Monday, March 30, 2009

Inspirations #7: Kertesz, Meudon

It's often fun to take a classic photograph from a different era and rework it in the modern world.

I like to photograph in downtown Phoenix very early on Sunday mornings, even in (especially) summer. I am from the East Coast and you can not find a street in New York City at any hour of the day that does not have at least one person on it. Phoenix, the fifth largest city in America, is sometimes a virtual ghost town, especially when I am there.

I had gone down to photograph the reflections off the Dodge Building one morning. I made a few negatives in the parking lot adjacent to the building, more along the lines of Brett Weston, with strong contrasts and wavy abstract lines. Then I moved across the street to try and get the entire curved glass facade in. While setting up the camera I noticed that airline jets were landing behind the building (the Eastern approach to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is directly south of here). I went to the corner of Central Ave. and Adams St. and was fascinated. The planes seem to disappear into the Dodge Building when they go behind it. It also brought back terrible memories of 9/11. After thinking it through I moved my 8x10" camera onto Central Ave. I was able to do this because they had one lane blocked off for light rail construction. I had to time everything perfectly... watching and listening for incoming planes from the West as they passed behind and in between other tall buildings. Then, I had to click the shutter when the plane was in the middle of the two buildings. I was able to make a few exposures before I ran out of film. Most had no people in them, but I got lucky with this one.

Meudon, Paris, 1928, André Kertész

Central Ave., Phoenix, looking South, 2008, Richard M. Coda

There are, of course, obvious differences, but the main themes are all there. A city street with tall buildings, a mode of public/mass transit in the background, and people in the foreground.

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