Saturday, October 11, 2014

Magnum Workshop Day 7/7 - Honoring Bruce Davidson

Bruce Davidson
Image Source:
Saturday, the workshop is officially over. I slept in, rolling in to the work center sometime in the late morning.
The big event was a presentation by Bruce Davidson, who arrived the night before. Bruce has been in Magnum for 56 years.
Davidson met Henri Cartier-Bresson while stationed in France with the US military. This clearly had a positive effect on Davidson's direction and focus in photography.
One of Bruce's most famous projects was "East 100th Street," where he documented life in an almost-exclusively black neighborhood in NYC. Davidson shot 4,000 negatives, most of them 4x5, in this project. In order to gain access to the neighborhood, he presented the residents with his work and his goal in photographing them. They held a neighborhood meeting and voted to let him in. That said, he still required a "helper" for the first year of the project.
Another famous project set in NYC, Davidson documented the subways and people who rode them. In this project, Davidson was mugged, and witnessed a lot of crime against others. One picture that stuck with me was an armed mugging.
(Click Here) to see that picture on the Magnum website.
Once color film became widely available and useful, Davidson could normally be seen carrying two Leicas - one loaded with color, one with black and white - and only one lens (a 35mm).
When asked for advice for photographers trying to improve their work, Davidson repeated what I'd heard multiple times during the workshop, and multiple times from David Alan Harvey: "Stick Around." By this, he meant don't be in a hurry, find the scene and let it develop. This is probably the most important lesson I learned during the weeklong workshop.
It is apparent that Davidson also has an interest in nature, as he's photographed it in urban settings including Central Park in NYC, Los Angeles, and Paris. He has a current work in progress where he's photographing people interacting with displays at the Museum of Natural History with a digital Leica and Voigtlander wide angle lens.
So, this is the last post about the Magnum Days workshop in Provincetown. What are my conclusions?
  1. Definitely a worthwhile experience for me.
  2. I learned, firsthand, many of the things I've read and only partially practiced over the years.
  3. Each and every Magnum photographer is different, and their personalities are wide-ranging.
  4. Telling a story with pictures in a relatively short time is difficult.
  5. Magnum is very exclusive; the workshop assistants are great examples of first-rate photographers who are not in Magnum.
  6. There are a lot of amazing photographers developing out there. The students in this workshop are not just digital "point and clickers." I'm encouraged about the future of people making quality images.
I really feel that I was exposed to both the history and future of photojournalism for a week, and loved the experience. Thanks to everyone at Magnum, in Ptown, and a the FAWC who made it happen.