Photo Culture #3: Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter was born as a painter, but the meeting with Eugene Smith leads him to try photography. Unlike his colleagues, Leiter soon abandoned black and white to use color film, which allowed him to create an artistic and harmonious representation of chaotic New York: today his photos are considered true art works. Leiter prefers to capture the harmony in the metropolitan chaos, he loves to overlap layers, to combine colors as in a painting, to look through the misted glass, through the taxi windows, in the reflections of a mirror, transforming the metropolis into a abstract composition, something artistic: “I must admit that I am not a member of the ugly school. I have great respect for certain notions of beauty even if for some they are now old-fashioned ideas. Certain well-known photographers who, portraying the sadness of people are dealing with a serious topic. “I don’t think unhappiness is deeper than happiness”.

How to build your own style in photography

[Come trovare il tuo stile fotografico: versione in italiano qui]

Today I was reading an interesting article by Eric Kim (always him, maybe it would be better for you to turn off my page and open Eric’s blog!): he suggests to combine your passions and your different interests in photography, in order to build something new and, most important, something really personal. This is a part of the last post I’ve read on Eric’s blog and I want to share it with you:

“A way you can brand yourself and make your photography stand out is to combine your outside interests. For example, Sebastiao Salgado studied economics and was horrified by how workers were being treated. He combined his passion for humanitarian work and photography to make his work unique. Saul Leiter was a painter and loved color. He shot photos that were essentially paintings (but on the streets). Richard Avedon was a portrait and commercial photographer. His favorite body of work was “In the American West” where he would connect with common folks in the streets, and shot portraits of them. Daido Moriyama was a former drug addict, and called himself a “wandering dog.” He channeled his emotion, frustration, and sense of wandering in his street photography. Personally, I studied sociology in school, and see myself less as a “street photographer” and more of a “street sociologist.” I think what makes my approach unique is how I try to use a camera as a research tool”.

I’ve studied cinema for five years at the university, so maybe for this reason I always look for a “movie inspired” scene in my pictures. And what about you? If you work in a office and you love photography maybe you can shoot a reportage about your job, or if your passion is football, you can take pictures of people wearing a football shirt (I know, it seems to be a bullshit, but it’s just an idea). So, tell me, what about you?

[Looking for more inspiration? Join us in the group Living Is Easy With One Eye Closed]

Photo by Saul Leiter



Photo of the day #49

Yesterday I was reading a book about Saul Leiter and it really made my day. So I decided to search on Flick “Saul Leiter” to see how other photographers have interpretated his special style. I fell on this stunning image, Kaffeine, by Russell Tickner. I absolute love the colors, the atmosphere, the mood of that image, that really seems to be a Saul Leiter’s picture. Great homage and outstanding photo!