photography blog

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter, photographer, passed away last week.

Recognition of his talent and influence came late in his life. However, he was someone who seemed not to care either way. He said in the recent documentary film about him, 'No Great Hurry': "What makes anyone think that I'm any good?"

I cannot remember how I discovered Saul Leiter, but find him I did. I was immediately struck by his atmospheric, painterly images. I discovered that he had a book called Early Colour but that it was out of print. Fortunately, the publishers, Steidl, released a second edition. The book is now on its third edition and has sold out.

Early Colour is possibly my favourite photo book. I can return to his photographs time and time again. Photos contain a story or a question about the subjects. The compositions may be framed by canopies; contain misted or reflected views through windows; or evocative blocks of colour. They may show just a hand, a foot, a shoe, or an umbrella while the rest of the subject is out of the frame. Many are abstract, but are of course grounded in reality. It's fun to work out how he achieves such a composition. 

I have no doubt that he will be recognised as one of the great photographers of the twentieth century. I am pleased that I knew of his work while he was still alive and that I had the opportunity to help back (in a small way), a film about him. It is called 'In No Great Hurry, 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter' and it is being shown at the Bath Film Festival tomorrow evening.

I hope you get as much out of these photographs as I do.

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