Leonard Freed

Leonard Freed

For all the talk by tech gurus of how the internet will be so awesome in the future that we may as well graft our brain directly into it, I haven’t heard a convincing answer to one simple question: how in the world are we going to deal with the health effects of huge portions of the population staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, especially if it’s a habit picked up in youth? The prospect of staring at it for a lifetime doesn’t bode well in a profession where sight is your main asset.

For the past week I’ve been taking a break from the computer because I’ve begun to get a queasy headache every time I worked on the computer for more than 15 minutes. I’m going to try to do the best I can to minimize computer time, but the cost of printing and not being in a gallery heavy city leave the computer as the most practical option. (I’m looking forward to writing blog posts in the park though!) I knew that the actual shooting would be only the tip of the iceberg of making a photograph, but I’m overwhelmed nonetheless. I’m hoping computer interfaces become more intuitive and involve larger ranges of motion. So much communication takes place online now that I’m ready to learn the Dvorak or Colemak keyboard layout instead of continuing with QWERTY as it is.

In the vein of getting away from the computer, prints from Leonard Freed’s Black in White America are being shown at the Silverstein Gallery in NYC until June 13th, and I wish I could see it in person. If you are in NYC between now and then, you’d better go! I discovered Freed’s work about a year ago via Magnum and managed to find a cheap secondhand copy of the book in pretty good condition. Beats me why anyone would want to get rid of this book. It’s a book that makes me want to drink in prints til “my belly erupts like a volcano” (in words I overheard today), to grab a camera and go, even if it happens to be 1am in the morning – a sure sign in any instance that there’s something worth learning on those pages.

Actually, I can see why someone would want to get rid of this book. It is not for the sharpness or bokeh or grainless creaminess fetishists. Many of the prints are dark, grainy, blurry, but there’s a liveliness here that makes all those technical details irrelevent. I had trouble choosing photos that represented this liveliness – he doesn’t make iconic images like Winogrand or Frank, but the total effect of the book feels very personal and memorable.

I suppose that black and white street style has been learned by thousands and copied ad nauseum by now, but there’s just so much life in the photos that I can’t resist them anyway.


~ by Jin on May 29, 2009.

One Response to “Leonard Freed”

  1. Try living in the boonies of Georgia- talk about zero galleries! Between scanning and editing, looking at the computer screen can become absolute torture..

    I saw this book in the library not to long ago, and really enjoyed it..

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