Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Matinee: 'Six Photographs By René Burri' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

11 July 2015

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 ninety-third in our series of Saturday matinees today: Six Photographs By René Burri.

When René Burri passed away in 2014, Magnum President Martin Parr said, "His contribution to Magnum and his unrivaled ability to tell stories and entertain us over this time will be part of his enormous legacy."

In this 11-minute video, that legacy is enlarged. Directed by Anthony Austin, it sits you down with interviewer Matt Willey at the table with Burri, his fingers stained with fountain pen ink, as he tells you six stories.

They are stories about six photographs of unusual subjects: a revolutionary, a group of Mad Men on the roof of a downtown skyscraper, an artist, a prostitute, an architect and a historic event.

But first he tells us he acquired his ability to capture photographs on his grandfather's farm where he learned to catch flies with his bare hands. "It helped me to be fast in reaching out for things," he smiles.

The six images he discusses are:

  • Che Guevara, Havana, 1963
  • Men On A Rooftop, São Paulo, 1960
  • Pablo Picasso, Cannes, 1957
  • Women Entertaining G.I.'s, South Korea, 1961
  • The San Cristobal Stables, Mexico City, 1976
  • Reopening of The Suez Canal, Suez, 1974

We'll let Burri tell the stories himself. There's no substitute for the man in his hat and scarf, his black Leica on the table in front of him, his fountain pen in his coat pocket, waving his hands in the air and, in his soft voice, telling you how he got the shot.

It is common to hear photographers call themselves storytellers. But rarely are we enthralled as we listen to them. It's their photographs that do the story telling.

Burri is an exception. He can tell a story.

And the stories he tells about these images go beyond the technical, the lesson plan, the example. They are human stories. What was bothering Guevara, how Burri made friends with Picasso, the Photoshop joke he told about his Suez Canal photo.

He ends with the hope that there will always be photographers who show us, for better or worse, what the world looked like in their time.

Photographers who are fast enough to catch a fly in mid-air.

BackBack to Photo Corners