Christopher Griffith Interview

- - Photographers

“I regularly spend more time looking at something than I do shooting or lighting it.”

cg-portrat2I greatly admire the work of Christopher Griffith, but I never had the opportunity to work with him when I was photo editing. Each time I tried he was booked solid. He shoots a large variety of subjects yet they all seem to come from the same place. His intense graphical imagery is an Art Directors wet dream. Recently he has launched a new imprint of fine art photography books called Auditorium Editions where he published Blown, an intense graphical study of roadside blown-out tire detritus.

APE: Tell me about your background as a scientist and how it effects the way you work as a photographer?

I was a research biochemist in a previous life. I was in a postgrad program in London when I fell into photography. I had this split life of studying for my degree during the day and doing photography at night and on weekends. I think aspects of my process remain which are very scientifically based in that I really like to explore a variety of things in photography. It is why my career is slightly schizophrenic. I seem to get equal opportunity to shoot still life, architecture, portraits with the odd fashion shoot thrown in for old times sake. It can be really exhausting as I feel I never spend enough time on any single vocation because I am rarely doing the same thing twice. The upside is that we have traveled the world, have gone to some crazy locations and have a real cross section of clients who come to us for a real variety of projects. I guess that is the payoff in not getting pigeonholed into any singular aspect of photography.

APE: You assisted a tiny bit. Tell me how that worked out for you?

I actually never really properly assisted. I started in London in the early 90’s where I was doing a post grad degree and had friends
who were actively assisting old school ad guys. I would occasionally get the opportunity to tag along and get on set and basically just watch what was going on. I did attempt properly assisting for Julie Fisher in London, I think officially for 11 days. She fired me. Apparently I had the air of not wanting to hang around for very long. I never assisted again.

APE: You haven’t always been a still life photographer so why did you make a decision to pursue it and become known as on of the best?

cg-3bI am flattered that you might think I’m one of the best, but I think that is really a stretch. Still life is an odd one as I only began tinkering with it about 7 years ago and it was done as a way to keep me busy. After my book States was published, my career changed overnight from shooting fashion constantly to shooting a few big ad campaigns a year and there was a lot of time in between. So my agent and I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could treat small objects the same way as I had treated American landscapes in the book. It has gradually increased over time to become about half of the work that my studio takes on.

Years ago when I was shooting the ETRO campaign in the mid 90’s, the creative director Felice Perrini would always go on that I was really in essence a still life photographer. It annoyed me to no end, as we were shooting a fashion campaign at the time. But he was really right. I treat everything as though it were a still life. People, places and things. They are all objects.

APE: Your lighting and of course your backdrops seem incredibly minimalist and that leaves you with almost no room to work. What’s the secret to pulling this off?

I don’t see it as being limiting at all. It is exactly where I like to be. Stripped down and sort of naked. Sounds perverse. But I like to make things look big, bold and sort of heroic. I find it much easier to do this when they are stripped of context because I only have to concentrate on one thing. Truth is I regularly spend more time looking at something than I do shooting or lighting it.

Still life can quickly fall into pack shot photography if you are not careful. You have got to find a way to make it come alive and that comes from taking a really hard look at what is in front of me.

Way back when I was living in Paris, Jenny Capitan had hired me at paris Vogue. I was explaining that if they would just give me better clothes I could do great shoots. She replied, “this is Paris Vogue, everybody gets awful clothes and you are here to make them look amazing.” I have never forgotten this. It is sort of applicable to everything.

cg-11

APE: It seems like most of the top still life photographers have projects where they explore themes and lighting styles, how important is this?

It’s not really. I don’t come from a still life background, nor a photographic one for that matter. So I have never really seen it done properly. I am always making it up cause I do not really know the rules. So it probably takes me twice as long to get there. I am not that interested in crazy complicated lighting, gizmos etc. I am more about really finding a new way to look at something, or finding new meaning out of things which would otherwise go unnoticed. This has sort of been a theme of all 3 of my books. Forgotten America, the fallen leaf and blown out roadside detritus.

In all honesty, I stick to one front light whenever it is possible. I just find that too many lights end up diffusing out the texture and volume of an object. One light, with grid head and lots of hand-held bounce back reflector cards. It’s not rocket science.

APE: I read about your preference for working with film and honestly I think anyone who grew up with film will always prefer it, but do you think digital will completely replace film at any point?

cg-41No, but it is inevitable that film will become an ever shrinking niche market, but hopefully a niche retained for professional still life photographers. There are simply things that digital does not do as well or easily as a plate camera. I am sure many will want to step in and argue here, but the fact is that if you have built your aesthetic on film, getting it right on digital kind of sucks. Yes, it is fast, and it is amazing how much time is saved not waiting for polaroids to cook, but there is so much that needs to be done in post to make it look right. It is amazing how much time is spent on digital files making them look like film. Just get it right on film. Done. With the added benefit that if your hard drives all someday decide to pack up in an electromagnetic storm brought on by the apparently imminent global shift in magnetic polarity… actually having a hard copy would be quite a good thing.

APE: Do your clients still let you shoot film?

Actually, recently clients have been requesting film as I think in this economy they have gotten savvy to the potentially higher costs of shooting digital. Again, I am sure I will ensue a riot with the digital converts here, but if you are shooting still life, digital capture is rarely the cheaper option.

APE: I know you were working on this Blown book project for many years and something disturbing happened, that I can imagine happens to photographers once in a while. You discovered that Horacio Salinas was exhibiting the exact same work at the NY Photo Festival last spring. Were you crushed or angry when you saw it?

blown_68It is pretty disturbing when you spend 6 years on something and literally as it is being sent to press as a book, an identical series of images gets exhibited in your backyard. You initially feel completely robbed. It could be sheer coincidence. I really do not know. Ideas are cheap. I am sure I am not the only person to have the idea to explore tires. But this project has been on my site for several years and the images at NYPF were conceptually and executionally identical. He is a really talented photographer, but this is really quite unlike his style. People will come to their own conclusions about the authenticity for both these series.

Blown is now being distributed international, so the only real downside is that the claim to authorship has been diluted here in NYC but, this stuff happens. It is not the end of the world. I am actually more disappointed with those running the festival, as they all knew about the conflict well before the show opened and simply chose to ignore it.

APE: Have you spoken with Mr. Salinas or the person who made the assignment about the pictures?

blown_8No. My biggest regret in this is that I did not immediately contact his studio when I heard he was shooting the same thing last February and lay down the book in front of him. I am not sure it would have served any purpose, but at least I would have looked him straight in the eyes and ask him what he if he thought it was such a good idea to continue. I did get to speak with the curator who commissioned the work who admitted to knowing about the conflict from my website, but had standing loyalties to Salinas. Fair enough, but it seemed to be an odd decision when curating an exhibit which claimed to be promoting new ideas in photography.

APE: Got anything cool you’re working on that you can share with us so we can knock it off?

Actually, Blown was the first in an ongoing series of books loosely based on the idea of organizing chaos. Each book from the series will be exactly the same oversized format and design. The idea was to have a generic undesigned look, which is repeated for each title in the series where the images are the driving force behind the book design. The second in the series will be Power Tokyo. It is a series on the insanity of the municipal power lines of Tokyo which I have shot over the past 3 years. It will be released by Auditorium Editions this September. It has partially been on line for some time, so I guess I run the risk again of prying eyes, but I somehow do not see lightning striking twice. I am also working on a show for this September in NYC which will be a more juxtaposed collection of the graphic industrial side of what has become a large bulk of my personal work and then there is a much bigger book project on NYC which I hope to have fully shot by the end of 2010.

tokyo_power144

There Are 43 Comments On This Article.

  1. Christopher Griffiths is awesome! Worth a look through his portfolio, and don’t miss his States book; the photos are beautiful.

    Rob, thanks for reminding me about his work…

  2. First off, Rob, thank you so much for making this happen! I really appreciate that you took the time to talk with Christopher about still life photography. And Christopher, I LOVE your work.

    It’s a shame that Salinas did such an incredibly similar project. I found myself shooting white hangers on black in amorphous shapes. I loved the work, I was ready to show it, and then a fellow photographer said that it looked like Craig Cutler’s work. This was a while back and somehow I had never seen his work. I was floored to see that he had done (and exhibited) work with wire hangers. My images might as well have been his. I was crushed, but I scrapped the pictures knowing I would only make people angry thinking I had copied him if I showed this work in my portfolio. On a positive note, I found a photographer that I now find inspirational. Maybe Salinas had really never seen Giffith’s work before he stared this project, but I would have to guess that someone must have mentioned the similarity to the on going project before he exhibited his. Griffith’s blown series is amazing!

    Rob (or Chris if he is reading), how did he start his photo career? From the article it looked like he got a book published by a big name and it took off from there.

    Thank you so much again!

    • Christopher Griffith

      @Christine Blackburne, I actually started as a fashion photographer back in London in the early 90’s. My first published work was with the now defunct BLITZ magazine. The whole getting into publishing books thing came in the late 90’s when I had moved back to the states and I needed a break from fashion and all that goes with it. I had the idea for my first book kicking around in my head for several years and initially took a few mates cross country to give it a valid effort. 4 and half months on the road, 3 times cross country, 18,000 miles and some 450+ images later it was something we thought could be a book. Little did I know at the time how it would completely transform my career.

      • White Male

        @Christopher Griffith,

        quoting: “Little did I know at the time how it would completely transform my career.”

        Wow, you save the action-packed power sentence for last huh? That last sentence is a perfect segue into Part Two of the interview. Or, that last sentence could probably occupy two parts in itself.

        One question: How much did it help that you were already established, leading to the fact that someone took a gamble on the book? If you were a newcomer, even with the same new images, would they have taken the chance on the book?

        I just think anyone reading your comment would be hanging on that last sentence, because it would mean that “shooting what I love” could/would transform a career. That’s everyone’s dream.

        Can you speak to that?

        • christopher Griffith

          @White Male, First, let me say that i think I have been extremely fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time, met the right people at the right time, made the right decision at the right time. There have been several risking turns that could have gone horribly wrong. They just didn’t.

          Regarding the book, I do not think the fact that I had previously been a moderately successful fashion photographer in Europe had anything to do with publishing STATES. I think it was the 6 or 7th book powerhouse had ever published. It came very highly recommended by Art Director Patrick Li, who was at the time working at Baron & Baron who had recently designed a book for powerhouse. I think I was lucky….. and I am not sure it would be so easy now.

          To answer the second part, yes…… it really was shooting what I loved. But I was also putting my money where my mouth was, as the project was not cheap. You have to have faith that you are right……. cause if your wrong, it could be crippling.

          • White Mail

            @christopher Griffith,

            I would follow up with one last question: When you say the book transformed your career, could I assume that the financial rewards from the book were more commercial assignments, and not actual direct proceeds from book sales?

            I just think there’s a perception out there that photographers actually profit from book publishing. I’m sure there are some exceptions, ie Anne Geddes, but for serious photography, no money in publishing a book.

            Could I assume that people saw your book and said, “I’d like to work with that guy. I like his vision”, and then they gave you a commercial assignment possibly not even related to the content of the book?

            That the book was a very expensive promo piece? (But in your case, luckily, a very lucrative one too?)

            Thank you for your candid answers.

            • christopher Griffith

              @White Mail, Basically, it (States) was and continues to be an art directors dream….. and the fact that it was all done without the aid of photoshop somehow makes it more appealing. It has ended up being the defining project of my career from which everything else has developed.

              To answer more directly, I have made very little from selling books, and nothing in comparison to what the book meant to my commercial career. You really need to be selling over 25,000 copies of a book to make any significant money. Which is a very rare moment in the photo book world.

              Back in 2000 when I was talking to Abrams about publishing States, they told me that ‘In the American West’ by Avedon, which was in its 5th or 6th printing, had yet to break 100,000 copies after over 14 yearsof being in print. We are talking about one of the most revered books in photographic history.

      • @Christopher Griffith,
        Thanks for the answer. I’m always trying to pick photographer’s brains about how they started, especially those first few shoots and how that great into something more. Thanks again, and thank you for all the amazing work you do.

  3. Have been impressed with Christopher’s work since first seeing primarily the fashion stuff back around late ’04 early ’05 after signing up with Livebooks.

    Absolutely love it when looking through another photographer’s work and continually think, “How did he do that??” Cheers to Christopher for producing exceptional work. Thanks Rob.

  4. Some recent posts mentioned the extreme difficulty that young photographers encounter as they try to enter the business. Then we see that someone at the pinnacle of the profession is publishing ” an intense graphical study of roadside blown-out tire detritus.”

  5. yes! yes! yes!
    I’ve been a huge fan for since I discovered States. I think one of the best BW books created. Thanks Rob for the interview.

  6. have to say that after i have worked with christopher on the post production end of things multiple times, he’s always excited about how things work and the possibility of them. in talking with co-workers that have been on shoots with him, it’s the same. he’s always fascinated with how the shoot is going and figuring out the ins and outs of getting the shots done. always curious it seems. i think that can help make a pretty darn good photographer. so many i see are obviously bored with their work. this one is always fascinated.

  7. How can Salinas not know about the blow project? On top of that he had the guts to show it at the NY festival, he and the curators(Ryan, Parr, Barber, Martin) should be ashamed
    Talking about “doing the same project”:
    Jamie Chard the “original”
    http://www.jaimechard.com/#/client/template.xml?aaa=portfolio/16883
    Mitchell Feinberg the “copy”
    http://www.mitch.fr/ click on accessories 1
    I am sure that Feinberg didn’t know about Chard inprint images, Chard shot it 2 years ago and it was the best editorial of the surface magazine avant guardian 2007 and it was all over the web and won few awards too.
    I mean same exact stuff, how could he not know?
    At least Feinberg was smart enough not to copy a photographer of the level of Griffith therefore nobody really cares.
    Ideas are cheap, especially when are not yours.

    • @Mark,

      I was not aware of Jamie’s photographs. If I or the editors at Muse had known of it, I certainly would not have shot my “Fossil” story with the same imprint material. The Muse story was about iconic accessories that are in our cultural memory and likely to remain so a very long time — I was thinking about about Egyptian hieroglyphs and dinosaurs more than anything else. Conceptually, the two stories are quite different, but I agree they share similar formal qualities.

      Oh well, c’est la vie. And here I was thinking I had shot something relatively unique. Duh. Silly me.

      As for Salinas and Ryan, only they know if they were aware of Christopher’s work before the commission. Unless there’s some weird personal backstory going on, it seems highly unlikely to me that they would intentionally copy another photographer’s work.

      Best,

      – M

    • @afashionshooter, Sorry, but could you explain the point of this link. That it is similar to Christophers work again?

  8. Yes Andrew. I saw similarities to Chris’s power line work, which is coming out in another book…I also see similarities to his book States. Just thought it was funny after reading the above interview.

    • @afashionshooter, Yeah, and ironically both Harger and Salinas were in a group show at Hasted Hunt recently. Though that said, Harger is very much of the Ray Metzker school. I don’t see his stuff as being that much like Griffiths book States. Same subject, but quite a different interpretation for sure. Where as the Salinas stuff is pretty blatant.

    • christopher Griffith

      @afashionshooter,
      I have to agree with Andrew here. I don’t think Nathans stuff is at all the same as STATES. It is much more in the vein of the Institute of Design, Chicago during the late 60’s. (eg. Metzker et al) Actually, as was pointed out to me today, it is much more like the work of a little known russian photographer named Alexandre Vitkine who is now in his mid to late nineties.

      http://www.hackelbury.co.uk/artists/vitkine/vitkine_sm.html

      Vitkine was shown at Paris Photo some years ago and also at AIPAD here in NYC. It was all shot in the mid sixties and was most likely shot on proper lithographic film before anyone even had a home computer, let alone photoshop.

  9. it happens all the time that people have the same ideas. There are countless stories in Hollywood of stopped projects which have already been greenlighted because someone foumd out that another director was already shooting it.

    And If you’re concept is based on serial photography then you have realistically high chance that someone else might work on the same thing. Its bad for both photographers but just seems to be the risk in doing it. Its really pointless to get all moral and upset about it.

    I once presented a project to a picture editor. He said he had just seen the same concept form another artist. I wasnt aware of it and had just worked on it for a year. I have heard countless stories like this and in a lot of cases nobody knew of the other.

    Its a tragic situation but maybe Salinas just had the same idea, had already put a lot of time and resouces in it when he maybe found out about Griffiths work. Who is to say he should have stopped it.

    When I have learned one thing about photography it is that it’s the medium where two people can very easily produce very similar work.

  10. So let me see…

    http://www.artnet.com/usernet/awc/awc_workdetail.asp?aid=424216480&gid=424216480&cid=79783&wid=424299374&page=1

    Did Griffith steal from Robert Longo?

    Recheck the Men in the Cities series again, you tell me.

    Does the fact that Marcel Duchamp talked about filming/ images of telephone lines come into play? I have been taking photos of telephone poles/ lines for years, does this mean I am copying Griffith’s work?

    Come now, there so much image making / taking going on right now, no one person can say they are the first and all others should stop their work because they are “copying”.

    A little off topic:

    Does the fact that forensic photography of car accidents, tire failures, lab testing fall outside the region of art?

    When Hockney did his polaroid series, was it his idea, or the polaroids that mattered to you as the viewer? What about the imitators of that style? Are we really visionaries when we are using artificial means for acquisition( emulsion / sensor)? Do we really know how the emulsion is going to work or the sensor?

    Ending with:

    I guess that in a Unified Field Theory, ideas are for everyone and therefore belong to everyone. Some folks are just better at revealing them. Does not make them owners nor originators.

    • christopher Griffith

      Absolutely. It is a totally blatant Longo rip. It is also a single Longo inspired photograph, not a charcoal drawing…. of me, for fun. It is not a life sized pencil drawing in an exhibit.

      To clarify, I clearly state that this might well have been a sheer coincidence. We all have similar ideas all the time. No one lives in a vacuum. I do not even question wthat we had the same idea. As I said, I am sure I am not the first to study blown out tires.

      I do however think it is a very questionable decision for a curator and a photographer to have found an identical pre-existing body of work prior to even shooting, ignore it and to then promote the Salinas work as a new direction in abstract photography in a festival exhibit. In lieu of that knowledge, why not at least do a different interpretation of the idea? But that is me. I am biased no doubt.

      Several years ago, I was working on what I thought was a great idea about the embedded rubbish in the tarmac of NYC streets. I then became aware of a really beautiful series that had already been done by a photographer named …..Horacio Salinas. I dropped the project. It was the right (or for me it was the smart) thing to do….. and I then found out Irving Penn had done the same idea years earlier. Of course he did.

      The point being that I believe we should at least attempt to make new statements. We are human and we are all inspired by those who precede us. I am hugely inspired by The Bechers, Callahan, Rodchenko, Renger-Patzsch and Blossfeldt. But I have never consciously replicated what they all did. What would be the point? STATES?…. definitely came from seeing the Bechers and Rodchenkos work. Is it the same thing? I like to think it is not. Others may well feel differently, as I may now find out.

      The power lines are actually inspired by 4 images that know of that Callahan did in 50’s in Chicago. Frank Breuer did a recent series mostly from the Boston area on telephone poles/ lines in situ for DWELL. The Tokyo series is so completely chaotic that the images really turn into an abstracted study of positive and negative space which is quite divorced from what the subject is in reality. Inspired by other work? Absolutely. Same final product? I hope not.

      • @christopher Griffith,

        Maybe lightning strikes twice? I had a similar experience with Mr. Salinas where I had a full page composition in a large very successful fashion mag. One year later an exact replica of the shot: styling, lighting, propping, was published in the same mag as a well story by Mr. Salinas. I am feeling like there is a trend here.

        I have frequently been presented others photographers’ work as “inspiration”. I find it a little unsavory but I guess that it can be helpful to establish a common visual language. But as a photographer who is trying to establish a semblance of a unique voice, I see it as a jumping off point, not an opportunity take the path of least resistance and simply mimic. Not a good plan for one’s karmic future either.

    • @laurence,
      Honestly did you even consider that Longo is “charcoal and graphite on paper”?

      Your examples are absurd. An original idea that sits in the negative sleeve is hardly worth comparing to exhibits at the NY Photo Festival and a finely printed book.

      People think of shit all the time… you have to get it published to own it. It’s always been that way.

      • @A Photo Editor,

        Robert,

        As you can tell by the follow up responses this touched a nerve and yes I know that Longo’s work was graphite, but it started as a photo. And Christopher responded to that issue. Though I doubt CG was a photographer back in 1979, which leaves that co incidence issue a little stretched. Was lucky to see a suprematist show around the same time as a dozen or so seminal Duchamp sculptures, early 80’s. This is a reference to Rodchenko.

        As former photographer for the USAF with my share of forensic shoots, I just questioned some aspects of how we describe original work. And believe me my work is published. It hangs in airbases around the world, the Pentagon, private collections, public collections. In the local base newspaper. On the web as part of an archive. But guess what, I do not own it, it belongs to the USAF and in real terms the U.S. public.

        Now back to Longo, I was an art major in the late 70’s early 80’s, Lived for the neo expressionists and the whole new art scene. I could not get enough. Today I walked into Santa Fe Community College, to see a photo show. As I walked around I saw images that referenced that whole era, to even Jonathan Borofsky type images hung from the ceiling. ( his hammering man series). Copying maybe, but I liked it none the less. I like Christopher’s work too.

        A thought:

        If you put Longo’s work and Christopher’s work together on a wall and ask people standing a good distance away what they saw, they would probably say two photographs. What they would not know from that distance that one represented a passing of time, the other an instant. And that is the reference to Hockney and his polaroids. He was trying to reference the passing of time in that series of work. But the images are composed of hundreds of snapshots. An instant of time. Absurd, no Robert, a truth.

        Btw, when I lived in DC during the early 80’s I would take in as many shows as I could. I stumbled across a photographer who then shook me to my core, Joel Peter Witkin. Scoot forward 26 years and who puts on a small talk for the public here in Albuquerque, but JPW. I then find out he and a photographer I assisted in 2005 ( Robert Reck ) are best buds and JPW lives here! I knew of his brother back in Syracuse( during that Neo Expressionist era). JPW’s work now seems to reference Edward Hopper. He even said so. Funny how all comes together in the end.

        I take photos thinking how they would look as paintings, though people like them as photos.

        Finally:

        I will keep reading this blog because of yours and others insights. I have learned so much from the discussions and links here. It would be wonderful if you put together a roundtable where a lot of this discussion could be explored. We need churn, it helps in keeping me curious.

        Laurence Zankowski

  11. biff henrich

    I find the “copying” discussion interesting. The most interesting revolves around the Longo image.. It is ironic that Longo had made his drawings using photographs he had made to be used as references for the drawings. At this point it seems the only starting point is some caves in France.

    On another point. While I am not one to dwell on Tech issues and don’t consider myself a tech head, I am bothered by photographers who claim that the post production work on digital images is necessary to make it look the same as film. Good digital captures are every bit as good as film captures. If a photographer is not getting good results that equal or exceed film, then they don’t know how to use the digital tools correctly. (most DSLR’s can not equal film) We have a retouch department in our studio and the mantra here is do not let Photoshop be an excuse for lazy photography. If a photographer is spending lots of time with photoshop, then they are not doing their photography job properly.

    • @biff henrich, With all due respect I work with both digital and film and, based on my experience, there’s not a digital back that can reproduce the depth and details and color of an 8×10 chrome.

      • biff henrich

        8×10 chrome may stand a chance because of the small amount of magnification used in any final process. (Prints or printing press) However, I think that the scientific examinations support the digital backs. (65mg and larger) in terms of them having sharper images and a wider range of colors. I worked large chromes for 20+ years for museum reproductions, which are very demanding clients, and I don’t want to go back.

        • @biff henrich, I understand that but when you are shooting a product and you use reflective cards or dedo lights or very dark background the depth and range of an 8×10 is far superior, great photographers like Griffith, Mocafico and Coppi Barbieri still shoots large format film and it’s next to impossible to find polaroid for these camera, also there’s the mistakes part, the beauty of film is that sometimes things happen that can be bad or beautiful, that’s the risk/reward.
          I know that film is hard(especially chrome),when i use it i always bracket 1/3 of a stop and i am measuring light all the time, it’s not a fast process but the results are amazing(in my opinion), but i l also understand that when speed is needed nothing beats digital.
          Coming from a film background i find it very easy to shoot digital, i tend to do most of the work in camera.
          This is just my experience but in the end no matter how it’s about the ideas.
          Sorry 4 my english i hope that i explain myself ok.

          • @Max,

            I agree with Max. Biff’s thoughts are dated, and thus irrelevant. Fear of technology is a lynch-pin to ignorance! Good luck, youll need it!

  12. Talking of chaotic power lines in Tokyo, surely Osamu Kanemura had the last and final word with his 2001 book, Spider Strategy, published by Osirus, which was widely acclaimed at the time and is now something of a collector’s item. The work was also shown in NY at the Cohen Amador Gallery in 2007. Not the same work at all, but difficult to better after a long legacy of power line pictures from Moriyama et al…

  13. OK, so NOW what do I do?

    3 years ago, I’m driving to a shoot and see all this tire debris on the roadway and it hits me. “Look at all the interesting shapes those scraps of tires make. Awesome!! I’ll shoot it on white and add highlights to accentuate the damage! What a a unique idea for a portfolio of still life images ”

    I’ve got a plan, I’ll stop on the way to and from photo shoots, with assistants rolling their eyes as I dodge on coming cars as I start collecting my bits of tires from the roadway. I catalog which highway I collected the tire bits from and I carry a box of storage bags in the car so I can deposit my specimens. http://www.tustinpix.com/bagz

    My work has been slow lately; I’m so excited to finally get a chance to start work on this project. I haven’t shot anything but have bags of tire scrapes. This AM I was goggling for title ideas for the project and I FIND THIS “F-IN” INVERVIEW, SHIT!!!!!

    So I ask, do I trash whole damn thing? Use a new approach even though 2 other people (that I know of) have had the same “unique” idea?
    Maybe we can make this a contest and see if other people want to interpret the same subject?
    Bummed!!

    • christopher Griffith

      @Tustin,
      yeah, i started doing the same thing with assistants about 5 years ago. we would be off shooting in mid america, and i would spend a few hours on the way to the airport pulling tires off the side of the road, bagging them up and then look at TSA officers attempt to figure out what was in the bag.

      i agree with much that has been written here. everything has been photographed in some way or another. we have all had harsh reality checks as you have had by seeing this blog. but you have not started, so make it your own and you will be fine…… but really make it your own. that is my whole point here, ideas are cheap. everything has been ‘done’. but we should at least try to interpret in new ways. especially when we know something already exists. what is the point of doing the exact same interpretation?

  14. Wow, I think the comments on this article are almost more interesting than the interview itself. I ultimately agree with CG, that without referring to the past we’ll have no present to stand on and won’t grow. It seems if you need to delve in deeper into the idea of originality or coincence you’d need to start studying social psychology and the collective unconscious. It was also nice to hear Mitch Feinberg speak out about the Jaime Chard images. I think Salinas, Feinberg, Griffith and Chard are all photographers of incredible integrity and orginality….and as another post said it, it’s up to the men to know for themselves.

    Jb