So Far So Good, But …

Through thick and thin - 7th & Congress, Austin

With the discipline of a newly made committment, I have overachieved on my New Year resolution to take more photographs of people and, camera in hand, I have visited downtown Austin every Saturday morning for the last month. However, it might be more honest to redefine my objective as being to make “pictures with people in them” rather than “pictures of people”.

Thomas Leuthard has published a free PDF book, “Going Candid”, on his approach to making street photographs and building an audience for them; it is well worth the download to read. Leuthard’s approach to street portraits is very different from, say, Kirk Tuck’s. Kirk asks, Thomas doesn’t; and I am not a portrait photographer at all, period.

It’s just not in my nature to make the kind of direct and aggressive street images of Thomas Leuthard or Eric Kim, and that is more than a simple lack of balls. There will be some overlap in our respective content, but taken as a whole my portfolio will contain far fewer recognizable individuals and far more human figures as symbols, ciphers signing for all of us. Thomas Leuthard, Kirk Tuck and I are motivated by different visions and propelled by and into different practices.

“All photographs are accurate. None of them are the truth.”
    Richard Avedon

If I were to try to make portrait photographs, Kirk Tuck’s 500px portfolio would be my yardstick for success. Perhaps I’ll buy one of Kirk’s books on Amazon to find out if my aging brain is yet plastic enough to learn some new skills.

I am doubtful though; just because I know what an f stop is does not mean that I have the necessary eye and personality for successfuly making any and every type of photograph. “Stay on the f*cking bus” Thomas Leuthard’s book quotes from the excellant Helsinki Bus Station Theory essay by Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Yes, creativity comes from working at the edge of your comfort zone, but not from changing zones for the sake of doing so. My most truthful photographs will not necessarilly appeal to the widest audience, but they will be mine.