I was very taken by the parade photographs by George Georgiou in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. Especially those that ran large, spread over two pages. And in black and white. There is so much going on in these pictures of people gathered in big and little towns to view passing parades. As Georgiou comments about the people in his images: “They’re disengaged from one another. These portraits of a community can show, I think, how a group of people can be together and not together at the same time.” I enjoy exploring the pictures, observing the various body positions that seem to reveal attitudes, sometimes of boredom, sometimes of disinterest, occasionally anticipation, once in a while, pleasure. Could they be timeless? Would they have looked the same if taken in the 1950s or ’60s? Perhaps in some ways if one isn’t too judgmental regarding clothing fashions, but not really, when one considers the present day evidence of cell phone dependency viewed in about half of the pictures. Would I be as captivated by these pictures if they were in color? I’m not sure, but I kind of doubt it. Black and white seems to give these pictures a presence, a kind of record of witness that might not be quite as strong in color. But maybe that’s because I’ve always worked in color, never black and white, and I find well made images in black and white especially appealing. Just this morning I looked at some of Ralph Gibson’s pictures, just a few, but so strong, so cleanly seen and stated. I think it’s sometimes more difficult to attain that kind of impression in color. But let’s just look at these parade pictures of George Georgiou and be grateful he was there to make them. Each time I turn the page forward or back again to look once more, I see something I didn’t see before. That’s what makes some pictures special.
As an afterthought, someone replied to me that Ralph Gibson also works in color which I knew but thought to use his black and white images that ring in my mind as examples of a kind of presence, clarity, call it what you will. I don’t know his color work as well as I should and that’s something I need to correct.