I purchased this photograph from a second hand shop because I immediately fell in love with it. It wasn't expensive. The couple (assuming they are) seem to be engaged with someone standing off to the side while the photographer skirts around, composes and captures the moment. It could perhaps be somewhere up in Northland or the East Cape.
I remember seeing the touring exhibition of the Seresin family photography collection a few years ago, which comprised three-dozen or so photographs of high calibre and quality by a range of famous international photographers and (I think) some fine NZ ones. There were two images in the show labelled 'photographer unknown', and I liked very much that the prints were collected and included because of their extraordinary beauty, not because of who made them or how much money they were worth.
So, is it important who took the photo? Guess that's a 'well, yes and no' question. Of course an image by a well known photographer will have a higher dollar value than an unidentified one. More crucially, though, it is generally important when reading a photograph to know who took it. For example, many a camera club photographer has considered a drunk asleep on a bench fair game for a shot (while hoping that he doesn't wake up during it); but when, say, Peter Black photographs a street person, perhaps even in a similar circumstance, it's a totally different case. Such photos are throughout his recent book I loved you the moment I saw you (Books page - scroll down a bit). Authorship matters because it affects the reading of the photograph, as does the context (and sequence) in which the photo appears. More on this at a later date. This week's photo hasn't been connected with any particular project, and it was found alone in the shop - not part of a collection.
So, it doesn't really matter to me that I don't know who the photographer was, but I'd like to know anyway. That information would change my relationship with the photograph, though not necessarily for the better.
What can't be easily seen in this online version is the quality of the image. It was shot on medium format film, definitely not 35mm. The print is in perfect condition and was made by a highly competent printer.
I would like to hear from anyone who can positively identify the people in the photo, and/or the photographer, and also who the probable third party might be. (Not interested in pure guesswork, though.)
Link: Press release for Seresin Collection exhibition, Auckland Museum, 2007.
Photography Matters II