Last year, on my trip in Paris, I visited the exhibition 'Veramente' by Guido Guidi, an Italian landscape and architectural photographer. At first, I was not impressed. I thought the images were boring and bleak and didn't see anything that striked me as beautiful or exciting. I remember talking to my course mates, who were quite unimpressed as well, how it was possible he was such a famous photographer and why we couldn't appreciate it.
We had just been to exhibitions of Henri Cartier Bresson and Mapplethorpe and I guess this was a kind of antidote. As Bresson and Mapplethorpe's images give you the idea you're looking at a little miracle, whether in terms of composition, timing and photographic skills, Guidi seemed to have stripped away anything that might have triggered the viewers interest, as well through his compositions, bleak prints and subject matter. Having had one moment after the other of sheer awe, these images did nothing.
Guidi's work is mainly focused around places, houses and industrial areas that are on the brink of decay. What we see is how time is slowly taking over the functions of what used to be homes, factories and shops. There are quite a number of people in the images, but most of the time they didn't seem to make the images more interesting and were just standing there staring, or sleeping.
We all concluded that we should have an other look at his work later and have a look at this book. In book form, the images get a deeper meaning when they are put together, following a certain order and by that unfolding a stronger idea and vision of the images.
So I just had a look online at Guidi's work and I have to say, I was definitely more impressed. I guess the main reason for that is that I look differently after having done the exercises of the function of a place, the use of balance and showing the relationship of the people in the frame with the place they're in.
Thinking about it, Guidi's images are very honest. These places are not interesting and he doesn't try to make them more interesting either. You don't really want to stop and look, just like you probably wouldn't when seeing the scenes in real life. However, when looking closer, I see subtle, but very strong use of reflections, composition and light. On the other hand, in every image I see something that's not right; feet are not in the frame, buildings are not lined, too much empty space, not enough contrast, etc, etc.
But there's nothing wrong with that. Again, these imperfections that I see as a beginning photographer who has not stepped out of all the 'supposed-to-do-its', work towards the feeling of indifference that the images breath. It doesn't matter that these places are run down, it doesn't matter that time is adding an other layer of history. Kids still play in the streets, people sunbath and dogs take naps. Why bother about the decisive moment?
In a sense, Guido's work has a freeing effect. I realise that I don't have to be neither a Bresson nor a Guidi. There's no right or wrong, only an urge to work on my own style, my own interpretation, my own skills. That if I find a building boring, I can display it in all it's boringness. If I see something fascinating in the ordinary, I'd better get that decisive moment.
I don't have to be there yet, the journey of developing myself, discovering who I am, how I see the world and the fruits that can be reaped along the way, that's what counts.