Jay Maisel (1931-present) and John Hedgecoe (1932-2010) are two photographers that I have come to appreciate more over time. I find their images lingering in the back of mind, and I find myself thinking about their views on photography. The two of them have some interesting similarities and differences, which I will explore in this essay.


In terms of similarities, both Maisel and Hedgecoe had careers that spanned the period from black and white film to digital photography. Both created iconic images: Maisel’s photograph of Miles Davis for the cover of Kind of Blue, [1] and Hedgecoe’s photograph of Queen Elizabeth II for English stamps. [2] Both are known for more than one type of photography: Maisel for his nature photography and then New York street photography, Hedgecoe for his portraits of artists but also for his landscape and architecture shots. Both photographed a very broad range of subject matter: people, animals, cities, wilderness, etc.


Maisel often creates slightly abstract images, emphasizing atmosphere over precision and detail – for example, an image of snow falling on a dark city street (First Snow, Elizabeth Street) or of sunlight streaming through a misty forest (Maine Forest Mist). Many of his photographs feature bold or surprising colour, in the form of brightly painted walls, reflected sunlight, or gently coloured skies. One of my favourites (Red Wall and Rope) has a workman in blue coveralls dragging a heavy rope in front of a bright red wall; the light blue of the overalls makes the red wall luminous. [3]

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All Images © Tom Onyshko, 2017