The result will disappoint anyone looking for a rigorous, comprehensive appraisal of Winogrand’s work, which, as Dyer points out, can be found elsewhere. Instead, the images allow Dyer to range far and wide through photography, literature, art, theory, architecture, design and music as he teases out his own offbeat associations ... There are a few instances when Dyer’s flights of fancy become too fanciful ... Most of the time, though, Dyer’s riffs are both playful and illuminating, and will make you look anew at the work of a man who once said: 'I’m a photographer, a still photographer. That’s it.'
As this book reminds us, it isn’t.
Each image is accompanied by a piece of Dyer’s writing. Most of the pieces are a few hundred words long; some are informative about Winogrand’s life and work, some locate Winogrand in various artistic traditions, including the literary (has anyone else ever looked at a Winogrand photograph and been moved to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins?), and some are oblique and surprising, yet always relevant, mini-essays inspired by a particular Winogrand image. The model is John Szarkowski’s one-volume monograph on Eugène Atget, which takes a similar form. Dyer is a great man for the job. His writing, in this book and elsewhere, is always serious but never solemn. He’s original, eager to find unlikely connections, but you never sense that he’s trying too hard. Writing about photography is not exactly like tap dancing about architecture, but it does come with certain difficulties. There can be the tendency to state the obvious and describe the 'content' of the picture, which is unnecessary, or worse, to plunge into academic art speak. Dyer does neither, although he is constantly asking, sometimes literally, 'What exactly are we looking at here?' Above all, when you read his essays, you have a sense that a real human being is communicating with you. Oh, and he has a cracking sense of humor, which really helps.
There’s a certain tenuousness to Winogrand’s photos; the compositions hold together, but just barely. He was conveying not the coherent myth of the American century, but its unruly shadow. Dyer’s accompanying texts wear their erudition lightly ... For the most part, though, Dyer’s gifts as a noticer and a writer become fully apparent when he lets himself get deeply, comically weird ... Winogrand might not have been thinking about where anything was going or where it had been, but he did one better than that: He showed us what it all looked like.