05 June 2007

Jason Fulford and Luigi Ghirri

Jason Fulford

Luigi Ghirri

I bought the recent photography edition of Stop Smiling magazine because it had an interview with William Eggleston, and I found myself more intrigued by Jason Fulford's collection of photos, "Forget Texas," than the Eggleston interview. The more I get into photography, the more I realize that Eggleston's style of shooting casual color photos of mundane things is the dominant style of contemporary photography. When it isn't done well, and often it is not, the resulting photos are visual cliches not much different from a calender shot of a barn or waterfall, only more prententious (see much of my photography).

However, a few photographers manage to create a distinct style even though they are pursuing a photographic trope that may be overdone. Fulford, I think, is one of those photographers. While his style is distinctive, for me it brings to mind Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri more than other early color practitioners like Eggleston or Stephen Shore. Shore's American Surfaces would perhaps be a good touchstone for Fulton's work, but Eggleston strikes me as more cool, detached. Like Ghirri, who photographed Italy around the same time as Eggleston and Shore, Fulton has a very strong graphic sense--many of his photos seemed designed rather than found (the photos I've posted may not be the best example of this).

After looking at Fulton's photos in "Forget Texas," I found some other images from his books Raising Frogs for $$$ and Crushed online, and they were equally intriguing. One of the things I like about Fulton's approach is that he focuses on creating possible relationships or associations between a series of photos rather than individual photos (check out his website see what I mean). I've thought about books organized around a theme before--my laundromat series--but Fulford's photos made me think more about creating a series of photos that are ambiguous and non-specific, but work better together than apart--something like a dream narrative or piece of atonal music.

Another aspect of Fulton's sensibility that is distinctive, I think, is his eye for humor and sadness in ordinary things. As he said in an interview with MakingRoom Magazine, "Sometimes if you see something so completely unremarkable, it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know why. Sometimes if you see something so totally ridiculous and straightforward, it’s also heartbreaking. It gives you this weird feeling where your eyes swell up and you can’t decide whether to laugh or cry."

No comments: