Consequences of Fatali incident

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Some of you have expressed disappointment over the deletion of the thread "Fatali, View Camera, and disgust", which generated close to 50 answers (the record so far, what does this say about the LF forum ?). I felt that this thread started with an artificial controversy because it was assumed that Steve Simmons was aware of the incident while he actually was not, and degenerated into litigious and personal attacks (which are not permitted by the forum's charter). I do feel that many of the points debated in this thread were of importance to us, but the problem is that when posters begin to attack each other, if you selectively delete postings, you incur the risk of being unfair to some participants or making the thread a mess to follow.

Some of these points include: the responsability of mags and what gets published, ethics in nature photography, what actually happens to the Delicate Arch site, the damage done to photography in the National Parks, legal issues such as access restrictions or charges against Fatali, etc.. Feel free to post your opinions on those topics, but since they are more sensitive and emotional than the superiority of Boss screens over Fresnels, please be very careful with your words.

NB: For future reference, the deleted thread "Fatali, View Camera, and disgust" expressed anger at the fact that Fatali published a cover article in View Camera in which he insists on his integrity and the purity of his images, while he was recently caught using artificial, damaging, and illegal techniques at the Delicate Arch. This was reported in several media and discussed at length in the following threads in this forum and in photo.net:



-- Q.-Tuan Luong (qtl@ai.sri.com), April 01, 2001

Answers

I will post here as I put up the first question on Photo.net. I heard of the incident on the news from Salt Lake City on the radio while printing in my darkroom in Northern Utah. I read of it in the Deseret News or Salt Lake Tribune as well. I posted the question and tried to be noncommital as we did not have all the information, just news reports with their immediacy. I did contact Arizona Highways, Friends of Arizona Highways, the National Park Service head ranger in Arches National Park and Michael Fatali himself, among others. After reading of it and talking with those involved, it came down to Michael using a lighting technique and having it backfire on him. He did not plan on damage but once he found it had happened, he called the rangers at Arches National Park & asked what he had to do to make it good with them. To date, no criminal charges have been filed. Maybe none will ever be, we will have to wait & see. Yes, he broke the law. Just as almost everyone else does in speeding in the park. He did a lighting demo to a tour group he was leading. In hindsight, he admits he screwed up. It happens. He has taken responsibility and it is now between him and the Park Service.

His ethics may well be questioned by many, but regardless he takes some of the finest images possible. He does it with an 8x10 view camera. He tried a lighting technique and it backfired, and he will pay for that the rest of his career. But, as for actual damage done... I looked for the marks two weeks ago and didn't see them. Others have looked and some find them while others don't. They are pretty small. If a park consultant removed them I am sure Michael will pay the bill. He had not backed away from responsibility.

If some find his actions so reprehensible, don't purchase his photographs. Don't read his articles. Don't patronize his galleries. He made a mistake, nothing more. No one died. No whales or dolphins were killed and Delicate Arch is still there for our illustrious Utah Governor to market while introducing whirling disease into our States trout population. Right now, there is little damage anyone can point to other than the the psyche of those calling for Michaels head on a stick.

I will leave it alone and let him get on with his career.

As for Steve Simmons & Veiw Camera magazine. I have absolutely NO problem with his featuring the images of one of the premier Large Format photographers of today in his magazine. I bet he follows up, now that he knows there was a controversy, with an interview with Michael. I doubt either of them will duck the issue. (and personally, I hope he prints the photo or photos shot using the lighting technique so we can judge for outselves the image) Steve doesn't duck controversy nor does he market it to sell magazines. If he thinks it should be covered & Michael is agreeable to an interview I bet we see on in View Camera soon. I hope so. We can all learn from it and by shining a light on the issue a lot more will learn from Michaels mistake.

And before those answers start coming about Michael "BREAKING THE LAW". Remember that when you come to Utah to see the burning arch, that any sexual relationships outside marriage can get you hard jail time here. That bringing in a bottle of beer or cigarettes can get you prosecuted in Utah for tax evasion. Photographing a nude or partially clad model can get you prosecuted by the States new Porn Czar. A lot of things are against the law and are ignored, not known or not enforced. If burning a dura-flame (the lighting log of the Gods?) log is the worst thing you do while visiting, you are probably lucky.

It was a mistake. A stupid one, but still a mistake. Over reaction is just as stupid.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), April 01, 2001.


Without trying to sound cynical, but I'd say Fatali has received lots of free publicity here! I will have to inspect the burn marks myself before making any judgement on the matter...

-- Andreas Carl (andreas@physio.unr.edu), April 01, 2001.

The Fatali incident demonstrates the "power" of a photograph to raise emotions, concerns, points of view, et al. No other medium other than the pen has historically demonstated this ability--not disregarding the internet. One only has to look at the broad History of Photography, worldwide, to see the impact a specific photo has had on society.

Is it precisely this ability which perhaps draws some of us to photography?????

At this point, I have not formulated an opinion but am studying the issues raised.

an observer, with respect,

Raymond A. Bleesz

-- Raymond A. Bleesz (bleesz@vail.net), April 02, 2001.


Dan, you are directly on target. Well said.

-- Steve Baggett (sbaggett@midsouth.rr..com), April 02, 2001.

That was nicely said, Dan!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 02, 2001.


Dan,

You seem to have covered all the bases for what should be done to understand what truly happened. However, I disagreed in the past and still do that we are missing the point!!!!

Breaking the law where it doesn't impact other people is a "mistake". Breaking the law where it damages a natural wonder (regardless of your perspective on how it is used in the state for political reasons) is more than that. It is your approach to life, your comment on responsibility, it is your character!! That is the piece that is disturbing because if you have it in you to do it in the first place, then it will rear its ugly head again.

-- Cindy (wetfrizz@yahoo.com), April 02, 2001.


At least now we know why the Anasazi et al. left the area: they made the same fatal Fatali error- making fires where they shouldn't. And the're gone, forever.

-- Hans Berkhout (berkhout@cadvision.com), April 02, 2001.

Cindy, and others who feel as she does, I can easily understand your viewpoint. What Michael did was wrong. But, it is wrong because a regulation says it was wrong and for no other reason. The lighting of the fire, not the subsequent damage that is. In looking at the stories and talking with Michael it is clear that no harm was intended. Roasting pans were carried in so the logs would not harm the sandstone. The damage was done in stamping out he fires and tracking the residue on the sandstone. Wrong? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Criminally neglegent? I think you would have a difficult time convicting anyone on this one other than with a strict interpretation of any applicable laws. Just as you would have a tough time prosecuting jaywalkers... even when one got hurt.

I think the biggest casualty is to the reputation of Michael Fatali. In the eyes of many he will never recover. Others won't care one way or another.

I see it more as an attempt to replicate what might have been seen in centuries past as fires were burned at night near the arch. And the archeological evidence is that this has been done. In using a "natural" light source I can easily see an attempt to get a 'natural light' image rather than on lit by strobes. And as has been said in many places, this is a technique used by more than a few nature photographers.

As to whether Michael and others will light like this in the future, who knows? If so, I bet most will be a lot more careful when doing so. I am not surprised at the reactions to what happened, but I am disturbed by those advocating a literal death penalty for a mistake. The guy didn't blow up a building nor did he hire a helicopter and start shooting cows like some ranchers in Escalante. He lit an icon with 'un' natural firelight & stained the rock with footprints when putting the fires out after his exposures were done. Nothing more.

I would even suspect that if the NPS has been approached ahead of time, permission might have been given to light it, under supervision. Sadly, now whomever comes next & asks will probably be denied. The real tragedy is in the loss of trust the rest of us face as a result. We pick & choose the laws we want to obey, from speeding to hiking cross country to camping too near a stream or lake. Most of the time no harm results. But when it does we sure hear about it. That is the case here, nothing more.

And, as I mentioned before, in talking with Michael he said "Whatever the cost or penalty, I will pay it." The guy does practice what he preaches, a respect for the land. He did not spend any time with anyone denying or lying or trying to get someone else to define 'what the meaning of is is'." He did it, plain and simple and he will face the consequences for the rest of his career.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), April 02, 2001.


Dan, I largely agree with you, but with one exception. Your attempt to compare Fatali's actions with jaywalking or speeding tends to trivialize the issue. Fortunately the NPS didn't overreact, but they could have banned LF photography or required tripod permits, etc. In other words, this had the potential to have long-lasting impact, and for that reason I feel it was a reckless act, not just a trivial mistake.

By the way, I took a workshop from Fatali six years ago because I admired and respected his photography, and that hasn't changed. .

-- Stewart Ethier (s_ethier@parkcity.net), April 02, 2001.


Dan Smith wrote:

"...As for Steve Simmons & Veiw Camera magazine. I have absolutely NO problem with his featuring the images of one of the premier Large Format photographers of today in his magazine. I bet he follows up, now that he knows there was a controversy, with an interview with Michael. I doubt either of them will duck the issue."

I sent the following email to Steve Simmons:

"Dear Steve,

By this time I suppose you have received allot of mail on the Fatali piece in the last issue of View Camera. So I'll keep it short. Anyone can make a mistake. Mike made a really big one. He should have said something about it in the article. He _does not_ use only natural light; the Delicate Arch incident proves it. At the very least he should have admitted he did something very wrong and let the readership in on whatever he is doing to put things right. I don't think he should be sanctioned -- at least not forever. But he is really the only one who can put this thing to rest -- he ought to give his side of the story and answer some questions.

Jason Kefover"

Steve sent the following reply to me:

"It looks like the photos he sent to us were all available light.

steve simmons"

Jason Kefover

-- Jason Kefover (jkefover@yorktec.sc.us), April 02, 2001.



Steve Simmons said:

"It looks like the photos he sent to us were all available light."

Notice the phrase "looks like". Can you be sure that no artificial light was used in the submitted photographs? Did you ask Fatali point-blank? Did he respond? Therein lies the problem!

-- Bruce Arnold (avidhikers@home.com), April 03, 2001.


As a photographer I personally would like to see a follow up article in View Camera in which Fatali explains his actions and justifies his Ďnatural light' technique to all photographers. As one other post in the now deleted thread pointed out, it seems, inadvertently, that Fatali has been rewarded for his actions. I feel strongly that the reason for the animosity towards Fatali is that he seems to be thumbing his nose at those who question his seemingly self righteous attitude when in my opinion he is no better than the tourist who throws his MGD bottle on the side of the road from his RV as he leaves Arches - now that HE is finished Ďusing' the area, who cares about the others that may follow?

-- Andy (akkup@mindspring.com), April 03, 2001.

First thing - I admire the fact that Michael stepped forward and is accepting responsibility for what happened. I have no reason to doubt him when he says that the occurrence was an unfortunate accident, and as long as he accepts whatever consequences (legal or otherwise) that result from his action, then I'm willing to let bygones be bygones.

Having said that however, I personally believe that his actions warrant the condemnation theyíve received and that criminal charges are certainly reasonable in a case like this. To suggest, as some have, that lack of intent means that no crime was committed is simply wrong. If someone walked up to Delicate Arch with a pan full of tar and ash and purposefully defaced it, there would be no argument from anyone that the perpetrator should be punished. The end result of Michael's incident is exactly the same; a natural monument in a national park was damaged. Iím not suggesting he be crucified for the crime, just punished appropriately.

Having read some of the things that Michael's written about his connection with nature and seeing his reactions to this incident, I suspect he'd tell you the same thing. I also suspect that, while he's probably tired of hearing about this whole thing, he probably realizes he deserves the condemnation he's received.

My ultimate beef may end up being with the government. I think itís important that there be some consequence, and that the public be notified that this type of thing wonít be tolerated. If the damage is permanent, then fines would seem appropriate (the amount he made during this workshop, plus any costs associated with the cleanup, might be a good starting point). A temporary ban from the parks might also be reasonable.

If the damage isnít permanent (in the sense of our lifetimes) then Iíd be perfectly happy with the park service working a deal with Michael to pay repair costs. Since Michael has been cooperative, I would even support allowing him to pay these costs off in trade for limited usage rights to some of his work (the park service has some pretty lousy photos gracing the pages of some of their pamphlets and educational material).

Sorry, getting a little carried away with the creative sentencing. My point is, some form of punishment is necessary and it needs to be made very clear that vandalism, whether intentional or not, will absolutely NOT be tolerated.

As for the VC article - I was very disappointed that there was no mention of the incident in the piece. I skimmed the article while waiting in line at my local bookstore and I very nearly put the magazine back on the rack when I noticed that it wasn't mentioned. Not mentioning the incident seemed awfully disingenuous considering the tone of what WAS written. Still, I canít fault Steve if he really had no knowledge of what happened and I canít really fault Michael for not wanting to bring the topic up in what was intended as a positive article about his work. Now that Steve knows, itís quite possible heíll mention something about it in an upcoming issue. Thatís even more likely if he receives enough feedback from people who feel the oversight needs to be addressed.

In the meantime, we can all use incidents like this as a reminder to be careful in what we do. Best intentions can often backfire, and itís important to think about these things long and hard. Ethical and moral questions arise as well; would each of us have taken the same responsibility for our actions as Michael has?

On a lighter note, maybe it's time we reevaluate the motto that many of us have when in the outdoors?

(something about leaving only footprints...)

-- Tim Klein (timklein@qwest.net), April 03, 2001.


mine's been amended... I installed a "cigarette butt" clause.

-- trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), April 03, 2001.

mine's been amended...I installed a "skeletons of cigarette butt droppers" clause.

-- Bruce Arnold (avidhikers@home.com), April 03, 2001.


Andy...you put it short and sweet! Besides my disappointment and anger, I am feeling duped! Only a few years back was my first trip to Utah, and the delightful trip through Fatali's gallery. I was literally in awe of his pictures...most specifically his lighting. It was almost angelic in many of his pictures and there was plenty of "no filters used" on many of the pictures. I was fortunate enough in the following years to experience the slot canyons, view Bryce and wonder at Arches. And through it all, the spectacularness of his photos stayed in my mind as I saw MY pictures as a distinct contrast of indistinguishable dark and bright! What disappoints the most is that I had such respect for the man...how could you take such lovely photos and inspire such feeling if you did not love and respect the landscape? That is why the "act" is in such contrast to the "image" he portrays. And also the question in puts to mind as to how all of his shots have been achieved. Definitely more than a seed of doubt.....

-- Cindy (wetfrizz@yahoo.com), April 03, 2001.

Cindy, I can understand your desappointment, but look things straight: Do you know any man or woman that has never failed? Maybe the fault is that you considered Mike as an angel and now he is suddenly a demon just because he desappointed you? Look at great men from the Bible: Moses, David, Salomon, just to name the few everyone knows. They all were great people and have left us an invaluable heritage. But they all made some silly mistakes and lost the confidence of their people at some point. They were confronted, punished, and learned from their mistakes and were reinforced in their integrity through that suffering. Look at the presidents of the United States: Do you know one who has never made a mistake? I mean we are men and making mistakes is just part of our nature. I have visited Michael's galleries too and love his work. I admire his technique and skills. But I am not lifting him up to a level of godliness, therefore when I learned his mishap I was sorry for him but this did not affect my respect for him as a person or as a photographer. Wether he has been using lighting techniques for his magnificent slot canyons pictures or not, I don't know. What I know is that it is absolutely possible to make such images without any artificial lighting techniques, with multiexposures or simply by dodging and burning in the darkroom. Also I never noticed any artificial effect or shades produced by a light source on any of his images. What his group did at Delicate Arch was night photography. I don't think he would have mentioned this image was made in natural lights for who could believe it! So, as far as I am concerned, I will not question his integrity on his passed work just because this happened. It would be quite unfair. The story does not even tell us if he has made a picture himself or if this was just an opportunity for the tour he was leading to make some unusual pictures. If Michael had cheated in the past as some suggested, would he now share his cheating techniques with groups of unknown photographers? These accusations seem too easy. So far for me all we can accuse Mike of is what the NP services would charge him for, that is illegal fires and footprints in a NL Park. Why would we want to destroy such a good photographer reputation? What's the benefit of it? People who try to do this should be a little more aware of their motives and not expose their bad face for everyone to see.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 04, 2001.

After finally reading the View Camera Fatali article yesterday I've decided that Fatali's real crime is his prose.

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), April 04, 2001.

I think chris is right Fatali`s writing is much worse than a few burn marks on a stupid rock.not to mention the super saturation in his photos, they actually hurt my eyes.-J

-- josh (devil_music@usa.net), April 05, 2001.

who the hell is Michael Fatali. Call me ignorant but I never heard of him before this stink, and I've still never seen one of his photos

-- Wayne (wsteffen@skypoint.com), April 05, 2001.

Wayne: Unlike my friend and a very good landscape photographer Paul Schilliger(here above), I am not a frequent contributor to this forum. However, I allow myself: IMHO, Mr. Fatali is without any doubt an accomplished professional - excellent photographer and intelligent marketer of his work. He found his market niche and knows how to exploit it, which already justifies enough his success. I never saw his prints, but what one can see on his web site could not be achieved without professional skills, clear objectives, steady commitment, hard work and last, (and I would be tempted to omit) but not least, a clearly above average talent (talent without other qualities is usually worthless). Then, I personally prefer learning from his pictures about the clarity of composition, handling textures, light, colors, and other things, to speaking ill of him.

It was surely a wise decision to delete the previous thread, in which some people went perhaps further then they initially wanted. In one of my previous professional lives I was musician, and I still remember one joke. The question was: "Two musicians met and talked about a third one. Do you know why it was strange? HUH? They did not run him down!" Much of this "Fatali's Fault" story reminds me, sadly enough, of that joke.

You can use the link to see, IMHO, a wonderful example of Mr. Fatali's work: http://www.fatali.com/gallery/nr/nr12.html

-- Emil Salek (e.salek@net2000.ch), April 06, 2001.


And if his prose wasn't bad enough, what about the titles he's given his images? "Heaven's Gate"? "Mystic Waters"? "Golden Ages?" I'm not particularly wild about the photos that VC ran with the article, either, although I've liked the few prints of his that I've seen in person.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (audidudi@mindspring.com), April 06, 2001.

Emil,

yes, that's a nice photo and we should give Fatali credit for "f8/being there" having a good sense of compostion and knowing how his film would perform.. but we all should do that, didn't god do the majority of the work in that one?... Fatali should get the credit for capturing it onto film but the photo isn't splendiferous... the subject is. Give any decent photog a helicopter ride over that sucker and see what happens...Fatali's prose would make you think he willed the subject into being. That's all we're saying.

-- trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), April 06, 2001.


Trib, I am not so naive that I cannot tell apart what is the subject's beauty and what is the photographer's merit. I would bet that at least some decent photographers already had helicopter rides over "that sucker". I wonder what they brought back. I suppose that there are other good pictures of that place in some image bank. They are surely not identical... and they are not a part of a same body of work. Being there, having a sense of composition and knowing how the film will react does not make a Fatali (or, without any comparison, a Haas or a Porter ...)from just anybody. I think that the worth of somebody's work cannot be represented by one or even several pictures but resides in the homogeneity and constancy of what he achieved. I do not base my appreciation of Mr.Fatali's work either on that particular picture or on his choice of subjects in general. I consider his personal way to treat them and his ability to distil from them an abstract harmony that is rare to find in pictures of many other, even well known and praised photographers, and that goes way beyond merely skillful reproduction of a "splendiferous" subject. In that sense, I dare to say that at least some of Mr. Fatali's pictures are and will remain pieces of art, no matter what titles he gives them or what he writes about them. If you folks need to put it this way, then imagine what the world would be if the only sin perpetraded in God's name were Mr. Fatali's writings.... To make this long story short, I have a suggestion: let people who hate Mr. Fatali's prose go out there, make better pictures than he does, give them better names, market them better and make Mr. Fatali a miserably forgotten photographer... Any volunteers?

-- Emil Salek (e.salek@net2000.ch), April 06, 2001.

Fatali is a mediocre photog with incredibly bad taste.Richard Misrach has shot the same type of subject matter and has a far more interesting take on it. I think the real discussion should be which is worse his prose or his titles?-J

-- josh (devil_music@usa.net), April 06, 2001.

Pardon if this goes on to long. Probably belongs in another thread...

's far 's I'm concerned, "Art" is a guy who lives behind the bowling alley.

And to paraphrase the heck out of something Dave Jenkins wrote on the Phil of Phot Phorum:

"... only history can judge whether our work is art. To call oneself an artist is the sure sign of a "wannabe."...Sic transit gloria mundi -- "So passes the glory of this world."...Ultimately it doesn't matter what you or I think of ourselves or our work. Only the work matters, and if it is good it will endure...In our culture many want to be "artists" because "artists" have status...To those who say to themselves, "Hot dog! I did an art! I'm an artist!" I would ask one question: is the work any better because you call it art?"

And this is so good and so relevant I have to pass it on:

http://www.afterimagegallery.com/website.htm

*Below is an entertaining word exercise (which actually can be done for any field of endeavor). To achieve the usual jargon used in these landscape photographer artist's statements, place any three words in the table together, placing a word from the first row first, one from the second row second and one from the third row last.

universal all-encompassing transcendent mystical deepening glowing unchanging

photographic visionary luminous spiritual life-affirming artistic intrinsic

insight reality perception experience concept unveiling realization

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), April 06, 2001.


Burning the rock may be the only interesting thing that Fatali ever did. The marks on the rock can not be as unappealing as the over saturated and over dramatic photos and writing that I have seen.

-- charles eustace (carloz1@usa.net), April 07, 2001.

Sour Grapes, the lot of ye. You'd criticize Ansel because "Clearing Winter Storm" wasn't made at noon on the 4th of July.

-- M. (bmitch@home.com), April 07, 2001.

Well here we go again. A bunch of wannabe photographers with apparently no inkling of what a good color landscape photogragraph is about. For those(it seems most of the subscribers here) who don't know much about color printing, Michael doesn't use filtration in the exposing of the film. He doesn't have to. All of this beautiful color work is done in the darkroom. Just like most color printers. And what most of you fail to realize is that these images were taken at the most advantageous moments when the light was already incredible. The shot of the maze district is not an ariel but taken from Dead Horse Point on the Island in the Sky. Over saturated? I and many others say beautiful. Mr. Fatali is a very accomplished photographer. Few are his equal. Misrach doesn't take this type of image. He hasn't been to these places and shot these types of images. His Cantos series are very different from Fatali's work. He uses a pastel theme in his work. His use of color is quite different. The only thing these two artists have in common is their love of the land and their printing techniques. It is quite appearent that most of you know little or nothing about Michael Fatali, the man. Or you wouldn't write what you do. Michael runs a bussiness. Plain and simple. He has a marketing strategy. Who are you to judge his bussiness practices? His writing? It's how he feels. It's how he learned to express himself. He made a mistake trying to simulate the light that the native american indians saw The Arch by when they camped in the bowl over thousands of years. He took every precaution but failed to realize the was tracking the ash from the logs onto the slickrock. You can't find a trace of the damage now. The damage wasn't permanent. So quit harping on something you apparently know little about. James

-- james (James_mickelson@hotmail.com), April 07, 2001.

Amen, James.

-- M. (bmitch@home.com), April 07, 2001.

I do not dispute that Michael Fatali is a highly skilled maker of picturesque and decorative images that apparently appeal to many, that he accomplishes what few others can, and that he has developed a marketing strategy that seems to have achieved success by aiming at a certain new-age sensibility. I agree, therefore, that anyone who says that Fatali is just pointing his camera and taking what is there- -as if no skill or work was involved--is talking nonsense. None of that puts Fatali beyond criticism. Fatali is not a school child whose work should be greeted only with affirmation. He has put his images and prose into public view and has marketed them, and therefore has surrendered his immunity from criticism.

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), April 07, 2001.

"Michael runs a bussiness. Plain and simple." could not have said it better myself.

as for the comparison to Misrach they are similar they both shoot color landscapes of the west.the differnce is Misrach is good and does not need the gimmicky hyper saturation that is inherent to Fatalis work.-J

-- josh (devil_music@usa.net), April 07, 2001.


Josh, I can't but tell you that your way of comparing one photographer to another is rather childish. We, the human race, were not made all out of the same mold. And this is why there is such a broad and rich diversity in the creative expression. Should we like it all? not at all! We take what we like and leave the rest for others who like it.

I am not a cultivated musician but to take an example, just because I love Bach and don't like Beethoven doesn't allow me to say the second is hopeless, does it? I would soon be confronted to people who think differently. Where does all that dirty hatred between races and religions come from? Should we let the world be teared apart by all that "one is superior to the other" shit? Giving lessons of moral is the last thing I should be doing and I hope you can bear with me. Photography is now recognized as an art and we all should consider ourselves as artists, and not merely goods producers or art consumers. Now, what definition would we give to the word artist? I will give my own: Someone who has developed skills to express to others a part of the personal heritage he has received in the way he perceives the world in and around him. Why do we do so? Maybe because we love the world and believe that putting in common our personal note will produce at the end a symphony that will please everyone (again, my own interpretation). See, I admire the work of Misrach, who by the way uses sometimes artificial lighting techniques. He is a very good photographer and I am glad some as you like his pictures. But, if I recognize his talent which is far above mine as a photographer, his pictures do not make me vibrate personally. It dosen't touch my fiber. As I said earlier it's a Bach against Beethoven type of comparison.

We could stick to more down to earth comparisons: how would you like choosing a car if the only choice was a russian car? Or even if the only choice was a Chevy? Everyone having your car wouldn't make it pleasant to own, would it? By the way, this is perhaps were the cold war originated: The Russians didn't like the kitsch and over saturated look of the Yankee's Chevies and the Yankees had disregard for the purely functional Russian cars. Maybe we could divide this forum in two sections: one for the Fatali type worshippers and the other for the Misrach type unconditionals. I'm sure this would make the two photographers laugh. Diversity is the distinctive particularity of our Blue Planet and that's why life is still beautiful. Let's not forget it!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 08, 2001.


Perhaps I overstated earlier about Fatali's work. I commend anyone who is trying different things. Trying to light the arch in a different way was an interesting idea that apparently backfired. I just feel that most of what I have seen has been unsuccessful. Rather than the use of color complementing the work it only seems to distract. Now exaggerating colors has worked well in painting (Van Gogh, Gaugin, Kandinsky....) the list goes on and on. I'm sure this can be done successfully in photography I have just seen very few examples of it. The best thing about B&W photography is that very quickly the photos become about shapes and textures as well as the subject matter. In my opinion the color photographer has to be extremely careful to use color in such a way that adds to rather than takes away from the picture. The issue of the difficulty of what Fatali is doing isn't a valid point. There are many technically superior musicians and painters that accomplish nothing more than exersizes. Sometimes the most simple thing is much stronger than the most comlicated. Just being hard doesn't make you a good lover.

-- Charles Eustace (carloz1@usa.net), April 08, 2001.

Paul I was about to respond to your post but its not even worth it, because it does not make any sense. but I will say this just as Bach and Beethoven are both classical composer and can be compared in that they both are in the same genre of music. I would consider Misrach and Fatali to be in the same genre that was the basis of my comparsion. Also I think we can have a discussion without calling someones opinions "childish" or insulting their views. I disagree with you but I dont need to insult you to show that.-J

-- josh (devil_music@usa.net), April 08, 2001.

Josh, I'm sorry if I called you names and insulted your opinions. But by saying F. is a mediocre photographer with incredibly bad taste, you should be prepared to get overreaction from guys who think differently, and who maybe feel insulted themselves in their own perception of photography. If Fatali's work is mediocre, then there are many well known and unknown photographers out there who should not even call themselves photographers any more. As for my post not being worth the reply, I'm glad you changed your mind.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 09, 2001.

Paul, let Josh call fatali a calendar pimp if he wants to... this stoopid PC "oh, let's do get along" crap is making me nauseaous... if Josh doesn't like it let him express himself in the most vitriolic way he can .... and you can bash Misrach if it pleases you, just don't let it pull your "fiber" out of tune...

and that rot about something "touching your fiber"? Please!!! what the hell is that? Can't you get it surgically removed? I know I would if it vibrated everytime I saw a fatali photo.

-- trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), April 10, 2001.


I agree, this discussion is leading nowhere. Let's take a day out together pooring our sweat on mountain tracks, get to know each other, have fun and possibly take a few pictures but just for the fun of it. Sorry for talking bullshit.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), April 10, 2001.

Emil,

Sorry, just saw yours... and in order to rebutt I'll need your definitions of "homogeneity and constancy of... yadda yadda" and of course the beautifully turned frag, "distilling abstract harmony".... so on and so forth...

thanks Lumberjack... I can deal with that..

love,

trib

-- Trib (linhhof6@hotmail.com), April 10, 2001.


Hey Trib

Thanks. May I share your barf bag?

Love

Erik

-- Erik The Viking (xx@xx.com), April 10, 2001.


I am not a photographer so I cannot comment on Michaelís ďtechnicalĒ abilities. But I am a close friend and I can comment on Michael the man and I do know how Michael makes his photographs, having been in the field with him many times. Michael does NOT use artificial light, he has always said he doesnít have to, that there is nothing that can improve what God has created. Michael packs an 80-90lb. pack into the most remote places, then he waits, sometimes days, or he returns over and over and over again. He is intimate with the places he photographs, he knows them through all the seasons, he loves them deeply. And that is what he is trying to portray, the magnificence of the land and how it touches his soul. Yes, Michael ďrunsĒ a business, but he doesnít care about the money, what he does care about is sharing his passion. This is not just hype, this is the absolute truth. I worked for Michael last fall in his gallery in Springdale and even I was amazed at the impact his photographs had on the people who walked into his gallery. Because of the proximity to Zion Natíl Park, people from all over the world visited the gallery, many had heard of Michael, but I would say most just discovered him for the first time. No one was untouched. All you have to do is stand in front of one of his images and you can see his soul. He has nothing to hide. He writes what he feels- no, he is not an accomplished author, he never went to school to learn to write, all he can do is express what is in his heart. He is totally honest, totally real, he doesnít know how to be any other way. The incident at Arches has devastated him. He is the last person who would intentionally damage the land, the mission of his life is to preserve and protect and to share. From the very beginning he has taken total responsibility for his actions, he has spent hours with the NPS answering questions, trying to work with them to rectify what happened. I donít understand all this negative energy that is directed at him, especially by people who donít know him. Why is it that some people need to tear others down to feel good about themselves. Michael has never attacked another photographer, never criticized their work, and especially never attacked them personally. All he wants to do is let his work speak for him, and it does, straight to your heart if youíre willing to listen.

-- Kai Reed (kaireed@home.com), May 05, 2001.

"From the very beginning he has taken total responsibility for his actions, he has spent hours with the NPS answering questions, trying to work with them to rectify what happened. I donít understand all this negative energy that is directed at him, especially by people who donít know him."Kai Reed

Well Kai, he wasn't exactly honest or took "total responsibility" with Steve Simmons of "View Camera" now did he?

This is the crux of the problem: By setting himself up as a purist and then doing something incredibly stupid and artificial he is the one who has done the most damage to himself and his credibility. I have no doubt of the power of the guy's work or of his general integrity and well meaning asperations, but as Oscar Wilde put it: "the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple".

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@swbell.net), May 05, 2001.


Thank you, Kai, for these words from your heart. As you suggest, many who have had harsh words and quick reaction did so because they did not know the man, nor the exact circumstances. It's sad that a sensible man like Michael was exposed to public condemnation and treated the way he was. There have been days I was shamed to be part of this forum, and not me only but many of us have always had much sympathy for him and wish him now courage to get over this sad story and keep doing his wonderful work and share his cheerful nature the way he has always done.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), May 05, 2001.

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