Monday, 31 March 2014

Landscape Photography, the Albert Watson way.


Albert, sitting in the luxurious warmth of his executive limo, parks up on the dank, wet mountain road and barks into his walki-talki. "You got the spritzer? Yeah? Bring it over, I need more water. More water on the windscreen."

I spill my drink laughing at the unintentional irony. On Skye? More water?  

An assistant immediately appears from the large van that is following Albert's car around the Isle of Skye on his mission to photograph this mysterious landscape, spritzer in hand. (not the drink I'd imagined, but a water bottle spray). Hurriedly the assistant sprays more water onto the windscreen while Albert perches his PhaseOne digital camera that's tethered to a laptop behind him, on the steering wheel. (Interestingly, the steering wheel has a band of gaffer tape stuck around the rim so as to remind Albert to drive on the left). 

Click.

"How's the exposure?" Albert demands.

A young and rather beautiful laptop operator sitting hidden in the rear seat answers, "Exposure is good," but this time (for once) we don't see her. 

The BBC film crew following Albert on his photographic journey has focused rather more often than seems entirely necessary on this young acolyte during the program. Looking decidedly glum throughout the film, she's shown muffled and fighting against the outside weather or sitting damply in a cafe while struggling with obviously frozen fingers to use her MacBook Pro laptop. Clearly she would much rather be in Central Park. Or in a coffee shop. Anywhere but this place. 

Albert explains to camera his desire for an 'impressionistic view' of the landscape through the windscreen. 

The other two (or was it three?) male assistants remain in the van and are ignored by the BBC camera crew. Mere unattractive minions summoned only to set up the tripod, clean the lens, wipe down the camera and any other task demanded of them. 

And so on we go, to yet another location where this very celebrated and famous celebratory photographer, now in his seventies, captures another terrific, if unremarkable view of Skye. It's another world. And Albert, lucky and lovely guy that he is, lives in one.

The documentary, titled: 'What Do Artists DO all day?' can still be viewed on BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK, HERE.







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