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The State of Affairs

October 5, 2008


Yankee Stadium Link

Several days ago I was photographing a young boy, about 2.5 years of age, and we ended up in a magazine section at a grocery store in Indianapolis. I know that might sound odd, but I think the images will turn out rather nice. Unexpected, and shot with my old Contax G2, a camera that is on my arm most days, these days.

Anyway, at one point, this little guy was sitting in a cart and the cart stopped in front of the magazine stand, right in front of the bodybuilding section.

I made a few images, two I think, before he was moved and we continued on. But right before I moved on I noticed several of the sports magazines, major ones, and on the cover I saw images I have grown to expect.

Color, studio, controlled portraits of sports/celebs. They were predictable, told me nothing about these people, but were the kind of image that seems to be virtually the only thing assigned anymore.

I wondered to myself, “Did the photographer enjoy doing this? “Did the player enjoy it? It didn’t appear like the players enjoyed it, and in fact you could almost see what was going through their mind, “Oh man, who thought this scenario up?” You could feel the reluctance through the images.

I wondered to myself, “Why do we do this?” Still?

Now the same can be said for much of the celebrity work I see as well. CONTROLLED, but not interesting. Would I rather see ANOTHER controlled, staged image of Will Smith, or would I rather see a real image of him, on a Wednesday, at 4pm, when he wasn’t working. A REAL photograph. An informational photograph, one that explains more than what someone looks like.

But, in the age of control, it seems that fewer and fewer of these images are being made. Are the days of William Claxton gone? Jim Marshall? I think so.

So a few shorts days ago we saw the end of era in sports, in sports history and American history for that matter. We saw the end of Yankee Stadium, perhaps, it could be argued, the most important American sports venue of all time. And what images did we see? The expected. I’m not saying there are not great images out there, that someone, somewhere made, but I didnt’ see any of those. I kept thinking, “Okay, somebody, hit me with something with soul,” something besides what I KNEW I was going to see. And, the sports magazines, where are you? I guess the Americana magazines are all gone.

So I have this friend in Florida, a photographer, Andrew Kaufman. He shoots a lot, and a little if you know what I mean. Name a format, a style and he does it. He makes books too, and creates on his own, projects, single pictures, etc. Andrew shot Yankee Stadium. And, I think he did it in a way that is different, and in a way that shows what it felt like as a FAN to be there, not as a photographer on assignment needing to fulfill a certain image requirement. Nor do the images appear as if he was rushed to make them, which brings me to another point.

Magazines, quit rushing for the sake of rushing. I think a lot of people would gladly wait a little longer to see a better story. Give us something more.

Now Kaufman was kind enough to send us a snippet, and I’ve also included a link to a lightbox on his site, so if you have a moment, take a peak.

You might like this work, or not, but I think you will agree it looks different. Now, according to last reports, this work had not been published yet, which is some ways, to me at least, in my twisted mindset, is a good thing. Some things need to sit, fester, before they are unleashed on the public. But, this stuff SHOULD be published somewhere………anyone…………anyone……….

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