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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #160 on: February 12, 2013, 05:31:05 PM »
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Ambiguity = Emperor's new clothes

Faithfuls are seeing it, infidels not.

Tongue
I think it was presented as a matter of fact, not faith. There were commands to "run to the library and get books," and so on, as though the idea were as clear as seeing that animal is different than vegetable. In fact not a soul here yet has A) defined this thing that is so easily contained in books, B) nor have they demonstrated it with the works, aside from one claim for a picture which has no ambiguity of any kind.

I wasn't evaluating this idea as dogma. It wasn't presented that way. We don't need more faith, we need more fact.
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« Reply #161 on: February 12, 2013, 06:32:17 PM »
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RG you've told us that what we all mean by the word ambiguity is wrong. You're not doing a good job of explaining what you think it means, though. That was the thrust of my question, a request that you do so. I repeat that request now.

Of course we're not very interested in copying the contents of books here. You can go read HCB etc yourself. Feel free to. Since it took those guys pages and pages to describe some things, it's pretty unlikely that lesser people, like us, could whip out a quick explanation in a 200 word forum post.

Especially since we all have ambiguity wrong to start with!
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #162 on: February 12, 2013, 06:40:06 PM »
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It seems as if we are arguing about the application of a somewhat ambiguous word. That could go on for a long time. We also need to be careful about whether we are using the word as descriptive or evaluative. Is it a synonym for quality, so that more of it is better, or just one characteristic among others? For mine, there are degrees of "ambiguity". Sometimes there is something jut a little bit unclear about an only mildly interesting narrative - as in my shot, IMO. Sometimes the implied narrative is stronger and less clear - Chris C's shot a fair way along that continuum, but not as far as it is possible to go.

I don't think the word is ambiguous at all. I think the application of it to photography, as expressed in this thread, is obviously unclear and ill-defined. I can't under any circumstance see how it can be considered synonymous with quality. I've never heard anyone make such a case. It's also not synonymous with vague. Mere vagueness doesn't necessarily imply ambiguity. "Ambi-" is latin for both. Thus in the usual parlance, ambiguity means "both readings are possible." Most often there is an A and B reading under question, and they are generally very different from each other. For example, many famous optical illusions are based on ambiguity. e.g. This way you look it is a witch, but that way you look it is a beautiful princess. That's the meaning of ambiguity - the one contains both. It is all contained in the image, not in a set of words you make up for the witch, which is suppose to make you think she is a princess - it is ALL in the image.

In photography, the characteristics of the photograph have to be visual. There's no sound capture, there's no mind reading, there's no third dimension as in sculpture. The reading is purely visual. Therefore, any ambiguous reading of the photograph must be carried within the photograph proper.

The only photograph here claimed to be ambiguous was the one Chris posted of the two men looking at each other. Yes, the viewer can if they choose make up any number of mental stories based on thoughts and imagined speech. But they can do that same thing with any photograph with people. Exactly as Chris did in his commentary. That's a feature, but it's not what is meant by ambiguity in a photograph. That feature is simply intellectual content - "the stuff you think about." Ambiguity would have to be about the visual content, not Chris' imagined dialog. Everything about that photograph is frank and explicit. The two people are what they are. The scene is what it is. There's no "witch and princess" concepts embedded in there. If you wanted to make a big deal out of what expressions are on their face, you might say it has some mystery. But again, mystery is not ambiguity.

If ambiguity is to have some meaning in photography, it must be selective on some rational basis. If all photographs are made ambiguous by nothing more than making up possible dialogs, then the term is meaningless.

I do agree with you that whatever features of a photograph do exist are always on a continuum from a little to a lot.
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« Reply #163 on: February 12, 2013, 06:48:41 PM »
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Okay, we need to get back to square one on the "ambiguity" thing. My dictionary defines ambiguity as "1. An expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its content." and "2. Unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning." When trying to apply the meanings to street photography I'd probably rule out #1, but #2 would come closer to what's involved, though it doesn't really get there.

I'll say again what I've said over and over: if you really want to understand what street photography is you have to become familiar with the work of the people who defined it. They didn't define it in words. They didn't say anything like: "street photography has to be ambiguous." What they did was shoot pictures that are in a class by itself -- a pretty distinct photographic genre. If you're not familiar with the real thing you're not going to be able to apply a word like "ambiguity" to a photographic genre and have it make sense.

Let's try the term "self-explanatory." I think that comes closer to dealing with what's there. If a picture is self-explanatory it's not street photography. So let's see if applying that term helps.

Let's go back through some of the pics above. I don't want to go too far back because it's time for me to get to bed so I can get up before dawn and go out on the river.  Is Slobodan's "Chicks" self-explanatory? You bet. It's a girl and her mother looking at some chicks. Cute picture, but there's nothing else there. My "Stroller?" Not quite. The guy's pants don't explain themselves. Chris's "Passing Glances?" Almost. Basically two guys shooting the breeze. Ken's "Two?" I really like the picture, but it's a couple talking. Nothing that goes beyond what's there in the picture. Rob's "Girl Flowers Alley?" It's too small for me to see what's in it. Mike's "In the Courtyard?" A guy smoking and reading a paper. Another good shot, but quite self-explanatory. Cjogo's little girls? Again, too small to be sure. Cute, but I don't see anything there but some kids up against a screen. I've made comments on some of Seamus's stuff and Stamper's stuff so I don't need to go there again.

So let's toss out the word, "ambiguity" and try to use a different approach. There IS a genre called "street photography" and in order for a picture to fall into the genre it can't be self-explanatory. There's more to it than that, but that's a start.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #164 on: February 12, 2013, 06:57:46 PM »
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RG you've told us that what we all mean by the word ambiguity is wrong. You're not doing a good job of explaining what you think it means, though. That was the thrust of my question, a request that you do so. I repeat that request now.

Of course we're not very interested in copying the contents of books here. You can go read HCB etc yourself. Feel free to. Since it took those guys pages and pages to describe some things, it's pretty unlikely that lesser people, like us, could whip out a quick explanation in a 200 word forum post.

Especially since we all have ambiguity wrong to start with!

It wasn't my challenge to explain it. You forget so easily, it was the posters here who made all the claims about "ambiguity in street photography." I was the guy saying, "explain it." And no one can.

I've never known any idea that can't be reduced to a summary by a person who understands the idea. "Go read the book" is an admission of an inability to explain the idea, or summarize the idea. When you know something, making a summary is simple. When you don't, you tell people to go read the book.

I let the argument alone for a couple days to see just what photographs would be posted as "ambiguous street photographs." After seeing none for several days, I thought it time to check in on why these photos were being posted. They certainly aren't emulations of Cartier-Bresson! LOL So, I supposed that they were therefore "ambiguous street photography" and I asked someone to explain their ambiguous photo. Chris did. Now I know what you all think constitutes ambiguity in a photograph. Stuff which "can't be whipped out in a 200 word post." Oh, I see.
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« Reply #165 on: February 12, 2013, 07:06:55 PM »
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We did explain it, and you said we were wrong. We explained that it at least included ambiguity in the narratives we write when we see a photograph. That was an explanation. That is, in fact, the explanation.

You rejected this explanation, rather snottily, and have been prattling arrogantly along for 100s of words now about how wrong we are. Apparently you have some notion of what "ambiguous" means. If you didn't, then how would you know our definition was wrong? Ours seems to work pretty well.

You have said something on this subject:

"Ambiguity isn't about making up countless variations of stories for the photograph. It is about the photograph driving in two (or sometimes more) basically divergent directions based on the photographic content - not some imagined verbal content."

which I am unable to make sense of. I have asked you now, three times, to make an effort to clarify this, and you are dismissive every time. I begin to suspect that you don't know what it means either.
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amolitor
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« Reply #166 on: February 12, 2013, 07:25:07 PM »
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I like Russ's approach as well, but let me defend "ambiguity" a bit more anyways.

A street photograph generates an ambiguous response in the viewer, we find ourselves unsure what to make of the photograph. There are human interactions in it that we are unable to interpret in a single satisfying way. There appear to be multiple ways to read the human interaction occurring within the frame, or sometimes there is no way we can read it. The result is that we are left with questions, a distinct sense of failure to understand. That failure to understand is coupled, I think, to a strong sense that something more or less reasonable IS going on, however. It's not simply weirdos, we feel that some more or less normal interaction is occurring, but we cannot work out what it is.

You may feel free to quibble over whether the photograph itself is ambiguous, or whether it's merely the response of the viewer that is ambiguous while the photograph itself is perfectly clear. I think this is stupid hair-splitting, and shall endeavor to avoid it.

Worth noting: Russ is perfectly correct that all this rubbish is really just describing what we perceive as certain important features of a genre which is defined by itself, and not by any collection of a couple hundred or a couple thousand words here and there.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #167 on: February 12, 2013, 07:36:46 PM »
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Okay, we need to get back to square one on the "ambiguity" thing. My dictionary defines ambiguity as "1. An expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its content." and "2. Unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning." When trying to apply the meanings to street photography I'd probably rule out #1, but #2 would come closer to what's involved, though it doesn't really get there.

I'll say again what I've said over and over: if you really want to understand what street photography is you have to become familiar with the work of the people who defined it. They didn't define it in words. They didn't say anything like: "street photography has to be ambiguous." What they did was shoot pictures that are in a class by itself -- a pretty distinct photographic genre. If you're not familiar with the real thing you're not going to be able to apply a word like "ambiguity" to a photographic genre and have it make sense.

Let's try the term "self-explanatory." I think that comes closer to dealing with what's there. If a picture is self-explanatory it's not street photography. So let's see if applying that term helps.

Let's go back through some of the pics above. I don't want to go too far back because it's time for me to get to bed so I can get up before dawn and go out on the river.  Is Slobodan's "Chicks" self-explanatory? You bet. It's a girl and her mother looking at some chicks. Cute picture, but there's nothing else there. My "Stroller?" Not quite. The guy's pants don't explain themselves. Chris's "Passing Glances?" Almost. Basically two guys shooting the breeze. Ken's "Two?" I really like the picture, but it's a couple talking. Nothing that goes beyond what's there in the picture. Rob's "Girl Flowers Alley?" It's too small for me to see what's in it. Mike's "In the Courtyard?" A guy smoking and reading a paper. Another good shot, but quite self-explanatory. Cjogo's little girls? Again, too small to be sure. Cute, but I don't see anything there but some kids up against a screen. I've made comments on some of Seamus's stuff and Stamper's stuff so I don't need to go there again.

So let's toss out the word, "ambiguity" and try to use a different approach. There IS a genre called "street photography" and in order for a picture to fall into the genre it can't be self-explanatory. There's more to it than that, but that's a start.


I know some folks who insist that Rock and Roll means Buddy Holly, period. I don't care really, but the world moved on from that, and Rock and Roll evolves with new artists - - thank goodness, as far as I am concerned.

What I see you want is to freeze Street Photography just like my friends want to freeze R&R. Ok, have at it. But the world has moved on, and there are street photographers pushing new frontiers. As one writer put it, "Street photography has been a continuous wave since the invention of photography." So, I get the angle here - you want to post pictures that look like Cartier-Bresson's pictures. Ok with me -  of course. Anybody can make up threads to be what they want. I only object to this insistence that street photography ended with those images - like when Buddy Holly died. Your world may have stopped, but it went right on spinning for everyone else.

Any attempt to freeze art with an individual artist is futile. I don't buy it at all. Nor do I think you can freeze it with one particular style. I've looked at C-B images for years and years and years. They are wonderful. But so are many new images from street photographers today.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #168 on: February 12, 2013, 07:41:52 PM »
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We did explain it, and you said we were wrong. We explained that it at least included ambiguity in the narratives we write when we see a photograph. That was an explanation. That is, in fact, the explanation.

You rejected this explanation, rather snottily, and have been prattling arrogantly along for 100s of words now about how wrong we are. Apparently you have some notion of what "ambiguous" means. If you didn't, then how would you know our definition was wrong? Ours seems to work pretty well.

You have said something on this subject:

"Ambiguity isn't about making up countless variations of stories for the photograph. It is about the photograph driving in two (or sometimes more) basically divergent directions based on the photographic content - not some imagined verbal content."

which I am unable to make sense of. I have asked you now, three times, to make an effort to clarify this, and you are dismissive every time. I begin to suspect that you don't know what it means either.

I made it very clear a few posts above your post here:
QUOTE
I don't think the word is ambiguous at all. I think the application of it to photography, as expressed in this thread, is obviously unclear and ill-defined. I can't under any circumstance see how it can be considered synonymous with quality. I've never heard anyone make such a case. It's also not synonymous with vague. Mere vagueness doesn't necessarily imply ambiguity. "Ambi-" is latin for both. Thus in the usual parlance, ambiguity means "both readings are possible." Most often there is an A and B reading under question, and they are generally very different from each other. For example, many famous optical illusions are based on ambiguity. e.g. This way you look it is a witch, but that way you look it is a beautiful princess. That's the meaning of ambiguity - the one contains both. It is all contained in the image, not in a set of words you make up for the witch, which is suppose to make you think she is a princess - it is ALL in the image.
END QUOTE

You're a rude, nasty and arrogant man. I don't have much interest in engaging you. If you can't hold your arrogance in check, I'll just ignore you from here forward.
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Patricia Sheley
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« Reply #169 on: February 12, 2013, 08:07:02 PM »
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about a book by Roland Barthes.
 Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
 Author(s) Roland Barthes
 Original title  La Chambre claire
 Translator  Richard Howard
 Country  France
 Language  French

 Subject(s)  Photography, Philosophy
 Publisher  Hill and Wang
 Publication date  1980
 Published in English  1981
 Media type  Print (Softcover)
 ISBN  0-8090-3340-2
 OCLC Number  7307145
 Dewey Decimal  770/.1 19
 LC Classification  TR642 .B3713 1981
 

Camera Lucida (in French, La Chambre claire) is a short book published in 1980 by the French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes. It is simultaneously an inquiry into the nature and essence of photography and a eulogy to Barthes' late mother. The book investigates the effects of photography on the spectator (as distinct from the photographer, and also from the object photographed, which Barthes calls the "spectrum").
 
In a deeply personal discussion of the lasting emotional effect of certain photographs, Barthes considers photography as asymbolic, irreducible to the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind. The book develops the twin concepts of studium and punctum: studium denoting the cultural, linguistic, and political interpretation of a photograph, punctum denoting the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it.
 
[edit] Context
 
Camera Lucida, along with Susan Sontag's On Photography, was one of the most important early academic books of criticism and theorization on photography. Neither writer was a photographer, however, and both works have been much criticised since the 1990s. Nevertheless, it was by no means Barthes' earliest approach to the subject. Barthes mentions photography in one of his 'little mythologies'—articles published in the journal Les Lettres Nouvelles starting in 1954 and gathered in Mythologies, published untranslated in 1957. The article "Photography and Electoral Appeal" is more obviously political than Camera Lucida. In the 1960s and entering the next decade, Barthes' analysis of photography develops more detail and insight through a structuralist approach; Mythologies 's treatment of photography is by comparison tangential and simple. There is still in this structural phase a strong political impulse and background to his theorizing of photography; Barthes connects photography's ability to represent without style (a 'perfect analagon': "The Photographic Message", 1961) to its tendency to naturalise what are in fact invented and highly structured meanings. His examples deal with press photographs and advertising, which make good use of this property (or bad use of it, as the case may be). Published two months prior to his death in 1980, Camera Lucida is Barthes' first and only book devoted to photography. By now his tactics in writing, always shifting and complex, favouring the dialectical to the morally or politically 'committed' (Sartre), had once again changed. If sentimentality can be seen as a tactic in the late career of Roland Barthes, then Camera Lucida belongs to such an approach. It is novelistic, in line with the developments towards this new type of writing which Barthes had shown with A Lover's Discourse and Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. However, the ideas about photography in Camera Lucida are certainly prepared in essays like "The Photographic Message", "Rhetoric of the Image" (1964), and "The Third Meaning" (1971). There is a movement through these three pieces of which Camera Lucida can be seen as the culmination. With "The Third Meaning" there is the suggestion that the photograph's reality, aside from all the messages it can be loaded with, might constitute an avant-garde value: not a message as such, aimed at the viewer/reader, but another kind of meaning that arises almost accidentally yet without being simply 'the material' or 'the accidental'; this is the eponymous third meaning. This essay of 1970, ostensibly about some Eisenstein stills, anticipates many of Camera Lucida's ideas and connects them back to still earlier ones. One could almost swap the term third meaning for the punctum of Camera Lucida.
 
Yet the personal note of pain in Camera Lucida is not present in these earlier writings and is unmistakable. Written after his mother's death, Camera Lucida is as much a reflection on death as it is on photography. Barthes died in an automobile accident soon after the publication of Camera Lucida, and many have read the book as Barthes' eulogy for himself.
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Dahlmann
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« Reply #170 on: February 12, 2013, 09:54:06 PM »
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Im not in to street photographing
But i have start to get a taste of it.







/Dahlmann
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #171 on: February 12, 2013, 11:01:01 PM »
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Im not in to street photographing
But i have start to get a taste of it.







/Dahlmann

This photograph is so busy that it is difficult to find a clear subject. Eventually, one comes to the girl sitting in profile, but that figure is at rest, and not very interesting, The plethora of signs don't send much of a message of anything interesting. There are too many objects in the photograph. I think what would have improved this is to move around with the camera and try alternate framings until you have a clear story in the viewfinder. Usually, less is more. If it isn't supporting the subject in an interesting way, it probably doesn't need to be in the photograph. Be more parsimonious. There was probably some potential photograph at that moment, but you settled to early for a view that didn't work out.
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« Reply #172 on: February 13, 2013, 12:54:44 AM »
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If all photographs are made ambiguous by nothing more than making up possible dialogs, then the term is meaningless.
Indeed. But I don't think anyone is saying that. My take on it starts with the notion that the human mind is, among other things, a machine for inventing and finding stories. Google "narrative psychology" for pages and pages of references in a variety of fields. Put simply, we look for and find stories in the world around us, including on the streets, and including in photographs. Photography (and visual art generally) hooks into this quality of the mind in a variety of ways. Documentary photography, as Russ has described it, as a common way. Obama's inauguration, a mother and baby, the audience at a rock concert - you get the idea. It is worth noting that you have to know the story before you can find it and many stories are more or less culturally specific. To a member of an undiscovered tribe in the upper Amazon, a picture of Obama's inauguration probably wouldn't tell much of a story but they would probably get the mother and baby. To me, a photograph of a landscape in Central Australia is just another landscape, while to an aboriginal person who lives there it will tell a detailed story about creation myths and the songs in which they are remembered.

Sometimes, though, there has to be a story there, but we can't work out quite what it is. "Ambiguity", as I have argued before, and as Russ has agreed, isn't at all a good word for this because, as you rightly say, it implies two or more identifiable meanings which you flip between and that absolutely isn't what we are talking about. It has, however, been the word used in many conversations about photographs which have the quality we are talking about, because nobody has come up with a better one. It isn't a matter of making up a variety of possible dialogues arbitrarily as you suggest. The image asks for a narrative answer, even demands one, and constrains, through its content, the possible answers, but refuses to conclusively provide one - but we can't let it drop, because the image is powerful enough to suck us in.  It's not that you make up stories, rather that the image asks the question "what exactly is going on here" and you can't quite get to an answer. This is an experience which you may or may not have had. If you have had it you know what we are talking about.

I agree with you that "ambiguity" in this sense is just one possible quality in photographs of people out of doors and isn't in any way synonymous with quality. But I am a bit surprised that you go on to say that you have never heard of anyone regard it as synonymous with quality. When you denounce those of us who value "ambiguity" as being stuck in the past and talk about how young street photographers are doing different and fine things, you seem to imply that we think that "ambiguity" is the only way to do photography of people out of doors. I think most of us don't, and we we mostly agree about the young street photographers as well. And if you want to talk about the past, google "Cartier Bresson Images" and look through what you find. I just did this and concluded that many, even most, of the shots I found were primarily documentary. But some had this other quality, to a greater or lesser degree. If we could sit down together in front of a screen, we could have a friendly discussion about where we found it. I find it, for example, here - and note that people looking out of the frame is a common feature, because you wonder what they are looking at.

cheers

Ken

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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #173 on: February 13, 2013, 02:18:03 AM »
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Indeed. But I don't think anyone is saying that. My take on it starts with the notion that the human mind is, among other things, a machine for inventing and finding stories. Google "narrative psychology" for pages and pages of references in a variety of fields. Put simply, we look for and find stories in the world around us, including on the streets, and including in photographs. Photography (and visual art generally) hooks into this quality of the mind in a variety of ways. Documentary photography, as Russ has described it, as a common way. Obama's inauguration, a mother and baby, the audience at a rock concert - you get the idea. It is worth noting that you have to know the story before you can find it and many stories are more or less culturally specific. To a member of an undiscovered tribe in the upper Amazon, a picture of Obama's inauguration probably wouldn't tell much of a story but they would probably get the mother and baby. To me, a photograph of a landscape in Central Australia is just another landscape, while to an aboriginal person who lives there it will tell a detailed story about creation myths and the songs in which they are remembered.

Sometimes, though, there has to be a story there, but we can't work out quite what it is. "Ambiguity", as I have argued before, and as Russ has agreed, isn't at all a good word for this because, as you rightly say, it implies two or more identifiable meanings which you flip between and that absolutely isn't what we are talking about. It has, however, been the word used in many conversations about photographs which have the quality we are talking about, because nobody has come up with a better one. It isn't a matter of making up a variety of possible dialogues arbitrarily as you suggest. The image asks for a narrative answer, even demands one, and constrains, through its content, the possible answers, but refuses to conclusively provide one - but we can't let it drop, because the image is powerful enough to suck us in.  It's not that you make up stories, rather that the image asks the question "what exactly is going on here" and you can't quite get to an answer. This is an experience which you may or may not have had. If you have had it you know what we are talking about.

I agree with you that "ambiguity" in this sense is just one possible quality in photographs of people out of doors and isn't in any way synonymous with quality. But I am a bit surprised that you go on to say that you have never heard of anyone regard it as synonymous with quality. When you denounce those of us who value "ambiguity" as being stuck in the past and talk about how young street photographers are doing different and fine things, you seem to imply that we think that "ambiguity" is the only way to do photography of people out of doors. I think most of us don't, and we we mostly agree about the young street photographers as well. And if you want to talk about the past, google "Cartier Bresson Images" and look through what you find. I just did this and concluded that many, even most, of the shots I found were primarily documentary. But some had this other quality, to a greater or lesser degree. If we could sit down together in front of a screen, we could have a friendly discussion about where we found it. I find it, for example, here - and note that people looking out of the frame is a common feature, because you wonder what they are looking at.

cheers

Ken



It's good and well to be done with ambiguity. I think even RSL has dumped it. Let's move on. I conclude you also didn't buy Chris' answer, because it really just involved alternate dialogs he supposed were possible, and which made it ambiguous to him. Even if you don't reject that, I do. Ok then, you go on to describe this certain something you are all looking for. If I reduce it down, I'd say you are describing the quality of mystery and enigmatic narrative. I will now argue that such is so common it doesn't deserve this high place you have set aside.

Let me start by countering RSL's latest rule that the photograph (for this genre) "can't be self explanatory." This is the replacement for ambiguity. This new rule is in clear conflict with the very essence of photography, which is that ALL photographs are both self-explanatory, self truthful, and self-contained. More to the point, the photograph is an explanation of time and space itself. A thing which can't explain itself can not therefore be a photograph. But that statement doesn't carry with it the idea that every viewer will understand or accept the explanation offered in the photograph. The photograph IS...whilst the viewer APPROACHES. The viewer doesn't bring truth the photograph. The truth existed before it was viewed. This is inviolable.  So, when a photograph makes a person dream various dreams, think various thoughts, and feel various emotions, it is the truth of the content causing those effects.  All photographs do that by degree. Not just street photographs, and not just "these certain special kinds" of street photographs. There is nothing special at all about a photograph stimulating multiple dreams and visions in certain people. The one that does it for you, may not do it for me. Well, these things are obvious I won't detail all the permutations.

When you engage a photograph, you can ponder a thousand questions. Who, what, why, when, where? And for each character, each face, each circumstance. The more the photo engages you, the more questions you can ask, if you like doing that. Or you can search for the truth that the photograph is expressing within itself. That might involve no questions. One approach is not better or worse than the other. They are different. I can easily suggest that just keeping your mind occupied with a thousand questions about who'dunnit, might mean you miss the explanation all together. Then you get into how to access the truth in a photograph. A very individual thing. BUT, whatever that questioning is about, it doesn't define the importance of a photograph. You can't say, "this one creates more questions, and thus is a better photo." That should not be arguable.

The inherent power of photography is that stimulation which happens because the photograph is a truth unto itself. The viewers are all out there peering into these truths, and quite frankly, most of the time they are scratching their heads. A guy asked me in the "Travel Vista" thread why on earth I posted some of those photos. He said, try as he might, he couldn't find a reason I would post them (keep in mind this was a photographer asking). What's the meaning there? Here's how I explained it to him. If I write on the chalk board "F=ma", and then ask the assembled audience, "What is this explaining?" Or, "what truth is being expressed there?" I will get some who know what it means, and some who don't have a clue. The difference in the two groups is: background.

I have been studying photographs for 45 years. I am well familiar with the photographs of all the renown photographers. What I know for certain is that there are only three paths by which a viewer finds interest (connection) in any of those photographs: by intellectual introspection; by emotional connection; by visual stimulation. Some viewers of a particular photograph get one path going, some get all three, and many get none. The difference is: background.

The summary is this. If your background is stuck at Cartier-Bresson (name your artist), you will connect only to those themes and styles and features of those photographs. Tell me you haven't heard a parent of a 16 year old saying, "That crap is not music!" If your background is stuck on enigmatic photographs, then direct one might not make sense to you. Art simply doesn't stand still for anyone though and what was before is simply past.

I look at contemporary photography all the time, every day. I am part of intensive personal critiques with artists and photographers weekly. I am not stuck in any photographic era, or stuck on any photographic artist. It's today, I am going to take my own photographs, which will contain their own truths and explanations. I did pay my dues to all those who came before, and they all said the same thing: be true to your own vision. It might be gawd-awful, but it is mine and not borrowed. Never once before pressing the shutter button have I stopped to ask myself, "Is this how the other guys would do it?"

I am always enjoying looking at photographs. If you'd like to look at some together (somehow), It's one of my favorite pastimes. I'm always game. Thanks.
 
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kencameron
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« Reply #174 on: February 13, 2013, 02:46:47 AM »
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If I reduce it down, I'd say you are describing the quality of mystery and enigmatic narrative
No, I am not. Something much more specific. And just one among many interesting characteristic of (some) photographs, and not something I put on a pedestal. But I don't think it is worth going on with.  If I were to, I would have to start by pointing out the places in which you attribute to me views and attitudes which I don't hold and haven't expressed, and I don't have the patience. Productive discussion requires a certain level of engagement with what the other party actually says, and I don't feel I am getting that from you. Probably I haven't expressed myself clearly enough to give you the raw material you would need.

As to the rest of what you say, I agree with most of it and I certainly don't doubt your credentials.

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« Reply #175 on: February 13, 2013, 04:00:39 AM »
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We don't need more faith, we need more fact.


I so hope, pray, and wish,
with all my heart,
that facts are not the truth
behind great works of Art.


Even so, I'll try at a succinct definition under the guise of less-is-more:

Street-photography depicts a recognisable situation within human society, and gives that situation a distinctly different graphical or narrative meaning.

-------------------------------
1. "A recognisable  situation within human society" means a more or less common occurrence in a synthetic context. A street is the prime example of such a context. The word "street" also represents the notion of an everyday situation that one could encounter going outside "on the street".

2. "A distinctly different meaning" means it allows for an alternative interpretation as graphic elements or in narrative, which is at least as clear as the normal interpretation (by a moderately intelligent observer).

2a. If the alternative interpretation co-exists with the normal interpretation, or there are several alternative but coherent interpretations possible, then it can be understood as "ambiguous".

2b. If there is no clear alternative interpretation, or it is incoherent, then it fails the specific "street" category and probably fits the "documentary" category. (It may still be a pleasing image).
-------------------------------

Note that I am in no way, shape, or form equipped with an artistic background that allows me to make these type of definitions. I am simply trying to help define what I have read here, and combining that with what little knowledge I have to at least attempt to form a "constructive" definition.

Using too many words to explain which rules do not apply, still doesn't help to create a uniform agreement on what can at least be considered part of the game. So here is a futile request to some of the avid contributors without naming people explicitly: if you have strong ideas about what "street-photography" might be, please help in a definition attempt. Merely dismissing attempts by other people is not going to advance our joint effort here.

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Oscar Rysdyk
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« Reply #176 on: February 13, 2013, 04:07:48 AM »
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I think we are in great danger of over analysing the meaning of Street. It obviously means different things to different people and that is possibly/probably good. That means a variety of image will be posted but if it is narrowed down to one meaning then the posts will become restricted and the thread will die.
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opgr
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« Reply #177 on: February 13, 2013, 04:21:07 AM »
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I think we are in great danger of over analysing the meaning of Street. It obviously means different things to different people and that is possibly/probably good. That means a variety of image will be posted but if it is narrowed down to one meaning then the posts will become restricted and the thread will die.

Perhaps we need a "Street without Prejudice" thread ;-)
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Oscar Rysdyk
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« Reply #178 on: February 13, 2013, 04:54:53 AM »
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Incoming.













« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 04:57:01 AM by seamus finn » Logged

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« Reply #179 on: February 13, 2013, 05:53:57 AM »
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You're a rude, nasty and arrogant man. I don't have much interest in engaging you. If you can't hold your arrogance in check, I'll just ignore you from here forward.

Coming from you, that's hilarious.

It's pretty obvious that you're not interested in addressing anything I have actually said, answering any of the questions that I have posed, and so on. You would prefer to rattle on in your content-free pseudo-intellectual style endlessly. By all means, do so. I won't necessarily ignore you, I predict that your regular howlers will continue to be worth pointing out from time to time.
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