When I assemble reading lists for photo classes, I prefer to use texts by other photographers. My all-time must-read essay for students is Robert Adams’ ‘Making Art New’ from Beauty in Photography. I’m also crazy about David Hurn and Bill Jay’s conversation, ‘Selecting A Subject’ from On Being a Photographer (free PDF here).
There is a great new book featuring a huge number of photographic voices. The author, Anne-Celine Jaeger, selected twenty photographers to interview. The diverse group includes William Eggleston, Eugene Richards, Mario Sorrenti, Rineke Dijkstra and yours truly. You can read Thomas Demand talk about Titian and read me talk about, um, sweating:
Q: How did you overcome your fear of photographing people?
Soth: I started out with kids because that was less threatening. I eventually worked my way up to every type of person. At first, I trembled every time I took a picture. My confidence grew, but it took a long time. I still get nervous today. When I shoot assignments I’m notorious amongst my assistants for sweating. It’s very embarrassing. I did a picture for the The New Yorker recently and I was drenched in sweat by the end and it was the middle of winter.
Did I say that? Is there a publicist (or dermatologist) out there that help me?
In addition to the photographers, Jaeger interviews 10 professionals from the world of photography. I was particularly happy to read Jaeger’s interview with Gerhard Steidl. After talking about his experience as a printmaker for legendary artists like Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik, Steidl talks about why he gave up his own photography:
After printing for several years, I looked at what I’d done and was never really satisfied with myself. I thought I wasn’t talented enough and didn’t want to end up as a third rate artist in some Hicksville town and only ever look up to others better than me. I thought it would be much more exciting to work with and for those great artists…
I see myself as the artist’s servant. I help the artist turn his vision into reality by offering the technical know how…Every book is produced a la carte and developed individually according to the artist. I’m not interested in knowing how much a book costs; I just want to do it the best possible way.
Too good to be true? Nope. As my friend Donovan Wylie said, being a photographer at Steidl right now is like being a musician at Stax Records in the 60’s.
How do you get a book published by Steidl? Anne-Celine Jaeger asks Gerhard Steidl this very question. The great thing about Image Makers / Image Takers is that Jaeger isn’t afraid to ask the simple things you want to know. “What advice would you give a young photographer,” she asks Stephen Shore. “Is it hard to balance personal work with editorial work,” she asks Mary Ellen Mark. “What advice would you give to photographers who would love to see their work published?” she asks Kathy Ryan.
Want to know the answers? Buy the book here.