intimate

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by jtk, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. jtk

    jtk

    In another thread, Fred G used the concept of intimacy (not just the word) to depict something rare, that's typical in his photography.
    Fred referred, I think, to multiple relationships: photographer with subject, image with multiple viewers. Intimacy is risky, not theoretic, analytic, solopsistic or internal. I wonder if there's agreement on that?
    I hadn't thought to use the concept of "intimacy" as a goal (or result) in the photography that currently most concerns me, but now I will. Intimacy isn't easy: it seems, by definition, a rarity and a high value. Photography does sometimes work at that level (I thought about this today, looking again at Max Waldman's dance photographs, noticing his idea that success might be like capturing a fleeting bit of life in amber).
    Fantasies aside, I don't think one has "intimate" relations with inanimate objects (buildings, rocks, moon-rises), or with objectified people.
    Weston's peppers are powerful, but not intimate. His nudes don't seem intimate, but many of his portraits, even his most formal (eg of Bender, his patron) do. Or...some photographers make real contact with people they notice on the street, meet them and recognize a moment of intimacy, then photograph...others hide, "observe," avoid intimacy at all costs.
    Is intimacy a value in your photography? Do we see it in your P.N portfolio?


    .
     
  2. Fantasies aside, I don't think one has "intimate" relations with inanimate objects (buildings, rocks, moon-rises), or with objectified people. --John Kely​
    The concept of "relations" might be the catch here, but I can say that I do feel a sense of intimacy with certain places in nature, even though they are in some sense "inanimate." At such times I even feel that I am communing with the divine in such places.
    Is that perchance just a fantasy, or have I actually communed with the divine in such holy places?
    I am reminded of a song that we once sang in choir many years ago, "Green Cathedral":


    I know a green cathedral,
    a hallowed forest shrine. Where trees in love join hands above
    to arch your prayer and mine.

    Within its cool depths sacred, the priestly cedar sighs.
    And fir and pine lift arms divine
    unto the clear blue skies.

    In my dear green cathedral
    there is a quiet seat.
    And choir loft in branched croft
    where songs of birds hymn sweet.

    And I like to think at evening
    when the stars its arches light.

    That my Lord and God treads its hallowed sod
    in the cool, calm peace of night
    --Lannie
     
  3. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, do you see glimpses of intimacy in your photographs? Would I see those glimpses?

    This is a Photographic Forum...
     
  4. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, I do see intimacy in your isolated-man-in-blue shirt (not gesturing)...as well, I see sweetness, smiles, moving scenes (eg beautiful women with and without infants, handsome preacher), fine things in themselves, but not intimate.
    The choir of birds, priestly trees, and wandering deity are not sharing anything with you, even to the extent that they exist...nothing is being risked...those are fine feelings, but there's no intimacy. Intimacy is something specific, not just a feeling of oneness with the universe.
    Again, your photograph of the isolated man seemed to be sharing something intimate with you/us.
     
  5. This is a Photographic Forum. . . .
    This is a PHILOSOPHY of Photography forum.
    What I said was not off-topic, and you will not censor me just because you do not agree with my metaphysics.
    What I wrote was in direct response to this part of your own post:
    Fantasies aside, I don't think one has "intimate" relations with inanimate objects (buildings, rocks, moon-rises), or with objectified people.​
    Thank you.
    --Lannie
     
  6. Like the song. Even though my name is not Kelly.
    I once knew a person in Boston whose name was Keller, but in Boston everyone assumed it was Kelly, since they don't pronounce ultimate r's. You might say they couldn't find their Rs with both hands.
    John Kelly, you ought to know by now it's hopeless to try to control the direction of these philosophy posts. This has to be the most unruly and least controllable forum on P.net ;) I confess, I came here hoping that the word intimacy promised more.
     
  7. Intimacy is something specific, not just a feeling of oneness with the universe. --John Kelly​
    Why don't you define it for us?
    I personally would be much obliged to you for enlightening us. While you are at it, perhaps you could demonstrate the myriad ways in which you have shown intimacy in your own photography.
    --Lannie
     
  8. John, is this the photograph of which you spoke?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8489908&size=lg
    Do you see intimacy there? I have never thought to evaluate my photos as to how much intimacy they conveyed.
    That--to try to capture intimacy--would be an interesting project, I confess.
    --Lannie
     
  9. It is not much of a wild guess to think "An intimate knowledge of the law" is an irrelevant kind of intimacy for this thread.
     
  10. " Is intimacy a value in your photography? Do we see it in your P.N portfolio?"
    As it appears to be defined in this thread, no and no. But I may be wrong. I may not understand what you mean.
     
  11. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie... the same man, standing without gesturing.
    Fred first mentioned "intimacy" on another thread: it struck me. I hadn't thought to apply that term before, but have been looking for (trying for) something in my portraits to which the term probably applies... some evidence of a not-so-easily-appreciated story (eg not a smile, not a mask). Perhaps your Blue Shirt Man's story is one of loneliness, surrender?
    I mentioned Max Waldman... he somehow depicted moments when a ballet dancer was achieving a peak for himself/herself ...sharing it with people who were lucky enough to see the actual performance or Waldman's photos, lucky enough to even barely recognize a bit of what they were seeing (makes me want to see ballet, something I've missed my whole life).
     
  12. John , it is always difficult to have a focussed discussion on terms, the understanding of which probably is not shared. This is of course especially the case when non-natives like me with lower English literacy levels intervene. But anyway I'll try.
    If you look in what ever dictionary and try to be informed on what "intimacy" stands for, you get alternative meanings of the word like the following that all are right:
    1. Intimacy means: Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity. I think you will find few on PN that do not have in his/her portfolio, pictures of places, buildings, landscapes that by acquaintance, association or familiarity are "intimate" subject matters for that specific photographer. For me too, apart from the many photos I have uploaded from my travels which do not fall into his category of intimacy.
    2. Intimacy means: Relating to or indicative of one's deepest nature: Following this meaning of intimacy I don't think that any of my photos, uploaded here or not, fall outside this. All photos I keep are intimate in this sense due to the fact that I use photography as one way, among others, of expressing myself. I deeply feel my photos. I would believe that I share this relation to my own photos with many others here on PN. This is one of the reasons why many have difficulty of accepting critics.
    3. Intimacy means: Essential; innermost. This is maybe the more difficult meaning on intimacy to explain and give examples of in our photos, but I believe this is maybe the most relevant for photography. Personally, most of my photos of cities fall into this category. I'm especially looking for scenes and subjects that illustrate the specificity of places (their inner soul - if one accept such a concept). Some cities have such specificity, others not - or at least I cannot see/feel it. Whether I manege to show this "innermost" of specific places is for others to appreciate but surely this is where the term "intimacy" fits best to what I'm doing with photography when it comes to cities. It is much less the case in my landscape and nature photos.
    Other meanings of intimacy ( informality, privacy, private etc) are more obvious meanings that fit with some portfolios here on PN, but not mine.
     
  13. As always, a lot seems to depend on what we read into a photo. We might be more likely to read intimacy into a photo if the photo evokes in us the memory of a moment in which we felt a sense of intimacy qua closeness, not necessarily vulnerability.
    I thus feel no sense of intimacy in viewing my own photo (of my neighbor) to which you allude:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8544361
    I might feel a sense of pathos or even of empathy with my neighbor in the blue shirt as I, too, likewise age, but "intimacy" is not the word that comes to mind.
    Perhaps you are indeed referring to nothing more than "emotional closeness" or even simply "identification." I am not sure what you mean by "intimacy" in the context of photography.
    --Lannie
     
  14. jtk

    jtk

    Don E..I understand your puzzlement. I don't fully understand the idea myself, but it rings bells for me. I think that like photography itself, it's more substantial than "art." Maybe a moment in which the subject drops her/his mask, isn't attempting to convey anything. Dropped "mask." Actors know about masks: I should contact some.
    A passing moment when the person isn't self-aware, has surrendered to the photographer. It probably implies some kind of trust. That's not like "candid." This answer may be helping me more than you :)
    I don't claim to have made many intimate images, but I hope my odds increase. It begins with a human subject and may surface after the smiles stop. I've been asking acquaintances, people I have just met or barely know, if I may make their portrait. I think intimacy occurs when we understand something fragile and existential about each other, and I don't find that easy.
     
  15. When we speak of persons who are intimate, we typically presume that, at the very least, they are sharing something. If we feel any kind of intimacy with anyone, we feel as if we are touching the soul of the person. (I use the word "soul" as one of Vilfredo Pareto's "residual categories," categories into which we dump the unexplained.) In other words, there has to be some sense of commonality, even of communion, with the person (and I am not speaking of some religious ritual in so speaking).
    Since we cannot actually be intimate with a person through viewing a photograph of them (or at least I do not think that we can be), I am back to the idea that the photo must evoke the emotions that we have felt with that person--or another person like them in some significant respects.
    By extension, I can indeed speak of "intimacy" in the context of nature photography if the photo can somehow make me remember what it was like to be in nature, especially if I was at some special place, a place that by virtue of its beauty or other qualities makes me think of it as special, just as a lover is also someone special, in a way that a casual encounter would not be nearly so special.
    Thus do I not think that it is vacuous at all to think of "communing with nature" [or nature's God, to quote Jefferson out of context] in "reliving an experience" of "closeness with nature" through viewing a photo.
    Surely you are right, however, that we most commonly think of that kind of special closeness as occurring between persons, and perhaps it does not even have to be shared. Perhaps we can feel a sense of being intimate with a person without actually being intimate with them, if the sight of them makes us identify with them. In such a case intimacy grades off into empathy.
    This is complicated territory, and I have not given it much thought in any context, much less in the context of photography.
    Have I contradicted myself in my musings on this post? Perhaps, but, as Emerson said, "Do I contradict myself? Well, then, I contradict myself." Ultimately, of course, one wants to be able to offer a coherent theory that has had the contradictions worked out. On this topic, at least, I am not there yet.
    Good thread, John. It makes me think.
    --Lannie
     
  16. I said Emerson. I meant Whitman.
    --Lannie
     
  17. jtk

    jtk

    I don't think this is "complicated." It's mysterious. Explanations don't often do well with mysteries. Explain Bach. Is his music "complicated?" Much isn't. Mysteries do sometimes make themselves clear over time and in practice, rather than verbally. Intimacy seems to photographically available to Fred G, but I'm lucky if it sneaks up on me. I'm surprised to look back at old images and find that intimacy did sometimes happen photographically, but I didn't notice it at the time.
     
  18. I don't think this is "complicated.​
    Well, linguistically and conceptually it is complicated, and I think that we are still trying to clear out the conceptual underbrush. Even the definitions are still unclear. Are we all talking about the same "thing"?
    I'm surprised to look back at old images and find that intimacy did sometimes happen photographically, but I didn't notice it at the time.​
    Are you saying that intimacy inheres in the image itself? How does intimacy "happen" in a photo?
    --Lannie
     
  19. Intimacy. I used to photograph all new doctors for this hospital. They called me and made an appointment for this psychiatrist. Now the only people I had trouble getting response out of were a couple of mental health professionals who took themselves inordinately seriously. So I was schocked when this absolutely stunningly lovely women in red walked through my door. She sat down and I began to pose her. As I looked through the lens on my Bronica I saw this appealingly sexy look on her face. Without thinking I said to her with tongue in cheek, "the look on your face is far too sensual for what I am trying to do for the hospital''. She exploded into laughter and the next picture I got was of her wide open mouth and tonsils. I still have it. The session lasted for about a half an hour and about thirty pictures of her in various poses, stages of laughter, seriousness, and actually something for the hospital. What a wonderful sense of humor. We had a hell of a lot of fun. I never saw her again but she got a lot of free pictures. That, in my mind, was intimacy. I don't think she stayed at the hospital very long. She was definitely major league. Intimacy, rapport, friendliness, a dynamic personality whatever you call it. I tried to form a little bond with all whose picture I took. I had to work harder though usually than I did that day.
     
  20. That, in my mind, was intimacy.​
    Yes, Dick, that might well have been intimacy. Getting pictures of it is quite another thing. Seeing the intimacy in the pictures is yet another thing entirely, even for you, much less for those of us who were not there--even if we could see the pictures ex post facto.
    --Lannie
     
  21. John, I would submit to you that we cannot photograph intimacy. Intimacy is surely some private, personal phenomenon that neither film nor digital sensors can capture.
    --Lannie
     
  22. I've done some mountain photography on long hikes when I was sure of a spiritual oneness (intimacy) with the mountain environment. A hiking guide once warned: "If you don't properly hydrate and you wander too far off the trail and get lost, and if you must spend one night or longer until someone happens to find you, you could die in the meantime. The mountain doesn't care." Yet my photos of favorite places do invoke a sense of intimacy with those subjects. I don't like to admit that it's probably brain chemicals simply giving me a momentary spurt of pleasure.
    00TaHP-141687584.jpg
     
  23. -Wrote "invoke" when probably should've written "evoke".
     
  24. "Don E..I understand your puzzlement. I don't fully understand the idea myself, but it rings bells for me."
    What led me to write to your quesions "no and no" is your identifying intimacy as "risky", and your exclusions of relations you think unrelated to your meaning by labeling them "fantasies".
    If I don't think intimacy is risky, and I think that the excluded might be intimacies, then I have to answer "no and no". My understanding of intimacy is that 'familiarity' is involved rather than risk.
     
  25. I think the notion of intimacy ( or perceived lack of intimacy ) in photography, photographs, is more recognized true an interpretation of it by the viewer then true a representation of it by the photographer, whether or not the photographer specifically sets out to represent intimacy in his / her photographs.
    Fantasies aside, I don't think one has "intimate" relations with inanimate objects (buildings, rocks, moon-rises), or with objectified people.​
    Since you are a photographer yourself it surely is not a fantasy to think and to know that photographers have, should have, almost by default, an intimate relationship with the world around them, including buildings, rocks, moon-rises, rays of light,...And, it is photography, done by photographers, that's being discussed here, not ?
    Weston's peppers are powerful, but not intimate​
    That would be yours and/or anyone's interpretation of the peppers in the photographs and while Weston's goal might not have been photographing intimacy thrue his peppers, I'll bet you that he valued, being a photographer, an intimate relationship with a. the peppers and b. the light surrounding the peppers, just by having spend hours photographing and looking at the peppers. And, at the end of the day, he made a nice salad out of them...-- Come to think of it, the most intimate relationship we have might very well be with the food we choose to eat, not with the people we choose to meet ---
    "My true program is summed up in one word : life. I expect to photograph anything by that word which appeals to me." Edward Weston
     
  26. Intimacy of at least one kind is one of the most common things on the Planet. Otherwise, there'd be fewer of us. For some, it's simple, to others, complicated. As per the definition Anders provided, it certainly is possible to be intimate with a landscape, rocks, space, etc. There are forests I consider myself on intimate terms with, just as I am with many people.
    Can intimacy be photographed? Perhaps...
    Between people:
    http://www.anseladams.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=2233
    Photographer, intimate with culture/locale:
    http://www.egglestontrust.com/14_pictures.html
    http://www.egglestontrust.com/dust_bells_v1.html
    Can one be an intimate outsider?
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Robert+Frank+%2BThe+Americans&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=IycrSuDpA82ktweWn4DDCA&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title
     
  27. Luis, those are great photos, but the ontological status of "intimacy" remains.
    By analogy, consider this: if I take a picture of you wincing when you are in pain, is the picture of your pain or of simply the external manifestations of your pain?
    I certainly believe that it is possible to capture the external manifestations of intimacy in certain cases, but I would surmise that the possibility of misinterpretation or over-interpretation of what persons are actually experiencing is quite high.
    --Lannie
     
  28. "Intimacy of at least one kind is one of the most common things on the Planet"​



    I would say that intimacy can come out of one of the most common things on the Planet : survival of species by instinct.


    Then there's this other common thing on the planet, destruction of species by instinct.For us humans, uncomfortably intimate it can be, looking at the most powerful of photographs by warphotographers, staring in the eyes of war victims and the death they've seen and experienced. But there's hardly an intimate relationship with the subjects photographed, the intimate relationship is only with ourselves, with our own unguarded reaction towards reality or towards any other human being and animal...
     
  29. I have no clear-cut answers, Lannie. Photographs record light echoing from surfaces. The rest is connotation and denotation. Pain itself, if we consider it a neural signal, isn't visible. Suffering can be.
    Phylo: "I would say that intimacy can come out of one of the most common things on the Planet : survival of species by instinct."
    Yes, whatever the cause, it's hardly rare, at least by Anders' definition(s).
    If familiarity builds intimacy, then Americans should be in intimate terms with war and war pictures, but not victims.
    We hear on PN all the time how documentary photographers who do the human engineering, get close and spend time to familiarize themselves with their subjects (intimacy?) produce a different kind of picture. Maybe intimacy between photographer and subject is detectable, at least in documentary pictures? Or is it just increased access and trust?
     
  30. When I used the word "intimacy" in the thread John mentioned I had in mind a few things: my relationship with the subjects of my portraits and my exposing something about those subjects and something about myself through my photographs. And a little bit more than all that which maybe I can explain, with difficulty. I think to the extent I can talk about aspects of life I can photograph them. I can talk about what nostalgia is, what intimacy is, what love is, what sadness is, and I can photograph those things. I think some photographs are of people being sad or are of expressions of sadness and some photographs are of sadness. These are not necessarily the same photographs, although I think they can be. Lately, I feel more sure I can come closer to significant expressions about these things with photographs than with words.
    Sometimes, as Lannie suggested, we project onto subjects emotions/feelings that may not have been there. Sometimes, I discover a combination of a person's expression and light and surroundings and my own mood that creates a symbol or more universal expression than simply what was showing in the person's face. So, we may attribute, for example, sadness to the person I've photographed when, in fact, that person was not sad. But the combination of light, his/her expression, the environment, the visual symbols included in the photograph may add up to sadness. That, to me, is often a kind of truth I like to explore. It is not necessarily the individual truth of the subject of the photograph. It is the truth of a combination of elements which make up a photograph.
    I have found in photography a means of allowing myself the freedom to express myself, to lay my cards on the table, as it were. As a philosopher, I've been much more used to intellectual endeavors and universalizing issues. With photography, I can be more sensual (not to be confused with, although sometimes accompanied by, eroticism), more particular (rather than universal) and more personal. I try to choose subjects, people mostly, that feel meaningful and close to me. That closeness can sometimes be a matter of their providing me with the raw materials to express something I'm feeling at the time. I hope I am moved either by the subject of my photograph or by the moment in which the subject and I come together.
    I agree with John that there is a riskiness to intimacy, at least for me. As John, I think it is also not theoretical, not analytical, not solipsistic, and not internal. I was talking to a Buddhist friend recently about photography. During our talk, he smiled as he said that what he appreciates about good photography is how it makes him sense the connection between the photographer and the world. He's into that. Intimate connection to the world. I think I've always mistaken Buddhism as being overly internal. His thoughts on photography set me straight. An example for me of that riskiness is that I put myself in a position of letting my subjects see what I've chosen to do with their image, sometimes more a matter of my exposing how I see them as opposed to how I think they might want to be seen. I'm not in a position of needing to flatter my subjects and always go into it with that understanding clear between us. Sometimes, it can be a joint discovery of even a darker side of a person I don't know that well. That feels risky to me.
    Intimacy, for me, is not a matter of time or duration with subject. I think I can be intimate in an instant. That doesn't mean I don't find value in knowing a subject well and for a long period of time. But I don't think intimacy is limited to such a relationship. That's because the intimacy can be expressed not about the subject per se but about the moment of the photograph. The expression with the light with the surroundings with the focus with the mood is an intimate moment for me. Sometimes, when I photograph people, especially ones I am just meeting for the first time, I feel we've shared something intimate though I don't always feel we've been intimate with each other.
     
  31. I don't think it is about getting close or spending time with subjects, but about the relationship. Intimacy of relationship involves familiarity, but it is also a feeling, which is shared. Being close and spending time doesn't necessarily evoke it. A photograph may convey that feeling, but it may not be recognized as intimacy -- like naked bodies entwined in an embrace and captioned "Intimacy", as if it were a perfume or condom ad. I rather think it cannot be conveyed so explicitly.
    Luis, what do you see in terms of intimacy in Smith's Country Doctor and Nurse Midwife? Do they both convey intimacy, or only one or neither? What is it about the photographs themselves that convey intimacy to you, if any do?
     
  32. By nature many find intimacy often related/connected to vulnerability. As such there may be risk involved to share it through their work. Sharing intimacies with strangers can be risky, especially if they are willing to drop barriers to reveal themselves. FG"I have found in photography a means of allowing myself the freedom to express myself, to lay my cards on the table, as it were." I am attracted to photographers who give me the sense that they are sharing themselves in such a way. Occasionally i encounter images that the subject appears to be sharing with the photographer and or viewer a genuine moment of intimacy, and these images also resonate with a more profound meaning than the usual forced or candid photo. Intimacy in a photograph gives me the sense of genuine honesty from the photographer. Truth even. And when i sense a truth/true or a genuine moment it takes on more meaning to me as viewer. It involves me when someone shares an intimate moment. At its best it tells me something of myself.
    JK "I hadn't thought to use the concept of "intimacy" as a goal (or result) in the photography that currently most concerns me, but now I will." - I will be very interested in following your progress.
    "Is intimacy a value in your photography?" It is one question i use to I use to edit myself. and it is a part of my definition of art.
     
  33. Thanks to Fred for clarifying what he meant by intimacy (photographer-subject). It is true that closeness and time do not automatically generate it, nor are they required, but often do precede it. Many times I've made photographs of strangers whose language I could not speak, or in circumstances where the ambient noise prevented verbal communications, and achieved an amazing degree of intimacy through facial gesture and body language in a few moments.
    If I go by the definition of intimate as "closely acquainted, familiar, private, personal", in Gene Smith's "Country Doctor" I see it in the picture of Dr. Ceriani's faraway worried look while he's tending to the baby with the head injury.
    http://www.luminous-lint.com/app/image/09458967322060971458465/
    The openness is remarkable. At one of my jobs, I've worked directly, one-on-one in clinical settings with Drs and patients for over a decade. I know Drs with faces like Ceriani's. While medicine and culture have changed a lot since 1948, I see intimacy in Smith's essay. I also see it in other pictures in that essay, like the one where Ceriani, fatigued within an inch of his life, rests his frame over the kitchen counter while having a cup of coffee.
    http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP=Mod_ViewBox.ViewBoxZoom_VPage&VBID=2K1HZOYDF7JW0&IT=ImageZoom01&PN=14&STM=T&DTTM=Image&SP=Album&IID=2S5RYD1PSXFQ&SAKL=T&SGBT=T&DT=Image
    On the way people looked back then, in the immediate Post-WWII era, from Edmund White's autobiography, _My Lives_:
    " He said, ‘That was before the era of self-improvement. People just looked the way they looked. They had little idea about how to change.’ That was the era of baked potatoes, of vegetables boiled so long they’d go from green to tan, of Wonder Bread stacked on a plate and, for dessert, a dish of canned Queen Anne cherries . . . Men donned their brown or gray hats, cocked ever so slightly to the right or left, the sides artfully dimpled, the brim lowered just above the face, the crown reblocked every few months to maintain its stiffness. They wore their plain lace-up shoes and double-breasted suits and heavy overcoats and these uniforms elevated and concealed them in ageless anonymity—from twenty to fifty they were men, nothing more nor less."
    At the beginning of the essay, we indeed see Dr. Ceriani in his suit and dimpled hat, but there is nothing anonymous about his face.
    As for Smith's method, I remember reading that he achieved his intimacy with his subjects "by fading into the wallpaper".
    As to risks:
    "I've never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil."
    --- Gene Smith
     
  34. Luis, I didn't mean to omit the intimacy I find in my relationship with viewers or at least the understanding that viewers are likely to see my photographs.
    Josh seems to have picked up on this in quoting me re: "I have found in photography a means of allowing myself the freedom to express myself, to lay my cards on the table, as it were."
    Ultimately, a viewer gets to see my expressions, glimpses of me, so there is both vulnerability (a significant quality Josh introduced) and intimacy in the photographer-viewer relationship as well as the photographer-subject relationship.
    I like that Luis brings up the intimate outsider. Voyeurism can be a very intimate practice yet often is the purview of a very privy outsider.
     
  35. Thanks, Luis. I admire the way you write about photographs. Linking to Eggleston's work was impressive "Photographer, intimate with culture/locale" is important in my work and probably is the way I am looking at intimacy. The photographer can make an effort to connect with a subject who is otherwise a stranger (or, since I have a broader notion of intimacy, a strange thing) -- get close to, spend time with, but if what is there to share between them is just the shoot, intimacy may be lacking in the photographs. Even if only the photographer and subject (if a person) discover they root for the same team or prefer vacations in the mountains is better than nothing shared at all.
    "Can one be an intimate outsider?"
    The photographer has the burden, like a cultural anthropologist, of being both a participant and an observer at once. Smith I think was a powerful observer (fading into the wallpaper), but a weaker particpant:
    "As to risks:
    "I've never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil."
    --- Gene Smith"
    To be very blunt, Smith was too full of himself for a strong degree of particpation more often than not, I think. He created the "risks". He got in his own way, due to that "turmoil". His letters and other comments about "The Pittsburgh Project" reveal that clearly, at least to me. When he was able to participate more fully -- intimate -- it could be hair raising as in his combat photography, Minamata, but also less dramatically in Country Doctor and the photos taken in his NY loft.
     
  36. I find many of Ralph Gibson's portraits, nude and non nude, also good examples of photographs dealing with intimacy. Intimacy in the form of ideas and dreams...
    Ultimitaly intimacy may be about fleeting ideas, always slightly ahead and not easily sustainable.
    http://www.ralphgibson.com/archive/popup.php?id=1175&album=4
     
  37. Phylo, my first thought upon looking at those great photos was "These are really moody!"
    Then it occurred to me that I do not know what I mean by that, but I use the term "moody" a lot. I guess that the same goes for "intimacy." We more often use the adjective form ("intimate"), I suppose. On the other hand, as a noun relevant for describing a photo (or as something evoked in us by the photo, the concept of "intimacy" is still problematic for me--not because it is not real, but because I cannot quite nail it down.
    I am still having trouble defining it, without doubting that it is real, and without doubting that in some essential sense we are capable of capturing it (or evidence of it) in a photograph.
    I rather think that we do not photograph intimacy per se . Rather, we capture the external evidence of it, as X-rays were never seen on film, but were inferred from the exposed streaks on the film.
    At this point in my thinking, I am thus inclined to think that we infer intimacy when we view a photo. We do not actually see it, for intimacy in and of itself remains in the minds of the person of persons whom we are photographing. Having said that, however, I can immediately think of photos that I have made in which the intimate relationship that I share or have shared with that person comes through in their expression. In such a case, I am inferring something about what that person is feeling toward me at the moment the photo is being taken--or perhaps I am projecting onto them what I have felt or am feeling for them.
    --Lannie
     
  38. Lannie,
    Yes, those are strong examples of photographs conveying something intimate through the sense of dreamlike subjective ideas they trigger. Perhaps when the intimate is shared it is no longer truly intimate, which may be a reason that it is not easily grasped, for when it is, and being shared and shown with others, it becomes more transparent, less intimate. I don't know.
     
  39. Ralph Gibson is also the one saying that black and white is "three steps away from reality" and when asked whether he preferred black and white or color he announced that he preferred the three!! (off subject, I know)
    Marvelous photos, by the way.
     
  40. jtk

    jtk

    Many enlightening responses!
    Regarding "definition": we rarely, maybe never, precisely define words that name concepts. When we try, we create circular, often intentionally diversionary fog ... or we simply abandon the effort, perhaps recognizing that some medium other than "definition" will serve better. Photography?
    Words label and sometimes assemble into verbal constructs (which are themselves multi-word labels more than concepts). Verbal constructs, such as poems, may even create "equivalents" to non-verbal phenomena. Actors, however, deliver crucial non-verbal extras, such as inflection and physical movement. Shakespeare's plays are better in performance than on a page: he wrote for actors except when he wrote poetry. "Intimacy" refers to a non-verbal phenomenon, like passion or disinterest or fakery, and can be displayed in photographs of faces and the rest...with more utility than by sentences.
    Labels ("intimacy," "art," "good," "bad") are only place-holders. Often they're applied so promiscuously as to be non-utilitarian (I almost said "meaningless"). Sometimes they're applied in the hope that they'll spotlight something that tends to be avoided: a look in someone's eye when they drop a mask, a connection, someone's risk. We do know about masks in photography: "Big grin!" "Say cheeeese!"
     
  41. John, it is along story, but if I really want to dive into "intimacy, passion, disinterest, fakery" I re-read for example Marcel Proust "In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past" (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) or the Memories of Casanova or why not those of Saint-Simon, which cannot really be said to be non-verbal. Instead of trying to identify phenomena that are verbal/non-verbal, I think it would be a more fertile approach to characterize people as more or less verbally oriented.
     
  42. Much as I like the Gibson photos, statements that suggest distance from reality don't usually work for me ("black and white is three steps away from reality").
    I think of my own experiences, photographs included, as more immediate than that. A black and white photo is as real as a color one and a photo is as real as the sky and trees outside my room. When a photograph really touches or moves me, I experience the emotion or quality directly: sadness, intimacy, longing, desire. When a photograph brings me to tears, it has overwhelmed me in some sense. I don't experience being overwhelmed as something filtered or evidenced. I'm happy to describe it more directly, and to say that I see sadness or intimacy in the photo.

    Gibson is echoing and likely paying homage to Plato, who suggested similar sentiments in almost identical language long ago with his cave allegory. We see, Plato said, representations, mere shadows of reality. Objects we see are twice removed from the true reality, the Ideas. Therefore, drawings of those things, he said, were "thrice removed from reality." Our senses, he could have said, put us in touch only with evidence of reality.

    I think Phylo gets at the core of the difficulty of creating good photographs. Regarding this specific thread, the question would be, how do we show and share and still maintain intimacy? That may be a significant aspect of John's original musings. I think it can be done, and I think it's done rarely. But when it's done, for me, it's immediate, memorable, and moving.
     
  43. John--
    I agree with you about word definitions. As a philosopher, I know sometimes I can get lost in words and their precise definitions and often that actually helps to illustrate and clarify concepts. As a photographer, I'm much more lenient in my acceptance of words like "intimate" and "intimacy" and in just using such a word, even if there will be slight differences in the way each of understand the word. The point, for me, is how we photograph. How we approach our subjects can be described (sometimes with difficulty because of language limitations) without concentrating too much on the exact definition of the word you used to start the thread.
    I've been finding "masks" more and more interesting the more people photos I do. I've been thinking of masks more in terms of various personas we all put forth. And, sometimes, I find that capturing those personas is as significant as capturing what lies beneath the persona. I was recently thinking about masks of the "say cheese" type. I think they have potential for significant exploration as well. When I was in New Hampshire, several of the people with autism and/or retardation that I photographed would automatically say "cheese" simply upon seeing the camera and almost always when they thought the picture was being snapped. Sometimes, I'd be happy to capture the "cheese" and sometimes I'd fake the shutter release to get them a moment before or after the "cheese." But some of the captures of "cheese" are very genuine, intimate photos, even though they are simultaneously captures of masks. Of course, many of the "big grin" and "say cheese" events you refer to are distractions to intimacy.
     
  44. Other examples of intimacy ? :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhXq4XfWqpU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu8_8TJC9E8
    When I first saw that flying bag scene in American Beauty I was simply stunned, poetry in motion and ' fiction ' aligned with truth, just plain simple truth...
    I was talking to a Buddhist friend recently about photography. During our talk, he smiled as he said that what he appreciates about good photography is how it makes him sense the connection between the photographer and the world. He's into that. Intimate connection to the world.​
    Indeed, for the experienced Buddhist, being intimate with the world may also be a non-issue. I think photography and Buddhism have a lot in common.
     
  45. jtk

    jtk

    " I think it would be a more fertile approach to characterize people as more or less verbally oriented."
    - Anders H
    Anders, my hope is that we accomplish more than "characterise people."
    This is a photo forum, but you're right, some are more comfortable with verbality than with visual images. Poets, novelists, technical writers, essayists.
    Susan Sontag made photographs (as everyone does), was a writer-about-photography, wrestled with intimacy...but was she a "fertile" producer of intimate photographic images?
    That a person may be "more verbally oriented" might make photographic intimacy unlikely. Her photography might exquisitely address nature, architecture, fashion, or graphics, be less capable of intimate photographs.
    Proust created refined scenarios verbally, even in translation. In particular he dealt with intimacy. Did he produce intimate photography?
    We all know that some find verbality more "fertile" than visual imagery (I often do...but for this exercise I hope we stick to photography). A Verbal Forum would surely be more "fertile" for some than this Photo Forum. I'm in a James Joyce reading group (Bloomsday is June 16!)...Joyce wrote intimately (sometimes), wrote cinematic images ...he might have been a great photographer if he could have cooled his verbal brain. http://www.bloomsdaybuffalo.com/PhotoGallery.html (there are better Bloomsday sites, but this has a fun feel).
    If we label a photo "intimate," we risk switching to a realm that may be yet another verbal exercise. That's an edgy dynamic, and that's where I think I am. If "intimate" is reduced to "friendly expression" or "familiarity," the phenomenon Fred G writes about with more subtlety may drift away.
     
  46. I have no intention of characterizing people but the fact that subject matters like "intimacy, passion, disinterest, fakery" have been treated by other arts throughout centuries, does not change because we are in a photo forum discussing photography. This was what I maybe mistakenly understood when you referred to them as non-verbal by definition.
    As you might have understood by my first contribution to this very interesting discussing I'm convinced that "intimacy" is present in almost all portfolio in various forms and according to various definitions. I could only imagine a photographer totally alienated by professionalism and instrumentalism shooting photos with little personal involvement. Such photos and photographers surely exist but they are exceptions.
     
  47. Fred "Regarding this specific thread, the question would be, how do we show and share and still maintain intimacy?John "Actors, however, deliver crucial non-verbal extras, such as inflection and physical movement."
    Isn't how you practice and use the non-verbal extras(?) as a photographer what helps to define your work, as it does an actor. Since photography is a non-verbal language the extras are in the forefront.""Intimacy" refers to a non-verbal phenomenon, like passion or disinterest or fakery, and can be displayed in photographs of faces and the rest...with more utility than by sentences."
    Interesting observations and possible gateway to the nuts and bolts involved to how non-verbal phenomenon (intimacy through disinterest) are communicated..... successfully or not.


    Having never acted I don't usually understand how one actors skills are being used to move me. I simply respond, feel it. Had i studied acting and even more so, practiced it, i would have the ability to lift the curtain when i choose to reveal most of the strings behind the magic. The strings/tools that are revealed to me are often not the strings you will see. (I do believe that there are some signs and symbols that are more universal.) The same image i find 'intimate' may make someone else feel uncomfortable or forced. When i find a photo that feels intimate to me and i wish to understand the why and how i am able to break it down and begin to practice/use it. The non-verbal tools used are usually comprehensible. The real magic is to make it your own.


    "If "intimate" is reduced to "friendly expression" or "familiarity," the phenomenon Fred G writes about with more subtlety may drift away." How about sharing the private or personal side of yourself ?, as Fred often does with his images. If you speak with intimacy (a risk but often enlightening) you are more likely to convey and receive intimacy. Silly and obvious statement but when i think in terms of photographing with intimacy i know that it is more likely to be a reciprocal intimate experience or insight for the viewer.
     
  48. I can see no possible usefulness in decreeing exclusionary lines of demarcation between human endeavors.
    Wright Morris immediately comes to mind. If we exclude words, all we are left with is W/NW, pointing, grunting, doing cartwheels, bodily functions and chimping. Not exactly conducive to human communications.
    The use of language by humans is nothing new, and even the letters forming words are derived from pictograms. How can we know exactly what Fred means by intimacy? As we witnessed earlier in this thread, even if we go by his pictures, there were several varying ideas of what the word meant. There is no reason to put a pox on defining how one sees the word. And this thread focuses on that word. No one here thinks that by using words, or exclusionary principles, that anything winds up enslaved, reduced, let alone magnified in any way. Life goes on, defying all efforts (via any means) to be caged.
    Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, Ansel Adams, Gibson, HCB, Jeff Wall, Edward Weston, Walker Evans, Alec Soth, Mark Klett, and dozens more just off the top of my head have written and are distinguished, widely published (photographically), sell prints in the five-figure+ range, their pictures are in the best private and museum collections in the world. And... they all write, most quite prolifically, emphatically disproving the mutually exclusive idea.
     
  49. Luis--
    I don't know if you're referring, at least in part, to something I said about words. I may have overstated my position.
    Words are valuable and can help us communicate even when considering photographs. Definitions can be tricky. I think the meanings of words develop with usage and don't see them as fixed and precise. That's why I appreciate those who have simply used the word "intimacy" and talked about how it relates to their photographs and processes.
    I find the definitional aspects of these forum discussions often abstract and a little distanced. Josh's recent contribution and John's talk of tools of the acting trade seem to bring the discussion back to personal methods and feelings. I'm interested in how each of us approaches subjects and how each of us thinks about our relationship to those subjects and to viewers. I respect that others may be as interested in the definitions themselves as they are in their own photographic methods. I certainly am at times.
    Talk about the words themselves often gets me out of myself and more into theory than practice. I can sometimes talk definitionally in the abstract and forget to relate it to my own work and approach. I'm often left wanting when a famous photographer is quoted but the quote is not accompanied by some sort of connection to the quoter's own personal experience as a means of solidifying and grounding the use of the quote.
    I often take famous photographers' quotes with a grain of salt, especially when they get more abstract and are less about nuts and bolts. Gibson's quote above has little relevance to me about photographs even though it comes from a fine and recognized photographer. He seems simply to echo philosophical paradigms that I find don't well describe the world and photography. That statement of Gibson's is less about what he is really intimate with, the making of photographs, and more about making a sound bite of an observation that certainly has a ring of truth to it, but misses a lot both photographically and philosophically.
    This is a thread about intimacy and I know that I, at least, have a tendency to use words sometimes abstractly and theoretically, missing opportunities to actually talk about my own work, motivations, and processes. I was particularly conscious, since John used my words as the lead-in to this thread about intimacy, to try and keep it personal and not get too into the more abstract definitional quagmires. But that was really just a personal decision. And it felt good.
     
  50. Just wanted to add one point. When someone talks about risks and photography, I'm more interested in hearing their experience with risk in their own photographic endeavors than I am about hearing whether risk is part of intimacy. Not that I think the latter isn't interesting and worth considering and discussing. It's more about what I personally am looking for in these forums. And I have strayed from my own advice on many occasions.
     
  51. "That statement of Gibson's is less about what he is really intimate with, the making of photographs..."
    Would it make sense to assume that Gibson, and a lot of other photographers, are intimate / connected with something else entirely which simply results in the making of photographs ?
    In your own case, do you often or sometimes recognize your camera as the tool being used as an ' alibi ' for connecting with the people you photograph, whereas without the camera and photography, you wouldn't be able to connect or be intimate, in whatever fleeting moment, as easily with those people ? Or, you wouldn't find any other reason to connect with them ?
    Because it's somewhat different then being primarily connected ( interested ) in making photographs of people, just for the sake of photography, and to which the possible intimate fleeting moments with those people are only of a secondary matter.
     
  52. jtk

    jtk

    " If we exclude words, all we are left with is W/NW, pointing, grunting, doing cartwheels, bodily functions and chimping. Not exactly conducive to human communications." Luis G
    Luis, I don't think many would be "left with" the handicaps that you mentioned.... no photographer familiar with Stieglitz's "equivalents" would be. Very few would think your pricetag evaluation of photographers corresponds to their merit. You cited several expensive photographers whose work was rarely "intimate." Rocks, architecture, quaint moments...that sort of thing. When someone despises the non-verbal (re your disgust with bodily functions and chimping ), is as unaware as you seem about long well-known physiological reality (two potentially-independent brains and their differing specialties/tendencies:"art" on one side and "verbality" on the other...to crudely simplify).
    "I'm more interested in hearing their experience with risk in their own photographic endeavors than I am about hearing whether risk is part of intimacy" Fred G
    Fred, I may have recently mentioned a portrait of a pair of sisters, one with Parkinsons (I didn't know it), the other with what was believed to be thyroid cancer (likely near-term death). In their 60s/70s, they were surprisingly radiant. The situation was a little loaded for me...I tend to make jokes when I'm anxious, which can be worse than inappropriate. It felt like a knife edge situation.. "risk" that I'd botch the relationship while trying to make a worthwhile image, in turn botching the photo outcome. I did OK, came away with a portrait that moved me and the sisters. The thyroid cancer turns out to be benign. The sisters risked presenting themselves to me in what was thought to be a dire moment, last minute maximum-aggressive chemotherapy in two days (they'd seen my work with other older women). I took a risk with my own insecurities... we all won. The portrait isn't remarkable in any "art" context, but I do think it "intimate."
    "If you speak with intimacy (a risk but often enlightening) you are more likely to convey and receive intimacy. Silly and obvious statement but when i think in terms of photographing with intimacy i know that it is more likely to be a reciprocal intimate experience or insight for the viewer." - Josh D W

    Josh, I'm sure you're right...but I'm not always graceful enough to "speak with intimacy" ...which sometimes adds "risk." As well, I suspect (hope) that risk adds potential... my awkwardness with masks, tendency to abruptness, sometimes leads to openings in relationships...maybe it seems "honest." I'm not proud of that, but I know it's true and am sometimes rewarded for exploiting it.
     
  53. Phylo--
    Thanks for your initial point. Helpful way to think about it. Yes, it would make perfect sense that Gibson and others are intimate with other things than the act of making photographs and that intimacy leads them to make photographs or the making of the photographs leads them to that intimacy. I still, however, don't find the particular quote of his terribly useful.
    The answer to your question about my own motivations is that it varies. Sometimes it is the camera that helps me make an intimate connection that might not otherwise be made. I am often grateful for that. Sometimes it is the intimacy of a connection that I desire to photograph. Sometimes it seems totally a visual thing that I wouldn't care to accompany with a particular emotional state. Sometimes I feel no intimacy in the moment the photograph is snapped yet something very intimate seems present in the photograph. It's neat when that happens, because it confirms my belief in how different photographs sometimes are from photographic moments. I tend not to photograph for the sake of photographing. I tend to really appreciate photographing subjects I feel a connection to and lose interest quickly when photographing just to try to make good pictures. Except when I'm out practicing. Then I might photograph any old thing and really enjoy the process, but then my goal is usually some specific technique and not necessarily a "good" photo.
    The word "alibi" at first seems unnecessarily loaded, implying "sneaky." Even in fleeting camera-oriented relationships with people, I try to be up front about what I think a situation holds for me and what I'm attracted to in a given photographic situation. There have surely been times when I've been sneaky. I have often been a photographic voyeur. I don't see that negatively, but there might be some sense of "alibi" in voyeuristic camera use.
     
  54. John--
    Thanks for the story. I can relate. When I feel any sort of competition between wanting to get a good photo and wanting to really remain true to a relationship or situation, it's tough. I feel good when I can keep in mind that getting a good photo in a sense seems like a high honor to pay someone I care about, even someone I don't know that well. So I can honor them in how I deal with them and relate to them and I can honor them in coming up with a product that will mean something to them, to me, and if I'm lucky, perhaps to others as well.
    How do you feel about the lack of remarkability in an art context? Would you like to have that in addition to the intimacy you feel you achieved or is that something not important to you? Do you ever think about creating art or does that not usually come up for you? I think many moving and compelling photographs probably don't qualify as art. But I also think there's something compelling about the quest to create something that is art.
     
  55. Fred, i feel there are risks involved.. FG"I agree with John that there is a riskiness to intimacy, at least for me." - i would like to hear your take.
    In fact it seems that sharing at its best often becomes an intimate experience.
    Generalizing the risks i have experienced - I find that being intimate with strangers is sometimes a risk. emotionally. Even with the photograph as a buffer. There is often a vulnerability when we share our most meaningful experiences, verbally and visually.. With practice i think the vulnerability is lessened as our experience and confidence develops. I have also encountered physical risk in choosing to place myself in harms way to record, express some of the risker habits, fetishes, fascinations ..(not exclusively sexual) that i have photographed. Some people just don't want to go there.
    When itimacy is expressed by closeness in proximity to strangers there is often a risk. Putting yourself out there is risky if you want to maintain some control over others perception of your work. Easy to say it doesn't matter but seldom is it so black and white. I experience it as a fluid consideration. Sometimes it really doesn't matter, other times i feel at risk, vulnerable putting myself out there by sharing a private experience.
    Why would someone share a private matter? Is he stupid, narcissistic? I don't think that even matters in a photograph, unless it becomes an obstacle. I think there is a truth to be tapped that not everyone is capable of capturing. It often translates into a more energized or insightful image. It is not pretty or clever or bizarre or nice..., it is more. It reflects some insight, knowledge of humanity. Risky undertaking.
     
  56. Fred G. No, I wasn't addressing to anything you said.
    BTW, I took yet another look at your portraits just now... They are intellectually elegant and potently humane. Your use of light and shadow as metaphor is poignantly poetic. A finely developed sense of being in multiple levels of existence is in your pictures and words, like a magician at the circus keeping an impossible number of patters spinning. Taking risks beyond the horizon of convention, your subjects are individuals and archetypes. They radiate what it means to be alive and in the undertow of mortality in their own skin, yours, and mine. I get the feeling that they are a kind of casus belli, and see some visual riffs similar to Weston's portraits, particularly the one he did of Mr. Galvan. I could live with more than one of those on my walls. They will linger in memory.
     
  57. Josh--
    Interestingly, I feel more of an intimacy risk with people I know than with strangers. I'm used to coming more from the head than the heart and using my intellect to relate rather than my senses. So photographing people puts me in a more physical and visual relationship, a more emotional level than I'm used to dealing with. That's uncomfortable for me sometimes. But it's also been challenging and fun. People that know me, and I've only been seriously photographing for five plus years now, are suddenly seeing a different side of me, a more sensual side, a more erotic side, a sexual side, someone who is looking at people. I've always been a voyeur, loving to watch people who aren't aware I'm watching. I love seeing people being themselves, unmasked, as John might say, not aware of another's gaze. With my photographs, I feel like I'm coming out of that closet a little, admitting I like to watch, I like to know your intimate moments, the moments you think are private.
    In some of my photographs, I'm exploring men my age, clothed, nude, semi-nude. Many of us are feeling particularly vulnerable as our bodies are really starting to change, our sexuality becoming very different from what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. It's risky because it's real. Sometimes it's confrontational. Looking at someone else through my lens often gives me a different and honest picture of myself . . . physically as well as emotionally. It's scary to look carefully at a 50+ year old body. It's also liberating to do it appreciatively and pay photographic homage to it as something worth looking at.
    I also feel at risk as a gay guy. Looking at my portfolio, I'd say it's somewhat obvious it's the portfolio of a gay man. And there are times and many aspects of my photos that I think are about being gay, at least to some extent. At the same time, they are very much about being me and about the individuals being photographed. I worry that, where I might want people to view some photos in the context of sexuality or my sexuality, they are viewing them as always about my being gay. I've had people interpret my photos to mean things about what it is to be a gay man when I really was just expressing something about me or about the person I was photographing, who happened to be gay but where gay was not meant to be the focus. It has sometimes felt like projection and has felt awkward. I worry that some connections from photographer to viewer in my case may be strangely filtered if someone thinks I'm expressing my homosexuality rather than simply my sexuality. I think there is an important difference. I hope that makes some sense.
    Why share private matters? To a degree, it's cathartic. It helps me clear the air inside. It connects me to something beyond myself. Who knows, those shared intimate moments may reach someone else and open them up to something. It makes my world a more vital place.
     
  58. Luis--
    Those are some really powerful and meaningful words to me. Thank you. Wow. Your willingness to be so expressive about my photos and to analyze them as you have is very generous. I appreciate it!
     
  59. Josh is right. There are risks involved in any human transaction, and the less formalized, the greater the risk. I remember many years ago at a concert, moments before entering the mosh pit, I yelled and held up my battered Nikon F, 20mm and flash. 30+ guys raised their fists in response and yelled back (I hoped it meant something positive). The music began, my earplugs went in, and I waded into the pit. My martial arts training served me well as bodies flew all around me, I managed to calmly dodge most of them, the others I pushed along their trajectory. No one deliberately slammed me. 20 minutes later, on the dance floor, I pointed to the camera, and a woman nodded with a smile, and danced transparently less than 3 feet from me as I took a dozen exposures. It could all have had many other outcomes, but didn't. I could have been made a target in the mosh pit, but wasn't. The girl, with whom I only communicated by sign language, could have turned me down, been on guard, called for security, etc., but she earnestly collaborated with me. If one can overcome mistrust and fear, often the Other responds in kind, and an incredible human-to-human broadband connection is established. Sometimes this can take years, other times, it happens in minutes.
    We take the risks because we have to in order to share the experience of being human with another.
    Everything we say and do (including art) reveals who we are to those that have eyes and ears. All of our masks, clothes, signifiers, and emotional armor are like Saran Wrap around our naked souls in public (attention Lannie!).
    All forms of protection also serve to deaden our senses and entomb us.
     
  60. "There are risks involved in any human transaction."
    Should I assume "transaction" doesn't refer to an exchange, value for value?
     
  61. All of our masks, clothes, signifiers, and emotional armor are like Saran Wrap around our naked souls in public (attention Lannie!).​
    Well said, Luis, and sometimes I think that clothes are the flimsiest barriers to true intimacy. The more insidious barriers, in my opinion, include the bureaucratic mask of impersonality (or its equivalent outside of the formal organizational context) or excessive social consciousness (not to say simple self-consciousness). The question in every case is how we get persons to drop their psychological barriers,which is typically (I believe) a more significant barrier than mere clothing. (If I say it two or three times perhaps I will finally approach what I am trying to get at.)
    Fred, I was looking over your own portfolio last night after the "other thread" finally imploded, and I was struck not only by the long list of persons who had left comments, but also by their great variation in terms of photographic experience, gender, and who knows what else. You must be doing something right if you are able to speak to so many people through your photos. My own photos typically do not touch people at that level--about the best that I can do with my pictures of decaying houses is to evoke a sense of nostalgia, not intimacy. I shall have to study your technique to see if there is anything there that I can steal.
    --Lannie
     
  62. Don E., you're right... "interaction" or "exchange" would have been better.
     
  63. I have enormous respect for photographers like Fred that so clearly often is intimate with his subject matters and with the viewer in much of what he is showing us here on PN. I like enormously what such photographers do with photography, but intimacy in photography can be something different and maybe even something more subtile and less direct.
    No-one, I would believe, can by my photos tell whether I'm gay or not and yet I put fully my intimate self into what I'm doing in photography. I believe that the possible quality of what I'm doing, when I succeed, is enhanced by the intimate relationship between me and my photography whether it concerns my choice of scenes, my compositions, my use of my camera or post-processing. That leaves totally out any intention of communicating my intimate self to the viewer. Also that is intimacy - less spectacular, but very real and surely not abstract.
     
  64. Pnina started this thread this morning:
    http://www.photo.net/no-words-forum/00Tawr
    Maybe some of you could post your own best efforts to her thread.
    What the thread shows me is that "intimacy" can sometimes allude to a look, sometimes a touch, sometimes an object--and (I believe) sometimes a scene from nature, as I argued at the outset of this thread.
    --Lannie
     
  65. The thread shows me that the notion of intimacy in the minds of most of the posters are either young hetero couples or mother and child. No one has as yet posted "nature", including you. Luis Triguez makes an otherwise copycat nw thread worth looking at, -- as he often does.
     
  66. By Pnina adding the time dimension - "A moment of intimacy" - you invite for the mother and child type of photos.
     
  67. I'm not saying they don't represent intimacy, just that, like this thread, the notion of intimacy represented is narrow.
     
  68. I just looked at that nw thread, and posted a sort of nature image on it, an image which, taken in context of ' intimacy ' is also a rather cliché one, but what the heck...in cliché's one often finds little truths also.
    I still think, that the intimate in context of photography, has more to do with the quality's / insights hinted at and shown in that flying bag scene that I've linked to...it reveals something bigger then the intimate, perhaps something that encompasses any concept of " intimacy", surrounding it and making it less transparent.

    Indeed Don, the definition or understanding of it is mostly taken too narrow.
     
  69. I agree, and that's why I kept out of most of the discussion.
     
  70. "Don E., you're right... "interaction" or "exchange" would have been better."
    Exchange and transaction are indentical; interaction, a more general or inclusive term, includes exchange, sharing, and other kinds of relations. I'll stipulate to the OP's limitation on the type(s) of intimacy he means, but I still don't get the "risky" part, though it seems everyone responding does -- intimacy and risk appear chained together, as if a discussion of intimacy cannot be true to the subject without calling up "risk". Risk is a charateristic of exchange, but not of sharing.
     
  71. No one has as yet posted "nature", including you. --Don E.​
    I imagine that my feelings of 'communion" with nature are really a kind of biological high, based on serotonin or something else that comes as a by-product of hard mountain hiking. Perhaps there is a transcendental explanation or something more to it (or behind it), but, in any case, I have felt more than I could ever show in a photograph. I am reminded of Alfred North Whitehead's famous pronouncement that "consciousness is an emergent property of physical processes." Yes, I suppose that it is, but that is hardly to explain it--and to offer a biological explanation for "intimacy" or any other psychological or "spiritual" state is hardly to give an ultimate explanation that is completely intellectually satisfying.
    I am also suddenly reminded of the quote by Geoffrey Winthrop Young: "The mountaineer returns to the hills because he remembers always that he has forgotten so much."
    That quote is not necessarily about the same thing, but there are some special moments in solitary wilderness experiences (including ocean kayaking, where one does not even leave tracks) that seem both very special and very ephemeral. Returning to nature--and having the same special experience all over again--thus often remind me of Nietzsche's "eternal recurrence" (at least on some interpretations).
    "Intimacy" is as elusive as any of the psycho-physiological states and concepts that I have referred to above, whatever may be their ultimate source or origin.
    Love is the most elusive and mysterious of all such "emotions," both in direct experience, and in terms of being captured in a photo. We see the photos of couples in love, or of mothers with children, but do we feel the love? I would say that we do not, although we might be reminded of something similar in our own experiences.
    With people, I think that we most often capture a sense of intimacy through their eyes. With nature?? No photograph can ever give me the sense of expansiveness that nature can, but a photo can, to paraphrase Young, make me remember that I have forgotten so much--and I am thus impelled to go out and seek it anew.
    The photos I bring back from wilderness outings are always disappointing. Even if they are beautiful, they do not allow me to re-experience what I felt in its fullness in nature.
    --Lannie
     
  72. To go back briefly to the idea of "intimacy with nature" or even "communion with nature," I can only say that the impulse to re-experience something is surely indicative that something was experienced that touches or touched one very deeply--whether it should be characterized as "intimacy," "spiritual communion," "runner's high," or something else.
    I have used the Geoffrey Winthrop Young quote for years without doing any research on Young himself. Here is what I found on Wikipedia moments ago:
    [A]n explosion [in WW I] caused injuries requiring the amputation of one of his legs.[ 3] After the amputation, Young walked sixteen miles in two days to avoid being captured by the Austrians. He continued alpine climbing for a number of years – using a specially designed artificial leg that accepted a number of attachments for snow and rock work – and climbed the Matterhorn in 1928. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Winthrop_Young (fair use quote)​
    Whatever we call it, we are talking about some powerful stuff here. When something strikes us as very nearly "divine," we will go through hell to experience it again.
    --Lannie
     
  73. "The photos I bring back from wilderness outings are always disappointing. Even if they are beautiful, they do not allow me to re-experience what I felt in its fullness in nature."
    Disappointment in intimacy cannot be a pleasant feeling. The photograph is not the photographed, as Winogrand said. Re-experiencing is too much a burden to demand from them. They are only "a small remembrance of something more solid", as the lyric goes.
    I've posted to Pnina's NW thread after reading your post.
     
  74. "The photograph is not the photographed."​
    That is surely true for all photos, but how much more so for photos that purport to capture emotional or other internal states! I think that a lot of great wilderness experiences feel so great that we really believe that we can capture the moment in a photo, not realizing at the time that what makes the moment so special is a lot more about our internal response to nature than it is to nature itself.
    That's a nice photo on Pnina's thread, Don.
    --Lannie
     
  75. Lannie, if you haven't seen this, it may be worth your time:
    http://www.amazon.com/Glen-Denny-Yo...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244526979&sr=8-1
    "That's a nice photo on Pnina's thread, Don."
    Thanks. The first one was shot on Gold 400 with a Nikon One Touch -- that was hot to the touch. The woman is a former free solo rock climber, speelunker, ice climber, and guide. The moment captured is when, as she says, she began to see the desert. Now that Fran and Terby Barnes, and last year Rick Showalter, have died (Melanoma got two of the three) she may be the most knowledgeable person regarding that desert now. This was the photo that got me back to doing photography in a serious way after a long hiatus.
     
  76. rm dupe
     
  77. Phylo "I still think, that the intimate in context of photography, has more to do with the quality's / insights hinted at and shown in that flying bag scene that I've linked to...it reveals something bigger then the intimate, perhaps something that encompasses any concept of " intimacy", surrounding it and making it less transparent."
    Phylo, Jun 07, 2009; 03:01 p.m. Other examples of intimacy ? : in response, i remember clearly my feeling the first time i saw the the bag video in American Pie. I was seduced and experienced an intimate reaction. I find that putting an explanation to this form of intimacy in words to be very challenging. but i will try.


    In an attempt to make the connection i feel from the bag video and intimacy I first would need to exclude the more blatant tools that the filmmakers used that differentiate it from a still.. The gentle music, the soft spoken dialogue and the fact that it is motion which went a long way to heightening the 'feelings' i had. I had a personal stake that i also need to consider. nostalgia. I was a videographer some years ago and the style and motivation of the bag video is not unfamiliar.


    Intimacy and personal are difficult for me to separate when not discussing the narrower view of intimate photography.. Intimacy is personal to me. Therefore i find it difficult to extract taste from the equation. I find photographs that are not images that many would consider intimate, yet they are for me . I think it is fair to say that the bag video is an video example that many would not consider intimate. They would ignore or laugh at the thought. For them the bag is just an unfocused artsy piece or nothing of worth. That video connected the world inside myself to the outer world in an somewhat uncommon way. Not spectacular, just a small private moment. It made the world more transparent if not by definition but through the depth it reached into me where it heightened my senses and awakened...something?. It simply felt intimate. Fred mentioned his discussion with a Buddhist friend and summed it up with "Intimate connection to the world"
    At first glance the photography that you see in the current NW forum presents the face of intimacy, on the surface, and yet if any of those photos are capable of making you experience more than the image then perhaps you can experience intimacy in more than one obvious way. If you can get inside the subjects (or they you) that are in close proximity to each other maybe there is another form of intimacy. The subject matter in the no words forum is 'a moment of intimacy' but if any photo heightens your awareness, and creates a meaningful experience to your inner world and /or the outer word then maybe you can call that intimate. When a photo speaks outside the borders i think it is more likely to be able to create an intimate reaction for the viewer. In particular the photo that seems to speak especially for you, one that shares its knowledge or secrets with you ... the bag video had this quality for me. What the f.... it said? i don't know, but i kinda do. of This can be labeled a broad interpretation of what an intimate photograph is but when a photo becomes part of my vision or interpretation of the humanity it becomes a very personal and intimate. Even if i am unable to define it. or explain it.
     
  78. i also wanted to mention that there are photos (or less frequently bodies of work) that make me feel especially close to the photo or photographer. A photo that John mentioned that i feel have this intimate reaction to is Westons pepper(s). Inanimate yes, but such a personal revelation that feel i have had an intimate relationship to the first Weston pepper I saw. The photo itself perhaps not intimate (excluding EWs relationship) but the reaction was.
    Before i learned of the circumstances surrounding the singular work of Masahisa Fukase 'The Solitude of Ravens' i remember feeling that this was a very intimate collection of an unlikely subject. It struck me as powerful on first sight and when i asked myself why i concluded that i was seeing something from deep within the photographer. no bs.
    Another obvious style of photography that i would offer as one form of intimacy is unabashed self portraiture. Generally not very well conceived and presented imo but for me frequently intimate. John Coplans self nudes are intimate i suppose, not interesting as single photos but intriguing as a study. but not the sort of intimacy i am most drawn to.
    i found Kerteszs' 'from my window' inanimate series to be intimate. in setting in scale in lighting and in how the objects feel personal.... also felt before learning the circumstances.
    I think Brassai consistently shot people in at such a natural moment at a distance with gentle light and i suspect a preferred lens that many photos have a strong flavor of intimacy. His night shooting often gives me the sense that i am sharing an intimate moment with him in the street.
     
  79. Josh,
    Yes. And while the music and dialogue are an essential part of the scene, for me those aspects aren't necessary to connect the actual video that's being played, where the videocamera is following the flying bag and ' dancing with it ', with a moment of being intimate with ones surroundings, truly connected with reality, almost by stepping out of ones socially default day to day perception of it. The video itself for me illustrates perfectly and without words a moment of the intimate.
    True, many would not consider the bag/ video example intimate, for it just being a plastic bag in the wind and laugh it away. But I think that's exactly the main point, because it's not about the bag or the videocamera filming it, no, it's about what made it possible to even consider that bag, it's simplicity, and to see the wind in it and to recognize in an instant a possibility emerging.
    I believe it's about tuning in to the deepest ( not quite the right word ) frequency and with that the possibility of being awarded with some other ' flying bag '. I think it's all around us, in every form. The intimate / intimacy suggests something of value, something with a meaning, disclosing a message almost. In this regard I think the concept of the intimate, at least the way I see it, has a correlation with Carl Jung's Synchronicity.
    Landrum Kelly spoke of tuning in ( not in those words ) with nature and quoted "The mountaineer returns to the hills because he remembers always that he has forgotten so much." I can relate to those words whenever I go back to the sea, staring at the ocean, as if there's something hidden in those waves, something that I had forgotten. Tuning in to nature, yes, but why not tuning in to the universe, it's everywhere...


    Connecting to the universe can become claustrophobically intimate in it's openness, showing a different aspect of intimacy ( not cozy, warm or fuzzy ), but nevertheless very intimate ( if we imagine a birdseyeview of ourselves, beginning at the ceiling, and then zooming out...rooftops, clouds, Earth,...., a black void,.....,....? )
    In art, I think Edvard Munch's ' The Scream ' is a good example of the intimate ripped wide open, and still evoking and essentially being about the intimate and how confrontational it can be. Over-tuning :


    ”I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.”
     
  80. Kertesz' From My Window...
    http://think-in-pictures.com/2007/12/02/andre-kertesz-the-polaroids/
    ....was one of the works that came to mind when first reading the posts in this thread, but it can be said that intimacy has been a salient part of his work all the way back to Hungary.
    Kertesz said about his work: "I photographed real life—not the way it was, but the way I felt it. ..."
    There is a French saying saying that the passion one's parents put into their lovemaking on the occassion of one's conception is the passion one will be capable of during their life. Photographs are like that.
     
  81. Two things about that bag scene that express intimacy to me:
    It prolongs the kind of mundane moment that we normally don't notice or care much about. In following that scene through, I experience something similar to what I do when watching a ballet. But since the scene has no human dancers, I almost feel as if I'm in touch with the essence of dance rather than with a dance. The focused movement itself is intimate.
    It also makes tangible something that is not visible, and this done in a visual medium . . . the movement of air. "Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind."
    I see intimacy in Pnina's Follow the Light folder as I experience a closeness with her subjects and with the photographer, through her use of light and, in some cases, perspective. There's a transcendence in the best photos of that folder. Perhaps intimacy also has a transcendent attitude. It is a moment or situation or experience so personal yet one that transcends the individual to move beyond itself into some sort of relationship of knowing, sharing. Intimate seems opposed to superficial. I don't find such intimacy in her NW photo, despite the subject matter and title.
     
  82. The From My Window photographs by Kertesz have definitely an intimate quality, a quality of sharing also, sharing by way of looking true the photographers eyes and only secondly ( if at all ) true his mind, of that what he saw and set up in front of him and took under consideration, nothing more and nothing less. It's the sort of photography that doesn't have to be drenched in any other meaning then that what it depicts. Weston's peppers are very similar in this regard. The best of Walker Evans comes to mind also.
    Fred, yes, the intimate seems opposed to the superficial. I take it that you deliberately used the word " seems " and not " is " , because it's only without looking intimate at it, that the superficial lacks in the intimate. A flying plastic bag ( or something else entirely, but in the same manner ) is in fact quite " superficial ", until one starts looking at it intimately, recognizing in it a certain value without it having to be valuable ( if that makes sense ).
    In a way I think the intimate depends as much on the superficial as the superficial depends on the intimate.
    In another thread, Fred G used the concept of intimacy (not just the word) to depict something rare, that's typical in his photography.​
    Don't know if you agree with the above but perhaps the intimate isn't rare at all, being superficially around us in many forms, and for us to be considered like the character in American Beauty did with the flying bag.I think what's rare for many, all of us, is the willingness to tune in and become aware of the intimate in the superficial, relying to easily on predifined, almost fictionalized forms of it, like shown in the nw thread.
     
  83. The photograph is not the photographed.
    Reading the list of NW threads and seeing one with the subject "intimacy", one can almost hear the readers as a collective consciousness thinking 'Well, hello young lovers!' And so it is when you open the thread. So, we have lots of photos of people in circumstances that are intimate...
    ...but are the photos themselves intimate? The photograph has subjects who are commiting an act of intimacy, but the photographer isn't, and so the photos themselves aren't intimate.
    Anders, I'd like to read a response from you on the above.
     
  84. Yes, Phylo, that's why I am so moved by the fact that it happens with a "mere" bag, which would most of the time go unnoticed. Your words capture well what I tried to say to John above when I talked about masks and "cheese grins" having the potential for intimacy. I think the superficial can be intimate. But I also think it most often stays simply superficial.
    In the thread John referenced, I had said that, for me, portrait-making is intimate. He picked up on that and added that he thought it was rare in photography. The rarity is not something I addressed.
    It's probably more a semantical difference, but I wouldn't say that there is intimacy in the superficiality all around us if only we tune into it. I would say the superficial can become intimate when we tune into it a certain way.
    But I don't think intimacy depends on superficiality. I think intimacy can begin and end deeply. The bag in the movie scene and the "cheese grin" seem superficial yet the bag is and the cheese grin might be penetrated to its more essential self. On the other hand, the subject of mother and child in a photo is a subject with depth, so an intimate photo of it wouldn't seem to me to have an element of superficiality. The photo of it, however, does seem superficial when handled without intimacy.
     
  85. jtk

    jtk

    Lots of interesting perspectives (revealing in context of their P.N portfolios..visit them) .
    Some claim "intimacy" with nature or still lives ...different strokes. I've spent a lot of time in the wilds of my very wild West, but for my purposes "intimacy" has to do with humans.
    Fred asked (my italics): "How do you feel about the lack of remarkability in an art context? Would you like to have that in addition to the intimacy you feel you achieved or is that something not important to you? Do you ever think about creating art or does that not usually come up for you? I think many moving and compelling photographs probably don't qualify as art. But I also think there's something compelling about the quest to create something that is art."
    "Art" is a self-satisfying word ( like "I'm OK")... seems irrelevant to my photographs. Nonetheless, I'm proud that a widely noted collector has hung one of my portraits (of a person I've posted on P.N). He wants another...but I don't understand his response. I admire his collections and it is "self satisfying" to tell myself that my photo is among them. Does that make it "art?" I'm genuinely puzzled.
    "Quest to create remarkability" means more than "quest to create..art" ...maybe. The great, defunct "Camera Magazine" had entire issues devoted to the "banal," and that work was "remarkable." It was also another era.

    Photographing people, I hope to find some intimacy...challenging given limitations and masks. An emotionally "unremarkable" photograph may be satisfying if the subject is happy and I evaluate it as "good" (expression, light, technique, print etc).
    As you know, I think "art" has become an inconsequential concept in photography generally, if not among a few individuals... such as yourself.
     
  86. " 'Art' is a self-satisfying word"
    John, I do understand and accept your take on art, though it's not my way of seeing it.
    As for the self-satisfying part, most artists I know and many I have read about are rarely if ever satisfied, with or without applying the label to themselves. I think any complex definition of art would include something about longing, desire, and satisfaction, perhaps even angst.
     
  87. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, I experience "longing, desire, and satisfaction, perhaps even angst" ...which means "self satisfaction" isn't enough...but I often console myself with it, just as I might if I called my photos "art."
     
  88. I am beginning to think that intimacy between two subjects is less important than intimacy between the photographer and the subject--the person/scene that is photographed. It is the latter than can show the intensity of feeling on the part of the photographer. Perhaps that is why the NW folder does not strike us as capturing a great deal of "intimacy" as many are using that term here.
    Perhaps the most interesting photos reveal more about the photographer than about the subject--and thus may we say that intimacy can be about the photographer's vulnerability and risk, for in revealing oneself one is always vulnerable.
    At other times, however, one definitely can seem to capture the sense of vulnerability of the subject.
    --Lannie
     
  89. Sometime around 1993 the New York Times ran a photo of two Jewish women (naked and with eyes as big as saucers) being herded by Nazi guards across the grounds of a concentration camp. I have not seen it since. Various Hasidic leaders objected to the photo on the grounds that the public display of the naked body showed lack of respect and reverence. The Times stuck to its guns, however, given how powerful the photo was as refutation of claims that the Holocaust never occurred.
    The image stays with me, and I have not seen it since. What I remember the most is the look of abject terror on the faces of the two women--as well as the look of total indifference on the faces of the guards. It was a powerful photo, and I do not remember who took it or how it made its way out of the concentration camp. (Perhaps the Nazis themselves took it.)
    Regardless of who took it, it was a powerful photo. Was it intimate? If the Nazis took it, then I can hardly say that it showed intimacy or vulnerability on the part of the guards. (Do I contradict myself [in the previous post]? Well, then, I contradict myself.)
    Sometimes I wonder if the word "intimacy" is quite up to the burden that we are placing upon it--although I think that it is important that we analyze this concept as a neglected concept in photography.
    This is a very challenging thread. Thanks again, John, for starting it, and to you, Fred, for inspiring it.
    --Lannie
     
  90. John--
    I don't find I console myself with photographs, with art, with the term "photographer," or with the term "art."
    Just a difference.
     
  91. If one truly thinks art: "... has become an inconsequential concept in photography", why would one talk about its insignificance constantly?
    Like Fred, I understand John's ideas, and heartily disagree with them. What I don't get is the obsession with the "inconsequential".
    Congratulations to John for his getting a picture accepted in an art gallery.


     
  92. jtk

    jtk

    Here's something I'm thinking about: I love Arnold Newman's intimate-seeming "Picasso," dislike his "Chagall" http://www.arnoldnewmanarchive.com/ I've come to think Newman's portraits-with-artifacts crudely rely on their symbols (Chagall's easel)....I used to admire that seemingly formula-driven stuff.
    Luis, not "accepted," found, not "gallery," collection. I'd photographed a painter and a social figure the collector knows and now he has a portrait of one of them...that's my puzzlement: he collects pieces that even I call "art". I look forward with trepidation to making his own portrait: His taste and sophistication are beyond me and intimacy may take a miracle.
    Good of you to observe this: I fuss about "art" because the term evidently means almost nothing to photographers. It's "art" almost because they've dubbed themselves "artists". I prefer words that refer to something. "Intimate" refers to several specific ideas for people on this thread... expressed with some precision... clear thinking like that rarely supports use of "art".
    Re Weston: an interesting anecdote: http://www.photographyblackwhite.com/tag/ansel-adams/
     
  93. "I am beginning to think that intimacy between two subjects is less important than intimacy between the photographer and the subject--the person/scene that is photographed."
    That's my understanding.
    "Sometimes I wonder if the word "intimacy" is quite up to the burden that we are placing upon it"
    There is no way to convey intimacy (or anything else) to a viewer unless they either share the intimacy of the photo through familiarity or are discerning enough to relate to it by analogy to their own experiences. I have not encountered many viewers who are capable of -- to use an expression from the Jesuits -- the discerment of spirits, as are, for example, Fred and Luis. Thus, we get photos *of* intimacy that are not intimate photos themselves. Intimacy has to have the obviousness of blunt force trauma to register (one can hear the tinkly piano music in the background). It is obvious that intimacy is difficult or incomprehensible for many...risky, even dangerous. The vicissitudes of 'making a commitment' involves intimacy. These are all common tropes in our culture and they do not indicate we are comfortable with intimacy. It seems instead to make us squirm and want to be elsewhere.
    "Finally, there came a time when everything that men had
    considered as inalienable became an object of exchange, of
    traffic and could be alienated. This is the time when the very
    things which till then had been communicated, but never
    exchanged; given, but never sold; acquired, but never bought -
    virtue, love, conviction, knowledge, conscience, etc. - when
    everything, in short, passed into commerce."
    -- Karl Marx, Grundrisse
    00Tbyq-142605684.jpg
     
  94. That's quite a profound post, Don, as well as a great picture.
    It is people like you who keep me coming back to this forum, in spite of the frustrations that I at times feel when posting here.
    --Lannie
     
  95. "...where the videocamera is following the flying bag and ' dancing with it ', with a moment of being intimate with ones surroundings, truly connected with reality, almost by stepping out of ones socially default day to day perception of it. The video itself for me illustrates perfectly and without words a moment of the intimate." Phylo, thanks for that insight on connection, and being able to tune in. Remove the physical motion and apply the same thoughts to to still imagery and you have one workable definition of intimacy that i can relate to. To give enough of yourself over to experience the moment in a way that you can allow yourself to be intimate.

    John - "Some claim "intimacy" with nature or still lives ...different strokes. I've spent a lot of time in the wilds of my very wild West, but for my purposes "intimacy" has to do with humans."
    I browsed your portfolio (i hadn't spend time there after you rebooted the work). I came across 'first dslr image' thinking that it was not a standout example of an intimate nonhuman photo, but i had a sense 'a feeling' that there was more intimacy than i was first giving it credit. When i read the title i read intimacy into it. I am not subscribing to using titles as a focal point to take up the slack. But it did connect me to you the photographer as a person. I had a vision of you/me bringing home a camera and searching for the first image to run through it. Accuracy of my interpretation aside, it brought an internal smile of familiarity to me. Unknown to you we shared a moment together. Then i looked into the photo more and connected with the collection of buttons. Collecting buttons seems to me as a generally private pastime that i was being privy to. Someone took some care to sort and string, they are displayed, perhaps even kept with other tchotchke(s?). Had i looked at the photo and gotten the clear sense that this was the photographers/your collection i would have felt the intimacy more strongly. A relatively superficial reading of intimate - from a photo that no doubt was not intended to present intimacy? but in context of another comment you made - "I've come to think Newman's portraits-with-artifacts crudely rely on their symbols (Chagall's easel)....I used to admire that seemingly formula-driven stuff." perhaps there is some merit. I am not a fan of Annie Liebovitz (like yourself i believe reading somewhere ..?) but i have admired and taken note of her ability to use 'the formula' to occasionally reach an intimate photo of her subject(s) - in a more obvious fashion imo. Those formula photos are rarely able to convey the photographer to me. Her latest 'personal' monograph had more success in achieving that for me. Better this way or that? it makes little difference to me as i do not have a taste for her work but i do admire it and think it is a good learning tool for some.
    I think Steichen is an excellent example of a prop master that achieved intimacy from a distance. I rarely felt that i was becoming intimate with him (aside from choice on my part) but often felt an intimacy with/from his photos. They were like invitations to me to climb into the frame. His technical abilities often were so controlled/precise that it almost seems contradictory to many definitions of being intimate. And yet he consistently pulled it off. Sometimes his prints seem so lush and rich that i would have to look away to avoid being intimate with them. His mastery of the nuts and bolts was beautiful.
     
  96. "I have not encountered many viewers who are capable of -- to use an expression from the Jesuits -- the discerment of spirits, as are, for example, Fred and Luis."
    Don, I don't understand you here. Would you please elaborate about how Luis and I differ from the many viewers you have enoucntered? What have I said about spirits?
    "There is no way to convey intimacy (or anything else) to a viewer unless they either share the intimacy of the photo . . . "
    This seems almost tautologically true. Do you think I'd disagree with it?
     
  97. Don E., that was a beautiful post. Loved the quote and picture, too.
     
  98. "What have I said about spirits?"
    "virtue, love, conviction, knowledge, conscience, etc" -- and intimacy -- are not concrete, material, objective things like bootlaces.
    If your anti-religion alarm is clanging, just substitute another term. Heck, I included a quotation from a reknowned atheist, too. Diversity, rulz.
    Ok, from the classics: Among friends there is no need of Justice -- Aristotle.
     
  99. The photo is from a family album, a resource, perhaps the best, for intimate photos.
     
  100. "It [Intimacy] seems instead to make us squirm and want to be elsewhere." --Don E
    "I experience 'longing, desire, and satisfaction, perhaps even angst' ...which means 'self satisfaction' isn't enough...but I often console myself with it, just as I might if I called my photos 'art.' " --John Kelly​
    There seems to be an assumption of running away from what's difficult or challenging. For me, longing does not demand consolation, the riskiness of intimacy is not something that makes me want to be elsewhere. Many here who've talked about intimacy and the aspect of riskiness in our work or in works we appreciate have talked about their value. In a good photograph, in much of Josh's work for example, I don't even experience them as choices. It's as if they have to be there. What we may be scared of or uncomfortable with, we don't necessarily seek to avoid.
    "If your anti-religion alarm is clanging . . ."
    I assumed you were ringing a bell of sarcasm by using the word "spirit" since you were referring to me and you know of my anti-religious bent. But I may be wrong in projecting that tone of voice onto you, difficult to read on the Internet. If that's the case, I'm sorry.
     
  101. Be a mystic, Fred, and split the difference.
    I just wanted to post #100 on this great thread.
    --Lannie
     
  102. "There seems to be an assumption of running away from what's difficult or challenging."
    The quotation from my post refers to the evidence that our society evinces difficulty with intimacy, so much so that it is a common element in the plots of movies, sitcoms, plays, and soaps, and some like "making a commitment" have become joke writer material (my favorite being the first episode of Married With Children, the airline stewardess saying I want a guy who'll make a commitment. Someone who will stay the night), and in the context of conveying intimacy to the viewer from this culture.
    "I assumed you were ringing a bell of sarcasm by using the word "spirit" since you were referring to me and you know of my anti-religious bent."
    Nope. It was actually a compliment. We're not intimate enough for me to gauge my language with you that way.
     
  103. Thanks. Having read Luis's response, I figured I had it wrong. Appreciate the compliment and your clearing up my misreading.
     
  104. Like Fred, longing, desire, angst and the potential risks of intimacy do not repel or make me seek consolation. Instead, they sustain, seduce and empower me.
    These things, and many others, are the the wellsprings of creativity.
     
  105. "We're not intimate enough for me to gauge my language with you that way."
    Leads me to a further thought. We seem to have come at this from the intimacy-involves-risk-taking perspective, where the intimacy "contains" that element of risk-taking. In being intimate, we risk something. Most of us have probably also experienced it the other way around: taking risks fosters intimacy. A nice counterpoint.
     
  106. Fred:
    It is not clear to me what the risks are that are commonly referred to in this thread. In the day, the risk of intimacy was vd, pregnancy, a bad reputation -- "intimate", a euphemism for sex. Is the risk a blow to the ego? A disturbance of lifestyle? Street photography may risk anything from being shot dead on the spot to a passionate romance, but experience informs me the odds are nothing will happen and there is no risk worth measuring. merriam-webster.com's definition of the noun matches my comment that risk is an element of the human interaction of exchange, and as a verb "to expose to hazard or danger", which is how it seems to be used in this thread.
    Lannie:
    I agree with you about the quality of this thread. I've learned somethings here and have much food for thought. I too photograph off-trail and wonder how to convey the intimacy of the experience of being in nature. This thread has got me to review a stack of my prints and consider them from the perspective of intimacy. Some I think express solitude, stillness, yet seem intimate to me. Can we speak of the intimacy of solitude? How to convey that? If the photos of nature are expressing its awesomeness or grandeur, they are unlikely to express intimacy as well. Ansel's mountains convey the sense of why the ancients placed the home of the gods on mountains, but not intimacy, for example. Perhaps part of the problem is the absence of the human in most nature photography.
     
  107. "Perhaps part of the problem is the absence of the human in most nature photography."

    If I sense the photographer's presence, I'm more likely to think of the intimacy of a landscape or natural scene.

    "It is not clear to me what the risks are that are commonly referred to in this thread. In the day, the risk of intimacy was vd, pregnancy, a bad reputation -- 'intimate', a euphemism for sex."

    Associating intimacy with sexual relations seems reasonable on one hand but not exhaustive. I reread some of my own posts and may have concentrated too much on sexual aspects , though I also talked about my personal responses to aging and operating on the visual and emotional as well as the intellectual level. The kinds of risk I'm thinking of are the risks of emotional and/or psychic pain (heartbreak, misunderstanding, recognizing one's own fragility, seeing oneself through the eyes and responses of others, . . .). I wasn't thinking of pregnancy, vd, or even AIDS.

    The case of the bag clip Phylo linked to might help. Being so attached now to the process of photographing, I am not allowing myself to take things for granted, not allowing things to fade into the background as much as I used to. Subjects are popping up all over the place. In trying to visualize and make visual what used to seem not visual, I am touching some things in a way I haven't before. I connect to them rather than letting them pass me by. I look at the world somewhat differently and it often seems to be looking back at me (especially since I photograph so many people). The risk is losing the protective shell of privacy, for me, as I see myself in others' eyes, faces, bodies, poses, environments. As I strip masks away from people or seek to penetrate those masks and understand them, I am confronted with many of my own. I risk my own comfort zone. And I risk the protectiveness and familiarity of the Fred-persona I've built up over the last 50 or so years if I allow a relatively unfiltered view of myself and my emotions to come through to a viewer in my photographing.
     
  108. "I wasn't thinking of pregnancy, vd, or even AIDS."
    The comment of mine refered to began "In the day", meaning 'in former times', not 'today'. Your reply seems along the lines of my "Is the risk a blow to the ego? A disturbance of lifestyle?" I can see the potential for such risk in photography that occurs in a 'session', but I don't do that kind of photography. Mine occurs in public or off-trail. I assisted in a studio 35 or so years ago and haven't entered one since. This may explain why I needed to get some clarity on the risk being discussed.
     
  109. The Kiss :
    http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/klimt/kiss/klimt.kiss.jpg
    An impossibility of intimacy, by the possibility ( risk ) of rejection... and all this while being intimate.
     
  110. One can encounter rejection, probably the most common and inconsequential kind, except to the mammoth ego. There are sundry physical risks, some less likely and/or injurious than others. The mostly unspoken ones, as Fred alluded to, are internal. Most of us are afraid of, and resist transformation at all costs. Intimacy lubes that chute. It is a catalyst towards realizing what we are, therefore what we might become. Risky business.
    Don E., One can't consciously 'convey' intimacy anymore than one can convey the blues, or cool. You have to live/be it. I detect intimacy in your pictures, and perhaps more strongly, reverence.
    I think it was Wendell Berry (friend of Gene Meatyard),
    http://www.fraenkelgallery.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&a=19&p=1&at=1
    ...who said: "The obvious is the last thing we see". One's transformation into a photographer involves becoming intimate, first and foremost, with Light. We are awash in torrents of it from our first day, but few of us become truly intimate with it. Or seeing. When we do, we begin to be transformed into a kind of poet. We will stop on a crowded street, having an epiphany at the colors in an oil slick, gesture, act of kindness, interaction, natural forms, etc as others pass by, lost in another dimension. The language of the birds, trees and rocks suddenly does not require a Rosetta Stone. To be perfectly Whitmanesque about it, we begin to realize that the universe has always been singing to us, but we rarely listened.
     
  111. "I wasn't thinking of pregnancy, vd, or even AIDS."
    The comment of mine refered to began "In the day", meaning 'in former times', not 'today'. Your reply seems along the lines of my "Is the risk a blow to the ego? A disturbance of lifestyle?" I can see the potential for such risk in photography that occurs in a 'session', but I don't do that kind of photography. Mine occurs in public or off-trail. I assisted in a studio 35 or so years ago and haven't entered one since. This may explain why I needed to get some clarity on the risk being discussed.
     
  112. The moderator should remove this duplication. Some weirdness in db?
     
  113. In shots involving persons (as opposed to those involving nature or inanimate objects), I think that the fullest intimacy requires mutual vulnerability. The photographer must typically be open and relaxed in order to get the subject(s) to be open and relaxed, and [almost] no one is going to drop his or her guard if there is no sense of safety or security in doing so. Otherwise the risk is simply too high--not to say that some persons are not capable of taking the risk when the situation is not reciprocal, but I think that most will not. In the same way that no one wants to show up at a formal function in an open-necked sports shirt or casual skirt and blouse, no one is likely to open up for the camera unless some psychological armor has been dropped by the photographer. Nudes are often photographed by persons who are clothed, but they cannot be natural and relaxed unless they feel that they are not being judged or evaluated by virtue of their nakedness.
    Even nudists typically require visitors to take off their clothes. I am more concerned with psychological armor than clothes per se , but clothes often do represent a kind of armor-regardless of what they do or do not actually cover. By the same token, one's "spiritual armor" or "spiritual clothing" (or "psychological armor" or clothing, if one insists) can convey a sense of either threat or security. Persons who are hostile or judgmental cannot be intimate in any sense with anyone, and the "camera" can pick up on that, I think.
    Another way of saying all of the above is that intimacy requires a sense of mutual trust between photographer and subject.
    In cases where the photographer is "looking in" on someone else's intimacy, such as in the mother-child pictures of Pnina in the No Words forum, the mutual trust is not between the photographer and subject, but between or among the subjects themselves. If the subjects are aware of the photographer's presence, they must at a minimum be able to trust the photographer--if the sense of trust (and thus of intimacy) between the subjects themselves is to be preserved.
    As for nature, well, Anders, where are you? I can only say that I often feel more secure in the wild than back in "civilization," and thus I can feel "intimate" with nature. If I have a sense of the divine in nature, then I can only say that I have to have some sense of trust that I will be "taken care of" (also in some sense) in my vulnerable situation. I never carry any kind of weapon when hiking or running. That would ruin the specialness of it for me. The spiritual communion with nature would not then be possible, because my concept of the divine is not that of a violent, angry, or vindictive God. I can commune with nature and nature's God only because I do conceive of God in "omni-benevolent" terms--not merely omniscient and omnipotent terms. Such a God would always be one that I could trust to protect my own psyche no matter what might happen to my body.
    If I truly trusted in such a God all the time, I think that I could live my entire life in a sense of intimacy with others--regardless of how they treated me. Then I might be truly capable of living the Golden Rule, of returning good for evil, and of being seen as a friend to all, including my enemies. Jesus is reputed to have met his traitors at Gethsemane by calling one of them "friend." If God were to take human form, then that is the kind of God that I would trust.
    --Lannie
     
  114. jtk

    jtk

    "There seems to be an assumption of running away from what's difficult or challenging." - Fred G
    Fred, running away from intimacy is, IMO, like labeling a photograph.
    My impression is that people run away from photographic risk, challenges, by talking a lot about their photographs, putting them in academic context, quoting authorities rather than speaking directly as one would if one had one's own experience, labeling one's work as "art" when one fails to adhere to photography's native values ...and most silly of all, FLEEING RISK by "meaningfully" labeling a photo with something explanitory ("Nature's Violence," "Wisdom of Age," or one of my own, "Communion-Spirit Rising"),
     
  115. jtk

    jtk

  116. As for nature photography, I love to shoot clouds and the sky as much as mountains or water. Here is one that I might have named "Tranquility" to convey the sense of peace--and intimacy with nature--that I felt when taking the picture:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8557953&size=lg
    It is interesting to me that what is actually being seen here are thunderstorms, which I later chose to show in their violent splendor in other crops/processing in the same folder, which was based on one single digital file.
    All of that processing came later, however. When I shot the photo, I was looking out across a flat pasture filled with cattle (which I have cropped out). It was a very peaceful, pastoral scene, and I felt a sense of inner peace when shooting it. I can call that sense of inner peace "intimacy" with no contradiction, given my world view.
    The same evening, I shot this one with that same sense of peace:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5895106&size=lg
    Interestingly, the nuclear reactors of the Savannah River Site were not far beyond the trees on the other side of this pond, but my sense of peace--and intimacy qua communion with nature--survived that knowledge.
    All the labeling and cropping and photoshopping of both pictures came later, of course. The actual intimate experiences of communion with nature in taking the photos are very different from what goes through our minds when we label, title, or manipulate them later.
    --Lannie
     
  117. If I were to try to describe what I feel when I am shooting in the wilderness (or simply being in the wilderness, for that matter), I would fail, but I think that Eunice Tietjens' words would resonate with any nature photographer who feels any sense of "intimacy" or communion with nature.
    I first saw portions of this poem while reading Thomas Hornbein's Everest: The West Ridge in 1969.
    Hornbein and Willie Unsoeld surely felt what she was speaking of in making the first traverse of the mountain--and their photos (and supporting quotes in the book) show the specialness of the occasion for them. They actually spent the night--unprotected--on Everest while trying to come down a route that they had never seen before. Talk about vulnerability! (Their photos and other quotes can only be found in the Sierra Club editions of this book. Later editions preserve the narrative but leave out most of the photos and the quotes--without which the true meaning of the narrative is unintelligible.)
    --Lannie
    The Most Sacred Mountain
    Space, and the twelve clean winds of heaven,
    And this sharp exultation, like a cry, after the slow six thousand
    steps of climbing!
    This is Tai Shan, the beautiful, the most holy.

    Below my feet the foot-hills nestle, brown with flecks of green;
    and lower down the flat brown plain, the floor of earth, stretches away
    to blue infinity.
    Beside me in this airy space the temple roofs cut their slow curves
    against the sky,
    And one black bird circles above the void.

    Space, and the twelve clean winds are here;
    And with them broods eternity — a swift, white peace, a presence manifest.
    The rhythm ceases here. Time has no place. This is the end that has no end.

    Here, when Confucius came, a half a thousand years before the Nazarene,
    he stepped, with me, thus into timelessness.
    The stone beside us waxes old, the carven stone that says: "On this spot once
    Confucius stood and felt the smallness of the world below."
    The stone grows old:
    Eternity is not for stones.
    But I shall go down from this airy place, this swift white peace,
    this stinging exultation.
    And time will close about me, and my soul stir to the rhythm
    of the daily round.
    Yet, having known, life will not press so close, and always I shall feel time
    ravel thin about me;
    For once I stood
    In the white windy presence of eternity.

    Eunice Tietjens
    (The bold-faced section is that which appears in Hornbein's book--along with his photos and those of other members of the first American Everest expedition in 1963.)
     
  118. I'll accept John's "fantasies" comment in regard to 'nature', according to my distinction between 'intimate knowledge of' and 'intimate relationship with'. I do not think one can have an intimate relationship with 'nature', -- nature with single quotes to indicate it is a concept, not a thing, and a rather contemporary one. Most casual (i.e., not science) ecology/environmental-think is about a fantasy 'nature'. It is likely a substitute for religion, an immanentist-pantheistic religious variant. The intimate relationship assumed is not with 'nature', but with oneself, or rather oneself projected onto the world as the imaginary entity 'nature'. Whether this goes to actually existing things, not concepts, this telephone pole or this tree, this vine or this telephone line, I am not certain.
    Some will object as I may have dissed their belief and said their god does not exist. That's ok.
     
  119. INTIMACY WITH NATURE
    I think that intimacy is about oneness. When lovers "merge into one," they do so not only with their bodies but with their souls. Communion can be promoted or conveyed through sexuality. It is not itself sexuality.
    In like manner, when persons say that they feel "at one with nature," they are trying to convey the same spiritual dimension of intimate existence, I think.
    There is much food for thought in all of this thread, and I shall have to remember it the next time I venture into the high mountains--or go to the duck pond of the local park. Nature is where one finds it.
    The artificiality that we try to impress upon nature with our imposing edifices and climate-controlled environments ultimately fails to resonate with our souls. Thus, when kudzu (imported from Japan) down here in the South invades our man-made structures, some of us are actually rooting for the kudzu:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5226774&size=lg
    http://www.photo.net/photo/5227354
    I cannot commune with skyscrapers. I cannot be intimate with glass and steel--but I can be with granite and gneiss and schist, especially when water runs over them, or when the wildflowers and moss grow on or beside the expanses of bare rock. The only paved roads that I really love are the ones that are crumbling and going back to nature, with grass coming up through the cracks as it does in the sidewalks or in my driveway.
    I would live outside if I could, and it is not because I am part Cherokee. It is because I am human. I want to smash this computer screen since I do not seem to have the will power to walk away from it--so that I can go mow my lawn because my neighbors prefer it manicured rather than wild. Alas. . . .
    John Muir's most famous quote comes to mind. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  120. WRITING WITH LIGHT--OR WORDS, OR BOTH
    Most casual (i.e., not science) "ecology/environmental-think" is about a fantasy 'nature'. It is likely a substitute for religion, an immanentist-pantheistic religious variant. --Don E. (Quotation marks supplied by me.--LK)​
    The romantics were transcendentalists, I think. Their beliefs are fantasy if their transcendent reality--Nature or Nature's God--is not a reality. Wordsworth says more to me than Cartier-Bresson. I wonder what he might have done had he had a camera. The same goes double for Keats. What would he have seen in the face of Fanny Brawne that he might have conveyed to us with a photo?
    Keats and Wordsworth--two romantics, one who was inspired by a young woman, the other by that other "nature"--but both pulled into that part of nature that inspired them. Keats, having no camera to capture autumn, had to give us photos with words:
    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
    To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.
    (from "Ode to Autumn")
    But Keats was not only intrigued by the physical beauty of autumn. He was at his best when exploring the psychological space of being in love, with all its ecstasies and tortures:
    But when the melancholy fit shall fall
    Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
    That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
    And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
    Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
    Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
    Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
    Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
    Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
    And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
    She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
    And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
    Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
    Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
    Ay, in the very temple of Delight
    Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
    Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
    And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
    (from "Ode to Melancholy")
    Surely a photographer can likewise be a poet, as surely as Keats gave us "pictures" with words.
    I would not dare call it fantasy. I can feel it. It is real, intimately real, whatever it is--and what I am feeling is not the rock or the wind, but what they are "saying" to me. (The scare quotes are deliberate.)
    Which is more substantial and less fantastic: that which I can see or feel with my senses, or that which I can feel and know with my soul? Is love itself a fantasy? Is the sense of intimacy a fantasy?
    --Lannie
     
  121. "I think that intimacy is about oneness."
    'Nature' is a concept in your mind. It has neither body nor soul. 'Nature' cannot share, 'nature' has no volition, no behavior, no intention, no presence -- except what you imbue it with.
    Finally, 'nature' doesn't care.
    The major prophets, if they were with us, would recognize it as your idol.
     
  122. The romantics, if they did not invent 'nature', propagated the concept into the popular imagination.
     
  123. Don, you seem to want to make my words into an example of the pathetic fallacy. I am not really personifying nature, although it may seem that I am. I have used "scare quotes" deliberately once or twice to make that clear--I thought. At other times I have spoken metaphorically.
    Are you, too, attacking a straw man? Maybe it is catching.
    Meanwhile the substantive issues that I have addressed go unremarked.
    Well, so be it.
    Now, as for the word "intimate" (or "intimacy)," what is its referent?
    --Lannie
     
  124. No strawman. You wrote: "I would not dare call it fantasy. I can feel it. It is real, intimately real, whatever it is--and what I am feeling is not the rock or the wind, but what they are "saying" to me. (The scare quotes are deliberate.)" And I write that this "nature" is a concept in your thinking, not something in front of your nose (or your lens). It is a concept. Can you have an intimate relationship with a concept in your mind?
    "Which is more substantial and less fantastic: that which I can see or feel with my senses, or that which I can feel and know with my soul? Is love itself a fantasy? Is the sense of intimacy a fantasy?"
    Intimacy and love are not fantasies. You can feel them with your senses. You have nothing else to feel with.
     
  125. "Now, as for the word "intimate" (or "intimacy)," what is its referent?"
    A shared relationship among at least two sensisble entities who freely and wholly participate. Freely participate implies consciousness, volition, choice, no duress. Shared relationship should not be thought of as involving exchange of value for value.
     
  126. Of course I can be intimate with nature. I _am_ nature, or at least a subset thereof. I don't know about you guys, but everything in me (including consciousness), is the result of natural laws and processes -- including intimacy.
    The alienation from nature is a relatively recent religious idea that leaked into early western science, and quickly abandoned as soon as science became capable of understanding basic systems.
    As to the question of how to convey intimacy with nature, the answer is the same as to how to convey the blues, or coolness. You have to live/be it. Then it just flows into your work.
    This is something that was clearly visible in Pnina's thread, with some notable exceptions. They were illustrations of intimacy between others, not intimate photographs.
    Lannie, what admirable energy! Of course photographers can be poets. Your work is very romantic, reminds me of Alfred Bierstadt's, though more restrained, less flamboyant. You have an American Luminist streak in you too.
    Intimacy can mean many things.
    1)A close, familiar, affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
    [This looks like Don E's take: "A shared relationship among at least two sensisble entities who freely and wholly participate".]
    2) Deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.
    3)An act of expression serving as a token of familiarity. The quality of being comfortable, warm or familiar.
    These are inifnitely broader and seem more applicable to nature and ideas. All are equally valid.
    Don, I thought we settled the quid pro quo business a while back.
     
  127. "Don, I thought we settled the quid pro quo business a while back."
    So? I was asked a question: what does intimate/intimacy refer to, and I replied.
    "[This looks like Don E's take: "A shared relationship among at least two sensisble entities who freely and wholly participate".]"
    I've made a distinction between "intimate knowledge of" and "intimate relationship with". You and Lannie may want to shoehorn 'nature' into an intimate (of the "with" kind) relationship with you. I'll stay out of it. But I think it is the inappropriate language for it.
     
  128. Perhaps it is in your own chosen meaning of the word, but it's no shoehorning according to the other, widely accepted meanings of the word. In my opinion, what's important is not who or what you exclude, but your own angle of acceptance. I see what I would call intimacy in some of your nature photographs. In some way, you must have too, or you would not have put them under a thread by that title. The trees stand out in memory. That picture of the desertscape and the one of the naturalist/guide in the w/NW thread, too.
    I am by no means saying you're wrong. I respect what you're saying as valid for you, but when it comes to others, leaving the maximum number of degrees of freedom for language, the medium and expression, matters.
    I am curious...what would you say is the appropriate language for what others call intimacy in nature photographs?
     
  129. Regarding intimacy, the experience of shooting itself -- my behavior toward and relationship with my subject(s), the emotional risks I am willing to take, the level of knowledge of or familiarity with what or whom I am shooting -- is different from the photograph, that ultimate piece of work that we might call intimate.
    When we say that a photo itself is intimate (as opposed, say, to the intimacy between two subjects in a photograph or between the photographer and subject), what does that mean?
    We all know we've been in intimate situations that haven't yielded intimate photos. Often, that's because we didn't use our tools well enough. What are the photographic tools you use or would consider using to express in the picture whatever intimacy you experience in the moment or even to create an intimate photograph from a moment that doesn't feel particularly intimate?
    I often come back to shadows in my own work. Somehow the revelation of what's going on in the dark, even in cases where the focus may be on the light, seems to add intimacy for me. I am working more with the nuances of highlights lately -- more difficult for me than working with shadows -- and I think I'll be able to be more intimate with them, but it is more difficult.
    I tend to find less sharpness conveys intimacy. I often find that too sharp a focus can be piercing but not intimate. I often feel more of a connection to well-handled suggestions of movement than I do to what appears to be stopped action, of course depending on the situation.
    Certain perspectives feel more intimate than others. Being tall, I've learned to kneel and even sit more. Certain skews pull me more into a photo.
    Some situations seem to warrant more proactive participation by the camera to express intimacy and others seem to demand that the camera be quite neutral, my having to take a step back to allow the scene simply to play out before me.
    The intuition and/or experience to use the various tools in harmony with the particular situation seem crucial to the creation of an intimate photograph.
     
  130. jtk

    jtk

    The notion that all ideas are "equally valid" indicates fear...fear that one's ideas might be "valued" by someone else... fear that one's treasured, protected, unexplored ideas might be threatened by other "more valid" ideas.
    Validity, like intimacy, springs from participation by at least one other person.
     
  131. jtk

    jtk

    ...also, I think intimacy is a simple experience, if often difficult to achieve (or deal with), especially in photography. Talk of intimacy with nature or with oneself seems (to me) to suggest fear of risk-taking...fear of intimacy...isolation.
    Fred has just described part of his method of achieving photographic intimacy. He was talking about photography, not talking abstractly about a word.
     
  132. "I am curious...what would you say is the appropriate language for what others call intimacy in nature photographs?"
    The creative use of the clone tool...but seriously, folks...
    Please, refer to posts above. I am not referring to the genre of nature photography, nor, as I've written, the vine or the wire, the tree or the pole, but the concept of 'nature' reified and claiming an intimate relationship *with* that.
    "I am by no means saying you're wrong. I respect what you're saying as valid for you, but when it comes to others, leaving the maximum number of degrees of freedom for language, the medium and expression, matters."
    You must consider the degrees of freedom discarded -- excluded-- already in what I refer to. For example: " Of course I can be intimate with nature. I _am_ nature..." Are you? To you, yes; to me, yes, and that means we think what we do is nature and that means our skyscrapers are nature. As I said, you can discuss this with Lannie. He doesn't get intimate with skyscrapers. Granite in a mountain seems to have a different ontolgy than granite in a building.
    If I say to you my lover's face is like a red red rose that gently blooms in May, I would hope you do not think my lover has a thorny bush of a face. Language gains its expressiveness by analogy, metaphor, simile. They are the building blocks of meaning (there's another one). We apply to 'nature', by metaphor and analogy, the intimacies of our human lives. That's all.
    Or, if you are nature and we are all nature and all our works are nature, then how do you respond to someone who splits things up into human and nature, natural and artificial?
     
  133. Don E -
    Aha...the concept, not the thing in itself. Yes, you said it earlier, and I forgot, sorry. I agree with that personally, but adhere to the fact that the definition of the word allows for the other, too.
    Skyscrapers are nature in the same way that a termite mound is, except we with the hot-rod brains coordinate, manipulate resources, complexify and inflict design on each one, and build them for profit, not for the well-being of those who inhabit them, unlike the termites.
    I respond to someone who splits things up into human and nature, natural and artificial, as creating useful categories that help them make sense of their reality, thrive and navigate their culture, exactly in the same way I regard the categories in what Borges called 'a certain Chinese encyclopedia', in "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins".
    The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge
    Where animals were divided into:
    1.- Those that belonged to The Emperor.
    2.- Embalmed ones.
    3.- Those that are trained.
    4.- Suckling Pigs
    5.- Mermaids
    6.- Fabulous ones
    7.- Stray dogs
    8.- Those included in the present classification
    9.-Those that tremble as if they were mad
    10-Innumerable ones
    11-Those drawn by a fine camel-hair brush.
    12-Others
    13-Those that have broken a flower vase
    14- Those that from far away look like flies.
    _____________________________
     
  134. "I often come back to shadows in my own work. Somehow the revelation of what's going on in the dark, even in cases where the focus may be on the light, seems to add intimacy for me..."
    Some of your comments remind me of Marshall McLuhan's hot and cool media, in that 'hot' is complete, filled in, detailed ('sharp and contrasty'); it may be admired, but it is distancing. But 'cool' is the opposite of it and invites participation, filling in, completing -- akin I think to intimacy. With a few caveats, I agree with MM and if this is close to your meaning, I agree with you.
     
  135. Luis, the nature that is not the human domain is not benign, benevolent, caring, balanced, intimate. It is red in tooth and claw. It is harsh, and a terrible mortal beauty. I may live in the inner city, but this city still retains about 75% of its canopy, unlike most cities which have only 10 or 15% at best. I am not isolated from that nature. Please, ask any termites you come across to let my house be.
    Or, I do not accept the distinction you've made between us and termites as true.
     
  136. jtk

    jtk

    Distinct categories:
    1) Photographers (we see their work in P.N galleries)
    2) Non-Photographers (nothing in P.N galleries).
     
  137. Don, I was half-kidding with the termite mound. I understand what you mean, but the human domain is hardly benign, benevolent, caring, balanced or intimate. Maybe it is where you (and I) live ( I live in Florida, two blocks from the water) but you can't say that about too many countries, or even many places in the US. Ours is a terrible, harsh, mortal beauty, too, you apparently are lucky enough to not get to see it. 50% of the world population lives on $2.50/per diem. What do you think life is like for them? Benevolent? Benign? Balanced? Try desperately poor. The US ranks 29th in infant mortality. Tied with Slovakia, lower than Cuba. We are nature, in an accelerated, consumptive, self-destructive form.
    I never intimated (had to use the word) that nature is utopian. From a very early age to this day, I've regularly hiked, kayaked, fished, hunted, back-country camped, etc in nature. I went for a short hike in a mangrove swamp earlier this evening. I am no stranger to the ways of nature.
     
  138. "invites participation, filling in, completing -- akin I think to intimacy" -- Don E.
    Don, McLuhan's description makes sense. I hadn't thought of the inviting he refers to. I thought more about revealing. But I think there can be a play between revelation and invitation.
    "Fred has just described part of his method . . . He was talking about photography" -- John Kelly
    John, Thanks for the nod.
    Is anyone keyed into particular visual aspects of their work that make their own photographs intimate? Nuts and bolts about the photos themselves? If not, is anyone thinking about what might accomplish that or even if you'd want to?
     
  139. More generally speaking, I think it has something to do with balancing between the familiar and the unfamiliar. If something becomes familiar, in our own way of working and our methods of approaching photography, then patterns / a style may emerge from which we can lay the foundation to build / create work that is intimitaly our own. But the intimately familiar, once we've been accustomed in cultivating it in our own work, may be gradually taken for the intimate, when in fact it's reasonable to assume that the familiar softens ones perception of the intimate, while the truly intimate, for it to stay intimate, has more a piercing hard quality to it, an openness to perceive not only that which we have taken as granted.
    Remember visiting a place / a street / a scene,.. for the very first time ? Somehow everything seems more vibrant, more sparkling with energy and focused attention in this first time being around a place, vs when we go back to the place, again and again, the focussed attention softens, fades out in the background....
     
  140. I often use shorter focal length lenses to lessen the physical distance between the subject and I, perhaps because closeness is often a sign of intimacy. Not ultra-wides, more like 28-35-50-85 (or zooms in that range). If the moment isn't feeling intimate, I do my best to get the subject to relax and elicit a variety of expressions via banter, changing poses, or relocating, and using reflexes honed by years of street shooting, I can get expressions that simulate or better yet, depict momentary intimacy.
    I find that using a camera with a WL/swiveling finder or Live View makes my face visible to the subject, which is conducive to intimacy. Even a rangefinder helps with that. One habit I picked up from way back in the day when I worked for a studio that had us using 4x5 for portraits (they retouched the negs) that also increases your odds is to use a cable release when working from a tripod with a relatively static pose, or restricted field. It lets the subject see you, and you can control where the subject is looking simply by moving around. When using an SLR, I make it a point of coming up for air frequently.
    Shoot a lot. Keeping the mask(s) on is difficult over extended periods of time. Projecting an image is exhausting. Working through those energies, the subject begins to drop the masks. And the subject is also becoming more comfortable with the process and you. Solvency and confidence inspire trust and intimacy (and although this is the topic at hand, there are a LOT of other things involved in all this besides intimacy).
    There is nothing generic when I photograph. Everything is specific. As with all things, this generates its equal and opposite reaction, and brings out universality.
    [In spite of the above, I do not want to give the impression of anything formulaic. Sometimes I do all of these things, sometimes none. I work intuitively. Intimacy is best conveyed by living it. One's mental state/approach is by far the most important thing.]
    " I bet your father was in, say, the clock trade, was it? -- and when you were a boy you took his watch to pieces looking for Time. Why don't you talk? You're not like that man who came here last year and told me that he waited until there was a magnetic flow uniting himself and me. A technological flirt. Nor are you like that happy fellow with the waving fair hair who said he unselfed himself, forgot money, wife, children, all, for a few moments to become me!"
    --- V.S. Pritchett, "The Image Trade"
     
  141. Luis, the nature that is not the human domain is not benign, benevolent, caring, balanced, intimate. It is red in tooth and claw. It is harsh, and a terrible mortal beauty. I may live in the inner city, but this city still retains about 75% of its canopy, unlike most cities which have only 10 or 15% at best. I am not isolated from that nature. Please, ask any termites you come across to let my house be.
    Or, I do not accept the distinction you've made between us and termites as true.
     
  142. I don't know where these post duplications are coming from. Odd.
     
  143. "Is anyone keyed into particular visual aspects of their work that make their own photographs intimate? Nuts and bolts about the photos themselves? If not, is anyone thinking about what might accomplish that or even if you'd want to?"
    Fred,
    I don't do anything specific to create a sense of intimacy or a sense of anything else. In the taking, there is often no time to think through the situation and make conscious decisions. In developing, I tend to favor some of the things you mentioned, preferring lower contrast and less obvious sharpness. The past few years I've lost interest in the technical aspects of 'good' image quality, and use old, and often cheap, lenses which effortlessly achieve some of the qualities you mention, mostly shooting silver b&w, which these days, like film generally, is an "alternative" like pinhole or toy camera photography, and can evoke a sense of...something or other in those who were not around in the b&w age.
    I think the most important thing is choice of subject as a class or category of subject. Whether or not I have time to think through a shot, the subject is familiar, even if they are personally not known to me. We have lots in common. If this were a painters' forum, I'd be classed as a regionalist, maybe a primitive regionalist. I parse the scene before me, the people in it, as natives, locals, transplants, and transients. I avoid photographing transients (meaning, uni and teaching hospital students and staff, people from the burbs who work in the city, tourists, panhandlers I don't recognize etc). I have little to no connections with them and no urge to photograph them.
    I avoid portraits unless I know the subject personally -- the portrait is made for them and for me. Otherwise I want to situate the subject in a context, which means I pull back from tight framing. I think the context enhances the subject, adds characterization. The viewer sees them in situ and may get a sense of familiarity with the subject simply because the subject is not an isolate, a unit of data with no context.

    I think complexity can enhance a sense of familiarity more than simplicity. A portrait may see into the soul of subjects but it tells us nothing about their daily life, their circumstances. I'd rather pull back, show the subject among his or her things, books, paintings, furniture, the mess or order of their lives. Complexity may pull the eye away from the so-called main subject, but it comes to rest on things that add substance to the subject as an actually existing person.
    Oh, almost forgot, sfumato, chiaroscuro -- I'm not settled on that. I experiment in the opposite direction, attempting to give the light dimensional depth, to make it visible in the atmosphere, rather than creating shadowy depths. Probably more in the direction of Monet (but not just in bright daylight) than da Vinci.
    ps, the duplicate post issue is not a pnet issue, but an old and somewhat wonky browser of mine. I keep many different browsers on several computers due to website devel needs and some are a bit long in the tooth.
     
  144. "Don, I was half-kidding with the termite mound. I understand what you mean, but the human domain is hardly benign, benevolent, caring, balanced or intimate."
    No it is not. Nature is not like that, and we are nature, too. It is "just naitures waiy" as Steve Irwin would say. Sometimes nature just plunges a stingray spine into your heart. No blame.
    Looking at the common sort of Animal Kingdom chart with our species at the top and maybe ants at the bottom demonstrates degrees of signal-bound behavior, and there is a major difference between our species and the rest, even the rest of the primates. We are far less signal-bound than other species, therefore we think we are somehow not in nature or far less part of nature than other species, more responsible for our actions, but this is just nature's way, too. Nature, the signal-bound world, seems balanced and peaceful compared to our perversity.
     
  145. I really appreciate the concrete responses. This is the stuff that ties philosophy and photography together and is helpful on both fronts. I'm not going to say too much about each response other than that I read them carefully and got a lot out of each. For me, this is not stuff that's in the arena of argument or agree/disagree as much as listen and learn. It would be boring if each of us made intimate photos using the same methods.
    Phylo, thanks for sharing a different perspective on sharpness and softness than my own. I love the way you describe the vibrancy and clarity of seeing something for the first time. You also used the word "energy," which is one of those intangibles that photos have and that can be used to express so much.
    Luis, it's good to point out that little if any of this stuff is formulaic and that flexibility and attunement to the moment is surely a key to intimacy.
    Don, I can relate to your talk about choice of subject being so key to intimacy for you. And I love how you've described the kinds of portraits you like to do and the way you work with simple/complex. Makes a lot of sense to me.
    I do a lot of my thinking about photographing at night when my head hits the pillow or when I'm at museums or browsing through books. Since I sometimes have time when shooting, some decisions are quick but have enough time to be conscious yet have likely been more thought about and honed at other times and in other places than the shooting scene. Some are just gut reactions to a situation, but those reactions still often seem influenced by experience as well as thought I've put into it previously.
    Honestly, at this stage in my photograph making, sometimes I simply tell myself something like "tomorrow I'm going to sit more when I shoot or be more aware of back lighting." Then I have to remember not to be a slave to those instructions.
     
  146. Fred, my insight into complexity/simplicity came from a discussion with you in this forum (I haven't searched for the thread, so I may not recall the details exactly). You posted in the thread two photos and asked me something about them. One of them was of an older man sitting in an armchair. There was a lot of information in the photo that got me wondering who is this guy. What is on the table, the shelf, the wall? Frankly, I've forgotten what the other image was, but I recall I thought it very good and I admired it, but I can still see the other one in my mind's eye.
    Something I haven't gotten a handle on is the effect of focal length. I may be sensitive to the compression or expansion of dimensionality, when going long or wide. Is there something 'distancing' in going wide (what I've called the 'big nose' portrait), or going long and compressing depth? Is getting really close, really wide, really intimate?
     
  147. jtk

    jtk

    Thanks for bringing the discussion back to photography. IMO photography itself offers the definition of photographic intimacy...words can't come close.
     
  148. [P]hotography itself offers the definition of photographic intimacy...words can't come close.​
    Well, then, we need to move this thread to a forum dealing with technique.
    --Lannie
     
  149. John--
    My pleasure. In discussing the establishment of at least some level of intimacy (or at least comfort) with the sisters, you talked about joking. And then in response to Josh you talked about awkwardness with masks and tendency to abruptness, which can indeed lead to openings in relationships, sometimes the hard way and sometimes quite effectively. Were there specific things you considered photographically to try and make it an intimate photo, either regarding your shooting or regarding your post-processing or printing? I know you weren't actually thinking of intimacy at the time, but are there photographic aspects you are now aware of that either do or could have expressed intimacy, specifically relating to the details, aspects, and technique involved in the photo of the sisters?
     
  150. It has been argued (and I have argued myself at times) that intimacy requires mutuality of feeling, reciprocity--and thus can only really apply to a state that is found in an interpersonal context.
    This might be so, but, if so, it describes a state (or states) of consciousness that is/are not verifiable by the camera--if at all.
    I have spoken of a "sense" of intimacy with nature, and I like to think that some of my photos could convey that "sense." (The ontological status of "intimacy with nature" remains in doubt and in dispute, of course. My use of "sense" should likewise be interpreted rather liberally.)
    Imagine, however, the following scenario: one takes a picture of a couple in the very act of love, shares it with the couple themselves, but later gets the following response from the woman in private, "I know that it appears that you have captured an intimate moment between my husband and myself, but the truth is that, at the very height of passion that you have so wonderfully captured, I was in fact thinking of my out-of-town boyfriend and our last Wednesday afternoon in his hotel room. So, yes, I was feeling intimate with my extra-curricular lover, and my husband was feeling intimate with me, but the fact is that we were not really feeling intimate in the least about each other ."
    So. . . if intimacy is a psychological state (and please note that huge word "if"), how can we ever capture it with a photo ? Consider also the epistemological question: How would we know that we had captured even the external manifestations of a private, psychological state of one person, much less of two--much less of something special passing between them, intimacy itself?
    Just some idle thoughts as I try to summon the will to cut the grass that I have been thinking about cutting for the last three days. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  151. If "intimacy" is all about photography and not about words, then perhaps someone can try again to start a "No Words" thread in the same way that Pnina tried before. Maybe this time we can somehow summon up from the NW contributors a photo or two that literally shouts "Intimacy!"
    Then, again, if anyone really succeeds in capturing intimacy, surely not even that word would be necessary. We could all just SEE it.
    Or could we?
    Perhaps this thread inadvertently refutes its own existence and necessity. To paraphrase Marx out of context, perhaps it contained the seeds of its own destruction. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  152. So. . . if intimacy is a psychological state (and please note that huge word "if"), how can we ever capture it with aphoto ? Consider also the epistemological question: How would we know that we had captured even the externalmanifestations of a private, psychological state of one person, much less of two--much less of something special passing between them, intimacy itself?​
    What you are describing, is captured, alluded to, in a painting ( I know not a photo, but it is visual ), and it's precisely the reason, regarding this specific question, why I've linked to it a couple of posts back : The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. It's not simply about a kiss, this painting, that's for sure.
     
  153. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, thanks for helping this remain to some degree a photo thread.
    Anyone experiencing zen-like approaches to existence and photography will probably recognize that hard-reality, conventional sweaty reality, is a higher order than the vapouring of romantics, cosmic everything-is-everything, "I'm nature", kumbayah, and magic realists.
    You asked "... are there photographic aspects you are now aware of that either do or could have expressed intimacy, specifically relating to the details, aspects, and technique involved in the photo of the sisters?"
    Yes. I've identified haste and technology as intimacy factors, neither positives nor negatives. Using a rangefinder film camera, even a manually focused SLR, I'm instantly certain of focus and exposure because it's me at the helm. I experience the autofocus and auto exposure "machine thought process" as obstacles to intimacy...creating in me a sense of haste.. doesn't feel good, but does allow a dozen automated (DSLR or Hexar AF) shots where I might have created only a few mis-timed non-automated film exposures. Nothing's perfect. I sold my rangefinders but am reluctant to abandon Hexar AF and primative Canon F1s.
    However, some DSLR offers incredibly high detail resolution (in my case 15mp APS) . leading to an interestingly intimate exploratory medium..my impression is that a half-body or H&S image with my specific 15mp is more critical..may actually share more in a print...than MF.
    In other words, I think the chosen technology actually does play a role in the sense of intimacy in the print/s that I ultimately decide to produce (my decisions,not subject's).
    Most importantly, the intimacy of the image entails a selection decision, the potential for which may be reduced with MF / LF equipment.... as we see IMO with most, but not all, of Arnold Newman's work...but maybe not Edward Weston's (some of his most intimate were 8X10, others 4X5 Graphic reflex).
    So... presently I think DSLR/RAW/Photoshop can in fact allow greater intimacy, but the tech brings with it a risk that involves (for me) a sense of haste and disconnection from part of the process with which I've been intimately involved for over 50 years of my life (age 8 to age 65 so far).
    The fact that Lightroom/Photoshop seems especially fluent with low contrast lighting situations currently encourages me to photograph in open shade, rather than pursuing Rembrandt-like light. This, I think, allows more attention to "intimacy" and less preoccupation with light.
    Does this relate to your question?
     
  154. The effects of focal length are not universal. When intimate, people tend to be closer physically each other. We allow each other inside our so-called defense perimeter.
    Perspective has to do with subject-camera distance, not focal length. One can easily achieve a 'big-nose', light-bulb head portrait with a 50mm. The quality of the space in a photograph is an integral part of the visual lexicon. I see Don E. puts that 50/3.5 Elmar on his Leica to very good use, and is intimately aware of what it can do.
    When doing environmental portraits (as Don mentioned), a wide, or even an ultra-wide can be used effectively -- and not necessarily in big-nosed mode.
    There's a world of difference between a torso-length portrait (same size on neg) at 35mm or 50mm. Neither is a big-noser. The change in perspective changes the visual quality of the portrait. Whether that is of any consequence depends on the photographer and the viewer, of course.
    Like Don E., I have several older, single coated, old formula lenses that I like because of their individual qualities (or as they call it in most of PN, flaws). And, coincidentally, some of the same camera/lens combos he favors.
    I notice Don E. handled this big-nosed portrait of a lady sitting across from the cafe table reading the Cartier-Bresson book/catalog really well. Had he used the Elmar, it would have been a completely different portrait, and I have a feeling he knows that perfectly well.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/8507938
     
  155. "Does this relate to your question?"
    John, yes, absolutely. Thanks. I am not often as tuned into the emotional effects of equipment and media choices, so your answer is extremely helpful.
    I can also relate to what you say about quickness. I was encouraged early on not ever to use auto modes and, though I initially resisted, was convinced to start shooting RAW as soon as I could. Those things certainly affect the intimacy of photographs.
     
  156. The fact that Lightroom/Photoshop seems especially fluent with low contrast lighting situations currently encourages me to photograph in open shade, rather than pursuing Rembrandt-like light. This, I think, allows more attention to "intimacy" and less preoccupation with light. --John Kelly​
    John, I was following you up to this point. I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying that LR or PS seems "more fluent" in low contrast lighting situations, since low-light shooting was always an option. I do agree that shooting RAW gives one a lot of creative options, but those are post-processing choices. I shall have to think about the implications for the shooting phase itself.
    As for implications for "intimacy," I think that the most that I could say is that more creative control, whether in shooting or in post-processing, gives one more creative options as well--but that is so obvious as to be almost tautological. Intimacy is simply one of those options. That sense of intimacy is very subjective, however, and I still resist the notion that it inheres in the photo. At the same time, however, I do not deny that some photos are more capable than others of evoking that sense of intimacy--and we do well to try to analyze why they do. I thus do not deny the value of this thread, simply the conclusion that capturing "intimacy" is largely a technical problem.
    Capturing intimacy itself is still up there with shooting unicorns for me--not to say that it is necessarily a meaningless quest, simply that I think that a sense of intimacy is more likely to come through as a result of subconscious or unconscious factors--again, perhaps attributes of one's own mental state (or personality) that one brings to the photographic opportunity.
    I also think that Luis was on target in saying that "There is nothing generic when I photograph. Everything is specific." There is no formula, that is, not in equipment, not in software. What comes out of the photo is perhaps often a product of what we bring to the photo, in terms of our own mental states--intimacy perhaps being manifested as an expression of ourselves, our own cares and passions, even our own tranquility. (Nature often brings me that tranquility. I am sorry that you insist upon comparing an appreciation of it to Zen or other obscurantist doctrines. Romanticism's idealization of nature might indeed be a projection of a man-made ideal onto nature, but wild nature lends itself--at times--to a sense of harmony, even if that harmony is arguably not really there, as Don says.)
    I do believe that our own intensity --though not our haste--lends itself to a sense of intimacy, at least in the sense of revealing more about ourselves through our photos, though again not necessarily being something that inheres in the photos themselves.
    I am not sure, that is, that we can escape the ontological question without taking the philosophy out of "the philosophy of photography." It is not, however, philosophy but reality itself that keeps shoving the ontological question back into our faces, in this case as the necessity for trying to define "intimacy" or "intimate" in the first place in a photographic rather than emotional context.
    --Lannie
     
  157. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, I'm not suggesting elimination of "philosophy" from photography.
    I do advocate moderator action when philosophic vapourizers reduce photo-related talk to mere talk about talk about talk...forgetting the machine that is inherently involved .
    Photography has more substance and is less intentionally circular than is talk about purported cosmic truths. We have always had more gods among us than cosmic truths. See the Magnum website for proof, or consider the LA Lakers.
    "Reality" doesn't "shove ontological questions back into our faces." That concern infects some of us, but photographers usually have bigger fish to fry. Intimacy, for example.
     
  158. What is the ontological status of a sense of "intimacy," John? It is, I suppose, an emotion. Is it in the photos themselves ? (I have asked several times now.) If so, how does one recognize it?
    Surely these questions must be answered before one can set about capturing a sense of "intimacy."
    These are real questions, John, not trolls or off-topic drivel requiring moderator intervention--unless the moderators want to answer the questions I have raised.
    In other words, your basic query at the outset raises even more fundamental questions. Surely I may be forgiven for delving into them, just as you have the right to ignore them. Whether you choose to or not, however, the questions are for me "out there," but only in the sense that they are actual questions that have been voiced. They are not "far out" questions, rather simple, down-to-earth questions that would help me to clarify exactly what you are asking--so that I might answer it.
    In other words, please define your terms.
    --Lannie
     
  159. John, another way of understanding my comments (which apparently seem at best tangential to you) is to realize that I think that capturing intimacy requires first of all having the capacity to feel intimacy, in whatever photographic context.
    In trying to examine the question of the Ultimate Source of our sense of intimacy, I have not meant to steer the topic away from what you have asked, but to ask myself precisely where that sense of intimacy comes from, to ask, that is, how it is that we can have a sense of intimacy in the first place. I have asked THAT with regard to nature photography, which for you is apparently out of bounds. You want my metaphysics of intimacy to be yours: to presume that intimacy is something that can only occur between human beings. My own intellectual honesty precludes my responding on those terms alone.
    I have gotten the sense that you would have us avoid all metaphysical inquiry into the philosophy of photography, surely in the best post-modern tradition--not a tradition of which I am particularly enamored. Thus do we have your strongly censorial tendencies on this thread, as if, in phrasing the question, you seem to think that the question and the thread now belong to you. For me, philosophical questions are always subject to being reformulated. In philosophy we do well to get the questions right. Getting the answers right? Well, I am not too optimistic there, but I would certainly like to know what the real question is before I am willing to venture very far toward trying to answer it.
    I suppose that on this one we shall simply have to agree to disagree--and let it go. I frankly thought that the differences between our worldviews were an important part of the creative tension that kept this thread going for so long.
    --Lannie
     
  160. John tells us what is art, and what is not. That it is "less than a velvet Elvis". He tells us who is a photographer, and who is not. What is photography, and what isn't. Who is thinking correctly and incorrectly (like him or not like him).
    This age-inappropriate version of 'Simon says' is a lightly veiled attempt to BS and censor Photo.net members from speaking their minds freely.
    One thing I agree with John on, is that it is high time a moderator come in and clarify a few things: Are Photo.net members free to speak their minds here, as long as they respect Mr. Greenspun's vision, meet standards of civility and the mission statement?
    Or is Mr. John Kelly empowered to make ad hominem attacks with impunity and dictate what can and cannot be said here? Please clarify.
     
  161. "...to ask myself precisely where that sense of intimacy comes from, to ask, that is, how it is that we can have a sense of intimacy in the first place."
    Mom.
     
  162. jtk

    jtk

    "In other words, your basic query at the outset raises even more fundamental questions." Lannie
    Lannie, those seem questions that you find personally inescapable ("more fundamental")...by contrast, I have been asking about a matter that concerns me more. Bigger questions are easier because we know we can't answer them...smaller questions ("intimacy" perhaps) are tougher because they have to do with our fellows... discussing them may be awkward.
    The nature of "reality" or cosmic truths or Mr. Jehovah's putative existence are not even issues for me, may not be for most photographers..I suspect.
    Drifting a PHOTO FORUM (see the formally stated definition/purpose of this Forum) mostly toward the "philosophic" seems designed to avoid any photographic dimension.
    "Define terms" is a word game: It's impossible to do that with most of the topics about which we blather...Webster didn't do it to our standards... the more "important" the topic the more useless the definition...we spin out into psychedelia, dada, doggerel, and non-photographic analogies... we take certain words as given, like gravity, as if whatever it is, it's sacrosanct.
    You think "intimate" may be an emotional response... and you wonder if intimacy can spring from a photograph. You're probably right about emotional response, as far as that goes....
    ... but I think photographs are uniquely capable, sometimes, of projecting intimacy. One reason I think this applies mostly to photos of people rather than of "nature" and my own "expression" is that people have expressive faces...literal subtle and fluent media of expression. It's telling, IMO, that this hasn't been mentioned here previously...we'd rather space out.
     
  163. I respect your point of view, John. Thank you for stating it clearly and succinctly.
    --Lannie
     
  164. "Define terms" is a word game"
    Well, yes, but the alternative is incomprehension and the usual dust-up in, and closing of, a thread. In another thread here, 'self-consciousness' is discussed. Some respondents take it to mean awareness of something subjective, perhaps using it as a synonym for 'egotistical'. I take it to mean awareness of things objective -- which is to say I am attuned to the visual (and social) expression of 'subjectivity' rather than the fact of being self-consciousness (which is, of course, the human condition and not remarkable). If no one defines their use, and only use 'self-conscious', not aware their are other valid perspectives, eventually it will lead to a fight, or worse, disengagement due to incomprehension.
     
  165. jtk

    jtk

    Don, I think of "intimate" as part of a sentence, typically followed by "with..." As in "intimate with something/somebody." It seems to me that if turns the sentence back onto itself, one is twisting a concept, perhaps turning it into a joke: "The philosopher is intimate with himself."
    You mentioned "valid perspectives." Validity is not a subjective matter, IMO. Validity doesn't exist in the abstract or in one person's free opinion, it is accomplished by agreement. In science "validity" is a measurement that depends upon multiple agreements. Nothing is valid for me alone, or for you. IMO.
    Have I missed your point?
     
  166. There is also "an intimate knowledge of", but I understand the intention of your op. My only issue is with the reification of abstractions, such as 'nature' and the claim of being intimate with it. But I am not arguing that one can't validly claim an intimate relation with something that is not human or even animal. Not with 'nature', but with this tree, with this mountiain, specifically. Even inanimate objects, 'artificial' things -- a vase, for instance -- may be intimate. A woman's "intimate things" -- our language makes a way to express those relations. After all, we are a polymorphous perverse species.
    Such things, whether 'natural' or 'artificial' can only share their existence with us, which is enough, I think. It can mean we have a history together.
     
  167. jtk

    jtk

    Don, while you seem (above) to think a tree or mountain should be satisfied with our "history together", I don't think they "share their existence with us" ... because your use of "share" clearly implies volition. I doubt my favorite tree is volitional, but I wouldn't presume to speak for yours :)
     
  168. I still have my teddy, by my bed. My Children hug him, his nose is shiny from all the kisses he had and has from my children. He may be inanimate, but he was their when I needed him.
     
  169. "I doubt my favorite tree is volitional, but I wouldn't presume to speak for yours :)"
    Ask your friends on the res. I'll let them referee.
     
  170. jtk

    jtk

    Don, my more traditionally-inclined, intellectually inclined rez acquaintances have said they work (use volition) to remain "in balance." Or the opposite...they volitionally rebel. I don't think they consider trees to have volition, as trees don't need it...same, maybe, with some Navajo, who may never have had individual volition ...their dominant identity is tribal (non-individual), and that evidently comes naturally..similar to trees in that sense. I've actually touched some of this with a few, related to individuality vs tribal identity...they're aware that it's a profound matter.. Intimacy occasionally feels easier, if more perious, with them than with folks in the wider society...perhaps they selectively and briefly extend tribal identity to non-tribal friends.
     
  171. I understood the defining restriction in your op, "Fantasies aside, I don't think one has "intimate" relations with inanimate objects (buildings, rocks, moon-rises), or with objectified people." Above, I wrote "Mom" and it is "Moms" all the way down, iow that human relation -- those first few weeks and months -- has the precedence and influences for good or bad our intimacies. But to restrict the study to human relations doesn't shed light on the meanings and uses of 'intimate' (and therefore us humans) by labeling them "fantasies" so as to dismiss them from consideration -- not to mention that intimate relations as you mean it can be described as "fantasy" in many instances, beginning with ourselves in our infancy. Early on in this thread you wrote that you don't fully understand the idea yourself. Foregoing examining the ways we use 'intimate' seems to limit the possibilities of understanding.
     
  172. jtk

    jtk

    "Early on in this thread you wrote that you don't fully understand the idea yourself. Foregoing examining the ways we use 'intimate' seems to limit the possibilities of understanding." Don E
    Yes. That's true. I'm increasingly comfortable saying that I don't fully understand things.
    I did clearly frame my question around human intimacy, emphasing that angle. I think most responses dodged that point due to the very personal fears I also experience...which is partially why I asked the question.
    As to "limit the possibilities" ...That someone proposes intimacy with trees or nature or underwear (as above), or imagines that a telephoto shot of a homeless person can be intimate is OK....but it seems a dodge.
    ... looking at portfolios on P.N I find an interesting absence of sensitive direct contact with people (other than their kids, perhaps). Why have they excluded human intimacy from their photographic possibilities?...I think they (and I) fear human intimacy.
    This is a photo forum ... visual evidence, personal webpages and P.N portolios, says what we intend to say. We make the images, we edit what we share. If we do other types of photography, fine. But on balance I think we see something about human intimacy in photography when we compare words with images.
    My interest here has been in photography rather than the myriad possible definitions of a word.
     
  173. It is not about definitions,but about how we use "intimate". You wanted to discuss one way, which is okay, but limiting. This is a photography forum, but it is a philosophy forum, too.
    "Why have they excluded human intimacy from their photographic possibilities? ...I think they (and I) fear human intimacy."
    'Risk' is the most common word used in association with "intimate" or "intimacy" in this thread appearing about a dozen times. As you like to say "that is telling". But a thought, if you "fear" intimacy, consider it "risky", perhaps you can't recognize it in photographs. Perhaps you shy away from it or interpret it as being something else. What is risked and why does it induce fear? These are more questions for psychology rather than philosophy. My time is short now, so I'll leave it at that.
    From Latin intimus meaning inmost, deepest, profound.
     
  174. jtk

    jtk

    Don, look at the stated purpose of this Forum... it involves more disciplines than philosophy and is focused on photography... not intended as a non-photo debating society (mouse over it P.N home page)
    Insisting upon definition of "intimacy" in a multitude of ways despite the thread's directly stated human intimacy question, and then constricting "philosophy" to something more narrow than commonly recognized, seems conflicted.
    "Psychology" and "philosophy" are not mutually independent. In fact, "philosophy" seems usually to be centered on psychological issues (belief or non-belief in "deities" , notions about "identity," senses of "life purpose," "life vs death," "truth," and "reality."). A few assume "philosophy" is nothing more than semantic exercise, but IMO most understand it more broadly... especially significant when photography is at the heart of a Forum.
     
  175. "Insisting upon definition of "intimacy" in a multitude of ways despite the thread's directly stated human intimacy"
    You are replying to: "It is not about definitions,but about how we use "intimate"."
    I was resonding to [emphasis in original] " This is a photo forum ... visual evidence, personal webpages and P.N portolios, says what we intend to say. We make the images, we edit what we share. If we do other types of photography, fine. But on balance I think we see something about human intimacy in photography when we compare words with images. "
    and: ""Why have they excluded human intimacy from their photographic possibilities? ...I think they (and I) fear human intimacy.""
    I understand this to mean not actual intimate human relations but the appearance of it or not in photographs. You write above as a photographer viewing photos. You believe human intimacy has been "excluded...from their photographic possiblities". That is distinctly different than actual human relations. You are referring to the appearance of it or evidence of it in photos, and you say you think it is exluded. And that, John, is a "use" of intimate, and not intimacy itself. How does that differ from Lannies use of intimacy in regards to "nature"?
     
  176. In your op you wrote: "Weston's peppers are powerful, but not intimate. His nudes don't seem intimate, but many of his portraits, even his most formal (eg of Bender, his patron) do."
    For you "many of his portraits" are intimate objects. There is no intimate human relation there -- except the humanity you bring to the viewing. "The photograph is not the photographed". You do not have intimate "human relations" with either Weston or his subjects, but with pieces of paper.
    I see by the clock on the wall this is my last post.
     
  177. jtk

    jtk

    Don, photography is a matter of images.. paper and film and files and toys are not photography, they're tools.
    Our eyes respond to images and our brains are able to respond to photos in much the way they respond to observed flesh.
    Yes, we can respond to a photo of a tree or mountain in much the way we respond to the objects themselves, but that's a red herring here, it was brought up due to fear of the topic: something about human intimacy. It's interesting that many of us work so hard to avoid discussion of HUMAN intimacy in photos...the avoidance is consistently evident in our P.N portfolios. We photograph ducks, barns, sunsets, and "candidly" photograph unfortunate people we don't have the guts to address directly.
    Some obvious science: human beings have elaborate facial muscular, skeletal, and control systems, as well as learned practices that enable us to visually express an infinity of subtle messages.
    No ape could approximate that, even if it had our brain and culture, because it lacks the communicative physiognomy. A human with frozen facial nerves loses the ability to convey intimacy with facial expression. A poker player avoids expressing facial information. A blind person can deal in facial intimacy through touch, but not the way a photograph can. Younger children don't do intimacy much beyond dependence and primative emotions because both their faces and their facial skills are largely unformed (in photos we call that "innocence"). Photography can record and share incredibly subtle facial messages: intimate expressions.
     
  178. In my opinion, the importance of intimacy has been and continues to be overstated in this thread. One can produce an intimate and cloyingly saccharine picture. The line between intimacy and sentimentality is thinner than a paper cut. There's a lot of things at play in Fred's pictures besides intimacy.
    What are the visual cues that we interpret as intimacy? The dropped mask? Familiarity with the subject? An exchange? Innermost? Profound?
    After the scores of posts, we don't have an operational definition (not a formula) of 'intimacy' in a photographic context. Semantics are relevant, but visually the term remains elusive. When a mask is dropped, something is revealed, and often it's another mask. And revelation isn't everything. Visually, things like 'innermost' and 'profound' aren't so easy to detect, particularly when they come in the unfashionable guise of genius.
    We live in a world of increasing alienation. In less than a hundred years we went from an extended to the single-parent family. People move in the US every five years. For many, the majority of their friends are people they only know on line. Perhaps this is why intimacy is uncommon in photographs, far less so than alienation. It may not be out of fear, but simply an accurate and true reflection of the zeitgeist.
    Plus, not every photographer is a portraitist; not every portraitist has the same interests, or defines intimacy in the same way.
    When I search Flickr for intimate photographs, this is what comes up:
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=intimacy
    Visually, besides the usual schmaltz, some visual cues appear with regularity:
    1) Closeness. Literal physical closeness, from portraits to flower macros.
    2) Frontal views. Head on, or slight obliques.
    3) Romantic landscapes.
    4) Normally private views (things outsiders normally don't get to see).
    5) Sensuousness (both in human expression and formal).
    Search for intimate spaces, too. A surprising number of abstracts, among other things.
     
  179. "Perhaps this is why intimacy is uncommon in photographs, far less so than alienation." Luis G
    As far as intimacy and alienation, I'm thinking that one doesn't exclude the other.
    I saw a transgender performance festival last night (about 12 individuals and groups performed theatrical pieces, dance, and music). There was a heap of alienation, palpable, expressive. It was one of the most intimate evenings I've spent in a long time.
    For me, a lot of alienation expressed in photos often rings hollow because they lack intimacy. There's a difference between anger and alienation. When alienation is compellingly expressed, it goes way beyond "I'm mad as hell . . ." It "reveals" the source of isolation and the depth of the connection/disconnection between the one alienated and who s/he is alienated from and why. "We're here, we're queer, blah, blah, blah" may express a level of alienation but it's not terribly intimate.
    Last night, the most intimate piece (expressing alienation and other things) was performed by one person who transformed on stage within about 20 minutes from old world mother learning of her daughter's desire to be a man to the daughter to the son. Fascinating to me was how the performer used comedy to express even greater alienation and get even more intimate (laughter can really get an audience involved). The intimacy was of the various kinds spoken of in this thread: between the performers and audience, among the performers themselves, and between the performers and their subjects . . . they shared intimate moments and emotions.
    I don't agree that the importance of intimacy has been overstated. (I prefer to talk of its "significance" because, to me, that doesn't suggest objective value as much as an internal connection to the photograph or photographer-subject-viewer relationship.) I agree that there is often a lot more than intimacy at play, but it is sometimes a bottom line.
     
  180. After all this talk I'm thinking that " intimate " might as well be another word for " reality ", or life on Earth, factual and imaginable. The most intimate visualisation of reality, meaning if both words can mean the same thing : the most real perception of the " real ", of a life lived, is perhaps a photograph from space showing Earth. It can evoke the concept of " life " in it's most existential essence, without having to show a single individual human face or expression of joy or sorrow, hate or love, pain or pleausure. Intimacy / reality, isn't as much about expression as it is about impression. And a photograph ( which is what most of us have to do with ) of the Earth seen from space, gives a damn impression if one bothers to be impressed about it, about the commonly shared "face" that can be seen in it, and it expresses nothing in particular.
     
  181. Fred, I obviously did not make myself clear that I was using 'alienation' as the opposite of 'intimacy' from the viewpoint of the photographer. In that sense, they would be mutually exclusive. It is certainly possible to portray alienation intimately.
    I was commenting on the pervasiveness of non-intimate photographs. It has been suggested here that this is due to fear of intimacy, I was merely suggesting that it might not be fear at all, but a characteristic of the reality of most people, who seem largely incapable of doing intimate photographs, often of their own children, (clothed) spouses and others, even when they're engaged in intimate behavior, as we often see in the PN galleries, Pnina's W/NW thread, and elsewhere.
    Why are so many photographers (and other artists/non-artists) unable to express their innermost, deep, profound feelings? The mutuality that intimacy exemplifies?
    Is it fear? Or are they simply showing us their reality?
     
  182. jtk

    jtk

    Luis, fear is operational in everybody's reality, along with other guiding emotions. "Their reality" inherently includes fear.
    The "mutuality" to which you refer exists independently from an inevitable degree of fear, but its affected by that fear. Flirting or making a pass at someone involves an element of fear...when done to "excess" (whatever that means) it is often said to be motivated by the desire to repeatedly prove oneself, to deal with one's fears.
    Fear is not the opposite of some other feeling any more than perspiration is the opposite of a feeling...it doesn't preclude other feelings...it's an independent phenomenon that operates in complexity, though it can take over sometimes, crushing other feelings. In my personal case it's a motivator...when I notice fear I often move toward it.
    That some photographers are not portraitists is fine, I'm not criticizing them. We all like a nice falling-down-barn photo. That doesn't preclude the possibility (or likelihood?) that they photograph barns rather than challenging their fear by photographing people ..fear of intimacy.
    Emotions are as measurable as gravity.. though more complex, multi-variate, and typically sloppily named. Fear, in the midst of that complexity, crosses species. Dogs fear much the way humans fear, you can make them fear ( anger or flee or cower) by staring into their eyes. We all know how that relates to portraits.
     
  183. John, I understand for you, it's fear. Or for others, since for you it evokes the opposite reaction you ascribe to others, though you used "often", not always. I loved the definition of photography as bipolar, between falling-down barns and portraits. That catalog leaves a lot of undiscovered ground left out there. If you look hard, you may find other people have coined an antonym for fear. YMDV.
    However, I didn't say fear of intimacy is non-existent. I am simply asking what else besides fear might account for the vast majority of the-opposite-of-intimate (isolated, alienated) photographs.
     
  184. "I am simply asking what else besides fear might account for the vast majority of the-opposite-of-intimate (isolated, alienated) photographs." --Luis G
    Superficiality. Ease. Want of prettiness. Desire to record only. Desire to maintain objectivity.
    By the way, we are still in disagreement about alienated photographs being the opposite of intimate ones. I think better antonyms would be "distant," "remote," "cool," "aloof," "unpenetrating." I think we are often alienated from things we are most intimate with and I think the same photo can be alienating and intimate.
     
  185. jtk

    jtk

    HOWEVER...fear is substantially a biological phenomen, not like "isolated, alienated" which are sociological at best, pop-psychological more often. I think it relates closely to intimacy...but you evidently don't think intimacy is as important as some others do, so would rather talk about something else.
    Fear is easily measurable (pulse, blood pressure, perspiration, EEG, retina, chemical changes etc), occurring routinely in the course of every boring day... not a hypothetical or sociological phenomenon like "alienation" (unless you're talking about pheremones, clinical depression etc).
    One's body experiences and expresses fear, unaware most of the time. But one may restrict one's photos accordingly, without awareness: "street" with zoom lens, barn, bug etc.
    People who don't share images often say they fear being ripped off, criticized, or fear (they "shouldn't") admitting they're technically incapable (no digital version of their images because their photography is/was still pre-digital).
    Luis, I posted representative photos, recognizing a little fear...you didn't. Why not?
     
  186. Fred - "Superficiality. Ease. Want of prettiness. Desire to record only. Desire to maintain objectivity."
    Mostly damning terms, save for two.
    A question: During a strong objective movement like the "New Objectivity", where the desire to maintain Objectivity was the dominant raison d' etre, do you see ""distant," "remote," "cool," "aloof," "unpenetrating." throughout?
    Are there only Expressionists here?
    "By the way, we are still in disagreement about alienated photographs being the opposite of intimate ones."
    ....and for the moment, so we remain, though I am thinking about it, and I tried to indicate this by using the term "the opposite of intimacy" to get beyond this potential impasse. I can live with your suggested antonyms for the purposes of this discussion.
    ____________________________________
     
  187. Luis--
    Three damning terms, two not damning. That was about the ratio I thought was appropriate. I wouldn't characterize my feelings about lack of intimacy as "mostly damning terms, save for two."
    No. I don't see objectivity and "distant," "remote," etc. as synonymous. While "distant," "remote," et al seem to be antonyms to intimacy, "objectivity" does not. You had asked what might account for a photo being not intimate. Objectivity might and does sometimes, but it doesn't have to. I think Phylo's Earth-from-a-distance image might be a counterexample, where objectivity can, in fact, yield intimacy. Distance itself might suggest lack of intimacy, but the image he describes has something which mitigates that distance, perhaps transcending or transforming it. The way Don has described his approach to photos seems objective but not necessarily lacking in intimacy with his subjects. Don, I don't want to speak for you . . . your thoughts?
    I have to say here that I'm becoming increasingly aware that these refinements of definitions and word associations are problematic for me with regard to photographs, particularly my own. I may be the worst person to describe my own photographs and I often think each of us is with respect to our own work. I can describe my process like no one else can and even my own feelings about the photos. But as for describing the photos themselves, the minute I do I start disagreeing with what I'm saying or seeing it a different way. So now, even the word "distant" seems like it can participate in intimacy of a sort. I think that's why I lean more toward Wittgenstein's understanding of how we use language than Plato's. For Plato, definitions and what is included in the meaning of a word is fixed and somewhat holy. For Wittgenstein, words are much more fluid and context-driven. So the minute you try to pin intimacy down with descriptive terms, that's the minute someone will think of an exception, and usually a compelling one, to your definition. Most words allow for that, yet people still understand them.
    I think that's why I've often tried to use my own photographic examples, because such examples usually do go beyond words, even though words are such a key part of these discussions . . . obviously.
    As for Expressionism, I think if I were asked to throw out a bunch of words pertaining to it, "intimate" would likely be one of them. Asked about Cubism, for example, I probably wouldn't immediately toss "intimate" into the mix, though many cubist paintings are extremely intimate.
     
  188. [Fred G]"No. I don't see objectivity and "distant," "remote," etc. as synonymous. While "distant," "remote," et al seem to be antonyms to intimacy, "objectivity" does not."
    Ok, let's roll with that. Once you remove "objectivity", it becomes a 3:1 ratio of negative to near-positive. In spite of everything that has been said here, the concept is still being explored by successive approximations. I understand the term, and see no harm in delving further into it.
    [FG] "I have to say here that I'm becoming increasingly aware that these refinements of definitions and word associations are problematic for me with regard to photographs, particularly my own."
    This is a monster of a term, effectively a Line of Demarcation dividing Photography into two kinds. If we add a gradient, as in more or less intimate (that should be interesting), we still end up with a bipolar, linear concept. I'm finding this a little suspect. Now that Objectivity has been excluded, all that is left that is semi-positive is to "record only".
    Forensic and superficiality, ease, want of prettiness photography = the opposite of intimacy.
    Am I the only one reeling a bit from this division of the medium?
    I ran across this while pondering this thread:
    "The opportunism of the street photographer, the brevity of contacts, the distractedness, make adverse conditions easier to envisage as elements of life's rich pattern"
    --- Clive Scott, Street Photography, "From Atget to Cartier-Bresson."
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1845112237
    It seems to open up the possibility for potentially positive qualities in a non-or-low-intimacy photograph. Is this possible? Or do all significant/'good' photographs have to be intimate?
     
  189. Luis--
    You're off base, insisting on pinning me down to ratios of definitions that I've already told you are inadequate.
    Your logic escapes me. Somehow, your logic seems to be that because I don't find polar opposites to the word "intimate," I see no value in photographs that are not intimate? Huh? As I said, objective photographs are often not intimate and I may like them very much. Objective photographs may also be intimate. I don't have a clue why you've wiped "objective" off my list. You asked for qualities that can account for non-intimate photographs. You didn't ask for qualities that were the opposite of "intimate." Objectivity belongs on the list. It can account for non-intimate photographs.
    I think "removed" and "remote" photographs can be every bit as good and as compelling as intimate photographs. Sometimes someone's remoteness from their subject is so palpable that it really reaches me deeply, especially if they are genuine about it.
    Yes, I generally tend to like intimate photographs. Bipolar, linear . . . your judgments, not mine. I'm talking about my own methods, my own photographs, and my own tastes. What are you talking about?
     
  190. I have two quotes that I think might be useful. This is from a description of Helen Levitt:
    To a photographer, the theme of touching can have a further, critical importance. It intimates the continuum of a lived, sentient appetite and response within the necessarily immobile scene. More than that, touching, in the way at least that Helen Levitt's New Yorkers do it, is in collusion with something behind the surface; it's an external gesture that attaches human value to an interior life, or it's the most direct way we're led to infer such attachment.​
    As compared to (and in no way meant as a disparagment of):
    Cartier-Bresson, whose work Helen Levitt knew in the 1930s, and whom she acknowledges as a prime influence, was a virtuoso in "arranging" graceful visual tangents. No sooner do we comprehend the flow of his configuration than it is seen to unfold through impingements -- of shadows, feet, calligraphy, puddles, fungers -- that judiciously appear to have just left off or are about to kiss each other. In short, it's the potential energy of the overall field that kindled him, and which he realized through a sequence of chance, kinesthetic attractions, suspended in time and space. Having digested that lesson, a young American woman, out to explore New York precincts with a camera, learned that she had a different temper. For her, touch was not an illusion suggested by agile placement of the framing eye, but a real-life event. It was also definitely felt as a compressive, enfolding event, episodic, self-concerned and indiffferent to the picture field.​
    To repeat, this is not a preference of one style over the other. Just a distinction.
    [Quotes are from an essay, A Way of Seeing and the Act of Touching: Helen Levitt's Photographs of the Forties by Max Kozloff in the collection of essays, Observations: Essays on Documentary Photography, edited by David Featherstone (1984)]
     
  191. [Fred G.] "Your logic escapes me. Somehow, your logic seems to be that because I don't find polar opposites to the word "intimate," I see no value in photographs that are not intimate?"
    My logic escapes me sometimes, too, Fred. I was getting a little overwhelmed by the concept, trying to better understand/define it by dancing around it, looking at its opposite, or lack of.
    [Fred G] "Objectivity belongs on the list. It can account for non-intimate photographs."
    It can.
    [Fred G] "I think "removed" and "remote" photographs can be every bit as good and as compelling as intimate photographs. Sometimes someone's remoteness from their subject is so palpable that it really reaches me deeply, especially if they are genuine about it."
    The above is an answer to my clumsily posed ramble of a question. Thank you.
    [Fred G] "Yes, I generally tend to like intimate photographs. Bipolar, linear . . . your judgments, not mine. I'm talking about my own methods, my own photographs, and my own tastes. What are you talking about?"
    Absolutely my judgments and no one else's, and my perception that I found that idea a little limited, that is what I was talking about, and you have clarified it.
     
  192. jtk

    jtk

    "In my opinion, the importance of intimacy has been and continues to be overstated in this thread. " - Luis G

    Fear of intimacy is so common and so obvious that its "importance" is self-evident.

    "Intimacy" has nothing to do with the schmaltz imagined somewhere above. Perhaps we're dealing with a language issue here. The thread's topic isn't sappy images or semantics, it has to do with human relations.
     
  193. John--
    I think you make an important point about intimacy not having to do with sappiness. The thread, toward the latter part, has moved in a worthwhile direction as it begins to include in the discussion some things we think of as negative.
    There is a negative side (or at least a difficult side) to risk. Risk is involved with what I, the photographer, may do to be really intimate. But aside from what I do as photographer, there are other difficult things involved in the intimacy itself or the expression of it.
    Greed and alienation are significant.
    Some use "intimate" romantically. It may fit but it's not the whole story. There is a darker side.
    Voyeurism. There can be something very intimate and also powerfully alienating about it. Sontag discusses the relationship of voyeurism and photograph making, as we know. Perhaps the lot of some photographers is to exist in that region where intimacy and alienation overlap.
    And, voyeurism aside, admitting in our photographs our own insecurities, our own disenfranchisement, our own foibles, are intimate expressions.
    Intimacy can be about communing . . . it can also be about loss. Rarely, I think, is it about simple beauty.
     
  194. Some photographic genres (particularly portraiture and street photography) are revealing the most intimate essence of their subject. This is makes the enchantment of these genres. Sometimes I have a feeling that nude photography is less revealing the intimate essence of the models than a talented portrait or a successful decisive-moment-type of a candid photograph. This is related solely to the intimate world of the object.
    The real intimacy in the art (and photography in particular) we may see exposed only when the image reveals the emotional connection of the photographer to his object. This blending of emotions and care that go in parallel with the emotions depicted represents the real revealing of the essence of the object, the utmost act of intimacy.
    According to WEBSTER intimate comes from the Late Latin intimatus, past participle of intimare to put in, to announce, from Latin intimus innermost. Thus there are two interconnected meanings:
    1 : to make known especially publicly or formally
    2 : to communicate delicately and indirectly.
    Therefore the attitude of the photographer should openly be expressed in his work. This guarantees elimination of any hint of sappiness, alienation or voyeurism in the photograph.
     

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