Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What Are The Best Photographs Ever?

I'd like you to name your all time favourite photographs by someone else - the top of the top, the supreme, the wonderful, the magic.

Here's why. I want to see if we can learn anything from these images - are there threads of consistency - about subject or approach, project vs. one off, obvious message or not, etc..

I think a number of us would list Edward Weston's Pepper #30 as one of those top ten photographs, despite its mundane subject and lack of political message, but you can't infer much from a single image, so bring em on, what are your top 10 outstanding choices.

Why not open it to images of yours? Simple. You might think it's because I don't think you can make an image that good but you'd be wrong - it's just that we have emotional attachments to images of our own which may not be apparent to others and that is going to confuse and analysis of common threads.

If you can supply a url that will take us to each image, even better, we can look them up.

Come on, enlighten us, surprise us, shock us with your all time favourite photographs.



Joseph said...


Sandro Siragusa said...

Allard's portrait of Henry Gray.


Wonderful portrait -- color, composition, timing. Also acts as metaphor for America, and a model or exemplification of an American type.

Gordon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon said...

That's tough. I can name names, but choosing A photograph from among them would be hard. Here are just SOME of my favorite photographers, in no particular order:

Walker Evans

Frederick Sommer (http://photography-now.net/frederick_sommer/portfolio1.html) you have to see a prints of his in person - they are jewels.

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Joseph Sudek

Amy Stein (esp. domesticated series)

Emmet Gowin

Lee Friedlander (http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O:DE:I:4|G:HI:E:1&page_number=142&template_id=1&sort_order=2)

Michael Wesely (http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O:DE:I:4|G:HI:E:1&page_number=156&template_id=1&sort_order=2)

William Eggleston (http://photography-now.net/william_eggleston/portfolio1.html)

Linda Connor (http://photography-now.net/linda_connor/portfolio1.html)


Chuck Kimmerle said...

Jay Dusard's photo of Julie Hagen


Frank Field said...

George --

I love subtlety of light in an image. One of the very best I've seen in this regard is Christopher Burkett, "Aspen Grove, Colorado," 1993. Go to http://www.christopherburkett.com/home.html and select 8"x10" under the prints tab. Like all of Christopher's work, the print must be seen to be fully appreciated. His "Glowing Autumn Forest," discussed in your recent book is in a similar vein. I've seen an Aspen Grove print of his but not of the other image. What a master at capturing subtle light Christopher is!


Frank Minutillo said...

A photograph of a man climbing stairs in a subway that I saw in Family of Man when it was first published may not be my favorite of all time, but it has stuck with me for my entire life since and there are rare days when the image isn't in my mind.

The photo is by Roy DeCarava. Here is a link

Sandy Wilson said...

My Favourite photographs are Alvin Langdon Coburn's (Vortographs), held in the George Eastman House collection. Where they can be viewed on line.

These photographs were revolutionary at the time of their making, as they threw of the shackles of contemporary representation. In fact they were the first abstract and concrete art photographs.

Concrete photography is where the form dominates the subject matter and the photograph is self referential.

Although Coburn never pursued this type of photography further, the flame had been lit for others to take up the challenge. However it took forty five years for the message to filter through. When it did in the 1960's, photography was changed forever.

The point is great photographs must not only be great to look at, but they must have the power to change photography's direction. Coburn's Vortographs certainly did, even before digital imaging and Photoshop.

Anonymous said...

The image that first comes to my mind is Adams' Moonrise over Hernandez. A lovely image in/ and of itself, but when you adds the degree of difficulty given the materials at hand and the time constraints it stands as a vertuoso performance in my opinion. Steve Willard

Two Squaws said...

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange.
Of course Moonrise. On a sad note. I just returned from NM and visited Hernandez. We all secretly want to stand where St. Ansel stood and see the scene. I am glad that he got "that moonrise photo" as it doesn't exist anymore.
Mike Katona
Halfway, OR

Rynage said...

Diane Arbus - Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park


I was obsessed with this image for a long time, before I was interested in photography in general. It still haunts me, even though my tastes have changed drastically over the years.

Lonnie Landrey said...

Eugene Atget's image, "Ballainvilliers, entree du village," juin 1925. I never tire of that photo.

Rob Oresteen said...

George - in reference to Weston's pepper #30, you said this picture was great despite it's "lack of political message".

Why on Earth would a "political message" be a possible reason of a picture's merit or "worth". Who's to say what political message is good or not...or even if it has one?


Rob Oresteen

Gary Shackelford said...

Neil Leifer's photo of Muhammad Ali standing over the fallen Sonny Liston during their May 25, 1965, fight in Lewiston, Maine.

The link includes some commentary by Leifer about the photograph.


Silvia P said...

Someone already mentioned it, Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange. The whole era of the Depression in the US has been an inspiration to so many artists.
Read a book about Lange recently, how her work was buried for decades, how underrated she actually was during her lifetime. She's inspired me since i discovered her years ago through that exact photo.