Garry Winogrand is one of my favorite street photographers that I have gained much photographic insight and wisdom from. I never understood a lot of the things that he said about photography like why you should wait a year or two before developing your shots, why photographs don’t tell stories, and how photographers mistake emotion for what makes great photographs. After having done a ton of research on Winogrand and finding out more about his philosophy in photography, I found a treasure chest. Winogrand shot at a pace in which he couldn’t even see his own photos (because he was always out on the streets, shooting). Winogrand accepted the fact that he wouldn’t ever have enough time to see all of his photographs that he shot, and that there would be negatives he could never find (because of the volume of photographs that he took). I always wondered whether I should shoot a lot or be as selective as I can when shooting on the streets.
In total (on the low end) we can be certain that he shot at least 5,850,000 photos in his lifetime. Well he started studying painting at City College of New York and painting and photography at Columbia University in New York City in 1948 (aged 20).
Assuming that he shot 5,850,000 photos in his lifetime (and shot for 36 years), that would equate to 445 photographs a day (or 12 rolls of film a day).
I think it is difficult for the majority of us to shoot 445 photographs a day (12 rolls of film a day). When Winogrand would shoot on the streets, he wouldn’t hesitate to take his shots, and would actively pursue his shots. I am sure that there were many times in which people got pissed off when Winogrand took their photograph, and would react hostily to him.
Although cropping can be a great tool to improve your photographs, it can also be another crutch. Therefore when I was shooting digitally, one of the issues I had was always having the urge to look at my photographs instantly. Winogrand recommended looking at The Americans by Robert Frank, American Images by Walker Evans, Robert Adams’ work and the photographs of Lee Friedlander, Paul Strand, Brassai, Andre Kertesz, Weegee and Henri Cartier-Bresson. I think it is dangerous for street photographers to put themselves into a bubble, and not be influenced by great work.
We need both strong form and content to make a memorable street photograph – but rarely does it ever happen. I am sure we have all had street photographs that we took that we weren’t quite sure were good or not. I think that in order to be more original and unique in your street photography, look outside of photography for inspiration. For example Sebastiao Salgado, one of the most influential social documentary photographers and photojournalists started off his career as an economist, studying work.
I started off being a sociology student at UCLA, and my interest in photography started at around the same time. Think about how your personal experiences and interests (outside of photography) influences your street photography.
Szarkowski wrote quite eloquently how Winogrand was less interested in photography, and more interested about living and capturing life.

I think as street photographers we can all learn wisdom from what Szarkowski, and the example that Winogrand lead in his life.
As street photographers we should strive to take memorable street photographs of people, society, and how we see the world.
One of the dangerous things about classifying yourself as a certain type of photographer is that it can pigeon-hole you.
However even within the street photography community, street photographers come in many different colors. Something cool I stumbled upon, photos of Winogrand’s Leica M4 (well used) via Camera Quest.
Although Garry Winogrand is mostly known for his black and white street photography, he also shot a considerable amount of color film (that not much people know about).
I have been photographing the United States, trying by investigating photographically to learn who we are and how we feel, by seeing what we look like as history has been and is happening to us in this world. I cannot accept my conclusions, and so I must continue this photographic investigation further and deeper. The wonderful photography of New York City street life circa 1973-1978 has been captured by photographer Paul McDonough, whose work was recently shown at Sasha Wolf Gallery in NYC.
This entry was posted in Art and tagged new york city, paul mcdonough, photographers, photography, photos, sasha wolf gallery, street photography on February 7, 2011 by GG. He was in-arguably one of the most prolific street photographers of his time (he shot over 5 million photographs in his career) and one of the most passionate.
Although I am not an expert on Garry Winogrand, he has influenced my street photography profoundly.
Many street photographers struggle to finish an entire roll in a day, let alone in a short block. In addition to that, the Garry Winogrand Archive at the Center for Creative Photography has over 20,000 fine and work prints, 20,000 contact sheets, 100,000 negatives and 30,500 35mm colour slides as well as a small group of Polaroid prints and several amateur motion picture films. I’ve often wondered how a photographer who takes tens of thousands of photographs — and by now it may even be hundreds of thousands of photographs — keeps track of the material. He passed away and never saw nearly half a million of his shots (432,000 photos) and in his archive they have around 5,418,000 photos. Generally that is increased by spending more time shooting on the streets, and shooting a lot. It is possible to get good shots when shooting from the hip, but you will have far less control over your framing and composition when shooting on the streets.
I used to shoot quite a bit from the hip when I started off (because I was shy to take photographs of people) but found it to personally be a crutch to me. I used to crop quite a bit for my street photographs (when I had a messy background or distracting elements).
Instead of shooting people against distracting backgrounds, it will encourage you to walk around them, taking a photograph of them behind a more simple background (that is less distracting). He deliberately waited a year or two, so he would have virtually no memory of the act of taking an individual photograph.
If I was shooting on the streets and took a photograph of something I thought was amazing (let’s say a little girl with a red umbrella jumping over a puddle) I might confuse the emotion I felt with taking the photograph of thinking that it was good (rather than the photograph itself).

I generally shoot around 50 rolls of film for every month of traveling and shooting street photography, and I don’t look for my photographs at least for a month after taking it. He was a great fan of many of his contemporary street photographers (as well as those who came before him). See what about their work that resonates with you, and take bits and pieces and synthesize it with your own photography. Consume tons of great photography books, check out other street photography blogs, and visit local exhibitions and libraries. But if you are lucky enough, have enough dedication, and can create a well-balanced frame with interesting content- you can make a great street photograph.
However after going to the work sites in-person, he soon chose to abandon economics (too focused on theory) and chose to pursue photography to more vividly show working conditions of people all around the world. When I was trying to think of what type of photographs I liked to make, I quickly realized that they were generally about people in society. This will help you discover a much more unique voice and help you create photographs that resonate who you are as a person.
Last year, Nick Turpin met with Joel Meyerowitz and was able to get an impressive collection of color photographs by Garry Winogrand.
It will be hosted by SF MOMA and the National Gallery of Art, and will include 200 photographs (half never printed before). He would be very obviously taking photographs in the streets and would stick out like a sore thumb. This sends off a positive aura in which people don’t feel as suspicious of you taking a photograph.
I am not sure how Winogrand would have reacted, but he never got sent to the hospital for being physically attacked after taking a street photograph of someone.
Waiting for a year or two before seeing your photographs may be a bit hardcore, but it will definitely help you forget the images you took and be more objective when looking at your shots. The first time I really got out of New York as a photographer was in 1955 and I wanted to go around the country photographing.
And there were photographs in there, particularly that gas station photograph, that I learned an immense amount from. Salgado took his outsider’s experience as an economist, and applied it to photography beautifully. It is an idea I later understood and respected very dearly, as Winogrand was more interested in making photographs than classifying himself for art historians.
If you feel guilty afterwards, you can always delete the photograph afterwards (or never show it to anyone else).

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