My tutor suggested me to have a look at the work of Jim Goldberg, mainly because of his approach to photographing people and documenting their lives. It's interesting to see how much power the images gain with the quotes of the people in the images. It makes me so much more curious about the people in the photographs than when I just see the image. Anyway, I was looking at some images online and found this one and it made me think about a chapter in Train Your Gaze and what's going on in the margins of the photograph and preconceived ideas on what 'proper' photographs should look like. Jim Goldberg challenges the norms of compositions, sharpness and the Golden Rule, which give his images a very unposed, cinematic look and really builds up curiosity and draws the viewer in.
It's as if Goldberg challenges the boundaries of his photographs and wants its viewers to go beyond just looking. And it works. When looking at his images I really feel drawn in the lives and the words of the people photographed. It brings about much more sympathy or at least a connection and evokes a much more emotional response.
For example, in the image above we see a portrait of Dennis Hopper, that raises all sorts of questions. First of all, he seems a bit out of place, being put in front of a suburban house, with a dog in front. It looks like he is just put in the middle of a scene that is not his, it almost feels like the photographer is mocking his cool image. With having the dog in front and somebody else stroking it, it makes the portrait itself even less serious, or at least the cool look that he has. Does Goldberg want to show that despite of the way the world looks at Hopper, he is just a regular guy with a house, dog and a wife?
It raises a lot of questions and makes me curious about Dennis Hopper, his life and the relationship he had with the photographer and the people around him. Goldberg seems to be able to take his subjects out of the stereotype and puts them in a place, or gives them the room to show a place or a way in which they can be looked at differently or let the viewer in on a deeper level.
This approach made me think that especially when photographing strangers it is a photographer's decision of how much freedom the subject is given to expose themselves. In Goldberg's case he pays careful attention to the set up and has clear ideas of what he wants to show, but in giving the subject the possibility to write the caption, or decide on the place on where they are photographed it he opens up the image to a new kind of interpretation.
Thinking about the portraits I took for Assignment 1,2 and 4 I have experimented with different approaches, which has been very useful for developing my own style and ideas of how I want to photograph people. I can't say I have drawn a final conclusion to how my approach will be, just that I'm discovering new ways and that I want to practice more and see which fits me best or challenges me most and then see how this is reflected in my work.
Magnum photos photographer profile (1953) Available at: http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_9_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZHEN (Accessed: 28 January 2016).