Thursday, October 30

The poetry of Alex Webb

A couple of quotes from Alex Webb, shamelessly cut and pasted from the Magnum blog:

"I respond to what I find – that is one of the things that I find most exciting about this kind of photography. I never know what I will find when I step out the door. It's like embarking on a journey with no clue as to where it will lead or end."


"For me, photography affirms reality, but does not explain it. Part of its strength lies in its ambiguity, its suggestiveness. I embrace that strength of photography rather than worrying about its weaknesses. If I was predominantly interested in explanation or analysis, or if my goal was to present what people are thinking, I would choose another medium – film or discursive writing. I like to think that sometimes still photography can, through suggestion, get at complicated, inexplicable notions, much the way poetry does. More discursive forms like essays may not deal as well with these more elusive notions."

I've thought for a while that Webb's explorative approach is at the opposite extreme to Martin Parr, who often seems to have an "agenda" or concept, and is looking for pictures to illustrate his world view. I've seen criticisms of some of Webb's assignments that were done in a short timescale, and that surely is the downside to Webb's suck-it-and-see approach when it comes to producing the goods in a short space of time.

Webb seems to have to immerse himself in the subject matter, rely on a little luck, mood, feeling and instinct. And sometimes for a great poet like Webb, that just doesn't happen in a weekend or a week. Whereas Parr is the ultimate pro who has a box of tricks and techniques up his sleeve to fall back on when the going gets tough...


jeff hammond said...

hey paul...
all this time and i never realized you had a blog (though to be fair, i've only been reading blogs for a few months now)..
chalk me up as another reader.. i'll work my way through the archives..

Paul Russell said...

Hi Jeff

Nice to know someone is reading. I did install Google Analytics recently after reading about it on Joni's blog, so I now know what's going on visitor wise.

georg said...

I once visited a workshop with Alex Webb. I asked him, what's a good picture for him. He answered: "It leads me to another world." Impressive.