Photographers speak out on Edgar Martins


Architecture, General Photography

While I am waiting for further clarifications from Edgar Martins on the NY Times Magazine kerfuffle (don’t worry, they will come), Alan Rapp (a photography and architecture book editor - who, for example, edited the BLDGBLOG book) talked to four architectural photographers about the complex.

You really want to read the full piece, but here are some key quotes: “In the case of Martins, who probably does not see himself as being bound by ‘journalistic standards of truth’ […] ended up being commissioned by a magazine that is often a lightning rod for those who question the veracity of popular news media. Simply, a very poor choice on his part added to his being published in one of the most sensitive and visible media outlets. If his images had shown up in an architectural magazine, this controversy probably would have never materialized. If these images had shown up in fine art architectural book or on a gallery wall, the mirrored and partially duplicated parts of the images would have been seen as part of the artist’s intention. The discussion would then have focused on fictional narratives and the inherent meaning of what was intended by the photographer.” (Alex Fradkin)

“The manipulation of commercial architectural images has become so commonplace that almost no other views of architecture are visible in our culture. […] I don’t believe that a photojournalistic standard of truth can be applied to commercial architectural photography. To do so would make it unsustainable economically for the majority of those employed as architectural photographers. So you can’t get architectural photographers to shoot the truth. As recently proven by Edgar Martins, you can’t expect a fine artist to tell the truth. I suppose you could get a photojournalist to shoot the truth but then perhaps, it becomes more about social context than about the architecture itself. In any case, all three of these [kinds of] photographers can produce a version of the reality. Whichever one of the three is considered more truthful largely depends upon the inherent values of the particular audience involved.” (Tim Griffith)

“What bothers me about the whole Martins thing goes back to taste and judgment — Martins’ but more especially the NYT people. Surely [this is] very embarrassing for them (the digital work is very sloppy), but they are the ones who seem to want it both ways. Maybe we can finally rethink the whole notion of having so-called ‘fine art photographers’ do editorial work. It’s a devil’s bargain and almost always a dismal outcome for each side (editor and photographer) in my opinion. If Martins is a ‘fine art photographer,’ then oughtn’t he be afforded wide latitude in his strategies and the kinds of images he makes? If so, then why is NYT hiring him for ‘journalistic’ work?” (Mark Luthringer)

“There is no such thing as photographic truth, in architectural photography or any other kind of photography for that matter.” (David Maisel)