Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Old pol photo, new photo poll

In the end I'm afraid it wasn't much of a battle. Robert Frank's The Americans soundly defeated the book which midwived it, Walker Evans' American Photographs, 83-50 in the final of the Photobook Tournament. That's quite a whipping, but actually for The Americans it was the closest match of the tournament as it easily beat all comers by scores ranging from 228-14 to 102-6 to 116-26.

The Winner!

After all is said and done we're about where we started. The Americans is declared by yet another poll as "the best" photobook of all time. Ho hum. As with last year's tournament (Winogrand "the best" street photographer) the result is sort of anti-climactic. For me the lesson in constructing future tournaments is to design them with less predictability. Uncertainty good. Inevitability bad. In tournaments, photographs, and life.

So I've got a year to sort that out before next spring's March Madness Photo tournament. In the meantime, I'm converting the tourney into a weekly blog poll. Every Wednesday I'll post a photography related question in the right sidebar. No tournament, no bracket, just a rolling list of fun questions. The first question is now up. Happy voting.

9 comments:

John said...

I wish to write in Blake Andrews

Anonymous said...

How about doing the worst photobooks ever published!

Blake Andrews said...

John, I think you've mistaken snarkiness for influence.

Anon, interesting idea. I am open to suggestions for future polls. Post them here or email privately.

Microcord said...

The current question seems yet another variant on "Which is the most famous?"

I like Anon's idea. But of course "Worst" lets in the justifiably ignored/ridiculed. "Most overrated" would be far better.

Anonymous said...

Microcord - After thinking about it the 'most overrated' would be the logical choice because more people will have seen them.

Microcord said...

During my shower just now, I came up with a number of contenders for most overrated photobook, William Eggleston's Guide at the top. But aside from the risk that I personally face (homicide at the hands of enraged devotees of Eggleston*), the risk here is that this too becomes a question of "Which is most famous?".

* I do like "Before Color".

Best photobook by somebody who's never had one published in the US, Britain, Germany or France?

Best photobook by somebody who so far has only had one published?

Unlikeliest delight from somebody whose previous work had been boring?

Jacques philippe said...

I've just read read a good blog post from Martin Parr. You might like it Blake, if you did not read it so far.

http://www.martinparr.com/blog/

Maybe there is matter for a poll here, i.e. the most worn-out "generism" or whatever.

Zisis said...

I think Martin Parr should have been in the current poll.
Did you left him out by choice Blake, or he just skipped your mind?

Blake Andrews said...

Yes, I've seen Martin Parr's cliches. They stirred up an interesting discussion on Bryan Formhals' Facebook page. Not quite sure how they'd translate into a poll. In any case, I think Parr's online influence pales in comparison to his pull in the real world. The 7 I picked each seem to have built an online community, which I don't think Parr has.

Keep the ideas coming. I've got several in the pipeline but always room for more...