What difference does it make if you really know your subject?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. My Grandson is 2y/o. In general it's a good idea to never photograph other children without parental consent. However at my Grandson's 2nd birthday I took quite a few photos of him and the other children playing with the new toys. I know everyone and their children that showed up. Afterwards I printed out photos and passed them around. Quite a bit afterwards as I shoot film so it takes time before I can develop and print out the pictures.

    My photography is similar to most family types. I take photos of my family, the things we do and the places we go. If we go hiking then I take pictures of the hike and a few pictures of us hiking or sitting on a rock etc. I will probably take a picture of the rock. I do not post family photos on the net but here is a typical photo that I would take while hiking which we do quite often. Pinnacles National Park which is just a short drive down the road. B/W film is my medium.

    StreetPan400 and the Condor......jpg
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  2. Ross, thanks so much. It was clear that you're a family pics kind of guy. I've been going through some slides I just found from my high school days and among them are some great family pics, on vacations, etc. I just had a friend scan a bunch of them so I can put together a little slideshow for the surviving members of the family, who I'm sure will appreciate them. It's such a great part of what photography is and can be.

    I've lived in SF now for over 40 years and have only been to Pinnacles once, when I lived in Carmel for a couple of years back in the 80s. Great place. I should go again. I take a lot of "rock" photos when I hike around Yosemite, Marin, and the East Bay but don't usually like what I come up with enough to show anyone. Still, I like having a camera along at times.

    Nice shot. There's a nice sense of movement in the leaves of the branches in contrast to the hard, phallic rock which is like a sentinel. And I like the subtlety of the bird against the wisp of cloud.
  3. Well Fred I have not spent a great deal of time in SF myself but a person could certainly find a lifetime of photographs to take regardless of what type of photography interests you. It's an amazing place.

    I was just at Yosemite last week with my wife and we just hung out in the valley and walked around for 6 hrs. It was a day trip and I took photos of our trip of course. . I applied for a permit to hike Half Dome and will find out if I get it in a couple weeks. My wife and kids are all taking a pass on the hike for various reasons. I am probably going to take my Nikon N80 with me and a 28mm lens with a couple contrast filters.. It's probably the lightest camera that I have. Easily replaceable also. I pretty much shoot Illford HP5 all the time these days.

    Pinnacles is great. I have the Senior National Parks pass so my admission is free for life. I am using it quite a lot. I submitted an application to be a Park volunteer and it's being processed. If they want me out there I will just hike the trails, give out information, minimum first aid, water etc and carry a radio. Good exercise and something to do for a few years. I am a retired RN so I think they will be happy to have me out on the trail. My license is active.
  4. Bumbling in late...skipped a lot...but the question: " what difference.....subject" must lead to the answer ="different photos" - with different objectives.
    When you don't know the subject, the photo leads to an investigation of state at an instant in time. (like a balance statement in accounting)
    When you do know your subject, the photo(s) lead to an investigation of change over time. (like an income statement in accounting)
    Now that I've stepped in and 'settled the issue'; 2 things:
    1.) I was led to respond by recent awareness of 2 photographers on flikr; both mothers documenting their children;
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/ericamontgomery/ and: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7745595@N05/
    these are completely different, of course from Brad's (who I have been following since I joined photo.net), but fascinating in their own (also good) way.

    2.) "...the evil of fornication that Brad has gotten to know..." was mentioned by Uhooru on Mar. 3 (#125) with no further explanation.
    This is unacceptable! Spill! You can't just throw out a teaser and then nothing more....
  5. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/42716
    Well, yes, Wayne. You understand what I'm after (thank you!) ... but accounting lacks a certain ... emotional excitement.

    Try this analogy: the one who "really knows" is like the airline passenger riding at 30,000 feet going a zillion miles an hour, calmly munching his crackers and reading his magazine. He's safe and comfortable in his cocoon, oblivious to what's not in that cocoon.

    On the other hand, the one who doesn't "really know" is ... I'll let James Dickey describe her:


    by James L. Dickey​

    A 29-year-old stewardess fell … to her
    death tonight when she was swept
    through an emergency door that sud-
    denly sprang open … The body …
    was found … three hours after the
    —New York Times​

    The states when they black out and lie there rolling when they turn
    To something transcontinental move by drawing moonlight out of the great
    One-sided stone hung off the starboard wingtip some sleeper next to
    An engine is groaning for coffee and there is faintly coming in
    Somewhere the vast beast-whistle of space. In the galley with its racks
    Of trays she rummages for a blanket and moves in her slim tailored
    Uniform to pin it over the cry at the top of the door. As though she blew
    The door down with a silent blast from her lungs frozen she is black
    Out finding herself with the plane nowhere and her body taking by the throat
    The undying cry of the void falling living beginning to be something
    That no one has ever been and lived through screaming without enough air
    Still neat lipsticked stockinged girdled by regulation her hat
    Still on her arms and legs in no world and yet spaced also strangely
    With utter placid rightness on thin air taking her time she holds it
    In many places and now, still thousands of feet from her death she seems
    To slow she develops interest she turns in her maneuverable body
    To watch it. ...​

    [ ... and that's only about a third of the poem. Read the whole thing here.]
  6. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    how would you know?

  7. Exactly.
  8. I'm not well-versed in accounting, but from my limited understanding of the subject, that makes a lot of sense. And rings true with what I get out of making street portraits of people I know (not that many) and don't know (a lot). I think you nailed it - thanks, Wayne!

    Here's one of Owen Dias, who over 10 years of conversation and making portraits of on the street, led to us becoming friends. I learned a lot from Owen from his almost 30 years of holding down his spot in San Francisco. He's seen a lot, and I sure miss him.

    Uhooru, Landrum Kelly and Wayne Melia like this.
  9. That's a beautiful picture, Brad.
  10. Having shot a bunch of people I know, this analogy doesn't capture my own experiences (I didn't read the Dickey description and won't). Generally speaking, I no more feel encased in a cocoon or comfortable when I shoot someone I know than when I shoot someone I don't know. Either can be challenging, disorienting, tension-producing and either can be more comfortable. Trading in stereotypes about types of photography never appealed to me much.
  11. Reading Phil's post leads me to think about the difference between knowledge and discovery. Knowledge doesn't have to exclude discovery or re-discovery. Knowledge of the thing, which could otherwise lead to complacency, can be precisely the impetus behind discovering something unknown about it or rediscovering it from a different point of view. I also don't see it as being one or the other, even in the same action or set of actions. I can intimately know while understanding that there's a lot I also don't know . . . about someone or something.I don't think I've ever found knowledge exhaustive.
  12. I was reading Phil's post and I had a similar opinion as Fred in my mind and then I saw Fred's comment. So I am quoting it here. I agree being familiar with a subject (I am not referring to human subjects only) can numb one's feelings to some extent. BUT, in my opinion, that numbing happens initially. Beyond that, if you really value the subject, a deeper insight emerges which will show itself in the photos you take. Also I think, if after the initial period of numbness, no further in depth reachability of the subject emerges, that may be the end of the synergy between the subject and the photographer.

    For many subjects, the first attempt in photographing can limit one's attention to the attention grabbing aspects of the scene. later when one comes back at it, finer, subtler aspects can emerge. I think, the memory of the initial experience with the subject can actually help to cancel out the often superficial, catchy macro aspects, and draw the eye into the deeper aspects. I find that happening to me while shooting the missions in Southern California such as San Juan Capistrano. When I first visited, I couldn't go much beyond the architectural features (which are great, no complaints) that focus more on the visual aesthetics. later on, I read more about the history of the place (in part thanks to Tony Hadley's excellent link that he shared) and returned to shoot. This time, I found the place talk to me more from the context of it's history and tradition, I noticed for instance how the tourist crowd react to the sight of the place and it's historical artifacts. I noticed many individual people with interesting postures that I missed the first time. Even when I framed architectural shots, I found my approach to be different than the first time in the sense that simplicity and humility played a tangible role in my compositions (the first time was more about excitement and awe).
  13. Phil, I think Paul Graham's most recent book, PARIS 11-15TH NOVEMBER, 2015, is the inverse of what your linked article describes. He's in his most intimate, familiar place and it has been rendered completely strange. [the book title is linked]

  14. Yes.

    And also, outside coming in.

    The first half of the book is what you see in the linked preview. Each sunlight-into-the-room play he's looking at gets two or three nearly identical pages then there are two or three white blank pages, then another group. At the center of the book, there are two pages (four if you count front and back) that are matt black, nothing on them. Then, on the same black, the picture of the woman holding the child. Then the second half of the book begins, again, white pages separating repeated pictures but this time all are of sunlight striated with a floppy venetian-type blind. The same striations in each picture but on different parts of the interior. Finally, a section looking at but not through the window with the blinds (softly bright, very golden sunny) and then finally a close look out through the blinds at a sun-soaked back yard of young trees.

    Very simple, but he's working in counterpoint to the book's title that looms over the slow glide of the aftermath.
  15. "In the thread The Iceberg Theory that I posted a year or so ago I posted this Hemingway quote about his theory" Phil.

    I relate to that thought...the Marilyn photo: the in-between. the honesty of the in between moment...that forgotten space we pass bye.

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