Thursday, September 22, 2011
Peter Funch: A Series Of Coincidental Coincidences
Posted by Jay at 7:06 PM
Even with the advent of digital photography, good modern street photography is surprisingly hard to come by. There are a handful of photographers today that keep the scene fresh and exciting, with some of them bridging the gap between photography and art to create something new and affecting. Peter Funch belongs to that second group with his photographs of weird and curious coincidental coincidences.
Peter Funch is a photojournalist based in New York City. He got started in photography while he was in school, bringing along his camera as it allowed him to tell stories in a way he was never able to do so before. Working as a photojournalist later on, he was never allowed to manipulate his photos (as is the practice of almost all newspaper groups). Funch however was also interested in conveying scenes that weren't necessarily happening at only one point in time.
In order to make his stories, Funch would set up his camera at busy intersections of the city, often for ten to fifteen days at a time, and taking in the scenes that unfolded before his lens. This allowed him to capture different kinds of everyday events at the same location.
If these images look too good to be coincidental, you're right; Funch manipulated the subjects in his photographs so that they appear to have a common theme to them. The images are from a series called Babel Tales, which is a collection of his photographs "that focus on human relations (Or the lack thereof) in big cities."
Funch takes the photographs back to his studio, assigns them to different categories depending on details that stand out, and then combines these details into one frame. In effect, he takes various small moments and creates one huge event. Thus, you get colorful scenes of balloons in the streets, ladies in red or smokers exhaling all at once. The seemingly staged pictures are comical but intriguing at the same time.
In creating these images, Funch makes scenes that actually never existed, but also reflect real events at different moments in time. You of course get the sense that these are artificial scenes, but at the same time they look somewhat normal as they contain very natural elements. Suddenly, events that are mundane or inherently personal like yawning or talking on your cell phone become shared moments, and even with the knowledge that these scenes aren't real, you somehow feel that they could still be true.
As a photojournalist, it's hard to convey the reality of a scene with just one frame, so Peter Funch has blurred the boundary between pure documentary photography and photo manipulation in order to bring about themes that are surprisingly simple, yet universal.
Check out Peter Funch's images of coincidental coincidences over at his website. His Babel Tales series, which collects these images from 2006 to 2010, can be found here.