Terrible photos

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Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:30 pm

My worst shot

Photographers are generally proud to show off their best shots, but what about their worst? Jane Bown, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and others reveal all

Sarah Phillips

The Guardian, Tuesday 27 March 2012

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:31 pm


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 2009, by Platon.
'In 2009 I photographed around 110 world leaders at the UN. Ahmadinejad was the biggest surprise. That day, he made a speech that was one of the most controversial ever given and a large proportion of the auditorium walked out. I was expecting to get that dictatorial menace but he suddenly realised that, not only was he about to sit for the most intimate portrait of him ever taken, a crowd of his supporters was watching. They were all cheering; he lost his composure for a second and started to laugh. What I got was him trying to regain his composure. It’s the most sinister leer I’ve ever caught on film. It was a missed opportunity, in the sense that he was trying to gather himself. On the other hand, it gave me something I would never have expected. No one thinks of Ahmadinejad as a man with a hint of a smile.'Photograph: Platon

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:34 pm


Rejected shot from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1962, by Ed Ruscha.
'I found this car on the old Route 66 in a desolate area of Arizona. The picture has all the traits of a well-rounded photograph: there are the jack rabbits on the fence, which make it look as if there is movement; the car that’s really dead, including the tumbleweed and the beat-up old licence plate; the sky is totally non-committal; the horizon is mute. In a photography class, people would discuss how these different elements have come together. It possesses all the signifiers – and that’s the reason it fails. I feel like it’s my worst photograph. It’s too perfect with its phony Americana. I have never used it for anything. But at the same time I’m wondering if that car is still there, rusting away.'Photograph: Ed Ruscha

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:36 pm


Marc Chagall, 18 November 1967, by Jane Bown.
'I was living in Sevenoaks, Kent, when I somehow found out that Marc Chagall was going to be visiting Tudeley, which was close by. A young woman had drowned in a boating accident and her father had donated a stained-glass window to the church in her memory. It was a Chagall design, so he came for its unveiling. I went along and was about to photograph him when the people with him told me not to. I wasn't pushy, and had a rule that I would only photograph people who wanted me to. I was eventually allowed to shoot him later that day but it wasn’t the same. Before, he had been coming up the path towards me, looking like a very sweet and beautiful man with white hair. The pictures afterwards were boring. They were all standing there waiting for me to do it. It was no good at all.'Photograph: Jane Bown

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:39 pm


Marc Chagall, contact sheet, by Jane Bown.
Artist Marc Chagall visits the unveiling of a stained-glass window at All Saints church in Tudeley, Kent, 1967. Bown was asked not to photograph him; when she was later, in her words, 'put on the spot' and told she could, 'the picture was boring ... no good at all'. The penultimate image was the only usable portrait.Photograph: Jane Bown

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:42 pm


The World, Kingswear, Devon, by Tom Hunter
'Every summer I go with my family to Devon. One day in 2010 we were out on the lawn when suddenly it was as if a tower block was obscuring our view. It was a huge ship called The World, where rich people live. At 5am the next day I heard a huge foghorn, and we scrambled out of bed to see it leave. It was a phenomenal sight but I don’t think I got the exposure right. I was fumbling with my old-fashioned plate camera and only got a single shot. I don’t know what to do with this shot; it lurks in my library and I don’t know where it fits. There are millions of pictures like it all over the internet, and they’re not really saying much apart from: "Wow, this looks funny." I’ve made my niche and this isn’t it.'Photograph: Tom Hunter

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:45 pm


Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, by Terry O'Neill
'There aren’t many people I have really, really wanted to photograph during my career, with two exceptions: Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan. In 1986, my pal Eric Clapton introduced me to Bob in London. I wanted to take a strong portrait of him that was both immediate and honest. I think we all want to look into those eyes and discover something about him. But to my disappointment, Bob didn’t want to play ball. He wouldn’t pose without Eric; he wrapped his head in a towel to hide from the camera, which frustrated me. I’m not sure why. Perhaps he was just shy. But it was a real shame: there’s a depth of character that would have come across strikingly on film. I guess there is always the one who got away. In my case, there’s two.'Photograph: Terry O' Neill

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:48 pm


Basra, Iraq, March 2003, by Jenny Matthews
'I visited Basra in 2004, which was probably the last time you could travel freely in Iraq. These women were in an area right next to where an Iraqi armoured troop carrier had been blown up the year before, apparently by a rocket tipped with depleted uranium; the remains were still there. They were despairing because you can’t move something like that. A scientist with a geiger counter came along and the reading [for radioactivity] was off the scale. I suppose photography is all about being in the right place at the wrong time. For a photographer everything’s a missed opportunity. You never stay with a story long enough – then history changes things.'Photograph: Jenny Matthews/Network

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:51 pm


Gregory Peck, 1990, by Jillian Edelstein
'I photographed Gregory Peck for Time Out. It was at a London hotel and I thought I’d be able to photograph him from all angles. But he pointed with a long finger directly into his left cheek, which sagged inwards, and said in his American drawl: “I can only be photographed from this side.” Perhaps I shouldn't have listened but in our short, intimate interaction, I felt obliged to respect his wish. After all, he’d been around the block a few times; he knew his best angle. I was young and probably a bit nervous. I’ve learned with time that it’s incredibly important to direct your own shot.' Photograph: Jillian Edelstein

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:02 pm


Port Eliot festival, 2011, by Martin Parr
'I wanted to show two pictures, a good one and a reject, to illustrate the weaknesses of the dud. This is the dud. I took it at Port Eliot in Cornwall, where I was doing a pop-up exhibition, producing a show each day. This was shot at midnight; by 11am the better print [see next image] was up on the wall.' Photograph: Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:06 pm


Port Eliot Festival, 2011, by Martin Parr
'This image turned out to be the final one. Everything came together: she was photogenic and doing the right gesture; I had balanced the ambient light with the flash, which takes a few frames. The frame before isn’t bad, but it’s not as good. It typifies the dilemma of photography: you do lots of not-bad ones, but often the good one doesn’t happen at all.'Photograph: Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

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Re: Terrible photos

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:09 pm


Transatlantic Sub-Marine Cables Reaching Land, VSNL International, Avon, New Jersey, by Taryn Simon
'I had planned to scuba dive and discover the point where submarine telecommunications cables, carrying more than 60m simultaneous conversations, reach land after crossing the Atlantic from the UK. I opened the manhole they come up through: it was heavily piped, dark, uninteresting. This is the room where they leave the manhole. When I took the picture I thought it was a failure. I had anticipated a murky, underwater image with cables peeking out from a heroic finish line on the ocean floor. Instead, I ended up in a banal room with a few dinky cables climbing the walls and a shabby guard rail. But the simplicity is what I later appreciated: instead of a fantastical feat, there’s a vulnerability. You sense that 60m conversations could be easily interrupted – snipped – by a hand and scissors.' Photograph: Courtesy Steidl/Gagosian

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