A Dozen Failures – John Gossage


How do judge success from failure? Can our photographs be both?
John Gossage addresses the issue in his new book. 

He wrote this in his introduction to A Dozen Failures.
“I had a conversation with Robert Adams long ago. We were talking about how it felt to be out in the world photographing. Bob in his eloquent way, saying something similar to what he later wrote down: that when you have a good day making pictures “You bring back proof, that the world is orderly, meaningful, and sometimes beautiful” but on the days that nothing seems to be working “you make things that prove to yourself that everything is chaotic, meaningless and often ugly.”

What rings in my head as I try to write this is the question if either of these “proofs” is a failure, or just things we want or don’t want to know? Just because you don’t get what you hope for, do you have any right to call it a failure?

I’m afraid I simply have a willingness to be pleased.”

From TIS Books website:
A Dozen Failures is both a singular statement as a photobook and a commentary on a life spent making some of the classic photobooks of our time, among them The Pond, There and Gone, The Romance Industry, and Berlin in the Time of the Wall.

Every photograph is in some way perfect (as a technical feat) and in another way a failure (as representational “residue”). So what makes a picture a “failure” – something worthy of further contemplation? It goes far deeper than merely being a mistake. Failures teach us about life and the self in ways as powerful as – and far more confoundingly than – successes. Or, as Gossage says, they show us “a love lost through lack of skill and misunderstanding.”

All photographs © John Gossage 

The facts:
A Dozen Failures
 by John Gossage
Size 9.5 in x 11.5 in
Three piece case
48 pages
18 tritone plates
one fold out tritone poster, 17 in x 21 in
Available here.