On May 12th, 2012, in a medium-sized but tightly-packed convention hall at WestLicht Photographica Auction House on Westbahnstresse 40 in Vienna, Austria, yet another auction milestone in photographic history will likely be made.
As perhaps the world’s most renowned photographic auction house, WestLicht Photographica Auction has broken several records in recent years. In May 2011, a Leica from the 0-series from 1923 went under the hammer for €1.32 million (HK$13.47 million) - the highest price ever paid for a camera at auction, making it not just the most expensive Leica in the world but also the most expensive camera. In 2010, a Daguerrotype Giroux, the first commercially-produced camera in the world created by Louis Daguerre and Nicéphore Niépce, sold for €732,000 (HK$7.47 million).
So with world economy apparently still suffering (it didn’t seem to stop the new owners of the Daguerrotype or the Leica 0 though, did it?), the question on everyone’s minds will be: will there be more records broken this year or will collectors have also felt the pinch of the global economy too?
Kent Kobersteen was the Director of Photography for National Geographic magazine from 1987 to 2005 and was recently interviewed by Gerd Ludwig of The Photo Society. Below is just an excerpt, hit the link at the bottom of the extract to read the entire interview. Quite fascinating:
When it was suggested that I write about what it takes to be a National Geographic photographer I was somewhat reluctant to do so. I cannot speak for the leadership of the Magazine today. Certainly every Director of Photography, and every Editor in Chief, has his or her own requirements and preferences.
I began my career with the National Geographic in 1983 as a picture editor, became the deputy to the Director of Photography in 1987, and became Director of Photography in 1998. I left the Magazine in 2005.
Since leaving the Magazine I have kept in close touch with many photographers, and also with the worldwide photographic family. I have continued to do workshops and give talks in Poland, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Italy, on National Geographic ships in Antarctica and the South Atlantic, and on a National Geographic Around the World by Private Jet journey.
While I cannot speak for the leadership of the Magazine today, I think there are several required attributes that are constant – they’re the same today as they were when I was Director of Photography, and earlier.
Those attributes are intellect, passion, maturity and drive.
Reading this, you may say “What about the photography?” Of course any person under consideration must be a great photographer. The National Geographic needs photography that is strong aesthetically and has a sophisticated use of color, photography that is poetic, journalistic, memorable, and comes from unique and intuitive seeing. But, that’s obvious, that’s a given.
All four of these attributes – intellect, passion, maturity, drive — ARE about the photography.
If one looks at the work on this site, and reads what the photographers have said, I think it’s obvious that each of them possess these attributes.
I worked with most of the photographers represented on The Photo Society site, and I am very proud to say that a significant number of them are people who did their first work for the Magazine when I was Director of Photography – they are my legacy, if you will.
I always felt that my responsibility was to get the best, most appropriate photographer for a given story, and then to make it possible for that photographer to do his or her best creative work.
Certainly who is the “best, most appropriate photographer” is a personal value judgment. What is the “most appropriate” to one person may not be to another.
Overwhelmed by all the photographic locutions like agitation, depth of field and parallax? Confused by the difference between effective aperture and limiting aperture? Don’t be alarmed. It is overwhelming, at first.
Regardless of whether you’re moving from digital to film or have just picked up your very first film camera, there are hundreds, if not thousands of terms which can cause confusion.
Learn in steps - don’t try and master everything at once. The trick is to focus on one thing and complete it before moving on and tackling something else.
It may sound like simple advice but in this day and age of “art” filter modes, “shoot-from-the-hip” attitudes and hyperactive spec sheets, it’s far too easy to zone out and and stop thinking of the little things that go into turning a good photo into a great photo.
Stay tuned for our upcoming posts on photographic glossaries - and how they can help you and your photography.
Many people have asked how we grade our camera items so we thought we’d give you a run-down of how we determine the condition of each item:
(BGN) - BARGAIN (70-79%) “Bargain” 70-79% of original condition. Shows slightly more than average wear for the item’s age. May have slight dents, dings and/or brassing. Glass may have dust or faint haze that should not affect picture quality, no fungus or scratches though. Items will be 100% fully functional with no image quality loss.
(EX) - EXCELLENT (80-89%) “Excellent” 80-89% of original condition. Shows slight wear for the age of the item. May have small dings and/or slight finish wear. Glass may have slight dust or very faint haze that will not affect picture quality. Items will be 100% functional with no image quality loss.
(EX+) - EXCELLENT PLUS (90-96%) “Excellent Plus” 90-96% of original condition. Exceptionally nice. May have slight wear on finish but visible only under close inspection. Glass very clean. 100% fully functional with no image quality loss.