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Author Topic: Street photographs...Joburg...  (Read 3953 times)
seamus finn
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« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2012, 07:11:19 AM »
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Seeing that my name came up here and at the risk of hijacking Ivanís space,  I feel I should add my tuppence worth. Sorry for the delay but family stuff kept me in Galway for a couple of weeks.

When I got a chance, I ventured out into the streets of that lovely City of the Tribes Ė hence the recent posts which have caused some discussion. I find Russís and Popís constructive and frank comments invaluable. Sincere thanks to you both in your own way for making me re-evaluate my approach to Ďstreetí photography. Time will tell if Iíve learned anything.

My background is a lifetime in print journalism Ė I was a newspaper editor for forty years. Iím a reporter first and last.  Photography is my hobby. What little I know on that score is self-taught and I readily admit that my knowledge at the academic level is a vast abyss of ignorance.

Maybe my journalistic background is why Pop finds some of my stuff so lacking in complexity Ė I think I tend too often towards photojournalism. Pictorial ambiguity seems to go against the grain after a lifetime of telling it as it is. For instance, the picture of the child touching the sculpture is simply that for Pop, whereas for me, itís a story of a kid tentatively exploring the world. They guy with the bike is a piece of whimsy. As for the fellow at the wall mural, it happened so fast I just raised the camera and took the shot instinctively, but donít ask me to explain it.

To quote Russ in his brilliant piece on the subject:

ĎPeople who haven't studied street photography tend to confuse it with photojournalism. It's true that some of the photographs included in a journalism shoot might qualify as street photography, but photojournalism requires a kind of storytelling a single picture can't satisfy. Besides that, mystery isn't normally something an editor is looking for. In most cases the point of the story is to remove the mystery. A good picture story needs a central shot that can grab the viewer, and that's often the one that could qualify as a street photograph, but the story also needs peripheral shots that work to focus the central shot. You can see an example of this in Cartier-Bresson's book, The People of Moscow. If you're familiar with Henri's street photography you'll recognize that though the pictures in the book share his mastery of composition, many of them don't contain the depth that would make them good street photographs.í

Sorting out the blurred lines between candid, street and  reportage photography may be easy enough when viewing an image, but, I find. trying to make that distinction behind the lens is quite a different and much more difficult challenge. Hell, taking pictures of complete strangers in the street without getting dirty looks or worse is a tough job in itself Ė never mind the rest of it (composition, shade, light, lines, mystique etc. etc. Ė all supposedly to be considered in a fraction of a second which is impossible). As for walking up to somebody in the street a la Bruce Gilden, Gary Winogrand et al, well and shooting them in the face, not everybody has the bottle for it.

The reason I take pictures at all is because I enjoy it. There is something wholly satisfying about the physical act of lining up a frame, aligning the elements as best one can, and triggering the shutter.  Itís as simple as that and I intend to keep on doing it as long as my health allows. Iíve learned  a lot here at LuLa since I started posting in 2004 Ė and more specifically, I think you all helped to part a curtain for me on this thread these past few days..

For that, many thanks. And apologies to Ivan for intruding.
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amolitor
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« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2012, 08:25:04 AM »
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I love yachts, but go figure out a way for me to afford one of my own and I'll be grateful for the rest of my days... even if I know better now than to buy one.

There's a solution here, we call it OPB: Other People's Boats. I love OPB.
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ivan muller
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« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2012, 09:02:49 AM »
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I actually don't know anyone with a yacht..a friend of mine has a very fancy speedboat and its quite a pleasure to go on it...here's a pic of it made last December...

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Rob C
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« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2012, 09:07:18 AM »
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Iíve always lacked the courage to stick my camera in the face of a stranger Ė or so I used to believe Ė until I realised that itís nothing overridingly to do with courage (in my case) but an inhibition, a dislike of intrusion, brought about by my own personal dislike of being invaded.

Sometimes I see a shot in the local market, for example, which happens to have people in it, but itís not really about them as individuals, and thatís important; itís about the shape of the thing or because it reminds me of some allegoric else, of something not quite verbalised but nonetheless understood in that instant of recognition. Alas, Iím not a street shooter and I almost always fail to be ready. When I left India, a young Indian girl penned an entry in my autograph book (very popular with some kids in the 50s) that read: the secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes (old Indian proverb). In retrospect, perhaps she was telling me something quite else, was being specific and I never knew - was never that smart, as is obvious. But thatís hindsight, and not a lot to do with the streets of the city or even its markets! But it does apply to life and making the best of it.

Okay, I accept that one can make precise distinctions between street, reportage and even social documentation, but does it really matter? Isnít the proof of the pudding (listening, Walter?) in the eating? If the shot does something to you as you do it, work on it and then has the added bonus of pleasing an audience you respect, isnít that really as much as you should ask of it (and of the medium) if youíre doing it for fun?

In a way, I think photographers, as artists, could be somewhat narrow-minded (a huge assumption based on a core sample of one ;-)) when compared with musicians. Having got to know some of the local ones over the past couple of years, far from finding them devoted exclusively to, say, jazz, most of the more talented ones have a very broad range of musical likes that span the range from jazz (both Dixieland and modern) through rockíníroll and Latin American to classical music so alien to me I havenít the patience to listen. For them, music encompasses the whole gamut of spiritual emotions and whether they bring tears to your eyes with the blues or an idiot smile and stomping feet, one is as rewarding an experience as the other. I wish photography worked like that for me.

So, Seamus and Ivan, keep on doing what youíre doing as youíre doing it because it sure is working!

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 09:22:11 AM by Rob C » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2012, 09:19:10 AM »
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There's a solution here, we call it OPB: Other People's Boats. I love OPB.



Done that, as a brief look into the Sea section of my web site shows.

The experience showed me pretty damned soon that the old joke about 'if you have to ask what it costs, then you can't afford it' isn't any joke at all: it's the raw truth. Worse, after you've cruised in boats over 25 metres you realise, too, that anything smaller is a waste of space, nothing more than an attempt to play near the big boys rather than with them. And, apparently, it never stops: when you have the 25m one you feel uncomfortable about going to marinas where that's a small boat...as with much else, expectations and desires know no lilmits, so no, you can't have too much money and it's always possible to be the poor relation.

If you are really poor (normal), then best to avoid spending beyond your comfort zone, better just to have a ski boat if you can find a place to moor it. If. Here, you can't even join the yacht club because of the waiting list; as for berths, dream on!

Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2012, 10:12:02 AM »
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For those reading the last few posts that don't understand the concept of "boat," here is the definition:

"A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money."
                         --- origin unknown (to me).
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Rob C
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« Reply #26 on: July 10, 2012, 02:00:28 PM »
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For those reading the last few posts that don't understand the concept of "boat," here is the definition:

"A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money."
                         --- origin unknown (to me).




A hole in the water.

More than that, it is one of the few examples of the combined mathematics of spatial financial mechanics all at work in the same period in time. You also discover that the true purpose of a boat is the consumption, in copious quantities, of diesel.

You can see, too, the strange effects of skipper-input, where the exact moment when you are able to leave for your destination depends entirely on his disposition and interpretation of the several mechanical and electronic options open to such evaluation, not to make mention of the joker in the pack: weather for yesterday, today and most certainly tomorrow.

Eventually, when the right stewardess has been chosen to replace the one who ran away at the last civilized island with an airport, you think youíre going to St-Tropez. You, the sniggering crew and the boat turn up and then the negotiation begins. You didnít know that; you imagined youíd just turn up and drive in and the laughter can be heard right across the Mediterranean as you are on your way to becoming the latest joke in all the crew bars in France. Oh, and cheques are no good. Cash buys gas and space.

Small is probably good. At least, in some cases it might be. I enclose a reason why, though YMMV.

http://youtu.be/uwIGZLjugKA

Alternatively, you could always do like most of the rest of the defeated owners do: stay quietly in your home marina, sit on deck and have a drink before going ashore to a restaurant for a proper meal. Then, if you really, really have to, just to exercise the engines as much as your authority (laugh number two), you can go out into the Bay, drop anchor for a few hours, enjoy a short picnic and a lot of long drinks and then hurry back to the marina before night falls and anything exciting happens.

I used to love the idea at one time.

;-(

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 04:05:03 PM by Rob C » Logged

RSL
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« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2012, 03:42:59 PM »
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As for the fellow at the wall mural, it happened so fast I just raised the camera and took the shot instinctively, but donít ask me to explain it.

Thanks for the "brilliant piece" plug Seamus. My ego always loves a boost. But what you said about shooting the guy and the wall mural takes me to another point in that same article.

I don't think I've ever seen a planned street shot that really came off as thoroughly believable. BrassaÔ's brothel and cafe pictures come as close to being believable as any planned or posed pictures I've ever seen, and some of Doisneau's stuff, for instance "Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville," aren't too far off. But in the end, a good street shot always results from an instinctive response to what's in front of you. Here's the other quote from the article:

". . . there are two things you need to learn to do: First, you need to practice composition to the point where it becomes intuitive. You don't have time to line up all those elements of geometry with, say, the "rule of thirds." You have to see it whole in your viewfinder without stopping to analyze.

"But in many cases to wait for your conscious mind to register both the facts and the geometry is to miss the picture. So, the second thing you need to do is learn not to rely on your conscious mind, but to rely on your unconscious: to react instinctively. There simply isn't time to think about it. In the end, to do good street photography you need to practice and practice and practice. You need to become so familiar with your camera that you don't have to think about it, any more than you have to think about shifting gears when you're driving a stick-shift car, and you have to be able to frame and shoot a properly composed picture without thinking about it -- with your unconscious making the decision."

And as far as explaining it is concerned, if you can explain it it's probably not a really good street shot. Ambiguity is an important part of good street photography.

As far as the idea that a street photograph needs complexity, check http://www.scottnicholsgallery.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/CartierBresson4.jpg, one of HCB's most famous (and most wonderful) street shots. How much complexity is there in that shot? A street shot doesn't need to "draw you in." Drawing you in is what photojournalism is supposed to do.

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