Photographer Wishlist – Do You Have One?

Since starting to read more photography books, as well as noticing a sharp decline in my overall consumption of photographs, I’ve started a photographer wishlist.

Now, I’m pretty fond of wishlists, from books and music on Amazon, to cameras I’d like to try.

After reading a couple of photography books that featured multiple photographers – and enjoying my first taste of many of them – I started a list of those I’d like to explore further.

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My current photographer wishlist looks like this –

Eugene Atget
William H Rau
Peter Henry Emerson
Paul Strand
Alfred Stieglitz
Edward Weston
Brassai
Berenice Abbott
Walker Evans – American Photographs / Many Are Called
Peter Keetman – Traffic (print)
Helen Levitt
Robert Frank – The Americans / End of Dream
Harry Callahan
Lee Friedlander
Diane Arbus
Lewis Baltz
Robert Adams
Valie Export
William Christenberry
Dorothea Lange
Francesca Woodman
Imogen Cunningham
Werner Bischof
Larry Burrows
William Klein

Some of them I’m quite familiar with already (Atget, Strand, Stieglitz, Weston, Evans), many I’d not heard of at all until very recently.

And it doesn’t include photographers I’m currently reading books on, like William Eggleston, Daido Moriyama and Saul Leiter.

It gives me a structured approach for my photography education and appreciation in the coming months and years, rather than scanning mindlessly through hundreds of images online that all start to look the same.

How about you, do you have a photographer wishlist?

Please let us know (and who’s on it) in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

8 thoughts on “Photographer Wishlist – Do You Have One?”

  1. No wish list here. I have been interested in photography for almost four decades now (ouch, that sounds old), and I guess I already have found and studied the photographers I admire and who inspire me.

    What is sad: almost all photographers on these lists are either old or already dead. They could all rise in the days when magazines such as LIFE were still investing in great photography. How are we going to find the new Moriyama, Klein or Winogrand, now that Instagram is seen as the only “relevant” way to share photos? 4.2 billion uploads per day – virtually impossible to make a Bresson-like name for oneself as a photographer these days.

    1. Robert, this is a(nother!) reason I just disconnected from Instagram, just too much too process, too much to sift through, trying to find a diamond buried in the Sahara desert.

      I don’t want to be looking for the next great photographer – I’ll leave that search for someone else. I just want to enjoy a few at a time whose pictures mean or say something to me.

      For now, books seem the best way forward with this.

  2. Nothing so systematic as a list here; too unorganized, and too anxious to follow-up a body of work immediately on first exposure to a striking shot made by a theretofore unknown photographer. Not so easily done pre-Internet, eh?

    Stayed addicted to the late “American Photographer” magazine for its entire ’78 – ’87 run (less so on the renamed “American Photo” (and not at all to the online-only incarnation), and got exposure to lots of contemporary work there. There was not much of the canon of classics in it, though, and only through serendipity while idly browsing library shelves did I ever see Boubat, Strand, Lartigue, et al, and ultimately the grittier-yet-dreamy 1940s-1970s stuff being done by Harry Callahan, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Danny Lyon, etc. The Stark and Grim School of Moriyama, the non-fashion character captures of Avedon, etc., etc., of course got pretty big play in popular media, and many of us first saw them there.

    Nowadays, only the agencies of luck or chance in references found while stumbling around the few online photo-centric sites or blogs I look at lead me to photographers and work I’d not seen before.

    I digress a bit: I have an odd immunity to picking-up on encounters with artists I don’t know – long after I’d moved away did I find out that the near neighbor I’d often chatted with in the street was “that” Christenberry, and was then at the height of his career. Similarly, I’d once known a talented lady ceramicist sharing space near my own shop – her father was August Sander and while she’d spoken of him, I didn’t have a clue. After my retirement, I helped out a friend and his family in their camera shop, often chatting with a tiny older lady whose prints showed a fantastic talent. She mentioned that she’d studied for a while with Werner Bischof, a name that meant nothing to me either until about a decade later.

    Is there indeed a systematic way to review, be exposed to, learn about the deep and wide body of photography? Just contemporary work seems so …. oceanic as to be uncapturable, unseeable in its entirety, or even in just the high points.

    1. William, thanks for your in depth thoughts, much appreciated.

      I often wonder how our children’s generation (mine are 5 and 9) who have never know anything else but having Google to search for things and answer questions, YouTube and catch up services like BBC iPlayer to watch TV and Amazon to order virtually any toy or book or music or film you want in a couple of days, will look back on their childhood, and what will have evolved further by the time they’re 20, 30 and beyond. So much has changed since I was a kid.

      I love the phrase “oceanic as to be uncapturable” – I completely agree. This is the biggest downside as well as the biggest upside of the internet and the information age. You can find anything… But how the hell do you find it?

  3. I sure can’t. It seems like the process model has been broken. Or maybe impossibly fouled in the Internet marl.

    What process?

    For myself, it had always seemed to follow a certain path: many who have long since become, oh, the next wave, “modern” icons. benchmarks, I first saw just as they were achieving truly wide recognition in the pages of “American Photographer”.

    Sure, they’d had shows, exhibits in New York, London; had been positively reviewed, talked about in the tight little salons and arts columns, but then boom! big spreads were being gorgeously printed in near-mainstream magazines, and not just for the Eloi. Joel Meyerowitz’ “Cape Light”, “Redheads”, “A Summer Day”; Steven Shore, Nan Goldin, Susan Meiselas “El Salvador”, Larry Clark, the Avedon breakaway “In the American West” and on and on; stunning and fresh work, burst out of the sequestration of galleries and cultured money.

    And “American Photographer” was nearly all alone in providing this fresh breeze – photography magazines of the time were and always had been about “peri-photography”, which is to say, gear and specs and tech, and most definitely not about art. A few others also acted, almost accidentally, as a mainstream chute: “Rolling Stone” made Annie Leibovitz, as the long-stodgy “National Geographic” awoke about this time and made Steve McCurry.

    And that’s how I, how lots of people found the class since become known as “emerging photographers.”

    And then the Internet happened, and the noise level became deafening, and the emeralds were lost in the tumbling gravel, impossible to see or pick out.

    Well. There had to be WWW equivalents, didn’t there? And I went to them looking for the same pattern of emergence: to “Lensculture”, et alia. And but for a rarish retrospective on, say, Fred Herzog, they were, are forever announcing the Next Radical Imagist, the Next Visionary Reinventing Disruptive PhotoArtist. And each of those anointed, why, all of them seem then to sink like stones, and are not heard from again, overtaken, overrun, drowned by the literal Emergence of Everybody in flashing blinks on screens.

    Sorrowfully, the former culture – knowable, seeable, and for all its faults a very rich and satisfying apogee of excellence, class, and sweaty breathing art itself – is gone. Out of my time, I don’t even try to navigate the mystery streets, but sit on the curb looking backwards at old books.

  4. William, I love your writing, you really should have your own blog…

    Especially – “And then the Internet happened, and the noise level became deafening, and the emeralds were lost in the tumbling gravel, impossible to see or pick out” – which is true for so much online, and why I think I hold Google in high esteem, they at least give us a chance to find some of the gems amongst the gravel.

    “The Emergence of Everybody” is a brilliant phrase, yes this is exactly what has happened, again with many strands of today’s (celebrity) culture. You don’t need talent and persistence anymore, just to be able to shout louder than anyone else, even if (or especially if??) you have nothing worth shouting about.

    TV and the internet is saturated with minor “celebrities” with apparently little talent for anything but self-promotion.

    There’s a “famous” street photographer who’s name is dropped all over the place, and after following him for some months I think I enjoyed and rated perhaps one of the (many) photographs he shared during that time. But because he’s mastered social media and self promotion, he’s held in high esteem by many, running workshops on street photography and so on. It’s a shame for photography generally when many will look at people like this person and assume because of their “success” and presence, they must be one of the best out there, and that becomes their yardstick, what they try to emulate.

    I guess when we do find something new and worthwhile online, it becomes more precious than ever. I remember discovering a girl on YouTube maybe a decade ago now, who played piano and sung Smiths songs in her room. Very shy and unassuming and her performances were just beautiful, and much as I love Morrissey, gave a new dimension and emotion to the songs. Occasions like that have felt like finding an emerald amongst the gravel for me.

    But that was years ago… Is there space on the kerb next to you for one more?

    1. As in any cheap, grossly overcrowded and unregulated hive, the Internet is a Benares commuter train – if you ain’t go the geetus for upholstery and AC, you’d better have the brass, sharp elbows and teeth to even get a place hanging off the sides or atop the dented car.

      That streetphoto lad you speak of is just such: “there’s a business here; dough to be churned. nobody’s noticed me so I declare myself: I might be the new HCB, ok? Because there’s nobody to stop me.”
      “No talent, no originality? No worry; I can make you HCB, too, through sheer volume alone, Because I am the Greatest; I am the Monochrome-in-the-moment Trump. Sign here. No refunds.”

      Cf the film “Exit through the Gift Shop.” You ain’t gotta be Banksy to be Big.

      Blog? Ah, no, no, M’Lord; it’s noisy enough.

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