Garry Winogrand // Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 1969

Welcome to number 13 in our series Poignant Pics where we’ve asked photo curators, educators, collectors and makers to share a brief essay on a photo that has significantly changed the way they think or look at the world.

With this Garry Winogrand image in mind, Amy Wolff encourages photographers to “shoot against the grain”.

My favorite college photography professor, Ed Worteck, introduced me to the work of Garry Winogrand. Winogrand documented everyday life, current events, street scenes, light, shadow and humor. At the time, I was drawn to the humor and weirdness, as well as his compositions and shadows.

This is an image of the Apollo 11 launch on July 16, 1969. Winogrand witnessed the launch of the first space craft destined to land on the freakin’ moon. We can see a faint puff of smoke in the background, and a boatload of people looking at something, but the space craft is nowhere to be found. Some might consider this a failed assignment, but it’s genius (and memorable).

I like so many of his images but I often go back to this particular shot. I’m curious about space exploration, and it always makes me smile. But this image is also a lesson in going against the grain. Be aware of what everyone else is looking at or doing, but allow yourself to shoot against the grain. There is always room to make your own unique photo, even when seemingly everyone is shooting the same thing at the same time.

—Amy Wolff


Amy Wolff was born in Easton, PA where she learned darkroom techniques from Bill Fisk, a local photographer and camera shop owner. After graduating from Goucher College in Baltimore, she moved to San Francisco producing events and programs in the Presidio during the day, and spending her nights and weekends shooting bands. Wanting more of a connection to the photo industry, she moved to New York. After 10+ years of photo editing and producing photo shoots for magazines (Photo District News, Fortune, Niche Media), she co-founded an art consulting company. CoEdit Collection sells contemporary artwork, and helps to foster new relationships between artists, curators and clients. She is actively involved with NYC SALT, a non-profit high school photo program, and within the larger photo community by producing events like Photoville and 20x20 LIVE.

IG: @viewsfromthewolffden

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