August 5, 2007

Photography in Modern Times: same as it ever was.

Last month in Rome, I visited Paolo Pellegrin’s Broken Landscapes, an excellent exhibition at Museo di Roma in Trastevere.

It’s a retrospective of sorts, work from 1995-today by a still young photographer who seems to have won every major journalism award: a Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, eight World Press Photo awards, the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, and the Olivier Rebbot Award for Best Feature Photography and on and on .


After I looked at the work, I started to wonder why everyone–myself included–seems to be still shooting in a style developed in the 1960’s. Clothes have changed, music has changed, even car design has changed. And thank goodness people like Pellegrin have changed the way they see this world too.

How about the rest of us? When are we going to start taking pictures in a way that’s a little more contemporary? Yes, a good picture is a good picture but the way we deliver it can change. It’s no wonder that the NY Times Magazine is equally populated by photojournalists and art photographers. Maybe we’ve bored ourselves out of business? Maybe we’ll have a second chance with multimedia?

You can also see a video interview with Pellegrin, part of a project by Lelen Bourgoignie-Robert and other faculty in the Visual Journalism program at the University of Miami and part of the World Press photo website.

Broken Landscapes closes 09 September, 2007.


  1. erickayne

    What does that mean that we’re all shooting like it was the 1960’s and 1970’s? Can you expand on this? Sounds interesting.

  2. For almost all photographers the style of photography hasn’t changed since the 60’s or 70’s.

    For instance, if you look at a picture shot in these last few years, if you look at composition and approach to a subject, I challenge you to guess the year that photo was made. The only way I can guess is from the clues in the picture itself ( the clothes, hairstyles or cars you see in the picture), not from the approach or compossition.

    It’s only people like Pellegrin and Michael Ackerman, Jim Goldberg and others who are seeing in a different way who have advanced. Even spoken language, with the addition of hiphop and slang, has advanced more than our conservative way of shooting.

    I’ll admit that I’m as guilty of this as onyone else.


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