LARRY FINK: INTERVIEW
Editor’s Note: The interview between Tony Ward and Larry Fink took place in January of 2013.
TW: Taking pictures for Conde Nast titles such as Vanity Fair and W is an aspiration for many photographers around the world. What is your advice to those photographers that share similar goals and aspirations?
Watch out for what you ask for….. it might ask more from your soul than you would be comfortable with giving up…
TW: Are you specifically referring to contractual agreements with the publishing house? Work for hire agreements and the like? When a photographer shoots for Conde Nast, who owns the rights to the picture?
Never have I given my copyright to anyone…….. but some other more desperate types have sold the apple with the tree…
TW: You’ve photographed a large variety of people from all walks of life over the course of your career; where do you draw your inspiration from these days?………
.. Inspiration comes with breakfast….. and an obsessive need to merge within the soul of each who I am attracted to.. the shape of the pictures is constructed within the moment of impulse…
TW: What was the most fun assignment you’ve ever worked on? What was the worst?
Over the course of 56 years there have been many assignments which were fun but the deeper truth is that each and any job I have ever taken and done has been vital to my life and craft…working under contract with Vanity Fair was a very good time…
TW: Which photographers did you look up to when you were in your teens and first learning the craft? Who do you admire today?
Henri Cartier Bresson… Simpson Kalisher,,, Bruce Davidson.. Lisette Model, Brassai…
Todays workers could be…Gilles Peress…. Mitch Epstein …, Debbie Flemming Caffery
TW: How did your growing up influence the way you frame a shot? Were your parents artistic and teach you to interpret the world through composition and structure, via the lens of a camera?
I was reared by leftist parents with a deep if rigid appreciation of art and music ……. It was of great inspiration to be cuddled within culture…
TW: Henri Cartier Bresson was known for the “decisive moment”. In your picture making, the “indecisive moment” seems to be your hallmark. Which visual standards must be met before you decide to make a print for the world to see?
Indecisive is not something that I am known for and if the images are such then they fail… visual standards are fleeting and fixed…. The answer to the question is a dissertation of which I will not write here.
TW: During your recent talk at the University of Pennsylvania you mentioned you were beginning to explore the use of the digital camera? How will the new medium transform your interpretations of new ideas, concepts or assignments?
Creative visual promiscuity……. Is not a sin……… it opens up my photographic eyes by its ease of experimental rendering ..
TW: You’ve been teaching at Bard for decades: what do you find most rewarding or challenging with regards to the instructor/student classroom experience?.
………………………………………….I love kids and fear for the future of culture amongst other things….. I teach in order to contribute to the richness of life experience… I teach in order to learn .. each student is a lesson…
TW: You’ve accomplished so much in your storied career, from one man shows at the Museum of Modern art, to the glossy editorial pages of W and Vanity Fair: what is the next big goal or desire for Larry Fink in 2013?
I have no goals. In the beginning we wished for revolution .. a new spirit for man… but we have not gone there in fact. We here in the USA are the bastion of reaction and art is dominated by commerce not soul…… the essential goals have been squelched.
However each picture has the possibility of being a miracle even if it is not often received as such…. Of course, I have projects and books in mind One thing which is interesting as well.. as I have been respected I have not had a retrospective show in a major venue in my country the USA….. I would love to do that before I die. That said my health is sound so we have time.
2015 International Center for Photography (ICP) Infinity Award for Lifetime Fine Art Photography. He has also been awarded two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships and two National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Photography Fellowships. He has been teaching for over fifty-two years, with professorial positions held at Yale University, Cooper Union, and lastly at Bard College, where he is an honored professor. Larry’s first monograph, the seminal Social Graces (Aperture, 1984) left a lasting impression in the photographic community. There have been twelve other monographs with the subject matter crossing the class barrier in unexpected ways. Two of his most recently published books were on several “Best Of” lists of the year: The Beats published by Artiere /powerhouse andLarry Fink on Composition and Improvisation published by Aperture. His most recent book is Opening the Sky, published by Stanley / Barker. As an editorial photographer, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have been amongst a long list of accounts.