Sunday, 9 February 2014

Master Photographers

Saul Leiter was one of many early photographers who was also a painter, he learned his compositional craft at the easel with a brush and knife. Colleagues later urging him to get into photography, he was like William Eggleston a colourist.

He extensively used black & white film when he first got into photography and for most of his commercial work used that medium. However for much of his personal work, he shows an interest in colour. He uses the colour with such intellect that the photographs seemingly pop out like a montage, some offer a surreal view of the world, and give the viewer an abstract perspective.

Subtle nuances of red and yellow feature highly in his works, some of the works show shop fronts beings used as reflectors to create such pieces. Something of which inspired Lee Friedlander with his unique framing technique, though most of his works are extensively shot in monochrome.

Sadly this great past master of photography passed away, a week shy of his ninetieth birthday last November (2013). A year before his death though a film maker namely Tomas Leach created a warm and intimate view into this fascinating photographer, the film was titled In No Great Hurry and shows the aspiring artist how this photographer operated, his vision, and how his works inform and set a major bench mark for aspiring colourists using that medium of film.

I have read the reviews of the film, and I was very impressed in the way that the film has been received.

Reviews from New York Times and the Jewish Week online, so read the reviews of the film, I am sure you will be impressed by the films reception.

©Saul Leiter
For now though let's discuss more of his work, Leiter had his own unique perspective on Manhattan. It shows greatly how this photographer was thinking literally outside the box, one such photograph is that most people will relate to is that of the singular colour of red in the photograph 'Red Umbrella' Circa 1958.  It shows amazing skill with colour to be able to single out a scene and compose a truly inspirational piece which is timeless.

Leiter had learnt how to isolate colour in this medium and to frame the photograph with the colour. This piece is a fantastic example of his early colour works, however when you move forward the pieces became much more avant garde, and the framing much more abstract.

The works would feature much more complex compositional points of interest; working with linear, shapes, curves and depth of field. Something of which some street photographers try to imitate with people, not so much colour but certainly using people in interesting positions to anchor a part of the frame.

This is what every street photographer should be aiming for, I myself should be doing this to such a great extent. I like playing with shapes, and perhaps this is one project I should begin to work on. Playing with shapes is certainly one aspect of Saul Leiter, to learn from.

I have posted a link to the pages of interest, so that you too can investigate and hopefully learn from and inject that learning curve into your own interpretation of street photography. One thing I have learned is that everyone is different, we all have our own unique way of seeing the world.

Saul Leiter has his perspective, and created magnificent and intriguing timeless pieces for us all to enjoy for generations to come.

Until the next time, bye for now.

David