Friday, October 22, 2010

An Intimate Setting, An Adolescent Portrait

Last night I ventured over to a lecture - one of a series- held by the Camera Club of New York at SVA. The photographer was Martine Fougeron. A graduate of the ICP, Fougeron began shooting her two sons- and 10 of their friends- when they were 13 and 14 at the inception of their teenage rebellion and continued through their high school graduation. As a result, she built a refined, intimate portfolio of their coming of age.

Fougeron did something socially difficult, seemlessly-- AKA she's Mom and her two sons are growing up, rebelling, figuring out girls- booze- smoking (they're French) - yet there isn't really evidence of this adverse relationship within the work, and where it is present is an illustration that is integral to the story. I also think she was able to minimize photographer interference in a context where it would typically be amplified to capture a story that ends up feeling true - and very relatable at that. Somewhere in the lecture introduction, Fougeron was compared to the likes of Jacques Henri-Lartigue and Larry Clark, a class of photographers who photographed within their immediate social surroundings. For Fourgeron, that was caring for her sons. And I think that's why these images come so naturally.

But she also had some tricks up her sleeve; she put her subjects at ease with a set rules - a veto in place, a time limit for shooting, things that set boundaries because she knew those were necessary to stick it out for the long haul.

And then she gave it time. Fougeron broke the project into a series of subsets (now seven) that grow in number each year given the time of reflection. With a step back, she is able to create a separation from her sentimental ties to choose the images that capture an emotional and intellectual state of mind in the midst of ordinary childhood events. Another great feat! Because sometimes you just want to hold on to a print even if it doesn't photographically work.

Fougeron concluded with a 30 minute film in which the kids reflected on the photos and of their experiences. It was a fun reminder to stay open to change and growth. Then the lecture let out: At 9 oclock the night felt young, and I ran home for my camera.

Photo credit (from top): by Martine Fougeron Tete-a-Tete VI; by Martine Fougeron Tete-a-Tete VII by Jacques-Henri Lartigue Rouzat, Dé Dé, Lartigue's cousin, diving with water wing 1911

No comments: