I don't understand what's wrong with having a personality and pride, but I do understand how jealousy can warp perceptions as well as motivate. Maybe...just maybe...the cosmos is rewarding Lyons for his good works. Maybe someone jealous of Lyons will use that unpleasant feeling to step up to some unknown plate to earn similar rewards.
    Money: Lee Friedlander is deeply and successfully in the photo-book business. A recent one was shallowly contrived, but his nudes and portraits were fine surprises: bigtime financial successes by a print-making photographer. Should he wear rags to appease folks who can't afford his books (like me)?
    The work of Bruce Davidson,the famous Canon 5DII-shooter, is featured with Danny Lyon, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Duane Michals in that 1966 Social Landscape book I cited in the OT.
    Also, note that Lyon didn't say anything negative about "youths." He commented on the prevalence of morons, and a dominant aspect of contemporary culture.
     
  15. Good grief, watching a puppy get hit by a car is more pleasant than listening to him.
    I look at all the youth in Iran during the 2009 election and how they communicated using phones with text messages and twitter feeds. Maybe our own civil rights movement would have happened earlier with better communications technology.
     
  16. jtk

    jtk

    Walt, I don't think "pleasant" is the central goal of all photographers, but it certainly is for some.
    Our Civil Rights movement was suddenly rocket-propelled when Mitchell 16mm camera with its long-roll magazine supplanted short roll Bolex for news film shooters...just in time for Bull Conners and his kin, and their fire-hose, dog, and club attacks on peaceful demonstrators in 1963. Prior to the emergence of that Mitchell there was little extended television coverage of oppression in the South...much like today, when what we see are mostly clips (in other words journalistic technology is worth damned little if an audience can be sufficiently dumbed down).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9kT1yO4MGg
     
  17. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Maybe some will remember his life-threatening participation in the Civil Rights movement, and his affectionate embrace of blue-collar youth/biker culture.​
    That hardly excuses the incredibly elitist views he now holds. In fact, who cares, that's when he was young.
    I don't understand what's wrong with having a personality and pride​
    Successful people don't usually spend a lot of time using it to justify their criticism of everyone else. It's just more elitist nonsense. Frankly, I'm surprised you buy into it.
    I do understand how jealousy​

    I don't see anyone being jealous. Quite the opposite, the last thing I want to do is be the kind of person that calls a kid a "moron" for listening to headphones on the subway. I'm much more jealous of Pedro Meyer because he is so able to accept change at a very late age, and write about it in an articulate way.
    Should he wear rags to appease folks who can't afford his books (like me)?​

    Nobody suggested anything remotely like this. This is a ridiculous response.
    The work of Bruce Davidson,the famous Canon 5DII-shooter, is featured with Danny Lyon, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Duane Michals in that 1966 Social Landscape book I cited in the OT.​

    And that's relevant?
     
  18. I thought the article was entertaining and flat out funny as hell ! Some people take things way too seriously and seriously need to get their panties out of their crack.
     
  19. jtk

    jtk

    Jeff, you're getting pretty worked-up.
    The relative jealousy you admit, Meyer Vs Lyon, is a good sign: You can see, you're heart's still beating :)
    I don't think a Civil Rights photo hero or any other highly regarded and historically significant photographer needs "excuses" (or your permission?) to report strong observations and feelings today.
    And I'm surprised to see Lyon attacked for being older than he was 50 years ago.
    As to your "question" about "relevance" (was that intended as abuse?): Davidson, Friedlander, Winogrand, Michals...and Danny Lyon...are genuinely and equally elite ( I admire what I've seen of your work as well...you're "elite" in my book, even when name-calling).
    There's usually a lot of jealousy in calling someone an "an elitist" (one of Limbaugh's favorite curses). Elitists are often one's betters.
     
  20. John:
    could not agree more...
    except about Jeff getting worked up...
    After all, the Mamiya 7 images haven't started popping up to illustrate his points yet...
    regards,
    your friendly neighborhood certified, card carrying elitist.
     
  21. facing ones irrelevance, whether finely clothed or not, can be a tough proposition.
    i photograph with headphones on. quite an enjoyable experience.
     
  22. It reads as if Danny has a very bad case of "You kids GET OFF MY LAWN, NOW!". He's only a year younger than I am and I know the symptoms. They need to be resisted or one does indeed become totally irrelevant.
    I will admit to feeling a bit sad that instead of finding old albums and shoe boxes full of negatives, slides, and prints future generations will find old digital media they can't read. I'm delighted someone held on to some old prints of me and my mother for sixty years so that I might see them one day.
     
  23. I suppose oil painters of the 19th century must have been complaining about the impermanence of the printed photograph too. To argue against progress and technological change is mortality based. He seems to be running out of birthdays and trying to grab on to anything that reminds him of his youth and his place in the sun. The fact that modernity and life is passing him by is sending shivers up his spine.
     
  24. jtk

    jtk

    It's amusing to read geezers sounding like geezers when objecting to Danny Lyon's thoughts :)
    I wonder if many here have actually spoken recently to many college students? I've been amazed by the blythe ignorance of any recent history, the basics of scientific method, and lack of more than one language. "In my day," as we say, the kids did have some capability in those realms. We argued and read about various important things as we staggered barefoot through the snow to our distant classrooms, after milking our morning milch cows.
    It tells the story when someone compares "modernity" (iPhones etc) unfavorably to history-moving commitments, as Lyon made to Civil Rights. It tells a similar story when someone is "delighted someone held on to..old prints" yet, at the same time, suggests no intention to do the comparable thing for the next generation.
     
  25. I agree that the print is probably going to prove more permanent than most of the digital files. And I don't feel DL is somebody I'd enjoy hanging out with for a meal or a day. Otherwise, the article didn't punch any buttons on me in any direction at all.
     
  26. Just some guy having trouble adjusting to the new world. His world of photography is slipping away and it's probably a hard thing for him. I was watching a kid walk down the street the other day and his pants were so large he had to hitch them up every 3 steps. It had a certain flow to it. Better him then me on that one. However I would not want to call him a name or anything. Just some kid with big pants.
     
  27. seems to me that many of us are oblivious to the pink elephant in the room:
    the man seems to be pointing out the damage done to the art of photography, not by the mere
    introduction of the new technology itself, but by how easily it is perverted into a vehicle for the production
    of comparatively hollow substitutes for fine art. whether most of us want to admit it or not, digital photography is
    far easier than doing things with film. It allows one to make a crap load of.... crap... in hopes that there is a good picture in
    there somewhere. Even when that good picture is realized and printed, it very often pales in comparison to what could have been
    done by traditional means. Rather than admit the inconvenient fact that photographers of the past actually had to know what they were doing, and
    that is not so much the case today, some of us turn to ridicule in order to give our mockery of a once fine craft some semblance of substance.
    ridiculing him does not make him wrong.
    just my take.
     
  28. John, I *am* a college student! But being a f/t college student at age 48 may not be typical.... though there are a lot of mature students learning new skills at my college right now, while unemployed. Just like me.
     
  29. F Ph--
    Actually, my parents and their friends (back in the 30s and 40s) already ruined photography. I have shoe boxes filled with their black and white snapshots. They did incredible damage to the art of photography. All those needless, useless photos at the 1939 New York City World's Fair. All those wasted shots of my brother and me and my cousins at our little birthday parties in the 50s. Those dumb shots of my grandmother in her stylish beaver coat in front of the New York brownstone where my mother was born. Those faux fashion shots of my mother in a mirror putting on lipstick while a friend looks on. I tell you, it was the ruination of photography. I don't know how Avedon or Arbus or Weston survived it all. Actually, they probably would have been so much better if it hadn't been for those dang Kodaks and Polaroids messing everything up.
    I think I will go burn those shoe boxes full of "comparatively hollow substitutes for fine art." And all those photo labs all these years should have been burned to the ground. They simply made it too easy for people who should have been doing their own processing in the darkroom. And anyone who had a darkroom in their house, shame on you. You should have had to trudge miles through the snow, barefoot, to process your film. Then you'd know the true hardship and suffering of the Artist.
     
  30. " The sign at the entrance to my gym locker room says “no cell phones please, cell phones are cameras.” They are not. A camera is a Nikon or a Leica or Rollieflex and when you strike someone with one, that is take your camera and use it as a weapon, they know they have been hit with something substantial. When I was a civil rights photographer (two Nikon Reflexes), I recall a news camera man who had a 16mm (wind up) cast iron camera. When I admired it he said it was “good to hit people with”. That’s a camera." Danny Lyon​
    Well, hard to argue with that...
     
  31. "Why are they not more cases of people, like me, ripping these things from their users and stomping them to death?"
    Nice. Note to self: the only thing more embarrassing than being an old man proclaiming "The end is nigh!" is including violent fantasies in the article.
    "Whether a watercolor is inferior to an oil, or whether a drawing, an etching, or a photograph is not as important as either, is inconsequent. To have to despise something in order to respect something else is a sign of impotence." - Paul Strand
     
  32. "To have to despise something in order to respect something else is a sign of impotence."
    I just thought it was worth repeating. ESPECIALLY HERE.
     
  33. "seems to me that many of us are oblivious to the pink elephant in the room:
    the man seems to be pointing out the damage done to the art of photography, not by the mere
    introduction of the new technology itself, but by how easily it is perverted into a vehicle for the production of comparatively hollow substitutes for fine art. whether most of us want to admit it or not, digital photography is far easier than doing things with film. It allows one to make a crap load of.... crap... in hopes that there is a good picture in there somewhere. Even when that good picture is realized and printed, it very often pales in comparison to what could have been
    done by traditional means. Rather than admit the inconvenient fact that photographers of the past actually had to know what they were doing, and that is not so much the case today, some of us turn to ridicule in order to give our mockery of a once fine craft some semblance of substance.
    ridiculing him does not make him wrong.
    just my take."
    i stand by my mockery (well it wasn't intended as such).
    it is a flawed attack really. what he is eluding too, and yourself inadvertently, may apply to the hobby crowd however it remains a myth amongst the documentary. photojournalist, art, commercial etc. crowd. specifically the ones either at the top of their game or striving to be.
    an inordinate amount of skill, drive and commitment is needed to succeed in 2011. perhaps more than ever with the reduction in funding available. to get myself from my desk at home, to the Niger Delta take approximately 6 months of pedal to the floor work. it takes enough skill to convince the people with the cake to fund it. it takes skill and vision to stand out in a saturated market. it takes skill, courage and a degree of insightfulness/people skills to work in the environments. without boring everyone, skill is required at every step of the way.
    digital is really only a method of capture. a new sort of film really. the d3's of today aren't too far off from an f5 of yesterday. when one really whittles away at it the real difference is cost per frame and the ability to show the whole world your slides versus the unsuspecting neighbor. delivery speed of course in wire service etc.
    if anything has the power to "end an age" it is us. our willingness (or lack of) to support photography. our willingness to pursue and create the new work, mediums and means of delivery the world wants to see.
    if anything has the power to "end an age" it's attitudes like the one expressed in the article.
     
  34. jtk

    jtk

    Again, it's telling when old men of no fame (or evidence of accomplishment or societal contribution) attack another old man FOR his pride in fame and societal contribution, neglecting of course the implications of his relatively low profile name-wise. Jealousy was one of Shakespeare's favorite explorations :)
    Another telling thing is when those jealous ancients pretend still photography is a permanently separate entity from video, despite what's obviously happening with cellular and gizmos like 5DII.
    Nobody capable of minimally clear thinking would question someone else's "relevance" without using the term properly: "relevance" to what? Relevant to morons? To monsters who steal Oxycontin from their grandparents? To young people who hope to distinguish themselves by wandering Manhattan streets in 2011? (no comment here on what Davidson seems to be doing today).
    People who invest their lives with family-funded, tat-emblazened nobodies rather than with people who might elevate them? ("elevate" as in "helping them be more, rather than less")
    I doubt I'd "like" Danny Lyon personally, based on his screed, but liking him isn't "relevant" to my needs. I'd like to hang with him, hoping to know more about the value system that enabled so much of his exalted career. Of course, "exalted" is just a personal value kind of thing. What's the difference between punk and Bach, after all?
     
  35. >>> whether most of us want to admit it or not, digital photography is
    far easier than doing things with film.

    Broad brush nonsense.

    >>> Even when that good picture is realized and printed, it very often pales in comparison to what could have been
    done by traditional means.

    Ditto.

    >>> Rather than admit the inconvenient fact that photographers of the past actually had to know what they were
    doing, and that is not so much the case today, ...

    And you're saying that's not true today, with respect to capturing/processing digitally and creating quality work? That
    people who capture digitally don't need to know what they're doing? Such as not needing any concept of composition,
    exposure, focus, dof, etc on the capture side. And having little technical skill on the post processing side to create a
    great print? Puhlease...
     
  36. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    it's telling when old men of no fame (or evidence of accomplishment or societal contribution) attack​

    It's better not to make this kind of statement. It could easily be applied to the statement itself.
     
  37. irrelevant - not connected to, or applicable.
    i believe i used the term accurately. being of the "not old" spectrum and admittedly covered with tattoo's from wrist to shoulder (both arms) i can only assume you are directing your comments at other gentlemen of advanced age. i would also add that none of the individuals i have documented, struggling with addictions to Oxycontin, have stolen it (Oxy) from their grandparents nor are they "morons". to add to that; Oxycontin, while widely labeled as the street drug of choice, lags behind in popularity when compared to things like hydro-morphine. this is relevant to the regions i have worked. FYI to some of the "old geezers", with illicit pharmaceutical opiate use being the number two killer in youth in my particular region i would argue that the particular subject matter is of the utmost relevance.
    this last sentiment is derived from what i can only assume is a thinly veiled address to myself.
    now, back to the point... where it all becomes "irrelevant" is when one chooses to use a over generalized, stereotypical example (tattooed, "family funded" [perhaps an explanation is in order for this one?}, headphone wearing etc. etc. etc.) to prove a point that when considered, in context is patently untrue OR... irrelevant.
    the article wasn't written with a tone of celebration and sentimentality, whilst looking forward to and commending the work of the next generations contributions. it was written with nothing more than condescension despite, as i recall, the guggenheim still being distributed. this of course can be verified by Donald Webber who is also of the "not old" spectrum and i suspect might have a tattoo or two of his own. (will follow up on that).
    just as there was when Mr. Lyon was plying his craft, there is today, a large amateur contingent happily snapping away. it would have been just as erroneous in that era to use one as a signpost for the other.
    perhaps it is the end of an era? perhaps the monolithic names of yesteryear have finally made way for the next generation of photographers. photographers just as skilled, dedicated and sincere as the Cappas, Lyons and McCullins of an age passed. relevant names like Pellegrin, Nahr, Subotzky, Delano and Hoagland. now that would be an article i would not only deem relevant, but long overdue. try and understand that not as derision of those those that went before more a further example of my understanding of the term.
     
  38. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I wonder if many here have actually spoken recently to many college students?​

    Not that this really deserves a response, it was obviously not intended as a serious question, but I do every week. And most of the people I know are from 20 to 40.
    I've been amazed by the blythe ignorance of any recent history, the basics of scientific method, and lack of more than one language.​
    I'm always amazed by how much they know. But I spend several hours with them at a time, which makes it difficult to stick by one's snap judgements. I'm kind of amazed, a lot of them have been on trips to Asia, Africa, Latin America, to build schools or work on other projects in the community. All of them have at least passing capability with two languages, I know some that speak four. Nobody I knew growing up could speak four languages except my father.
    It tells the story when someone compares "modernity" (iPhones etc) unfavorably to history-moving commitments, as Lyon made to Civil Rights.​
    It tells the story when you talk to a 16 year old who spent three months in Sudan working in a village, just as well. Maybe better, it involved a lot more sacrifice and danger. No discussion of iPhones, etc. It's only the cranks who think that they did it better so many years ago that seem to relate iPhones to Civil Rights.
     
  39. I speak daily with my wife (further proof of my distance from the "old geezer" crowd) and she is currently the top of her
    class (masters in social work). This is even more extraordinary considering she is doing concurrent degrees (theology
    as well).

    She is bewilderingly clever despite her youth.
     
  40. I don't think anyone attacked his work. Many have commented on his apparent bitterness. It's a shame when you reach old age and haven't accepted the fact you won't be President or "master". We all have to go through that and it's painful. A good read of Ecclesiastes might comfort his soul.
     
  41. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I don't think anyone attacked his work.​
    It's not even a matter of "think". Nobody attacked his work. Nobody expressed any "jealousy" of his work.
     
  42. jtk

    jtk

    Jeff, you're laboring. Chill.
    Some folks dislike the opinionated views and self-regard of a widely acclaimed photographer, so they've aggressively claimed his work is itself irrelevant, ancient history (open demonstration of jealousy). They've anxiously painted him into age-ist cartoons, directly comparable to racism. Welcome to 2011.
    Jon, you've learned something crucial about the word you used as a weapon against Lyon earlier. As you've discovered "relevant" does require a full phrase to mean anything at all. "Relevant to ...what?" Good work.
    The determination to elevate ourselves above Lyon as if we're one happily clicking kumbayah blob is interesting in itself. No disagreements or individual attitudes or states of mind allowed! Think Tea Party. Have you met those folks? They wear themselves out patting each other on their backs for agreeing so urgently.
    As to Oxycontin, I'm thinking of local police reports and Rush Limbaugh. Most Oxycontin is stolen, like his allegedly was, from people suffering things like liver cancer or bone cancer: nursing home residents. It's harder to steal from Walgreens. I guess I'd rather have irrelevant geezers be pain-free than have short-lived kids or talk show hosts stealing from them, directly or indirectly. BTW, there are plenty of geezers with tats in those places, more every day. Times change, but morons do abide.
     
  43. Some folks dislike the opinionated views and self-regard of a widely acclaimed photographer, so they've aggressively claimed his work is itself irrelevant, ancient history (open demonstration of jealousy). They've anxiously painted him into age-ist cartoons, directly comparable to racism. Welcome to 2011.​
    You've interpreted what people posted here all wrong. Maybe you've read that stuff somewhere else but not here. People are seeing his article not his photos as negative, a real downer. Who wants to be around bitter people?
     
  44. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Some folks dislike the opinionated views and self-regard of a widely acclaimed photographer​
    It doesn't matter who said that, it's not worth listening to. You seem to keep trying to connect people's comments to his profession, but you could have put "plumber" in place of "photographer" and everyone would say the same thing. You would probably join in. Nobody cares that a photographer said that, it's arrogant and elitist.
    The determination to elevate ourselves above Lyon​
    You're not getting it. Nobody here except you cares about being above, below, or sidewise to Lyon.
    Times change, but morons do abide.​
    Good to know your view of humanity.
     
  45. as Jeff has already commented on, Lyon is not a point on any measurement scale for me. curmudgeon is curmudgeon, be it a photographer or a garbage man.


    "irrelevant" was a distinction, not an attack. it had nothing to do with is past work. it was entirely related to the article at hand. isn't that what we are discussing? if it's his past accomplishments then i have seriously misunderstood the point of the article and i argue that Lyon is at best disingenuous.
    as per the Tea Party comment and hints of attack, i reckon you might want to re-read your posts. we could shift our focus to the word "hypocrite".
     
  46. Think Tea Party. Have you met those folks? They wear themselves out patting each other on their backs for agreeing so urgently.​
    And thank God for the tea party. Just saying. Since it was brought up.... There is a crime in agreeing with something fresh and right, apparently.
     
  47. Ed, Michelle Bachman will be giving a response to the President's State of the Union address as the representative of the Tea Party. Here's what she said about slavery and the founding of the U.S. this weekend:
    "We know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States."
    Here's how she described the first settlers in America: "It didn't matter the color of their skin. It didn't matter their language. It didn't matter their economic status. It didn't matter whether they descended from known royalty or are of a higher class or a lower class. It made no difference. Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn't that remarkable? It is absolutely remarkable."​
    What's remarkable is either her state of delusion or her willingness to lie. In either case, I suppose one might consider this a "fresh" approach to U.S. history. Apparently, she is, indeed, fresh and right. Far to the right of sanity.
     
  48. Off topic.
     
  49. "These Digis are very attractive little buggers. The cameras have made “photography” as ubiquitous as mosquitoes, they are everywhere. It’s hard to believe that they are part of the collapse of our civilization." (Lyon)
    The sarcasms of his very first line and the cynicism of his subsequent two lines set the scene for what this article represents and the intent with which it is written. Perhaps Lyon should spend less time reminiscing and trying to hold onto a past that is long gone, even if it is evidently fresh and present in his own mind, and embrace the inevitable truth about the innate nature of humane existence; that being the need for progress and all things stemming from it.
    The suggestive nature with which he proceeds to describe the scene around him only serves to portray him as a luddite, techno-phobic and ignorant photographer incapable of identifying with or willing to objectively consider the world through the eyes of 'moronic' youth (as he puts it). And yet so much of his work is subjected towards the youth of his era. He himself was a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang. I suspect those in positions of authority and mainstream "good christian folk" would have viewed him and his 'gang' with equal moronic status.
    Let me make an important distinction here.
    As a photojournalist, self taught I might add, his work is inspirational and visionary for its time. As a writer sharing his views on "the end of the age of photography.." he has done nothing short of undermine much of that vision evident in his photographic works.
    Photography like all things are subject to the influences of the ever changing world we live in. Romanticising it won't stop or change that. In his attempt to do so, Lyon only serves to undermine the digital age and the creative world it has opened up to current and would be photographers.
    "the end of the age of photography"? I think not
     
  50. Fred,
    Funny thing is that you can go by quotes, or you can go by ideas for the country. Speaks for itself.
     
  51. Yeah, these dumb stupid moronic kids with their 'digis'. Next thing you know they will be shooting with Kodaks instead of real cameras with wet collodion. It all started with that degenerate be-bop music. Then there were those 'Beatles' with that disgusting long hair--what were they, girls? These punks can't do anything with real style like we could. Yeah, with them it's just snap and go, no work. And their crap won't even last, like all the Kodacolor prints their parents made in the Seventies. "See that faded yellow smear? That was your Uncle Harry. Or maybe your Aunt Minnie. Or..."
    You know, there are Middle Kingdom Egyptian texts that say essentially the same thing.
     
  52. "…next to me was fiddling with his toy, reading something and then moving things around with the tip of his finger. Across the way another rider was playing with her toy, while three benign women sat next to him staring into space, glancing at him now and then, and wondering what they were missing. Next to me another young moron was rocking back and forth to audio coming into his brain via his plugged up ear hole and his iPod. What is it about these people that makes you want to assault them? Why can’t they just sit on the train and look around like everyone else? Why are they not more cases of people, like me, ripping these things from their users and stomping them to death? Or are there?"​
    Grumpy elders are every bit as universal as moronic youth. I have had the same desire to rip a cell phone or ipod out of someone's hands and stomp upon it. The age of the owner makes no difference to me. "Moving things around with the tip of his finger..." I've even seen a commercial in which a floating hand appeared to be moving around real life objects. The commercal itself had nothing to do with ipods, ipads, touchscreens, or anything computer related. It is a cultural reference to some, in which hours of their time is spent "moving things around" with one's fingertips. It is ubiquitous and I do find it disturbing. But concurrent with my own grumpiness is the memory of my youth, and the impatience I felt toward grumpy elders. I imagine that most of us have been the moronic youth decried by Lyon.
    " I can still look through these albums, and most of the pictures look pretty much like they did when he put them inside eighty five years ago. I am his son. I am touching, and holding and looking at, and smelling something my father made with his eyes and hand, when he was younger than I and all my four children are today. He was then a young man I never knew, but I can see what he saw, and can own and can touch what he made."​
    I could not agree more. I have already embarked upon a personal project to make as many archival prints as I can afford of photos that are significant to me…for reasons of family, or reasons of aesthetics. But this does not negate the benefits of digital. And there are many. Regardless what someone may think of my photographic abilities, or lack thereof, it would have taken me much much longer to be where I am today if I had had to deal with the learning curve afforded by film. Due to time and cost, I may have never embarked upon photography as a creative endeavour in the first place.
    I don't know that a reliance upon electrical digital devices is the modern equivalent of barbarian hordes at the gates of Rome, but it makes me uneasy that so much of what we rely upon exists in a realm that cannot be touched, felt, smelled, etc.
    Years ago I read a film script that was never given a studio green light. It involved the comedic team of Cheech and Chong. There was a scene in which the duo were orbiting the Earth in a lowered 63 Chevy Impala that had been converted for space travel. They go from satellite to satellite, smashing them with beer bottles. Chaos in military and civilian communications ensued. Along the same lines, I've sometimes wished I could do something similar, creating a merry sort of chaos in which those who seem to live their lives in the world of tweets and texts and highly specialized dish broadcasts would be forced to face the world analog style. At the very least, every storm upon the face of our sun gives me hope that the resulting solar flares will disrupt cellular communications and expose how far removed we have become from self-reliance. But then, I don't go out and kill my own food, now do I?
    "…you can archive it on your hard drive. Make sure you do that, so they last at least two years. Then your hard drive will crash, as they apparently are supposed to do. But you will have back up, which will crash, and you will have progeny, your children or your sister’s children and their children – (trust me on this one, if they don’t care about your pictures, no body will), who will devote themselves to preserving all the forms of technology present and future, so that they can see your pictures. For example they might create a room devoted to electronic gizmos, with every generation of “stuff”, which they will call “The I-Museum” the sole purpose of which will be to look at your pictures. Your progeny will get together and after a B-BQ of organic veggies raised on the Moon, they will whip out a disk called DAD, and there you have it."​
    It is convenient to view photos in a digital format, and I do not have a mindset against it. But I agree that it is not an adequate substitute for a print, anymore than Kindle or an iPad or any other text reader is an adequate substitute for a book or magazine that I can hold in my hands. My 11-year-old daughter, God bless her, feels the same way. We all use computers for work, school, photography, games, and information look-up. The genie is out of the bottle and there is no putting it back. But there are some things that just are not the same in digital format.
    So I have mixed reactions to Lyon's article. I nod in agreement with much of it, while finding some of his pronouncements annoying. I understand his point about the properties he has purchased from selling his prints…but the founders of Facebook, Google, and Apple are light years beyond his purchasing power. And, no, no one is moronic simply because they listen to music on an ipod. But a heavy reliance upon such devices, to feel a "dis-ease" when one is not in constant digital touch...that may well qualify in my book. But then, I'm just another grumpy elder...or at least within shouting distance of that state.
     
  53. Steve, what if a screen image is not a "substitute" for a print, but something unto itself? Are we thinking in an old language. It reminds me of so many contemporary philosophy books and articles I read that are rejecting the dualism of mind/body and subjective/objective, which dates back to Descartes in the 1600s and even beyond. The language can be tortured in these recent writings simply because the language of dualism is so ingrained in us. I don't think the next generation will think of virtual imagery as a substitute for prints any more than they think of ATMs as a substitute for face-to-face banter with a bank teller or texting as a substitute for "proper" writing. All these things may be somewhat relative to age and culture, but they are, in a very real sense, what they are. Texting is texting, ATMs are ATMs, and virtual images are just that. Everything could be something else but . . . so what?
     
  54. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I have had the same desire to rip a cell phone or ipod out of someone's hands and stomp upon it.​
    I recommend some time in the mosh pit. Much better place to get out your anger. Socially acceptable, and anyone you damage wants to be damaged.
     
  55. I've never felt the desire to rip a cell phone or ipod out of someone's ear. I never flet like I wanted to assault one. Nor did I ever want them, or any of us to look alike.
     
  56. Ahhh the good old days of the mosh pit. The smell, the vulgarity in freedom it represented, the sheer feeling of anarchism (sighs)....such moronic wasted youth! (thanks Jeff).
    I think Fred is onto something here. The reference to 'duality' is an important one because it does suggest a co-existence between the 'old' and the 'new' without necessarily undermining of being dysphemistic towards each other. All things new do not necessarily represent a substitute for...The can however represent an addition to... and there in lies the issue with Lyon's views regarding the so called 'end of the age of photography'. He simply refuses to accept the duality of the "digi" age
     
  57. Les, thanks, exactly what I was thinking but many times funnier said.
    Nobody asks Danny Lyon (or whoever else thinks that digital cameras mean the end to serious photography) to change his way of working, his preferences or his style. But in reverse, he thinks those of us using modern techniques are all doing something wrong. And that's the main point I see raised: a bit more open-minded and less judgemental approach.
    In a Dutch magazine, some time ago, the brother of Anton Corbijn (Corb!no, also photographer) made a remark in an interview much the same, that digital "gave us all the same STUFF and we all ate the crap", while with film it is possible to be all personal and unique. His photos, to me, were quite good. His pre-occupation with the recording medium impressed a lot less.
    Creative skills, then, have got nothing to do with being open minded to changes or other ways to do your craft or art. So be it. Let's enjoy with the creative expression, and ignore the rest. We don't have to agree, after all.
     
  58. I have always preferred a football field or a boxing ring to a mosh pit. Perhaps I am interpreted too literally. Let he who has never wished to throttle an arrogant driver or cell phone user cast the first....etc. (And how many times have I been perceived as the "arrogant driver" by someone else? Point a finger and three point back…yes, I know.)
    Fred -- I like your point regarding duality. No, that which is new need not be a substitute for something else. Reminds me a little of a discussion I had with Jack regarding ri hokkai and ji hokkai -- the concepts of seeing the world as separate things, and seeing the world as a unified whole. (Perhaps I reach?) I prefer that my descendants (provided that any of them reaching beyond my daughter exist and give a rat's derriere) view prints of family photos, and anything which I valued as a personal aesthetic expression (*carefully sidesteps the word "art"*) rather than cull through a labyrinth of folders on some outdated external drive. But that is a preference, not a judgement. The future may hold many currently unimagined technologies and world views. Word, thought, or pheromone sensitive devices that display images appropriate to a given mood or desire. Who knows.
     
  59. Didn't read the comments here but I did read the articles offered bu John and Jeff. It pisses me off that when I say those things, everybody attacks me like I am some dumb idiot with a big ego and when someone "more distinguished" says the same things, he is some sort of a guru... That's all I have to say, bye bye.
     
  60. I guess I like grumpy old men pretty good. I have met many of them. I have no names to call Lyon myself. As far as I am concerned he can dislike ipods and gadgets all he wants. I have an ipod myself and do not like it very much. It has a dead battery, no charger and no ear phones (the kids snagged all that stuff). I guess it's not likely I will hold it in my hand and bebop around a bus given it's sad state. I like cell phones ok but I don't have one. I have the verizon family plan and everybody has a phone except me. But if I did have one the only calls I would get wold be from the wife with honey-do's. So I figure just the whopping bill is enough cell phone pleasure for me.
    Photography is fun however. I carried my F100 around all day in Berkely browsing bike shops for my daughter and never took a picture. I was going to snap a picture of my burrito at lunch but I ate it to quick. Unfortuneately I did not find a bike for my daughter but I found a good bike seat for me. It's $140.00 and I did not buy it. But it sure looked sweet. It's an English touring saddle made by Brooks. I would rather have the bike seat then an ipod with a dead battery. But the guy would not make a trade so I am keeping my ipod.
     
  61. Thanks Ross for lightening it up. You have a good sense of humor. Alan.
     
  62. Antonio Bassi wrote:
    "Didn't read the comments here but I did read the articles offered bu John and Jeff. It pisses me off that when I say those things, everybody attacks me like I am some dumb idiot with a big ego and when someone "more distinguished" says the same things, he is some sort of a guru... That's all I have to say, bye bye."

    Antonio, as a person recently returned to Photo.net, I've not read any posts from you like that. But I have read most Danny Lyon's blog (I had to quit), and I assure you he is some dumb idiot with a big ego. He has killed any interest I have in seeing more his work. I don't believe you can separate the artist from the art and I will never be able to look at his work again without thinking about the apparent contempt he feels for the human race.

    There are morons and buffoons in the world to be sure, just look at Chicago politics. But there are heroes, and saints as well. I wonder if Lyons is capable of seeing them.

    Photography has NEVER been permanent. Silver Halide images fade in the light. Heck they fade in time! Photography is just a reservoir of time supported by a crumbling dam.

    There IS something special about a new print hanging on a wall that a digital display can't replicate. But did you ever go into a poorly maintained restaurant and see pictures hanging on a wall that were all faded and had the colors all wrong? All photography requires commitment and maintenance to share properly.
     
  63. Antonio, actually had you read the comments here, you would have seen that most don't see Lyons as a guru at all, but rather the way you describe yourself, and I think you're being very unfair to yourself. Though I've disagreed with you, I've never seen you as a dumb idiot with a big ego.
     
  64. I didn't read anywhere that Lyon is even making any of his own vaunted prints. How many of you have a personal printer? I'm convinced that a large part of creating photography in print form is to know how to make prints, not just dictate how and pay for someone else to do it for you. So, I have a little less regard for his rant about the demise of photography and the world in general, when it seems to me he's not doing much personally to preserve it.
     
  65. jtk

    jtk

    Glen B, other than financially, there is absolutely no downside to the decay of a photographic print. That some are badly done or have suffered by being hung badly is of no importance.
    Gary M, it sounds like you're unfamiliar with commercial photographers or photojournalists (such as Lyon). Few photo labs have ever had any experience with either profession for obvious reasons (quality, immediacy etc). Are you familiar with Cartier Bresson's work, or Robert Capa's? Does the fact that they didn't make their own prints suggest anything?
     
  66. jtk

    jtk

    "But there are heroes, and saints as well. I wonder if Lyons is capable of seeing them."
    I wonder if you've bothered to look at Lyons' work?
     

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