“Photographers tend not to photograph what they can’t see, which is the very reason one should try to attempt it. Otherwise we’re going to go on forever just photographing more faces and more rooms and more places. Photography has to transcend description. It has to go beyond description to bring insight into the subject, or reveal the subject, not as it looks, but how does it feel?”
From Blake Andrews BlogspotThe phrase "photographer's photographer" gets thrown around a lot. In the case of Ken Josephson I think it's quite applicable. His photos aren't so much about documenting the world or some conceptual premise. They're about messing with the form itself, playing with ideas in front of the camera just to see what happens. What's real? What's represented? Where is the line? Yeah, I know it's Photo 101 stuff. But Josephson ain't a beginner. In the current show at Hartman, his mastery is indisputable. I think most photographers will find his images just plain entertaining.
I think what I find most intriguing is that he turns the emotional requirement of photography on its head. There's a common preconception that the way to make lasting photos is through the heart. You've got to feel something. And express that. And hopefully the viewer feels it too. Again and again, that mantra is drilled into photographers. Find your passion and create photos with emotional resonance.
Well fuck that! At least some of the time. I've never made photos like that and I don't usually react to them that way. My own photos are 95% mental, and maybe 5% heart. That's just how I'm wired. And judging by his photographs, so is Josephson. His images are more intellectual exercises than tear-jerkers. As I said, he's a photographer's photographer. It's about the image, not necessarily what's in it.
“David had been photographing endangered species in the Hawaiian rainforest and elsewhere for years, and his collections of photographs and Suzie's tarot cards seemed somehow related. Because species disappear when their habitat does, he photographed them against the nowhere of a black backdrop (which sometimes meant propping up a black velvet cloth in the most unlikely places and discouraging climates), and so each creature, each plant, stood as though for a formal portrait alone against the darkness. The photographs looked like cards too, card from the deck of the world in which each creature describes a history, a way of being in the world, a set of possibilities, a deck from which cards are being thrown away, one after another. Plants and animals are a language, even in our reduced, domesticated English, where children grow like weeds or come out smelling like roses, the market is made up of bulls and bears, politics of hawks and doves. Like cards, flora and fauna could be read again and again, not only alone but in combination, in the endlessly shifting combinations of a nature that tells its own stories and colors ours, a nature we are losing without even knowing the extent of that loss.”