Decision Makers – A Conversation with W.M.Hunt

W.M. Hunt - Bill Hunt – is a self described champion of photography: collector, curator and consultant, who lives and works in New York City. His book “The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the Unconscious” was published last fall by Aperture in the US, Thames & Hudson in the UK, and as “L’Oeil Invisible” by Actes Sud in France.   “The Unseen Eye’ is based on his forty years as a collector.  He is an adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts, and he has been on the boards of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, AIPAD, Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS and the Center for Photography at Woodstock.  He has been profiled in The New York TimesPDNThe Art Newspaper and many blogs.  As a dealer, he founded the prominent gallery Hasted Hunt after many years as director of photography at Ricco/Maresca. Photo by dah

 

 

David Alan Harvey:  The readers of Burn Magazine always want to know how editors and curators think. What they really want to know is what editors, gallerists, and dealers want, because they are trying to appeal to them. What does a gallery  owner expect?  That is you. These young photographers want to know what YOU are looking for.

 

Bill Hunt: I will tell you what curators want. They want the thing they’ve never seen. If they’ve seen it, they don’t want it. It’s the impossible thing to describe except that when you see it, you say, “this is it. I couldn’t describe it to you because I hadn’t seen it, but now that I see it, I can tell you this is it”. You don’t want to see what you saw before, because it’s no longer interesting.  My line is that you want a picture so good it makes you fart lightning.  You want to be able to see it and say, “I was sick and now I’m healed”. It doesn’t happen very much at all, but sometimes it happens and you go, see I told you this could happen because here it is.   I’m teaching a workshop called “How I Look at Photographs”.

 

DAH: We saw that in the ICP catalogue. We know who you are.

 

BH: That’s good! So, I’m trying to work it out because I think that it has potential.

 

DAH: Do you think as time goes by it’s harder to see something that you haven’t seen?

 

BH: No, I think it’s the same. What’s different is that there is now a sea of really good pictures. There are so many good pictures. More so than there used to be. People know how to make good pictures. But the number of really fantastic ones, that’s real small.  So you do look at a lot of good pictures.  But I am interested in the great ones.

 

DAH: That was probably the best answer that I’ve gotten from anybody so far on this decision making business.

 

BH: So for this class that I am spending time thinking about, I want to answer the question, how do I look at pictures? And the answer is …rapaciously, ravenously, wildly … like a cartoon dog in heat. The New York Times comes in the morning, you open the front door, and you look at the front page, and immediately you react …that’s a good one!  Or not.

 

DAH: Let me ask you something, do you have a theatrical background at all?

 

BH: I do.

 

DAH: Well that’s the first thing that popped into my head when I’m talking to you now.

 

BH: I’m a notoriously failed actor.

 

DAH: Ok well I could tell.

 

BH: That I was a failed actor?

 

DAH: (laughing) No. That you love drama. Everything you do, your motions, the way you talk.

 

BH: I’m just a big bull shitter.

 

DAH: Your mind is….

 

BH: My mind is … what?  Quick?  Yes, I’m fast on my feet, but that’s not being an actor.

 

DAH: There’s something performance oriented just about the way you are.

 

BH: I’m passionate.  I’m single minded.  I’m articulate.  A discovery I made about photography and show business is they are very, very similar.  In many respects they are all improvisation. You get up in the morning; you say to yourself, I am not a doctor, so I won’t be going to the hospital. I am an actor, I’m a photographer, what am I going to do today? I could just sit here and jerk off…that’s one choice.  Another choice is get on my bike and go do something. The difference for a photographer and an actor is that a photographer can always make stuff. They can take a camera and go out and do stuff.

 

DAH: An actor needs an audience and is dependent on somebody else. That’s right, I never thought about it that way.

 

BH: The cruel irony of this however, and this may not be born up by your experience, but it’s my observation that in show business, you can always get laid.  The more miserable everybody is, the more you get laid. You go to a bunch of photographers and say did anybody here get laid in the last eight years?

 

DAH: I thought you were coming out with some brilliant artist’s statement here!

 

BH: I am just being realistic.

 

DAH: Let me jump to you as a person because it’s interesting how decision makers become decision makers. So let’s go all the way back to your childhood. Obviously, I would imagine you were in the arts, I’m guessing almost from the beginning. Am I right about that?

 

BH: I would say not at all.

 

DAH: Really?

 

BH: I would say only my secret life.  That was always my fantasy world.

 

DAH: Oh, so I am right in a sense?

 

BH: Yeah I guess so. It just was never going to happen, you know?  You’re a little kid in the Midwest and you’re thinking you’re going to be an actor in New York and … .

 

DAH: It’s a secret fantasy….

 

BH: It’s just not part of anything around you that that’s going to happen.   Some helicopter is not going to land in the back yard with producers leaping out saying “we heard you were good, kid, lets go do a movie or something”. You’re pretty much just fucked in the Midwest that you’re not going to get out of there. Actually in college I toed the line for a long time. I was in accounting class one day in business school, and I looked like a dog listening to music, tilting my head from side to side. I’m listening to the teacher but saying to myself I haven’t understood one thing this guy has said in what’s probably seven weeks now.  I’ve copied other people’s homework religiously… and I have no idea what’s going on here. I hate this. And I left. And I enrolled in the theater department.

 

DAH: Ok so you were in theater in college, and then when you get out of college, what’s your first job? How did you earn a living when you got out of college?

 

BH: Well I never did.  I just never made shit.

 

DAH: Really?

 

BH: Not completely but … At one point my dad had died and so I had some of that money. But I barely made enough money to pay for myself although I did always manage to keep it in proportion.

 

DAH: Did you make money in the art gallery business?

 

BH: Not really.  Nobody makes money there.  Selling photographs?  You make enough, you make something, but never enough.

 

DAH: I met you when you sold those great big prints of Luc Delahaye, I was so impressed with that.

 

BH: Me too! You know for a good week and a half, two weeks, people would come to me to actually observe the phenomenon that my shit did not stink. I came back from Paris and announced that those things were $15,000. The people that got pissed off were your people. Photojournalists were furious.

 

DAH: Not me. I never heard anyone was pissed off. About what? I was absolutely fascinated the night of the opening. Luc is “our people”.

 

BH: Now, Luc is a “piece of work”  He calls me up – we were going to show the “Winterreise” pictures – his Russian pictures - and we’d seen them at the ICP Infinity Awards.  He won best photo journalist for these pictures of eastern Russia.  I’d seen those, and that’s what we were going to show. They were really cool. And so over the course of the summer Luc calls me up one day and says “Beel, I want you to come to Paris to see ze picture I make”. And you go like yeah, I will be doing that. I will be flying to Paris to see this picture what you make. And he says, “no, no, no I send ze ticket”. You’re like … huh?  Oh.  Ok, I be coming. So he flew me to Paris to see the picture and he was living in Montmartre. So I go there and he’s got three of these prints push pinned into the wall, and I didn’t know what I was coming to look at. He is asking me which print is better and I’m just thinking I can’t fucking believe this picture.  This picture is just so weird.

 

DAH: You’re talking about the dead Afghan soldier.

 

BH: Yeah, this big eight foot wide picture of a dead Taliban in a ditch, and it’s composed quite artfully, and it’s definitely a dead guy.  And so we look at the pictures for a long time, and then he pulls out prints of the rest of the series of pictures.  He gives me some color Xeroxes and I go back to New York and call the curator of the L.A. CountyMuseum and I say I’m coming to out California the following week, so let’s have lunch, and I have a picture to show you. The guy in L.A. was Robert Sobieszek and we were on the same wavelength. I didn’t show him much stuff. I was very careful what I showed him, and he almost always bought it, which is just unheard of for a museum to behave like that.  So, we go out and were having a glass of iced tea and I hand him this 81/2 x 11 Xerox of this picture and he looks at it, and I said this is good. This is really good. And he say’s, how much? I say its $15,000 dollars and then I go, I’ll give you 20% off and give it to you for $10,000. So my math is for shit, but he says yes. At the same time I was trying to get this picture published some place and I had taken it to The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair, and they both passed on it.  American PHOTO did it.  Thank you David Schonauer and Jean-Jacques Naudet because everyone saw it.

 

DAH: I have always loved Luc as a photographer. I was mesmerized by the photograph.

 

BH: Then Chris Boot came on board, and we did a book in like three months, a full tilt printed book with a commissioned essay. It was really quick. That was exciting. So, Chris was on board and somehow Luc got a show in Bradford (England) and that had to have come from Chris.

 

DAH: Now Chris is at Aperture. I have always thought Chris to be one of the best in the biz.

 

BH: Back to my book and how it came together. My English publisher had asked me to take a picture out at one point and I said no this is a really good picture, this is funny, it fits in the book.  It’s a picture of the head of a penis that looks like a big face, and it’s a really funny and strange picture.  It’s even weirder because when I first saw this picture I didn’t know what I was looking at.  But I saw this picture and did not know what it was. I looked at it for a long time and finally I asked the photographer what is was and he said a dick. When I do presentations about the book, I project this image, and I always feel like…half the people in the room don’t know what this is. The other half that knows what it is, is thinking this is stupid. I thought it was an elbow.  Anyway, so the English publisher didn’t want it in because he said he couldn’t sell it to Japan, which that was ridiculous anyways because he wasn’t going to sell it to Japan. So he left it in.  Thank you.  Then I was at Aperture and we’re having this meeting and they said we want to talk to you about something. You just know immediately what it is and you think, you pussies, I can’t believe you’re…and they wanted it out. They asked if I would take it out and I said yeah, I’m a good guy, if it really bothers you that much take it out. And then I will never shut up about how you made me take it out of the book. It was just no big deal and Chris Boot’s line was that it stopped the flow of the book … .  So the dick went away… .  There are a couple of other things not in the final book … .  Irving Penn wouldn’t give me permission to reproduce two of his pictures. That was expected, but really disappointing. We really made a case for it and chased after it. I couldn’t accept it, no, no. no …

 

DAH: You went for it.

 

BH: I went for it.

 

DAH: And then you finally in the end did not get it.

 

BH: Yeah. And then there was the French edition too from Actes Sud. There is a September 11th picture…”The Falling Man” picture. That’s in there. The French were resistant to it and I explained why it was important to the project and they said Ok. Actually what they did was they asked me to write more which was fine with me.

 

DAH: It seems almost impossible to get 100% of what you want in a book. Lots of moving parts.

 

BH:  At the end of the day, it is my book and the whole experience is so intense and unique.  I am happy with the text and hope that people respond to my love affair with photography and collecting.  It is all about de…light.

DAH: Thanks Bill…..

 

 

88 Responses to “Decision Makers – A Conversation with W.M.Hunt”


  • Thanks for this! Bill is by far my favorite living photo connoisseur. Always a breath of fresh air, an inspiration, and a ton of wisdom. Never liked my stuff but that’s OK. I got back at him. Made a secret snap of him in his home, which I am dead certain he hates for two reasons. One, I secretly made it even though I knew perfectly well he’d never let me, if I asked him. Two, he’d hate the photo, the tool with which it was made and it’s shit quality. In your face, Bill! :-)))

    http://www.640×480.net/album.php?posn=06_20_05_05_32_25pm&size=large

  • Terrific read. He seems like a frenetic sort of fellow. Would love to sneak some of my work under his nose.

    Hugely thought provoking first answer.

    Thank you kindly.

  • I like the sneaky portrait, Michal.

  • Nice job DAH and Mr. Hunt, thank you to both for taking the time to share your thoughts.
    It’s quite obvious that many readers of this discussion are going to think that they (we, ME) will want to show work to Bill, hopeful for their Big Break, or at least some thoughtful feedback. Short of sending Bill a plane ticket to Paris, Bill, how do people manage to show you new work? Many galleries have posted “we are not currently reviewing new submissions” statements on their website.

    Could you have judged the Luc’s powerful work from a small jpeg, or did you have to see that large print? Do photographers compromise their chances by sending jpegs when 36″ prints would better make their case?

    Thanking you…

    DQ

  • Quite an interesting read, thank you.. and I will be very honest, I was not going to buy “The Unseen Eye”, even though I am a book lover, I could not figure why I should consider this, a book of photographs of others.. but reading the interview, I think I’m gonna change idea..

  • ” My line is that you want a picture so good it makes you fart lightning. ”

    Greatest quote ever.

    More later, I’m spending the day editing, but this is a really great interview – thanks to DAH and Bill for putting this out here.

  • Hello Burners, Thanks for the fast responses.

    To Michaa, I like that portrait fine. I look creativeky spent. It’s old because I lost that ring awhile ago. Thanks.

    To Paul, haven’t we corresponded innthe past when I insisted younger a hat designer.

    To DQ, the force of Luc’s personality had so much to do with the whole phenomenon of our collaboration. I was persuaded by the experience and that energized my presentation.

    To Eva, If you are a book lover, what sort of books do you respond to? Do you mean anthologies or collections? What distinguishes my book, I hope, is that it is informed by an individual’s unique search for something, perhaps meaning.

    To Framer’s Intent, my advice is to always include four letter words in your sound bites. Larry Fink’s line about photographs, is. That you want to make a print so good you want to lick it.

    wmh

  • Thats about the most interesting, bullshit free interview I have read in a long time. So often people are way way up their own arse at this level. Refreshing. i bet youre a blast to have a beer with Mr Hunt.

  • “The readers of Burn Magazine always want to know how editors and curators think.”

    That’s a pretty broad statement, isn’t it? I mean, it’s all a question of priorities, isn’t it? I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how editors and curators think. I do spend a lot of time thinking about how to get those damned Canadian geese to stop crapping in my driveway, though, so I guess it’s all a matter of what’s important to you.

  • Hey Bill, thanks for being real. Seriously. Seems in short supply. The whole photo review circuit seems so awful, and sometimes (often) a bit of a dodge. Not that I have the patience for it, or the money to pay for the privilege of standing in line to unzip my pants for inspection … but I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one interested to hear any of your candid thoughts on the review “industry” associated with photography. Or, simply, how do you find work that you must have?

    Thanks again for doing this interview here.

  • “your candid thoughts on the review “industry” associated with photography.”

    yes, Tom Hyde, it seems to be a huge industry. photographers seem to be always looking for the “secret” and are only too happy to send away a big check for that so-called insight. i’d be interested in Bill’s take on it, but I believe that I’ve seen Bill’s name on the roster for these events. Maybe it DOES work from his end.

  • very very nice DAH….

    thanks for this… and also Mr. WM Hunt.

    So sorry.. first time I’ve heard about your guest.

    But I’d like to follow him around, though I’ve got no work to show him.
    But I would like to write about how the word shit rolls off his tongue.

    :):)

  • Great read. I enjoyed every word, and yes, the “fart lightning” comment gave me a whole new perspective on picture display. I must confess that a certain part of me was a little horrified to think that a man who lived a hard life got killed and discarded in a ditch and now people are capitalizing on his death by selling eight foot art prints to the rich and sophisticated for $15,000. The photo is great, though. No doubt about it. Even small, it is great.

    Thanks for this, David and Bill. I think I enjoyed this best of all reads I have seen on Burn. Bill, I wish that every year you could sell 20 of my images for $15,000 and then my work would be financed for the rest of my life. That ain’t gonna happen, though, so I will just keep mucking along, working hard and loving it, at least 90 percent of it done all for free, with only my blog as gallery.

  • “My line is that you want a picture so good it makes you fart lightning”

    That strikes me as a very high standard, although what I’d really like to see is a picture of a guy igniting a fart that lasted long enough to light up a cigar. That’d be something, I think.

  • But it seems like there still needs a lot of convincing to be done when you find a great one from a good one. It might be great to you but others might not think so….

    Anyways…. This was a great read! Thank you DAH and burn!

  • ““The readers of Burn Magazine always want to know how editors and curators think.””..I didn’t know the readers of burn think…………….

  • AKAKY :)
    Check that “Howard Stern” show website.. You’ll find what you need..
    I never guessed you smoke cigars nor that you neededa lighter..
    You should have said something all this time…;)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Welcome home MR.W.M.HUNT…AND thanks for sharing…

    “… I hadn’t seen it, but now that I see it, I can tell you this is it”

    I guess ouzo on me…”It is all about de…light.”
    Viva!!!

  • Yea the other side of the fence has its moments

  • Mr. Hunt, thanks for chiming in here, much appreciated!

    Books.. my love is mostly for photography, first choice would be a print, next best is a book.. but I’m not a collector, do not understand the art world, only respond to my gut feeling, without caring what others like or say or what price tag is attached to it (in terms of loving it, not of owning it, there price tag does play a role). So, I’m am quite curious to learn what is in your book, and why.. not to change my idea about photography or art, but to, perhaps, learn how the mind of somebody else works, sees and feels, in this case yours.. that search you write about.. intriguing..

    This is the same reason why I like to see edits, contact sheets, story building, it’s interesting to follow others mind tracks..

  • ” My line is that you want a picture so good it makes you fart lightning. ”

    astonishment
    amazement
    wonder
    surprise
    amaze
    consternation

    People need above words,
    people need to see Messi’s goals,
    Federer’s forehands and winners,
    great touchdowns,
    great slam dunks,
    awesome Multimedia pieces,
    great books (Ahhh, awainting for RIO…), amazing desing, incredibly good food, breathtaking landscapes, ideas, etc….etc…

    That’s the key, to astonish, to wonder the one who is in front of you!
    But first, above all, someone has to astonish himself and believe. If that, anything else will follow…

    Looking for the dates to booking for the W.Hunt Portfolio review Tour 2012 in Europe… :-)

    Have a nice Sunday
    P.

  • IMANTS…AKAKY

    you are both correct…i do not know what the readers of Burn think or want….however, many of the readers i talk to and write with are very often curious how curators/editors think or react…perhaps this was poor choice of words on my part..or worse, just a wrong assumption….the series on Decision Makers has been very popular with many, but not all , readers here on Burn….Many, but not all, readers of Burn are in fact curious about things which they do not already know…again, exceptions abound on all levels at all times…since i in fact edit Burn as a hobby, just for fun (?), i have no obligation to please readers at all…none of them…however, as a human being often in discourse with those who have some proclivity towards the subject of photography/pulblishing etc. i do listen….and listening to many, but not all, tells me that some subjects, but not all subjects, will provide food for thought to many, but not all….

    cheers, David

  • I think what imants meant was the encouragement to “feel” instead of thinking that is often spoken abOut here when photographing….it might be that or I’m just simply naive….

    I can already see imants response….” you are naive” ;-)

  • CARLO…

    it was a poor choice of words and an assumption on my part in any case….what must be remembered is that this is spoken conversation, which is always heightened and exaggerated in tone…i am of course trying to elicit a response from Bill , so i start by giving Bill something provocative to think about…thanks amigo..

  • PANOS/CIVI/VISSARIA,

    Χριστός ἀνέστη and a happy Easter to you all!

  • ohhhhhhhhhh….
    Akaky , ONE LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    u THE numero 1…
    thank you for the holiday wishes

  • to Thodoris, Vasilios and all the “unknown” too..
    Happy Easter
    Kalo Pasha!

  • I should hope a person interested in life and the world would always be interested to find out how people think and I personally cannot claim to be familiar with any editors or curators. I don’t see curiosity as being indicative of a desire to pander or appease but as a trait of someone who is not too aloof to look for information outside of their own internal world.

  • Not what every person thinks……..I like my ability to edit. Carlo more about tongue in cheek.

  • all these compromises we seem compelled to make

  • JMALBERS

    well yes, it is to that end that i publish…

    IMANTS

    curious…the compromise?

    see you in about two weeks….looking forward….

  • in order to put stuff out there

  • Pardon me in advance for possibly making the second assumption of the day, but it seems from the above interview that Bill is in the process of escalating his small ambition of titillation. Dead Talibans; people falling from the Towers; happy-face penises; naked man bent over, sniffing the couch. This all suggests an ever-ascending adrenalin rush akin to the pornographer, removing himself from the normal intercourse of society and relationships, and his vulnerabilities/responsibilities therein.

    Robert Hughes covers this nicely in his aptly titled book “Shock of the New”. Parallelled in this interview and Hughes’ book is how post-collapse of the avant-garde, commodification of art products has become the n-stage remnant, last-gasp sign of success and change. Is this, or is this not, the first time dollars have been discussed on Burn, used as a numeric for quality, a monetized value of critical worth?

    If my assumption holds true, then let me help Bill speed the train along. Decades ago Salvador Dali wrote in his autobiography, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali”, how he would fantasize over the notion of sodomizing his dead father. Reading this as a teenager, it was to me the endpoint of horror and ugliness. Anything after was strictly vanilla, workable and survivable. It tempered me against the ugliness of disrespect, made me aware of the bullying of power, insulated me from the shock of the new. In a way it also opened the door to a pursuit of the spiritual, a going from feeling to meaning. Stendahl’s notion that Beauty is the promise of happiness is now considered outdated but it has merit, still, for me.

  • Panos, hey man… though to me it was just another Sunday, it’s the thought that counts… so, Kalo Pasha to you too…

  • I share Jeff Hladun’s position here. I’m glad that he took the time to express it so clearly, because the interview left me quite upset in some aspects. My instinct is that W.M. Hunt’s attitude is one of extreme & irresponsible consumerism. I can see how one can take his advice & build a successful career, but it is not something I would like to spend my life & sanity doing. Thanks to all parties for the interview though!

  • in order to put stuff out there …….that constant battle with the extreme conservative elements as above

  • krumikrap photography is the alternative to real photography http://www.etrouko.com/imants.html

  • fascinating interview….

    i have the book as one of my close friends, frank rodick, is in the book/part of the collection/exhibition….and we spoke at great lengths about all this prior….at a time when I had made the decision to hibernate from the exhibition/curatorial world after leaving the former gallery that represented my work….

    I like the book, though find some of it predictable as to what constitutes the ‘unconscious’ and what appears often on the curatorial scene as ‘fresh’ & ‘exciting’…i like and respect much of Mr. Hunt’s ways of thinking and collecting but I find it troublesome if photographers work toward the vision of a curator/collector…particularly as a tool for promotion/career…in fact, it needs to be the opposite…the vision of a maker of things hones those bones in the semi-dark, scribbling against the algebra and alphabet of her own experience and practice in the hope that it begins to make sense for their life and their aspiration of telling a tale with a sheet of image struck dumb-bright by light….

    i too find the discussion of money above depressing…and I’m happy that Jeff has mentioned Hughes…Hughes, by far, sings the brightest about this kind of foray, though i wouldn’t defer to hinm with regard to photography (painting, yes, pictures no)….

    I respect Mr. Hunt’s keen eye, and more importantly, his enthusiasm for the medium and for those of us who have tried to dig out a hut from the making of them, and it will be a fascinating interview for young ones especially to wet their appetitites for acceptance, but i’d rather have an interview ith Luc…then again, we’re talking 2 different beasts….

    thanks david and mr. hunt for taking the time to share their thoughts/words…

    now i will go out and make some stuff and forget this interview! ;))

  • IMANTS

    my goal for you (collectively) and for me personally is NO COMPROMISE for putting “stuff out there”….this means most likely a smaller audience for the work than a “mass audience”…but a small garden well kept seems to me very attractive…

    JEFF , and FOREIGN OFFICE

    i think it interesting for all of us to hear how some decision makers are thinking…whether you agree with them or not…THEY are the ones making the call…your work is on the gallery wall because THEY decide so…or not??..so you either accept them, or reject them and accept someone else to view and either take or leave your work…a lot of accepting and rejecting going on….however, i do not think there is any such thing as an homogenized juror….in any case, more “decision maker” conversations coming…

    we always appreciate well thought out points of view…thank you

    cheers, david

  • BOB BLACK

    we have many many words from photographers…not yet Luc specifically, but how photographers think, both the icons and the wanna be icons, are well documented here on Burn and other sources…how the purveyors of photography think is more rare….it is Kathy Ryan at the New York Times, and Chris Boot at Aperture, and Chris Johns at NGeo, and Bill Hunt who determine very often the career fate of many…for those not interested in a career, then of course none of this matters…however, every photographer you know got a break or a rejection from one of these “decision makers”…this is the case throughout art history….but yes yes, just do the work….fretting over how decision makers think may be a waste for some…ignoring them however could lead to a lifetime of frustration as well…as usual, all about a well balanced thinking diet…

    cheers, david

  • David Alan Harvey – I concur. We definitely DO need more input from curators & editors. Sorry for sounding like a young communist. :)

  • DAVID/MR.HUNT/ALL:

    just a brief clarification so that my words are not misinterpreted :))..

    Like i said, I have Mr. Hunt’s book and like it very much and it brings a fresh and insightful approach to the contemporary photograph and the practice of the art (refreshing to have a book that is so eclectic :) )…and as a photographer who works that terrain specificially, it has meaning in my own practice and something frank and i have spoken about for years…and, more importantly, i am happy that David has introduced Mr. Hunt to the readers, particularly those not familiar with his insight (i prefer his thinking, generally to Hughes, when it comes to the photograph) and his commitment to photographic practice…he has a very catholic approach and open eye/heart (catholic not in the religious sense), …particularly for young photographers (or old) who don’t have the experience with art world and art world expectations, i found it valuable for them…having lived in this world and made a living for myself and family, i ncluding the gallery/festival circuit, i just wanted to reinforce that a practice is NOT BASED not books or curatorial (individual) tastes, but rather, photographers must work their own personal vein in order to produce work that might ‘catch the eye/heart’ of gallerists/collectors/curators….in order words, refrain from worrying about what things sell for, watch catches the eye, and instead mine the ideas and life that gets you excited about mking images, whatever that may be (conceptual/spiritual/documentarian/witnessing, whatever)….

    Rejection is what we live with…failure too….i’ve been lucky in life and in making…been lucky enough to have had exhibitions and sold work and some mild acceptance and also rejected infinitely more…this is even more true in life…and one must settled into that nomenclature that rejection does not mean failure just as acceptance/purchase does not mean success….

    to that, i’d suggest folk watch the documentary ‘gerhard richter painting’…for me, says everything and the only thing that one need to think about when it comes to making work…

    it’s the work and the making (or not making) that counts…

    absolutely no disparging intent made at all for having this interview…just balancing, that’s all :)))…

    until a drink at Noorderlicht later in the year, or arles next year :))

    cheers
    bob

  • Jeff, what you said hit home to me. As I stated originally, I enjoyed the article. It was a bright and informative read – but I am still wrestling the idea about the Taliban image being made into a large, $15,000 art print. I am great with it as a statement and documentation of life, but I struggle with the thought that rich and “sophisticated” people are now doing what they are doing with it. That Taliban fighter, however misguided I believe the cause that led to his death to have been, stood against everything stood for by those now profiting on his death and sitting and standing about engaging in knowing and intellectual banter about it, drinks in hand.

    You added some perspective to me and threw it into a light I had not quite thought of.

    Thank you

  • Speaking of selling prints, just minutes ago, as I was reading this thread, I received notification from Paypal that I had just made my first print sell from the photo store that I added to my blog last night. The buyer purchased an 8.5 by 11 print of “Malik Says Goodbye,” the image of the man who was probably the most successful Iñupiat Eskimo bowhead whale harpooner ever, reaching out to say goodbye to one of the trapped gray whales he had bonded with.

    Here is the link the blog post I made about why I started the store, which truly seems like a futile effort, but one I must try. Both in the article and near the top of the right hand blog column is a link to the store, which is pretty crude and rough right now – but it is a start and a part of my plan to find my way successfully into and through this later stage in my career:

    http://www.logbookwasilla.com/logbookwasilla/2012/4/16/as-an-airplane-flies-overhead-in-wasilla-i-launch-my-logbook.html

  • Bill.
    The realpolitik here is that everyone does it. Sorry! Thats the wider issue that Jeff was talking about and that Robert Hughes talked so well about (that was a bbc series from the early eighties and things have gone way way further since then.)in the book/doc that he mentioned.

    I did a little trawl and came up with serious photojournalistic war imagery being sold in signed editions for VERY serious money by many of the ‘Iconic’ photographers…(try it and see)
    People are capitalist (you have been conditioned to be one, and see it as ‘natural’ since before you could talk) and There is a market for this stuff, and Normal economic market forces (and manipulations, of course) will set the price that the market will pay.
    Sad but true.
    In advanced capitalism as we have now, everything can be, and is, co-moditised. The fact that there are mugrabi’s, saatchi’s and hedge fund money out there driving prices up should not suprise us at all.
    A dead guy in a ditch is only a tragedy until he becomes ART…..and then anything goes…

  • John – by the way – anything you want from my store… it’s yours. You too, Haik.

  • Bill thats very generous of you, but I get so much from you already by following your blog….But I will keep it in mind.

    John.

  • David and W.M. Hunt…

    Thank you for the interview which I found rather interesting, although as with everything I’ve ever enjoyed and appreciated in life I must admit I was left wanting more.

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