Project: Garry Winogrand Pt. 1

Garry Winogrand (1928-1984)

For someone who disliked being called a street photographer, that is what Garry Winogrand is known for. He preferred the general title “Photographer.” It allowed him to not be stuck to one type of photography. Garry worked to photograph life. He said: the true business of photography is to capture a bit of reality. His pictures are of the city and the people within.

In the coming weeks, Anna and I are doing a project roll. We choose a famous film photographer and work to emulate their works. In my case, it may be multiple rolls. From a list of the top 25 famous photographers, I chose Winogrand. I wanted to challenge myself. In my time as a film photographer, I am cautious. I think carefully before taking the picture. Winogrand was different. When he passed away, he left 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film (Kim). During the course of a day, Garry Winogrand could shoot through 5 rolls of film.

Winogrand photographed people, which is my primary pleasure in photography. I enjoy nature or architecture, but people are my fascination. When you watch the video above, you’ll see that Winogrand barely looks into the viewfinder before snapping his pictures. Garry became so aware of this camera, his settings, and his surroundings that he needn’t take time to adjust before capturing his moment. He raises the camera, focuses, and presses the shutter in one movement.

Another fascinating note about Winogrand’s style is he didn’t develop his film for a year or two. At least for some time. Winogrand felt that “photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the picture as judgment that the photograph is good” (Kim). If you develop immediately after finishing your roll of film, Garry thought that you would misjudge the good pictures. In his view, you need to separate yourself from the pictures. View them somewhat objectively. For Winogrand, taking a picture “was the closest it comes to not existing.” He simply wanted to photograph life and see what his images looked like.

One of Garry Winogrand’s most famous pictures


For my project, I’ll be searching for an area with people, somewhat tough during COVID-19. I’d like to maintain safety, but capture Garry Winogrand’s style as much as possible. In order to do this, I am going to try and do the following:

  1. Use a 28 mm lens (his favorite)
  2. Shoot at least 2 rolls of film in one day
  3. Guess lighting impact on aperture and shutter speed. ( In fact, his first comment right out the door was, “nice light–1/250 second at f/8″(Resnick, 1976))
  4. Smile with every picture
  5. Not second guess if the picture is worth it
  6. Hold off on developing for at least a month or two
  7. Push film (add exposure during development)

Anna and I are excited to be diving into this project. You can expect a part two where I’ll share my favorites from my work compared to some of Garry Winogrand’s pictures. If you have recommendations for a place to visit, comment. And, as always, thanks for reading. I’ve added some of the articles I checked out below.

Interesting articles

Coffee and Workprints

International Center for Photography

10 Things Garry Winogrand Can Teach us About Photography


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