Brassaï (Gyula Halász) on YouTube

A Facebook post this morning to a YouTube clip featuring the work of Brassai took me on a short look at other clips about him there and also to reflect a little on how photography should be reflected on screen.

The link was to BRASSAÏ Paris la nuit circuit Brésil and the pictures are well reproduced – and it can even be viewed full screen without losing too much, but you never quite get to see them (or can’t tell if you do.) It shows details and zooms around far too much for my taste; photography is a medium where the frame and framing (or in Brassai’s case, cropping) is truly vital. But the approach does bring over something of the interest and excitement in his work, and I can imagine people watching this and wanting to know more and to really see the photographs, just a shame that they were not shown as pictures before the camera played with them. I also found the music quite unsuited to the work – too staid and stately – and simply had to mute it  after a minute or so to continue watching.

Brassaï, fotógrafo shows his pictures in their entirety, but perhaps not such a good selection, and the quality of reproduction is not as good – it certainly isn’t worth viewing this at full screen.  The soundtrack, ErikSatie’s Gymnopedie No. 1, seems far more sympathetic to the subject matter.  But there are images where it would have been good to zoom in to show details.

Ted Forbes in The Art of Photography talks breathlessly about Brassai and flips over a few pages of the book Paris By Night, but seems to me not to have little real insight into what Brassai was about (or even what photography is about) but determined not to let a microsecond of silence give the viewer time to think. What little Forbes has to say that is worth saying – largely the facts about Brassai – could have been said in a few seconds but he talks throughout at a great rate, as if he hadn’t bothered to write a script. Badly videoed with annoying slips of paper markers covering up some of the pictures and reflections on the pages and you hardly see the pictures. It fails to even show any of his best work. It seems to me axiomatic that in a video about a photographer you should let the pictures do most of the talking and concentrate far less on the presenter.

Another video with a fine musical soundtrack is Brassai with Phillip L Wilcher “CONSOLATION”, and again sympathetic  is Paris by Night (Photographs by Brassaï)  with many of his best pictures shown to the soundtrack of ‘Dark-eyed sister’ by Brian Eno & Harold Budd.

A search on YouTube putting in the name Brassai brings up many more videos, and I’ve already spent more time than I should this morning watching them. If you find a better (or an even worse) one than I’ve mentioned above, feel free to add it as a comment.

Thanks to Diana Sampey for her post on Facebook which led me to the first of these videos. Of course YouTube isn’t the only place you can watch videos. Another that I enjoyed this morning was on BBC News Magazine, where Elliot Erwitt talks about some of the picture sequences in his book Sequentially Yours.

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