A Round of Applause for Ovation TV

We never made it out into last weekend’s post-Thanksgiving retail mania, happily waylaid by a marathon of fascinating photography documentaries on Ovation TV, the recently relaunched arts-focused cable channel that was acquired last year by an investment consortium that includes hedge fund magnate/art collector Richard Perry.

ruscha.jpgThey had us at Ruscha. Switching through the channels on Friday, we happened upon Ed and his penetrating gaze holding forth on those canonical 1965 photographs of every building on the Sunset Strip (“How long did it take you to take the pictures?” Asks an earnest off-camera voice. “About a day,” Ruscha replies matter-of-factly). Needless to say, we spent the rest of the weekend glued to our Hella Jongerius Polder sofa watching Ovation TV.

This scintillating programming turned out to be “Framed,” Ovation’s eight-day-long celebration of photography and renowned photographers (check your local listings for future air dates). Among the shows was “The Genius of Photography,” a six-part series produced by Wall to Wall Television that traces the history of photography from Niepce and Daguerre to Dorothea Lange and Martin Parr, as well as documentaries about Cindy Sherman, David LaChapelle, and the art of cinematography. Some highlights of our marathon: a section that follows Albert Maysles as he tenderly asks strangers to pose for him on the street, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders preparing to take a portrait of his first grandchild, and Sylvia Plachy describing what makes a good photograph (of her photo of a trio of camels gathered outside Radio City for The Christmas Spectacular, she says, “It’s good because they look like people”).

Here’s a video excerpt from “The Genius of Photography” that features Joel Meyerowitz discussing making the switch to color photography from black and white, and how it changed his approach–and the results.