Ansel Adams’ famous quote about technical proficiency in photography is more apt today than ever. Camera manufactures and photography ‘gearheads’ continue to peddle a narrow narrative concerning the importance of mathematically machined photographic equipment and its importance if you want to ‘shoot like a pro’. British photographer Pennie Smith has proven otherwise. Her iconic photo of Paul Simonon smashing his guitar on stage during a show in New York City in 1979 is a perfect example of the visceral power of an imperfect photograph that is perfectly flawed. It’s out of focus and grainy. A technocrats worst nightmare. Yet it became one of the most famous images in Rock’n’Roll when used as cover art for The Clash’s London Calling album. A fuzzy photo that captures the energy and vitality of life will always win out against a sterile photo that’s perfectly sharp.
Interview with Pennie Smith via Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/showstudio-official/showstudio-punk-photography-4
Comforting to know that even the most iconic of photographs and photographers were not adverse to a little retouching here and there. As Ansel Adams said “You don’t take a photography, you make it.” Photographic philistines take note when judging people who employ photo apps to enhance their mobile photographic work.
Link to article: La retouche photographique, 60 ans avant Photoshop.
I don’t recall what age I was when I first saw a photography by Ansel Adams – ten or eleven perhaps – but I do remember being transfixed by its beauty. Those silvery tones; translucent greys, those skies that turned day into night. That was also the day I fell in love with black and white photography. What is it about B&W photography that has such a compelling hold on our senses that colour sometimes lacks? I believe it is because we have a more visceral reaction to a monochrome image. Our emotional reaction to black and white comes much more to the fore. We suppress the urge to logically ‘interpret’ and seek meaning that is usually the case with its colour equivalent. Colour photography is predominantly representational – black and white is universally ethereal. Its beauty is in its ambiguity and surface aesthetics. No justification required. It lives or dies on its ability to make you feel something – or nothing. Posted below are a selection of my black and white photographs. Or, to be more accurate – monochrome – as I have played around with different hues in post-production. Hope you like them – and should you like one of them enough to want a pristine print on your wall, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll chat about print sizes, prices and shipping arrangements. Thank you for your visit.