Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Review: WTJ Lecture in NYC

Lots of buzz in the photoblogging world about the Amy Stein/Andrew Hetherington lecture earlier this week. Rumor has it that bootlegs exist of 100% of the Stein lecture and roughly 90% of the Hetherington lecture....I'm sure they'll surface eventually in the sphere. Me? Well I couldn't attend but of course needed the gossip and all. Photographer Andrew Dolgin was in the audience for a bit of A.H.'s lecture and penned this curious document which is part lecture review, part WTJ press release, and part psychoanalysis. It was forwarded my way. See what you think:


When Andrew Hetherington’s turn at the mic arrived a brief video spot from the BBC television series “Jackanory” highlighted the inspiration for “What’s the Jackanory’s ?” name. Everyone in the room could sense the changing in the air from artist to artist...Stein and Hetherington both had their own styles of handling their presentation. What immediately struck me was Andrew’s dry wit and subtle presence. It was the lynch pin of his whole presentation, just as it is in his photographs.

The more Hetherington unveils his roots in Photography, characterized by lighthearted old photos of his youth, his journey for something more becomes clear, though he does not necessarily have his finger on what the more is. He moved from Dublin because for him, being a photographer should be more than a job. With that in mind he infused himself into the mix of the fashion industry. His brief fore in fashion left him wanting, so still he sought the more. This brought him to a critical juncture in his photographing career: searching for something else. He started to find the more as intangible aspects, back in Ireland with his new snapshot with high quality approach.

It is apparent as I re-look as these images, that the soul and integrity of Hetherington the man, suddenly shone through his pictures. It doesn’t seem to me that Hetherington ever wanted to be Steven Meisel or Stefan Ruiz; he wanted to be himself, which is the most refreshing aspect about Hetherington’s perspective on the world he captures on his Hasselblad.

When we reached this point in his talk, I was personally left thirsting for a bit more of the development of the person through doing this work: stories of making the game changing images from him, or just something more. It felt like there was a wall, and he was only bringing us so far into his world. Now, in fairness there were a couple of urges from the powers that be to speed up the presentation, but nevertheless we were left hungry to know more about him in this way.

Let’s not be fooled folks, the seemingly no-frills approach is very calculated. Part of the je ne sais quoi of Hetherington, is his the appearance of a folksy casualness. His approach to making pictures though, is based in a technical mastery that allows for mobility and as such is part of how he achieves a certain quality or soul from his subjects. The same is true of his consistent dress. The g-star jeans, t-shirt and jean shop jean jacket it’s are playful and emblematic Hetherington is: simple yet calculated and identifiable. I wish I could understand this more the man himself.

As guarded as he was about his own process and development, the alter ego of the Jackanory was not so. During his development in his assisting days he speaks very fondly of his experience C- Printing at Print Space. The networking and conversations seemed to fuel the burgeoning Hetherington.

‘What’s the Jackanory’ was created from the desire to feed Hetherington’s creative disciplines. Jackanory is his vehicle to creating a new network where his own creative energy becomes invigorated by the sharing of ideas and work of his peers. And somehow this blog all stems from a staunch desire for greatness. Knowing the story of others and what is going on is an important aspect to keeping Hetherington’s mind working and his creative juices fresh. I never would have thought of a blog in this way, but Hetherington has achieved this: an arena to talk about the industry, but more importantly feed the energy of artists with a common goal. This representation of the unguarded Jackanory is in stark contrast to photographic persona.

If you didn’t know Hetherington personally before hearing him speak you would know that he is passionate about the exchange of ideas and the possibilities of his alter ego. The one thing that the presentation lacked was the ability to properly credit his passion and ability for making pictures. This I feel is because he only lets us in to a point.

In true Hetherington fashion, he ends his presentation with a checklist, “Jackanory’s tips to editorial photography and blogging.” It was a charming list of all of his eccentricities and personal favorite gear and tools for the job.

In the end we are left feeling that Hetherington is someone who genuinely cares about his craft and the world around him. This is evident. Yet there is an unfinished note of uncertainty…Hetherington, what are the deeper aspects of your story?

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