Critiques of Intention in Street Photography

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by cyanatic, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Brief background on what brought this topic to mind, and what I mean by it: This past Saturday I went to view an exhibit of Vivian Maier prints at the College of DuPage (southwest of Chicago), "Exposing Vivian Maier". The prints came from Jeff Goldstein's collection, not the John Maloof collection. There was a showing of the BBC film "The Vivian Maier Mystery" (a bit deeper in scope, I thought, than Maloof's "Finding Vivian Maier"). There was a panel discussion afterward, and later one could mingle and talk to Goldstein, some of the printmakers, Richard Cahan (co-author of "Vivian Maier, Out of the Shadows") etc. I could go on for pages about the experience, but that's not really the point of this thread.
    Along with an exhibition catalogue, there was a small 4 page foldout with a Maier photo on the cover, some discussion of the prints included in the show, and a commentary on Maier and her work by Debra Brehmer, an art historian, writer, and gallerist from Milwaukee. In making a point about Maier, Brehmer wrote at some length about the cover photo which was this one:
    http://vivianmaierprints.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Vivian-Maier_55_230-12_72dpi-632x640.jpg
    (The bolding is mine in the quote below.)
    Debra Brehmer: "As viewers, we stand intimately alongside Maier with her Rolleiflex, sharing each choice to stop and use one of those 12 precious film exposures. She's more of a formalist than many, noting the repetition of angles and shapes, the theatre of light and shadow that stirs beneath the pictorial surface to give her work integral structure as well as human content. While sensitive to issues of social status, Maier more strategically notes the channel between what people hope to be and the pockmarked wear that the world has imposed. The back of a woman in one tightly framed picture at first looks elegant, but the edges of the large bow on her hat are actually frayed and re-stitched. Then you see the formal language: how the curve of the hat echoes the slope of her hair and shoulders and how the animated gestures of two locks of hair escaping the hat mimic the matter texture of the sweater."​
    Brehmer was not present that day so I could not ask her, but I take her remarks to imply that the details noted above were evident to Maier and part of the reason she chose to take the photograph. This is not the first time I have read a critique of this sort in regard to the intention of a documentary or street photographer. I cannot find them now, but I recall reading similar statements regarding certain photographs by Winogrand, Klein, Levitt, and Robert Capa. (Brehmer's example is quite mild compared to the critique which waxed rhapsodic over Capa's "intentional" timing in "Dying Spanish Soldier" and went so far as to liken the soldier's tenuous hand on the rifle to the hand of God reaching toward Adam on the Sistine Chapel: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/08/17/arts/18capa-650a.jpg )
    I can see minute attention to detail, and much planning, in portraits and landscapes (or in some of Maier's found still lifes, cityscapes, and self portraits) but given the rapid decision making process often required in street and documentary photography, some critical claims for deeply seen intention in a given photograph strain credulity for me. In the case of Maier's photograph....maybe. Perhaps they were standing at a stoplight and she thought, "This woman looked so finely dressed from a distance, but look at that re-stitched ribbon! This will make a fine photograph." I think it far more likely that she found the woman's attire interesting and took the photograph on that basis alone. I don't know how much frayed ribbons and errant wisps of hair contributed to the decision to take this particular photograph.
    So the questions are: How great a level of detail do you think plays a role in the decision to take a photograph under rapidly changing conditions? (Whether Maier's photograph, or that of another photographer.) Do some critics give more credit to intention in such circumstances than is actually warranted? Are these truly apprehended in the moment, or discovered at leisure when viewing the print? Do you know of any similar examples by critics of other photographs with which you agree or disagree?
    I sometimes think it varies by photographer. Off the top of my head I would say someone like Maier (or Bresson) was much more intentional and formal in their approach than someone like Winogrand or Klein.
     
  2. Detailed attention? Maybe for the large format photographer using a tripod mounted camera photographing static subject matter. But in the street different values apply. I think Lee Friedlander got it right:
    I only wanted Uncle Vernon standing by his own car (a Hudson) on a clear day, I got him and the car. I also got a bit of Aunt Mary’s laundry and Beau Jack, the dog, peeing on the fence, and a row of potted tuberous begonias on the porch and 78 trees and a million pebbles in the driveway and more. It’s a generous medium, photography. - Lee Friedlander
     
  3. Great question, Steve.
    A couple of things. The attribution of intention is tricky, so critics might be better off just noting things. If we see repetitive angles, shapes, elegance against wear and tear, that could happen for any number of reasons. It could be quickness and intention working together to show a particular perspective or take on the world. It could also be a photographer's more natural inclination (rather than overt intention) to notice certain things or be drawn to certain signs, symbols, shapes, textures, sociological phenomena, even without putting much or any thought into it.
    I also try to remember that photos do and should go beyond the photographer. Those things the critic mentions, the frayed edges, the elegance, are IN the photo, regardless of why or how they got there. And whether intentional or not we are allowed to see them, care about them, and give meaning to them. Whether or not we ascribe these things to the photographer is one thing, but that we find them in the photo can't really be denied. And why not find meaning in them even if the photographer didn't purposely put it all together? The elements are there, no matter why and no matter how they got there. The photo can very profoundly speak of things the photographer may not have been aware of. We are looking at a photo, not simply a manifestation of a photographer's mind or sensibility.
    When a critic or a viewer or anyone else starts noticing patterns in the work of a photographer, so if we notice a kind of frayed elegance in Maier's work that runs through many, many photos, then we might start to attribute a kind of sensibility to the photographer. Again, that could be very consciously driven or it could just be because of the nature and inclinations of the photographer without an overt decision having been made. That's why many photographers can use their own photos to discover things about themselves. What do you notice about your own photos that could tell you or someone else something about you, that could enlighten you about yourself, that you didn't have an intention of doing or showing? Those are interesting things to look for and consider.
     
  4. >>> Do some critics give more credit to intention in such circumstances than is actually warranted?

    Absolutely. With respect to VM, there's a ton of conjecture floating around, based solely on the narrative created
    and controlled by a single individual, along with prints edited, selected, and editioned for exhibition and
    sale. A large part of that is image creation/building, helping to foster interest and to make and drive
    markets.

    Even with Winogrand and all of his interviews and films of him making photographs on the street, it's
    astonishing how many people try and ascribe all sorts of things to his photography in particular and "street
    photography" in general. Might be why he seemed to enjoy toying with interviewers so much.
     
  5. Steve, your illustration has almost nothing to do with your questions. The Maier phenomenon in which you took part (for a few hours), which is in full swing with books, movies, and shows; is about initiation, about apotheosis, about the process of getting from urban noise of the town square to slowness and stillness of the temple (art institutions). Did saints really perform miracles? Did the Greeks really believe in Zeus? Do initiates really believe in the rites of transformation they go through? Is Avedon really a God (test: say bad things about him and see how many people call you a heretic)? Maier may well fail the test (Cinderella's fat sisters couldn't get into the glass slipper).
    As to how much detail one "really" sees, try looking at the research on eye-witness testimony. I'd summarize it by saying, we have no idea what we do or don't see.
    That being said, however, reference a fashion accessory such as a frayed ribbon, are you actually questioning whether a woman (and a woman critic, and this woman commenter) can see, at forty yards, the intimate details of a fashion accessories, handbags or shoes????
     
  6. I must read these interesting comments in more detail, but I think that intention has less to do with observed detail (and the desire to photograph that) and more with what such detail or overall perception of what is there, or what is happening, means to the photographer and how that relates to his or her manner of seeing things. And in re-intepreting things (a parallel intention). Fred is correct I think in stating that the photographer's intention (I sometimes prefer the term artistic approach) can really only be discerned after seeing and considering many images.
    When Bresson captures two black dressed women walking beneath twin sculptures on the upper walls of a building behind them, is his intention related to just that chance disposition, humour, and momentary intention, or is it part of his overall approach and intention in photographing humans, and perhaps their environment?
     
  7. >>> When Bresson captures two black dressed women walking beneath twin sculptures on the upper walls of a building behind them, is his intention related to just that chance disposition, humour, and momentary intention, or is it part of his overall approach and intention in photographing humans, and perhaps their environment?
    Perhaps it's lying in wait in an area recognizing the possibilities were a pair of appropriate subjects to walk by. Then hanging around making multiple photographs over a period of time from different subject sets, and later on choosing the best image from contact sheets. Many street shooters do that.
    Or it could "simply" be serendipity - which so much street shooting is about.
    It all works...
    .
    [​IMG]
    San Francisco • ©Brad Evans 2014
    .
     
  8. A formative activity of my onetime affiliation as an activities director with a camera club (really a photographic association, active both locally and in exhibitions abroad) was to undertake weekend outings of interested members in order to stimulate individually created images in either a theatrical (intended scene, context and props, human or otherwise) or an opportunistic (observational street type photography) manner.
    It is no doubt no news to most here that the intentions of the photographers in these outings were quite varied, even within the limits agreed to in a deterministic scene created collectively by the group, more so with the observational street scene shooting. It is hard to take intention out of the equation in most photographic situations, although the success of the intention varies enormously from viewer to viewer.
     
  9. Indeed I get the same idea when reading a description as in the quote; based on what exactly does one think Mayer (or any other photographer) noted all those details, and the logic binding them? Too often the difference between a good streetphoto and a not-so-good one is a split second - and that second isn't about the details, but about that moment where the composition falls into place and gets its "maximum story-telling".
    That composition falling into place, can be a variety of things - Cartier-Bresson an awareness of shapes, forms, lines in the right spot (Brad's last photo also fits quite well here), Capa a keen timing with the (implied) action, Maier facial expressions, but also a bit of both before instead. In all these scenarios, there is a case for a bit of hesitation, patience, to catch that right moment - but realistically, are you focussed on details at that moment, or focussed on catching that exact second? Could be my admittedly limited skillset, but I need to stay focussed on that moment. Any details creeping in and making the resulting image a richer experience - serendipity, and luckily, that exists. But in no way intent.
    That's not to say that a detail (intended or not) cannot turn a photo upside down from its actual intent. When I made this photo, it was really just meant for the repition of the benches, a somewhat mathematical exercise. I saw the lady in the background, but figured it would be a blurry out of focus mess, so I didn't care much. And then Fred posted a critique on it, and despite my own original intents, I never quite saw the image in the same way. That tiny wrapper I never noticed while shooting became the centre of gravity.
    And indeed, as noted above, stating the intentions of somebody else is tricky at best. If she would have stated in the above quote how all those elements for her make the photo reach a high level, perfect. Saying it was the intent of Maier is potentially a completely false statement, and that never quite helps credibility.
    In short, I could also have written that I agree with Fred :)
     
  10. A thousand words can be informative. Nice....helps to formulate an idea/vision ; a picture in words. And then someone spoils it all with the magic of a photograph.
    Lost in the world of words...the magic of the photograph.....
     
  11. "Or it could "simply" be serendipity - which so much street shooting is about"

    You need an eye to see.....and a lot of time and opportunity to find.
     
  12. From Steve's quote of Brehmer: "The back of a woman in one tightly framed picture at first looks elegant, but the edges of the large bow on her hat are actually frayed and re-stitched."
    I think Brehmer's argument is evidence based, that is, the shot was tightly framed because Maier noticed interesting details, likely looked at the detail of the ribbon in the hat, felt connected to the subject for reasons similar to the one Brehmer offers (the contrast between hope and wear) and that the picture offers the viewer a closer recognition of her subject as a person than if Maier was just broadly noting the issue of social status. For just social status the photo didn't have to be tightly framed. The photo is also the view of one woman (Maier) who was viewing the woman that was her subject and now we have the view of another woman, Brehmer, who would notice more than I what a woman would notice about a woman and how Maier might have felt about all that and expressed it photographically.
    Brehmer also opined that Meir was more formalistic and backed up that opinion by giving us an example of shape and shadow. Did by talent, training, and practice Meir intend something close to that ascribed to her by Brehmer? And to express herself photographically did she make use of formalisms like shape and shadow? It's plausible. It's plausible to me that Maier would notice that a woman in less than an ideal situation would nevertheless still be presenting herself as best as she could; and plausible that Maier would use her skills to enhance her statement. And all without her statement becoming an admonishment. Brehmer from that quoted example comes off as a serious art critic.
     
  13. It always thought is was interesting that we can tell a story about a photograph. Does it matter whether it is true or not? The clever couched words are what really matter. The cleverer, the more plausible...
    Of those words might leave most folks lost in space in their ambiguity. Like politics which are full of rhetoric but actually saying nothing.....
     
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Then hanging around making multiple photographs over a period of time from different subject sets, and later on choosing the best image from contact sheets. Many street shooters do that.​

    It certainly seems to be what Bresson and, as you say, many street shooters do:
    http://zonezero.com/open/157-debunking-the-myth-of-the-decisive-moment
     
  15. From the good article linked to by Jeff: "Rather, be very conscious about when you decide to click the shutter."
    To that as a viewer I would add: And even more important, be very conscious about why you decide to click the shutter.
     
  16. Maybe Winogrand and others enjoyed toying with interviewers. I think a lot of glib statements about approach and thought process and a lot of statements about lack of intention should probably be taken with the same grain of salt we would take Winogrand. Having no intentions may simply sound cool. At worst, it could be a genuine sign of shallowness. Or it could just be disinterest. On the other hand, it could be very significant. I'd tend to judge by the context, the person saying it, and the work produced.
    Being glib can make life easier, because when you state more thoughtful intentions, it can become clearer whether you fulfill them or not. If you don't state them, if you simply glide along doing your thing, you have nothing to work toward or live up to. A lack of intention often results in doing the same thing over and over again and not really showing much growth or evolution.
    Someone can have this or that intention, this or that type of engagement with subjects, this or that attitude, and their pictures will show anything but. Another may claim to have no intentions and yet their work may consistently show a voice that shows these things anyway. When it comes to what photographers and artists say about their intentions (or lack) I generally try to listen and accept what they have to say, look at their photos or artwork as well, and come to my own conclusions about what's going on based on both listening and looking.
    Steve, for me, seeing Maier or Bresson or Brassai or almost any other photographer I can think of as not having some kind of overriding vision or intention that guides their on-the-spot decision-making would mean my missing something very important. A photographer doesn't have to stop to think at the moment of shooting in order to be said to be intentionally focused and to be responsible for much of the content of their work. Of course, accidents and serendipity happen. But there's too much consistency in the work of Maier, Bresson, Brassai and most other good photographers to believe that some overriding desires, intentions, thoughtfulness, and instinctiveness aren't guiding their work. I'm a firm believer in avoiding all or nothing thinking. I think how a photographer works is very complex, whether or not a photographer chooses to look or talk about it that way. Because we are complex beings with complex sets of motivations.
    Bresson's work shows a visual consistency because he was in touch with what he was doing and because he most certainly did not just shoot whatever came before him that he thought looked cool in the moment. It was because he was mentally and psychically prepared when he went out, to see a particular way and to be at the ready for photos that would suit his vision and fulfill his desires to ultimately lead to a photograph. He did not, I sense, just hang out waiting, even if hanging out and waiting was part of the act. A lot more went into it than that. There were significant parts of the process that led up to the hanging out with the camera, which would include intentions and developing tendencies to want to and be able to notice certain types of things instantaneously.
     
  17. Critics have to justify their position and fees so they have a talent for seeing things that aren't there or that the shooter never really considered. (How would they know anyway? The shooter is dead. Of course we can't confirm or reject the critics' views because we also can't interview the dead photographer.) This kind of stuff goes on with all art.
    Amateur critics do the same thing. Only it is more ego driven than for financial reasons.
     
  18. Alan - 'Only it is more ego driven than for financial reasons."
    Ohhhh don't be so hard on yourself Alan.
     
  19. The clever couched words are what really matter. The cleverer, the more plausible...​
    Allen, is that why you need several postings to dismiss the fact that others do discuss critiques and photography reviews? Or did you plan to actually contribute to the far more specific subject raised by Steve?
    Apart from the sweet irony that you're using words to tell others they shoudn't use so much words, but I guess that's more my twisted lack of humour.
    __
    Critics have to justify their position and fees​
    Really? Is that all? Or just being sarcastic?
    So, even if for some reason they manage to have to say something really valuable about a photo, if they manage to make you see and experience an image in a different, more profound way - it's all just because they're justifying their existence? Just one question then: how did they reach their position? Was that pure luck, or because they managed to have to say something useful on a regular basis, and as such showed some insight that is worth sharing?
    Dismissing critiques as an ego game sounds to me more like being too convinced of your own point of view or misplaced cynicism; a good critique between open minded people has got nothing to do with ego, and everything to do with sharing - sharing knowledge, passion and through discussion both learn and grow.
     
  20. Yeah, Wouter, I got a lot out of the Brehmer review, Julie's, and other comments about details I wouldn't have noticed in the picture that then combined to kind of a poignant moment I had with that photograph. I wouldn't have seen any of that without help. Did I see what Maier intended? We'll never know and that is part of the intrigue, wondering about her mind and sympathies. Just because we can't be certain doesn't mean it isn't worth talking about.
     
  21. Exactly, Charles, for me discussions as this one, or those coming from good critiques are more about discovery and absorbing different points of view than they are about accumulating knowledge or reaching a verdict of sorts.
     
  22. Oops. I must have touched a raw nerve. Sorry.
     
  23. I’m having trouble understudying your post, Fred. Help me out...
    >>> Having no intentions may simply sound cool. At worst, it could be a genuine sign of shallowness. Did someone suggest they or someone else shot without intention? And that it is somehow cool? Smells like straw.
    >>> I'm a firm believer in avoiding all or nothing thinking
    As I am as well. But you conveniently took what I said (starting with "Perhaps...") offering one of many explanations about how a *particular* photograph may have been made (the one Arthur referenced), and project that all or nothing belief aspect onto me, even though there is nothing to support that. With respect to "intention," I don't know any photographer who has developed a coherent body of work where that was not embraced. I think many would put that into the it goes without saying category.
    >>> Bresson's work shows a visual consistency because he was in touch with what he was doing and because he most certainly did not just shoot whatever came before him that he thought looked cool in the moment.
    Most certainly? Sounds pretty rigid, absolute, and all or nothing to me. Perhaps you have some inside information about the man, his approach, and his methods. (see below)
    >>> He did not, I sense, just hang out waiting, even if hanging out and waiting was part of the act. A lot more went into it than that.
    Just? That's *your* qualifier, not mine,while suggesting I was claiming that’s all he did, though I simply offered *a* possible explanation which is very consistent with how Bresson and many others shot/shoot. You might want to re-read what I said starting with "Perhaps…” Did someone suggest that’s all HCB did - or was there another purpose for suggesting that?
    Since you seem to be very interested in "street photography," I honestly think you would gain a lot of insight into what it's about by taking some time, perhaps 1-2 years, of actually shooting on the street, exploring neighborhoods, seeing what it's really like, soaking in some experiences and developing a body of work. I believe you would then come away with a better understanding how intention and focus work hand in hand with serendipity, along with other aspects in making street photographs.
    I think you might also learn that a photographer who shoots on the street can have many different approaches to making photographs that vary with time, depending on circumstances, objectives, how one feels (happy, sad, tired, depressed, energized, etc) at the time, if one is working towards a project, seeking discovery, etc. Or even if one just wants to relax and wander aimlessly without direction for the sheer joy of being on the street soaking in the energy and contemplating new directions. There are many, many different possibilities. It doesn’t have to be about a one approach rigidity as you seem to suggest later in your post.
    .
    [​IMG]
    San Francisco • ©Brad Evans 2014
    .
     
  24. Brad - "You might want to re-read what I said starting with "Perhaps…”"
    So re-reading Brad: "Perhaps it's lying in wait [emphasis added] in an area recognizing the possibilities were a pair of appropriate subjects to walk by."
    So my comment in re-reading: describing street photography as involving 'lying in wait' is an emotionally charged way to describe a street photographer's behavior towards a subject. To me it sounds crass, to describe street photography methodology as involving 'lying in wait.'
    You post your photographs in this thread about intention. I think your street photography looks crass, that's how I react to it as a viewer of your art. It looks crass. All of it is offensive. Then you describe your crass work as from a methodology that involves what you conceive of as 'lying in wait?' How then, if my sentiment is generally shared, are we to talk about it? Crassly like I just did? Or some other way. It is a public that receives your art, and we are what we are.
     
  25. >>> So my comment in re-reading: describing street photography as involving 'lying in wait' is an emotionally charged way to describe a street photographer's behavior towards a subject. To me it sounds crass, to describe street photography methodology as involving 'lying in wait.'
    There are many ways it can be described. I'm sorry you feel offended. Do you happen to engage in street shooting? I suspect if I had described it in a different manner you would still be offended.
    >>> You post your photographs in this thread about intention. I think your street photography looks crass, that's how I react to it as a viewer of your art. It looks crass. All of it is offensive.
    Thank you for your feedback, Charles. I appreciate all points of view.
    .
    [​IMG]
    San Francisco • ©Brad Evans 2014
    .
     
  26. I can understand Charles' reaction. While I don't agree, I can see how some folks would find street photography crass, especially out of context - not being physically present when the photo was taken.
    Occasionally when I'm reviewing my own photos I'll experience an out-of-self moment in which I suddenly see my photos with fresh eyes as others might, rather than as familiar tokens of my own personal experiences. At those moments I'll think "Wow, this is weird. Why would someone take a photo like this?"
    But those epiphanies aren't limited to unposed photos of strangers in public places - I may inexplicably feel the same reaction to any of my photos. I suspect it's because my frame of mind when taking photos is different from my resting frame of mind.
    For the experienced photographer, when you're in the zone in public the sense of intent and application of technique are sublimated to the level of instinct and intuition. You already know all that stuff. The rest is reaction. It may appear to be random, haphazard or aimless to the inexperienced. But it isn't. A deliberate intent doesn't require ponderous deliberation, any more than a skilled boxer needs to consciously think about counter-punching when he or she anticipates an opportunity. All of the deliberation takes place in training, in the gym, so that in real world application it's instinctive, intuitive and instantaneous.
    You may not consciously think "frayed hem" or "stained lapel on an otherwise immaculate tuxedo". But you react to a perception and concentrate on timing - or, rather, let the thing happen, because you don't need to consciously think about timing when you're in the zone.
    And, of course, by "you" I mean the royal "we".
    [​IMG]
    I saw a white figure step out of the shadow and into the light reflected in the brass and glass doors. I barely noticed the fellow at right, an usher checking the time or texting. But it was planned, intended. I'd walked around the block several times, looking for opportunities because late afternoon light outside the Bass Performance Hall's West Portal is glorious. I called her the Bass Hall Angel (which makes sense if you're familiar with the structure).
    By the way, her name is Samantha. She worked at the cupcake shop across the street. A week or so later I gave her a print of this photo. She was tickled. Her dad is a photographer too.

    [​IMG]
    My timing was off. I intended to photograph the card sharp trying to show a magic trick to his friends, but awkwardly scrambling to pick up the cards after he dropped them.
    After he stood up again, I saw this look of rapture on the girl's face. She didn't care that his trick had gone awry. She thought he was wonderful. It was better than the photo I'd intended to take.
     
  27. Bass Hall Angel, we've got one at our neighborhood convenience store/gas station; her name is Maria and it fits her.
     
  28. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Well if Brad's photos are crass (funny that the San Francisco Chronicle didn't say anything remotely like that when reviewing one of his shows,) mine must be revolting. Not that I mind them being categorized that way.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  29. Crassy! Though it's likely the hand of Satan was involved up above.
     
  30. >>> Lex: I can understand Charles' reaction. While I don't agree, I can see how some folks would find street photography crass, especially out of context - not being physically present when the photo was taken.
    I can understand his reaction as well, especially where in a recent thread he talked about his lack of response to my street photos was because of his own limited experience of city life, and seeing a collection of unredeemed lost or damaged souls portrayed.
    I think one with limited access to city life, and especially someone who might view other human beings as "unredeemed lost or damaged souls” may not understand street photography very well, and as Lex said, it may feel very out of context - I think even surreal in that situation. That said, in my years of shooting I have encountered and talked to many people on the street in not well and in very disadvantaged situations, but I (as with other people I know who shoot on the street) would never characterize another human as lost or damaged. That is not in my or my friends' vocabulary - at least in SF. I chalk that up to geography and having different life experiences.
    An aspect that may be lost on some is that shooting on the street brings you close to people, where after getting to know people respect flows in both directions. For me that’s a wonderful feeling. I feel sorry that Charles that has not been able to directly experience life in a city like San Francisco with its diversity.
    With respect to being crass, I know some artists have endured that label. de Kooning and Warhol quickly come to mind. No doubt rolled of their back as well.
    >>> Charles: It is a public that receives your art, and we are what we are.
    So far I’ve been pleased on how my work has been received, having raised a decent amount of money through photojournal sales with proceeds going to a local youth services organization that cares for kids living on the street. That will continue with all SF projects going forward. How is the public receiving your work?
    Hoping this photograph is Charles-safe, he has crushed me so hard already: .
    [​IMG]
    Marian and Vivian Brown • San Francisco • ©Brad Evans 2014
    .
     
  31. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Jeff I prefer this one to the others of yours: http://www.photo.net/photo/14573260
    That has absolutely nothing to do with street photography. It's a portrait of a friend in an outfit for a rock opera.
     
  32. I rest my case.
     
  33. This thread has little to do with street photography and more to do with gauging photographer intent from a particular photograph.
    My starting point in circumscribing photographer intent is to note what the photographer portrayed in the photo. For example the one Brad included with his Jul 29, 2014; 11:34 a.m. post above, not titled, of a woman and that includes the text "Look Deeper". Fine. Look more deeply at what? The woman who is the subject of the photo? Certainly. But what is there in the photo, other than the text, that would direct me to look more deeply at a stranger? Why would I want to connect more deeply to someone just passing by, lots of people pass by that I can't pay any attention to. Where is the clue to the viewer that it's worth looking deeper, I fail to see any such clue. Why should I care about this woman, why take a picture of this one. Just because she was walking under some text written in the imperative case? That's a telling, the text is, and other than that telling there isn't anything showing that a viewer could care about. That's probably because there wasn't anything to show about this particular woman that the photographer was aware of. Who should look deeper then?
    In contrast the Maier photo Steve introduced to us in the OP includes something in the photograph that allows us a deeper view into her subject: a restitched ribbon. Ah ha. Meaning. Intent.
     
  34. Before too much time passes…

    Major props and hat-tip to Fred and Charles for wrenching this thread into a real discussion about street
    photography. With street photographs no less. Rare as a bear in this neighborhood.

    Charles: Try looking at the photo without being predisposed to the notion the photo is crass and the subject might be an unredeemed lost or damaged soul.
     
  35. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    This thread has little to do with street photography​

    The title of this thread would indicate that, if this is the case, it has gone off the rails. At least the photos are street photos.
     
  36. Man, you guys have been busy. Where to start? A lot of interesting comments here. I didn't intend this to be about SP per se, but I'm not complaining. Threads on PN do have a way of wandering off in odd directions. I'm just glad we didn't start talking about film and digital.
    Allan Herbert -- "A thousand words can be informative. Nice....helps to formulate an idea/vision ; a picture in words. And then someone spoils it all with the magic of a photograph.
    Lost in the world of words...the magic of the photograph....."
    I'm not sure if this is a commentary on the Brehmer quote, photography critics, or this thread in general. I'm fine with whatever it is, but your cryptic epigrams often throw me for a loop when it comes to understanding what you're really trying to say.
    Julie -- Point taken regarding eye witnesses and the ability of a many women to notice fashion details!
    Fred -- "That's why many photographers can use their own photos to discover things about themselves. What do you notice about your own photos that could tell you or someone else something about you, that could enlighten you about yourself, that you didn't have an intention of doing or showing? Those are interesting things to look for and consider."
    I won't go into details, but yes, after a number of years I have noticed patterns in my own work that were not necessarily intended. Personal signifiers that have indeed taught me some things. Good point.
    Charles -- I like the fact that in your first post, you express a different take on Brehmer's quote than me, Brad, Arthur, Wouter, Julie, Fred, et al. I'm inclined toward thinking that Maier did not take all of those details into account, but it is not implausible to think that she did. Regarding your later comments street photography in general ... what can I say? Not liking or not "getting" street photography is certainly not a failing. I don't want to go off on a tangent on what grabs me about street photography (a thread I have actually thought of starting in the SP forum), but it's a matter of taste and temperament. I was drawn to it long before I knew what it was, and long before I became a photographer. I think Brad already covered how it can be many things, and how even an individual photographer can have different approaches and different moods. Some photos truly do have something to "get", some are visual puns, some are about the light, some are about the mood and atmosphere and some are along the lines of what Lex said, ""Wow, this is weird. Why would someone take a photo like this?" I'm fond of frozen moments of the weird and the surreal as it appears in real life, whether captured on a street or on a rural farm.
    I don't want to go on too much about this, but I'll make a fool of myself by giving you a take I might have on Brad's photo of the woman and the Look Deeper sign. I rarely take SP in a strict literal sense. If it's crystal clear and pointed, then I tend not to like it very much. In a very literal way, we could take Brad's photo as a bit of a visual pun. The woman walking past the words "Look Deeper" while caught in mid-stroll precisely beneath a light fixture while a video camera is pointed at her. Those elements exist, but I think the image goes beyond that. There's the sheer oddity of it. There's something oppressive and sinister about the huge letters over her head, the camera pointed at her, and the fact that she's a woman. It creates a tension and an unease. But there's also a sort of dark, self-referencing, humor in this as well, because it's also mocking the interpretation that it's about some kind of sleazy sexual innuendo (picture two cretins, Beavis and Butthead, if you will, elbowing each other and snickering "Look deeper...get it! Hehheheheh!"). It offers that interpretation, but it's actually mocking that interpretation when its says, "No, you're miles off, pal!". So, prior to analyzing any of this, I first get a sensation of the photograph's oddity, the juxtaposition of the woman at that precise moment, mod-stride with the words and the camera, then I sense a sort of humor, but I also feel a bit uneasy. Then I try to desconstruct it to figure out what the elements are that are making me sense all of this. Brad probably thinks I'm out of my mind, but that's my take on it. If there's anything crass, it's that first level joke, but I don't think that's what it's really about and that's one of the reasons it works.
    I've gone on long enough here, but I did want to talk about something else Fred had written. You (meaning Fred) mentioned Winogrand and others "toying with interviewers". Whether you meant it that way or not, it kind of turned this whole thread upside down by pondering the opposite case of a lack of intention. In the panel discussion on Maier that I mentioned, the moderator (Richard Kahan), in response to an audience members question, talked about Winogrand in relation to Maier. Whether he was correct or not, he spoke of Winogrand whirling around through the street, snapping away at things that struck him. This, in comparison to how he thought Maier worked, much more deliberately, more carefully making use of the 12 exposures in her Rolleiflex.
    I don't know whether every (well-regarded) photographer has an overriding vision. Unless that vision can be something as broad as "capturing the life of the city". William Klein comes to mind. I'm not familiar with all his work, but in the case of "Life is Good and Good for You in New York"*, I don't think his overriding vision went much beyond capturing as many "interesting" shots of New York as he could. Even in Maier's case, I don't think she intentionally set out each day with an overriding vision to show "the channel between what people hope to be and the pockmarked wear that the world has imposed". I think she was drawn to what she was drawn to and the theme or vision revealed itself of its own accord in the body of her work. Similar to what you said earlier about one's body of work revealing oneself without intending to. Or am I mixing things up here? It's late and I'll leave this for someone to chew on.
    (*IIRC, all of the photos in the book were taken within the span of a few months)
    [​IMG]
     
  37. Charles, maybe you didn't like "laying in wait", but its just another way of describing patience. Its just one of the things that happens on the street sometimes. You see something that would be a nice conjunction with something else so you might wait to see if a photograph happens.​
     
  38. Barry I'm saying that laying in wait wasn't the best choice of words.
    Steve - "I think she was drawn to what she was drawn to and the theme or vision revealed itself of its own accord in the body of her work."
    Interesting point and that makes me think it can be a bit of both at the same time, or one more than the other at different times.
    Jeff, Brad, both of you offered examples from your portfolios of street photography and indeed street photography is in the OP title. So is the word intention. Would it be unfair of me to ask either or both of you to discuss not how you got a shot, but about a particular shot: what you intended to convey to the viewers of your picture?
     
  39. Maybe, if I can, just taking one step back away from street photography; what Charles described, and what Lex possibly described better with "Why would someone take a photo like this?" isn't unique to street photography. On all counts I am a pretty lousy street photographer, as I tend to shy away from the people. So instead just "scenes found": why would one photograph this, this or this? (oh, what a shameless plug for myself - sorry about that one). Does that change much in the context of the OP? Not much I'd say.
    A lot of what Steve said in his OP isn't about street photography, and even if street photography may strike a lot of people as a bit useless ("nothing particular happening, why record it?"), in the end that's more a matter of preference, sensibility and taste. I think for many people Vivian Maier's photo also act as a unique "window" on the normal life of times gone by - street photography in a documentary role, so to speak. In time, the photos in this thread might fill a similar role - not that useless at all. Just like family snaps and birthday party photos, in a way.
    Which may very well not be the intent of Brad, Steve, Jeff. Which may very well not have been the intent of Vivian Maier or Cartier-Bresson. Intent doesn't always align with the perception (for what it's worth, I read Brad's photo of 'Look Deeper' much as Steve described it - now there is an opening to discuss intent). Intent does not have to mean significance either; not every photo needs to be profound to have an intent.
    But why wouldn't we discuss this for the photos of Ansel Adams? Is recording the majesty of nature and a grand vista by definition an acceptable intent, and recording the every day life in the city one we'd need to scrutinize? Does photojournalism or consigned documentary work make automatically frame a photo in a right context, even when it manages to look just like a street photo? Shouldn't we discuss each of those intents as equals - questioning in how much an artist statement is in line with what we perceive, questioning how we perceive the probable intent ourselves, and so on? I do not see this as something specific to street photos at all.
    Can you actually see the real underlying intent of an artist by one work, or does it need the context of the body of work, a series, a background story?
    Well, I'm being overly verbose and all I try to say is to not limit this to street photography. Can great photos be made without any intent? Or is a photo without intent in the end too shallow to reach greatness?
     
  40. "Coleridge, Keats argued, could not get himself out of the way: he lacked what he called 'negative capability' -- the ability 'to be in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.' 'Coleridge,' he said, 'would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery' because he was 'incapable of remaining content with half knowledge.' " — Raymond Tallis
    [Steve, who has studied these poets, knows all about the Penetralium of mystery.]
     
  41. Coincidentally, for the past week I'd been pondering initiating a discussion about artistic intent, but the theme or thesis hadn't quite gelled in my mind.
    Many years ago, when I was active as a director in local community theater, I tried to help an actress get comfortable with a scene in Crimes of the Heart where Meg was alone onstage, with no dialog. After a pause Meg blurts "Well I feel like hell!" But the actress was uncomfortable and kept rushing the moment. I kept urging her to wait until she was nearly ready to burst. She asked how long that was in seconds. I told her it can't be measured in units of time, but rather in units of intention. She grokked. She filled that seemingly interminable pause with wonderfully nuanced facial expressions and flittering hand gestures, and just as the audience was about to burst she blurted the line. Huge laughs and applause every night.
    I have no idea where that concept of measuring a pause in units of intention came from. I want to say I swiped it from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Directing Community Theater. It could have been utter rubbish and some actors would have said so. But damned if she didn't make it work.
    A couple of months ago I encountered an artist whose work includes impromptu temporary installations in public spaces. But at first I wasn't sure what I was seeing. I was across the street from the Bass Performance Hall (obviously one of my favorite lurk spots for photography) waiting for an opera to begin at the smaller McDavid space.
    I noticed a fellow carefully arranging some items on the sidewalk. I walked over to take a few photos and chat with him. As I did I was entranced by his careful, deliberate gestures accompanying the arrangement, which included sprinkling dried green herbs across the arrangement. Alas, I missed the peak moment of the airborne herbs, and I'm not sure they'd have been apparent in a photo anyway. But I did photograph a similar gesture as he chose where to place a coin on the nearly complete installation:

    [​IMG]

    We chatted for a few minutes and he described something of his process, including themes and inspirations that happened to be echoed in the show posters on the outside walls. I couldn't do justice to summarizing his description here but I felt I understood some of the abstract concepts he was conveying in these installations that he said are intended to evoke memories.

    [​IMG]



    And after a few minutes we parted company. Being a Sunday evening, with no performance scheduled at the main Bass Performance Hall, and very little foot or vehicle traffic - especially since the largest nearby business, Border's books, had closed a few months earlier, it was likely that the only people to see this installation would be me and the maintenance employee the next morning who would probably remove and dispose of the items without knowing anything of the artist's intent.
    But there was intent.

    [​IMG]

    And perhaps I'm wrong about the fate of this piece. Perhaps it's now in the collection of an art aficionado who happens to pay the bills by cleaning up around the Bass.
    I'd like to believe that some material evidence, artifact or remnant exists to support the artist's intent. And there are these photographs. But I don't think it was essential to the artist himself. The intent, the gesture, was sufficient.
     
  42. Lex - "I'd like to believe that some material evidence, artifact or remnant exists to support the artist's intent."
    Your artist's activity reminds me of a sandbox projective techniques where with supplied miniature familiar objects, paraphrased: the subject is told to construct whatever he would like uisng a large table top, the floor, or a sandbox as a base.

    So in an interview with your artist I would survey his like and dislike of each object, his like and dislike of each object in comparison to the other objects, and then the likes and dislikes each object has about the other objects. In those relations is drama where like and dislike statements bring out qualities that are involoved in the drama. A sample interview question: "How does the shiny sphere feel about the plate with the coins on it?" Meaning is present because the objects in your artist's assembly are also subjects, that is, stand for something within your artist, have personal meanings to your artist. Each artifact is 'material evidence' with which to assess your artist's inner state.
    One component of your artist's inner state is the intent of your artist. Moreover, that inner state also contains many intents, each of those intents represented by the material elements included in the composition. With children the meanings and dramas can readily become transparent in an interview. In theory anyway. With theory applied, the biases of the interviewer can readily contaminate the 'test'. Since adults are more gaurded and sophisticated than children, getting an adult to participate I guess involves asking an adult to suspend disbelief and play along. Sample interview question addressed to an adult "I believe you when you say that you had no reason to put such an such an object in that particular place. However my question is why would that object have wanted you to place it there?" There are answers to those questions, I'm certain of little else. The Penetralium of mystery has meaning and we may want to be content with half knowlege. "But," as Jung remarked to Yousuf Karsh, "unfortunately, your mind is not discreet enough to leave you alone.”

    So the question about photographic intent becomes: is our mind at least discreet enough to not be present in the photographs we take? Or is there always an artifact present of mind's presence? Since there are so many intents existing in the photographer it's hard to imagine that no material evidence of them, internal friends and foes alike, is to be found in a photograph.
     
  43. A couple comments from Wouter:
    Is recording the majesty of nature and a grand vista by definition an acceptable intent, and recording the every day life in the city one we'd need to scrutinize?

    Can you actually see the real underlying intent of an artist by one work, or does it need the context of the body of work, a series, a background story?​
    As to the first question, my thoughts. I think that nature is out there, it's there for me to see and record into my memory, we all can go see it, leave it and remember. Everyday life in the city is the same, it's out there, we see it, remember it. Why photograph it, there isn't necessarily anything going on. We'll ask ourselves of both nature and life in the city pictures: why would anyone take a picture like this, as Lex put it. We can all record surface events and have it clear that that is what we are doing. So I could take a picture of head banging or vulgarity just because it exists. When I then frame it and put it in a gallery my viewers have a right to ask "So what?" If instead the public says "Cool", then there is no "So what?" because public taste is perhaps unrefined, the experiential cultivated and nothing more. What's documented is a decline in culture and art.
    My thought on the second question is it depends on the picture and on how much one wants to know about it. And how much one wants to know about all the other pictures by other artists that bring in even more contexts. Another way I think about photography now is artifact, artifice, art. First a picture is an artifact. It can have artifice in some degree or another, of some kind, maybe. It tried. Did it succeed? And after that, is it art? That last standard, art, seems to have something to do with how creativity is defined: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.
    As to whether recording the mentally ill represents recording diversity. That's rubbish. As to whether schizophrenics are unredeemed, whatever that means, or lost: we may be flying, or choose not to fly and suffer for our choice. But with untreated schizophrenia: they are falling and not by choice. It's pretty awful to confront this condition in a loved one.
     
  44. >>> Would it be unfair of me to ask either or both of you to discuss not how you got a shot, but about a particular shot: what you intended to convey to the viewers of your picture?
    When I’m out making photographs I don’t think about conveying any intention to viewers. I shoot for myself, even though my photos may subsequently be viewed by others down the road. I try to find, isolate, and amplify the unusual within the usual, something others walking down the street may not see and/or take for granted. Just *being* on the street jazzes me, soaking in its rhythm, energy, and dynamics, and trying to capture a bit of that with my camera.
    With respect to that particular photo, Steve Gubin (and others who have seen it and commented previously) nailed it. When I was out shooting I saw the message, security camera, and spotlight up above, and waited for the right subject - thinking an attractive woman would be ideal, positioned directly below the spotlight with security camera pointing towards her. I took a bunch of shots with others walking by previously to see how it might look. The photo was made with a point-n-shoot from across a very busy SF street. I’m really a little astonished Charles only saw a person.
    /www.citysnaps.net/2014%20Photos/Woman%20purple%20dress.jpg">
    NYC • ©Brad Evans 2014
    .
     
  45. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Charles W: Jeff I prefer this one to the others of yours: http://www.photo.net/photo/14573260
    The intent behind this photo was to produce something that worked well in a photo.net product review. Interesting that it was singled out over photos that had a lot more pro-active engagement with scenes on the street.
     
  46. Brad, can you explain to me what Steve said, I mean, it's mocking a beevis and butthead type locker room joke of some kind, if that is what Steve said? You mean you thought you would wait for an attractive woman to walk by so you could snap a mockery of a beevis and butthead locker room joke? Why not a man captured in the same position as a joke about how women do look deeper and don't need to be told? Note you had posted that photo as an example of serendipity. Now you say it was planned?
    Crass definition: lacking sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence. So as to your latest contribution. There's nothing in it that to me suggests sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence. How could there be, your methodology was to just point the camera and shoot the whole thing taking less than a second? And still you don't offer a explanation of your intention? You gotta be me kidding me?
    Thanks Jeff, but you're free to discuss any of the photos your posted in this thread, or any other example of a street photograph of yours, not limited to just the one I picked as one of yours I like that as you said isn't an example of street photography.
     
  47. Steve, can you point me to the visual element in what were referring to as Brad's Look Deeper shot, can you point me to the visual element in that picture that suggests it isn't just a beevis and butthead joke? Where's the visual clue that the photo lampoons a type of beevis and butthead joke?
     
  48. Charles, I didn't intend for it to whoosh over your head.

    I have no idea what you are talking about - I've never watched beevis and butted and have no idea what mocking with respect to a locker room
    would be about. I actually missed the reference that Steve made. Reading a lot of paragraph-less text way too fast...

    If you still don't get it and have little imagination that's fine. As you mentioned up above, all you see is a woman. Period. You missed the security camera and the light, and how
    that interplays with a person (an attractive woman) who might be objectified on the street (in this case under a spotlight and camera) or in society in general. The message is Look Deeper. I suspect you will not get or understand that, as well.

    >>> And still you don't offer a explanation of your intention? You gotta be me kidding me?

    I explained my intention when I shoot and that I don't try to convey any intention to viewers when I'm out shooting as they are not who I
    shoot for. Apparently you don't understand that concept. That's OK.

    >>> Crass definition: lacking sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence. So as to your latest contribution. There's nothing in it that to me suggests
    sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence.

    Coming from a person who has had "limited experience of city life," or making photographs on the street, well, there you go...

    >>> How could there be, your methodology was to just point the camera and shoot?

    Those are your words, not mine. That is not my methodology. The elements in the frame came together in a pleasing manner and I made a
    photograph. I don't expect that to mean anything as you don't shoot on the street.

    You seem very impulsive trying to find the worst in anything I say, usually when I take exception to something Fred asserts. A strong pattern is
    developing over multiple threads. Are you his spokesman, after he bows out?
     
  49. Brad thanks for clearing that up. You are correct, I didn't consider the security camera and the light. Now that you point it out I see the picture works without anyone really having to explain it.
    You wrote: " The elements in the frame came together in a pleasing manner and I made a photograph."
    OK by me. Your intent, if I understand you correctly, was to make a pleasing photograph. I think you did make a pleasing photograph.
     
  50. No, I simply said: The elements in the frame came together in a pleasing manner and I made a photograph.
     
  51. Right, you said that to describe the moment when your intent was formed. Your intent is what caused the muscles in your index finger on the shutter to contract. Seeing something pleasing, you contracted your finger. Intent is the cause, the contraction of your index finger an effect. Therefore, you intended to make a pleasing picture, to save a copy of the frame to memory because you thought it was worth it to save it as a picture because it was a pleasing frame. Right?
     
  52. Jeff provided us with this helpful link: http://zonezero.com/open/157-debunking-the-myth-of-the-decisive-moment
    It shows contact print sheets for some notable pictures that help us understand the artists selection process.
    Brad, for your Look Deeper shot, would you be so kind as to post here a collage of the entire sequence of images that led to the shot you selected?
     
  53. >>> Right? No. That's not it at all. It's about elements coming together in a pleasing manner within the scene. It's an almost instantaneous decision, perhaps subconsciously recognized. Lex described the process very well in his 7/30 4:24pm post up above about being in the zone and the benefit of practice.
    I expressed my intent up above in my 7/31 10:16pm post. No need to repeat that again as I'm not able to add any additional information.
    I'm beginning to appreciate even better the stance Winogrand took with some interviewers, attempting to shoehorn their views and perspectives (without benefit of experience) onto how he went about his shooting on the street, and his views about photography.
    .
    [​IMG]
    Vancouver • ©Brad Evans 2014
    .
     
  54. It's also mocking the interpretation that it's about some kind of sleazy sexual innuendo (picture two cretins, Beavis and Butthead, if you will, elbowing each other and snickering "Look deeper...get it! Hehheheheh!"). It offers that interpretation, but it's actually mocking that interpretation when its says, "No, you're miles off, pal!" —Steve
    With respect to that particular photo, Steve Gubin (and others who have seen it and commented previously) nailed it. When I was out shooting I saw the message, security camera, and spotlight up above, and waited for the right subject - thinking an attractive woman would be ideal, positioned directly below the spotlight with security camera pointing towards her. I took a bunch of shots with others walking by previously to see how it might look. —Brad​
    OK, so far we have Steve's understanding of Brad's intent and Brad's description not of intent but of methodology. That an attractive woman would be ideal is one thing. WHY an attractive woman would be ideal is another.
    Here's what I get putting the two together. A photographer lying in wait for an attractive woman to walk past a found scene with certain story-telling elements that tells men who might view this sexually (but in an immature sexual manner like B&B), "no pal, not quite."
    It's too bad we don't have several women participating to give us their views on what's also going on here. I say also because pictures and statements can be interpreted in so many different ways, and probably should be, despite whatever the intent of the photographer.
    I think Steve probably nailed it, too. But there's more, IMO. When you say you lie in wait, when you set up a shot which includes a street camera and spotlight and wait for an attractive woman, I suspect but can't be sure many women would understand how (and that) the woman in the photo is being used. How effective is it really to wait for "an attractive woman" or the right attractive woman in order to supposedly show something revealing about sexual innuendos toward women? Could a man find a way not to reduce women to "an attractive woman?" Could the woman in the photo somehow be made to be seen as a person rather than someone (something) a photographer lies in wait for who will fit the bill. I have a feeling many women would decline this kind of photographic offering.
     
  55. It's threads like these that make me pleased to be the intellectually challenged person that I am. I don't care about a photographers intent, the gear they use, what they had for lunch, what materials they use and so on. All I care about is what effect if any the picture I'm looking at at that moment has on me. That's it. I think too many people get their minds cluttered with a bunch of garbage when they start trying to pry into the methods and psyche of other photographers. Why not concentrate on ones own work? God knows I have enough issues with my own photography that I don't need to devote any time to wondering about other peoples.
    Here's my take: Every time some takes a photograph, be it a street shot, a landscape, a nude, or even just snaps at your Aunt Bertha's 70th birthday, the intent is all the same. It's to make a recording of what you are experiencing. That word by the way is key: Experiencing. It's not enough to just "see", you have to experience something based on what your eyes take in and send up to your brain for processing. You have to be moved by something. I've always told those folks who wanted to tag along with me to learn to shoot in the streets to listen to their gut. "Trust your feelings and you will know when to press the shutter," is what I tell them. It may not always serve you in the way you would like, but it's the only way to make authentic work.
     
  56. These debates, disputes, discussings and cussings over critiques, intentions and whether it's even necessary or appropriate to critique intentions remind me of the most often cited quote by Robert Doisneau:
    "If you take photographs, don't speak, don't write, don't analyse yourself, and don't answer any questions."
    - Robert Doisneau​
    Yeah, well, that sounds great until you realize Doisneau, like Winogrand, was pulling our legs. Doisneau also went on to offer many of the most insightful observations about the nature of photography and photographers.
    Artists and creators love to hate critics and critiques and disparage the entire process of criticism as some sort of useless wankery or parasitical activity. Until the critics and critiques happen to grok what the creative folks are doing. Or when the critique helps us to clarify some vague notion so that we may more fully and completely explore a concept in our own photography or art. Then we love the critics and critiques. Until some newb or rube asks us about our process. Then we pull on our magician's robes, use a little sleight of hand and tell them it isn't important.
     
  57. >>> I think Steve probably nailed it, *too*. But there's more, IMO. When you say you lie in wait, when you set up a shot
    which includes a street camera and spotlight and wait for an attractive woman, I suspect but can't be sure many women
    would understand how (and that) the woman in the photo is being used. How effective is it really to wait for "an attractive
    woman" or the right attractive woman in order to supposedly show something revealing about sexual innuendos toward
    women? Could a man find a way not to reduce women to "an attractive woman?" Could the woman in the photo
    somehow be made to be seen as a person rather than someone (something) a photographer lies in wait for who will fit
    the bill. I have a feeling many women would decline this kind of photographic offering.

    Nice try, Fred. As I said above, I don't agree with that particular aspect Steve mentioned.

    From what you are saying it appears that you truly don't understand that many women in society today are objectified
    based on their appearance. I can't help you with that, seeing your goal seems to really be about obfuscation. The
    message is simply Look Deeper, even though it seems to not make a lot of sense to you.

    Perhaps a "homeless" person or an attractive man could have been used as well, seeing how they have been objectified,
    especially in photographs I've seen here - with the same message, "Look Deeper." But then there would no doubt be the same pushback from you.


    .
     
  58. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Here's what I get putting the two together. A photographer lying in wait for an attractive woman to walk past a found scene with certain story-telling elements that tells men who might view this sexually (but in an immature sexual manner like B&B), "no pal, not quite."​

    I saw nothing sexual at all in Brad's use of an attractive woman. Quite the opposite, it appears to be social commentary. I don't think any man would view the photo as sexual.

    On the other hand, my photos here are quite obviously about sex and/or lust. However, they are not directed at men in particular.
     
  59. Sure Mark, but it is also about making a decision that what we are experiencing is worth recording. And once we decide to share our recording everyone is going to have an opinion about its worth.
    A curator has to justify their decision before the picture is even shown. A curator can't claim that their decision was, quoting Brad "...an almost instantaneous decision, perhaps subconsciously recognized" and get to keep their job. Because we all recognize that a decision was made and a conscious act resulted from that decision for reasons. A conscious act even includes deciding to take a picture for no particular reason. It matters whether a picture resulted from an involuntary spasm in the index finger or from deliberation.
     
  60. I very much do understand that many women are objectified based on their appearance, Brad. What I'm saying is that to objectify a woman as you have in that photo in order to comment on the objectification of women just doesn't work for me. And this has nothing to do with your intent or what you've said about lying in wait (though that did add some emphasis). This has to do with what I see in the photo. I see a woman (any attractive woman who happened along) walking into a scene that a photographer thought had narrative potential. (Like, Jeff, I didn't see anything particularly sexual. I was addressing Steve's comment and Brad's "Steve nailed it.")
    One of the reasons I moved onto other things after shooting on the street for several years early on was because I didn't find it enough to scout out interesting locations and wait for the right person to walk into them. That was my own shortcoming, in my mind. I would like to get back to street shooting at some point and it will be to explore something else. One thought I have is to explore moments that are already happening, to find excitement as it is lived. If I were to wait, it would be to wait for something to unfold before me, not to wait for someone to walk into a background of my choosing. And, of course, it wouldn't all have to be candid or surreptitious. There could be lots of engagement as well.
    I'm not suggesting any other photographer work the way I would. And I'm not suggesting I won't be open to other ways of shooting once I get out there again. I'm telling why I'm unmoved by this particular photo. Brad has a lot of photos in a rather varied portfolio that I relate to better and that I get more out of.
    Charles, who lives outside the city, landscape photographers who've never shot on the street, and people who weren't there alongside the photographer could have some significant insights to share, without needing to be invited to spend a year or two shooting on the street. Just like we all have an important and equal voice in a Philosophy forum whether we've spent years formally studying Philosophy or not.
    Participating in a particular genre, of course, gives us certain insights that others might not have. Likewise, those who don't participate in a particular genre might have a kind of perspective that can enlighten those who work in that genre.
     
  61. Jeff "I don't think any man would view the photo as sexual. "
    Speaking for myself the woman is the only interesting thing about the picture. The text next, the light, and security camera after that. She isn't pictured in a way that comes off as sexual to me. Consequently I don't think there is enough sexual emphasis in the photo to make the text's counsel relevant to it as a picture of a woman. She isn't pictured attractively enough to warrant the admonition.
     
  62. Since exploiting, objectifying women ordinarily involves a more provocative photo of a woman than Brad's photo of a woman, then to me at least, based on my reaction to the woman in his photo, the words exploit and objectifying may be an overstatement of what I sense is wrong about the picture.
    Part of the reason I characterize most of Brad's work as crass is because I feel that his subject portrayals are gratuitous. To me it seems that appearance is the only reason behind Brad's subject selection. To be clear, gratuitous means "uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted". The only reason I can find in Brad's subject choices, appearance, lacks good reason, is uncalled for, is unwarranted. Sure that's a value judgment of mine.
    And that is why I would prefer that his work not be shown as art. His broad body of work doesn't reflect the kind of values I want promulgated in our culture by art. I want more than just appearances in art. We have enough of 'just appearance' in the advertising media that form most of our communications. Often discussions, critiques of art involve discussions of values. So be it.
    There is an irony that Brad would sit for more than an hour looking at advice from text on a building that was also advice he sooo needed to hear, at least from my view of him. Look deeper than appearance Brad, because to me appearance is all that your work is about ultimately. And that is why I don't view it as art. It is not only shallow, but brash.
     
  63. ""Every time some takes a photograph, be it a street shot, a landscape, a nude, or even just snaps at your Aunt Bertha's 70th birthday, the intent is all the same. It's to make a recording of what you are experiencing. That word by the way is key: Experiencing.""

    Marc made the one comment that made me react to this flow of discussion. In a funny way he managed to formulate the exact antipode of what I have been doing in photography since years outside family and privacy snapshots. Everyone of the more than thousand photos I have uploaded on Photonet the last ten years are anything but registrations of my "experiences". They are all something else or at least something more, where the viewers of my imagination play a central role. They are more like writing prose or poems which are never descriptions of direct experiences of mine.
    As no-one up till now has taken up Marc's input, maybe this is just a side remark to the thread.
     
  64. >>> Fred: (Like, Jeff, I didn't see anything particularly sexual. I was addressing Steve's comment and Brad's "Steve nailed it.”)
    Again, you conveniently ignore the I’ve cleared up that aspect in Steve’s post and continue to reference it. At best that comes off as disingenuous.
    >>> One of the reasons I moved onto other things after shooting on the street for several years early on was because I didn't find it enough to scout out interesting locations and wait for the right person to walk into them.
    What you seem to be saying here is that street photography is only about that. I would guess most is making spur of the moment photographs as things unfold on the street. But it is not limited to that. The Look Deeper photo I made in 2003 and have done little hanging around for a photo since, unless it was for a posed portrait. I honestly can’t remember the last time I hung around in an area waiting for a scene to unfold. It may have been 9-10 years ago.
    >>> I would like to get back to street shooting at some point and it will be to explore something else. One thought I have is to explore moments that are already happening, to find excitement as it is lived.
    That’s a large part of my photography, the other being street portraiture and listening to and putting together stories of people I meet on the street. The lying in wait aspect was simply a suggestion as to how HCB made the shot mentioned by Arthur. Indeed, the Pedro Meyer piece that Jeff pointed to reinforces that possibility as that’s how he seemed to work on many occasions. I don’t find that particularly shocking. OTOH, I really don’t care for HCBs work that much - which was reinforced seeing his retrospective at SFMOMA a couple years ago.
    >>> Brad has a lot of photos in a rather varied portfolio that I relate to better and that I get more out of.
    I’d rather characterize that as having many different portfolios, developed over many years, covering my interests at a particular time.
    >>> Charles, who lives outside the city, landscape photographers who've never shot on the street, and people who weren't there alongside the photographer could have some significant insights to share, without needing to be invited to spend a year or two shooting on the street.
    As I appreciate all points of view, he could very well have some insight, but so far, he seems too invested in mischaracterizations, intentional misquotes, and gotchas to the point where any such insight would be extremely suspect. This is something he has demonstrated other times, on other threads - usually when I take exception to a point you have made. Which does seem strange, by the way.
    No, the people I seek for advice and insight are individuals who have no ulterior agenda, shoot straight (no photographic pun intended), are credible, have my best interests at heart, and have earned my respect. So far, Charles fails badly on all counts.
    >>> Charles: And that is why I would prefer that his work not be shown as art.
    I have never shown my work as art (or attempted to). As I’ve explained several times in this thread, I do not shoot for others and therefore would give no weight to your preference whatever that might be. I have never claimed my work is art (it isn’t), or refer to myself as an artist (I'm not). Indeed, when others refer to me as such at a talk or reception, I gently correct them and say something like “photographer works fine.”
    But, by suggesting that I should not be showing my work as art (when that claim was never made), does construct an straw man that you can then beat down, as if you were saying something very profound - when in fact it comes off weak, weird and disingenuous (at best).
    >>> There is an irony that Brad would sit for more than an hour looking at advice from text on a building that was also advice he sooo needed to hear, at least from my view of him.
    There you go again, making stuff up again to bolster an argument you’re attempting to make. Nowhere did I say I sat at a building for more than an hour. When you make stuff up like that and in other places, and create straw man arguments, your credibility suffers and anything that you do say that might have some truth or merit gets substantially discounted. Why would I soo need to hear advice from such a person? That's makes no sense. The real irony is that such a person is passing themselves off as someone with advice that is soo needed to be heard.
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  65. Not art? Fair enough. Thanks for correcting me.
    What is Maier then? An artist, a documentarian? Does deciding if she was an artist depend what critics find in her intention?
     
  66. I don't get this thing of trying to devise the one great truth about photography, or take someones description of how or why they made a certain photograph, and then pounce on it to try to pigeon hole the idea into, so this is what you believe or intend with your photography. Really. So much of this is just semantical B.S. If you blow up the words like the common one, I want to show what I was experiencing, etc. What does that really mean? What experience? To my little world of street photography, seldom do I have an agenda. I was thinking about what am I thinking about in terms of photography, when I'm shooting. Am I lurking about waiting for something I find interesting, or visually interesting to happen? Now and again. Do I keep an eye out for things that look interesting? Of course. Think about what you think about when in the act of taking a photo that isn't a process of engagement with a person. Me, when I'm clicking the shutter I'm thinking that might be cool, or I wonder how this weird lighting will work? or this is moody, I wonder how it will look, snap snap, or that girl is beautiful, or that person has a really interesting face. Its all a bunch of really small impressions decisions, many of which don't result in an interesting picture, but some that do. sometimes something you see will jive with imagery you've seen elsewhere or remind of something you've read or thought about .....click. Its, at least for me, a simple process. Is there conscious or unconscious intelligence that sometimes compels one to snap some thing that you don't fully see at the time you take the picture? I think probably yes. And sometimes, you see something crystalize and you are fully trying to capture certain details, light on a fabric, a piece of interesting junk, a building detail that if you frame it this way transmutes the object. Really, you can have all these thoughts within a span of 20 minutes on the right day. And then sometimes its just capturing the joyful fun of human nature having a good time or a bad time whatever, like Jeff's sexy photos that are so much about the vigor and openness of S.F. There's no one method or intention, at least in my photography world, unless I'm on a project:)
     
  67. What is Maier then? An artist, a documentarian? Does deciding if she was an artist depend what critics find in her intention?​
    What is she to you? Critics can add texture, context and meaning to the work which is in itself an art, but other than effecting the sale price of a photograph or other piece, really only you can decide if Maier is an artist, or a documentarian, or if there is truly a distinction and are they mutually exclusive terms. Or does the dilemma arise simply from the dialectic one buys into about what these terms mean and how they relate to a work. Critics, I find, justify their existence by creating or attributing meaning to what ever they are looking at, and, especially when the maker is no longer around to explain themselves what they were doing, they (the critics) seem to live with the concept that nature abhors a vacum and thus they fill in the story, or narrative etc. So restating the OP's questions, is the intention of the maker have anything to do whether a work is art? or critically perceived as art by the critique world, and does it, in the final analysis, really mean anything to the actual work it self. The critical explanation of Maier's photo may have absolutely nothing to do with what VM actually intended, who knows?
     
  68. I'm almost sorry I commented on Brad's photograph. My comments were my take on the image, period. I have no idea whether he waited or didn't wait in one spot. I have no idea whether he intended it as a tongue-in-cheek comment on the objectification of women. Something about the image gave me the impression that it went beyond simply seeing it as a sexual innuendo, provided that someone might even see it in that way. Not a visual clue, more an apprehension based on instinct. A feeling not based on any overt objective visual evidence contained in the photograph itself. And for me, despite having mentioned it, that was not the most salient feature of the photo (though it seems to have dominated further discussion of it). Put an elderly woman in there, a child, or a man. It doesn't matter. The oddity, the pressure and tension of the giant letters and the camera, would still be there. And that is the dominant aspect of it. But that is just my interpretation of it.
    One of the things I like about certain street photographs is their ability to reach beyond the level of just the objective visual evidence they contain. They go beyond the ability of words to encompass them. One can describe them, but the essence of how, or why, they make one feel or apprehend something ineffable does not yield itself easily to mere words. I think that sometimes you just have to let a particular image make you feel. But here words fail, because I'm not talking about the feeling you might get because a portrait or a landscape reminds you of something from your life, or you revel in the technical perfection of it, or you are struck by its beauty. Maybe it goes back to Julie's quote of Tallis (discussing Keats "negative capability" and Coleridge) and the Penetralium of mystery. (The Penetralium of mystery can run the risk of being a cover for laziness, but that's a different discussion.) We live in an age dominated by corporate metrics, marketing demographics, and a grasping quest for certainty and objectivity. To bastardize Keats again, does one seek knowledge from a photo or does one seek feeling (Keats' beauty)? A photograph can contain both, but if it must contain only one, I would prefer that it contain the latter. The photograph which provides only half-knowledge, and is understood best through feeling, rises to the level of what I would call art. Intention be damned. I do believe that some of Maier's photographs qualify her for the term "artist". Certainly there are enough of them that do. Nor do I feel that she alone among street photographers has produced photographs that rise to art. I know that there are some who do not think that street photography can be art. That's up to them to decide. I believe that it can be. As for being a documentarian, one could also say that, yes, Maier was most certainly that as well.
    And in the end, does it matter whether we call something art or not? [EDIT: I posted this before seeing Barry's comments above...I'm in agreement.] There seems to be this fear of using the word. And much sneering and derision when it is. Sneering at those who choose to call certain things art (or sneering at that horrid boogeyman "the Art World") is the province of the technicians, the classicists, the literalists, and the objectifiers.
    (An example of....nothing in particular. I just felt like posting it...I wish more people would post their photos in these threads. We are photographers after all.)
    [​IMG]
     
  69. Steve, I was very conscious that some of your thoughts were a springboard for some of the discussion that ensued about Brad's photo. Please don't be sorry. I think it's great to take some of the abstract thoughts that sometimes get brought up and make them more concrete by applying them to specific photos. This is good stuff to hash out and if it gets charged, well, it gets charged. And though I discussed the whole objectification/innuendo thing, that wasn't my big takeaway from the photo, which was more about it looking like one of those find-a-background-wait-for-the-right-person photos, which I just don't find challenging or moving in most cases, Bresson notwithstanding. And to be sure, Brad responded by saying he can't remember having shot a photo like that in almost a decade.
    I've been questioned on my approach to photos and the depth of what I produce on enough occasions. It stings at first but the more it stings the more I usually wind up getting something out of it. So, as hard as it can be, I welcome even those critiques that make me the most defensive. Sometimes, I've agreed right away if it really rang true and sometimes it took a bit of time for me to absorb it and found ways to deepen my photography. Other times, I felt perfectly comfortable with what I was doing but also very much understood someone else's negative and even hostile reaction. I doubt many of us are looking for universal appeal. What appeals universally is often quite boring or vanilla. Good photographers, good artists are bound to turn a segment of the population off and often do. It goes with the territory.
    I very much agree with you about being aware of much sneering and derision when art and critics are mentioned and I usually walk the other way when that happens.
    Barry, if I understand you correctly, you don't think about much when you're in the moment of photographing. We're similar in that regard. I may think about where the light is falling or whether a tree or wall molding seems to be growing out of a subject's head. Probably it's more of an intuitive kind of noticing than real thinking. But I do have agendas. And I consider what I'm doing with photography a great deal. I give it a lot of thought. It's not when I'm shooting, though. It's when I'm lying in bed at night before sleep, when I'm driving, taking a shower, hear something in a conversation I think I can express in a photo, get a feeling in the pit of my stomach at some time or another that is worth inspiring an idea for a future photo. That sort of thing. Very conscious focus and effort goes into a lot of the work I produce, which doesn't mean serendipity and spontaneity aren't also partners to my more deliberate side, which probably tends to be dominant.
    Marc, for me, it's not only the recording of an experience (though I think it's partly that), it's the making of a new experience, the photo. I might say that there are at least two important experiences for me (and there's overlap and it can be hard to separate the two), the experience of being with who I'm shooting and at the same time the experience of projecting toward the photo. A camera seems able, in different hands, to record almost like a fun house mirror reflects. A photo winds up transforming the original experience and moment, sometimes distorting it almost beyond being able to recognize that original moment in it.
     
  70. Excellent summary of what shooting on the street can be like, Barry. No doubt that will still confound those that demand qualified intention be asserted in order to make street photos. While having zero shooting experience to draw upon and (as a result) not understanding what it's really about.
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  71. While having zero shooting experience to draw upon and (as a result) not understanding what it's really about.​
    And here we have it again! Restated clearly. You, the other, the foreigner to my world, the unwashed inexperienced, couldn't possibly understand a thing about what I do. What a telling "artist's statement." Excuse me, sorry, "photographer's statement."
     
  72. Sorry Fred, I don't know what you are going on about. OK, you're right, arm-chair internet experiences are just as good, just like what Barry expressed.
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  73. The same way you would, Brad, with understanding and empathy. How do you know what Barry experiences not being Barry? Well, that's exactly how anyone can understand what Barry experiences who's not Barry. If I thought no one who doesn't shoot portraits could understand me or my experience shooting portraits, I'd give it up tomorrow. I would never want to put myself in that kind of vacuum. So that's what I'm going on about. I love talking with non-photographers about what I do and I love talking with non-portrait photographers about what I do. And I generally get the sense they can very well understand what I do and how I do it. Part of my purpose in photographing is to communicate and to generate understanding. Not to isolate myself off from the world who I think can't understand my experiences because they don't experience exactly what I do. I'm not about to yield to your attempts to turn this into the Old Street Boy's Network, others need not apply.
     
  74. Barry, Steve: It's up to me? I'm starting to see I don't do all that well with open endedness. Well, that wave is kinda pretty Steve.
     
  75. >>> I'm not about to yield to your attempts to turn this into the Old Street Boy's Network, others need not apply.
    Nice try, who suggested that? Go out and make some street photos. Any camera and pair of comfortable shoes will do. It's a big city.
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  76. Brad, I had said early on that my remarks on the street photography presented in this thread were my remarks as a viewer, were not the remarks of a photographer.
    One thing I am getting out of all these varied contributions is a better sense of how I personally take in information. How I personally take in information does seem to account for my quick judgments about that information. Let's say I am like a pocket gopher. I handle information like a pocket gopher handles little rocks that fall into its hole. If I can't find a place for it, out it goes. Here I am: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTB93hwF22o . I've got a wonderful world down there under the ground and if you want me take in information there had better be a reason, intent. Otherwise it's just another piece of information I have no reason to clutter my already full world with. When I said crass, all of it, that was the snap judgment of the pocket gopher who just wanted to unclutter his hole of something there wasn't any reason (intent) to have down in there. Does it make sense to blame a pocket gopher for being a pocket gopher not wanting more rocks? That's what I am.
     
  77. Finally, Finally I have some closure and I can chuck this thread right out my hole.
     
  78. "Let's say I am like a pocket gopher".Charles

    Funny.

    I would have thought a better analogy would have been of a little ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, its arse pointing at the world, passing wind. But did I notice one half eye sticking out? Ha, only joining in the fun of your little tale.
    Thanks everyone for the insights and the photos. Special thanks for the effort Brad has put into this post with his Art of Photography despite the insults and name calling from our little ostrich friend.
     
  79. http://personalitycafe.com/myers-briggs-forum/121893-true-difference-judger-vs-perceiver.html
    Judgers deal with their outside world first, so they can deal with their inside world. Perceivers deal with their inside world first so they can then deal with their outside world.

    Example: J's clean a room in order to feel good, P's clean the room when they feel like it.

    Thus J's move their decision making (Feeling or Thinking) to the forefront, before they deal with the perception of information, and a P would deal with the perception of the information before making a judgement on it.​
    I don't spend a lot of time on the perception of information. That's why I rush to judgment. But the judgments stand on their own terms, are either good ones or bad ones on their own merit despite the personality that formed them.
     
  80. Well, this went well...somewhat.
    I appreciate everyone's thoughts in this thread, but as corny or "touchy-feely" as it sounds, this is how this thread strikes me on a personal level. I feel a little bit like someone who is with a group of friends -- all of whom I get along with -- but some of them don't seem to get along well with each other through misunderstandings. ("Oh no! This isn't going to turn into one of those let's talk about our feelings sessions is it!? No, not exactly.)
    So, whether anyone reads this or not (Charles especially), I just wanted to make some brief observations.
    On the seeming rift between Brad and Fred (particularly awkward to me because I respect both of you, and, though you're each somewhat different from each other, you each seem like people I would enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with, shooting the bull, maybe go out photographing together, etc.) -- When Brad references people who might understand better (I know I'm not quoting exactly, just trying to convey the sense of some of the statements) by experiencing the street more, I can see how that could be interpreted as a "you're not really part of the club, so you don't understand" kind of attitude. I don't think that's what Brad intended, but I can't speak for him. I think Fred is often very passionate and involved in discussions on PN. He explores, challenges, analyzes, and questions statements (and his own thoughts) and it sometimes can be interpreted as personal or, in some cases, rigid. But they can often arise in response to statements made by others that appear to exclude or diminish opposing (or different) points of view. It's a shame, I think, because I often get a lot out of what either one of them says and I sometimes read a thread and think, "No! That's no what he meant! Or, no! don't take it that way..." Seems a shame, but I can only give my thoughts on it -- which I don't think I've ever done before.
    Charles W -- I hope I did not sound condescending to you (I don't know if he will come back to this thread so he may never see this, alas...). When I spoke of "literalists and objectifiers", it was not a veiled reference to you. You participate, you talk about what you see or don't see, and I appreciate it. I was thinking of people I sometimes see on PN who wander into a discussion that might involve a difficult work, or photographer, or the "art world", and they drop one or two snarky lines demeaning the thread or the discussion or the "art world" -- without ever offering anything else to the discussion. Why bother? If it's such BS, or distasteful to you, why bother? But, who knows, I may have been guilty of the same thing myself at times. It just seems that there are certain people who can be counted on to pop into such a discussion (none of them contributed to this thread, btw). So anyway, Charles, I also don't see you as a pocket gopher (I suspect you don't think so either) but your point is made. Why clutter up one's mind or world with things that don't seem to make sense or be of value. In that sense, I'm a bit of a pocket gopher myself (as are we all?), but just not about what was being discussed in this thread. You did not mock anything I said, or say it was ridiculous BS, but I could understand it if someone did in response to me talking about "feelings beyond words" or "mysteries" and "half-knowledge".
    There is nothing wrong, or inferior, with wanting to take in information that has reason and intent behind it -- particularly as it relates to a photograph. I too look for these things (depending upon the image and the context), but in certain genres of photography I tend toward appreciating things that are a bit amorphous. I do not think you are "an ostrich". You just have a different outlook and approach (in some areas) than do I. I don't think I'm more insightful or attuned than you are.
    So, thanks all. Not sure if this discussion will continue or not, but I have enjoyed it, despite the bumps in the road.
     
  81. Steve, quote fragment - "but in certain genres of photography I tend toward appreciating things that are a bit amorphous."
    That makes sense. If I take the time I do get something from just perceiving your photo, for example, hence my comment about the waves in it. Most of the time my extraverted feeling function wants to put a value on something [makes like or dislike statement with supportable reasons - feeling function is a rational function] and just be done with it. I just can't take much 'amorphous', that's just the way I am. What I do notice is that not everybody is like me in that regard.
     
  82. Steve, thanks for your very sober and warm post. I take it to heart.
     
  83. "your cryptic epigrams often throw me for a loop when it comes to understanding what you're really trying to say". Steve.
    "Lost in the world of words...the magic of the photograph....."Allen
    Okay, a work of Art/Photograph has its own language; a emotive response from the photographer and the viewer. Yes, we can analysis/determinate , put our thoughts into words...but the Art is talking to us from a different place. Words, are wonderful, and they can help explain the Art, and they are our practical tools of understanding. But they are only tools of understanding, the Art. The Art can be lost in in the deciphering of one language to another....hence the magic is lost in the world of words.
    Just another thought.. to call someones photography as "crass" is just plain nasty. It would seem folk on this forum do not have a problem with someones work being called "crass". Indeed, they seem to "pretty up" to this person. I just wonder how they would feel if their photography was called "crass? Photographers/ Artists are proud of their work to have it called "crass" must be very hurtful.
    Sad.
     
  84. Fred -- thanks, you know I mean it.
    Allen Herbert -- Okay, a work of Art/Photograph has its own language; a emotive response from the photographer and the viewer. Yes, we can analysis/determinate , put our thoughts into words...but the Art is talking to us from a different place. Words, are wonderful, and they can help explain the Art, and they are our practical tools of understanding. But they are only tools of understanding, the Art. The Art can be lost in in the deciphering of one language to another....hence the magic is lost in the world of words.​
    Thanks, Allen. I agree completely. And you said in a lot fewer words one of the points I was trying to make.
    Charles -- As much as I say I appreciate that which is amorphous, I would not want a steady diet of only that. And yes, some people want more or less of it...we are all different that way. And that's as it should be.
     
  85. Some people find the light only if, like the candle, they are their own fuel, consuming themselves.
     
  86. Thanks Charles, I appreciate that and liked your story and video.
    >>> When Brad references people who might understand better (I know I'm not quoting exactly, just trying to convey the sense of some of the statements) by experiencing the street more, I can see how that could be interpreted as a "you're not really part of the club, so you don't understand" kind of attitude. I don't think that's what Brad intended, but I can't speak for him.
    Thanks Steve. I would like to try and clarify what you said above, though.
    Charles insisted on knowing my intent when out shooting. I explained what it was, but that apparently was not good enough and/or not believed. He asked several more times, along the way trying to put words in my mouth, misquoting, etc. I think he was looking for something like:
    "While shooting on the street I seek to explore relationships between San Francisco's diverse sub-populations and their environment to help raise awareness about the underserved who are not seen and marginalized by society as a whole, and how class identities, postmodern discourse, and skateboard politics play a major roll”
    I believe he was confounded that my "intent" is to simply capture moments not seen on the street, and that I get jazzed being out there, talking to people, learning something new about the street, raising money for at-risk kids, etc. Apparently that was still not good enough, and then asserting that he'd prefer my photos not be shown as art. Ha! Rush me to the burn unit on that one!
    Thus, after expressing my intent (as did others who offered their nuanced views), as far as I know the only way for that to make sense to Charles is to actually get out into an urban environment and see what it's really like first hand with camera in hand. No amount of arm-chair street photography theorizing, internet access to Winogrand quotes, reading/quoting Szarkowski, etc will never convey what I and others experience and especially why a formalized intent is just not very damn important for many.
    It's hardly a club. As I said to Fred, any camera and decent pair of shoes works fine. I have a ton of respect for people that are actually out on the street, at all levels, seeing what it's about and welcome everyone. It's easy to just walk out your door, maybe needing to get on a bus, and find a place to sample the street.
    >>> Just another thought.. to call someones photography as "crass" is just plain nasty.
    Agreed. Charles hides behind an emotionless dictionary definition. I think many people understand the power that lies beyond the word's definition, and Charles' real intent. It's not the first time he's impulsively acted out so strongly towards me - it seems to happen after I challenge one of Fred's assertions, making me think he's acting as Fred's spokesman or proxy.
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    Bruiser and Rikii • Tenderloin, San Francisco • ©Brad Evans 2014
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  87. Barry, if I understand you correctly, you don't think about much when you're in the moment of photographing.​
    Well, I didn't mean to convey exactly that. Something is alway working, its not a mindless process, and I'm sure that's not what you meant. It just depends on the photograph you are taking.
    Well, that's exactly how anyone can understand what Barry experiences who's not Barry.​
    It is worse than that! I am Barry and I don't have a clue, or at least the language to understand much less articulate what I'm experiencing. But at least if you see enough of ones photographs you begin to see patterns as to what one is interested in.
    In terms of my photographs, if I look, I see I'm very interested in light, generally, sometimes, I am very thoughtful about abstract relationships in a photo, and then, a real curiosity about people. I like to almost like look at them under a microscope and catch a look, just to see what it is.
    When I see Jeff's photography, I see a love of the joy in humanity, a reveling in the pure audacity of how people like to present themselves and a love getting to meet and learning about folks.
    Similarly in Brad's photography, I see a similar sentiment as Jeff's and a real comfort of 2 way respect and humanity. Even when Brad is photographing someone who other's might thing is off the rails and on the marginalized side of life, Brad always transmits that feeling of equality of all people, he captures the humanity that shines out in everybody no matter how circumstances or choices have brought them in life. To me, Jeff and Brads photographs are the exact opposite of "crass" for those reasons. Besides, I like sexy people photographs.
    That's why I enjoy Jeff's and Brad's work so much, and they are both technically at the point where the major hurdles to getting a good photo are 2nd nature. Now, I hope I didn't embarrass you guys. <blush> But I know you are both tough enough to handle a compliment:)
     
  88. I don't have any problem with characterizing a photograph as crass, particularly if it doesn't appeal to popular sensibilities and sensitivities, any more than I do appending bellissimo! to a photo that is conventionally pleasing and pleasant and possibly really good and possibly merely forgettable. Either characterization may be accurate, adequate, vapid or simply lazy.
    What I don't get is the repeated pattern of gratuitous belligerence in the guise of polemics to set up an argument, followed by a carefully nuanced commentary, followed by more bellicose posturing... lather, extra lather, rinse, repeat. I can't tell whether I'm reading an odd, abrasive but possibly valid form of criticism or merely watching someone riding a roller coaster that never ends while they scream "Thhhiiisss sssuuucksss!" followed by "Thhhiiisss isss grrreeeaattt!" depending on which part of the roller coaster they're on at the moment.
     
  89. I don't have any problem with characterizing a photograph as crass, particularly if it doesn't appeal to popular sensibilities and sensitivities, any more than I do appending bellissimo! to a photo that is conventionally pleasing and pleasant and possibly really good and possibly merely forgettable. Either characterization may be accurate, adequate, vapid or simply lazy.​

    I don't care so much what one calls it, I'm a little more interested as to why, not that it is any of my business really.
     
  90. Steve, the new account for "Best Clipping" was a spam bot using AI to create superficially relevant sounding text based on phrases harvested from the thread. It's just good enough to bypass some email spam filters and unmoderated comment sections, but sounds odd to a human reader. Probably just another spammer for a cheap photo editing service that specializes in clipping paths for image knockouts - tedious work that some commercial and stock photographers need done but don't want to pay for in the US or Europe.
     
  91. I find the implicit assumption that "intention" is "conscious" to be profoundly misleading. I believe that in action, we know much more than we are consciously aware of.

    "you can't think and hit", Yogi Berra
     

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