Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by samstevens, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. Shot recently at my local (Brutalist) metro station.

  2. heavy handed... I know your photography well enough to know it's intentional. whata ya thinking here, brutal?
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  3. About a week ago, I was mugged ... not hurt badly but left feeling angry and vulnerable. There was bad and good. After I was hit in the head, I walked into a nearby Starbucks, and two very nice young women baristas gave me a towel with some ice and showed me some kindness, which prevented a bump and gave me a psychic lift. The next day, I was feeling like I needed to get something out, so I took a walk with my camera. This is where I wound up. I took two shots that seemed to sum things up for me. I originally thought of them as a diptych, but couldn't quite get them juxtaposed in a way I liked. Here's the second shot ...


    I believe this is the first time I've actually gone out to shoot based on a specific experience I had. In any case, I wasn't so much thinking ...

    I agree it's heavy handed. I just needed to do it.
  4. Being mugged sucks! Brutal. We're you thinking about the incident when processing?, Or was that at play in the subconscious?
  5. Yes and yes. I chose the two and processed as soon as I got home, which is unusual. I also stuck with my original processing and didn't alter what I originally did, though I waited about a week to post it.
  6. I think diptych is a very good idea! I don't know what obstacle you encountered. Be it subject, content, processing, graphic...
    But I think if the processing conflicted perhaps there may be an alternative approach......
  7. Thanks for taking the time and putting in the thought to ask these questions.

    It's funny, even though I felt and wanted them to go together, when I actually processed them I let each take me wherever. I didn't let "the pair" dictate or even influence how I processed. When I did put them side by side or above and below, something in the mood of the two together wasn't right. I saw the ray of hope in each, but the (too) graphic processing of the first seemed at odds with what the second one was offering. Now that some time has passed, I'll give it another go in the next day or so and see if I come up with something that works for me. I won't be surprised if the second gets adjusted as well once the first takes a few steps back.
  8. I like.
    But I am always a sucker for (IR-like) black skies;)
  9. What can I say about your feelings?

    Before your description of events, I saw birds, doing what they always do, making use of largely contrived architectural form, to perch and rest. Did the committee that approved the plans think of this usage? Then I think of the elaborate, man made perches, that we spend millions building and then someone tries to keep the birds off, by adding little strings, or other distractions.

    After your description, I see the birds, uncaring, while someone is mugged. If actions were loud enough, they might take off, fly in a circle, then land again, uncaring, doing what they always do...

    The second image, I only saw after knowing the event that preceded the image. I see it as a place, municipal, but artistic, where thieves use it for their purposes. Those that are hurt, can't see it the same way as they used to, before their attacks.

    Thanks goodness for the sweet young women that took care of you (good Samaritans) and thank goodness you're okay.
  10. Cool.
    There's one born every minute! First thing I thought of. Looked it up and there's controversy (as there often is with famous quotes) over who first said it. Most attribute it to P.T. Barnum. His biographer doubts it because he doesn't know whether the word "sucker" was even used derogatorily in his time and also doesn't think Barnum was the type to have disparaged his patrons. Other sources have it as a quote from well-known con man, Joe Bessimer. In any case, many of us photographers are con men, even in truth, so "if the shoe fits ..." (which seems to have its start in Britain as "if the cap fits ...")
    dcstep likes this.
  11. Honestly, anything you want. :)
    Thanks for this. It's interesting how your response remained fairly literal and the description seemed to personalize your response. Had I posted the diptych I originally intended, I was going to introduce it with a description of events, but the solo bird photo didn't seem to warrant it as much, though I'm glad I was asked. It's interesting to hear changes in perspective when motivations or background events are known. These things are often so much a part of what goes into the work and I think it's good for us to talk about them here.
    Thanks for the kind thoughts!
  12. I know. Thanks.
  13. Wow. This first image, coupled with your experience, seems perfect in many ways.
    Knowing what we know about your having been mugged shapes the interpretation of the imagery aspects of the photo.

    There’s a lot here and the image is very stark, I guess the processing has something to do with that; the black and white rendering helps in this regard too.

    OK so this is pretty loose- I’m sitting in a barber shop awaiting a haircut! So I am on my phone and will limit my comments to the first photo.

    The pigeons all lined up amidst all the lines and rectangles sort of remind me of people, very symbolic. Let’s say typically, society looks on or sits idly by, letting a lot of questionable things slide. Neither commenting or caring. Nor intervening.

    The individual, rectangular spaces seem to emulate neighborhoods or city blocks.

    The strong concrete(?) leading lines, coming in and up from lower left, making a sharp left turn, seem to sort of represent a random turn you could have made that led you to cross paths with the mugger. What if you’d taken another turn? Do all roads lead to here? Is this your path in life, the road to ruin, or the yellow brick road to la la land?

    The fact that the boldly visible concrete lines lead to the one bird taking flight feels like it could be seen as a prelude to release. Emotion? Physical release? Letting go? Or does this one bird feel more like a representation of the fact that out of all the people, a small number of them actually do something while most others stand by observing. Or not caring.

    The flying bird seems dead center, all lines seem to point vaguely towards or away from center and the whole black sky feels the space of the netherworld or void.

    Everything goes everywhere and nowhere at the same time, surrounded by blackness, yet that one bird..... the image an element of hope or positivity.

    Not sure I’ve adequately verbalized my feelings about this? But hopefully I have. In any case, glad you’re OK (are you? I hope so).
    dcstep and ericphelps like this.
  14. I’m laughing because I thought you were starting your interpretation and I thought, what an imagination to conjure up sitting in a barbershop from looking at this photo. I should have taken you more literally! :)
    Without consciously thinking about it, I think some sense of their idleness was at play for me, too. Their protruding perches were the aggressors.
    I think this is a great metaphor for brutalist architecture. It's such an apt visual to use.
    I try to identify with the bird in flight, or at least put my hopes in it!
    I think you've done a great job of describing your response and I appreciate it. I'm fine!
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  15. Sam, hope you are doing OK. I was never mugged, but I was once involved in a car accident where the car tumbled down a hill slope with me inside. I was shaken pretty badly. Still, our experiences are not directly comparable I think. Mine was an accident, while yours was the result of a deliberate conscious act of a stranger(s). Since mine was an accident, I didn't feel much anger, just trauma. The emotional toll on you may have been a mixture of multiple emotions, including possibly betrayal and perhaps a momentary feeling of despair, being treated like this by a fellow human being, who you have embraced as subjects in your photos.

    The reason I am saying this is, some of that emotion does show in the two photos you posted. In both photos, the unreal sky sets the background emotion of a betrayed individual, where the world may appear unreal or artificial to him. The birds under a pitch black sky highlights that unrealism and I can extend by comparing the birds to the human society who may be partly oblivious to the lack of reality around them.

    In the second photo, the fleeting light may be disappearing, or growing bigger, showing some level of ambiguity. The tie may be broken depending on the viewer's mood. I am predominantly feeling, that the light is coming towards me, rather than backwards, perhaps because I feel a sense of optimism currently. My mood may be different tomorrow, and so would the impression of this image ... but thats just me.
    dcstep and Ricochetrider like this.
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I only looked at the image to provide my critique.

    Considering the Title
    , I interpreted it as a modern pictorial based upon D. H. Lawrence's poem Self Pity.

    That resonated with me and also moved me.


    I am sorry that you were mugged. I wish you a speedy recovery.


    Self-Pity (D.H. Lawrence)

    I never saw a wild thing
    sorry for itself.
    A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
    without ever having felt sorry for itself.
    dcstep likes this.
  17. Lincoln said he was a poor sucker - at the time that meant that he was from southern Illinois. Northern Illinoisans were "pukes". Also applied to Indianans and Missourians.
  18. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry you were harmed. Personal preparation is the key, along with presentation of self. I wish you all the best getting past the experience.
  19. Supriyo, thanks for your caring. The empathy exhibited by your own story is very helpful to experience.
    Yet, as you seem to recognize, there is a shared experience in that the unexpectedness of sudden harm, despite being a prepared and good driver succumbing to the fate of an accident or being a reasonably streetwise guy randomly chosen without warning for a quick punch to the head, has a variety of emotional effects.
    It was, even some conflicting ones as kindness rose above unkindness. When I went for a walk with my camera, I knew I wanted to get something out and didn't focus on a particular feeling but more on the swell of feelings. I wanted my instincts to guide me. That seemed the most cathartic path. I hoped the photos would be some kind of resolution.
    As you know, "unreal" and "artificial" are themes that really inspire me, so it's great that you mention them.
    I was seeing the light in the second one and the pigeon with its wings spread in the first one in similar ways to each other. I love your interpretation and how it hit you. For me, neither seemed coming toward me but rather just rising up over everything. It felt like the whole city, including the obviously deranged guy who hit me, could do with the light and flight.
    dcstep likes this.
  20. Thanks for the poem and sharing it in the context of the photo. It's apt and I appreciate the connection made.
    dcstep likes this.

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