Thursday, April 3, 2008
Behind Photographs : Overview
The past few years in history have marked an amazing change in the world of photography. We have seen the passing of such industry icons as Richard Avedon and Arnold Newman. Photographers that not only documented a generation, but helped define it.
These image makers worked in large and medium formats, in darkrooms and with silver based film. They were true photographic craftsmen, artists and visionaries. With the introduction of digital capture, the web and advancements in computer hardware and software, the craft has changed and photographers around the globe, have a new world of image making at their fingertips. This change marks the end of one era and the beginning of a new, as corporations, like Kodak and Polaroid, fight to survive with the times.
Behind Photographs began as the personal quest of photographer Tim Mantoani to document the living legends of photography. "We have come to a point in history where we are losing both photographic recording mediums and iconic photographers," Mantoani comments. "While many people are familiar with iconic photographs, the general public has no idea of who created them. Behind Photographs became a means to do that, the photographer and their photograph in one image."
Using a soon to be extinct photographic medium, 20x24 Polaroid, Mantoani is using the handful of these giant view cameras that exist to document his project. Each instant photograph is 20x24 images in size and cost $75 per exposure. Mantoani explains, " I chose the format for two reasons. First, in just a couple of years, Polaroid film will no longer exist. It seems appropriate to celebrate a process that we will soon no longer be able to enjoy.
Second, to me, this is THE ultimate view camera. If you are going to call the greatest living photographers and ask to make a photo of them and you are shooting 35mm digital, they may not take your call. But if you say you are shooting 20x24 Polaroid, they know you are serious about it."
Tim Mantoani's desire to record photographer's came shortly after the death of his photographic mentor and good friend, Dean Collins. Dean was an icon in the world of photographic education and passed away at the age of 53 due to complications from cancer. "Dean and I shared an amazing bond, especially the past few years of his life. I had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when I was 30, just a short time before Dean was diagnosed," Mantoani comments. "It came out of the blue for both of us and made me realize how precious each moment we have is. Dean was such a visionary and made me understand the power of 'now'."
In December of 2006, Tim Mantoani began his project in San Francisco by photographing photographers Jim Marshall and Michael Zagaris. Over the past 14 months, he has documented 55 photographers working in California and New York and has even purchased a 20x24 Wisner camera with a Polaroid system so he can travel to photographers. He plans on shooting into early 2009 when film for his project will no longer be available.