Berlin Rain – [↖] L1001433 (2016); [↗] a berlin portrait (2016); [↙] L1010211 (2016); [↘] L1001387 (2016)
Garry Winogrand famously claimed that the reason he was a photographer was that he “[had] a burning desire to see what things look like photographed by [him].”
Regardless of what you think of Winogrand–I’m on the record as holding a dim view of his work–it was (if nothing else) distinctive.
I sometimes wonder if Winogrand was the last person who could get away with making such a claim. I mean during the prime of his career, everyone was/everywhere was inundated with lens based visual media. Even if everyone didn’t necessarily have a camera, they were familiar enough with them that if push came to shove they could be handed a camera and have a notion of how to use it–if only in the most most rudimentary fashion.
And while I absolutely agree with the notion that the way visual space is parsed through composing a frame might as well be as distinctive as a thumb print, I don’t think anyone is invested in knowing what a picture looks like that they’ve taken.
It occurs to me that instead, folks have an idea in mind of what they want a picture to look like and image making is the process of squaring what’s in one’s head with what the emulsion/pixels show.
I think it’s rather obvious that the image maker who calls himself Berlin Rain is heavily indebted to both Alexander Bergström and @mrchill; he borrows Bergström‘s diffuse lighting and watery color and the tone with which those he captures make eye contact with the lens is v. much in keeping with Chill’s more straight portraiture stuff.
But what I find interesting about the Berlin Rain is the way the work feels almost self-consciously photographic. Like I think, generally speaking, that most people today embrace photography/image making as a means to an end. Like there’s a pathological drive to document, to remember, to use the visual as a means of interrogating the conceptual/philosophical, as a means of bearing witness, etc.
Berlin Rain seems to have his finger on the pulse of the notion of what it means to see in images. To reintroduce the previous notion of making images as a means of bridging the distance between the vision in someone’s head and the light that reaches the emulsion/is translated into pixels, Berlin Rain strikes me as someone who is interested in what makes an image read as self-consciously aware of it’s position as an image.
Now, although he’s clearly a good editor, not all the work is good. He tends to work in a very circumscribed space. But the results are surprisingly well realized. Definitely worth spending some time exploring in depth.