Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reportage and Art: What's The Relationship?

Weegee was said to have thrived on a good crime. He earned his nickname (the phonetically spelled Ouija) due to his quick materialization at every crime scene seemingly within minutes of its happening. He tried to "humanize the news story." To him, every picture had to be a masterpiece, even a drunk. There is no question the thought he put into each photograph, which is why he is such a master. Click on the hyperlinks above to hear some insight from the man himself on the drama and backdrop at the scene of a murder.

The picture above is from a contemporary sometime-news photographer, Mariella Furrer, whose work I saw on the NYTimes Lens. More about her after the jump.

I enjoy her reportage images as images alone-- they could tell the story without the editorial. And they are quite pleasing to the eye. At the core, many of her series are there to inform the viewer to troubles that often can't be as impactful or even generally effective with words alone.

The skill is collecting the facts while composing a beautiful image. How much does that quality cross over to a fine art photograph and/or documentary photograph? I think the answer is that the news photographer, the documentary photographer, the art photographer are working toward the exact same goal. If an image doesn't tell a story, well then it's just an image, nothing else-- and it doesn't really work at that. It doesn't elevate you to another level, and I think that elevation is the je ne sais quoi that gives the viewer the goosebumps or the stomach-turn. What do you think about the relationship between the two?

From Top--All images Mariella Furrer: of Child Sexual Abuse, South Africa; of Snapshots in Kosovo & Macedonia, 1999.

No comments: