14 June 2011

Photos 101

Some time ago I read an article in The Weekend Australian that captured my imagination. It was about the French photographer Eugene Atget who, after receiving only moderate success at acting and painting, found his real passion in photography in his mid 40's. His legacy is a definitive record of over 2,000 glass plates and 10,000 prints. His images are often devoid of people and show streets, storefronts, parks and architectural details.
In his later years he often worked in the early morning light capturing the empty and pristine space before the city woke. Stooped and carrying his heavy equipment, Atget loved particular places and returned often to document these.
I love the simplicity of his work and wish I could take photos with such style.

This is a newspaper cutting I have been carrying around ...

... so today I set off to take a photo from the same point behind the Pantheon in the 5th arrondissement -

- in rue Valette. It has changed a bit since 1925, but it was fun visualising him setting up his simple box camera and glass plates.

As John Szarkowski wrote in "Looking at Photography"...
Eugene Atget worked at his calling for 30 years. He did little experimenting and did not theorise. He founded no movement and attracted no circle.
He made photographs which for purity and intensity of vision have not been bettered.
His work is seductively and deceptively simple, poised, reticent, dense with experience, mysterious and true. "

Something to aspire to ...

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