top of page

boring photos by Wim Wenders

Now Wenders makes great films, no question.

So happens he also takes photos, and on the strength of his film-making he apparently was offered exhibitions of his photos and features in magazines and other media.

In truth though, or should I say in my humble opinion as it's in the end a matter of taste, his photos are rather boring and self-indulgent. I don't know to what extent those featured in Polka are representative of the rest of his photography, but those panoramic, empty and dull landscapes are, well, just dull really.

In his defense he certainly loves photography, and it can't be easy to remain self-critical when anything you do is fawned upon on account of your notoriety as a film-maker.

On the other hand, I really liked the photos, featured in the same piece, by his wife Donata Wenders.

The phenomenon is as understandable, I suppose, as it is sometimes irritating and even cringeworthy.

Take for instance Lenny Kravitz' Flash book of pictures where he turns his camera on the hordes of fans greeting him everywhere. The idea's cool; one of two of the pictures are pretty damn good - but the rest is quite boring.

Another such "crossover" is Sonic, a (beautifully printed, by Edition Xavier Barral) book of Rock n'Roll photos by fashion designer Hedi Slimane. His hit-rate, in terms of really good, powerful photos is higher than Kravitz for instance, but compared to any number of photo books, there's still far too many duds.

Much the same could be said of books of Karl Lagerfeld's photos.

The only fathomable reason for the acceptance of indifferent photos (and even for fawning over them by the blinded viewer) is the notoriety of the crossover photographer and their oftentimes undeliable talent in their chosen field.

That, by no means, automatically makes them good photographers.

However, the phenomenon or tendency also extends to photographers themselves.

The example that comes to mind is Stephen Shore - but that's only because his monography is one of my most recent acquisitions, not because I don't like his photos - which I really, absolutely do. Point is, a lot of books take the "stuff it all in" approach, bunching in the very best together with the the indifferent, and even the pretty crummy, simply by virtue of who was behind the camery.

At some point, everyone was a beginner taking unrermarkable or crappy shots. What could possibly be the value in publishing these alongside these guys' best work for which they are deservedly known ?

My inkling is that it's all somehow conflated with today's attitude of "if it's there, publish it", whereby any information or data, in the widest possible sense, is deemed worthy of being force-fed to people simply because it's out there. No doubt it's also tied to our age's star system, where international stars become adulated for whatever they care to do, rather than being simply admired for their talent in their chosen field.

One of the unfortunate side-effects, of course, is that you'll probably not find too many people ready to say Kravitz's, Wenders', Slimanes's or Lagerfeld's photos are mostly indifferent, or that Shore would have been better served, had his publisher slimmed down his last tome.

Recent Posts
bottom of page