Only four truly great photographers

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by tim_atherton|2, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. I've recently come to the realisation that of truly great
    photographers since the invention of the medium, there are only four:

    Eugene Atget
    Andre Kertesz
    Walker Evans
    William Eggleston
     
  2. I am so happy to not see Ansel Adams on the list :)
    I have his books and enjoy the Negative very much though.
    Cheers,

    - Phong
     
  3. Eggleston?? What about Strand and Weston? I think this is too vague a criteria to pick only four. Henry
     
  4. "What about Strand and Weston?"

    would their work stand as new and fresh if they were doing it today (well, Eggleston still is - still the one and only photographer who truly understands colour) - which was my main criteria. Personally, I don't think so. Weston's work, while somewhat innovative in photography was never really much more than painters had been doing for generations. Strand, I find, generally, just stodgy.
     
  5. Margaret Bourke-White, Imogen Cunningham and Diane Arbus.
    Guess I'm partial to the ladies.
     
  6. Actually there are 5.... Kertesz,Evans,Bresson,Weston,White.
     
  7. The idea that there are “Only four truly great photographers” is silly and ridiculous. There are scores of excellent photographers. To limit the list to four is not helpful. There is no fixed set of criteria as to greatness; quality is mostly in the eye of the beholder. The four mentioned did good work, but so did, and do many others. Why set a limit? Why not honor excellence wherever it is found?

    Tim may have one "realization," but the rest of the world may have their own equally valid realizations.

    Cheers,

    Joe Stephenson
     
  8. I agree with Jope above, and will cut and paste it once more.
    "The idea that there are “Only four truly great photographers” is silly and ridiculous. There are scores of excellent photographers. To limit the list to four is not helpful. There is no fixed set of criteria as to greatness; quality is mostly in the eye of the beholder. The four mentioned did good work, but so did, and do many others. Why set a limit? Why not honor excellence wherever it is found?"

    well said.
    mike
     
  9. Doan,
    Why would anyone be happy NOT to see Ansel Adams name listed? Please don't give me that nonsense about "It's been done to death". Why do you think people still talk about Beethoven, Bach, etc... Ansel Adams has been "copied to death" but how many of these copy cats have that kind of power and drama in their work? Think about it.
     
  10. Adams just copied the great romantic landscape painters
     
  11. "There are scores of excellent photographers" true, (and my "second string" is full of them) but very, very few truly original photographers
     
  12. "The idea that there are “Only four truly great photographers” is silly and
    ridiculous."

    But is it more interesting the "what model Linhof is this"?
     
  13. I thought sure you were going to say you and me, Tim, so I was curious to read who the other two would be. (lol)

    While I don't dispute the four you mention deserve to be on a list of greats, I'd have to agree that limiting the list to four is too arbitrary, absent other qualifying criteria.
     
  14. "While I don't dispute the four you mention deserve to be on a list of greats,
    I'd have to agree that limiting the list to four is too arbitrary, absent other
    qualifying criteria."

    Certainly arbitary - but the reason being, as soon as I went beyond four it balloned to 10 or 15 - so my "criteria" was, which of those 15+ REALLY stand out - hence the four... :)
     
  15. You forgot my hero, Paul Caponigro. Then again Michael Kenna has very original work and is contemporary. While Caponigro has a more classic style I think Kenna would give a run for their money to the ones mentioned above.
     
  16. Interesting choices. Can you amplify your thesis? How have these photographers
    changed the course of photography in ways others have not.<P> I am sure these kind
    of
    lists are all representative of one's personal taste. i agree pretty much with your
    assesment but would add a few others: Ansel Adams & Robert Adams for how they
    have defined and rdefined landscape photography, especially of the American West:
    Ansel for seeingthe West in such grand romatic & bold statements (his closest
    equivalent is beethoven in music) Robert Adams for his anger at seeingthat
    landscape pummelled and raped;
    Man Ray, mostly for just being Man Ray the prankster; Henri Cartier-Bresson for his
    ability to make even the most banal of situations into an explosive
    surrealist document; Richard Avedon -- for his fashion work and later his portraits;
    and lastly Robert Mapplethorpe for crisply analytical & unsparing vision which is a
    tthe same time lush and sensual and hardedged and completely honest (as in
    Portfolio X) , compositions
    and lighting mixed with his sense of humanity, sexuality and mortality -- often all
    three in one image.<P>As I said these additions reflect my personality and
    interests.
     
  17. Kenna's Le Notre's Garden is really just pure Atget?
     
  18. bruce davidson, o winston link, elliot erwitt, gordon parks,
    eugene smith, eugene richards, ken light, robert maplethorpe,
    robert capa, larry burrows, george tice, bill hedrich, joseph
    kodulka(SIC), sebastian selgado, harry calahan, i could go on
    and on and on.

    I agree with you, that the 4 photographers you have mentioned
    are amazing, but to limit them as the only "great"
    photographers???

    Maybe you should put away the cameras for a while, and hang
    out in the Photography section at the library for a wee bit.

    Even if you don't like AA, you have to give the guy credit for what
    he did for photography. Think of AA as the Beatles, everyone
    loves to bash them just as everyone loves to praise them......but
    what they did for rock music (and popular music in general )
    can't be taken away from them.
     
  19. Adams just copied the great romantic landscape painters.
    Tim I disageee. His way of seeing the landscape is very different in spirit and philosophy from the romanic painters ofthe previous century.
     
  20. Not even Stieglitz? I think you should include him. I mean like these::

    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/S/stieglitz/stieglitz_equivalent_1926.html

    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/S/stieglitz/stieglitz_back_window.html

    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/S/stieglitz/stieglitz_okeeffe_31.html

    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/S/stieglitz/stieglitz_hands_and_thimble.html

    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/S/stieglitz/stieglitz_equivalent_1929.html
    ?
     
  21. I agree with Joe. This is totally opinion.
     
  22. Dizzy Gillespie said of Louis Armstrong, "No him, no me." The great people
    allow others to build on their achievement. Adams codified Weston's practice.
    Kertesz took the first great 35 mm photographs. "We owe him so much," said
    Cartier Bresson. Evans saw Atget's work in Paris as a young man and I think
    it scared him so much that he denied having seen it almost until the end of
    his life. With great respect, Michael Kenna came out of Bill Brandt; the same
    influence on the early Robert Frank. De gustibus nihil disputandis est: there
    is no arguing about taste. I would commend the new 7-volume set of August
    Sander's collective portrait of the German people . A steal at $195. Now, can
    anyone help me with the new Tri-X..........
     
  23. Even if
    "you don't like AA, you have to give the guy credit for what
    he did for
    photography. Think of AA as the Beatles, everyone
    loves to bash them just as
    everyone loves to praise them......but
    what they did for rock music (and
    popular music in general )
    can't be taken away from them."

    Well, I guess the both had weird haircuts... :)

    "Maybe you should put away the cameras for a while,
    and hang
    out in the Photography section at the library for a wee bit."

    All on your list are indeed in my libreary and were on my short list (okay - excepting bill hedrich) and Geoffrey's choice of Sander almost made it five...

    "I agree with Joe. This is totally opinion."

    Of course it is - couldn't be any other way. Byt then we are all photographers, and everyone of our photographs is an opinion - no?
     
  24. My list has eight: Adams, Cartier-Bresson, Evans, Lange, Karsh, Gene Smith, Strand, and Weston. I may have to add a few (Avedon, Penn, Cosindas...?), and subtract some after some reflection. A few years ago Stieiglitz and Stiechen would have been on everyone's list, and their contributions to the art cannot be denied, even if their images are passe. "Everybody has his own preferences, he said, as he kissed the cow."
     
  25. i agree with 3 of the 4 but would ditch eggelson, and add lazlo maholy-nagy instead.

    i guess we all have our opinions :)

    - john
     
  26. So what about greats before invention of the medium, Tim?
     
  27. "So what about greats before invention of the medium, Tim?"

    just artists who used lenses and mirrors like we do? Caravaggio, Ingres, Vermeer, Van Eyck, Brunelleschi, Velazquez?

    Or spread it out over a few Millenia for just artists in general :)
     
  28. There are no "truly great photographers".
    So that leaves Beethoven and Van Gogh.
     
  29. Strange that it took an English painter to add another dimension to photography and to make what is arguably the greatest photographic image ever made. What does this say about photographers?
    www.keithlaban.co.uk
     
  30. Tim: not one of your best postings, are you color blind?
     
  31. List building is so... 19th century. Haven't we gotten beyond that? Leave list building to Fortune Magazine. At least they have consistent objective criteria. They are not dealing with subjective responses to creative works. Artist's should only compile lists on their deathbed - lest they be premature.
     
  32. pvp

    pvp

    You left me out. Truly, I deserve to be on this list. Consider the following, incontrovertible, facts: (1) I am a photographer, (2) according to my dog, who never lies, I am great. <P>
    This whole thread was a troll, right?
     
  33. This whole thread was a troll, right?

    Not a troll - the list is serious - just my own thoughts about who is truly influential, unique or lasting in photography. My opinion of course, and like all lists, somewhat pointless... but imo a bit more interesting discussion than which CF to use with a 71mm super laxol GTS :)
     
  34. Tim

    To quote the great American moral philosopher, Larry Flynt, again: Opinions are like assholes-everybody's got one".

    Seriously- a fun post. Makes me think and that is good. Whenever Minor White's name comes up, I think his chice of christian names is apt. What about Pete Turner? A lot of credit must go to W.H.F. Talbot, who was the real pioneer: without him -nobody, at least for a long time.

    Thanks
     
  35. tim> "ansel adams just copied the landscape painters"

    Um, ive never seen any classic landscape painters paint a black sky for a daylight scene. Also, I've never seen paintings of a southwestern town with the moon overhead. etc.. etc.. Ansel Adams may have started his career influened by early american landscape painters, but he developed his own style that was unique for his time.
    Also, dont forget that Adams had subjects other than landscapes.
     
  36. cxc

    cxc

    That's how I like to put it. Without pondering, who pops to mind is Cindy Sherman, Man Ray, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe (the non-XXX stuff), Gary Winograd, Weegee. These are photographers who do stuff that I can't imagine being able to come up with, one way or another. I've seen enough of St. Ansel; I have learned all he has to teach me that I am capable of learning. He is 'used up', like the Beatles; fully assimilated already.

    Not the 'greatest' photos in terms of absolute world value, but the most valuable to me personally, because they are eye-opening and inspiring, and make me look forward instead of backward.

    My personal list is skewed towards portraitists, as that is one thing I most conspicuously am incapable of.


    CXC
     
  37. Tim> "..just my own thoughts about who is truly influential, unique or lasting in photography."

    Atget, Kertesz, and Evans.. the majority of their work is what I call 'street' photography. Certainly not unique, nor lasting. Influential? Well I dont know who influenced whom.. Perhaps influenced you, Tim?
     
  38. Tim> "I've recently come to the realisation.. "

    You might as well have picked the names out of a hat! Why dont you tell us why you've chosen these four?
     
  39. Kenna's Le Notre's Garden is really just pure Atget?
    You are pigeonholing his work by only one picture. How about his work with the nuclear plants, you are going to tell me that is Atget too?
    Can you find some similarities? sure, I bet evebody has a picture that looks like a picture taken by_____, but that does not make it unoriginal.
     
  40. "I've recently come to the realisation that of truly great photographers since the invention of the medium, there are only four"

    Statements like this are childish at best. There are many great photographers. And they are great for different reasons.
     
  41. pvp

    pvp

    Not a troll - the list is serious - just my own thoughts about who is truly influential, unique or lasting in photography.
    You did a great job of stirring the pot; you've brought some participants to the top who had sunk into the depths of our forgetfulness.
    My opinion of course, and like all lists, somewhat pointless...
    Demonstrating your good sense... at least, in this subject... I'd have been amazed to see anyone agree with you. Interesting discussion, but surely you didn't mean to leave out St. Ansel; if you were to scan all the discussions in this forum for the past year, his name must be among those most frequently quoted -- surely an indicator that he is and was both influential and lasting.
     
  42. "Kenna's Le Notre's Garden is really just pure Atget?
    You are pigeonholing his work by only one picture. How about his work with the nuclear plants, you are going to tell me that is Atget too?
    Can you find some similarities? sure, I bet evebody has a picture that looks like a picture taken by_____, but that does not make it unoriginal." It's a whole book of his - take some Atget and mix in a little Bill Brandt and Don McCullin - at least know your subject :)
     
  43. at least know your subject :)
    You mean like you? seems to me you look whatever you want to see in pictures and define them as unoriginal, first it was Atget, now is Bill Brandt...and that other guy.
    It is pointless to argue this, for the life of me I have no idea why Walker Evans would be even considered one of the greats, but alas is your choice not mine and lets leave it at that.
     
  44. > You mean like you? seems to me you look whatever you want to see
    > in pictures
    > and define them as unoriginal, first it was Atget, now is Bill
    > Brandt...and
    > that other guy. <p>
    >
    > It is pointless to argue this, for the life of me I have no idea
    > why Walker
    > Evans would be even considered one of the greats, but alas is
    > your choice not
    > mine and lets leave it at that.<p>

    Funny how this crosses over into the European/N American photography discussion.

    You've never heard of Don McCullin - certainly one of the most widely regarded war/conflict photographers of the last 40 years, who happens to be British. Whose documentary photography he acknowledges to be influenced by Bill Brandt (you can actually follow the classic image of "coal scavenger with bike" from Bill Brandt to Don McCullin to Chris Killip - who now teaches photography at Harvard and is busy influencing a generation of American photographers!). McCullin now focuses mainly on landscapes - though he did come out of retirement to spend time with the Kurds during the gulf war - those landscapes, being more often than not dark and brooding, drawing on his own inner psyche, but with a clear influence from Brandt, carrying over into his landscapes from the documentary (as well as his own reaction to his years of close encounters with death and destruction) .

    Kenna, who is British, is obviously aware of these precedents - he could hardly grow up in Britain when he did and not be. But (and this is interesting in the Europe/N. America discussion), this view, when transplanted to the US, especially the west coast, where Kenna now lives and works, is seen as fresh and new. It's not - just unfamiliar. As for le Notre's Gardens, Kenna basically admits to standing in Atget's tripod holes - it's as much an homage as anything. And take a look at Brandt's night scenes and then Kenna's - the influence very clear.

    I don't not like his work (I have a Kenna calendar on my wall) - it's just not as unique and original as folk on this side of the pond would like to think - but it makes for a great marketing opportunity. And he's certainly prolific.

    tim
     
  45. BTW Jorge - I forgot to add - Kenna openly agrees Brandt was his biggest early influence - and personally, I can see it even in much of his current work.
     
  46. “I've recently come to the realisation that of truly great photographers since the invention of the medium, there are only four”
    You are missing the point here. Photographers aren’t great, painters aren’t great, but their images can be. The person who makes the image should be of little significance, it is not the image maker that moves us, it is the image.
    www.keithlaban.co.uk
     
  47. I think that should be "surrealization".
     
  48. Would anyone add to the list of venerables one Peter
    Dombrovskis?
    Michael Hewson
     
  49. I think that Atget's best work transcends the genre of street
    photography, it is rich with such sublime poetic sensitivity. Also,
    what about Julia Margaret Cameron, Nadar and Gustav Le Grey?
    Compared to these greats Adams and Weston leave me cold.
     
  50. Thanks Tim, for opening this discussion. (Thanks to Per V. as well for his discussion an Amercan vs.European Photography).
    Both discussion has some points in common.
    Tim, the fact that you did not include Ansel Adams in your list - might the reason be your european background? Imho, Ansel would not get much support from europeans. He is mostly regarded as technically perfect but monstuously boring, or with a false pathos. This might have its reason in the fact that "landscape" is not toprated as a fotografic subject.( The "cityscape" instead is pointed higher here in Europe.)
    I like this kind of discussions, because it can be a playful way of rethinking the own view-/standpoint. In my eyes it can never be intended to find the (or some) truth; this would be too uniformistic and too anti-individualistic ( and therefore absolutely NOT european btw)
     
  51. tim, if you gotta haved 4 then robert frank has to be one of them, ditch eggleston, photography has to be more than arranging the colours in your back yard.
     
  52. ps right on mathew stanton, great photography is MUCH more than having friends in the moma.
     
  53. >I like this kind of discussions, because it can be a playful way of >rethinking the own view-/standpoint.

    Nice to see someone got the gist of the post - pehaps it took a European? Even after 15 years Is till forget how literal NAmerica can be.

    >with a false pathos.

    Ansel Adams in four words - perfect
     
  54. "tim, if you gotta haved 4 then robert frank has to be one of them, ditch
    eggleston, photography has to be more than arranging the colours in your back
    yard."

    Well, Frank is certainly up there, but what about colour (I don't want to get into the old "is colour a ligitimate form of photography" or B&W is better than colour" - we've done that too many times) BUT, who are the innovative colour photographers - as opposed to illustrators of postcards and calendars (i.e. no more pictures antelope canyon thanks...). Photographers who know how to use colour and take it well beyond the snapshot, out of the pretty and on to somethng else?
     
  55. i agree with you as i work principally in colour, but it ain't enough to get a top 4, you can't include eggleston just on the ground of "he's colour", and he was a pal of szarkowskys and got an epo. at the moma. sorry his work is good but it doen't say enough as the big guns. over to frank.
     
  56. Well, Frank is certainly up there, but what about colour?
    AA in color....lol...
     
  57. Tim,

    Since you are looking at the greatest of the greatest, then you ought to cross off Evans from the list. As great as he was, he’s just an American copy of Atget, who shamelessly stole ideas from Atget, Paul Strand and Ralph Steiner and promoted his art as if he was the first to come up with that style of photography. Eggleston shouldn’t be even mentioned in the same breath as Atget. Eugene Atget was the greatest photographer who ever lived. Period. Is there another photographer who has influenced others like Atget? Documentary and typological styles became what they are because of Atget. Evans, Sander and the Bechers wouldn’t be where they are without Atget’s gift to them. Atget didn’t coin the catch phrases of the art movements, but he was the first to do it. He was the granddaddy of them all. What would drive a man to such an enormous undertaking of photographing a disappearing Paris as he knew it with the simplest of equipment with no financial backing, and in absolute anonymity?? A true artist.
     
  58. Tim,
    Your gang of four is actually quite accurate and the reasoning behind your list is sound. I'm not sure why you've chosen to share this in a forum filled with members who are so entrenched in their own points of view that they cannot see beyond their opinionated limitations. Perhaps you enjoy being playfully cruel. I read this forum for technical information and it has proven to be quite helpful. Unfortunately most photographers, particularly here in America, are not very knowledgeable nor all that interested in the history of photography except as it relates directly to their own points of view. Whenever members discuss aesthetic or academic topics here the threads are usually either laughable or painful to read. I commend you for your intelligent postings and apparent desire to raise the standard of quality discussion on this forum but I think your efforts end up being more entertainment than enlightenment.
    Also, the only flaw I could find in your list is that you completely ignored the nineteenth century. How could there be an Atget without the pioneers of the medium? And if you had to pick the ONE greatest photographer of all, that would have to be, without question, Atget.

    Carlos Loret de Mola
     
  59. Although Dombrovskis is at the top of my personal list, it's not so much because of his pictures, but what he did with them. It's often suggested by historians that the publication of his "Rock Island Bend" in all the major newspapers of Australia in the week of the '83 election dragged Hawke across the line as PM, saved the wild rivers of Tasmania, changed the course of environmental politics in Australia and helped to raise the status of the conservation movement worldwide! To me that's more significant than the work of half the people listed above.

    And there's been no mention of Frank Hurley, who out-Anseled Adams, over-Roberted Capa and was more Galen than Rowell, all before the end of WWI! He was the first truly great adventure photographer, the first truly great war photographer, and just as dedicated to image perfection as Ansel. Definitely top 4 of the greats, but being from the southern hemisphere, is perhaps too easily forgotten by those in the north.

    BTW, I agree with those who argue that debating lists of artists is pointless and meaningless, but it's also harmless.
     
  60. Joe and Carlos - I would have to agree with you 100% on Atget - indeed my post was almost just that - just Atget. (though I disagree somewhat on Evans, Joe).

    As for Eggleston, I'm intrigued by the almost compelte hostility to him on here. On a couple of other lists I'm on - eg Streephotography, there is a clear divide - love him or hate him. Here it seems mostly sour grapes that he got an initial MOMA show? Personally, I think he is one of the first photographers to take colour and really use it - play with it, expirment, find new ways of doing things - and you see his influence from Sternfeld to Webb, to Parr to Struth. (and I'm always suprised by the number of people who just don't seem to get Eggleston - then - after a bit of thought and study, it seems to click and then make sense)

    Inded I think colour is an important aspect of our medium that is not understood at all well (by photographers) and more often than not done very poorly. There seem to be very few good, unique, innovative colour photographers (and many seem to work in smaller formats). To the above I would have to add Allard and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Paul Graham (as an example, his exceptional book Troubled Land about N Ireland and the Troubles - a place and period I know well, just would not work in B&W) but who else? The colour postacrd and calendar route is easy - who has trully made colour their own?

    And I loved the little comment about Ansel Adams in Colour - what a terrible book - it showed me two thigns - how mundane many of Adams photographjs really are, and how difficult it is to really do colour work.

    I have jsut started reading a little book called Chromophobia - "a fear of corruption or contamination through colour - has been a cultural phenomenon since ancient Greek times; this book is concerned with its modern and contemporary manifestations, as well as with resistance to it in art". Something this list often seems to suffer from as soon as colour work is mentioned...
     
  61. Only one on my list: John Vanderpant. I'll bet none of you know him. His print is the first print (and realy the only one) that caused me an asthma attack. That's the mesure: "Does this one cause an Asthma Attack".

    Dean

    (PS. though Mann and Maplethorpe have causes some heart attacks I've heard)
     
  62. tim, i don't think that the beef is with eggleston, it is the fact that you are proposing him as one of the 4 most important photographers of all time. sure his influence is undoubted, but can you stand back and say that he has left (will leave) a legasy such as atget?

    well i mean its a dumb thread to get to worked up about that no one agrees with you on eggleston so while were here, here's one you all forgot: canaletto, first large format photographer ever, and in colour....
     
  63. come on then Tyler - who would you consider the most infulential and innovative colour photographer?
     
  64. Sorry, that should be Adrian :) (just going by your email tag) - tim
     
  65. Dean,
    Which print from Vanderpant? I've got my inhaler nearby!
    Pete
     
  66. well you know the problem for me tim is that i don't really think that he/she exists, for me colour is about knowing how to use it not about ground-busting.

    it's gradual acceptance into "art" photography has been just that, gradual. so if you really want a colour photographer who has broken ground and is expressing something way beyond photos, try nan goldin, of course she (we all) owe a great deal to eggleston, and i'm not putting her in your "universal heroes" list, but i think based on your criteria of truly great all time masters of the universe, it had pretty much been sown up before mass market colour reared its delightful head. colour just worked its way in there, like egglestones photos, they are beautiful, but they just "are", and the universal greats are a lot more.
     
  67. Tim,

    Eggleston is a great photographer, but not on par with the other three on your list. Just because he was the first to experiment with colour it doesn't mean he was the best. There were many before photographers before Atget, yet he stands the tallest among all of them. So being the first isn't all that important, in my opinion. Stephen Shore, to me, made more interesting photos in colour.

    Now that we have agreed on Atget, Tim, here is a question you really should be posting on this board: If money were no object, and if you could own one photograph in the world (one only), which one would it be? I'd be very interested in your response. Cheers.
     
  68. Pete:
    Funny thing is, I saw it in a little gallery and it was so perfect but it wasn't "of" anything realy. It isn't published that I can see, or the his show at the V.A.G. so I gotta admit not knowing ... though if I'd have had the $5000 in my pocket at the time I'd have grabed it.
    Dean
     
  69. "'Adams just copied the great romantic landscape painters.'
    Tim I disageee. His way of seeing the landscape is very different in spirit and philosophy from the romanic painters ofthe previous century."

    I disagree, too. He only copied one romantic landscape painter; namely, Albert Bierstadt.
     
  70. The greatest photographers have the quality of abstraction. Ansel Adams came closest to greatness as an abstract artist – think Frozen Lake. Adams did not have insight into this, which is why a few pieces astonish but the bulk of his work is dreary. Mapplethorpe, another overbearing abstract artist. Strange to think that Mapplethorpe is a photographer who shares Adams’ vision of monumental abstraction. Eggleston, hugely more sophisticated and delicate than either, takes photographic abstraction to a considerably higher level of achievement. Or back in B&W think Brandt, an abstract expressionist. And many others … documentarism is a limited space, but abstraction is infinite: ie, there is room here for more than four.
     
  71. "'Adams just copied the great romantic landscape painters.' Tim I disageee. His way of seeing the landscape is very different in spirit and philosophy from the romanic painters ofthe previous century."

    I disagree, too. He only copied one romantic landscape painter; namely, Albert Bierstadt."

    I feel he is very much the photographic culmination of the whole "Cathedral Grove" school of American romantic painting Bierstadt, Cole, Church etc, following on from the photography of Watkins - look at Cole's Cross at Sunset and cf. Adams Moonrise etc etc.
    Not just in style and influence but also, to some extent, with the sanctification of the wilderness in Adam's work, in terms of the Sierra Clib and legislation, in philosphy/ideology as well.
     
  72. there have been no great photographers as of yet. the medium is in its infancy, and as such, has had pioneers, but no epitomes; indeed, there may be such simple limits and constraits inherent in the medium that it will never produce an outstanding figure, one that we could call michelangelo, or rembrant. i hope that the digital transformation may be the next step up the hereditary ladder, for the number of variables the artist can control and manipulate has increased; or it may truncate the evolution, altogether, by over applying the technical in place of technique.
     
  73. Whoo...just four, huh?

    And Tim did specify "truly great photographers" not "truly great *printers*" so we can indeed safely omit Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna, et al, whose primary contributions, it may be argued, are toward the furtherance of great printmaking. (BTW, Adams photos of Yosemite and other of his standbys are indeed derivative of earlier work by lesser known photographers using inferior equipment, film and lacking his skills in exposure and printing. But Adams didn't pioneer photography of those wilderness regions.)

    Okay, my choice of four great photographers. They may not have been the best at their niches within the craft, but they certainly might qualify as the best representatives of each niche:

    1. Berenice Abbott - for her unromanticized views of Depression-era NYC. She may have been a pioneer in at least a limited sense. Her photography was a total and complete break from the earlier Pictorialist approach. She managed to get the government to fund her project, a neat trick in itself. And her catalog of NYC may be among the most exhaustive because she apparently had no philosophical or moralist agenda that would have limited her views of the city to mostly po' folks, dapper socialites, etc. She established a tone for straightforward, documentary style exterior architectural photography.

    2. Weegee - C'mon, who could argue with this choice? He represents an entire era of photojournalism that we'll never see again. He may not have taken all the greatest photos of that era of unfettered access, but he's the one we think of in connection with that era.

    3. Pompeo Posar - The definitive photographer of the zenith of pinup photography, before the "girl next door" deteriorated into "girls gone wild" (and the presumed next step, "girls on crack" and "girls phoning home for bail money"). Never again in this lifetime will we see such mixed messages and paradoxes in photos of nekkid wimmim.

    4. Me. Yup. I represent the entire post-Modern generation of photographers, the entire lot of wanna-be's struggling to find an identity and a niche that isn't already packed to the rafters with self-important preachers of the Olde Lore on the inside and copycat HC-Bs and Winogrands sleeping on the porches outside, Leicas tucked 'neath their greasy jackets. I know just enough to be dangerous and not enough to be truly helpful. My meager successes are based more on luck and volume than skill and planning, but I'll claim the latter. I think cameras take good pictures and brand names inspire genius. I mourn the loss of favorite films and alterations to favorite developers all the while knowing that the only effect it will have on my photography will be to my endless series of test strips and densitometry tests. Meanwhile I hate the teenage girls who take more exciting photos with a JamCam than I have in my entire life. I preach to the choir and berate the unrepentant. I think of myself as the Jack Kerouac of photography; my kids think of me as the Orville Redenbacher of photography. I know more than you. I am Mr. Photo Net.
     
  74. Only four ,huh...

    Well I guess I'll start with...Me, myself and I, and uh, I forget who the fourth is! ;-)
     
  75. <<forget who the fourth is>>

    The overly trigger happy grandmother who takes endless photos of her grandchildren.
     
  76. Yeah, that's who, thanks for reminding me!
     

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