The Portfolio Entry #1
This recurring piece seeks to explore, examine, explain the most compelling and interesting images of the last fifty years. Some you may have seen, others will be new to you.
Damon Winter is a badass, the perfect combination of artist and journalist, the holy balance I want out of myself and my own work. Seeing work from Winter and other like-spirited photojournalists inspire me with their dedication, access, and artistry. They also infuriate me because they are so goddamned amazing at what they do, in a field that has become increasingly saturated, and also, in a field where weeks’ or months’ work are received in the blink of an eye, or turn of the page.
The first photo is from Winter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning package which captured Obama’s campaign on the trail. I was initially skeptical of the subject matter, simply because I knew there had to be more important stories and packages out there; war, famine, etc. But 2008 WAS the year of Obama. I think this package was a bit overrated and Winter primarily wins on access, something I’m sure that was arranged between the NYT and the White House. Nevertheless, many of the individual frames are stunning and brazen conceptual deconstructions of a presidential candidate and his campaign.
And sure, this one is easy to understand: the crop, the cloud, the centered figure. Winter nearly out-does Shepard Faery in turning Obama into a t-shirt and bumper sticker ready icon. But that simplicity, and yes the simple trick of the crop, makes this image so graphic and appealing. These are the kind of images that come from boredom, that come from looking at subject the same way over and over again. And it’s not THAT simple. Winter had to wait for this perfect oblong cloud to position itself in the frame. This photo is a highly suggestive, borderline propaganda image. The cloud is a thought bubble. Or it is the future, the hope and change Obama is promising at this moment. The white empty space above Obama’s head is anything you want it to be and that is the beauty of more art influenced phodogs like this: Winter provides the outline, you fill it in.
This second frame comes from Winter’s double-exposure series of New York neighborhoods. Like the previous photo, it comes as the result of a simple trick (i.e. double exposure). But the photo is incredible in it’s juxtapositions of shape, idea, and color. The entire series is fantastic, but I find this one more graphically appealing and a little more surreal. Not only is it a mashup of of spaces, but a mashup of visual rhythm. The background is what appears to be a dense area of Chinatown with movement going diagonal toward the left bottom corner. The jumbo jet pierces this nexus of signs and suggests movement upward. Though muted, the colors are wonderful.