Department chair honors Garry Winogrand in PBS documentary

A photograph from Garry Winogrand, a street photographer whose work is honored in Sasha Freyer's upcoming PBS documentary, "Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable.” Photo courtesy of Sasha Freyer

Anya Sczerzenie, Contributing Writer

Photography and Film Department Chair Sasha Freyer. Photo courtesy of Sasha Freyer

Sasha Freyer was captivated by Garry Winogrand’s photos while she was an undergraduate studying photography and film.

“I saw an exhibition of Garry Winogrand’s work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,” Freyer said, “and I wondered why there wasn’t already a film about him.

In addition to being the chair of the Department of Photography and Film at VCU, Freyer is a documentarian whose latest project, “Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable,” won a Special Jury Prize at South by Southwest in 2018.

Freyer said the title refers to how Winogrand documented ordinary people and places in his work.

“He was a street photographer in the 1960s. He photographed zoos, protests and public life,” Freyer said. “He really focused a lot on people for the most part. He was part of a movement of similar photographers. I included the ones he exhibited with to provide context.”

Freyer’s personal favorite photograph by Winogrand, she said, is a well-known photo of a smiling woman eating ice cream. The ones she can relate to most personally are Winogrand’s New York street scenes.

From start to finish, the documentary took Freyer five years to make. For the first 8 1/2 months, she had to do a lot of research.

“I did 15 interviews and archival research looking through his large body of work as well,” Freyer said.

Freyer was also teaching at the same time as she was making her documentary. Far from a burden, she said juggling both tasks actually enriched her filmmaking experience.

“I was teaching whilst doing the documentary,” Freyer said. “I had some students helping me with research and showed rough edits of it to them to get feedback which was very valuable.”

Freyer is now working on a new, unrevealed project.

Freyer’s documentary will premiere April 19 on PBS as part of its “American Masters” series.

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