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Rob C
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« on: March 22, 2010, 05:34:53 PM »
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I made reference to street photography yesterday, from the point of view of what purpose it serves the photographer doing it. Since it was in a thread that wasn't street-specific, perhaps a dedicated thread here might be of interest to some who do this style of work.

My point was, roughly, that though I can understand the challenges of this genre, there was no way that I thought it would suit home decoration purposes but could well find a welcoming wall in offices and their waiting rooms. I then thought that perhaps the best outlet for it was, in fact, where most of it comes my way: the web.

What do those who actually shoot this material see as its purpose if there is one beyond the hunting urge?

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2010, 06:43:18 PM »
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Hi Rob,

I'm very interested in street photography recently.
Well, I saw in the Reina Sofia museum a retrospective of Alberto Garcia Alix and there were many street genre.
He is a photographer from the movida. My sensation is that it makes a great impact as a social witness, but I simplify saying just "social".
To me, street photography is very much like daily journalism. There is an hunting feeling also, very primitive.
Today I was in a district in Madrid doing street where there is a great contrast between 2 worlds. In some years, all that will have disappeared for cold glasses offices windows and aseptics lunch bars.
So it is similar to the portrait, but instead of a person, it is the urban theater where we live at one specific time.
Internet is a good place for street but I do see it in any kind of institutions, medias. France has a very strong demand for street, because of its history?
There is an audience and people buy prints for their home, I do think much more than landscape in France, no doubt.
Now, it is very difficult to master and if everybody have access to it, I do think that even fewer people really do a consistent work than in landscape for example. To me it is the most chalenging of all the photographic "styles".

Cheers,

Fred.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 07:04:57 PM by fredjeang » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 07:02:14 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
I made reference to street photography yesterday, from the point of view of what purpose it serves the photographer doing it. Since it was in a thread that wasn't street-specific, perhaps a dedicated thread here might be of interest to some who do this style of work.

My point was, roughly, that though I can understand the challenges of this genre, there was no way that I thought it would suit home decoration purposes but could well find a welcoming wall in offices and their waiting rooms. I then thought that perhaps the best outlet for it was, in fact, where most of it comes my way: the web.

What do those who actually shoot this material see as its purpose if there is one beyond the hunting urge?

Rob C

Rob, In reply I'd ask, what do you suppose Renoir saw in Le déjeuner des canotiers?
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010, 11:42:50 AM »
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Rob, In reply I'd ask, what do you suppose Renoir saw in Le déjeuner des canotiers?





You are asking the wrong guy, Russ: I'm the poster of the original question seeking some sort of insight into the reasons behind the doing! I'm trying hard not to cross-contaminate my own mind from the parallel thread of recent days and San Francisco which does not, I imagine, count as street in that sense of the thing as a people-oriented genre.

However, if reference to other snappers helps, I wonder if Henri C-B really qualifies that well either. I have his book À Propos de Paris and think it quite wonderful but not in a sort of decorative sense which, I'd imagine, is the ultimate purpose behind most current shooters: they wanna move it across a counter which, to me, seems an awfully difficult thing to want to achieve. In fact, as most of HC-B's work was apparently assigned stuff, its raison d'être was predetermined and had little to do with a sense of self-fulfillment which, again, I imagine is part of why civilians do it today, those types of magazines (and commissions) virtually extinct.

Perhaps Fred is closer than that with his sense of recording a dying world. I did play with that idea once when I first came to Spain and was fascinated by the old houses, but I was soon distracted by the main chance and trying to get more stock under my belt. In fact, it was also the difficulties in trying to get owners to co-operate that threw me. I did get into some such places for calendars, but the hassle was worth it only to get material that someone living back in Scotland might not be able to crack - that was, after all, much the reason for moving away in the first place, giving myself a business edge. However, as you might imagine, such edges live on swords that cut both ways!

Something that seems to attract restaurant owners as décor here is photography from around the turn of last century: old couples and people hanging around the local village square in their Sunday best. I have yet to see any of Robert Capa's Civil War on show anywhere!

Speaking of Capa, I have a huge Phaidon tome of his titled simply Robert Capa. I also have a great Don McCullin one. Looking at the two, I fear Capa was not even in the same league as a photographer yet he is the one to get the automatic glory. The world of fame never ceases to amaze with those it seeks to levitate to Valhalla, vanilla scented or otherwise.

Rob C
« Last Edit: March 23, 2010, 11:46:28 AM by Rob C » Logged

fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2010, 01:01:08 PM »
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Well, witnessing something that exists today and will not tomorrow is one of the reason of portraiture.
But when I was in the street I did not thought about that, it just came when I was in this location.
So I guess the mistake would be that I would try to reproduce it in a serie, and it is very tempting.

In Barcelona, they did a funny experiment with some photographers: they wanted to emulate or go on the steps of
Bruce Gilden in the city, a sort of Bruce's workshop . The result was simply a disaster. Horrible.
What bruce is talking about? I'm sure he does not know himself, he just do it because he feels he has to do it.

I've noticed that when I look for something, it just escapes me. When I just do what I have to, I'm on track.

Street is great because you can not think about what you want to do, it just happen.

Fred.
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2010, 05:28:51 PM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
Well, witnessing something that exists today and will not tomorrow is one of the reason of portraiture.
But when I was in the street I did not thought about that, it just came when I was in this location.
So I guess the mistake would be that I would try to reproduce it in a serie, and it is very tempting.

In Barcelona, they did a funny experiment with some photographers: they wanted to emulate or go on the steps of
Bruce Gilden in the city, a sort of Bruce's workshop . The result was simply a disaster. Horrible.
What bruce is talking about? I'm sure he does not know himself, he just do it because he feels he has to do it.

I've noticed that when I look for something, it just escapes me. When I just do what I have to, I'm on track.

Street is great because you can not think about what you want to do, it just happen.

Fred.



Fred

It's a funny thing, but I remember years ago when I was in the countryside with my first great model whose début in fashion was about two years after mine, and we were looking for a location to do some shots for ourselves and I just drove and drove and got nowhere. She said to me something I never forgot: Rob, you know something about yourself? You just can't function unless you are under pressure. She knew me from much working together - she was right and it never changed, causing me great difficulties when I tried to shoot stock just as stock. I needed the pressure of the assignment in order to take either the work or even myself seriously. With the assignment, it just happened for me too. Now retired, I can't find that drive.

Perhaps that's really why I believe so strongly in Terence Donovan's quotation regarding the difficulty of the amateur.

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2010, 05:54:16 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Fred

It's a funny thing, but I remember years ago when I was in the countryside with my first great model whose début in fashion was about two years after mine, and we were looking for a location to do some shots for ourselves and I just drove and drove and got nowhere. She said to me something I never forgot: Rob, you know something about yourself? You just can't function unless you are under pressure. She knew me from much working together - she was right and it never changed, causing me great difficulties when I tried to shoot stock just as stock. I needed the pressure of the assignment in order to take either the work or even myself seriously. With the assignment, it just happened for me too. Now retired, I can't find that drive.

Perhaps that's really why I believe so strongly in Terence Donovan's quotation regarding the difficulty of the amateur.

Rob C
Interesting post really, that involve many fundamental aspects.
It's funny, the opposite of pressure is depressure. Pressure is needed, and can be create from zero. But assuming that the human is also a machinery, if you need or want a lot of pressure, you need then the structural strengh according to the grade of pressure, like a machine.
The machines that are made for high pressure environements are oversolid, with escapes etc...
I guess an overpressure leed to depressure, wich is the other side of the coin but a part of one unique thing, like dark and light.
I like pressure, I need it, but I'm learning to depressurize myself without ending bored and on the worst cases for some, depressed, and that is the most difficult task because our genes and habits call us for stimulations. And these are quimicals drugs, exactly like tobaco.
Maybe there is a drive, a truth one that put us back on enthousiasm and I'm sure it is just right next to where we stand now.
But Rob, too many times, and I'm including myself, we tend to look far away ( or in the past or towards the future ), when we should look right here, right now.
Because this thing is there, here and now, but if we look somewhere else, how can we notice it?
I'm sure there is a drive even when one is retired, and it is just where we are at the moment.  

Fred.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2010, 07:28:01 PM by fredjeang » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2010, 07:01:15 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
However, if reference to other snappers helps, I wonder if Henri C-B really qualifies that well either. I have his book À Propos de Paris and think it quite wonderful but not in a sort of decorative sense which, I'd imagine, is the ultimate purpose behind most current shooters: they wanna move it across a counter which, to me, seems an awfully difficult thing to want to achieve. In fact, as most of HC-B's work was apparently assigned stuff, its raison d'être was predetermined and had little to do with a sense of self-fulfillment which, again, I imagine is part of why civilians do it today, those types of magazines (and commissions) virtually extinct.

Which is exactly why I feel HCB's early work, when he was shooting for himself, was his best. Later on, though he was on assignment he was the one who always chose and designed the assignment. But you're right. When you're on assignment the world's a different place and you have to perform whether or not you want to. It's not the same as simply walking around with a camera waiting for the flash of brilliance you hope will happen.

I'm not sure the ultimate purpose of most current shooters is to move it across a counter. I know some for whom that's the idea and others who want to shoot pictures simply to satisfy themselves. I think the second group actually is more driven. It's one thing to want to make a buck (or a Euro) and something else entirely to want to create art. The right kind of snapshot can make a buck, and a short film of a presidential assassination can make lots of bucks, but I suspect the majority of the posters I've seen on LuLa aren't particularly interested in making money that way.

Quote
Something that seems to attract restaurant owners as décor here is photography from around the turn of last century: old couples and people hanging around the local village square in their Sunday best. I have yet to see any of Robert Capa's Civil War on show anywhere!

And when was that not so? Now it's photographs. Then it was paintings or prints.

Quote
Speaking of Capa, I have a huge Phaidon tome of his titled simply Robert Capa. I also have a great Don McCullin one. Looking at the two, I fear Capa was not even in the same league as a photographer yet he is the one to get the automatic glory. The world of fame never ceases to amaze with those it seeks to levitate to Valhalla, vanilla scented or otherwise.

I've never been taken with Capa as a photographer, and I'm not particularly taken with McCullin. Nor am I taken with most of the photographs I see when I pick up one of my several Magnum volumes. War is always war, poverty brought on by war is always poverty, and ever since the days of Matthew Brady both genres have tended to descend into cliches -- touching cliches to be sure, but still cliches. As far as glory is concerned, like fame, and for that matter like life itself, it's a passing thing. The thing I remember most about Capa is that he stepped on his personal land mine while I was still flying F84s out of Taegu, less than three weeks after we'd received the depressing news that Earthquake McGoon had been shot down over Dien Bien Phu. We were more shaken by the loss of McGoon than by the loss of Capa.
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2010, 08:35:14 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
My point was, roughly, that though I can understand the challenges of this genre, there was no way that I thought it would suit home decoration purposes but could well find a welcoming wall in offices and their waiting rooms. I then thought that perhaps the best outlet for it was, in fact, where most of it comes my way: the web.

What do those who actually shoot this material see as its purpose if there is one beyond the hunting urge?

Rob C


Good question, Rob. I have lots of images which I personally like but would hesitate to hang on my wall because people (visitors) have a tendency to jump to wrong conclusions. Here's one such 'street' shot which I find interesting because it's unusual. I wouldn't expect to come across such a scene whilst ambling down the mall in the centre of Brisbane.  

[attachment=21025:3539_cropped.jpg]
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Chris_T
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2010, 08:03:17 AM »
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I've always loved and shot several genres, including nature landscape and street. Some would call me undisciplined. When I started exhibiting my work several years ago, I showed only my landscape work, thinking that no one would be interested in my street work. After a couple of shows and some sales, I had a solo exhibit of only my street work. It caught more attention than ever, and one viewer flatly told me, "Forget about your landscapes. There are so many good ones out there already. But your street work is something special." (Of course, that's what I heard. Perhaps what she really meant was that my landscapes suck!)

I continue to shoot both, but nowadays I spend more time on the streets than in the woods. The majority of my sale are from the street work. Some very subjective (and controversial?) comments on why.

- It is much easier for me to return repeatedly to the same local neighborhood than to drive five hours to a park. My gears are not collecting dust waiting for me to make those drives.

- I get to know the locations intimately, and can return there for just the right lighting and foot traffic. On the other hand, I also know I will find something new and unexpected every time.

- I have developed several projects with different themes for my street work. Being able to return and shoot allows me to critically add/delete each project's portfolio continuously to suit its theme.

- For each exhibit, I now try to select a gallery location that is relevant to the theme. Viewers may find themselves or someone they know in the photos, or see their neighborhoods in a different perspective.

- If and when I finally have my site up, the galleries will be divided into similar themes, and include many more photos.

- Upon request, or when I feel like it, I often send the subjects in my photos either jpegs or small prints.

- Between landscape and street work, either my own or others', I often find myself responding more *emotionally* to the latter and think of "stories" behind them. Perhaps my buyers feel the same way, and want to hang something other than just "beautiful" on their walls.
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2010, 09:09:06 AM »
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Chris, Thanks for a very fine explanation of why street photography is more interesting and more satisfying than landscape. My own gallery experience has been that "decorators" buy landscapes; artists and people actually interested in the arts buy street photographs. I've read a lot of books on the history of photography and I'll stick my neck out and say that it's always been so.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2010, 10:56:38 AM »
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Following Rob's advice, I paste this topic here previously written in another forum section:
It's about street photography and legal aspects.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Michael lastest pics make me thing about this:

Today I witnessed an unusual dispute in the street of Madrid while I was going to a work meeting.
A tourist with a big 200mm tele shoot from distance an old woman.
The Lady just jumped at him, insulting him like crazy and a group of people started to surrowding the poor guy saying that this was a violation to individual rights etc...in a very agressive way.
The guy erased the pic, (in reality the lady came in its field by accident while he was shooting a building). I tryed to defend him and calm down the others but it was impossible. Finally the tourist just moved a little scared and everything went back to normality. Some people did even want to bring the guy to the police. These extreme reactions and some recent stories that I've heard in Madrid make me wonder about the legal parts of street photography.

Street photography has never been my style, but for some reasons in the recent months I've been pushed by instinct to explore this kind of photography. The scene I just described makes me wonder about how far can we go and what are our rights and the other's.
How can this great Magnum photographer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBARi09je8 not have problems? Is it because it's New-York?

I'd like to know if the ones who practise "street" regularly are asking these people rights for publishing?
Are they aware the've been photographed? What are your ethics rules?
What can we do and what can't we do?

Have you ever experienced such a situation where you had hostility problems with some people you photographed?

Does Michael publish pics of people here without their consent?

etc...I think you got the idea.

Cheers.


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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2010, 02:14:13 PM »
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Fred, The You Tube sequence of Bruce Gilden simply proves once again that there are a lot more horses asses in the world than horses. Who says Bruce is a "great Magnum photographer?" Bruce? If he's an example of a "great" Magnum photographer then Magnum has gone pretty far downhill since Capa and his buddies started it.This is the kind of guy who turns people against street photography. He's like the bikers who roar around with extra loud mufflers and then can't understand why the city comes up with a noise ordinance.

Your guy with the battleship-gun lens is another guy who proves the horse rule. You simply don't go into a place you're not familiar with and start pointing that kind of lens at people around you. There are places where you can do that. As I pointed out in another thread, St. George street in St. Augustine, Florida is one of those places. So is Disney's Epcot, here in Florida. On Sunday I went to an art fair where you could do that. But to do it you have to be in a place where a large proportion of the people around you are carrying cameras. In that kind of place, people don't really think you're shooting a picture of them. They think you're shooting something behind them. If you're not in that kind of environment and you want to do street shooting you're much better off with something like a Leica or an Olympus E-P1 -- with the strap wrapped around your wrist and the camera in your hand, not around your neck.

As far as the rest of your question is concerned I can only tell you what the situation is in the United States, and even that varies slightly from state to state. Instead of trying to summarize it, here's a reference to a really good summary by an attorney who's also a photographer: http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm.

Do I ask for model releases? Only if I think I might want to use a picture for advertising or sell it for that purpose. As long as I sell prints as art works or use the pictures for journalistic purposes I don't need a model release. On the other hand, I have to be careful to avoid making someone look ridiculous or mis-represent him in an invidious way. The other catch is "right of publicity." Right of publicity is defined as "an individual's right to control and profit from the commercial use of his/her name, likeness and persona." In most states it only applies to famous people. A movie star, for instance, could sue me on a right of publicity complaint if I tried to make money by selling a picture of her. But I still have the right to photograph her as long as I'm in a public place and she's not in a place like, say, a restroom, where she does have an expectation of privacy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you look at the pictures of people on my web you'll realize there are very few instances where the person was aware I shot the picture. I think that anyone who does street photography regularly can say the same thing. It's just not that hard to remain inconspicuous while you shoot pictures -- once you learn how. But, of course, there's always the Bruce Gilden type around, detached from his horse.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2010, 03:24:02 PM »
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Russ, your frank repply is refreshing and I thank your wisdom and common sense in this terrain that you know very well.
I agree with all your points, except one: think that the Gilden's photographs are really good. He is crazy in his approach, but his final work is over the top IMO.
He's been in Magnum for a long time and generally Magnum does not work with average photographers, don't you think? Now his ethic is another story...

Cheers.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 03:25:43 PM by fredjeang » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2010, 03:39:14 PM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
Russ, your frank repply is refreshing and I thank your wisdom and common sense in this terrain that you know very well.
I agree with all your points, except one: think that the Gilden's photographs are really good. He is crazy in his approach, but his final work is over the top IMO.
He's been in Magnum for a long time and generally Magnum does not work with average photographers, don't you think? Now his ethic is another story...

Cheers.

Fred, Yes, I'll admit that Gilden's work is reasonably good, but his performance on the streets of New York City should at least have gotten him whopped with an umbrella or a cane. Using flash for street photography??? HCB must be rolling over in his grave. And, yes, once I even thought about trying to join Magnum -- but I was 26, I'd recently come back from a year of flying in Korea, and I was indestructible. But I had the pictures to show I could do the work, and I wasn't a stranger to war. Then I realized how much I loved flying, and, besides, I'd probably never have made the cut. I've always had a lot of respect for the outfit, though not always for all of its members.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2010, 03:50:27 PM »
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Yes, the bruce method is extremely agressive. I'd be totally unable to do this even if I where trying hard.
But I do think that more Magnum photographers are using similar methods, in wars or poor countries.
Ethic is not that easy to define when you think about it, in that style.

Here is its link for the one who are interested: http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx...=Bruce%20Gilden.

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« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2010, 04:15:59 PM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
Yes, the bruce method is extremely agressive. I'd be totally unable to do this even if I where trying hard.
But I do think that more Magnum photographers are using similar methods, in wars or poor countries.
Ethic is not that easy to define when you think about it, in that style.

Here is its link for the one who are interested: http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx...=Bruce%20Gilden.

Fred, It's not the ethic that bothers me as much as the destruction of the ambient light. Look at the washed out features of the people in his street shots. That's what comes from flash. Yes, he's holding the flash in his other hand, so it's not on-camera, but the damned flash still clobbers the ambient light. Fill-flash is one thing, though using it for street photography doesn't make sense, but this isn't fill-flash. This is flash he's using to make sure he's going to get something, even if it's a washed-out face. Henri Cartier-Bresson never used flash. Elliott Erwitt almost never used it. Chim didn't use it. These people all understood light. Bruce doesn't seem to understand it. Seems a strange lack of understanding for a photographer.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2010, 04:32:10 PM »
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I think in his case it is more a style "research". Sure that Bruce knows perfectly the rules of photography but deliberatly decided to broke them.
You can recognize his pics very easily because of that flash washing machine.
In between us, I don't use flash either. Prefer the Erwitt approach.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 04:33:20 PM by fredjeang » Logged
EduPerez
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2010, 01:36:32 AM »
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Fred, It's not the ethic that bothers me as much as the destruction of the ambient light. Look at the washed out features of the people in his street shots. That's what comes from flash. Yes, he's holding the flash in his other hand, so it's not on-camera, but the damned flash still clobbers the ambient light. Fill-flash is one thing, though using it for street photography doesn't make sense, but this isn't fill-flash. This is flash he's using to make sure he's going to get something, even if it's a washed-out face. Henri Cartier-Bresson never used flash. Elliott Erwitt almost never used it. Chim didn't use it. These people all understood light. Bruce doesn't seem to understand it. Seems a strange lack of understanding for a photographer.

Not only he is destroying the ambient light with his flash, his aggressive approach produces a reaction on the people;
I find street photography interesting when it tells a story about the people, not the photographer.
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2010, 02:56:26 AM »
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Reportage; Martin Parr; English 'holiday' towns; junk food/people; flash; colour; cult of the ugly and the defeated; exploitative crappy images; Magnum; personal opinion.

Rob C
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