Monday, 7 March 2011

Ian Berry's Whitechapel

There was an excellent piece in yesterday's Observer -- a huge double-page spread photograph taken by Magnum photographer Ian Berry in Whitechapel in 1972. It captures the changing look and feel of the streets during that period and was taken as part of a project commissioned by the Whitechapel gallery to document life on the gellery's doorstep.

What in many ways is most interesting about it is Berry's assessment that it just misses being a 'great picture' because the overall composition is spoilt by a 'white car'. Now, Berry doesn't say which white car -- the one exiting the frame left (and which to me seems to balance the black cab entering the frame right), or the VW, just visible behind the head of the woman on the left... Which car convinced Berry he hadn't quite nailed it?

It also reinforces the fact that with street photography, luck, judgement and subsequent editing are everything -- the difference between great and enduring, and not quite...

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