Garry Winogrand

In Article, Black and White Photography on February 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

            “There are no photographs while I’m reloading.”

                                                            -Garry Winogrand, when asked how he felt about missing photographs while he reloaded his camera.

Garry Winogrand from Winogrand 1964

Garry Winogrand from Winogrand 1964

Do you consider yourself to be a prolific photographer? Do your friends perhaps joke that you’re a Japanese tourist visiting a new city, camera always in hand? Have people blocked you on facebook or instagram, or unsubscribed to you on tumblr, because your constant updates are turning into spam? If you’re a traditionalist, is your significant other filing a missing person’s report because they haven’t seen you in four days and forgot to check your black room? If any of these qualify, it might be reasonable to turn to Garry Winogrand as a personal mentor. Winogrand, who, along with Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus was among the sparse members of the New York photography scene in the sixties and seventies, was as inexhaustive an American photographer to grace the streets as any to come before or after.

Born into a Jewish working-class family in the Bronx, Winogrand’s photography career bore fruit not long after studying at the City College of New York and Columbia University during the 1940s. Less than a decade after his college days, Winogrand had photos featured in prominent spaces such as the MoMA, while his first solo exhibition debuted in 1959 at the Image Gallery in New York City.

Winogrand’s cameras often tagged along with his titanic urge to experience life, people and all of what American might have to offer. Fortunately for him, he had fans in the appropriate places. John Szakowski of the MoMA, for instance, considered him to be the central photographer of his generation. Because of funding from groups such as the Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts, Winogrand traversed the continental United States fervently, snapping thousands upon thousands of images that preserved his experiences to keep and share; this was enabled by 35mm cameras that could be quickly pointed and shot. Many of these photographs were taken with a wide-angle lens, an appropriate reflection of a man who wanted to take in life as much as possible.

Los Angeles, 1969, Gelatin Print

Los Angeles, 1969, Gelatin Print

At the time of Winogrand’s death, over 300,000 unedited images were left behind. Over 800,000 images had been produced in total, including 35,000 plus prints and 22,000 contact sheets. Luckily for Winogrand, he was never much for fretting over the editing of a photograph. He was more focused with making sure he got to the viewfinder and captured an image before it fled from grasp.

Unfortunately, Winogrand’s life was truncated by the scourge of gallbladder cancer, at the age of 56. If he had lived until the advent of the digital age, who knows how giddy he might have been to been freed from the limitations of films storage space.

Garry Winogrand Photographs

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