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Matinee: Richard Bram Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

8 October 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 156th in our series of Saturday matinees today, a double feature on Richard Bram.

This first of these two videos is a chat with Richard Bram in which he discusses his career, how he approaches street photography and his new book New York.

He became a photographer after, well, everything else failed to pan out. And his photography was public relations and events, where the job is to make everything look nice. Which can be, well, boring.

So he started getting interested in the outtakes. The weirdness of everyday life, he calls it. Which is what he's known for today.

New York portrays the city "as I find it as I go out for a walk every day." Which, in a word, is weird.

Bram discloses several keys to these entertaining images.

Gestures, he points out, are at the heart of public relations photography. Watching some presentation on the dias, you wait for the speaker to, well, move. Show some life. Which is exactly how we captured our Anthony Hernandez sequenced when he was speaking, if you recall.

Sensitive to gestures, Bram clicks when he sees something happen.

Location also matters, he insists. London was much more romantic, he says, than New York. Each city (and he's inhabited a few) has its own kind of humor.

One other factor matters to him. The fine art compositions he's studied. When he looks at the print, it may recall the composition of some classic painting he studied. He gives an example or two. But that's an editing function, not a secret to his captures.

But all that just whets you appetite for a peek at his work. And it's pretty amusing stuff. So our second clip is Significant Gestures (2.0), New York City, a slide show of his photographs:

You don't have to have spent years in museums to appreciate these images, though. They are fun on their own. Just look at them a moment longer than you generally look at photographs and you'll no doubt see the joke. It's a little like playing What's Wrong With This Picture.

Follow the gestures, mark the colors, pretend for a moment the street scenes are actors on a stage who have forgotten their lines or taken 10 instead of five.

Nothing is staged, nothing posed. But it is all familiar. Captured like a subpoena.

There's more in Richard Bram: If You Doubt the Photo at Least a Bit, It Does Not Work, which in addition to more images also includes quotes from Bram about his work. Think of it as the CliffsNotes of today's double feature.

But this is one fun double feature you won't want need CliffsNotes to enjoy. You'll want more. And fortunately for all of us, Bram is still what we'd call a young man at only 64.


I just stumbled across the lovely column you wrote on the new book and me. I'm flattered that you took the time to write such an articulate piece. Thank you.

-- Richard Bram

That's what I call feedback, Richard. Thanks for the kind words! -- Mike

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