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Garry Winogrand’s Early Career

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Discover how Winogrand’s early career led him to become an epic storyteller in pictures who harnessed the serendipity of the streets to capture the American 1960s-70s.

Premieres nationwide Friday, April 19 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app. 

TRANSCRIPT

- [John] He was a city hick from the Bronx, whom the winds of fate brought to photojournalism.

One way of considering the career of Garry Winogrand is to see him as one who began as a photojournalist and who gradually learned to direct the very limited tools of that craft toward radically independent and personal goals.

- This is a really important factor of the time Garry was alive, and that is that when Garry was a young person, the only thing you could do as a photographer was to be a photojournalist.

That was your option.

- [Man] At the moment when Winogrand began photographing, photography was disseminated through large picture magazines, mass circulation magazines like Life magazine, Look magazine, and so forth.

And the great majority of photographers either went to work or hoped to go to work for those magazines, Winogrand among them.

He worked for the first decade of his career as essentially a stringer or freelancer for a number of magazines, very rarely the top end.

Nonetheless, the enterprise was essentially one of illustrating written stories.

Winogrand felt that this role of illustrator, that if you accepted this role, you would be blocked, that the poetry of a photograph, its ambiguity, the uncertainty that we feel, the magazines didn't want any of that.

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