Photography: Why Paul Williams will never be as good as Irving Penn

Today’s post features an image from about 2 years ago. It was first in a planned series of photographs about work and leisure; pairs of images of people at work and play. With some irony the series was quickly abandoned because of pressure of time. This image of Ian Johnston was to be accompanied another of him with his beloved motorbike. This is as far as I got. It is a scan from a 35mm negative made with a Nikon F3 and a 28mm lens. I was content with the outcome feeling captured a certain busy rush. He hated it.

Ian Johnston at work

Ian Johnston at work

I was reminded of this project this weekend when looking at this series of pictures by Irving Penn who died last week at 92 years of age. ‘Small Trades’ is testament not only to his dazzling skill as a photographer but his determination as an artist to hold fast to a vision.

Thanks to Ian E Willson for the link.

Seeing it, and seeing it through.

Paul Williams

This is the blog of Paul Williams, Ceredigion resident since 1970. I am an English and Philosphy graduate of what was once known as St David's University College, at Lampeter. I played bass in Dyfed's first punk band, and living in Llandewi Brefi, had a grandstand view of Operation Julie. Eventually, after 2 years playing bass in Brighton's 256th punk band, I returned to Wales to deal in books and then antiques. I've trained and worked as a counsellor, I am a photographer, blog and web designer and I publish the annual Wales Antiques Guide. I am married and a father of one. Apart from my family, my interests include books, maps, Nikon, Yashica and Mamiya film cameras, British Culture 1935 - 1965, Poole pottery, Welsh textiles, and Poster art. My favourite movies include anything by Pressburger and Powell favourite music includes Gene Clark, Gram Parsons, and anything form San Francisco 1965-1970. I am a late convert to 'Kraut Rock'.

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6 Responses

  1. Ian says:

    Too hard on yourself there Paul. I have trouble with the disipline required for a project. Large/medium format in the garden is the only thing I repeat because I’m so lazy but I can’t say its very exciting.

  2. Dru says:

    Discipline? I don’t know the meaning of the word. I like the photo; still, at least you still have it for posterity, unlike that Sutherland picture of whod’youcallit… looking at the Penn pics reminded me of a docu about Eugene Smith I was watching the other day; yet another photographer I’d never heard of, with pics of miners and so on, v good v black and white…

  3. Bob says:

    I like that picture. Good angle, good texture.

  4. IDW says:

    I like it too Paul

  5. Thanks for looking, everyone.
    Yes, Eugene Smith; I’d only heard of him last year when the BBC ran a photography season. Terrific stuff.
    Discipline; I’m not sure it’s discipline. Is it perhaps a ruthlessness?
    And yes thanks Bob, there is something about the texture; it surprises me that even scans of negs look ‘filmy’.

  6. Ian says:

    Read “Let Truth Be The Prejudice” on Eugene Smith he was some strange man. Oh and he was ruthless alright and a bit mad I shouldn’t wonder.

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