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: Robert Weingarten's 'Another America' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

19 November 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 162nd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Another America: A Testimonial to the Amish by Robert Weingarten.

This 3:44 video is a slide show of the presentation Robert Weingarten gave at the George Eastman House a few years ago on Another America, his series on the Amish. Considering that it took him four years to complete, that's a pretty brief summary.

In an interview with the Getty Museum's Annelisa Stephan, he described what first attracted him to the subject:

I was driving by and came upon that scene, with the kids' scooters leaning against the wall of the school. In traditional Amish communities, the kids either walk or use scooters. I went into a field some ways back -- I liked to use a long lens so I wouldn't be in anyone's way. I noticed there was a backlit window, so I waited about half an hour and, miraculously, a teacher walked into the window and stood there for a couple minutes, allowing me to take a several frames. I knew right then how exciting I'd find the print.

He was particularly drawn to the Amish landscape, he says, because it wasn't littered with utility lines crossing the sky and the other detritus of our modern world.

What attracted us to his work, though, is the work. The black-and-white images you'll see in this slide show with his voice-over narration will charm you.

Particularly this week when we shift into holiday mode and get all Norman-Rockwelly (and on Friday maybe a little too Ken-Rockwelly). Unless, of course, you're one of those people who think that immigrants wearing their own clothes who come here seeking religious freedom -- like the Amish, for example -- should be in a registry of some sort. Which is not very Rockwelly at all.

We are, as a nation, a mosaic. But it never fails to astonish us how national traditions like Thanksgiving are popular with everyone no matter what tribe they come from. Our traditions are the grout that holds the mosaic together.

After all, we're (mostly but not entirely) a nation of pilgrims here, aren't we?

Weingarten himself makes an interesting pilgrim of a photographer. Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., he spent 30 years working in finance. But he always loved photography, pursued it as a hobby and got serious about it in the last 15 years or so.

We know what you're thinking. That it takes a 30 year career in finance to be able to afford to chase photography for a few years. Same thought occurred to us but we're too circumspect to say so.

Weingarten has done well in his short career. His work is in the collections of many museums, including the George Eastman House, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He also holds the distinction Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

Photographers are always talking about light and in his interview with Stephan, Weingarten quotes the artist Eric Fischl:

There are two lights we live with -- the light we see every day and our internal light. It's my internal light that informs my palette, no matter where I am in the world.

Weingarten's work is clearly illuminated by his internal light. And as far as that goes, we can only say, "Fiat lux!" Let there be light!

BackBack to Photo Corners