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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Photojournalism, Tenebrism, and Why I Dislike Rembrandt

"Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually." – Henri Cartier-Bresson

I was recently inspired by a really interesting article on NPR, deciding to explore the massive online vault of the Magnum Agency, quite possibly the most respected collective of photographers in the world. The article explores the moral implications of photographing and incidentally disturbing a person in grief. It's a challenging scenario because the photographer has to overtake split-decision moral obstacles while on the job; that moment could be gone forever in a blink of an eye and it's your job to capture that moment. I find it amazing that these photographers were able to create, striking and more often than not, ironically beautiful tableaus, while being overwhelmed in their environment. 

I thumbed through thousands and thousands of photos from every Magnum photographer that ever was, looking for inspirational material that I've never seen before. I chose these photos for different reasons. Some are picked because of their painterly aesthetics and fine detail to the framing, light, and exposure. Many of these were picked because of their pronounced use of chiaroscuro. I've always enjoyed darker and moodier artwork so I may be a little bias when it comes to tenebrism ...

And, I'm not talking about Rembrandt-moody. Murky is perhaps the most fitting description for this monochromatic works ... "uninteresting" also comes to mind. His placement of his key is always displeasing, The Nightwatch is boring, and his work rarely has naturalistic lighting. Can you tell I'm not a fan? Overrated ... 

Anyways, the end resultant of these efforts is a collection of photographs that have inspired me because of their aesthetic. I hope these inspire you too.

Here is the NPR Article which I highly recommend reading before you view these photos. It'll make a significant difference in how you view these. (

1 comment:

  1. If you haven't already, go see the exhibit at the Call in advance and make sure you get to see the Documentary "No Strangers". It's a really beautiful look into the photography of indigenous cultures and the moral dilemmas that arise. The photograph you have here of the upside down Shaolin Monks is currently on display there in Century City. The museum and documentary are both free of charge.