A PBS documentary on photographer Dorothea Lange changes the landscape for a mariachi filmmaker

Dorothea Lange, photo from PBS American Masters

Dorothea Lange, photo from PBS American Masters

I was coming back from a shoot with Mariachi Sonido de Mexico. Inputting and backing up for footage. Making a quick check of the audio. That sort of thing.

And I was just about to start watching it and carving it up when I got a text that a documentary on Dorothea Lange was on PBS’s American Masters series. I thought I’d watch for a few minutes and found myself engrossed in it.

The photos were beautiful and powerful in equal measure. The composition and weight sublime, the love of light and the sheer drama of each image masterfully composed and perfectly shot.

The discussions of how a book is put together, with little story clips from the people photographed, succinctly getting to the core of their life experience. The discussions of pairing images to be seen together in a book. How each changes the perception of the other. The experimentation it takes. Pinning images to a wall to see what the hey say individually and collectively.

The idea of creating phrases, sentences and sometimes paragraphs through a succession of photographic images.

As I go into what will hopefully be my last mariachi conference, at least for the current film, I bring a lot of skill to the photographic portion of my work that I lacked before. And now I have a lot of food for thought. What stories to I want to tell with these images? How do I teach myself to slow down, and wait with intent for something magical to happen before pressing the shutter?

I need to step it up. I need to make my images count. I need to create powerful, meaningful images, and accompany them with concise commentary.

I need to be thinking about books and exhibitions as I am shooting.

~ by Daniel Buckley on April 1, 2017.

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