In my early printing days when my pants had muffin tops and my thighs filled my Farrah's I started to collect odd prints from various clientèle. After my most recent house move I opened up a box of prints which had remained taped shut for some ten years or so complete with dust as thick as a woolly sock. I had hoped that upon opening the box a bright golden light would shine in my face and all my troubles would be over but instead a fruity firm pair of buttocks filled my gaze and I tried to remember the name of the model I had used on that particular day. After a few more buttock variations I was delighted to come across a Richard Averdon image I had stashed away and completely forgotten about. What struck me was not so much the print quality, which was of course wonderful, but the overall perfection of the image. The composition, the quality of the lighting, the 'Averdon grey' background, the pin sharp detail from a 10/8 neg, so on and so forth. There was no retouching of any kind yet the image was flawless. A truly great image by a truly great photographer. But my friends of the dark cloth I believe that today there are no great photographers...
Todays photographers are not great, they are Grand, their shoots are Grand, their content is Grand, their budget and fees are Grand, their books are Grand, their shows are Grand and not forgetting their prints are Grand. I do believe that Grandeur has replaced greatness that once was. Think of all those Great photographers that died without a penny in the bank. Today with have photographers with day rates over $100,000 dollars (imagine the cost of the entire shoot). There are galleries that sell prints by the meter thanks to new technology, but does a big image really mean it must be a Great Image.?
And so I wonder what would happen if all this grandness was taken away. What if Mario Testino was paid fifty quid to shoot a new face model without the benefits of heavy retouching and then exhibit the prints in a local bar? What if Annie Whats Her Face was given a tenner to do a shoot without assistants, or an array of thirty lights or an elephant prop? Take away the grandeur and do you really have greatness..

It costs nothing to take a great photograph, but its expensive to produce one with grandeur!

And now for some more firm buttocks...

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