There's no you

Discussion in 'Seeking Critique' started by samstevens, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. 823A1634-19F5-4FF1-8AB5-DE833AFF2615.jpeg

    I was drawn to the quotidian solitude, the color...the quiet . of the . . empty tables.

    Musical accompaniment below from Bill Evans on piano.

    portrait . in absence .

  2. I would've liked being anchored in the low value void.
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I think that the reflection cut at "COLD" adds much to the image, its mood and effect.

    Titles are common and we often draw meaning from them: maybe the Photographer's meaning maybe our own Viewer's meaning, maybe a bit of both - the inclusion of musical accompaniment adds another, greater dimension: I savoured your Photograph for the full 6 minutes and 28 seconds, the only mistake that I made was not to be sipping a single malt during my journey.


    mikemorrell likes this.
  4. Thanks, inoneeye. I'm working on recovering some of the shadow area in the lower left. I took two shots of this, the other blows out the lighting but leaves detail in the base of the pool table, so I'm layering the two and trying to get some of that anchoring missing in the void. (Nice turn of phrase, by the way.)
    What a lovely response, William. Six minutes is demanding for some Internet attention spans and, though I liked listening through the piece while looking at the photo, I wasn't sure anyone else would take the time and figured just a bit of the music might well suffice. Too bad you didn't have your single malt at the time! I'm keen on exploring presentation contexts for my photos and enjoy dealing with and creating viewing situations that either seem suggested by them or, as you say, offer some kind of dimension. "Staging" has been an integral part of at least a portion of my photographic life.
  5. Thanks for a thoughtful response. Interesting reflections and suggestions. I think I was moved by the presence of absence rather than presence evoked by absence. Subtle but significant difference. Because I was feeling the absence, it was the mood and atmosphere that were prime to me. I wasn't thinking of a particular aesthetic as much as what was palpable for me. One reason the music suggested itself was it could slow things down and give the scene time, and some of the less obvious details time, to reveal themselves, some from the shadows. This is not to say a hyper-realist approach with more details popping wouldn't work. It's a good approach but doesn't feel like what was in it for and from me.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
    mikemorrell likes this.
  6. The difference, I think, is between absence suggesting the presence of a "you" or others ... and absence as a presence in itself, not suggesting a "you" but rather an aloneness. I was feeling and trying to express the latter.
  7. Great presentation with the musical accompaniment.
    The party of the signs and light portraits after patrons party is over.

  8. You succeeded. However, it's crying out for a hint action, a patron sitting at the small table with beer in hand and staring at the candle perhaps. Nevertheless a nice shot with plenty of subject matter filling the frame. The viewer could put their own story to it, imagined, or real if they'd ever have played Snooker. I don't think I ever won a game, I mostly I watched others play
  9. Pavel, thanks for having a look and for your comment.
    Thanks, kmac. Hearing different reactions is one of the reasons I love sharing photos. I'm not surprised and even somewhat delighted at your want of action or a patron sitting there and like the story you imagined of the pool game. It also puts a fine point on my own reaction to the photo, which is to feel so at one with the emptiness/aloneness and the discomfort that goes along with that for me.
  10. "It also puts a fine point on my own reaction to the photo, which is to feel so at one with the emptiness/aloneness and the discomfort that goes along with that for me."
  11. I took the second look today with fresh head and found the new, more dramatic story.

    It could be seen from the eyes of man waiting in vain for his date/girlfriend, the all patrons abandoned the place and the only left are the dying candle, the lightened portrait as reminder of the past dates, reminder of played pool game (action-less at present time) accompanied by cold beer.

  12. I appreciate hearing all your personal and thoughtful responses. Thank you!

    My own response to the photo is not a remembrance of or a longing to be with someone. It’s about absence not in the sense of "missing" but in the sense of "non-existent." It's a kind of aloneness that's not a counterpoint to something else. It is what it is. The lack of lyrics in the music I chose was by design and I think is of a piece with that.

    Here's an updated version, motivated by inoneeye's observation. I brought out the base of the pool table and more detail in some of the elements and parts of the room which I think adds texture to the whole.

    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  13. I love this. Listening now to Bill Evans' solo piano while viewing the shot, the soundtrack does add a realist and cinematic feel. I like your original "quotidian" feeling, and yeah I definitely get that in this. (no I didn't have that word in my vocab arsenal, looked it up tho). To me this feels like the end of a movie and with the piano playing I feel like there should be some credits rolling now. If we are adding a soundtrack to this, I can definitely hear Tom Waits in this image- he was so great at high, weird, dark loneliness found in simple and everyday things, and places.

    Well the smart money's on Harlow and the moon is in the street
    And the shadow boys are breaking all the laws.
    And you're east of east Saint Louis and the wind is making speeches
    And the rain sounds like a round of applause.
    And Napoleon is weeping in a carnival saloon
    His invisible fiancee's in the mirror.
    And the band is going home, it's raining hammers, it's raining nails
    And it's true there's nothing left for him down here.
    And it's time time time, and it's time time time
    And it's time time time that you love
    And it's time time time.
    And they all pretend they're orphans and their memory's like a train.
    You can see it getting smaller as it pulls away.
    And the things you can't remember tell the things you can't forget.
    That history puts a saint in every dream
    Well she said she'd stick around until the bandages came off
    But these mama's boys just don't know when to quit.
    And Matilda asks the sailors "are those dreams or are those prayers?"
    So close your eyes, son, and this won't hurt a bit.
    Oh it's time time time, and it's time time time
    And it's time time time that you love
    And it's time time time.

  14. or Jeff Buckley covering The Smiths' I Know It's Over

    which does add a lot of sadness into this that doesn't need to be there. But that's the thing here: read what you want into it, and it could go in any direction. One of the stand out aspects of this for me is the candles on the tables (still?) burning. So much ambiguity: is everyone gone, or have they not arrived yet? Beginning, or end of the day/night? Promise of things to come, or the emptiness of the aftermath?

    the question
    "What'll you have?"
    hangs in the air
    it's wide open;

    the pool of blue felt
    to sink into
    a sea of barroom dreams,
    a sky to fly up in
    to dream
    another day
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  15. My thanks for this, @samstevens. As (primarily) a photographer of people, photos without people in them have never interested me as much as photos with people in them. Sure, I can appreciate light, composition, abstracts but for me, photos of 'people' have interested me. So the concept of 'presence of absence' is a new concept for me. And I understand perfectly what you mean.

    I really liked the photo anyway because of the way it wonderfully expresses 'the mood'. IMHO it's a very perceptive and skilled photo. I decided not to list all the many reasons for this opinion.

    So coming back to the quote, I initially liked the photo because of the way it expressed a certain mood. But, to me, it also felt empty and devoid of people.
    What I've learned from the photo and Sam's comment is that "The photo lacks people" can be the purpose of the photo.

  16. @Ricochetrider, thanks for the movie ending description. That makes a lot of sense to me. And I'm glad you appreciated listening to the Evans piece. Tom Waits is someone I, too, immediately thought of and actually searched around a bit for just an instrumental but didn't find anything that worked for me. As I said, I felt lyrics would have brought something to the "table" here that wasn't quite right. Hadn't thought of Jeff Buckley but he's great as well. Just not his version of Hallelujah, which I absolutely love but have overdone! Anyway, both are great musicians and capture the mood even if not the full (empty) intent for me.
    @mikemorrell, I really appreciate your experience of this and your description. Glad it operated on that wavelength for you and makes sense in the light you speak of. Interestingly, a friend asked why I didn't call it "self portrait," which I actually consider it to be and he knows me well enough to have perceived that. I didn't really have an answer. But maybe it's that I wanted to suggest to viewers the kind of empty person-less experience I was having and titling it "self portrait" would have immediately brought a person (me) into it. Also, I didn't want people scouring the photo for my reflection in the mirror or something, 'cause it's not there! It would have been a metaphorical, not literal, title.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  17. self portrait . in absence
    I like what you've done.
    The chairs... ?
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020

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