Dan Winters – Road to Seeing

Last month I posted a YouTube video of an interview with Dan Winters (See: Interesting Interview with Dan Winters). I didn’t really know his work and It interested me enough that I decided to get one of his books, specifically “Road to Seeing”. I usually order hardcover versions of photobooks, but this time I was impatient and I ordered the Kindle version. The fact that the hardcover version was over six times more expensive may also have had something to do with it! I don’t recommend that you do this unless you have the flashier color versions (or are willing to read it on your computer) as many of the images are in color and you lose a great deal by viewing them in black and white.

In his introduction he states: “My purpose in writing this book is rooted in a desire to share, on a human level, some of the moments in my life that have significance to me as a photographer, and a man” so it is at least in part autobiographical.
The book features many beautiful images. But in addition each chapter tells the story behind the image and how it was created. His focus, however, is not on technical matters. Rather he concentrates on such areas as what he was thinking in the run up to the photograph; how he collaborates with his subjects etc.

In addition to Winter’s own pictures the book contains many photographs from such photographic luminaries as : Alfred Stieglitz, Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Eddie Adams, Gregory Heisler, William Wegman, Nadar, Henry Fox-Talbot, Eugène Atget, William Klein, Saul Leiter, Walker Evans, Henri-Cartier Bresson and many others.

He’s best know for his portraits of celebrities, done in his studio often using sets he has built himself (in an earlier existance he built models for a living and so has expertise in this area.) His work has been featured in National Geographic, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine and many other newspapers and magazines. This work takes up much of the book.

However, he also produced a lot of personal (i.e. Non-commercial) work and this is where I have a bit of a difficulty. He almost seems to be apologetic of his commercial work almost as if he considers it a bit inferior to his personal work. Personally, I’m not wild about the personal work. Don’t get me wrong – It’s good, but I’ve seen better examples in the various genres that he’s tackled.

Even though it’s quite a long book (almost 700 pages) it’s quite easy to read and I got through it in no time. I very much enjoyed it and I’m glad I bought it. You can get a copy for yourself here.

Interesting Interview with Dan Winters

One of my favorite YouTube channels is Alex Kilbee’s The Photographic Eye. Today I watched this fascinating interview with Dan Winters.

According to the biography on his website:

After studying photography Moorpark College in Southern California, Dan Winters finished his formal education at the documentary film school at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. He began his career in photography as a photojournalist in his hometown in Ventura County, California. After winning several regional awards for his work, he moved to New York City, where magazine assignments came rapidly. Known for the broad range of subject matter he is able to interpret, he is widely recognized for his unusual celebrity portraiture, his scientific photography, photo illustrations, drawings and photojournalistic stories. Winters has won over one hundred national and international awards from American Photography, Communication Arts, The Society of Publication Designers, PDN, The Art Directors Club of New York, Life Magazine. He was awarded a World Press Photo Award in the Arts and Entertainment category in 2003. He was also awarded the prestigious Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography. In 2003, he was honored by Kodak as a photo “Icon” in their biographical “Legends” series.

He has had multiple solo gallery exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles and a solo exhibition at the Telfair Museum Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah. His work is in the permanent collections at the National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Fine Art, Houston, The Harry Ransom Center and the Wittliff Collection at Texas State University, San Marcos. His books include “Dan Winters’ America: Icons and Ingenuity”, “Last Launch”, “Periodical Photographs”, “Road To Seeing”, which chronicles his path to becoming a photographer and “The Grey Ghost”, which is a selection from 30 years of his New York street photography.

Clients include Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, TIME, WIRED, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Fortune, Variety, W, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Golf Digest, Vanity Fair and many other national and international publications. Advertising clients include Apple, Netflix, Samsung, Microsoft, Nike, Target, LG, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Bose, Amazon, HBO, Saturn, Sega, Fila, Cobra, Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, Paramount, DreamWorks, Columbia TriStar and Twentieth Century Fox, RCA, Atlantic Records, A&M, Sony, Warner Brothers, Elektra, Interscope and Epitaph.

Old Paris and Changing New York

I came across this book in my local library and liked it so much that I got a copy for myself. It’s “Old Paris and Changing New York. Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott” by Kevin Moore.

I’m a long time fan of Atget and to a lesser extent of Abbott and found the content of the book to be particularly interesting. There’s a, too me, ideal mix of text and photographs. An 81 page essay by Moore including a number of photographs followed by 52 full page plates: photographs by both Atget and Abbott.

Photobooks are often large and heavy. I understand the need to present the photographs as well as possible. I have a number of such photobooks. The problem is that I find them too heavy and cumbersome to comfortably read so I rarely look at them. This book is not too large and not too heavy, but still presents its materials effectively.

Atget to the left. Picture taken by Abbott. 1927. Abbott to the right. Self Portrait. 1928.

Taken with a Sony A7IV and Samyang 45mm f1.8

A visit to the Museum of Modern Art – Some Photographs

Of course the Museum of Modern Art doesn’t just have paintings, sculpture etc. I also has photographs. Here are a few including some from an exhibition entitled: “Ourselves. Photographs from Women Artists from Helen Kornblum” (Closing October 10).

I struggled to get pictures of these photographs as they were almost invariably in frames with glass surfaces. While I’m sure this protects the valuable photographs it also presents reflections, which spoil the picture being taken.

Taken with a Fuji X-E3 and Fuji XF 18mm f2 R

The Roy Stryker Photo Project

I was recently reading Kenneth Wadja’s interesting and articulate blog: 6×6 Portraits. Mr. Wadja is a professional photographer in Colorado who also has a commercial website; a site devoted to street photography; a site devoted to senior portraits; a YouTube Channel and the site which caught my attention for this post: The Roy Stryker Photo Project via a post on his blog: Roy Stryker is Back After A Summer Vacation.

The About page on the Roy Stryker Photo Project site reads:

Inspired by the drive and passion of Roy Stryker, and his belief in the power of the photograph to bring about social change, Kenneth Wajda, a professional documentary photographer in Boulder, Colorado, created this photo project.

Collecting black and white and color photographs from across the U.S., the project’s goal is to document the rural and urban lifestyle in the U.S. 80 years after the first FSA photography collection was started. And to publish a book of the images.

The original FSA collection was started during difficult times in the history of the U.S., and we are living in a similar tumultuous time, and the aim for this project is to document all of the aspects of American life that exist today.

In an internet age where more photographs are being taken than ever before in history, there is a great concern that this may be a digital dark age for photography, as more people make photographs but the number of images actually being stored, archived and printed is quite low.

Each photographer maintains the rights to their images in the collection and inclusion of images to the Library of Congress is solely up to the photographer.

This seems to me to be admirable goal and I considered contributing to the project until I read:

Here’s a list of some of the photos we need in the collection. We need people engaged in life mainly, and good caption info. See the examples on the site. We don’t need names necessarily, but we do need descriptions, date, and camera used.

It seems that the emphasis is on people, which pretty much rules me out as I rarely take pictures with people in them. Maybe I should?

In any case congratulations to Mr. Wadja for initiating such an interesting and important project. I wish you success and the project may inspire me to take more pictures of people so that I can contribute later.