Q&A: Who are your favorite photographers?

More photography stuff.

Who are your favorite photographers?

Most of my favorite photographers I am familiar with because of their associations with musicians—at least, among the famous photographers…

Though the first photo of his I would see appeared on the inner gatefold of Steely Dan’s Greatest Hits LP, I first became aware of Anton Corbijn through his work in New Musical Express and The Face. I was particularly drawn to images in which the subject was purposely out of focus; not only did that technique create a distinctive look, but it drew attention to the subject in a different way.

There are a few photographers that I know best for their work with the members of the band Japan: Fin Costello, The Douglas Brothers, and Kevin Westenberg (also Anton Corbijn). As with Corbijn, I particularly appreciate Costello’s use of black-and-white photography. His photos of Japan reinforced the more serious image they cultivated in the latter part of their career, adding an extra layer to the mystery that David Sylvian would subsequently seek to shed in his solo work. The techniques employed by The Douglas Brothers added textures to their photographs that made them look as vintage as they did contemporary. Westenberg’s images tend to be cleaner, but, whether black-and-white or color, their saturation makes gives them a vividness that makes them stand out.

Edie Baskin is probably best known for her association with Saturday Night Live. Those hand-tinted photographs of the hosts and musical guests that appeared before and after commercials were her work. I remember also seeing her photos on the picture sleeve of the 1975 Simon & Garfunkel single ‘My Little Town’, and, later, for Simon’s 1977 Greatest Hits LP.

A. J. Barratt’s photos were an integral part of the early days of the ZTT label, home to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art of Noise, Propaganda, and so on.


In addition to these more famous folks, there are a few people on Flickr whose work I enjoy seeing on a regular basis:

Silvia Lew is one of the people I have been following the longest. In one of the rare instances where I have written a testimonial for someone, I said:

Silvia’s photographs are the work of a true artist. In my original testimonial, I wrote that I was first attracted to her work by her use of lighting and color, then, as time went on, by her bravery as an artist and her willingness to take chances. But, as I’ve become more familiar with her work, I think that her lack of pretension is what impresses me the most. Even when she is staging a piece, Silvia’s honesty and authenticity always come through quite clearly.

I would also add that, despite the physical distance between us (I’m in the U.S., while she is in Argentina), she is a good friend.

Whether it is small-town vignettes, vintage cars, self-portraits, or ‘arty’ photographs, Carmen Ybarra’s work is always intriguing.

Farah Willem’s work alternates between fine art (paintings) and altered photographs, often self-portraits. The self-portraits are altered with rips/tears, stains, burns, hair, droplets of paint, threads, pen marks, and so on, in an ongoing exploration of both self and the nature of femininity.

Hisatomi Tadahiko’s photographs all bear the title A Japanese Image. Most of them are set in urban Japan (specifically, Tokyo). There are about four or five female models that he photographs regularly; their facial expressions are usually neutral, giving the photos an oddly detached quality, even when the setting might otherwise be intimate (a bedroom, for example). The images he creates are the kind that have to sink in; their meaning (if any) will not necessarily be immediately obvious.

(12 November 2014)