I was planning to skim the Narrative Photography section of the Susan Bright book, since I already know about Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson (+ others) but damn if she didn’t hook me in.
In the intro, she says that staged photography - photography which relies on a narrative for its reading - is probably the genre most synonymous with contemporary art photography. Still thinking Crewdson and the large productions, big budgets and crews and extensive post-production, I wasn’t convinced. But then again, boiled down to the wide definition of photography which relies on a narrative for its reading - wasn’t this exactly what I’m always asking photographers about?
Obnoxious me: What are you trying to say with your work? What is the story you’re trying to tell? What do you want the viewer to think or feel or know that they wouldn’t otherwise?
One of the highlighted photographers in this narrative section is Collier Schorr. The name sounded very familiar, but other than that, I knew nothing. Case in point, I thought “Collier” was a man. Nope.
But here’s the part that got me to dig deeper: the first sentence describing her work is this, “The narratives in Schorr’s work are subtle and buried in complex histories and connections between the past and present, fantasy and memory.” I think I could say that about 90% of the projects by photographers I work with. So maybe there is some truth to this assertion that narrative photography is what contemporary photography most looks like.
I read some more about Collier Schorr and watched most of this PBS segment on her (worth a look). Her series deal a lot with gender and nationality and sexuality and how they influence identity.