Sawka provides an outline of Stock’s biography, and focuses on his work and teaching. We see Stock teaching various classes and speaking on-camera. Through it all he reflects on his work, life, and American culture.
Choreographed by a twist of fate, Stock became close friends with legendary actor James Dean. The two spent a considerable amount of time together providing the photographer with countless opportunities to shoot Dean. Sawka presents many of Stock’s photographs of Dean in a variety of contexts.
‘Zen’ is how I describe Stock’s approach to photography. That’s my fallback conclusion being that I was confounded as to how to summarize his approach. He shot in black-and-white for most of his career, and did not hesitate to disparage Photoshop when given the opportunity.
Stock is a co-founder of the photographers cooperative Magnum Photos, and, in addition to this film, you can find much of his work here. The relationship between Dean and Stock was covered in a narrative film entitled Life starring Robert Pattinson. One Magnum photographer expressed his opinion that the movie mischaracterizes their relationship as adversarial, that the two had a collegial friendship. Having seen Beyond Iconic I suspect that photographer’s opinion is accurate.
Stock was a jazz aficionado, and Sawka’s inclusion of original jazz tunes by composers John Menegon and Teri Roiger provides a fitting backdrop to the photographer’s work and world.