Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tough and Beautiful

Joel Meyerowitz and Garry Winogrand met in the early 1960's in New York City. Meyerowitz would go out and photograph with Winogrand, just about everyday, from 1962 to 1965 according to the book, Bystander: A History Of Street Photography. Meyerowitz talks about what makes an image "Tough".

"Tough" was a term we used to use a lot. Stark, spare, hard, demanding, tough: these were the values that we applied to the act of making photographs.

Tough meant the image was uncompromising. It was something made out of your guts, out of your instinct, and it was unwieldy in some way, not capable of being categorized by ordinary standards. So it was tough. It was tough to like, tough to see, tough to make, tough to draw meaning from. It wasn't what most photographs looked like. ... It was a type of picture that made you uncomfortable sometimes. You didn't quite understand it. It made you grind your teeth.

At the same time, though you knew it was beautiful, because tough also meant that - it meant beautiful too. ... The two words - "tough" and "beautiful" --became synonyms somehow. They were what street photography was all about.

Fifth Avenue and Fifty-second Street, NY, 1974 ⓒ Joel Meyerowitz

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