Sunday, November 16, 2008

Anxiety's upside

Willie Nelson by Brian Lanker

The Eugene Register-Guard ran an interesting profile today on Brian Lanker, the city's only nationally prominent photographer. Lanker's latest coffee table book Shall We Dance? is a photographic essay on, you guessed it, dancing. While I'm not crazy about the photos, anyone who's been in the business that long has picked up some interesting insights along the way. Here're some of Lanker's thoughts on digital photography...

“A lot of great photography over the years has come out of anxiety and fear. Do I have it? Do I have the right photograph? Have I really captured it? You keep pushing yourself and keep expanding. You’re not constantly looking at the back of the camera and saying, ‘OK, I’ve got this, let’s move on.’ 

...the future of photojournalism...

“They’ve been saying for years that photojournalism was dead. They said that when ‘Life’ died the first time. But then photojournalism took root in newspapers. There was a great appetite and hunger for good photojournalism on the local level. And now it’s moving to the Internet. Where that is going to go, I’m not sure. I’m not a huge fan of viewing photography on the Web. I like holding a newspaper.”

...and on finding good photos:

“Probably a lot of it goes back to a strong sense of understanding the photographic process when I was in school. One instructor in particular really showed us a lot of great work from the masters. You got this warped sense that every time Eugene Smith took a photograph, it was monumental. So for me, I translated that early on into: That must mean there is a good photograph there, no matter what. If Henri Cartier-Bresson were here, he’d find a good photograph. So I’d better get to work. You find out it’s almost true.”

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