Thursday, March 26, 2009


"The issue here is not whether the photographer manipulated the print but the subject."

"The Directorial Mode: Notes toward a Definition" 1976

A.D. Coleman discusses the addition of the directorial mode of photography to the accepted documentary and straight forms, that in which the photographer 'consciously and intentionally creates events for the express purpose of making images thereof.'

   Coleman sites two recurring controversies and illuminates a third for photographers. The first, he hopes, is settled and over: "the fight to legitimize photographic imagery per se as a suitable vehicle for meaningful creative activity." He continues to ruminate on Strand's insistence on straight photography and finally touches on this new form of fictitious photographing. The essay serves as an interesting benchmark in the evolution of photography, especially when one considers how obsolete the first two issues have become 30 years later. I hardly take a second look at a photograph today if I don't suspect the photographer has synthesized meaning from the elements at his disposal (precisely that which early straight photographers sought not to do). . .if not created the captured scenario entirely.

   Now all that being said, I have to add that I struggle immmensely working in this mode. I use the frame to capture and exclude elements to represent my own agenda-- I have a really hard time staging an entire scene, and especially one that necessitates directing actors/models. Something to do with previsualization, I suppose. . .something Ansel Adams mastered by the 1930s. So there you go, it's all cyclical, or nothing's really changed and I can duck out of this rambling train of thought unnoticed. . .

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