An interesting essay by a master
An interesting essay by a master
I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
I found the comment about Bloch interesting. I'm a fan of Bloch's music as well. I don't know of any piece he wrote called Clouds, so perhaps that never materialized, or I simply haven't found it yet. But I'll be looking. The interesting thing about Bloch, is that had he not been so renowned as a composer, he probably would have joined Steiglitz in the ranks of great photographers of that era. He did some pretty amazing work of his own.
Michael W. Graves
If it ain't broke....don't fix it!
I admire Steiglitz as a photographer and for his promotion of photography as an art form through his galleries, Camera Work, etc. But his writing often contains what some would call hyperbole and others would call complete fiction. This famous account of Bloch's supposed statements upon seeing the cloud photographs falls in one of those categories IMHO (and the opinion of others). Bloch was a fine photographer as well as a composer. He may very well have seen music in these photographs and said something about it. But the idea that he said verbatim what Steiglitz hoped he would say and claims he said seems highly improbable to put it mildly.
For the longer essay (from which this apparently was excerpted), see http://www.jnevins.com/steiglitzclouds.htm
Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
I got the opportunity once to view what S. considered his master set of his Lk George etc
cloud "equivalents". Dense, dark moody, intense - really compelling for something so common and ordinary. Lots of Gestalt. I think the guy was basically a selfish jerk, but he
sure could do things with a miniumum of gear. I used to admire his portrait work quite a bit
but now it seems a bit stiff to me - not really a criticism, understanding how things had to
be posed a bit given the slow ASA he had to work with. Minor white took that equivalent
doctrine and put it on steroids - a total kook who should have kept his mouth shut and just
let us admire his remarkable prints.
Alfred Steiglitz, 1926
I've had the good fortune of seeing several of his Equivalents in person.
It can be helpful to read as little as possible about photographers - or what they have written - and simply look at their photographs instead.
I'm a huge fan of his equivalents photos as well. I consider it more creative and noteworthy than his useful promotion of photography for which he is often known.
I've been known to point a B&W film camera upwards for the same ever-changing subject. Point a color (even digital) upwards, and it's a mostly unworthy documentation of a beautiful and colorful sky. It's an effective and sometimes beautiful exercise in abstraction to capture the same scene in B&W with gray/silver 2-d output in mind. I'd call it a pure example of previsualization, except that word wasn't in use at that time.
Paul Strand's comment was that they're not equivalent to anything -- they're just ordinary pictures of clouds.
It's a memorable story and illustrates "Equivalents" clearly. I don't have any trouble believing that a composer would see a series of nature photos and equate it to music. Another encouraging lesson is that the subject is not what makes the photographs, it is the photographer.