Monuments to Our Moment: Modern Life and the Photobook

Pictoralism v straight photography of the pre-war has largely given way to the straight photograph just as the propaganda/documentary photographic (eg FDA) approach to inform and teach society has given way to a more liberal and personal approach typified by the New Documents era.

So nowadays the photobook often seeks to explore society in an objective matter but with two things added:

1) The photographer has sometimes become more important that the photo = auteur

2) More personal photography

So these issues sit within the trends and a good example is of Robin Maddock’s God Forgotten Face that is both personal and social and can be compared against the more formal approach eg Taryn Simon’s work


This interesting chapter really got me thinking. Indeed one key sentence struck at the heart of my view.

“An important characteristic of this widespread approach to contemporary documentary photography is to photograph the ordinary in an ordinary way” Page 107

This statement recognised that many photographers do not try and find any sense of aesthetic quality in their images. Indeed they eschew them and aim to represent the ordinary in an ordinary way. This stresses the situations very ubiquity.

But my aim is not like that. I want to shine a light on the hidden and do so in a way that is more aligned to Taryn’s approach than to say Robin Maddocks. It is interesting to note that I have not found one single reference to disabled people’s experience thus far in the book. So maybe I am not seen as ordinary by others.

G. Badger, and M. Parr, (2014) The Photobook: A History Volume III Published by Phaidon Press


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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