If all goes as planned, at some point between now and the end of June, I will release a short film under the “From the Van with Dan” series about my time in Pittsburgh. There is a story here, friends, but one I don’t want to share too much of. Not yet anyway. This story is about a photographer and his influence on me as I was coming up in the photography world. He didn’t live in Pittsburgh but he certainly worked here while producing one of photography’s most legendary photo-essays. That essay etched itself into my still-developing brain and was something that clearly illustrated where the long-form, documentary bar had been set. Once you learn about this man, and you see the depth of his work, you can’t unsee it. You can’t unlearn what your eyes and brain have revealed.
I am not one to ever use a legend’s work on my site or channel. Those who do are scum in my mind. Tarnishing the work of a legend isn’t high on my to-do list, so when I do the great reveal it will up to YOU to find the man and find the work. Trust me, it won’t be difficult. But when you do, just know what it will do to you if the pursuit of the documentary picture is your goal. A clearing of the baffles might occur. The photographer in question spent five months in the city while shooting over 17,000 frames. He then delivered 10,000 prints and claimed he wasn’t finished. (I spent a few hours and shot about 50 pictures.)
Nope…close. Erwitt worked on another commissioned project here.
One of my favorite photographers! I even found the place where the loft was in NYC and dragged my wife there.
This is why I guessed Erwitt: https://www.amazon.com/Pittsburgh-1950-Elliott-Erwitt/dp/1910401129 What a fantastic book that is. However, now I think it is someone else. See my next comment.
Yep, try 1955.
He was relentless. And on speed.
So now, given that the name of this piece is “Searching for Gene,” I think it is actually W. Eugene Smith and his project “Dream Street” found here: https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Street-Eugene-Pittsburgh-Project/dp/0226824837/ref=pd_lpo_sccl_2/140-3114151-8941837?pd_rd_w=tmLUj&content-id=amzn1.sym.116f529c-aa4d-4763-b2b6-4d614ec7dc00&pf_rd_p=116f529c-aa4d-4763-b2b6-4d614ec7dc00&pf_rd_r=VG2PXSYX36GDKM21AY2Z&pd_rd_wg=dlFGT&pd_rd_r=6100bd12-0739-4404-a80f-c80b5f1a3c1f&pd_rd_i=0226824837&psc=1
Yep. Dream Street. The backstory is just plain crazy.
As a native and lifelong SW-PA’er, I approve this. Don’t know if you had a chance to make it to the Carnegie MoA but they had a great little exhibition on Teenie Harris recently.
I didn’t have the time but there is SO much there.
Depp did a pretty good version of Smith during his Minimata project, it’s a movie worth checking out.
I haven’t seen that yet but it’s high on my list.
I’ve got his Minamata book upstairs (Japanese edition) as well as an interview with his ex-wife in Kyoto Journal.
Going to Minamata to simply have a look around is on my list.
Send me a postcard!
I must thank the old Pop Photography Annuals for my introduction to both W.E.S. and his oeuvre; funny to think he and the so different Saul Leiter were friends. Whilst I’m on it, the same Annuals introduced me to Saul, too, he in ‘59 with their article on his “painterly” New York colour photographs. The death of magazines is so sad. Sad, in fact, as some attempted reincarnations. It happened to the British magazine NOVA, and the second coming deserved to die. Maybe they shoulda called Saul – again.
I wonder why some feel it necessary to equate Saul’s old style of street photograph with painting? His paintings look nothing like his photographs, though of course, his painted photographs are a different medium altogether; neither fish nor fowl seems fair comment on the latter.
Incidentally, the bleaching of highlights that Smith so enjoyed was also much in favour with fashion magazines…
he was a maniac. Relentless. I’m not sure modern photographers understand his level of commitment.