Books Made Me
by Stephen Bull
Course Leader UCA Farnham, Photography (2009)
Andy Warhol’s Exposures, Andy Warhol (1979) / The Cost Of Living, Martin Parr (1989) / Taking Snapshots: Amateur Photography in Germany From 1900 To The Present, Joachim Schmid (1993)
"My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and is of a famous person doing something unfamous. It’s being in the right place at the wrong time", writes Andy Warhol in this book full of ‘good pictures’. By the late-1970s Warhol was in all the right places (such as Studio 54) at all the wrong moments (catching Bianca Jagger shaving under her arm, for example). In my first years of being a student I used to spend hours immersed in the college library’s one copy of Andy Warhol’s Exposures. I now have four.
Martin Parr talks about Robert Frank’s The Americans as being a huge influence on a whole generation of British photographers in the 1960s and 70s. In the late 1980s, Parr’s own clever, comedic and colourful anthropology of Britain’s ‘comfortable classes’ at the peak of the Thatcher years hugely influenced the photographs I took, until I stopped taking them.
Soon after I stopped taking photographs and started taking other people’s, I discovered that there were a few fellow ‘found photographers’ out there, including the ‘guru’ of found photography, Joachim Schmid. I sent a cheque for £7 to the Impressions Gallery for this book, which accompanied the exhibition that was on there at the time. An extract from Schmid’s much larger Archiv, Taking Snapshots groups snaps from across the decades into photographic species (People At The Sea 1920s-1950s, People With Dogs 1930s-1960s, etc.) and proves that most people take the same photographs most of the time. Now Facebook photo albums make the same point every day.