Harry Watts, from the series STUDIO 2008-9

The Scene of Photography and the Future of its Illusion

When Tate Modern presented the huge survey show Street & Studio back in 2008, one striking conclusion seemed to emerge from its teeming presentation of hundreds of photos by dozens of photographers. Distinctions between the street and studio are becoming less clear; or rather, they were never as clear for photography as the show’s mischievous title implied.

The Scene of Photography and the Future of its Illusion

In the 1930s Bill Brandt was selecting locations and recruiting models to make ‘near documentary’ images long before today’s staged tableaux photographers, while Helmar Lerski was shooting studio portraits that mimicked naturally refracted daylight. Philip-Lorca diCorcia can now shoot street portraits with all the rhetorical artifice associated with a multi-flash studio rig. Jeff Wall can rebuild a nightclub in his studio when the real one he is photographing closes down unexpectedly.

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Published in Photoworks issue 14, 2010
Commissioned by Photoworks

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