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Author Topic: Hard life  (Read 3333 times)
Chairman Bill
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« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2011, 06:14:35 AM »
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As a psychologist & disability studies academic, working in a department of mental health, in a UK university, I have a particular view on this sort of photography, and maybe a slightly different 'take' on it than some.

Here in the UK, we don't worry overly about profit motive in healthcare, though our current chimera/coalition government seem set on privatising the hell out of the NHS. We've seen the closure of long-stay institutions & implementation of care in the community, and the variable quality of it. Our streets & prisons are replete with individuals struggling with mental ill-health, and many of those on the streets are ex-servicemen. The latter issue is ironic, not least given the alleged concern politicians have for our ex-military & the current outpouring of (justified) outrage at the actions of some journalists in hacking the phones of families of soldiers & marines killed in Iraq & Afghanistan. Frankly, hacking phones is small beer compared to the lack of care & support for men mentally scarred by experiences in war zones. Add in the numbers homeless & on the streets for other reasons, begging, busking or selling the Big Issue, many of whom have mental health issues too, and it is a problem that should cause far more pause for thought than it seems to do.

Personally, I have no problem with photographs of people, and we should remember that homeless & mentally ill people are still people first & foremost, and so photographing them shouldn't be off the agenda. But at the same time, issues of consent & the like, impact on the ethic that underpins practice, including photographic practice. I think it worth asking ourselves question of the kind, "Why am I photographing this person?" & thinking critically about it. What purpose does it serve? Personal interest? 'Hey! Look at this wonderful portrait I took of some poor down-and-out' hardly constitutes an ethical engagement with the subject. But there might well be considerable value in such photographs, if they are used in some campaigning way to raise public & other awareness.

Fair exchange is no robbery, but I worked with a woman who was selling her body for cigarrettes whilst sleeping in the local night shelter; sex for a half-smoked Silk Cut is abuse. But what about payment for taking a photograph? Is a cup of tea enough? Well, most people would probably let you take their photo for nothing, if you asked nicely, or even if you didn't. Sitting & chatting with someone, buying them a drink, giving them a copy of the photo - assuaging own feelings of having intruded, or sharing some common humanity & displaying a caring attitude? Some might say that we should do the latter anyway, without expecting anything in return. But then again, interdependence is no bad thing, and some people on the streets might like the thought that they've somehow earned something, or given something. Social transactions take many forms, but many people on the streets find themselves constant recipients of handouts & charity, and trading something might well give a vital feeling of self-respect.

These aren't easy black & white issues, even if the photos usually are.
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2011, 07:23:52 AM »
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I talked to this person, bought him a cup of tea and made him quite happy for 1/2 hour, you are entitled to your opinion, I think you are a little out of step   Smiley

Hi Martin,

I am not criticising you, I am simply saying that this type of image is something that I personally feel uncomfortable with, neither am I trying to analyse how you apply your moral compass to such issues, or give you advice. All I was saying is that I would not have taken this shot based on what I believe to be, his inability to knowingly consent to his plight being posted on-line, for all the world to see and entertained by.

Photobloke
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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2011, 10:12:14 AM »
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Did not realize you policed the forum and lectured here, get your head out of the sand and DO not lecture me ever again






Nothing to do with police-work; everything to do with objecting to your patronising tone. We, mainly, think for ourselves, here, and see quite enough of the world not to need guides, thank you very, very much.

Rob C
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kikashi
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« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2011, 10:18:45 AM »
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Our streets & prisons are replete with individuals struggling with mental ill-health, and many of those on the streets are ex-servicemen. The latter issue is ironic, not least given the alleged concern politicians have for our ex-military & the current outpouring of (justified) outrage at the actions of some journalists in hacking the phones of families of soldiers & marines killed in Iraq & Afghanistan.
For which, at present at any rate, there is not a scintilla of evidence.

Jeremy
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RSL
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« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2011, 10:31:22 AM »
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I think it worth asking ourselves question of the kind, "Why am I photographing this person?" & thinking critically about it. What purpose does it serve? Personal interest? 'Hey! Look at this wonderful portrait I took of some poor down-and-out' hardly constitutes an ethical engagement with the subject. But there might well be considerable value in such photographs, if they are used in some campaigning way to raise public & other awareness.

Bill, Thanks. I left out a lot of your post, and a lot of what I left out deals with questions we certainly need to confront.

But let me ask whether or not you learned anything from the face Martin posted. I learned something from it. I always learn something from that kind of face -- something that's very important but that I can't put into words. And, though I hate to use a word as amorphous as "art," I'm not reluctant to say that what I'm willing to call "art" gives the viewer or reader or listener an experience -- an understanding -- of something that can't be put into words. In a novel or in poetry of course there are words, but the transcendental experience I'm talking about is, as Archibald MacLeish pointed out, delivered not directly through the text, but through the interstices between images. I think that in the dim light of human experience you learn the most important things not by direct vision but by what you glimpse out of the corner of your eye -- just beyond your grasp. I think a photograph of a face like this can give you exactly that kind of glimpse.
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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2011, 11:42:09 AM »
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Thing is, Russ, we've had that same glance a zillion times but that fact doesn't hinder each and every guy with that bent to do it all over again.

Altruism and finer motives are something I don't see in the world of street, what I do see is the hunter. Some do it in your face, some by stealth and yet others buy their conscience clean - just like the old Borgias, then.

But that's folks - they are perfectly free to do it, it seems, but we certainly don't all have to think it an honourable quest; at best, an odd quirk in otherwise fine minds? Put it this way: were I to be in the street and saw some 'hunter' closing in on some poor old sod with his brown paper bag (probably impossible to find those nowadays), rather than move out of his line of shot sight I think I'd be tempted to linger and block his view.


On the other hand, that shot of the Indian street scene with the rat making its escape has another story perhaps more telling: the plate asking for money for stills and even more for movie shooting. It would be a fine ploy to stick such a sign above a concrete bench and wheel the poor and disenfranchised to the spot and sit them down, putting up beside it one of those disused Kodak recommended viewing signs, you know, those Take Your Snap From Here things that used to grace Epcot and probably countless other cultural spots.

No more Hard Target, just Fair Shot.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2011, 11:48:15 AM »
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LOL ... too funny. 
Anything less than a constant 100% approval and praise will NOT be tolerated. LOL



Man, that's why this place becomes an addiction: it's just like the street corner in that if you hang around long enough you'll have seen everybody and everything pass by. In the end, nothing surpries anymore but it does give you the odd grin, which is better than a headache.

;-)

Rob C
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martin-images
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« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2011, 12:51:42 PM »
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Well my picture really did start a discussion, hmm, lets see if I dare post another image Wink
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2011, 02:19:54 PM »
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Well my picture really did start a discussion, hmm, lets see if I dare post another image Wink

I suggest finding the richest (money hoarding) , fattest (compulsive eater) person in Leeds and take their portrait and see if you get the same level of reaction.
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