As we draw Joseph Szabo | Almost Grown - an online show, to a close this month, we asked the photographer some questions about his seminal work on the formative years of American youth.
How do you approach taking a photo?
"First, be open to who or what I see (be in the moment). Second, have a gut reaction to the subject, keep thinking to a minimum. It’s about feelings and emotional response. Third, just take the photo, quickly. If possible take more than one shot and be aware of the background. Forth, if the subject is willing, try different angles, distances and backgrounds. Fifth, when you ask your subject if you can take their photo and they say “no”, accept that and just move on."
Please tell us a story about one of your photos.
"Here’s the story about Lifeguard’s Dream. On that day at the beach I saw the four girls on the Lifeguard’s chair, and the man sitting on the other chair. I was shooting with a 2 1/4 camera and looked down into my viewfinder, focused and snapped the 1st photo. The girls didn’t notice me. So I quietly took more photos and then as they became aware I was photographing them, they started to giggle and laugh. I kept shooting. Finally the all climbed off the chair and left. Meanwhile the man on the other chair just sat there with his legs crossed as if nothing happened."
What do you miss about being a photography teacher?
"I mostly miss interacting and having a trusting relationship with my students, working with them, showing them how to make a good darkroom print, enjoying their success at learning about photography and how it all works, showing them slides of the great photographers and letting them see original work and discussing the image, it’s meaning for them, composition, and the beauty and power of strong photographs."
What advice would you give a photography student today?
"One should do lots of looking at all kinds of photographs at galleries, museums, books, magazines, colour, black and white. Carry your camera always and shoot as much as possible, everything. Take some photo classes. Make lots of prints, and if at first the prints don’t look that good, try to figure out why, show them to others you trust for suggestions, and reprint them over and over. But when you get stuck on how to make a better print. Just stop, relax, put it to the side and come back another time when you have a fresh insight."
What are you most proud of when you look back on your career?
"I don’t know about most proud, I would say most thankful that I was given the direction and the people I photographed, especially, my students, beach people, etc. They were a gift to me. This direction and the inspiration, “gush of the spirit” if you will, has allowed me to have the courage to photograph others who are not like me, but in some ways like me. So my horizons have opened up and again I’m very lucky and very grateful for all who have helped me and continue to do so." - Joseph Szabo
IN OTHER NEWS, and in light of the 20-year anniversary of the Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam is presenting “Changing Views – 20 Years of Art Collection Deutsche Börse, 2019”, an extensive range of works from the renowned collection of contemporary photography.
The Art Collection Deutsche Börse is comprised of approximately 1,800 works from over 120 international photographers, including iconic names such as Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Rineke Dijkstra and Dana Lixenberg.
Joseph Szabo's work is featured in this exhibition which runs in Amsterdam, Netherlands, until July 7th.
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