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Lee Friedlander - Genius or Talentless

Sam Chua , Mar 05, 2005; 12:00 p.m.

My teacher, to my great horror, is a huge fan of Friedlander. Now I don't understand Friedlander at ALL! Is he a great photography genius of a level so high that I simply do not comprehend, or is this a case of the Emperor's new Clothes where no one is willing to admit how badly he sucks.
a typical Friedlander shot

Looks like a soccer mom let loose with a camera.
where the "classic error" of letting a shrub grow out of your subject's head
is committed.

See it for yourself

and they say 'Lee Friedlander is, arguably, the greatest living American photographer.' Ok I'm ranting. My favourite living photographer is Ellen von Unwerth. What are your opinions on Friedlander.



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Ellis Vener , Mar 05, 2005; 12:09 p.m.

I think the problem lieswith you Sam. There are amny different genres of photography. The photorapher you think is great, is a fashion photographer -- in effect a very well paid salesperson. Nothing wrong with that, but let's be honest about what she or any advertising photographer does: help sell products. If you don'tunderstand something ask questions try to find out why others think the way they do, don't just dismiss out of hand because right now you don't get it.

Emre Safak , Mar 05, 2005; 12:48 p.m.

If you shoot for yourself (rather than with the intention of being considered "great"), you can dispense with other people's norms.

The photographs above bore me to tears... Maybe looking at them today, Lee would not like them either. Maybe he took them in the thrill of the moment. Who can say? There are many, often selfish, reasons why artists create.

(P.S. The "error" in the last shot is probably a parody.)

Daniel Lawton , Mar 05, 2005; 01:32 p.m.

I'd have to agree with Sam. Those pictures look straight from someone's snapshot photo albulm. Maybe its a bad representation of his work, I don't know. Being a highly acclaimed and recognized photographer has as much to do with marketing yourself as it does with talent.

Bert Krages , Mar 05, 2005; 01:57 p.m.

I don't think the images above are a good representation of Frielander's work. Most of the published work of his that I have seen fits within the street photography genre and is very competent. In my opinion, his photographs tend to be on the edgy side (in the vein of Robert Frank but with a sort of quirky balance). He also has a group of photographs that portray spindly looking trees in urban and suburban settings. These images are more of an acquired taste, but are intellectually interesting compositions if you view them as compositions of linear elements.

No photographer can produce work that is going to appeal to every one. Some photographers deal with this by trying to produce work that is always conventional. In extreme cases, they won't make or keep images that run against the rules of compositions (e.g., rule of thirds, rule against mergers). Some photographers don?t feel the need to seek universal acclaim and produce work that is more vulnerable to criticism. As an educator, Lee Frielander has been experimental from a positive perspective and warrants respect for his work in this area.

Sam Chua , Mar 05, 2005; 02:20 p.m.

I bet that if we put Lee Friedlander's work on the photocritiques he'd score very low.

Jeff Spirer , Mar 05, 2005; 02:37 p.m.

I bet that if we put Lee Friedlander's work on the photocritiques he'd score very low.

I can't think of a worse criteria for "quality" of images.

It doesn't seem like you are listening to what people are saying. That's probably happening with your reaction to your teacher also.

John Falkenstine , Mar 05, 2005; 03:12 p.m.

Looks at this digital link perhaps to get a bit more perspective...http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp Don't worry about what your teacher thinks is great....you can't change it...You're only in class to collect a mental toolbox. Know the tools in the box and how to use them creatively.

Sam Chua , Mar 05, 2005; 04:27 p.m.

what i'm most concerned about is the viewer seeing things that weren't there in the first place. It's almost like you take a random shot and people start seeing things in the photograph that you never even thought you took a picture of.

This is different from Cartier-Bresson and his decisive moments.

Jeff Spirer , Mar 05, 2005; 04:49 p.m.

This is different from Cartier-Bresson and his decisive moments.

If the only right way to shoot was like C-B and his decisive moments, photography would be very boring. Your comments still sound like you're not listening, either here on in your class.

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