I was trying to locate some photography magazines for the purposes of making a listing of various such publications available to photographers. This was an academic exercise to have a data base and to see what the world was up to.
Victor is a magazine that is brought out by Hasselblad which makes expensive high end cameras. I have never seen it earlier nor have I used a Hasselblad camera either. The lead editorial page referred to the Masters of Hasselblad concept and asked the readers to go online and nominate the finalist photographers for their selection as a Master. It sounded interesting and educative to see some quality work by quality photographers. That is how I reached the site http://www.hasselblad.com/member/masters/finalists.aspx
to see what was on offer.
“”” The Hasselblad Masters Award is the most prestigious awards in the industry, celebrating the best in both established and rising photographic talent. Masters Awards are given in recognition of a photographer‚ whose contribution to the art of photography and are judged on overall photographic ability, encompassing creativity, composition, conceptual strength, and technical skill. Past Masters include both renowned artists of international standing as well as promising newcomers in a wide range of fields and disciplines. “”
The selection schema comprises of the usual categories –
Up and coming
With 10 names in each category it works out to almost 50 images per category and overall about 550 images in all. Enough I guess to find some great images.
At random I picked up the Portrait section and the top nomination as on date was for Antonio Alay. He had on display 5 photographs – 4 male subjects and one female. I went through each one of them.
You can see these five images above and the url for each one of them is here.http://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/346467/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/alay_1.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/346467/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/alay_2.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/346467/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/alay_3.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/346467/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/alay_4.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/346467/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/alay_5.jpg
What do you think of these portraits?
My personal take was that they were rather stilted and contrived and each of the photographs had the lighting so artificial that it was an irritant to fine aesthetics. The images were undoubtedly processed to such an extent that only the subject was lit up and magically the image had minimal background in red and greys. The only portrait that interested me was of a gentleman with a hat smoking a cigarette that had a bit of actual environment in the frame. That was a good one. All photos /portraits were obviously shot with extra lights.
I ventured a bit more in the hope that I would find something of more interest in the portraits category and I chanced upon an Indian sounding name Baljit singh Deo. http://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/288853/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/Bal_Deo_1.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/288853/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/Bal_Deo_2.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/288853/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/Bal_Deo_3.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/288853/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/Bal_Deo_4.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/288853/Portrait/Thumbnails1920/Bal_Deo_5.jpg
The images were as is the wont from the Indian subcontinent showcasing misery in three frames and a monk in the other two. The photographs again did not appear realistic. The lighting again contrived in processing or otherwise lit up only the subject and magically the background receded into a faint presence even where the frames are outdoor ones. Is there no merit in doing actual genuine photography of a real life subject in a real life environment. I wonder.
By this time the overall image of the whole Hasselblad experiment and their quality of submissions had started to throw up a negative cast. I thought it would be imprudent to judge the whole event based on one category alone. So I picked at random another category named "Fashion Beauty" and leading the honors here was Cyril Lagel
With two landscape oriented faces of a female model with an arm gesture in one and nothing more and in the other a bunch of good auburn hair. The other three portrait oriented displays were of a distorted face and lips in no aesthetic splendor. Mind you the category here is beauty/fashion. Maybe this was to showcase how ugly the whole industry is ;-))
I checked up the photos of all the 10 finalists in this category and bar the work of Jaime O’Ryan and Michael Creagh, the rest of the photos were not very creative or aesthetic or relevant or had anything to convey to me.
It is almost a superhuman effort to trawl for more photos to write upon but I will make effort once more to see and conclude this . I chose the Landscape / nature category in the fond hope of seeing something that would soothe the eye and the starved mind.
So it was that I turned to the Landscape/Nature section. Heading the list was Lars vs de Goor with some mesmerizing autumnal takes of trees and pathways that were a treat to see. So I thought there is hope. At least you have one category or one photographer whose work appears aesthetic and brilliantly executed. Here are the links to the photoshttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/353214/Landscapes%20%20Nature/Thumbnails1920/Time.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/353214/Landscapes%20%20Nature/Thumbnails1920/Cycle%20in%20Gold.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/353214/Landscapes%20%20Nature/Thumbnails1920/Hitch%20the%20Road%20Jack.jpghttp://www.hasselblad.com/uploadfiles/Masters2010/353214/Landscapes%20%20Nature/Thumbnails1920/So%20Full.jpg
So on this note of a brief flickr of beauty and good execution of difficult landscapes, I close this entry. One hopes to see fantastic work at an international level but I guess it does not appear that photography at Hasselblad is going anywhere great. Maybe it is a reflection of the whole genre of photography. What ever it is... it is a tad sad.
( All photos appearing here in this article are hyperlinked images from the hasselblad site and are hosted and stored on their servers. I have only linked them here. )