The photography blogosphere is all a-twitter (in the olde-school sense) about John Loengard. First, Joe McNally praised him when Joe announced his new book. In that announcement, Joe plugged John’s Pictures Under Discussion, published in 1987. I quickly checked to see if it was available at the local library, and it was. I picked it up today.
When I returned to work after perusing Pictures Under Discussion for a few minutes at the library, I found (via McNally) that Loengard had written a guest post on Scott Kelby’s blog. And before I could even read the post, I was struck by his self-portrait. This self portrait, to me, says self confidence and sense of humor. This guy worked at Time among some of the best photographers ever, and is an accomplished photographer himself. In his self-portrait he used three trite themes that many photographers attempt to avoid: he showed his camera in frame; he used a mirror; he used a point-and-shoot. The humor for me is that he attached the point-and-shoot to a monstrous tripod head. Its a bit of juxtaposition that for me makes this image.
I love this passage from Pictures Under Discussion, page 32:
I know I’m boasting, but I believe this is the first photograph of a “right face”ever made. I am proud of my contribution to the list of photographic firsts (it is the only one I have ever claimed), but once it was easier. I discovered photography 107 years after Lois Jacques Mande Daguerre, on a Sunday afternoon when my father mentioned that he planned to buy a camera. The idea that the thing he mentioned could “take pictures” made me leap up and rush to the drugstore on the corner to buy film ….
In 1969, an astronaut snapped the Earth from his space craft above the moon and made the ultimate photographic first. Photojournalism had thrived in the 1940s and 1950s as advances in film, lighting, and lenses combined to permit photography of most human activities for the first time. The hummingbird in flight and the housewife were documented. Now we can expect that the first pictures of the Second Coming will be thrilling, but aside from that, nearly a century and a half after Daguerre’s announcement, there are few virgin sights left for the camera. I’m glad I found my little crumb.
The “right face” he refers to can be seen on his web site (I can’t link directly, damn flash) in the first column, fourth row, and shows legs, feat and shadows.
He wrote those words, “few virgin sights left for the camera” only 4 years before Kodak released the first DSLR in 1991 (at $13,000 for 1.2 megapixel!) Fortunately for the photography industry, people never seem to tire of seeing non-virgin sights.
I’m looking forward to reading more of this book, and probably a couple of others, with an eye toward inspiration.