All Images © Joel Sternfeld
A couple of my all time favorite and most inspirational photographers have published or are about to publish books straying far from their roots as large format film shooters. The above images are from Joel Sternfeld’s iDubai. When I first heard that Sternfeld was doing a book project on Dubai, I was super excited. Of course I was picturing American Prospects in Dubai. Amazing. When I saw some of the spreads on the Steidl website, after learning the book was shot entirely with Sternfeld’s iPhone, I have to say….I was less excited. I’m not criticizing the man for trying something new. I mean, I get it. The iPhone is cool. (I’m a Blackberry girl myself, but I admit it’s cool.) It’s got a great camera for a cell phone, and I also see why it makes sense for a body of work shot in Dubai. I’ve never been, would like to go, and have watched many a travel show about the place. Dubai has become a symbol for all things progressive and futuristic, realistic or not, regarding Arabic culture, and what is more ‘future’ than the iPhone (hello, FaceTime)? My issue is not with the medium, but the images. Let me say that I can only aspire to do in my life with photography what Joel Sternfeld has done in his. I treasure the books of his that I own and often look to them for inspiration. In my opinion, there are few people in the world that do what he does as well as him. But when I look at iDubai, I see pictures that a lot of people could take.
Now Richard Misrach’s Destroy This Memory is about to come out, and when I looked at the preview images on the Aperture site, I thought to myself, “Huh….those look….different.” I read on to learn that the book is entirely comprised of images Misrach shot with his “4 MP pocket camera”. I think it’s lovely that all artist’s royalties for the book are going to charity, and again, I get it. Who doesn’t have a point and shoot in their pocket to shoot alongside their more serious camera? Richard Misrach can almost do no wrong in my book. I have a signed Desert Cantos book and poster from a lecture I attended in Houston when I was in high school. High school! I own almost every Misrach book there is to own (including On The Beach). I have nothing but gratitude and respect for his work, and his photography I can truthfully say has changed my life. I’m curious to see Destroy This Memory and am not immediately writing it off because of the medium. I just want to see the same level of imagery from all of these contemporary masters of photography that I’ve grown to love, admire, and frankly expect.
These are just things that make me go Hmmm. That’s all.
UPDATE: Review of Destroy This Memory on Conscientious is an interesting take on dwelling on tragedy rather than moving forward. Doesn’t speak to the technical aspects of the imagery so much, but I hear what he’s saying…to me, it’s like to producing book after book or tv show after tv show about 9/11. While history needs to be recorded and preserved, we also should remember to record progress because the present and future will eventually become a part of history as well.