I love Jim Goldberg’s work. His new book is fabulous and best of all, complicated. Jim continues to employ his seemingly random photographic methods using all sorts of different formats, borrowed images and even scratching and writing on the photographs themselves.
I have noticed a lot more photographers doing this – I even remember one well known photographer working on his prints on the terrace of the Hotel Pams during Visa Pour L’image, painting away on the prints with blood mixed in water. There, on the terrace, in full view of a curious public, it appeared an artifice. But I digress.
Jim’s work is informed by a far stronger, determined and clear vision. He is again a photographer whose technique and method I may not want to emulate, but I respect and admire them for what they produce. He remains one of those rare photographers where the whole is far more than the sum of the parts. You can see samples of the book’s images on the Magnum website, but it is obvious that it is the book that you want to possess and not merely glance at the images.
Many may not, some may not remember, but one of the pioneers of the ‘touched’ photograph was a the American photographer by the name of Peter Beard. Beard did a lot of commercial work, even a cheesy calender shoot for Pirelli tyres, but he always did it in his own way. Less his commercial efforts, I found his more personal works far more compelling and exciting, particularly because of the incredibly complex, free wheeling and intriguing scribbles and sketches that covered the images.
I believe I read an interview with him where he argued that the image is incomplete until and unless the photographer has worked on it. This comment reflects an old fashioned idea of the need for the human touch and frailty on what is otherwise a purely mechanical product. Perhaps Beard did not value this instinctive, creative side enough and felt the need to push the works even further. Or that the spectrum of his creativity extended itself beyond the framing of the image and to the final image which appeared in his mind as he captured the negatives. It is however a process that produces unique objects, much like Jim Goldberg’s work which appears to continue this very practice of the ‘worked on’ image.