Diane Arbus is one photographer that I ususally cringe at her work. She focuses on the marginal places and people that society labels “freak show,” “weird,” “gross,” and “unacceptable.” Her technique with head on flash and harsh, ugly lighting adds to the awkwardness of her images. Diane Arbus’ goal is to beautify the ugly and confront society about their judgmental, labeling mentality.
Art critic Suzan Sontag even wrote that Diane Arbus was unsuccessful with her photographs because it made the images harder to look at, than to be admired and awed at.
I am on the fence with Diane Arbus, but I do think she is a photographer to be recognized. She is courageous and stays true to herself. She is confident in her work and follows her arrow to make her point heard. Looking at some of Diane Arbus’ work, I feel the need to look away, which is something society has taught me… If you don’t like it or it makes you uncomfortable turn away or close your eyes. That is something to be admired because Diane Arbus opens windows to places her viewers have never been.
She is absolutely passionate about her subjects and the love she has for her work and morals is clear in her images.
I know I already shared a similar blog about 10 Things Gary Winogrand can teach us, but I think this article about Diane Arbus has some awesome points to consider in photography as well.