"Face" -- A New Book by Bruce Gilden

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by Damon D'Amato, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. Slate's review of the book is here.

    “The basis of this project is to show people who are left behind,” Gilden said. “A lot of these people are invisible and people don’t want to look at them and if you don’t look at them how can you help them?"
     
  2. Freaky is always interesting and could sell. Everyone slows down when they pass an accident. But I wouldn't hang on my walls.. Not my taste.
     
  3. Most of Gilden's street photography is not my cup of tea either, and I have to say this book is as Bruce Gilden as it gets, and in full color.
    It's pretty polarizing stuff, I'd guess.
     
  4. I don't see it as freaky.
    I appreciate a lot of stuff I wouldn't necessarily hang on my walls. Just because I might not want to see it every day doesn't mean it doesn't have significance and meaning.
    Maybe the whole point is that it won't be most people's cup of tea. And that might be a reason to give it some consideration.
    I think that now everyone is being more judgmental, and a lot of people speak without knowledge. —Gilden​
    I understand what he's saying and think it's important.

    I'd probably approach a project like this very differently and with a very different visual sensibility, but I can get into the fact that he gives it his own in-your-face style. There's a place for that. I would try to express more empathy in the photos themselves and would probably take a somewhat "softer" approach. But that's me. I'm fine with Gilden being Gilden.
    While it may be provocative on some levels, I don't see much about it that's polarizing.
     
  5. The review doesn't say that his book had more than just the shots. By themselves, they're freaky. If each picture had an essay about the person, that was personal and revealed him or her from the heart, then it may be important. We'll get to realize that our negative responses to people who don't look like us doesn't mean they aren't human and deserving of our respect. Like your essay on the farm with people who have mental challenges.
    You once told me that my picture of a fat person was exploitative. You may be right. So why aren't these exploitative? I have a feeling that not withstanding what Gilden said, his objective was (not) to get us to understand these people but to take unusual photos that would sell. I hope I'm wrong.
    I edited and added {not} which I forgot to include originally.
     
  6. Also, every shot was taken in a way that highlighted every hair, blood vessel and other negative trait. He used harsh frontal lighting, high saturation and over sharpened the results to heighten these defects. I'm sure the people don't look this bad if you saw them in person. His photo methods on their own appear exploitative.
     
  7. Polarizing, as in every discussion ever had in this forum about shooting photos of homeless people, etc. People who have shown up here talking about wanting to shoot on skid row for some sociological reason or whatever-- which seems to be what Gilden is claiming with these photos-- usually meet some pretty stiff opposition to the idea.
     
  8. You once told me that my picture of a fat person was exploitative. You may be right.​
    I don't remember the picture, so I can't speak to it. If you'd want to post it, I might be able to tell you what about it felt exploitive to me and contrast it in some meaningful way to Gilden's photos. One reason these photos of Gilden don't come across as exploitive to me is that the people seem very aware of his presence and they seem to be freely participating in what he's doing. That speaks to me more of collaboration than exploitation.
     
  9. Didn't Arbus take a number of similar shots back in the 1960's? I guess it's getting harder to find new subject matter.
     
  10. Yes, Damon, I've read many of those discussions. It's often the people in the discussion who are being polarizing more than the photographers whose photos are being discussed. The stiff opposition often coming forth in the threads you mention comes from the participants in the thread, not usually the photographers wanting to take photos. As Gilden says, there's no shortage of judgmentalism, and I'd include myself in some instances, but I've been more conscious of my judgments and am a little more open to what photographers have to offer, especially when I sense authenticity, even if it's not what I would do.
     
  11. Didn't Arbus take a number of similar shots back in the 1960's?​
    The subject matter may be similar. The shots are not, IMO.
     
  12. Fred, here it is.
    https://flic.kr/p/9cJdQj

    Is this exploitative? Or does it show society more
    concerned how we look rather than who we are?
    Maybe it's just a fun shot or a shot that shows a
    juxtaposition, a sort of Ying and yang of everyday
    living.
     
  13. It could be all of those. I don't think you set out to be exploitive and figure you were just having fun. I probably said the photo was exploitive, and that goes beyond your own intentions. I see the fun here, but it comes at another's expense. The juxtaposition is the fun, and the photo seems to poke fun at rather than connect with which, as in-your-face as they are, Gilden's photos show . . . a connection, although a blatant and stark one. Your perspective in this shot is voyeuristic or at least that of an outsider, it's at a safe distance. Gilden is, at the very least, up front and personal even though there's a kind of blank quality to a lot of the expressions. What you rightly describe as his hyper-emphasizing veins and skin coloration, etc. comes across as part of that emphasis, part of his sense of LOOK HERE! When I've seen others, particularly here on PN, sharpen wrinkles in old people, for example, it somehow rings more hollow to me. Gilden seems to do it with a particular consciousness and consistent style. Others seem to be doing it simply to eek out pathos from their viewers. The last thing I get from Gilden is the imposition of pathos. He seems direct and unflinching but not begging for me to feel sorry for anyone. He's not trying to wring hollow emotions out of me as so many do when they sharpen wrinkles and hair to death.
    By the way, I don't think you needed to have engaged the woman in your photo. You could have shown empathy or in some way participated or connected with her even from a distance. Or you could have used the distance as a question or somehow shown consciousness of the distance you were feeling. That's the trick, IMO, to that type of shooting. Instead, I believe, you opted for the easy way out, the ironic juxtaposition showing what the woman is not. It's a trap a lot of so-called street photography falls into. Find a man smoking a cigarette in front of a no smoking sign, or a woman entering a park whose fence has a sign that says "keep out." To me, those are no more than visual puns and not very challenging or thought-provoking.
    I think you have many much better photos in your portfolio.
     
  14. As I recall taking the shot, it was done off the hip so too speak. First off I'm not a street shooter. I find shooting people an imposition on them and shy away from it. A get-in-your-face Gilden, I'm not. But on occasions I do indulge.
    This one was taken in Manhattan at Grand Central Station. I had gotten off the subway and was heading to the street passing shops underground. The camera was on my hip in a belt case - used for work. The thing that hit me was the juxtaposition of this heavy-set women standing next to a running shop. Like a man wearing a fur coat at the beach. I had about three seconds to get the shot before she would move away. Compositionally I could have done a better job, but there wasn't time.
    I wouldn't call it a trap. I find that opposites do attract. The relationship of opposites that somehow just don't fit are the things that make photos interesting. Sometimes, that's all you can get out of a shot. If you were there, what would you have done to show the connection to her that you suggested?
     
  15. I can't speculate what I would have done. I likely wouldn't even have noticed her and, if I had, might not have been interested enough to take the shot. What I can do is show what I mean when I say I might have made more of an issue of the distance (which I think can sometimes, strangely enough, establish more of a connection). I think distance can help with storytelling which, to me, can provide a photo with a sense of involvement.
    [Perhaps this is voyeuristic to some or even a great degree, and my own voyeurism—and the position of voyeur in which the viewer might find himself—relates to the content of the photo which, for me, would also help establish a connection.]
    [​IMG]
     
  16. The picture isn't too clear on my cell phone. What's the
    guy on the left holding and/or doing? I'm not quite sure
    how this picture makes your point. Please explain.
     
  17. I did explain to the extent I think is helpful. It's probably tough to see on a cell phone. I suggest taking a look when you have access to a computer. He's holding a camera. You may not agree or see how the distance here works for me even when you can see it.
     
  18. Phil, I have the impression that the photos are as much if not more trying to reveal things about the viewer to the viewer
    as they are revealing things about the subjects.
     
  19. I disagree but you make good points, ones worth considering.
     
  20. It's difficult having empathy for just a face regardless of its wear and tear. Does anyone know if the book has captions about these people, personal vignettes, something, anything?
     
  21. I like his idea, but using HDR and that kind of thing, you can make anyone look awful.
     
  22. it

    it

    I have a friend at Magnum who thinks Bruce is a massive asshole. I think you have to be to take these types of photos.
     
  23. See what I mean, Damon. It's not actually Gilden or his photos that are polarizing . . .
     
  24. Actually this book parallels the kind of photos and video essays that has gotten very popular on the web.
    "12 Actresses Who have Gone from Pretty to Ugly"
    "The 15 Hair Raising Moments caught at the Decisive Second"

    "10 Videos of the Most Terrifying Attacks of Sharks on People"
    So now we have Gilden's "50 People Who You're Glad you Never Dated"
     
  25. "especially when I sense authenticity, even if it's not what I would do"
    No authenticity in these images which are crudely manipulated revealing little of their real personality and character. Sensational images to attract controversial discussion without kindness to the individuals....all that is bad in street photography: honesty of the image replaced with crude marketing exploitation.
    Sad.
     
  26. This photographer pretends he is revealing the soul of these subjects by distorting reality. This photographer should reveal their personalities in their interaction and struggles in life in the real world...
    Not some very very crude harsh P/S manipulation.....just so nasty to exploit struggling folk for commercial gain under some sort of pretense.
    Shame on him.
     
  27. it's a testament to the power of photography and that a photograph can have embedded in it the particulars and motives of its creator, rather than simply being only a cold record of reality and 'truth'.​
    I applaud this recognition, Phil. You seem to show an understanding of the vast potential of photography and it's great that not all photographers are tied to one simplistic notion of what photography or street photography should be. I wonder which rulebook states that a photographer needs to reveal the personalities and struggles of life in the real world. It's not one you'll find in my house, that's for sure. Certainly nothing wrong with that as a project if someone were to want to do it. But the minute I read hear someone say what another photographer should be doing I sense I've come up against a busy-body at best and a narrow or closed mind at worst.
     
  28. Fred: You were quick to begrudge me my photo freedom and call my street photo exploitative way back when. Why do you now want to deny others their opinion of Gilden's photos if they feel they are exploitative? In any case the OP started this thread with a link to a review of Gilden's book. That certainly invites the rest of us to offer our review and opinion.
    Being opened minded means allowing others to even be closed minded, even if that was the case, which I don;t believe we are. We (and you) review and critique photos all the time here. Also, Gilden certainly has the right to do his photography the way he wished. But we certainly have the right to comment on what we think of his photos. Personally attacking us by calling us "busy-bodies" and "narrow or closed minded at worst" is a little bit over-the top, don't you think? After all, the people here calling his work exploitative may have more caring feelings for Gilden's subjects than he does.
     
  29. Being opened minded means allowing others to even be closed minded​
    No, it doesn't. That's a fairly naive flaw of logic similar to one saying that if you're open minded you should welcome bigots into the world with open arms. It just doesn't work like that. Open minded doesn't mean you check your mind at the door.
    Personally attacking us by calling us "busy-bodies" and "narrow or closed minded at worst" is a little bit over-the top, don't you think?​
    That wasn't directed to you. I made it quite clear to whom it was directed. It's very telling that you call me out for an "attack" and yet said nothing when Ian came out directly and called Gilden an asshole. I guess when the attacker attacks something you think worthy of attack, it's OK, but when the shoe is on the other foot . . .
    And, by the way, speaking of attacks, I actually found your "cute" title "50 People Who You're Glad you Never Dated" much more offensive to the subjects of Gilden's photos than Gilden's photos themselves. Your words seem to suggest something far more nefarious in your mind regarding these people than whatever it is you suppose Gilden is showing. Like I said, these photos do seem to reveal sides of viewers that we might want to take a careful look at, whether that was Gilden's intention or not.
     
  30. And, by the way, speaking of attacks, I actually found your "cute" title "50 People Who You're Glad you Never Dated" much more offensive to the subjects of Gilden's photos than Gilden's photos themselves. Your words seem to suggest something far more nefarious in your mind regarding these people than whatever it is you suppose Gilden is showing. Like I said, these photos do seem to reveal sides of viewers that we might want to take a careful look at, whether that was Gilden's intention or not.​
    Come on Fred. Lighten up. Not everything has to pass a "political correctness" test. Didn't you ever laugh when someone slipped on a banana peel? I'm sure you did.
     
  31. Not everything has to pass a "political correctness" test.​
    Except my own posts apparently. You're funny, Alan. You get bent out of shape by what you call my "attack" and then give me advice to lighten up. You pounce on my so-called "attack" and make no mention of someone in the same thread calling Gilden an asshole. Don't you smell just a little hypocrisy?

    One more thing you might want to try to discern here. That's the difference between "denying others their opinion of Gilden's photos" and being bothered by someone calling him an asshole and someone else telling us what all street photography is supposed to be like. Note my responses to Phil, one of the few here who gave a thoughtful critique of Gilden's work. That I respect. The put downs, name calling, and cutesy farces are a little bit different.

    The fact that you see these people as people you'd never want to date (whether that's a joke or serious) is one of the very points of the series of photos. You actually prove what Gilden has set out to show us. You're actually the one who these photos are for!
     
  32. Fred: There was no hypocrisy on my part. I was defending myself against attacks calling me narrow minded. I don't have to defend Gilden from others attacking him. Especially since I agree with them. Gilden is an jerk who cares little for these people and is just using them to sell photo books. The way he edited his photos to amplify their physical anomalies tells you that.
     
  33. The problem is, as I already said, I clearly did not call you narrow-minded. But I guess that's beside the point for you.
     
  34. OK. Sorry I mis-understood what you said.
     
  35. You were right, Fred. Not polarizing at all.
     
  36. Right. Like I said, I believe it's the so-called critics that have been polarizing if not downright nasty. I would not so quickly
    lay the mass public's reaction, especially the Internet crowd's, at the feet of a photographer or artist. I'm not sure Gilden's
    photos demand that he be called an asshole. I hold Ian responsible for that, not Gilden. Your attribution of responsibility,
    of course, may vary.
     
  37. But then again, Gilden may indeed be an a-hole, who knows?
     
  38. Who knows, indeed! From what I understand of PN's terms of agreement and a general sense of decency, it's not
    something I speculate about. Obviously, many in this forum who prefer to speak for all street shooters and who love to
    judge not only other's photography but others as people as well feel differently. Like I said, reactions to photos tell as
    much about viewers as about photos and photographers.

    And anyone who thinks typing a-hole instead of asshole shows a degree of decency is kidding themselves at least Ian had the balls to come out and say it.
     
  39. " many in this forum who prefer to speak for all street shooters and who love to judge not only other's photography"
    Fred, with respect I really think you are losing the plot on this one.
    I have rarely seen anyone judge photos on this forum unless asked for. If a body of work is presented then folks will have an opinion....is that so bad? How many times have you come on this forum discussing the morality of street photography and beggar photographs? Yet these gross photographs are a clear representation of the abuse of the dignity of these folk who have had little say or just been given a few coins.
    How would you feel if you were photographed and gross images of you were put in a book and perhaps for some to laugh at. Then we could call the book " my art/photography exploring the inner soul of Fred".
    No one is telling photographers how to photograph but exploitation of the poor in a gross way for commercial gain is the stuff that only assholes would do.
     
  40. Allen, you might want to read your first post here and stop rewriting history because you did, in fact tell Gilden how he
    should photograph, using the word "should." And when you quote me, do so completely so you actually understand what
    I'm saying. My problem was not with judging photos or giving opinions on photos. it is with the judgments of
    photographers as people that I have a problem.

    As far as someone taking my photo and exaggerating my features and putting me in a book, I'd be thrilled. I generally
    don't like most typically flattering photos of people as I think they're quite boring and anyone who can be creative with my
    image is doing something I would generally appreciate. I'm not afraid to see myself in many different lights. And I happen to know the difference between a photo of a person and a person.
     
  41. Gilden is an interesting phenomena in my opinion. On one hand I like his Coney Island pictures. A number of these may not show people in a flattering way but not in an obvious way, like that was his intent. One can look at these pictures and see that they were done by someone of talent. On the other hand at some point he began his technique of up close shots with flash that created a lot of controversy and that seemed to have become his m.o. from then on. It's almost like he put more importance on becoming a controversial figure rather then creating meaningful and though provoking work which he's capable of doing. Whenever a discussion about his pictures would take place, the talk soon turned to Gilden himself and his personality and his motives for taking pictures. He is one of the few photographers that I can think of where the work takes a backseat to the personality and I wonder if that is Gildens intent or if it just is what it is. We seem (to me anyway) to be living in an age where photographers are placing more importance on their work as being an expression of themselves rather then an expression of some sort of idea or philosophy of the photographs content.
     
  42. "my photo and exaggerating my features and putting me in a book, I'd be thrilled"
    Cool...you never know, that street corner, that restaurant, that theatre;)
     
  43. I think you make a good point, Phil. I would add that it can sometimes be at least partly up to the subjects. There are
    people I e photographed who seem to see to it that their own personality comes through and others I e photographed who
    seem more to allow themselves to be mirrors into my own way of expressing myself through photography. I can also work
    with that and create scenarios where I think I will get more of what the subject is projecting and sometimes I can use a
    subject to make the photographic statement I'd like. Often, it's a combination and the line between what the subject is
    offering and what I am offering is blurred. When looking at the photos of others, I'm very aware that I'm seeing both
    subject and photographer, in different degrees with different photos, but always both, and also knowing that the viewer is
    putting a lot into it as well.
     
  44. "first post here and stop rewriting history because you did, in fact tell Gilden how he should photograph, using the word "should." And when you quote me, do so completely so you actually understand what I'm saying"
    Indeed, if you want to play with a word that is what I did say. But if you actually tried to make a effort to understood what I was really saying instead of playing word games...
    Treat your subjects with the humanity and dignity that all folks deserve regardless of personal wealth or status. Gross distorted misrepresentation of unfortunate folk because you can....and financially exploiting them is abuse. That might be okay with you because you call it art or a name is doing the exploitation. For me it is just abuse and commercial gain nothing else.
     
  45. Marc, besides the Coney Island work, check out his series on the Yakuza in Japan. Some amazing work.
     
  46. Wow, that's powerful stuff Fred, I feel so....chastised...<sniff>
     
  47. I don't think that Gilden was knowingly disrespectful or undignified towards his subjects when he photographed them.​
    Probably not. I think he knows exactly what he was doing. From his own words, he wanted to push the so called "untouchables" in people's faces to make us notice them, and help them. But he went further and basically forced photographic ugliness as well, which to me, make the subjects moot as it becomes all about the photo processing. The photos are a challenge. But do the photos do anything like he stated about helping these neglected people. I think the people basically disappear in a haze of HDR hyper processing.
     
  48. I'm not sure this series is much unlike Avedon's American West in some significant ways, though not ALL ways, for those
    who are tempted to pounce on the notion. The lack of environment, the upfront headshot style, the coldness, the
    photographer's style being the prominent feature, the direct gazes. Those who can stop moralizing for two seconds might
    be able to come down from on high and see this. Of course Avedon exploited his subjects.

    Anyone who thinks
    photographing someone and showing their image on the Internet with or without permission isn't some form of exploitation
    is in a haze of sorts. I'm a photographer, not a saint. We use our subjects' images. Whether we use/exploit them to tell so-
    called truths about their interactions in the world or to express feelings, we use them.
    That's photography. The minute I get comfortable in my own morality and think myself better than the next guy is the
    minute I better take a look in the mirror.
     
  49. Fred, my first thought when I saw these was, "Avedon in color."
     
  50. The difference between the American West and Faces is that Alvedon't photos were amazing photographs and these are crap.
     
  51. An interesting discussion, albeit divergent at some points. I'm not familiar with any work by Gilden that's not represented or referenced in this thread so I'll limit my opinion to my perception of the samples from this book. I don't care if he's a difficult personality, I'm sure we all are at various times. The view I take from these samples is that he's presenting and exaggerating his subjects to present a social message, the more striking the photograph, perhaps the more sympathy or empathy can be evoked. At my age (very near retirement) this approach is not effective and from the comments made, it's not with a lot of viewers. I can't differentiate between their plight and the lifestyle that put them in their condition; not that I'm without sympathy. Exaggerating their condition further polarizes preconceived beliefs (IMO). As a final "review" of the book, I think the title "Face" is somewhat grandiose and misleading. These are faces of a minority segment of society who have made inappropriate life decisions. A more appropriate title might be "Choices".
     
  52. >>> The difference between the American West and Faces is that Alvedon't photos were amazing
    photographs and these are crap.
    Other than the photos are of people, I find nothing in common between Avedon's ITAW series, and
    Gilden’s recent Face work.
    Avedon's project occurred over a five year period, through 13 western states in a station wagon, and was
    commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum in Texas. Avedon sought to engage average folk in the
    West. His was a deliberate exploration of a large cross-section of people, far different than the
    glamorized West most of the country associated with Hollywood. When released his photos were
    controversial for that reason along with the fact that being from New York, many felt he had no business
    documenting what the West was about. Interestingly, the same complaint was laid at Frank for his
    Americans series - though it took an outsider from another country to tell that side of the American story.
    Through his photographs and narratives captured by Avedon and assistant Laura Wilson, many became
    aware of the other West.
    With respect to Gilden’s project, what was revealed? He apparently sought to photograph the unseen on
    the street who reminded him of himself, using lighting and effects effects ramped up to 11 to call attention
    to and make them more visible. Ok.
     
  53. With respect to Gilden’s project, what was revealed? He apparently sought to photograph the unseen on
    the street who reminded him of himself, using lighting and effects effects ramped up to 11 to call attention
    to and make them more visible. Ok.​
    I do believe that is correct about his intentions. Its I just think the technique got in the way of it.
     
  54. One may choose to focus on the respective processes of Gilden and Avedon. Just for clarity, I wasn't comparing their processes. I was
    comparing their results which are the photos. Not that process isn't important. Of course, it
    is. Just not at all what I was comparing.
     
  55. I was thinking more along the lines of Avedon's close-up portraits. The kind of photos you'd see in the New Yorker illustrating an article about a celebrity a few years back-- not the style of American West.

    This photo of Picasso.
    Or this of John Ford, for example.

    Really though, just a first impression.
     
  56. Phil, I haven't seen Gilden's prints in person and I'm fortunate to have seen Avedon's American West prints here in
    Northern California a few years back. The prints were, indeed, impressive. I agree that there's likely a significant
    difference in concern with print quality between the two photographers. As I said, I wasn't comparing all aspects of their
    photos and mentioned the aspects I do see some sameness in. I think there is a real and distinct comparison to be made,
    though it's probably necessary to repeat that I don't think their photos are similar in all aspects or on all levels.
     
  57. Phil S., Jul 23, 2015; 05:26 p.m.
    Fred, not sure if you are familiar with Antoine d'Agata's work... Here's a link to an excellent interview in which he talks about morality and its transcendence through the act of photography as an experience.​
    The ultimate "selfie".
     
  58. Phil, thanks so much for that link. The use of the phrase "polite daylight" to describe much photography struck a chord
    with me. I suspect Gilden would be more
    acceptable if his work were a little more polite. Politeness is usually a matter of following conventions, both physical and
    moral. Those who flout those conventions get in trouble with mainstream mobs.
     
  59. Didn't Zoe Strauss take similar pictures about 10-15 years ago? I guess it's getting harder to find new subject matter.
    Regarding Avedon, I recently picked up a text book titled "Criticizing Photographs. An Introduction to Understanding Images" by Terry Barrett. One of the first chapters uses Avedon's In the American West series as an example of how different critics arrive at their evaluations.
     
  60. Marc, it's not getting harder to find subject matter. Think about art from early on. People have repeatedly painted flowers,
    for example. Impressionists painted boats over and over again. Self portraits have been done by many. Street people are
    a common theme. So are children. I don't understand the point you're trying to make. It's one thing to think the subject
    matter shows some kind of immorality on the part of the artist, which many are claiming. It's another to say it's getting
    harder to find new subject matter, which I think is not the point. Many are not looking for new subject matter. They are
    simply envisioning these subjects in their own ways. Art and photography are filled with traditions and symbols that have
    existed through the ages. Part of the beauty of art is each generation's take on those traditions and symbols. Think of how
    many churches and crosses have been photographed, how many beaches and rocks, how many suburban houses and
    rural gas stations. It seems strange to talk about repeating subject matter as if it's a surprising occurrence.
     
  61. Phil, not sure what you're seeing as the difference between theme and subject matter. What's the subject matter of Gilden's photos that you think has been done too much? What about the subject of war as documentary material. Can't we keep doing documentaries about new wars? About new presidents? About congress over the years? New documentaries about schools? New documentaries about street people? Any subject and any theme ought to be able to be explored time and time again with renewed vision and, even if not with new vision, someone's personal vision? Everyone here, especially those who don't like Gilden and his photos, has said that he's made them too much about himself. That means he has, in fact, personalized them. That's a good way to treat any subject, even one that's been treated many times before. IMO.
     
  62. >>> I do believe that is correct about his intentions. Its I just think the technique got in the way of it.

    I feel that way as well, Barry. Mentally stripping away the lighting and effects, I don’t really feel or see much. As I alluded above before getting distracted into purpose and intent, the similarities I see between his photos and Avedon’s are shallow at best.

    Moving on with respect to Gilden in general, it’s been interesting watching how the nexus of inexpensive cameras and social media have played a roll in his popularity, especially with people getting into “street photography.” I think it’s his bad-boy swagger and attitude that many people starting out in sp find fascinating and "gutsy." Indeed, over the years that Facebook has been around, I’ve seen many trying to emulate his shooting style; i.e. jumping in front of people with camera and off-camera flash and lighting them up (scaring the hell out of many). I suppose it’s a stage some go through in their development. Just an observation, the Gilden followers I see, as with Gilden, seem to engage a very narrow range of people on the street, in a narrow range of neighborhoods. Many appear to be safer older people who are not likely to put up a defense to his in-your-face surprise method, rather than younger able-bodied people who might quickly and actively take issue with his behavior. To me, that’s a cop out.

    Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot about Gilden I like. He’s been a pioneer in photography developing his own style over decades, and periodically reinventing himself employing his stylistic roots over the years - some work I like a lot. As an aside, the people I see starting out trying “to be Gilden” on the street seem to quickly grow out of that phase looking for something deeper or easier. Or even better, developing an empathic understanding towards other people, putting themselves in the shoes of subjects who have been genuinely frightened by a total stranger jumping in front of them out of the blue shoving a camera in their face with a flash. As a model, maybe that makes Gilden a “gateway” photographer for some getting into sp?

    Barry, are you familiar with Shelby Lee Adams? He’s been making portraits of people and families in the hollers of Appalachia for around 40 years. Over that time he’s developed a trust and respect that has rewarded him with extraordinary access and stunning images. I’ve been admiring his work and how he carries himself while engaging people for quite a while.
     
  63. Thanks Brad, I'm not familiar with that photographer, but I will check him out.
     
  64. Phil summed it up nicely for me (thanks Phil.) Look, I know there are differences between this work by Gilden and by Arbus for example. An Arbus portrait will be black and white in a square format. Gildens are color and in a rectangle. That's were the differences stop and those differences are not significant enough for me to not stop and think "I've seen pictures like these before."
    I hold photographers like Gilden to very high standards, so I expect more from them especially when they have proven themselves with prior work. That's why as I mentioned above, I think with this body of work he's traded his talent for shallow controversy. Not only is Gilden a good photographer, but he's also a good businessman as well. Look at us, here we are on page 8 discussing this book. Looks like his decision was spot on.
    I hope that by reading the text book I mentioned above I will be able to evaluate and judge the merits of photographs in a more intelligent and precise manner then I can now. Maybe then I can re-visit this work of Gildens and see it in a new light (no pun intended.) Until then, nothing about these pictures of his strike me as anything new or original.
     
  65. By the way, this reminds me of a true story. Many many years ago me and a group of guy friends were lounging around at a public pool. A beautiful young woman in a bikini walks by us and we all stop to watch her stride by. When she passers one of the guys speaks up. "You know, people like the extremes. A person can be extremely beautiful or extremely ugly and they will both stand out in a crowd and be stared at." I don't know why I remembered this but I did. So when photographers try to justify pictures they take of people who may not be at their most attractive by stating that these people go through life unnoticed, I'm not so sure I can agree with this.
     
  66. >>> I see the shifting towards a more artistically and personal approach by new and existing Magnum photographers as proof that subject matter has become exhausted.
    Phil, I'm not ready to give in and say subject matter has been exhausted, but I am definitely seeing the shift you spoke of looking at contemporary work in photography galleries. That shift seems to have picked up over the last 5-10 years. I wonder if that is an attempt to make photography more accessible to a wider audience, and more purchase-worthy in galleries.
     
  67. Phil, it's hard for me to imagine that you're ever going to get street and documentary photographers not to do photo essays about marginalized people and I certainly am glad that it's a continuing subject for exploration by different photographers with different viewpoints and perspectives. I think the problem is probably not the subject matter per se but rather that many people aren't doing anything new or particularly relevant with this work. I see something of value in the vision Gilden has presented. Others think of it as shallow. Regardless of that, visibility can be a very powerful thing for populations that have been or are being marginalized and I doubt any editor would turn down a really good photo essay on that subject, if it were appropriate for use. The magnum photographer you speak of, who mentioned the nominees submitting the same old subject matter, may well have been speaking in a bit of shorthand, which we all do. It was probably not just the subject matter but the lack of inventiveness or unique or personal perspective that would have turned off those looking at the work. I mean, one can say they're tired of beach shots and then someone will come along and photographic beaches with a re-energized vision that will show us that even what we thought of as old subject matter can be reinvigorated. How many movies were made in the 30s and 40s with a detective and a femme fatale who undid that detective? Same old subject matter. The good ones, though, I still watch even 75 years later.
     
  68. Marc, sorry, I had missed your past post. The interesting thing is very few complain about the proliferation of photographs of handsome men and beautiful women, the tendency to photograph "photogenic" people. And yet, when we're not attracted to people, the subject matter is suddenly overdone. It's kind of cool that in my own work, I've actually quite often photographed people I wasn't initially attracted to and my photographing them in creative ways has changed what I now find attractive and expanded my own notion of beauty.
     
  69. Brad Thanks for the name of Shelby Lee Adams. I think his pictures are more interesting possibly because there not only face shots But also because as a New Yorker, I'm not familiar with the people of Appalachia. I think street shots are always more interesting when they are people, foreign or domestic, that you not acquainted with. It's new and different, something maybe Gilden was shootin' for.
     
  70. >>> To clarify, when I state that subject matter has been ( or is becoming ) exhausted from a documentary point of view I mean on a societal and cultural level, not necessarily on the individual level ( I don't think it can ever be exhausted on the individual level ).
    Phil, up above I was assuming you were speaking from a documentary social/cultural level, but still do not feel that has been exhausted. That does not mean something has not been done before, but there are many nuanced ways of addressing, expressing, and revealing a different situation/condition or aspect of a society that is worthy of exploration. Of course a photographer will likely produce better results if (s)he is highly motivated with deep personal curiosity about what is being explored and revealed. Honestly, I think the possibilities are limitless. Just of the top off my head documentary photographers such as Mike Yamashita and Ed Kashi come to mind who have explored a diverse subject range.
    I still wonder if produced work that would stir my mind and curiosity as a viewer and one who enjoys discovery and learning, might be at odds with what commercial endeavors such as Magnum and and especially photography galleries need to survive using more accessible work.
     
  71. And I would say Gilden's theme is confrontation and, perhaps, getting people to confront their own baser demons, which would convince them to call him an asshole, a jerk, and refer to his work as crap, things you generally hear on the Junior High schoolyard, but things I'm not sure Gilden wasn't actually trying to provoke.
     
  72. >>> Brad Thanks for the name of Shelby Lee Adams. I think his pictures are more interesting possibly because there not only face shots But also because as a New Yorker, I'm not familiar with the people of Appalachia.

    You're welcome - I have a ton of respect for Adams. Poke around on the internet, there is a lot more than just face shots. I'd say most are contextual with environment and families. My view into Appalachia was also very limited as well. His decades long photographic exploration and stories have allowed me and others inside a culture where outsiders have not been able to easily access.
     
  73. Barry, one of the LA library branches has not only the book of Adams Appalachian work, but also a very informative DVD documentary as well. I cannot recall which one but most likely it was the main branch downtown.
     
  74. In the good ones the subject matter was there to convey a theme while the bad ones were simply about the same old subject matter.​
    Fine. But this means that we're not running out of subject matter. To say, sarcastically as Marc did, that we must be running out of subject matter, does miss the point. If adopting significant themes can re-invigorate subject matter and has throughout the ages, then repeating subjects are not the problem. The problem with bad photos is a lack of vision or imagination and not the chosen subject matter per se. In fact, I would say the opposite could also be true: if a photographer has to search for new subject matter (and that will be a tough search since most things have been done already) then it's that photographer's lack of imagination that isn't allowing him to see any subject that's been done before in a new light or from a personal enough perspective as to make it worth looking at.
    the subject matter was there to convey a theme​
    And let's break this idea down a bit. I'm not sure I'd want to go this far because this can be where the kind of exploitation that seems a concern in this thread can start to come in. The subject matter, IMO, is not simply there to convey a theme, in many cases of good photography and good documentary work. The subject matter is actually vital and determinative of what the photographer is trying to say. It's the subject matter that suggests the themes. Bad photography is filled with people exploring themes using this or that subject matter to do so that misses the point or comes across as disingenuous or forced. When there's an organic relationship of subject and theme, there's likely to be a more compelling photo and less exploitation of the subject.
    In any case, I'll repeat that it would be unfortunate to say the subject of marginalized people is all used up. Marginalized people and the world who forgets to see them will benefit from the visibility which photography and documentaries can give to them. Also photos of war. And, frankly, whether they explore new themes or not will not be as important as keeping these subjects in the public's eye. We should be shown war so we don't get complacent about it because it's too easy to forget that wars are being fought in our name as we go about our daily business accepting them sometimes blindly. We should shame our government into allowing photos of returning coffins to be published in newspapers regularly as they once were so the grief and reality of death stays with us as a society. No new themes need to be explored in all these endeavors. The fact of the existence of marginalized folks, wars, and dead soldiers ought to be enough. These subjects are reality enough to warrant a photo to be taken. It's the individual subjects that can speak to us loudly and clearly, each marginalized person, each soldier, and sometimes they need to do so over and over again.
     
  75. Remember, "marginalized people" is a label connoting a collection of individuals. Each individual who comes under that
    label is a subject worthy of being seen and shown.
     
  76. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It's easy to see how the opinions Ian references are justified in this video. He's an obnoxious person on the street. As he says, "I have no ethics." Good to know. It really does show in his photos, including a lot of his past work.
     
  77. They are people. They don't have to be seen as part of a theme of marginalization any more than if I were to do a portrait
    of you without exploring some theme about whatever way you might get labeled by some. Now Gilden may have set this
    up by talking about this population of people as a group but I'm now going beyond Gilden to respond to some of things
    you and Marc have been saying.
     
  78. "As he says, "I have no ethics."
    He creates gross cartoon characters of unfortunate folk taking away probably the only thing they have left their dignity; harasses others by putting a camera and flash in their face....
    All in the name of personal artistic expression or how to fill your pockets by being a person without any ethics.
    Then we wonder why Governments are starting to restrict and ban street photography.
     
  79. Phil, no, I have no problem with the label of "marginalized people." When I photograph people I consider marginalized, I
    tend to focus on them and portray them as individuals. I don't, in doing that, deny their marginalized status but also don't
    let that status hinder me from discovering and seeking out more. The blatant and consistency of Gilden's style doesn't
    read to me as it does to others. Though I may not practice it myself, that kind of confrontation can be enlightening. Sure,
    he may be making money but that doesn't mean he's not doing something of value. Would we be having this discussion if
    he had presented what people consider a more ethical pprtrait of these folks? I have my doubts. I take his saying he
    has no ethics with a grain of salt and kind of understand where he means to be coming from. The typical so-called ethical portrayal of a lot
    of folks is the pathos-laden portrayal or the benign portrayal and he's trying to topple those acceptable notions. Others
    take his statement more literally, and with a photographer like Gilden that may be a bit naive. I think he's saying he
    doesn't care about accepted and polite notions of ethics. I think he's saying we don't have to treat certain people as
    gingerly as we think. Nice portrayals, in many instances, don't really get us to notice. That's what most people want. They mean marginalized people no harm but they really don't want to deal with them or have them "invade" their space. How
    many times have I heard, when I've talked about my boyfriends or sex life, "I don't mind you're being gay but do you have
    to throw it in my face?" My answer is often, yes! I think that might be Gilden's answer as well.
     
  80. "Others take his statement more literally, and with a photographer like Gilden that may be a bit naive. I think he's saying he doesn't care about accepted and polite notions of ethics. I think he's saying we don't have to treat certain people as gingerly as we think"
    Nothing to do with polite or naivety just to do with common decency. Treating people gingerly in this context reads to my thoughts... treating people without any respect or just how you want to. Where do we draw the line or is there a line? Is it okay to throw gay folk or any folk off buildings because of cult belief? A poor analogue but these things always start somewhere by someone pushing that line of common decency further and further back.
    .
     
  81. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Then we wonder why Governments are starting to restrict and ban street photography.​

    Not just governments. It's clear in some video footage of Gilden that the subjects resent his total intrusion, lack of respect, and interruption. It's all part of what makes a lot of people resent street photographers. It's also worth noting that he likes to work in upscale neighborhoods photographing old people, businessmen and women, all people unlikely to do what they naturally want to do to him after his attacks. Let's see him shoot in Newark for a week.
     
  82. >>> It really does show in his photos, including a lot of his past work.
    I'd also say with the few photographers I'm aware of that respect his process and photographs, some of those same aspects (lack of/or superficial connection, uncomfortable not-at-ease subjects, portraying little depth/complexity, no apparent empathy, etc) appear to show in their work as well - even though they may not employ Gilden's shooting process. At first I thought it was about emulation, but I really think it's more subtle than that.
     
  83. Drawing the line.
    Before I took this photo an old women, with heavy makeup was walking towards me. When she saw I was taking photos she turned her back and hurriedly walked away in the opposite direction. Obviously she did not want her photo taken which was fine by me as I respected her decision. I cannot help but think Bruce would have chased her down, distressed her, to get her photo for his art...if that what some call it.

    Im no paragon of virtue but like the majority of street photographers I know where to draw the line of common decency.
    00dPJQ-557754884.jpg
     
  84. "he doesn't give people that choice because the photograph is made before people even realize it"
    Look at the vid Jeff posted.
     
  85. We can discuses this for ever and a day.
    But the bottom line is that street photographers have not got the best rep in the world...
    Bruce is not really doing us any favors with his, harassment....and that what it is, of folks going about their business on the streets.
     
  86. "of any use to the people that were photographed. Or are they being used, simply for the sake of a discussion"
    Used simply to make money.
    There, what else would you like me to say........ sort of getting bored with the Bruce thing.
    .
     
  87. Pushy sales person Bruce trying to sell you a vacuum cleaner who wont leave your house unless he gets a sale. The only way to get him gone is a bucket of water over his head or set your German Shepherd on him: like I said getting bored.
     
  88. The question is whether this or any discussion resulting from the photographs is of any use to the people that were photographed. Or are they being used, simply for the sake of a discussion.​
    Phil, a relevant question. The discussion may be of more use to viewers than to the subjects. And that's an OK result as well. I don't know that photographs necessarily have to benefit anyone and if they do benefit someone I don't know that it has to be the subject. A discussion like this is helpful in many ways if not directly to the subjects involved.

    In terms of showing the individuality of anyone who is being shown as part of a subculture or group or minority or marginalized population, there's also a question there, I think. I don't think individuality always has to be shown even though, as I said, I do try to do that with my own work. I think sometimes it can be all about the group or label. And, even if marginalized populations have been shown before, different approaches to them can be adopted. While I'm very much aware and empathetic with individual rights and individualized treatment, I think there is often a compelling interest of the group or community that can be at odds with the rights of individuals. And I think "using" people to start a discussion can be OK even if they're not directly benefited. I think they indirectly benefit if awareness is increased and I think these discussions, if we listen to and learn from each other, can increase awareness. In the gay political movement, I sometimes did feel used as an individual, but was also OK with it. It just seemed a necessity at times.

    Another thing that strikes me about Gilden's work in this series is the extremity of it. He is, indeed, hyper-presenting these folks. I do wonder if it makes me look at some people differently, though. In the respect that he has exaggerated things so much that, now, the reality doesn't quite seem so extreme and may even seem less threatening or less foreign. It's often the way politics and particularly radical politics play out, and I'd consider Gilden a radical.

    The civil rights movement certainly benefited from King's non-violent type of protest but the more radical elements played an important role in making King seem more moderate to those who would have otherwise thought even King to have a radical agenda. Same for gay rights. Mainstream gay activism was much more reasonably presented than what ACT UP did by closing bridges and disrupting meetings and traffic. But by being willing to get attention by causing people major disruption, other groups that seemed less threatening than ACT UP got the attention and respect they deserved. In a way, the radicals were making a lot of sacrifices and actually were helping the cause even though they were often accused of hurting it. I think Gilden is purposely going over the top because he knows we have over the top reactions to these folks. By causing us to take another look, the already perceived flaws and ugliness that might have caused us to turn our heads from these people when we see them on the street may seem much more palatable than what Gilden has presented us with. I take Gilden to be saying, "This is what you've been seeing in your mind's eye. Now that I've confronted you with it, look again."
     
  89. "Phil, lets hold hands and walk together on this one".
    So, Bruce spotted an old lady with a face made up like a porcelain doll would not have hunted her down to take a very interesting photo for his collection on revealing invisible people.? Really, the man without ethics....who's inner self expression/money and art is paramount. He could use her to present his unique view on humanity....if she was really lucky he would turn her into a cartoon character. No of course he would not do that...or, would he?
    Have a honest real world think.
     
  90. " I take Gilden to be saying, "This is what you've been seeing in your mind's eye. Now that I've confronted you with it, look again."
    Is that what he is seeing Fred... look at this gross parody of a human being because that is what you are really seeing? Sad for humanity if we can only relate to a crap photo shopped image. Is that what we are about Fred? Us humans as crap photo shopped parodies of humanity?
     
  91. "I want to be moved, not steered. There's a subtle but palpable difference between the two"
    I will go with that. A big difference in my opinion especially steered in a very unkind way.
    It was very early in the morning. Fred, in his shorts made a run for the local store to get his favorite bagels for breakfast. Then from around a corner Bruce popped up with his camera and flash and took a photo of Fred's whiskers, purple shorts, red eyes and all...it had been a late night.
    Fred felt special and was thrilled to bits;)
     
  92. It was thrilling...Bruce. But if it was some Joe Nobody...Hmm.
     
  93. "Seems like you're oversimplifying things a bit there just to make a point"
    Perhaps, but you sort of know.
     
  94. "Allen, it's a stretch to compare not being too much concerned with ethics in the context of street photography with throwing people off buildings by religious extremists"
    Not really. Moral injustice....and we know what they are.
    It is the smaller things which should challenged and spoken out against....before they become a bigger thing. The bigger things only happen because we do not speak out against the smaller things and stop them growing into bigger things.
    Lines in the sand.
     
  95. "Allen, it's a stretch to compare not being too much concerned with ethics in the context of street photography with throwing people off buildings by religious extremists"
    Okay, Bruce becomes the word in street photography. All those wannabe street photographers want to be Bruce...sort of like HCB worship. So, they rush out with their Canon/Nikon DSLRs with flashes and poke them in folks faces. Apart from them becoming involved in violence the Governments of the world will see them as a nuisance at best and will ban street photography.
    A essential freedom will be taken away from the world.
    Seems far fetched?
     
  96. "It's this kind of reasoning which drives the fanatics, the ones who operate in fear. Being on the opposite side of it is all the same"
    Best to silent, Phil. We both don't want to be seen as fanatics or be operating in fear...you have talked more than me...makes you more of a fanatic and a scary cat.
    Finger on our lips.
     
  97. Some of the Gilden justifications above remind me of a common response some photographers use when photographing the helpless/disadvantaged/unseen on the street. And that is, "I'm helping by raising awareness." Right. Much more often than not it's because as a group they're easy targets; a way to photograph people in a "raw and gritty" city environment up close without getting popped in the head or chased down the street.
    Though a different situation, the raising awareness by making them visible justification smells similar here. If Gilden has a track record or history of advocacy for the poor/disadvantaged, has been involved with various social programs, has helped in other ways such as fund raising, even having a meal or two with them listening to their stories, worked in a meal center, etc., I *might* believe the motivation is to truly help others by raising awareness.
     
  98. I want to be moved, not steered. There's a subtle but palpable difference between the two.​
    Excellent point, Phil, especially pointing out the difference which is not always so subtle. Though I appreciate being moved, I can also appreciate being steered. I think a lot of photography and art steers. Andy Warhol comes to mind. Frank Capra's and John Ford's films often had elements of propaganda, extremely well done. Leni Riefenstahl: great photographer and filmmaker; awful person and motivations. Totally manipulative but what a sense of the human body and its power. I think Salgado, mentioned above, steers. I think radicalism tends to steer, often more than it moves. And that has its place.
     
  99. While it might be interesting to me what so-called good works a photographer does, it's not determinative of much to do with how I would view his photos. It's personality stuff, more process stuff. I don't care, in terms of assessing his photos and their effects, whether he chats with his subjects for a few moments before shooting them or shows them kindness and raises funds for their plight. He might still take standard-fare and repetitive, soulless pictures of them. He might make significant connections and yet still not be able to show that connection in his photos. So I might admire him as a person and still not think his body of work accomplishes much. I'm also not talking about what his motivation is. I'm talking about what the effects of his photos might be, regardless of his motivations. This is, to me, as much about me as a viewer as it is about him as a photographer. I may be trying my hardest to find some value in and use for his photos. I have no moral qualms about doing so, about looking for some good.
     
  100. Brad, I've been viewing some of the work and writings of Shelby Lee Adams. All I can say is I can really see how he has inspired you in his approach. His approach of love of his culture and the individuals makes his work very different than BG's and is an interesting contrast. The question is to look at his photos and BG's and see if the difference in approach is visible in the photographs. Some of Adams are also very stark as well though not distorted as Gilden's are because some of the people in Appalachia have pretty rough faces and lives. But the respect is felt more in Adam's photos and I'm not sure I see anything in Gilden's besides HDR distortion and a challenge to the viewer which reflects his personality. Adam's photography reminds me more of Bruce Davidson, who also spent a lot of time building relationships with those he photographed and in fact has maintained friendships with several of them, he wants to show the subjects as people in the context of their lives. "East 100th Street" is a great example of that approach as is "Subway"I don't want to demonize Gilden, I think he's an important photographer and has taken street photography in a certain direction. Its just not a direction I'm overly interested in. Thanks Brad and Marc for the heads up on Adams, a real score!:)
     
  101. The question is to look at his photos and BG's and see if the difference in approach is visible in the photographs.​
    That's only one question and it can be crucial, Barry. When photographers talk about their process and approach, I sometimes don't see it evidenced in their photos. On the other hand, sometimes I do. So I usually let the photos do the talking in terms of the effects of the photos on me. Once I've been affected, it will be interesting to see if the process and approach has led to a positive result. Often a very positive process doesn't lead to such great photos.

    People talk about how much heart and soul they feel and put into some landscape photos. And then they come up with very uninteresting landscape photos. Which makes me appreciate the positive experiences with regard to their connection with earth and their environment but doesn't make me think much of the photos they come up with.

    I remember several photos I've come across in the critique section here on PN where people talked about the sadness present when they took photos of relatives after a funeral. I'm sure they did sincerely feel sad but the photos didn't convey that even though the photos probably represented that to them and recalled their own sadness at the time. What effect, in terms of direct memory, a photo may have on the photographer who was present at the time will often be different from the effect on a viewer who wasn't there.

    And I've heard street photographers talk about their street connections, their respect for their subjects, the energy they feel from street shooting, and friendships they've established, all of which are very positive things for those who get something out of that way of shooting and experiencing the street, even as some of their photos, despite all that, still leave me cold and don't particularly convey any sort of intimate sense of connection to their subjects.

    I will say I don't get the sense Gilden was interested in making friends or connections on the street. Nor do I think he should have been interested in that. Even though I think it's also fine that some other photographers are.
     
  102. I said above: I will say I don't get the sense Gilden was interested in making friends or connections on the street. Nor do I think he should have been interested in that.​
    I'll add that, as a matter of fact, he may be reacting against what he perceives as something that's become a street photography meme, especially because he may often hear this but not quite as often see it in the photos.
     
  103. Two PN photographers who are worth taking a look at relative to this idea of process and results are Mário Azevedo and Steve Gubin. Their photos don't strike me as the type that come from chats on the street or befriending their subjects and yet their photos often show a connection to their subjects and to an energetic street vibe that has much more of an effect on me than many photos that come from this so-called engaging and highly ethical street behavior. They often come up with unique perspectives that make me feel the nuance and excitement of the street even though I don't get the feeling they hang around to chat up folks they encounter or worry too much about fundraising or other people's sense of ethics.
     
  104. >>> I'd agree that a street photographer doesn't need to be social in order to make authentic images of the street, and not being social doesn't necessarily mean one is asocial.

    And I’d agree with that as well. Most photographs on the street, going back many decades, are made in that manner. The overwhelming majority of my street photos are candid, with no social interaction at all.
     
  105. I was thinking of the significance of the feeling of connection (or, importantly, disconnection) that is seen in the photo.
    That's what's important to me as opposed to the personality of the photographer. I suggested Mario's work not in
    consideration of its candidness or lack thereof but in consideration of the connectedness to the street it so often palpably
    (and passionately) shows. I mention disconnectedness because an intentional showing of alienation can also at times be
    significant.
     
  106. Fred, Phil with respect neither of you are street photographers. If you think you are show us...Fred took a photo of someone a thousand miles away and now he is a expert on street photography. Hello world.
    Just BS about a genre of photography neither of you practice.... but you are full of wind about. And then you make bitchy comments about one of the most talented photographer on PN...Brad Evans. Most of us would agree about that talent...actual "real deal" street photographers. Not the bitchy no nothings, never done anything. never will but can talk a good story to the simple minded.
    Grow up... it is not all verbal diarrhea speak some sense.
     
  107. Bruce is a money making machine. The end. I would suspect that others who would think otherwise... he would look upon with amusement.
    The circus has come to town and we all love a circus.
     
  108. ." It has much less to do with all the "do's and don'ts".
    You are correct.
    The don'ts are about anti social behavior.....sticking a cam and flash in someone's face. Then they complain to the authorities. Guess what will their response will be? Hello world. Phil has stopped holding hands and is now looking at butterflies.
    Of course we should not live in fear of what might happen. Hey, common sense will tell us what will happen...is this a challenging thought? Perhaps for some.
     
  109. Anyway, Im all sort of bored with Bruce thing.... so time for a photo.. Seeing that I've done all this talk ...
    I think I deserve to post a photo of a street thing for you sad lot...yes, a street photo.
    00dPar-557793884.jpg
     
  110. Really, taken in Mexico and it was really was stalking through the grass very near some tourists
     
  111. "I feel the need to prove anything to you in that regard."
    Im sure you don't because you have nothing to show...surprise. Troll.
    What exactly makes you the expert?""
    Im not a Troll.
     
  112. Fred, I looked at the street images of the PN photographer you mentioned and they evoke a sense of place, time, memory""
    Creepy or what.
     
  113. Fred, tell him.....creepy thing.
     
  114. As I was climbing up the stairs I saw a man who was not there.
    He was not there again today I wish that man woud go away.
     
  115. Just saw this..
    I'd agree that a street photographer doesn't need to be social in order to make authentic images of the street, and not being social doesn't necessarily mean one is asocial.​

    Absolutely, I don't think anyone is asserting anything else. Allan, I like your pic.
     
  116. Allan, I like your pic."
    It was the guy with two little gals that pressed the big button.
    Fred, Phil (unless you are a Troll...Hmm ,not so sure)...all in good hunour ... my troubled sense of humor. Please do not take any offence. Especially Fred whom Im especially fond of as a web friend. Warm slippers by an open fire, the patter of rain on a glass window....Fred, a click away in real world time.
    Thanks Fred for being you.
    And I will always be there to challenge you. God bless.
     
  117. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Great story on Gilden here.
     
  118. "Allen, my interest in theorizing about a subject or critiquing it has nothing to do with my ability or lack thereof in practicing it nor do I feel the need to prove anything to you in that regard"
    Well, I think its about the understanding of photography. our art, what it can reveal not just about the photograph but the person behind it. This is a web site about photography not about wordsmiths abilities...the photos tell the story not the words of a wordsmith. We are not authors, we are photographers, and the photographs have their own language.
    Like any language it requires study and understanding.
     
  119. Excellent link Jeff.
    But, I think, we all have a feeling when something is not just right.
     
  120. Two whole days in "Appalachia" and he has something to reveal in his contextless photos. Just more of the same exploitation. Likely some will see this as a
    "collaboration" as well.
     
  121. Interesting article Jeff, thanks. The author really hit the nail on the head when he described these photographs as being more about the photographer(s) then the people being photographed and their life story. One would think that they would create a spread such as the kind W. Eugene Smith used to do for Life magazine, one that described the hardships of living in one of the most impoverished areas of the country, particularly now that new regulations of put a lot of people who worked in the coal industry out of work.
    On a side note several years ago I took pictures at the Southern CA Special Olympics Summer Games. When I came on board I looked at the pictures taken from events going back a few years and I knew I wanted to do something different . A dear friend of mine spent a number of years as a psychologist working with the mentally challenged and their families so over the course of a few lengthy lunch meet ups he told me what to expect and gave me overviews of some of his cases which to this day still haunt me. I have no doubt that what I learned from him made a huge difference in the way I approached this and the results I achieved. So what I'm basically saying is that it's important for photographers to research their chosen documentary projects, even if it is just for a weekend such as my involvement with the Special Olympics or this Vice project in Appalachia.
     
  122. Bruce Gilden would be rolling on the floor laughing at the suggestion these photos should have been taken with the
    approach of Smith. This is the conservative sort of mindset that keeps everything the same and that discourages new
    ways of doing things. It's why so much photography on the pages of PN is so predictable and expected.

    I think Smith's work, while saying a lot about Smith, did say more about his subjects. But wanting this from Gilden is
    missing the point and trying to get his photos to be what they are not. As I see them, Gilden's photos are about how the
    viewers see the subjects and not so much about the subjects themselves. It's no wonder so many viewers want
    something else. Viewers in many cases seem to be running from themselves. Ironically, his photos may be working.

    It's really too bad Picasso didn't paint more like Da Vinci. Life would have been so much easier. LOL. And if you're
    tempted to think this means I'm comparing Gilden's work with Picasso's, think again.

    Many photographers do show more about themselves but many also do it unconsciously. I think Gilden probably knows
    what he's doing. Lots of photographers fool themselves into thinking that because they've chatted up their subjects their
    photos are somehow doing those subjects "justice" when all they're showing is a very distant and impersonal view despite
    their thinking that photography is all about the inside-baseball life of the photographer.

    Collaboration with a subject, at least in my experience, can take place within seconds of meeting that subject. I just have
    to allow for him to reveal himself with that important gesture or expression. I just have to remain open to intimacy and to
    the moment. If I were to put minimal time restraints on a collaboration such as more than 2 days, I'd be missing a whole
    lot of opportunities. I'm often able much more immediately to set in motion situations where both the
    subject and I are creating a photo together even in a very brief encounter. It's about looking, seeing, listening, and is like dancing with a new dance partner where you simply sense and intuit a rhythm together and almost instantaneously. Others will belabor it much more, often seeming to think the secret lies in their own personality or ethics.
     
  123. And, Marc, I want to reiterate that I have no problem with genuine critiques of Gilden's work, though attacks on him
    personally do try my patience. But I do think it's a step backward to ask him to be more like one of the prior greats. I'd
    sooner ask him to develop his own rich and unique vision if I thought he were falling so short. I've always been
    encouraged to do that by more experienced photographers who've taken an interest in my work. Never have they told me
    to be more like one of the past greats and I've benefitted from the attitude that I have the potential to see the world anew
    rather than like someone else already has.
     
  124. Obviously Fred you've completely missed my point. I didn't mean that Gilden should mimic the shooting style of Smith, I was meaning that to do such documentary work I think having Smiths mindset and passion can mean a world of difference. These pictures of Gildens show nothing about what life is like in Appalachia. He showed up for two days, looked around for people whose appearance would garner some shock value and that was it. What kind of talent does that take? Maybe this kind of shallow and simplistic approach was taken into consideration based on the readership of Vice Magazine. I might be wrong, but the one or two times I thumbed through a Vice magazine it seemed like it was mostly a fashion/pop culture mag aimed at late teens to mid 20's demographics. I also recall looking at a book put out by Vice that was made up of candid shots of people in the street where the writers wrote some quite unflattering things about the way the people in these photos were dressed. So maybe Gilden is just turning in work that that is suitable to the mindset of your average Vice reader. The bottom line is that I brought up Smith not to suggest that Gilden shoot like him but for photographers to see the extent of effort that goes into a well perceived and executed documentary project. I would think that if Gilden approached this from a different manner the resulting work would have more depth and impact but like Fred stated above that's just a conservative mindset that promotes sameness in photography and as we are all aware, Fred knows everything so there you have it.
     
  125. >>> Obviously Fred you've completely missed my point.
    That's intentional and occurs frequently. It allows for the creation of straw men that can then be smacked down in a grand manner. As an aside, Marc's views were clear to me.
     
  126. I did miss your point, Marc, likely because you completely misstated it. You said: "one would think that they would create
    a spread such as the kind W. Eugene Smith used to do . . ." That seemed very clear to me. I'm glad you now explained it
    as you actually meant it, because you're now saying something very different and that I can relate to more.

    I guess because you think of me as a know-it-all, you expected me to read your mind in addition to reading the words spoke, which said what they said. I had no way to know you didn't mean what you said but instead meant what you are now saying. Not as clairvoyant as you thought, I'm happy to say!
     
  127. And Brad, as usual, has opted for the personal attack instead of addressing the substance of the discussion.
     
  128. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    These pictures of Gildens show nothing about what life is like in Appalachia.​

    They pretty much show what's going on inside Gilden's head, which is not very pleasant or interesting.
    I brought up Smith not to suggest that Gilden shoot like him but for photographers to see the extent of effort that goes into a well perceived and executed documentary project​

    That was very clear. It takes a fair amount of work not to see that.
     
  129. Except that Marc's words talked about creating a spread like Smith. All you have to do is read Marc's words to know what he actually said. But that rarely happens among some folks here, who retroactively always seem to
    understand what what was never said, especially when they are being cheerleaders for one of their own against a voice
    with whom they substantively disagree but have no clue how to debate substance, so they make personal attacks about
    ability to understand, Brad going even a step further to claim he knows what my intentions are when I understand
    something differently from him. This is the most intellectually dishonest group of photographers with the most unimpeachable
    opinions and the shallowest work to show for it I could ever imagine. Look in the mirror, Brad and Jeff, because many of
    the things you accuse Gilden of, particularly showing more about yourselves in the work than your subjects, applies to
    you. Both your series of portraits of people are stylistically blind to them as individuals and simply show a repetitively
    shooting-gallery style without any sense of all the engagement you both consistently talk about and emphasize. I suspect
    you are so offended by Gilden's work because you see so much similarity in your own (without the HDR of course) and
    wish you were producing something with some degree of the kind of intimacy you'd like to think is or should be at play. Your work is cold and distant in so many of the same ways you've accused Gilden of shooting. You've both unfortunately let your status as pop stars of this forum prevent you from assessing your work honestly and from falling into those same traps you've accused Gilden of falling into.
     
  130. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Both your series of portraits of people are stylistically blind to them as individuals...​

    I'm an event shooter. I shoot portraits as an off-shoot of the events. I don't claim anything about them except that they are people at events. Occasionally I shoot portraits for money and generally ask people to tell me how they want to be portrayed.
    I suspect you are so offended by Gilden's work​

    Where did I say I was "offended by Gilden's work?"

    you see so much similarity in your own (without the HDR of course)​

    I don't see any similarity. I never show people as ugly or damaged, I avoid it. And I have absolutely no idea what the HDR comment is about. I use HDR for real estate shooting, that's it. I don't even know how to use HDR for portraits, it depends on things not moving. Technically it would be extremely difficult except with a dead body.
    Your work is cold and distant​

    I'm an event shooter. The people I photograph are at events. I used to be a sports shooter, and then most of the people I shot were at sporting events.
    your status as pop stars of this forum​

    I have no idea what this means. I rarely post on this forum. I haven't done street photography in years so I don't make a point of trying to be a major presence on it.
    prevent you from assessing your work honestly​

    I have plenty of people to do that for me, I don't have to think about it too much.
     
  131. Another photonet day, another one of Fred's Trump-like tiny rants. Shrug.
     
  132. ~<<shrug>>>

    LOL. Brad, ever the kool kat.
     
  133. What's gotten into you Fred? Unless I missed it I don't recall you ever reacting this way. So some of us don't think very highly of Gildens recent work. Big deal, is that anything to get so defensive about? I mentioned Smith because his was the first name that came to my mind. I could have easily mentioned Salgado, Mary Ellen Mark or several others as examples of documentary photographers who immersed themselves in the environment they were shooting in order to gain trust and thereby produce stronger, more intimate pictures. In fact as I was driving to work this morning I was thinking about and comparing in my mind Bruce Davidsons "East 100th Street" and Roy DeCaravas work, most notably "The Sweet Flypaper of Life." While DeCarava lived among the people he photographed Davidson was an outsider but he enlisted assistance from a local church and other prominent community leaders which allowed him to gain the trust of the people he photographed. He didn't just show up and take some "poverty porn" photographs over the course of a weekend and then leave. I don't think anyone can look at Davidsons or DeCaravas work and say they exploited the people in their pictures. Gilden, on the other hand...well, we'll have to wait several decades to see how his current work holds up.
     
  134. Marc, what confounds me are the terms of the criticism. In my mind, critiquing Gilden for not being as intimate as others is like
    criticizing Picasso for not being as realist as many other painters. While I understand people preferring either intimate
    portraits or realist paintings, when I hear critiques that seem to expect either realism or intimacy by default, without any
    seeming awareness that these are precisely the things being questioned and even thwarted by Picasso and Gilden
    respectively, I have to question the expectations of the viewer as well as the work being discussed. Could it be a desire for intimacy that is getting in the way of actually understanding Gildlen, whether one likes him or not, and the thwarting of that very desire for intimacy that's causing people to dismiss him as an asshole instead of at least accepting that he was actually showing the lack of intimacy we have with certain populations? Wasn't the starkness the very thing he was trying to show? Again, I can completely understand not liking the lack of intimacy just like I can understand many not liking the lack of realism in Picasso's work. But suggesting ways in which Gilden's work could have been more intimate, like suggesting ways in which Picasso's work could have come across as more realistic, seems to me to miss the point. I'm not asking people to like it but rather to at least get it on its own terms. It's not supposed to be intimate. It's a different language.
     
  135. "What's gotten into you Fred? Unless I missed it I don't recall you ever reacting this way. So some of us don't think very highly of Gildens recent work. Big deal, is that anything to get so defensive about?"
    Marc was thinking he was having a interesting debate with you, Fred; then you suddenly fly of the handle.
    Jeff, Brad are told they're nothing more than pop idols and generally debase their photography. Myself I thought the whole thing was funny...particularly as Jeff was totally bemused, Marc was wondering what the hell was going on, and Brad shrugged his shoulders thinking it was just another Fred thing. Hey, I wanted also to be pop idol but you left me out...Hmm. All silly Billy stuff hence the silly Billy response.
    The bottom line Fred is that Bruce Almighty has little respect for the people he photographs. He clouds this with he is doing them good and giving them publicity so people can understand their plight. But in reality he is nothing more than the circus that has come to town. I cannot understand why you cannot see that.
     
  136. And yes there should be a degree of morality/ethics in art and photography like we care about in everything else .Do you really want to see Hitler's art being sold for millions? perhaps it is....scary thought.
     
  137. >>> Brad, ever the kool kat.
    Whatever.
    Not certain of the meaning, pretty sure that's from my father's generation.
     
  138. "Who knows the anthropologist may unintentionally take a photograph that's more about the language of photography than an accurate translation of the subject. That's exactly what makes photography so fascinating and complex" Phil.
    Absolutely, Phil. That's why when Im talking to another photographer I like to see his/her work. That work tells me a story about him/her than words for me...words pale into insignificance....I feel, and I am, reading a different a different language with its own unique perceptions.
    Fred, chill. Hug time.
     
  139. Be nice, Phil, post some photos so I can get a feel for Phil. Sort of have a Phil that we are coming from the same place despite the Bruce thing.
    Thanks in anticipation.
     
  140. Allen, I'm quite sympathetic to the ethical arguments even though I don't happen to agree with them in this case, and
    probably would avoid bringing Hitler into it myself. I can definitely understand why people would find these photos
    unethical even though I see them differently. I have a harder time with the argument that they show too much about the
    photographer and not enough about the subjects, especially when that argument comes from some whose own photography
    often does just that. And I have a hard time with the argument that these photos lack intimacy since I don't see them as
    trying in any way to establish intimacy. As a mTter of fact, I think they are about a lack of intimacy and are actually a
    comment on the more intimate photos of such populations, which are often more pathetic than intimate but seem to pass
    for significant even though the pathos is often as exploitive as what many are experiencing here.
     
  141. I'm starting to get what you are meaning Fred, but it's still a bit of a stretch for me. I happen to love Picasso for many reasons probably the most being his sheer genius. I mean come on, Cubism? This was what I started painting when I first picked up a brush and a tube of paint many years ago. I also happen to love Edward Hopper. Hopper had a very unique vision and technique even during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism which he had a lot of contempt for. He didn't cave into the fashion of the time, he kept his work true to himself. That's the way it often is with artists though. When Pop Art became all the rage legend has it that de Kooning approached Warhol at a party and accused him of "destroying art, destroying beauty" etc. I'm sure people said the same thing to Picasso when "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was unveiled to the public. So Picasso and Hopper, two very different artists who I greatly admire for different reasons and whose work I hold in high esteem for different reasons and which I have different reactions to. Remember too that these artists created art for the sake of creating art. With documentary photography there is a hint of a utilitarian purpose as well...that is to educate and inform and thus one of the reasons why I evaluate photographs differently then other forms of art.
    I tend to view photographs much differently though. I came into photography kind of late in life compared to many others and for the longest time I actually hated anything to do with cameras and photography because my father who was a photographer used to have a color darkroom in the bathroom outside my bedroom door that would keep me up at night and I recall many very boring weekends spent out in the desert so he could take landscape pictures. So I actually hated photography, it's a wonder I picked it up at all when I got older. Anyway, as I mentioned several pages back in this topic, people like Gilden I simply expect more from. When someone who has talent and is able to work full time as a photographer I just find it aggravating to see work that I consider to be sub-par for that person which is how I react to Gildens recent work. This is just my opinion of course and we all know the old saying about opinions -"Opinions are a lot like a#*holes. Everyone has one and they usually stink." Gilden can spend the rest of his career making the same kinds of pictures and I wouldn't care one way or the other, I would still think he was throwing away his talent and his opportunities.
     
  142. ." Gilden can spend the rest of his career making the same kinds of pictures and I wouldn't care one way or the other, I would still think he was throwing away his talent and his opportunities.
    I agree with Marc... he is debating his/ my point of view a lot more succinctly than I can.
     
  143. " and probably would avoid bringing Hitler into it myself."
    I don't think we should shy away from anything and I don't think Bruce is remotely like Hitler...but in my opinion, hopefully Im wrong ,I feel that he has a lack of respect for his fellow human beings...it is just about him and gold coins.
    Hitler loved his mistress and his dog from what I understand. I don't think he started off as a pure evil entity but he kept crossing lines of morality and ethics.... because he could get away with it, and was encouraged, he carried on. Out there today there are others doing the same because they can get away with it...
    It is about drawing lines on the small things before they become the bigger things.
    That's what I think wrongly or rightly.
     
  144. If I were worried about the lines being crossed by Gilden, I'd worry about those very lines and not the hypotheticals that
    could occur. I don't think we,'re in any danger of Gilders' ethics going any further than his photos and I think more than
    enough outrage is being expressed to keep such unlikely hypotheticals in check. Slippery slope arguments usually amount
    to no more than those arguments about the fall of the world to communism if we didn't get involved in the Vietnam War.
    They are usuLly fallacious. As I said,
    though, I'm sympathetic to the more reasonable ethical arguments presented even though I think your ethical argument is
    unreasonable and way overblown, and your bringing in Hitler, IMO, shows that. I already said I am sympathetic to the ethical arguments being made even though I don't agree with them so I'm not sure what more there is that's worth saying about the ethics of these photos though it would be interesting for someone to respond to Phil's and my points about the photos showing more about the photographer than the subjects and about whether they need to be more intimate.
     
  145. "If I were worried about the lines being crossed by Gilden, I'd worry about those very lines and not the hypotheticals that could occur. I don't think we,'re in any danger of Gilders' ethics going any further than his photos" Fred.
    Well they do Fred...and they are not hypotheticals. He is pushing boundaries on morality and ethics. The next Bruce will push them either further and where does it stop? They are all about" bad boy publicity" because that what sells. Is that what we are about....as photographers a commercial circus that sells? Very sad thought.
    Perhaps for many it is all about coin; the self, cloaked in a pseudo exploitation of humanity. I dont' believe you believe that.....I think you believe we should treat each other in a decent way.
    It beggars believe that you would defend this persons actions other than about winning a debate.
     
  146. Does everything and anything, always have to about the self and commercial success? I suppose it does...very sad thought; that is all we are about....as a species.
     
  147. Three things in this life are destructive:
    Anger,Greed,Self-esteem.
     
  148. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    "I don't have to apologize to anybody for anything that I do because I do it from my heart."​

    The way in which this line comes across is defensive. He sounds like he knows he's wrong but he won't say it. I'm not saying he does know that, but it's how it comes across.
     
  149. >>> I'm not sure what more there is that's worth saying about the ethics of these photos though it would be interesting for someone to respond to Phil's and my points about the photos showing more about the photographer than the subjects and about whether they need to be more intimate.
    OK, I'll take a crack at this...
    Sure, photos made by a photographer say a lot about the photographer. Was there really any doubt about that having been covered here and other places countless times, likely going back more than 100 years? That is certainly true with Gilden's photos. I don't need or want his photos to be anything different or intimate than what they are as they are a good reflection of who he is and how he is around people.
    Not surprisingly, the photographs that Allen, Barry, Steve, Marc, Lex, Jeff, Ian and others here make say a lot about them as well. Subject connection, closeness, subjects captured being at ease, respect, empathy, humor, and being personally at ease while confident are read from the photos they make and dovetail with how they engage with others here at ease on the forums and likely in life in general. There’s a certain amiability and looseness in process that comes through that elevates their photos, as well as how they relate to others here.
    Similarly, Fred’s portraits speak strongly about him. Subjects looking annoyed, uncomfortable, not at ease, rigid, overly sincere, with little connection are some of the things I read in his photos. Many times they appear as props rather than human beings. I think it has to do with a check box approach to portraiture where a half dozen aspects need to be ticked before the shutter is released and is what drives that rigidness. That awkwardness and lack of empathy comes though in his behavior in various forums on photonet. Like Gilden, I would not want Fred's photographs to be more empathic or intimate, or his forum behavior/demeaner to change. They are a reflection of who he really is.
    Phil S is a puzzler. From his thoughtful discourse and calm manner I suspect he is an accomplished photographer with a strong body of work, maybe even a well-known photographer incognito. Perhaps he’ll share a little of his work here someday.
     
  150. I've been crazy at work and am trying to catch up with the thread though I checked in a couple of times throughout the day. Personally, I don't have anything against Gilden, his work or his approach. He has a long and successful career and has earned the cache to shoot what he wants. He is a rigorous passionate photographer and he has been important in creating a certain style of photography that we have all been discussing from various angles. I would say historically, some of his philosophy seems to be influenced by people like Ascher Fellig (Weegee) who used flash a lot at night and used it to simply strip away pretense besides the fact that he shot at night a lot:), but the way he used the flash creating a stark effect often. I do it sometimes too, but that's another story. But Wegee also would usually provide some context, often darkly humorous, especially his crime scene photos; Where I think BG just wants to strip away the psychic protection of skin and almost peel away the flesh of both the subject and the viewer. I get that. But in doing so, he instead recreates people into mutations, monsters in a way that really is violent. Now sometimes that process is amazingly revelatory, such as his Yakuza photos which I think are amazing, because the really captured some of the ugliness of that culture and the interplay of the culture and the individuals involved, also partly for the pure chutzpah of it. But this latest round, especially with the way it was processed no longer says anything to me about the individuals, but instead just about his process and that's fine, he should just say so if that's what he's about. I used to like movie monsters, and I recognized at one point that what made us hate/love them was that they represented internal psychic response processes in ourselves. But these photos don't even evoke that in me. I don't think they do, at least for me, what he described as his project. But that's just me.
     
  151. Yes.....phil, I'd love to see some of your work. Not to prove anything, but just because you have very gracefully wound your way through this whole discussion and I think your photos would really add to our little photo clache.
     
  152. Hah, I knew it, when ever I try to say something serious it always kills the thread!
     
  153. Heh, Barry - your fault!
    I suppose this could be repurposed into a W/NW thread to keep it going.
     
  154. I suppose this could be repurposed into a W/NW thread to keep it going​
    Come to think of it, I'm feeling invisible-- people don’t want to look at me. And if you don’t look at me how can you help me?

    [​IMG]
     
  155. Damon, I can always spot you in a crowd! PS - Say "Hi" to Toni for me (but you already knew that.)
     
  156. Where's Allen?
     
  157. "Faces" is very different from Gilden's street candids. I like some of his earlier street stuff, even if I wouldn't use that ambush approach. Well, maybe with family and friends, but they won't punch me.
    At the same time, while I'm not averse to the grotesque - it's a valid form of humor - I'm not a fan of schadenfreude. If my notion of humor in candid snaps and offhand portraits causes the people being photographed to feel humiliated, or subjects them to ridicule from others, then it doesn't work. Life is often grotesque, absurd, extravagantly ridiculous. Nothing wrong with capturing and celebrating that aspect of life. But as the movie "After the Fox" aptly demonstrated, there's a muddy gray zone between a Fellini-esque celebration of the grotesque and merely ridiculing people. Auteurs beware.
    "Faces" seems like Gilden's answer to Lucian Freud's saggy-face portraiture. Not a fan of either. But time may vindicate his approach.
     
  158. Allen is off to Barry's W/NW face post methinks this has run its course..
     
  159. Yikes, I'm back!
    I'm not a fan of schadenfreude.​
    I'm not sure Gilden's work is that, he's not really enjoying people's misfortune or making fun of them per say, (I don't think); I would think that would be more in the realm of Martin Parr. But his technique does accentuate grotesqueness.
     
  160. Yikes Barry, me to.
    I think that as candid photographers (really dislike the word "street" it has a ugliness to it) we are photographing folks who may or may not wish to have their photos taken. But we take the photograph.
    Therefore I think we should offer towards those we photograph a degree of respect/dignity and kindness as a thanks for allowing us to express our freedoms and photograph the world as it is. But not hide truths.
    Sensationalism. the circus....sells. Sells being the operative word. Max Clifford (in jail) claimed all publicity is good publicity....and he made a lot of money from folk who created a circus and they were called celebrities...we all love a circus.
    So, Bruce is being sensational and has created his circus....the world is about pockets full of gold and Bruce is just joining in so he can get his share.
    Just my thoughts: to date I have not sat on the font of all knowledge...so, they are just my thoughts.
     
  161. "Bruce is doing it all from the heart and art". Phil.
    I believe and Phil, who is not his publisher, who does just want to turn a coin... Jeez, who cares a monkey about them... believes it is a noble act by Bruce who I suspect will never recieve a coin from his book...even one of those little dime things. All to go to those folk. Bruce the man with the big heart.
    But folk will look at the gross manipulated of these images, and see these folk for the first time, a ugly looking lot that you really don't want in your....
     
  162. >>> Sensationalism. the circus....sells. Sells being the operative word.
    That dovetails with the fact that Gilden's excursion into "Appalachia" was a commission from Vice Magazine, through Magnum. IMO, Magnum has been losing its relevancy over the years and is looking to bring its activities closer to consumers through a revamped business model. Parachuting Gilden into Appalachia for two days worth of contextless controversial photos seems to align with that goal. Wondering if some limited edition prints or venti-sized photo coffee mugs will be available in the gift store. I guess it won't matter that people who purchase them will have no better insight into the area than they had before, and likely will still mispronounce Appalachia.
     
  163. I think that as candid photographers (really dislike the word "street" it has a ugliness to it) we are photographing folks who may or may not wish to have their photos taken. But we take the photograph.
    Therefore I think we should offer towards those we photograph a degree of respect/dignity and kindness as a thanks for allowing us to express our freedoms and photograph the world as it is. But not hide truths.​
    Rationalization.
    In the first paragraph, you note that people may or may not want to have their pictures taken. In the second paragraph you offer them a so-called kindness for "allowing" you your freedom to show the world as it is. But, in many cases, those folks have not allowed you anything. You've done what you wanted without any allowance from them, unless you've asked their permission and they've granted it.
    I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with that and I do it myself. But I don't rationalize it away by claiming they've allowed me to do something or that I'm on some moral high ground because I'm not hiding the truth. I realize I'm taking advantage of people, or at least using them for the photo, when I take their photos without permission. I do it anyway. I think life in civilization is a give and take.
    I don't deem such actions of candid photographers, taking photos of people they may not have received permission from, as good or bad. It is what it is. What it's not, though, is that they've allowed it. You've taken what you want. And so have I. I can live with it and be honest to myself about it. It might even create some tension, which is OK with me. It might even provoke negative feelings in me, which is also OK with me. I don't hide behind so-called truth to make it all nice and cozy.
     
  164. "I don't hide behind so-called truth to make it all nice and cozy" Fred.
    Respect Fred.
    You don't exploit them, and turn folk into gross character's claiming you are doing them good whilst you are about turning a coin.
    " But I don't rationalize it away by claiming they've allowed me to do something or that I'm on some moral high ground because I'm not hiding the truth"
    They are allowing you to photograph that simple to understand. If too many complain of anti social behavior then the freedoms we enjoy will be gone...sticking your DSLR with a flash in someone's face could well be considered ant social behavior. And it is...and you would not find it thrilling.
    Try doing it in Russia.
    .
     
  165. Freedoms are very hard fought for but easily taken away....it is always the few abusers that the many pay the price for.
     
  166. That dovetails with the fact that Gilden's excursion into "Appalachia" was a commission from Vice Magazine, through Magnum.​
    Yeah, that post makes a good point, but then on the other hand as a professional photographer working with an agency, he is going to get assignments and take them, its his job. VICE knew when it hired him, that they would get BG's take with the photographs. One of my favorite books is Newton's "A Gun for Hire" where he basically said he made a conscious decision to never turn down a paying gig.
    This doesn't obviate any of the discussion about the photographs, or the ethics, I'm just saying that when client hires a specific photographer, especially from agencies like Magnum Photo, they are basically asking for that photographer's "stamp" they will put on the project. Without being in BG's skin, I can't really say if it was just a job, so he didn't really give a hoot or not, but it seems so doesn't it? But I don't blame him for taking the job, that's what people who earn their living from a profession do.
     
  167. A lesson in common sense not fear. The real world not a fantasy on the web.
    1. How many countries is street photography banned?
    2. How many countries in Europe is street photography banned?
    3. Did the Europe Union recently try to pass a law to ban all photographs of public buildings?
    6.In the UK a few years ago the government was looking to pass a law banning street photography.
    Why, because of complaints by the general public.
     
  168. Allen and Fred, the thoughts about candids are interesting. I'll parse it this way. I think Fred is correct, when he says responding to your post:
    In the first paragraph, you note that people may or may not want to have their pictures taken. In the second paragraph you offer them a so-called kindness for "allowing" you your freedom to show the world as it is. But, in many cases, those folks have not allowed you anything. You've done what you wanted without any allowance from them, unless you've asked their permission and they've granted it.​
    But I also get what Allen is saying:
    Therefore I think we should offer towards those we photograph a degree of respect/dignity and kindness as a thanks for allowing us to express our freedoms and photograph the world as it is. But not hide truths.​
    I think the main thing is in candids, the photographer is the one who really decides what the various lines are and if or when to cross them, and then live with that decision as the subject usually won't know about it.
    I think I've taken two photographs in my time that I'm ashamed of. One was of a fat guy on the beach at Venice that I only took because he was sunbathing on a towel and he was really fat. (I am portly myself) He saw me take the photo and I don't like the fact that I only took it because of his size. The other is a photo I took of a really heavy woman walking away from me, conjoined by a large window sign of a sexy woman licking her lips. I saw the conjoining of the two and took it without thinking. Later I realized that both photos were creating humor, but in a really degrading way to the individuals. This was indeed, as Lex said, Schadenfreude. There may be more, who knows, I can be a sarcastic punk, but those pop to mind and I don't like the fact I took photographs that were obviously making fun of people. I'm usually taking photos of people because I'm curious about them. However, if a photograph should hit on a larger subject, then I am not embarrassed if the individuals come off in less than a flattering light. I'm not particularly a flatterer when it comes to my pictures, which sometimes piss off my friends, but not too much:)
     
  169. >>> But I don't blame him for taking the job, that's what people who earn their living from a profession do.
    I don't blame him at all. My post was more about Magnum's changed business model and willingness to take on that project. I suspect for Gilden it was just another job as it's difficult to imagine him coming away with a deeper understanding of Appalachia, which is immense geographically, in two days. And of course, for the purposes of the project, it is not required that he, or apparently Vice's viewers, come away with a deeper understanding of the region.
     
  170. Allen and Fred, the thoughts about candids are interesting. I'll parse it this way. I think Fred is correct, when he says responding to your post:
    In the first paragraph, you note that people may or may not want to have their pictures taken. In the second paragraph you offer them a so-called kindness for "allowing" you your freedom to show the world as it is. But, in many cases, those folks have not allowed you anything. You've done what you wanted without any allowance from them, unless you've asked their permission and they've granted it.
    Think you are missing the point.
    They are allowing you to take candid's because if too many complain then the authorities will stop it. That simple.​
     
  171. Yep, it must be difficult from them transitioning from a print documentary base to a web based model and shorter attention spans amongst editors. I wonder how much editorial work they are really doing there these days for magazines and the like. It seems more like personal themed projects, but then I don't really know what the guys do for bread and butter, as it were.
     
  172. Allen, do you get hassled if you photograph in the tube?
     
  173. Brad, sorry, I misunderstood what you were saying. Yes, it would be interesting to know if VICE asked for Gilden or if Magnum offered him up? Certainly VICE had to know what they'd be getting, at least I would think.
     
  174. "Allen, do you get hassled if you photograph in the tube?"
    I've never been hassled, Barry. Sounds BS but true.
    Perhaps because Im like that other bloke who could walk water or I look so big and bad. I just do my thing without any thought for anything else. Maybe Im percieved as a bad boy best avoided....hey," its good to be bad", and I drive a Jaguar....obviously the biggest badest one:)
     
  175. errr, is there water in the tube? i suppose. So if I go in there wearing my "V" mask (or masque) would MI5 hit the panic button? More importantly, should I ever be able to make it to London, will you show me a proper pint?
     
  176. Last I heard was that Magnum is planning on licencing out its name. So I guess that means we will soon be able to purchase Magnum perfumes and colognes or maybe at the least Magnum camera bags and camera straps. Seriously, what Brad mentioned seems to be true from what I've read over the last few years...Magnum is losing some of its luster and seems to be trying new directions in order to stay afloat and relevant. One can only hold onto and live off past glories and pedigree for so long. I guess now that everyone who has a cell phone (which is everyone on earth except maybe for 3 or 4 folks living deep in the Amazonian rain forest) publications who would normally look to photojournalists to supply them with news photographs now just put up a online cattle call for "citizen journalists" to upload their photographs.
     
  177. So I guess that means we will soon be able to purchase Magnum perfumes​
    Marc, where have you been? LOL! Been around since the 1920s. LINK.
    Yes
    . . . "citizen journalists" . . .​
    . . . are an important additional ingredient to traditional journalism and the significance of citizen journalism is not lost on many of the biggest news outlets. Our document of both the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring benefitted greatly from those folks who were directly and personally involved and captured the immediacy and intensity with their cell phone cameras. GUARDIAN ARTICLE.
     
  178. Oh I agree Fred, I just wonder how more difficult it is for actual photojournalists to make a living these days with so many cell phone users willing to give their pictures up for usage for free. I think it was only a year or so ago the LA Times laid off most of their photographers. Newspaper subscriptions are down quite a bit I have read so that may have also been a factor in this decision.
     
  179. " More importantly, should I ever be able to make it to London, will you show me a proper pint?"
    A cold pint of the finest will be waiting for you and a toast.
    "Croi follain agus gob fliuch"
     
  180. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    A cold pint of the finest​

    What happened to warm beer?
     
  181. Even Guiness gets chilled some these days. My response to Allen will be, slante! (I have no way I know of to make the proper fada).
     
  182. "What happened to warm beer?"
    Dear Jeff,
    It has been a time before we have had the pleasure of writing to each other.
    I understand your concerns that the exquisite flavors of fine brews are being corrupted by these new chilling devices...but times are changing. I have found in my travels that there are many new marvels to behold in the world. I myself have purchased a wonderful machine which enables me to talk to fair folk across the great oceans of the world: it has one of the little folk inside who talks to me, and answers all my questions when it has not participated in too much of the golden liquid which it does most of the time...
    Yours Sincerely
    Allen
     
  183. So now we have Gilden's "50 People Who You're Glad you Never Dated"
    I love you guys. I need to go home and read through all of this. I don`t care for Gilden`s HDR of less than pretty faces. Its easy to do, it doesn`t take any real talent except a nice sharp lens and some good software. I`m kind of `meh`about it.
     
  184. "So now we have Gilden's "50 People Who You're Glad you Never Dated"
    Funny, Marie.
     
  185. How about the "10 Things You Can Learn About Street Photography From this Faces Thread" or maybe "10 things you can learn about Street Photographers from this Faces thread."
     

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