The announcement and programme for a discussion of Gerry Badger’s book of essays was posted in advance on the FlakPhoto Beta website. It directed people to Facebook where an event was created which soon had 144 people signed up as “going” (i.e. participating). The schedule below outlined a schedule for posting comment threads within the FlakPhoto Books group on Facebook. [Click on any of the days of the week for a link for the discussion initiated that day.]
I imagine that anyone engaging seriously with a new collection of essays will begin with the introduction. Badger’s is three pages long. (page 6-8) It is followed by an 11-page essay, “The Pleasures of Good Photographs”, setting out some of the basics of Badger’s approach to photography and to the issues discussed in the individual essays that follow.
Monday, June 18 – “Elliptical Narratives: Some Thoughts on the Photobook” (page 221)
Monday, July 2 – “It’s Art, But Is It Photography? Some Thoughts on Photoshop” (page 234)
Not scheduled for discussion was “Simply the Best: John Szarkowski and Eugène Atget” (page 35) or “Ruthless Courtesies: the making of Martin Parr”. Martin Parr is a friend and collaborator of Gerry Badger and, of course, one of the most important of contemporary photographers. Badger on Parr is simply essential reading, not to be missed. And the essay on Atget is an incredibly rich and detailed settling of accounts. It addresses an issue important for Badger, that of the relationship between photographs as documents and as art, and between the documentary imagination and the claims to be considered as an artist.
In the middle of the book (pages 108-143) Badger offers us an interlude: discussion of 15 images each of which present a path of some sort. Badger calls this section “A Walk to Paradise Garden”. For each of the 15 photographs, each by a different and well-known photographer, Badger offers us a little more than a page of commentary. A reading of the image.
I must offer my thanks to the discussion initiated by Tom Griggs on Facebook on Monday June 4th, 2012. The inadequacies of Facebook have provoked me into beginning this blog, which in turn has led me to give more sustained consideration to some of the images and projects discussed than I might otherwise have done. This has unlocked in me a desire to reconsider some of the photographers that I find truly inspiring — and in some cases, awe-inspiring.
This blog which began as reflections on the notion of “the quiet photograph” but it will take me further, into a re-examination of the work of Atget, and of Mark Power and David Goldblatt and into serious reflection on my own photographic practice. Gerry Badger’s reflections on the difference between 35mm and large-camera work in his essay on Anthony Hernandez (page 161-3) is very relevant here.
Finally I would just like to record my thanks to Gerry Badger for introducing me to photographers with whom I was not familiar, including Thomas Joshua Cooper and Susan Lipper (although I had a book of Lipper’s – Trip – on my bookshelf). And I was more than happy to read his enthusiastic essay about Robert Adams, to whose writings about photography I return to again and again.