I am new to photography. I have “been a photographer” for a little more than two years, and was press-ganged into this medium via a work project (“who is going to take all the photos for this fundraiser?” I asked). I used a colleague’s DSLR that spring (2014) and bought a camera later that summer. The only formal education I have in still photography came when I was 9, making a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal box, and doing some rayograph experiments in a darkroom (props to my elementary school). I have almost no background in the history or aesthetics of photography and am still delighting in being a beginner, aided by the wonderful advances we have made in commercial camera technology, and the affordability of really incredible vintage lenses on the 2nd hand market.
There have been a few historical photographers who I’ve gotten a good vibe with, Ernst Haas, Saul Leiter…and recalling Walker Evans from a course in Documentary Film & Literature back in college. Exploring further I discovered the Provoke photographers out of Japan in 60s and 70s and found what I would consider a strong aesthetic approach, the kind of stylized expression informed by the physical realities of the medium and production tools, that I wasn’t seeing a lot of. Takuma Nakahira’s For a Language to Come is a beautiful expression of this movement in its first moments, and there are many photographers from that group/era who have had successful & well documented careers, and once you recognize the parameters of the aesthetic, the influence of Provoke is still quite visible today. I was, and am, not interested in copping that style, but it was good to see something whose aesthetic identity is in broad strokes identifiable, especially when my phone brings me it’s own photographic aesthetic movements whenever I open an app.
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