The Coffee Table

Eyes Have It

For Lynn Hirschberg, a Dan Winters monograph raises concerns over photography as commerce.

Book Cover The Scott Dadich-designed Periodical Photographs (Aperture) by award-winning editorial photographer Dan Winters collects and features 90 full-color images (some of which have appeared in New York, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Magazine), including such diverse subjects as Gwyneth Paltrow, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bono, Eminem, Willie Nelson, Joyce Carol Oates, Heath Ledger, the Dalai Lama, Fred Rogers (and separately, his trademark red cardigan), Barack Obama, Tom Waits, an American eagle, and some startling miscellaneous images.

In her concise preface, Lynn Hirschberg points out that "photographers like Winters are a dying breed: One of the current problems with celebrity portraiture is the tendency to turn the photograph into a brand-oriented fashion picture"--a development she lays at the feet of Tina Brown (of her Vanity Fair incarnation) and by extension, celebrity celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Hirschberg goes on to claim that "this sort of fashion/celebrity photography may help the bottom line but it has been largely detrimental for portraiture."

Winters, who moved to Driftwood, Texas (pop. 27) in 1993 after his son Dylan was born, clearly eschews the unfortunate commercial drift mentioned above, as Hirschberg concludes:
...he seems like a small town guy with a multitude of interests. If you look at the photo of his desktop [which faces the text of this essay], a still life that he changes and curates regularly, you get a sense of his fascination with the last 60 years of America. The photographs in this book have the same historical resonance: They are true evocations of people and things that define their time. The power of these photos is their ability to trigger emotion, identification, and finally a sort of collective memory.
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