John Szarkowski called him the central photographer of his generation. Critic Sean O’Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2014, said “In the 1960s and 70s, he defined street photography as an attitude as well as a style – and it has laboured in his shadow ever since, so definitive are his photographs of New York.” Phil Coomes, writing for BBC News in 2013, said “For those of us interested in street photography there are a few names that stand out and one of those is Garry Winogrand, whose pictures of New York in the 1960s are a photographic lesson in every frame.”
I’ve been thinking about Garry Winogrand lately, partly because I’ve been thinking about the life of the street, a la Jane Jacobs. I’ve been thinking about The Pedestrian Access project. I’ve been thinking about all the new students and faculty starting to move in to studios along the streets of Medici University.
But I’ve also been thinking about Garry Winogrand because I’ve been longing for street photography. I’ve been longing for documentary photography.
With over 10 million subscribers as of November 2014, World of Warcraft is currently the world’s most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. Having grossed over 10 billion dollars as of July 2012, it is also the highest grossing video game of all time, surpassing Call of Duty: Black Ops at 1.5 billion dollars. In January 2014 it was announced that more than 100 million accounts had been created over the game’s lifetime.
You’ve heard of World of Warcraft, right? Any idea how many Flickr groups this most successful MMORPG of all time has? 259. You know how hot Minecraft is, right? Any idea how many Minecraft groups there are on Flickr? 200. I’m sure you know that poor Second Life doesn’t have near that level of popularity, right? I’m sure you know that SL has the worst PR rep in the gaming world, right? I’m sure you know that most people, if they think of SL at all, they think it’s a 3D Porn Game, Right? Any idea how may Flickr groups there are for lowly SL? 8,364.
I’ve been perusing a few of those 8,364 SL Flickr groups recently. Many of these groups are about “Artistry” and “Excellence” and “Best” and “Fashion” and “Beauty.” There are some wonderful images in these myriad groups.
Still. I hunger for something that isn’t perfect. For images that aren’t quite so manufactured. For the life of the street. Where are the documentary moments of life on the virtual street?
Your Mission, Avatar
Your images don’t have to be in black-and-white, but you might like the restraint it offers. Even in RL too much chroma can be a distraction. In VR space it’s only worse. The often ridiculous oversaturation of virtual worlds, for me, can render them somehow as less. More superficial. More brittle. Those sharp polygons don’t help either.
If your graphics card doesn’t complain too much, turn on depth of field. Maybe add a bit of film grain. Perhaps a vignetted border? Or a totally straight photo with no processing at all. It’s up to you. But try not to make a pretty or perfect image. Instead try to capture the rawness, energy, and life-force of people and events on the virtual street.
- Post a link to your work in the comments below
- Add your work to the Challenges 2015 group on Flickr
and this time there’s a 3rd thing you can do with your work:
8,365 Flickr Groups
I’ve just increased that SL Flickr groups total by 1. The newest group is SL Street Photo:
You can add your Garry Winogrand Challenge images to this group. And if you’re inspired enough to do more Street or Documentary images in the future, you can add them too.
As always, should you be caught or captured photographing virtual life as it actually is, the Community Manager will disavow any knowledge of Friday Artist Challenge #5: Garry Winogrand: The Street.
Good luck, avatar,