Friday, November 16, 2007

No. 74 in an occasional series:

Seemingly profound yet totally meaningless statements made by documentary makers when they know that their initially promising series is rapidly deteriorating:

'It was the photographic equivalent of the Great American Novel.' (The Genius of Photography, BBC4, last night)

What? Care to qualify that?

It's interesting that this series has mirrored the arc of photography. It started well, as did photography in the 19th century, full of excitement, wonder and potential. Yet as the series moves on and tries to add weight to a mostly weightless topic it has become less and less interesting or relevant. Last nights was terrible with talking head after talking head uttering totally spurious and unsubstantiated nonsense.

The only thing good about it was the appearance of one of the truly great photographers and truly grumpy men, William Eggleston. The photographer Rankin made the only interesting comment although it was virtually ignored by the program and I suspect he didn't even realise what he was saying. Looking at an Eggleston picture he said, 'It's like a painting'. EXACTLY, Eggleston is a great photographer because he is one of the closest things photography has to a painter. He doesn't take photographs, he makes them. And that puts him head and shoulders above the others. He doesn't just react to whats in front of him you can see him actually imagining the picture before he takes it.

Anyway, the only way for the series to redeem itself is to have the final picture discussed; Britney Spears getting out of a limo sans underwear because really, that's all photography is good for these days. Oh, and taking pictures on your mobile of your mates when pissed.

Stilll, C&P will be selling the magnificent William Eggleston's Guide this christmas, a wonderful present.

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