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I don’t like pictures with new cars in them

“I don’t like pictures with new cars in them”

Or something similar was said by a student showing his work in a class critique in my first semester of photography at the University of Nebraska. This was back in 2002. I can’t recall his exact words but I remember that this was the spark of an interesting exchange between students in the room- we had predominantly been seeing slides of work by Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Eggleston, Friedlander, Winogrand etc etc and none of the pictures by those photographers ever had a Toyoya Prius in them. The design of the late model vehicles on the streets of Lincoln was for that student an obstacle to work around. He didn’t want a current model vehicle in his pictures so if I remember correctly, he went out of his way to photograph older cars. (for you Lincolnites and Nebraskans: He headed out to West O street) This made his pictures look “better” in that they resembled more what he had been seeing in class. There’s a lot more which could be said about all this, but what I’m interested in is how visual triggers prompt one to photograph. What is it that when in the viewfinder one wants to release the shutter? For the student it was a 1964 Galaxie instead of a 2004 Camry. How does one’s photographic influences manifest themselves in the Real World? This isn’t (shouldn’t be) about copying a style. Even Olympus will help you be Moriyama now with the push of a button. That part is brainlessly easy.

I find this eerily familiar. I hate having modern cars in my photographs as well…I think perhaps because most modern cars seemed to be designed so much with inoffensive neutrality in mind; they don’t seem to mean anything.

Then again, what the hell do I know about cars? I’ve certainly never driven one…

via _valerian » Photographing the Past

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