p r o j e c t s: not close enough, 2011
Robert Capa famously said “If your pictures aren’t good enough it is because you are not close enough”, sadly he was to get too close; stepping on a mine which killed him, one of the first journalists victim of the Indochina War.
I have been a photographer for over 20 years. I completed the documentary program at the International Center of Photography in NY and I was a fine printer at Magnum NY for over two years. As a result I have always been preoccupied with getting closer physically and emotionally to my subjects. Eugene Richards, Bruce Guilden, Martin Parr, Larry Towell and Jacob Holdt were some of the photographers I have admired over the years for their ability to do just this. On my way to Magnum from Brooklyn on September 11, 2001 I rushed to the twin towers, I took pictures mostly of the crowds watching the towers burn and then crumble as opposed to the towers themselves. I was drawn to them and their expressions as fellow New Yorkers. I began to understand the importance of getting close; I was searching for answers in the faces of others.
After leaving Magnum I felt my pictures had lost the spontaneity and personality that had excited me so much as a student; they had become an amalgamation of styles without the impact, beauty and honesty the photographers I was emulating were able to achieve in their work.
Throughout my career as an editorial photographer I was able to develop a personal style, I have always taken creative risks as a photographer and struggled to keep my work from becoming formulaic. This can be a challenge, if you discover that a certain method works it is easy to repeat it over and over again for your clients. I try and let my work evolve and make every assignment a challenge to create personal work.
Over the past couple of years I started to notice that I was stepping further and further back from my subject, or rather my subject dissolved into something that was more intangible: No longer a person, an activity, a moment, but an energy, a mood, an emotional environment. This has developed into a personal project; I have become interested in the language of photography, specifically the language of documentary photography and how it can be used in art or conceptual photography. Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Andreas Gursky, Sze Tsung Leong; there are many photographers who have blurred the lines between documentary photography and conceptual art. With this body of work I am interested in finding and capturing these emotional environments much as a documentary photographer would set out to find and capture their subject matter. I hope to continue developing this language using the aesthetic of negative space and homogenic landscapes to create a coherent body of work. My challenge to Capa’s wisdom is tongue and cheek, however the thought that I no longer need to get physically closer, is liberating and exciting.