Thursday, 17 April 2008

'Photography the pig'

Alex Webb, the great Magnum street photographer, whose 'layered' photographs with their dense geometric shadows are utterly distinctive, has said:

"For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner."

Street photography is a long game.

More recently, he has also said:

"After the Spanish Civil War, every part of the pig was used. It was eaten. Clothes were made from it. Shoes. The pig was used for everything. Now photography is the pig." (Quoted by Geoff Dyer writing in the Observer – My Week, 21st May 2006.)

Webb's evident disgust, I think, is with the way that photography has deteriorated from a humane documentary form into a pig whose carcase is devoured for advertising and graphic design.

He seems to me to be spot-on on both counts.