Kevin Bjorke
Kevin Bjorke
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Wakeup Call

American Legion (C) Estate of Garry Winogrand

I have to admit that I slept through a lot of my CalArts “History of Photography” class. I was waist-deep in my own second-semester projects and the class was in a comfortable, air-conditioned and darkened theatre with deep cushioned seats. Sometimes I’d wake up and my friends would have drawn on me, with the approval (if not participation?) of the teacher.

One time I woke up to see this photo, twelve feet tall.

At the time I’d never heard of Garry Winogrand. The photos came from a planet past my comprehension, though I could not look away. At that moment I got the impression that the desperation I saw in those photos was a desperation in Garry himself. It’s an impression I’ve never lost – the belief that it must have been painful to be Garry Winogrand, that there’s a sort of weary melacholy in him even when smiling.

I wish I could say that seeing this made me rush right outdoors with my Nikon, but I was too caught up in filmmaking and theatre at the time. The camera stayed mostly on the sideline. Later on, when my shooting rose from its own slumber, this image and a thousand more like it were waiting just below the surface of my consciousness.

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