In Memoriam 2015

This year has seen the loss of a number of fine photographers, including figures who have really contributed to the development of our medium. Many of them are remembered in the Time LightboxIn Memoriam‘ feature, including several who were particularly important to me. One was Charles Harbutt (1935-2015), whose 1974 book 974 book, Travelog made a great impression on me when I was starting in photography, and who I was later fortunate enough to meet and to attend one of his workshops. I’d already picked up much of the lessons that he taught by the time we met, but he really did change the lives of many, including one of my friends, the late Peter Goldfield; attending a Harbutt workshop in 1976 changed his life and he went on to set up his own photography workshop centre at Duckspool, where I met Harbutt in the 1990s. I wrote a longer post on him at the time of his death.

Another loss I felt personally was that of Lars Tunbjörk (1956-2015), a Swedish photograph inspired by the ‘New American Color’ of photographers including Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, who I think added a European irony and incisiveness to their work, and who I think is still comparatively unrecognised. After meeting him in Poland in 2005, I bought three of his books and continue to be amazed every time I take them from the shelves in my living room where I keep my favourite works.

Another photographer whose loss I felt greatly was an old friend of mine, Terry King (1938-2015), who I wrote about at some length in April. Although I’d only seen him infrequently in recent years, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s we often went together on photographic group trips and also worked together on what came to dominate his photography, alternative photographic processes, for which he became one of the leading evangelists and proponents, inspiring and teaching many others, as well as developing his own methods.

I had no personal connection with Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015) though I admired her work, as well as that of several others listed by Time. Hilla Becher (1931-2015) along with her partner Bernd were enormously influential teachers of photography, and while I admire the ‘typologies’ she and her husband produced I’m not always enamoured of the work of some of their students. Takuma Nakahira (1938-2015) too was a hugely influential figure as the founder and editor of ‘Provoke‘. If others on the ‘Time’ list are less well known to me, this partly reflects my lack of interest in certain areas of photography, though the list is also a reminder of the continuing dangers of photojournalism. The Committee to Protect Journalists lists 97 journalists and media workers killed in 2015, of whom roughly a third were photographers or videographers.

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