This week, the 17th of March (St. Paddy’s day, no less) Sophie Ristelheuber was awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize along with a nice fat cheque for £30,000. She was awarded the prize by Terry Gilliam in London.
I’d been to see the show recently and I quite enjoyed it. Some of the show was a little dry but still rewarding. Donovan Wylie’s images of the maze prison at first hit you with their sterility but with a little context you could see he was making a number of quite profound points about confinement, conformity/homogenisation, isolation and punishment.
Anna Fox’s images struck me for their playfulness and they struck me as the most enjoyable part of the show at the time but writing this a couple of weeks later I can barely remember the images. Ooops, sorry Anna. I must disclaim that she was one of my tutors at University although I didn’t know her very well. One of my friends Riika had helped with the construction of Anna’s displays.
Sophie’s images are of war scenes but the aftermath of war scenes. There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over the fact that her images are (heavily?) manipulated in photoshop afterwards. And Seán O’Hagan in the guardian worries that we are no longer dealing with Photography but Conceptual Art in the Photography Prize. This debate over the so-called ‘truth’ in photography is not one that’s likely to abate soon. It’s been going on since the dawn of photography (and is especially vibrant in the genre of fashion photograpy). O’Hagan seems to lament the fact that the prize was not awarded for somebody advancing the medium of photography as a whole but rather as a reward for her art. I feel that he somehow overlooks the content of the images and focuses on the form. The images are powerful as political statements as well as being intriguing to look at.
Purists like to bang on about how little post-production they do to images but frankly my dears, I couldn’t give a damn. Photoshop the hell out of it if you like, Miss Ristelheuber. I don’t care if you used a freakin’ huge Hasselblad with gull wing doors or if you used a disposable party camera, if the end results are good, I don’t see any point in arguing about the technology. Spin it round the Hadron Collider (the large one, even) a few times for good measure if it gets your rocks off. Meanwhile, others beg to differ. A Ukrainian Photographer Stepan Rudik was recently awarded 3rd prize for his story in the Sports Features category in the World Press Photo competition. He was later disqualified for having removed a portion of a foot from the raw image. Have a look for yourself.
My mind boggled at the fact that they weren’t chastising him for his vicious crop, converting to black and white, the massively added grain or the heavy vignetting – they disqualified him for removing a tiny nubbin of a toe (that did mar the impact of the image). Not that I have any problem with Rudik’s post-production. In fact I was impressed by his crop and how he had managed to distill the essence of the moment into a powerful image from what was otherwise a relatively banal shot.
While we’re at it, this story about a photographer, Jose Luis Rodriguez, disqualified from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (after having won) for his use of a hired wolf.
More information here. In this instance liberties were taken. A firm slap on the wrist rightfully deserved. Naughty!
Creative license taken to the extreme – Ralph Lauren recently had to make an embarassing apology after someone got a bit over the top with the editing suite…
Check the way her head is bigger than her waist. Initially it was thought that the retouching was done by a third party but embarrasingly it was done in-house.