I am a passionate amateur photographer and am moved by photographers who use their medium as more than just a record or observation but as an art form.
There are two photographers (excluding the legendary Ansel Adams of course) who epitomise this for me. Saul Leiter and Steve McCurry.
Saul Leiter went to New York when he was 23 to pursue his passion for painting, his friendship with Abstract Expressionist painter Pousette-Dart and, soon after, with W. Eugene Smith inspired his involvement with photography. He started shooting color and black-and-white street photography in New York in the 1940s. He had no formal training in photography, but the genius of his early work was quickly acknowledged by Edward Steichen, who included Leiter in two important MoMA shows in the 1950s.
He became better-known as a successful fashion photographer in the 1950s and 60s. All the while, Leiter continued to stroll the streets wherever he was (mostly New York and Paris), taking photographs for his own pleasure. He printed some of his black-and-white street photos, but kept most of his color slides tucked away in boxes. It was only in the 1990s that he began to look back at that remarkable color work and start to make prints.
For me his work falls into two categories,
the quiet, hidden observer
and, the almost painted image, the layering through the windows is especially appealing to me.
Saul Leiter passed away in November last year leaving us with a wonderful legacy of beautifully captured images of the streets and people who inhabited the city in which he spent most of his life.