Alec Soth

Personal Space

Alec Soth, member of Magnum since 2008, documents people and places. He uses an 8×10 camera. Important for him is to photograph a person when he or she is at ease. He said: “My own awkwardness comforts people, I think. It’s part of the exchange.”

The use of a large format camera brings about a softness that corresponds with the photographed subjects. The softness equals the comfortableness of the person photographed. As if Soth has found a way to reduce his own presence  to that of the comfortable vibe a person has in their own personal space. And looking at his projects (Sleeping by the Mississippi, Broken Manual, The last days of W and others) he manages to truly tell a story by creating a mix of portraits, landscapes and interiors. As if we, the audience, get a look into a world we know not much about. A world that only comes about when a stranger is not present.

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Documenting the ordinary

Magnum photographer Martin Parr documents the ordinary and extraordinary. He considers himself to be a documentary photographer. And documenting he does. The way we ‘normally’ would label documentary photography is when the subject is that of war, hunger or poverty. Martin Parr gives us quite the opposite. He directs his camera upon the rich western social life.

His work looks like point and shoot photography. Of the normal things we encounter day by day. Like supermarkets, fast food and our fashion style at the beach. But the way he constructs an image makes us giggle and laugh at the weirdness that we all can relate to. He manages to come very close to the subject, almost always using a wide-angle lens. And by using the flash (often a ring flash) his photographs get that signature look. The look of something very colorful that shows us a raw or weird view of the way some of us behave or dresses at for example the beach. When I look at his work I get a cheap feeling of the richness we all enjoy in the west.

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