Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Alex Webb: Streets of Chicago

"I did not have a goal in mind. In fact, I do not have goals in mind when I photograph. I respond to what I see before me." 

Reading Alex Webb's interview on The Leica Camera Blog, I gasped (figuratively) when I got to these phrases. How refreshing to read something said by a photographer that is so devoid of pretension! No bullshit here. He responds to what he sees. He doesn't pretend to see a La Pieta (as some did in Samuel Aranda's World Press winning photograph) in any of his frames...an honest guy and comfortable in his own skin, this Alex Webb.

Perhaps uncharacteristically for many street photographers, he chose to photograph Chicago's character in color. Having mostly worked in color since 1979, Alex tells us he respond to color, and that black and white for him at this time isn't an option. He sees in color and feels in color, so works in color...for him, it's that simple.

That's an interesting statement. When I walk the streets of New York with my camera, I see in color as well, and certainly photograph in color. However, when I return home and view the resulting images, there are some that work better in monochrome than in color. This is the advantage of digital photography, which allows us to alternate between the two. Purists may disagree and will extol the incomparable qualities of Tri-X film and others...but there's no denial that we currently have the best of two worlds.

Since buying a Leica M9, I've been working on a long term project which will involve producing an audio slideshow of my street photographs of New York City. Alex Webb's Streets of Chicago certainly will inspire me to complete my project. I haven't yet decided whether my photographs will be in color or black & white, but after viewing his work, I am inclined towards color.

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