Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think).

by Dummett Tony

belgian kids in kensington gardens these were dummett tony

Gallery: Poor Imitations of Cartier-Bresson

Category: Uncategorized

Published: Thursday 25th of January 2001 12:14:01 AM


Comments

Kathleen Yorston
I'm not surprised that over 27,000 people have looked at this photo. It's street photography at its best. I've been doing some myself recently, and know how difficult it is to get images as good as this one.

Tony Dummett
To John Nagle: The trick is making it LOOK like it was posed, John. It wasn't posed at all, but I needed patience to get the correct shot. I have several images of this group of kids (all grown men and women by now, of course) in this setting - some closer, some further away . If you like, I'll scan them and send them to you, or, alternatively, post them here. Your call. I've never looked at them as prints. It might be enlightening for both of us!

John Nagle
Aesthetics 6, Originality 5 Well I'll certainly take your word that they were not posed although that was my initial impression. I think it certainly caught a DEFINING MOMENT and is quite interesting. Teenagers are nothing BUT POSEURS and can not be anything else by definition.

Christopher Bluhm
Three shots with a 50mm? They HAD to have known you were there. Nice shot, however.

Tony Dummett
To Christopher, It's called "making yourself invisible". Merge with the crowd, find some people so self-absorbed that they more "see right through you" than "see you" and snap away. Do they LOOK like they knew I was there (see attachment to my previous pic)? It doesn't always work out this way unfortunately, I'll tell you THAT for free. I remember there being other people around with cameras at the time (we were near the duck pond and people were snapping away), so maybe I just melted into the background (couldn't do it now: I'm too fat).

Jerry Brendle
Kensington Gardens I love it! Makes me think of my good old days in the '60's. The picture really makes a statement!

G .
This is my favourite of your Cartier-Bresson folder. A very instructive lesson on 'how to be invisible', though I don't even imagine I will achieve anything as remotely candid as this.

Mark Tomlinson
Good art, I love the kid on the right really pissed off look. Nice of you to show the out takes, takes a little luck and some patience, well done.

Christin Jemming
Aesthetics 10, Originality 10 Going through your whole folder, one after another, these photos are just brilliant.

Kevin Bjorke
How did you know they were Belgian? Were they innately Flemmy? Was it "Belgian Tuesday"? Or did you talk to them?

Christina Hall
I'm getting nostalgic! I love this photo for how it makes me feel. I would have been 10 then, but I remember it vividly when I look at this photograph!

Tony Dummett
They were too cool to be British and not cool enough to be French, too fair skinned to be Italian and too dark to be Scandanavian. Their language was softer than German, yet more comprehensible than Dutch. They looked like they came from just "in-between" somewhere. So I picked Belgian, but no, I never asked them.

Added January 17, 2002: When cleaning out my garage prior to moving house I found another 2 shots of these kids and rescued them from the garbage bin. I realise now I must have been following them around for a while. You can see the whole process of capturing the final image here.

Tony Dummett
What The Hell! Here's the two other pictures taken immediately before the one that's been posted. It's the first time I've seen them and I'm glad to say I wasn't mistaken in picking the one I did. The titles speak for themselves (no manipulation at all has been done to these pix - please forgive the spots, scratches and blotches - twenty-six years is a long time after all).

Actually this is good therapy: it reminds me of how I used to work my way into a picture. A tentative side-shot, then in too close and some of the eyes are half-closed, head chopped off and then, after a bit of thought - move back about a metre, tilt the camera up a bit and get the right framing. Notice the guy in the background has walked about ten metres in the time it took to take these three pictures.

Added January 17, 2002: I found some others of this group. You can see them here.

Tony Dummett
Gwen,

No it's not staged. There's a discussion on this shot in another of my "technical" folders. You'll find it here.

When you promenade in Kensington Gardens there is almost what you could call a "set-piece" walk. We all did it (severally, not jointly) and I just snapped away as we all walked The Walk.

gwen barlee
this is so well done, i would be green with envy, if it weren't such an unbecoming colour on me. i would swear this was staged, if you hadn't said it wasn't, (and I do trust your integrity). What a very fine shot, a look into teen land, capturing the jaded, world weary, self absorbed coolness that only teens can muster

gabriele lopez
This is really Great.. Sweet, intense, and documenting a day, a moment, an age and one period of the decades passed. Really a masteroiece, really, I like it so much!

Patrick Hudepohl
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) This image has been selected for discussion. It is not necessarily the "best" picture the Elves have seen this week, nor is it a contest. It is simply an image that the Elves found interesting and worthy of discussion. Discussion of photo.net policy, including the choice of Photograph of the Week should not take place here, but in the Site Feedback forum.

When including images, please make sure they are relevant to the discussion, not more than 511 pixels wide, sufficiently compressed and make sure to enter a caption when uploading.

Donald Grindstaff
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Very nice picture. Bravo to the elves for breaking the mold on this one. The last several week's all how the same feel. This is a completly diffrent work. Gives new inspiration. Tony I did not see this in your portfolio which folder is it in i would like to see the Technical details if you remember any of them.

MD .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, The photo is black and white and RED. You can see that if you load it in Photoshop and use the eyedropper tool.

Otherwise the photo is perfect; I wish only, it would have been taken with a bigger format camera.

Thierry Burlot
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Very good ! I like it a lot. Not so different from the kids we can see nowdays.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Thanks elves. Quite a surprise. There's a sampling of other frames I shot of these kids, and some technical discussion here in my informal technical portfolio.

Ken Thalheimer
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Good to see a street shot chosen as POW. Many times they're overlooked. It's very retro & natural. A very good street scene

Darek M.
7/7 I noticed this photograph a long time ago, it is now being used for my English students to tell from the photo. Superb work. Thanks for sharing.

Gabriel M. A.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, (I hope the English students are telling something about the photo)

This is an excellent street photograph; my first impression was that it was posed, for there are certain things about the body language that don't make sense, but if it's true that this is unposed, this is was a priceless opportunity well executed.

Nick S
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) I don't participate as much as I used to, but the elves choosing of a Dummett photograph compels me to say "Bravo" to a true master of this site. A typically wonderful example of Tony's work... I know HCB is one of the photographer's favourites but I believe - in many instances - that Tony's own work matches Monsieur Cartier-Bresson's in quality, if not quantity. All photonetters not intimately familiar with Tony's work should do themselves a favour and visit his exquisite portfolios (particlarly the folder from which this image was drawn).

Matt Vardy
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Since I only rarely shoot street stuff, I probably can't fully appreciate the greatness of this image. But I can tell that there is a lot going on... slearly a fine "moment" captured. It seems to me that there are many emotions represented here... Almost symbolic in a way, and a great study of human interactions and social behaviour.

Shawn Rahman
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, What problem should anyone have about this shot perhaps being posed? Posed or not, it is a wonderful shot. Yes, it is a very good example of "the decisive moment", but it is also a wonderful composition from an excellent perspective. Better not posed, yes, but this shot is really something special. BRAVO.

Bill Foster
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) This is just perfect. There is really nothing more to say ... but I'll talk more anyway! Thanks for posting all the before and after shots. It's really interesting to see how perfect things have to be to get a shot like this. The studied non-chalance of the guy on the right, the hand up the skirt and the actual kiss (the pic where they are almost kissing doesn't work), the hand postions ... it's like a composed painting and if one little thing is changed, the whole thing falls apart. I've just started experimenting with street shots and this shows me how very far I have to go - as does your whole portfolio. Bravo to the Elves for selecting something different and interesting. Great shot, Tony!

Daniel Rice
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think Outstanding. I've always admired Tony's work. This is a really cool picture of some cats who think their the coolest. Nice work.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) OK. Let me reassure everyone: [foghorn] THIS ISN'T POSED [/foghorn].

It's part of a sequence of these people I took that day. The other pics in the sequence are here (with annotations).

I was going through a stage at that time looking for real-life tableaux... life and movement actually coming to a stop ... and photographing it when it did so. Real street photographers are able to take motion and make it look like it's a tableau, when it's not really. This was a lucky concurrence of the right angle, framing, focus, exposure etc. and a pose that interconnected the subjects in ways they didn't realise they were connected (but the photographer does).

The immediate aim is to extract a sort of "truth" from an otherwise random scene.

The ultimate aim is to educate oneself in why people do what they do. The theory goes like this: if you can capture the essence - the "truth" - of a scene, then you understand it a little better than you otherwise might have. It's a practical way of attempting to learn about life, but only one of many such ways. Part of the understanding is learning how to anticipate what your subjects will be doing before they do it. The concept of "the decisive moment" is not entirely about rapid reflexes. It is about understanding what you are seeing. The photograph is merely indirect proof that you managed to achieve that, to a greater or lesser extent.

Sportspeople play sports. Actors interpret texts. Painters paint... all to achieve the same end. Photographers, unable to draw, run, or be courageous enough to stand up in front of an audience (all true of me, at least), make a photographic record of their understanding of others and the world we all live in. The more technical constraints you put on yourself - printing full frame, for example, or never posing your subjects (although they may pose themselves) - the more you test yourself and your perceptions.

That's what street photography is about, for me.

Terry Lee
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Remember that 20 years ago, it was the sexual liberation, burning of the bra, peace man, flower power, freedom from parents, owning your own car or vespa bike etc, people were not self conscious when a stranger points a camera at their direction. Girls & women use to giggle and people just carry on etc. People are most definitely aware that a photographer within their sights but they are simply oblivious to it and simply do not care thus photographers had the liberty to walk around and shoot without any fear thus street photography was much more enjoyable . Tony Dummet has made a typical street photographer capture, well done and take nothing away from Tony. However with due respect, unless the youths are either on drugs, drunk as a skunk or intellectually handicapped, the youths are quite aware and conscientiously of his presence as he has been following them around for a while. But I still consider this street photographer as they were not posed or staged, they were simply enjoying their freedom and carrying on with what they were doing. Again, no disrespect to Tony, 11 out of 10 for your efforts. Thierry Burlot comments, not so different from the kids we can see nowdays, only goes as far as the attraction to the opposite sex but times have changed as youths are now very street smart. Theses days, you really put yourself at risk of being verbally abused, harassed, bashed and kicked and have your camera damaged etc. Unless you befriend with the youths and maybe even offer them free prints so that they just carry on but they will still slightly alter their behaviour.

Wayne Melia
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) I can't add anything unique to accolades previously bestowed on the photo, but I would like to comment on the comment by the photographer:
"The concept of "the decisive moment" is not entirely about rapid reflexes. It is about understanding what you are seeing. ..."
Truly a cogent and helpful remark from a master photographer. Thanks for sharing.

Landrum Kelly
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Tony, I hope that you will not mind if I remind some of our newer viewers that you have gotten the Photo of the Week before: http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo.tcl?photo_id=147795 --Lannie

Landrum Kelly
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) And another time before that! http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo.tcl?photo_id=151914 Congrats on what is surely a record, Tony. --Lannie

Vincent K. Tylor
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) I've seen this a couple of times now, and each time I think I like it even more. I agree that Tony recognized the potential this offered and hence worked it successfully. What makes it work for me is that this scene has a variety of interesting characters all in one local, all doing their own thing, almost oblivious to the others next to them. It's also made even more interesting, I think, because time has moved ahead as well, leaving behind a distinct 70s style that is no longer around today. I would guess even back then, this would still be a nice image, though probably not much more than that. However today, thirty years later, it's refreshing to look back in time and remember what things were like when I too was young and seemingly invincible... had few worries... just wanting to be with my friends... and have a good time. Life was simpler then... Very well captured Mr. Tony.

Vasilis Apostolopoulos
. Well, I am very happy when the photo of the week is a photo I like. This one is wonderful. I love the midtones and as someone said seems like a social interaction study. Congratualtions to Tony who has maybe the best portfolio in photo.net as the only competition is from Iain McEachern.

Greg S
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Nice photo... though I would trade the space above the horizon line for more foreground. -Greg-

Gavin Sterrett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Not sure why so many people seem to think this shot was posed. I do not get that impression at all. Is it unusual to see a bunch of kids hanging out in a park? Besides, isn't the idea of "posing" a shot to make it look "natural" or "unposed"? How then would anyone claim to know the difference in every single case? Another point worth mentioning is the fact that some of the most famous street photos of all time were "posed". The kissing couple by Doisneau comes to mind. Whether or not a photo like this is posed there is still a natural organic element to it. The "posing" is just direction: "Ok kids, just hang out and act natural, do your thing." What they do is left up to improvisation, much like the interaction between a stage or film director and his actors. This is a great photo.

John Crosley
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) What a wonderful change of pace -- 'street' photography seems somewhat under-represented and little appreciated on Photo.net -- at least reputationally. With the exception of the wonderful work by Tony D., above and the documentary and 'street' work of Ian McEachern, noted above, some of the wonderful 'street' artists on the service such as Balaji, Edmo, Frederic Pascual, 'street' work of Miles Morgan, and others of note generally seem underappreciated -- drowned out somehow in the world of supersaturated and Photoshopped landscaped and nudes that predominate on this site. The wonderfulness of this photo is the separateness of the individuals, yet their connectedness -- each in his/her own world, yet their togetherness, all caught and exemplified in this photo which ties them together and yet keeps a proportional amount of space between each individual/group for a most pleasing aspect -- something that able photographers dream of. And each distinct set has its own story, for a most engaging capture -- a photo that the eye (and mind) can linger on, a sign of a compelling capture. And Tony D. has been most generous and unassuming in showing what 'street' work is all about by demonstrating that 'street' art is not only about making the capture but also about 'selecting or editing' the best capture from the humdrum, in showing us his editing process which meant showing us some very ho-hum companion shots, an act of great humility by a great artist. His humility only redounds to show the greatness of his art -- some of the best 'street photography' is only revealed when reviewing negatives, contact sheets, or digital captures, I think. By comparison Henri Cartier-Bresson, before the outbreak of World War II, as much for pride as for economy and safety destroyed all his negatives (even the borders around his negatives) except his publishable 'keepers' (thus making it almost impossible to print the remainders -- especially since he insisted on full frame prints). How many 'stinkers' do you think that great artist destroyed, keeping in mind he hoped for a place in history and planned to fight for the French Resistance? (He was captured at least twice, maybe three times, and photographed the liberation of Paris for the Allies.) Tony D. has the talent without the great ego, I think. Thanks Elves and Tony D. John (Crosley)

Alberto Pareto
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, What a shot. How many stories on a single park bench ... this image is a whole theatre representation, and these guys are the actors of their life. By the way, I really like contrast & framing. Congratulation. Alberto

Daniel Bayer
Ahh...Tony D... ...It's been too long my friend. Good to see you on here on the front page again mate. Whimsical image. Always liked your 70 circa shots. You still shoot film? I sure do..:-).

Jan Olof Härnström
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) This shot stands for itself without any help from old masters. It's so amusing they are posing wihout knowing they're posing. Expressive and charming photography.

Vi P
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) what a great shot. There's so much mood in it; and you can feel the style of that epoque through the way they are dressed, their style, their postures... haircuts... lovely! thanks for sharing :)

Dave Pang
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I always admire people who dare to take pictures like this.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Last comment for today... Thanks everyone. I didn't know so many contributors knew about this pic. On the shortness of foreground: everything is important in this picture. You shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking it's just of these young kids. Just as important is the placement of the tree, the litter bin, the distant line of trees and the chap walking from right to left across the picture in the background. They all make up the scene. Everyone and everything in their place. If I was just trying to capture the kids, then I'd have asked them to pose... but we've been through that discussion already. I'm glad so many of you appreciate the connectedness of the various poeple in the frame. To me there's a progression from left to right from Joe Cool lounging, to the two talkers, to the two lovers, to the guy at the right who seems pissed-off about something.. perhaps one of the missing girls from the earlier shots went off with another guy? Whatever... he looks quite introspective and alone, as I was at the time. Frustrated at being broke and a bit lonely, I used to go out to the parks of London to meet people and ended up photographing them instead. Perhaps the reason I didn't get to meet so many others was my hair: it looked like I'd grabbed onto a live wire and held onto it long enough for the effect to become permanent. It would have scared off all but the brave. I think the Nikkormat was a perfect camera: physically balanced and with a slight reduction viewfinder, you could "look down" on your subject, as if it was already on a light box for review. It was a good way of distancing yourself from reality. I still have it (although the seals have perished and it can't be used). The 50mm lens sits on my office desk here as I type: coating scratched beyond recognition, but still useful as a magnifier in my toolkit. Also good for spotting tiny grass ticks on the dogs. Honorable and useful retirement.

Alejandro Keller
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens... You can count me in the admirers of your work. I did knew of this picture before and am happy to see that it became a POW... your whole portfolio is impresive. It was surely a difficult task for the elves to select just one image as a POW... I also find your Blood Sweat and Tears folder very educational. For all of those who have not yet visited the whole portfolio of Tony Dummett, what are you waiting for? Congratulations.

Daily Photograph
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Up to today I felt me attentive :-)) As well as I favor the narrow space at the sides for remarkable intensity I miss a bit more space at the bottom.

MD .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, The photo is having a noticeable red cast.

Marc G.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) MD, does Tri-X Pan have a red color cast, perhaps ? :-) Are we judging RVB jpegs, or a black and white photograph ? Tony, well... I think it's an amazing shot. So many people said exactly what I would say about the connectedness of the youngsters. All I can add is that the "couples" take the central spot, as if they were heroes, whereas the 2 lonely guys at left and right seem a bit less fortunate. As this age, I was very much like the guy on the far right, always alone, and envying the "heroes" who found themselves loving and loved. So I guess this picture touches me personally in a slightly different way. :-) I agree as well, that the far background here is an important context. You had to work within a 2 x 3 format ratio anyway, but I think we don't need more of the ground in front, whereas the trees etc let us know that this happens in a parc, where other people carry on with their own life, almost as if love (in this park, or perhaps in life in general?) was an unimportant or a rather "casual" thing. Finally, I hope people who look at this POW truly realize what's the chance to ever find a group of youngsters so well placed and doing so many interesting things within a single camera frame. This picture reminds us, that a photograph is a bit like a one frame movie...

Markus Hartel
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Tony,
this is a great photograph - I kept coming back to it...
now that I've looked at it numerous times, I find the
framing to be a wee bit too tight (nitpicking only).

Thanks to the elves for getting attention on your work
I enjoyed your portfolio (especially the 70ies images) a lot

Greg S
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Yes, looking at the scene again and playing around with the far background in or out I can see that it needs to be there. Perhaps just as critical as capturing the 'decisive monment' is the 'decisive compostion'. My camera would have naturally gravitated downwards. Including the entirety of the subjects while also framing the horizon shows some real skill and understanding. Not bad for spontaneous 'street photography'.

Dave Nitsche
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Tony, is this posed??? Sorry, couldn't resist. Great image. Love the overall tonality. There are many stories within that frame that many of us can correlate with out own younger years. And you gotta love those hats... Congrats man...

Mani Sitaraman
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Great picture, Tony. Congratulations and well done! :-) I agree with the comments above that Street Photography is generally underappreciated at photo.net, not withstanding the Leica and Street and Doc (and Wedding) forums. 10 rolls of Tri-X in your pockets, a Nikon or Leica and a fast 50 or 35. Happy days for photography, now bygone, alas...

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) If they were posing, there'd be no point in taking the photo. A photo is just the visible end result of the process of understanding the scene. Setting it up - for "pure" street photography at least - is anathema to the whole idea of going out with a camera intending to photograph strangers.

Carl Root
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I know we're not supposed to discuss reasons for selecting a particular image for a POW, but one would hope that the obvious strengths of an image would be the main reason for it's selection. We can nitpick about the tight crop or the reddish cast, but the focal point of the discussion for me is that with enough practice and talent, you can get a street shot that is so complete and clean that it does look posed (although you'll never convince me that they could have been such good actors that they could get the expressions right, along with the poses . . . and all at the same time.) Tony you mention that there would be no point in shooting it if it was, but unfortunately, the shot of the sailor celebrating the end of WWII referenced above is evidence to the contrary, given its status in the history of photography. I had always assumed it was a candid shot and was disappointed to find out otherwise, just as my enjoyment of this composition is based on my confidence that this one was shot as found, rather than created. An understanding and appreciation of the process contributes to the enjoyment of art. At least it does for me.

Dave Nitsche
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Tony, hope you know my comment about being posed was a joke. I read your comment above mine it not being posed.

Frank Mueller
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Congratulations, Tony, to your third picture of the week! I have admired your work for years, and a visit of your portfolio should be a must for any newcomer to the site. This shot has always been one of my favorites in your portfolio, and when I saw it this week on the front page, I could hardly believe it hadn't been picture of the week before ;-)

Pawel Czapiewski
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens This photograph aced the test of time - the ultimate juror. There isn't much to nit-pick so relaxed we can admire maturity of the mind behind the camera, follow the process of making the image and reflect on many questions usually embedded in a good image. Regards.

Richard Deng
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Definitely an interesting image from both a visual and human interest point of view. Some of Bresson's best work had a curious energy or tension to them. There is an almost bucolic atmosphere to this image, a "Saturday in the Park" sort of feel.

Beau .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) This is a good example of the "nice catch" category, one of those photos that has adequate visual interest strictly in the composition and timing. The rest of its appeal arises from the nostalgia factor: specifically, the sentimental associations we attach to the 70's and, more generally, the evocations of transience and mortality that good candid photos from bygone times always produce. Otherwise I don't get a lot from this; I don't see the human drama, penetrating observation or unique style that some apparently do. Don't get me wrong, I see those things in some of this photographer's other images, particularly the last one of his that was POW.

Andy K.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, That's exactly right, Beau, I was thinking along those lines myself. At the time this was taken, 1975, the "decisive moment" had come and gone: the focus of those artists shooting in the street had shifted to more abstract, more random, more color, more anything away from the tight formalism associated with the photographers in the '50's who had commanded attention by using the sort of internal cues in the frame that Henri Cartier-Bresson made popular. The Japanese abstracted even more, and the Americans had the very different work of Winogrand and even Klein (although he had done his interesting work n the 50's and 60's). What I see here is a nice, safe picture that has the assembled tableaux that that been popularized 20 years earlier, but little else. Kids in a park are after all kids in a park- little new there. If I were looking at this without any other information I would assume this was the work of a young person without a real photographic voice, as indeed it seemed to be. There's nothing wrong with that of course.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Beau and Andy have a point... up to a point. I suppose if I'd been in a war zone, or a member of the Japanese avant gard I might have made a different picture. But I wasn't and I didn't. As a picture of a group of kids sitting on a park bench being cool, I thought it was reasonably successful. There's an element of a deliberate pose being taken in this pic, as if a few seconds later they might have all swapped legs and arms and assumed another pose. Almost like they were preening themselves. I caught them before they moved onto their next figure. But I can see the point that there isn't enough movement in it, enough vitality. On the other hand, that was not the scene: the scene was dudes and their women doing the promenade in Kensington Gardens, one summer's afternoon in London. There's a cameraderie in the picture, from the boy at the left seemingly quite content with his being on his own, to the friendly chatting of the first couple and the amorousness of the second. Lastly, we have the odd man out at the far right, looking peeved about something (perhaps his missing girlfriend?)... just about the only tension in the whole thing. It's not a picture of tension, rather harmony, with just a hint that all might not be well on the right. Everything is down pat. The chair, the trees, the people sitting, even the dustbin in the background. Hardly a shot that I could have died photographing, or that would have made the front page of Life, but a reasonably competent presentation of what one group of people was doing, one afternoon in London, thirty years ago. Andy, I have to take exception to your statement that "the decisive moment had come and gone". You miss the very nature of the "decisive moment": there's always another one around the corner in any situation, and every situation has one... you just have to be able to see it. This is as close to a universal truth as I can think of. It's not just photography, or even art: decisive moments belong to sports, academia, politics and every single field of human endeavour or activity. Regarding photography, if the decisive moment is dead, then what have we all been doing these thirty-something years with our cameras, a time well after (you claim) it had already been interred and bypassed? I mean, why bother? Nice theorizing, though. Sounds like something they tried to tell me in art school. Problem was: I didn't believe them (and neither should you).

Bill Foster
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) This latest turn in the discussion reminds me of something that I always hate in these discussions: criticizing a work for what it isn't instead of appreciating what it is. Look, some people get paid to go shoot all over the world; they have the advantage of being able to capture unique and interesting subjects. I have nice pics of Italy because I lived there for a long time. Others are of an experimental mind and take experimental pics. You photograph what you are exposed to or what you are able to expose yourself to. This picture isn't avant garde or advanced in that sense (although I would argue that it is very advanced in the compostional sense). But, he was shooting in a park in the city and captured what he saw ... PERFECTLY. That's not so easy to do. So, it's not abstract and maybe - to some - it's not exciting or dangerous. So what?! He captured a moment in time with style and clarity and grace. If that's not good photography, then I don't know what is.

Robert Pastierovic
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, There's no way to criticize a masterpiece. Great stuff here. I never shoot street photos (not to upset people) and because of my damn slow DIGITAL camera :))
Nice discussion where you can read words from some of the old masters of (photo.net) photography. I'm too young to say something wise. We were living in a deep furious communism that time, BTW. And I was not yet born.

Ryszard Tychawski
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) POSEUR-ING...YES.....THIS PIC. CAN SHOW ALL ABSURD OFF SITUATION...FANNY OR NOT...?

Michael J Hoffman
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Awesome image! Its been said before, but this really is street photography at its finest. Tony, I think your explanation and impression of the subject matter is right on the money. I completely agree with everything you've said about this image. I think it was necessary to reinforce the fact that this image is unposed. But its time to shut up now, and let the image speak for itself. I mean that in the best possible and most respectful way. Let each viewer draw his/her own informed conclusion whatever it may be. The image needs no further justification. It simply is. Michael J Hoffman

Kent Tolley
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) What Andy seems to be saying is that this photograph fails because it is out of fashion. It's out of fashion because it's not opposed to the formalism of HCB. That by 1975 more mature street photographers had already put aside the decisive moment and had gone on to something more contemporary. Tony is open about being a fan, even a copier of HCB. I think the danger with HCB is once you've seen him he is hard to forget. Being a copier of anyone, even the greatest, is guaranteed to bar you from your own individual path of expression even though great artists have always borrowed and stolen bits and pieces from others on their journey.

Andy - do you believe that if this was a photograph in the style of Klein or Winogrand or the Japanese abstractionists it would be better or riskier? Wouldn't that just be getting in lock step with another collective idea of what is stylish at the time like the bell-bottoms in Tony's shot?

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) "...mature street photographers had already put aside the decisive moment and had gone on to something more contemporary." - Kent

I know what Andy's point was. I just feel that there is nothing as contemporary as a decisive moment. In another moment there'll be another one coming along. We're in the middle of one right now.

If you meant that this picture, and other similar pictures from the time, are out of date (even for thirty years ago), I still don't see the point. These kinds of shots are hard to take. You wear out a lot of shoe leather. You make lots of mistakes. There are many frustrations. I say this not as a devotee of a particular style of photography, nor even in particular defence of this picture, but on behalf all all photographers who take pictures of a certain "genre", whatever that genre is: style is something art historians study. One might not like a style, or a photograph in a certain style, but one should not criticise a photograph simply because it does not fit the mould made in a classroom, or a textbook written by academics.

There are many, many books about HC-B's work. They are - almost to a publication - completely over the top. The old man himself was much more sanguine about his talents, and hated the way art aficianados read too much into his work. What HC-B said about his concept, "the decisive moment", could be expressed in a couple of paragraphs. It was the academic art world that turned it into volume after volume of philosophy. It is well-known he was contemptuous of that.

His guiding principle was to capture the scene all in one moment, with minimal darkroom correction, no cropping and little commentary (by him). Photography was a mind exercise for him. Its objective? Truth. The photograph was just the trophy. Commentators, relying on the fascination impressionable wannabees (like me) had for everything about the man, wrote up this simple idea into a way of life. They took his reticence for talking about his work as a sign that there was more too it than he was prepared to admit. They were wrong. There was nothing more than the image on paper for him, a throwaway item that proved he'd "been there".

Having said all that, I doubt that there will ever be any photographer as infuriatingly talented yet as reticent to talk about it as HC-B. Even he didn't realise that. He thought he was a better painter than photographer. I also believe it would be difficult to find any work as "mature" as his (what a terrible choice of word that was). His work will be appreciated as far into the future as you care to look, long after the Japanese Expressionists and the German Discombobulators have disappeared, even from art school lecture rooms. There was a lightness about his work that is not capable of imitation. You either have it or you don't. I don't, that's for sure. What he made his life's work - the search for truth - will never be out of fashion. That is what Cartier-Bresson was all about. And it is what we, as photographers, as human beings, should try to emulate. The rest is, quite simply, academic.

Andy K.
Tony Never been to art school so I have an easy time ignoring whatever is fashionable in academia. When I think about a photo like this I just go by the image. And yes, in a sense I do think that the HCB influence in street photography was nearly over by the mid-70's and, yes, I think it was a good thing that it was. As Tony knows, much too much tripe was attributed to his pictures, which became locked up in his particular desire to use one lens, middling shades of grey and reluctance to focus accurately. For let's be honest, many of his prints are grittingly haphazard in exposure and focus (I saw the recent big retrospective in person). The look of the American shooters that followed him was much looser, both in subject matter and in form-- just think of a Jeff Jacobsen frame if you don't want to think about Winogrand, or Eugene Richards' 21 and 24mm lens framing, all of which avaided the cloying cuteness (I am betraying myself now, I find HCB irritating) of the lined up elements that are the essence of the decisive moment way of thinking. So I stand by my thoughts about this photo-- an homage to a book something that deserved to be closed.

Dennis Dixson
Antonio Dummetto Ah, the search for truth. That is what I wish we were all about but sadly my friend it is out of fashion and I think it will be a very long time before it comes back in style if it ever does. People do not want to search for the truth these days so much as they want to shove their version of it down our throats. I do not suppose you are going to easily tire of hearing that this photo (like so many others in your portfolio) is simply brilliant. It is hard for me to decide if your work is an inspiration to continue with my own efforts or to simply chuck the cameras in disgust at my own lack of ability to capture anything half as elegant. It reminds me of the frustration I suffered as a child when attempting (and failing miserably) to assemble one of those messy plastic and glue model airplane kits. Never mind the frustration of getting so much older than I was when this photograph was taken. If only I had known about sloppy abstraction back then, I might have been so much happier. I am looking for new work from you by the way, or have you suddenly decided to become a painter? I am imagining for some reason that the people (I keep resisting the temptation to call them children) in this photograph represent different countries or at least different subsets of society. Of course we (the United States) are the ones with our hands up someones knickers. It would be hard to say who would be represented by the other person because the possibilities are endless. We might say England, since they are our best buddies and closest allies. I am certain that the guy on the right represents all of the people in the world who are just plain fed up with the whole deal. I doubt that that group could be categorized as a single country or nation. The guy on the far left is like all the people who just laugh at us for our own stupidity or who think life in general is a big joke. The guy in the far background must be our enemy, totally out of reach and free to move around as he pleases. The guy sitting on the back of the bench near the center of the frame is greed personified. There is no telling what he might do in pursuit of money. The other figure facing away from us represents everyone who chooses to gladly ignore all this nonsense happening in the world. There is so much going on behind our heroes back and he is totally unaware of what is happening anywhere. Anyway it is an incomplete line of thought but at least I am thinking about something. I am not sure I fully appreciated what Andy was saying on the first go around and maybe not on the second. I guess it is the fact that influences change over time and people move on to the next great thing or idea pretty fast. People tell me that is what makes for progress but one would think that universal truths and the pursuit of those truths would be a bit more durable or at least not be dismissed so easily.

Vuk Vuksanovic
reply to andy (www.akochanowski.net) andy. one thing we agree on is the fact that HCB established a monumental standard of documentary photography a long time ago which means precious little to a current art dealer. standards are old. talent is new. galleries have to sell. etc. a few web-clicks ago, i couldn't help but conclude that anyone with a photo site essentially un-viewable without "flash" is seriously disconnected with the visual art he's trying to display. whilst i appreciate the contemporaneity of the gesture, the end result, much like your condemnation of the "decisive moment," carries as much insight and value as a teenager's rebellion against math, history, reading and being nice to his little sister. surely, we can also agree that the teenager hasn't had enough experience to understand, among many other things, how capturing an archetypal social moment that's decently framed and reasonably in-focus rivals winning the kentucky derby. actualy, a picture like the one above is just shy of the triple crown (the high ratio of backs facing lens equates to the donkey who nails you in the unforgiving belmont stretch run). the artistic alternatives you propose may seem more complex in theory, but they're relatively trivial in execution--well, at least in my experience. ultimately, tony is a photographer's photographer and that's just about the biggest compliment a non-nature shooter can receive.

jonathan w.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I really like this photo, but it IS interesting that the only intelligent critiques of it (or rather of its 'philosophy') have come from two of the most talented and active contributors to the 'Street and Documentary' forum on PN. Tony Dummett, Beau and a.kochanowski all have distinctive styles, and they all differ from each other. I'm for any comment that encourages - intelligent - debate between people whose work I admire.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Ah, bliss! Two of my favourite photonettari commenting on the same golden day! Vuk and Monsieur Dixsonne, greetings!

Dennis, your analysis was brilliant. It had been lurking, unformed and unworded, in my brain for thirty years and you gave it light and sound. I can never look at this picture again without mentally referring to what you saw in in the image. Damn your eyes, come out and fight me, mano a mano. Then we'll see who's right.

Vuk, your sardonism re. flash web sites also put into words what's been trying to escape from my lips (or my pen) for a long time. Talk of rebellion against such straight forms as mathematics and science, takes me back to the old days (for me) when I mucked around for months in a darkroom trying to figure out a way to take photographs - inspired by the fantasy sequences of 2001: A Space Odyssey - without a camera. Luckily, I decided to go straight and try glass and shutter again (and nowadays, I can't watch 2001 without falling asleep three minutes into the Jupiter mission). Once again, I've been left behind by fashion. I'm told that 2001 is all the rage again.

A little point of vanity I'd like to clear up: this image may be over-neat, trite and derivative, but it's sharp as sh*t. If you don't believe me, look here. I have to admit that with a rangefinder camera (as Leicas were and, mostly, are) it's harder to fiddle with focus and still capture the action. Hence, HC-B left his focus at 4 metres and shot at f/8 whenever light permitted. I could never do this when I bought an XPan and lost many keepers tussling with its finickerty focus mechanism. Likewise with the Leica I once used (an M3). I still have it, in perfect condition (how could I throw it away when it was manufactured within a week of my birth date?), but use it mostly as a paperweight. The D100 is so much more convenient, and produces roughly equivalent images to grainy Tri-X when used correctly.

On neatness: anyone who knows me will tell you I'm the messiest person they have ever met. I was even messier thirty years ago. Perhaps this picture represented the neatness that escaped me then, and still does to this day. I like being neat, but can only manage it in two dimensions.

Sorry Andy, but I have to take issue with you again on the influence of HC-B. He is the kind of photographer who will be rediscovered, time and again, by generations of up and coming photographers. Much of the contrasty, grainy 60s and 70s genre photography was made as a reaction to his near perfect images. A lot of it was really good, when not self-conscious rebellion. The thing that maddened later photographers about HC-B's work was how technically good it was. How could a photographer get the composition and timing right, while still being pretty spot-on technically? OK, Pierre Gassman was a genius in his own right at printing, and that contributed to a lot of the appeal of H's pictures, but it was the photographer who staked out the middle ground with such a large shadow that forced others to try and compete for whatever was left, like shoppers in the car park of our local mall on a Saturday afternoon, looking for parking spots. There were all these lenses available, yet the old man used on a 50mm "straight" focal length. He printed grays. Nothing was flared-out. He didn't photograph other human beings literally ripped apart by war, or in despair. His photographs were well-mannered. Yet he employed, via Magnum, many war photographers (most of whom were killed while HC-B remained in Paris). He did not betray the trust of his subjects, yet fulfilled the promise he made to them of presenting them truthfully, even if in their most relaxed moments. He was a cantankerous old bastard, cursed by a fate that saw so many believe they, and only they, were the only ones who really understood him. Yet his principles were simple: point and shoot... but see first. No genre - Japanese, American, or Calathumpian - has a monopoly on seeing. They only have different points of view. Ultimately, the truth will out.

Midweek, this POW thread has potential. I agree that discussion should be civilised and thoughtful (although I don't agree that there have only been two valuable contributors so far). There is no photoshop controversy to ignite passions, no invasion of privacy to criticise (we were all in a park, one of the biggest in London, in broad daylight). The elements are all there for a chat among ourselves concerning the nature of what we like to do.

Praveen Repakula
Life in Still That's fantastic to bring out life in that still picture. Some can remember their own past :) looking at it.

Marc G.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Tony, it now seems, that your picture has so far only be criticized for being almost as "irritating" and passe as HCB's. I hope you can live with such a great compliment. :-)

Dave Nitsche
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Ok, way out of my league here but I'm about as far from a street shooter as they come and I have a question. Defining moment? Old School? New philosophy? I was always under the impression that street shooting had little or nothing to do with rules but more so in capturing emotion and the essence of the subject. All I seem to be hearing is a debate over which rules are correct for which time period or how something is outdated in it's perspective. I thought (maybe naively so) that street shooting was about the honesty of the person looking through the lens. I would hate to think, and depending on answers I may have to, that something I enjoy so much to look at is bound by as many rules or philosophies as stock images. The one thing I love about street shooting is how it shows me an environment. How it puts me there. Good street shots put me behind the lens, not the photographer. This image does that. Many of Peter's do, Andy E's do that to me all the time (I miss that guy). Maybe my simplistic ideas of street shooting let me to believe there weren't many rules behind it. Don't get me wrong, the talent needed to succeed in it blows my mind, and is light years beyond my abilities but I thought it was a more individualistic concept than an overall guideline. Thanks for your thoughts guys - Dave

Andy K.
Dave N Great question but not the right question. It's not a matter of "rules," because you're right there aren't any, but a matter of understanding what the shooter was trying to accomplish with the photograph. Let me give an example. Suppose a kid in 10th grade showed up with a cellphone photo of his buddies that looked like Tony's picture-- this wonderful quilt of different expressions nicely lined up in just-so framing. If you knew the kid had no interest in photography you would reasonably and correctly conclude that he got a lucky wonderful shot and leave it at that. No rules, no interpretation, nothing but a pleasing image. But photography doesn't exist in a vacuum, and outside of a site like this no one seriously looks at just one image from a given photographer. Just like Tony's folder, any serious photographer who works in a documentary/ street idiom and who wants to have his/her work say something will begin by putting together a portfolio of at least 15-20 images, often a lot more. And it is only from that portfolio of multiple images that someone with a practiced eye will be able to derive some understanding about the photographer's work. Anything less and you're in the realm of art fair booth photography where buyers look to fill the space above the sofa with a nice black and white picture. I am quite familiar with the work of many published photographers in the documentary/street genre. So, fair or not, when I look at Tony's folder I do ask the questions: what is he is trying to say and what idiom is he using to say it? And the clear answer is his work is derivative of the work made popular 20 to 30 years earlier than 1975 by the Fench photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. There is no problem with that of course, and as I recall Tony's folder makes it quite clear that was what he was doing. The point I was making was that nice as much of it is, its derivative nature in form does not make it stand out. It looks like the work of a young photographer who had not yet found his own voice. And in terms of content, what strikes me is that the young Tony had not yet begun to work with the mix of elements that HCB did (pattern repetition etc). None of that is unusual nor should it be taken as criticism. Just as an example, a few weeks ago I picked up a new book by Mitch Epstein, a color urbanist of some popularity, though not generally a top name among the public, which showed his work in a particular series from the late 1970's to 1988. The early work was clearly recognizable as influenced by Gary Winogrand, all wide-angles, slight tilt, a certain randomness. Later on Epstein found his own "look", and his photos from the early 1980's on said something different than the work from the 70's. Winogrand was gone from Epstein's frame. Beau started this by pointing out that much of the appeal of the Kensington Park photo lies in a 70's nostalgia. I think that's about right. It's an interesting field, and I'm glad that for once there is an opportunity to talk about it on POW.

Beau .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) I think we can all agree that b&w street photography is a little like playing be-bop or writing sonnets, and Andy's point is valid to the extent that there's only so much that can be said about such photos in the context of "contemporary art". But there's a lot of joy to be had from art that you'd never see displayed in the meat-packing district, and I for one can attest that it can be a lot of fun making such art. The fact that HCB made extraordinary images AND revolutionized his medium only means that he's a giant and we're not. There's no shame in striving only for the first half of that achievement, and if a person comes up a little short in that endeavor, he or she has more to show for it than the person who falls short while striving exclusively for the other half.

Kent Tolley
Sonnets and bebop I admit my one Dizzy Gillespy LP is covered with dust but I just listened to Billie Holiday with Benny Goodman sing the hottest version you can imagine of "What a little moonlight can do." It's not dated to my ears even though it's from 1935, two decades prior to Bebop.

In 1991 Lincoln Center made a major commitment, appointing Wynton Marsalis as artistic director of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Soon after the Smithsonian Institution and Carnegie Hall created their own repertory jazz orchestras. The efforts of these groups has helped to revitalize music from earlier jazz periods including the works of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, among others. During the mid 1980s and '90s, many younger musicians began to explore earlier jazz styles, incorporating them into their music. Musicians rooted in bebop and hard bop styles also began developing a repertoire incorporating influences from early jazz and the swing era. (Verve)

Pablo Neruda released "100 Love Sonnets" in 1960. The language and POV is pure Neruda but the form is 400 years old and still viable as demonstrated by this modern master. Today the most widely read and contemporary poet is Jalaluddin Rumi from the 13th Century.

I am not convinced that "new" is necessarily better or that fashion is anything more than a temporary collective idea of what is acceptable.

Landrum Kelly
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Intellectual fashion is intellectual fashion, whether it is in photography or philosophy or anything else, and what is fashionable is too often trash. The idea of whether Tony has "moved on" as a street photographer evokes in me the question: "Moved on to what?" Once that question is answered, then I want to see to what his work is being compared that is supposed to be so good now or in some intermediate epoch. Time will tell what is of enduring value. During the epoch in which something is fashionable is probably the worst possible time to evaluate it. It is then all the rage. Soon it might be trash. A lot of it will then be destined for the trash bin. Out of each era, most things are destined for the trash bin. That which endures has recognizable value across generations and across schools of thought. It might be lost for a while, but it will come around again and again. This photo captures some enduring themes. It has a lot more value than nostalgia. Kids are still kids, and, while the mode of dress may vary from generation to generation, the slice of life captured here is not only enduring but timeless. I am personally not after the fashionable, but the timeless. Fashions come and go. That which is timeless endures, in all fields of philosophy, including aesthetics, of which art theory is a part. I can't wait to see how history judges the so-called "post-modern" as well as "deconstruction." My guess is that they will be treated either as passing fads or as something of enduring value under a new name. Technology aside, there really is not much new under the sun when it comes to aesthetics. A good picture will always be a good picture, and, if it is a picture of human beings, it will be "contemporary" as long as human nature is what it is, which could be a very long time indeed. This is a good picture. It will be interesting five hundred years from now, not just a relic. It is about kids and about composition, and a good composition will always be a good composition--and kids will surely always be kids. Life is short, but art is long. Fashion is the shortest of all, the least worthy of pursuing in the name of the "avant garde." --Lannie

Eugene Scherba
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I thin

Very good discussion was brewing up here. The level of criticism itself is the best compliment to the photographer.

First, Beau's analogy with be-bop playing and sonnet writing was very appropriate. We can easily misinterpret it, however, if we limit ourselves to the discussion that uses the opposition of enduring and ephemeral values as its starting point. Too many people criticize fashion by saying that it is useless and ephemeral, while it is only a dialogue. A dialogue ceases to exist once encapsulated. Too many people prefer things to remain encapsulated, in the womb of "timelessness," their own presumptions, or other value hierarchies.

This photo works precisely in the manner poseurism works. The young persons in the photo are all about acting in a certain (hip) style, the photo is all about showing them in a certain (anecdotal) style. A lot of work done by Cartier-Bresson was an exercise in caricature, nothing more. A great exercise, which made its performer a name in his discipline. Style is key in caricature, there is nothing in this photo but style. Which is not a bad thing by itself; it only places the photo in a different discourse.

p>Reliance on nostalgic reaction is also not a bad thing by itself. Without change, nostalgia would be impossible. Nostalgia is realization of change. It is possible to evoke nostalgic feelings without making references to the past. Subjects who have never had past can equally experience nostalgia.

This "timelessness" that people like to assign to certain things in order to raise their perceived value is only a style, a form. There is a style which is repeatedly perceived as "timeless" thanks to the parsimony (but also specificity) of its system of references. The specificity is the problem here. You cannot avoid being specific by being parsimonious. It is important to understand that "timelessness" is merely a style. Our current perception of "timelessness" style is very different from what it was a century ago and from what it will be a century from now. Which is to say that this "timelessness" style some people seek is not timeless at all.

It is completely wrong to think that contemporary discourse rejects the previous achievements. It reconsiders them, produces a dialogue around them. Any artwork engages the viewer into a dialogue, the criticism is never that of an artwork itself, but always of the dialogue it produces.

Landrum Kelly
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Ah, Eugene, you have offered discourse about discourse. No, timelessness is not a style, and this photo is about more than style. Both are about what is universally, eternally human. The style of composition may change, the style of dress will change, but kids will always be poseurs, especially for their peers. Nothing timeless? Ah, Michelangelo, Plato, Jesus, King come to mind. Yes, the discourse changes, but, interestingly, that about which the discourse changes remains remarkably constant. May it always be so. --Lannie

Andy K.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Lannie, you completely miss the point. A post hoc derivation can't be timeless, it can only be a copy.

Eugene Scherba
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I thin Aah, post hoc ergo propter hoc! As this isn't particularly related to this week's POW as such, I suggest that whoever is interested in discussing "timelessness" posts in the thread What is timeless? in the Philosophy of Photography forum.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Wow! This is all going waaaay over my head. There was me, 30 years ago, walkin' thru the park, saw these kids, followed 'em around for a while, snapped a coupla pix, processed it a month later, thought "mmmm.... not bad", printed it darkroomwize once or twice later on, scanned it in 2000 and stuck it on PN to give it some air. Four years later everyone's arguing. Like that point Eugene: here we are discussing obsolete styles of photographs and the contents are obsolete style as well! How to figure that? Well, I guess the pic's not just about style. And I certainly wasn't thinking, "Must get the style right, 'cause 30 years later when I'm 52, some people who mightn't even have been born now are gonna be sluggin' it out on some thing called The Internet... whatever that is." I really didn't consider that a simple snapshot picture of a bunch of teenagers sitting on a park bench was already disqualified because over in Asia some Japanese Avant Gard dude was printing out-of-focus Grade #2 negs on Grade #5 paper. Someone above said I didn't have to be ashamed of the pic and for that I am truly grateful. Thirty years of embarassment and personal flagellation, emotional crisis and outright self-disgust about this image got swept away when that kind commenter offered me absolution for my sins. And my sins were many (thanks Lannie, but it's the truth). Since reading that comment, I've already forgiven myself for focusing the camera, composing it right and printing all the mid tones on the neg. So many times I'd thought of clipping the blacks and bleaching the whites, trying to be stylish, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The most "dangerous" I got was to sepia up the scan a little, but even then MD was onto me, proving I cheated. My bad. Thanks MD. It took you a couple of comments, but you got me fair and square. How I, through the 80s and the 90s, despised my non-fashionable pedestrian values! How I punished myself all those long years for using a 50mm lens, with forgiveness but three short decades in the future (I sold all my lenses to pay for the ticket to London... but that was no excuse, I know now). I shoulda held on to them and I never would have had to hate myself! If only I'd known about Mitch Epstein and Gary Winogrand I might have crawled under the seat and taken a photo of their asses as they sat there... much more interesting than their faces or their gestures. We're talkin' "gritty", people! All those wrong choices. Why use a lens at all? That would have kept you all guessing, wouldn't it? On the day, I could have started a fight, instead of just walking by, and photographed their expressions in between donging them on the head with the trusty old Nikormat: "the dark side of Kensington Gardens", and all that. I wanted to get violent, I really did. It's only now that I know the possibilities were endless, and that - in ruining this scene for future viewers by my dependence upon a style, itself a further 30 years old - the best I could hope for was to "come up a little bit short". All that angst over nothing. Next time, I think I'll just feed the ducks.

Eugene Scherba
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I thin Ha, Tony. The age gap, the Internet, the ducks... The whole thing is just so comical and ridiculous; maybe we should just drop it altogether...

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) P.S. on a slightly more serious note: just saw the Winogrand shot (cross-posted). Interesting arrangement of people, but his "keeper" shot was more like one of my "rejects", as posted elsewhere. Even thirty years ago I knew it was way too easy to just snap from "the amateur's angle" - 45 degrees walking by - chopping off people's heads and limbs into the bargain. You cursed your bad luck, or bad timing, and then looked for a scene you could do something better with, that had all the elements.

Interesting faces and settings are just that: interesting... there are plenty of them about. But you really do have to dig a little deeper, try a little harder, take that extra frame from a better angle with cleaner composition and balance. You should try to be a little bolder and more imaginative, if you want to make an exhibitable photograph. That was why I posted my "reject" shots of this scene: to encourage the extra effort that might reward a photographer with a better shot.

Some scenes you just walk past. Some you shoot anyhow, just for the record, but only for the record of something that might have been but just didn't quite cut it. I don't think Winogrand's photograph is good enough to rate as a disqualifier for all future pictures taken in all future parks being labelled by you as derivative, post, pre or right-up-the-middle of hoc.

And I certainly don't think it's good enough for you, Andy, to allege by implication that I copied it. As I said, Winogrand's pic is the one I threw in the bin. If I'd heard of him (which I hadn't) I could only be accused of trying to improve on his flawed view, to go the extra distance where he stopped short.

Landrum Kelly
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) The point here is the photo, not the philosophy of "timelessness." Andy, of course a post hoc "derivation" can be timeless. There is no copy here, just a variation. I do not miss the point. I understand the logic of the argument. I disagree. Your derivation is predictable, unoriginal. Again, however, you are confusing the photo with the commentary. The photo has value even when the commentary starts going downhill. No, the value of the photo is independent of the value of the commentary. That is the beauty of it. There are photographers and artists, and then there are critics. This is reified theory, and I do not mean meta-theory. It is just bad theory. On a typical day, I generate a couple of hundred theories, and I toss most of them. What I don't toss ends up in print. I know bad theory because I write it every day, and most of it has to be tossed just as most photos are also not keepers. Again, this photo is a variation on a theme. Almost every photo is a variation on a theme. Every nude ever shot is a variation on a theme, likewise for landscapes. Let me ask one of you guys to offer something that is NOT a variation on an old theme that is also worth looking at. This is NOT a nostalgia shot. Bell bottoms be damned. Hair length comes and goes. What is memorable here is that which persists through the ages: kids being poseurs. --Lannie

Dennis Dixson
Tony - It must be quite a shock to learn that thirty years ago you were roughly the photographic equivalent of an out of tune garage band doing cover versions of Barry Gibb songs. I wonder what would happen if you had never made any enlightened references to HCB on our behalf. Surely someone else would have connected the dots for us or perhaps we would have simply wallowed in our ignorance for the rest of our days. Thanks for the many generous contributions. I only wish I were able to compare my work to someone who is considered to be not only the master of his craft but a defining artist as well. Defining artist is a pretty potent concept to attach to any human activity. I like that term so much and yet it fills me with regret to know that I will never attain that status (well at least not for photography). The photograph impresses me in that I do not see it so much in a nostalgic way as others have but rather as a mirror or a measure of the world as it is at the moment. It is still very relevant after the passing of the years. Besides that the hillbillies here in the Midwest are still dressing this way for the most part.

Eugene Scherba
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I thin Lanny, Andy's comment still holds. Your argument was that timelessness is not "style," that it is a property independent of style. It is not. Why is this important? Because if timelessness is a "style," it is not timeless, since a style by definition isn't. As simple as that. You say:

Nothing timeless? Ah, Michelangelo, Plato, Jesus, King come to mind. Yes, the discourse changes, but, interestingly, that about which the discourse changes remains remarkably constant.

This is a logical fallacy. It is described as post hoc, ergo propter hoc. ("After the fact, therefore because of it"). Michelangelo had become "timeless" after we started considering him timeless, not because he or his work were inherently timeless. You cannot derive "timelessness" from looking at Michelangelo's work. I bet, however, that, in Michelangelo's time, there were people who expected Michelangelo's work to last (your definition of "timelessness"?), that there were people who didn't care much about Michelangelo, and that there were people who plainly disliked him. That doesn't say anything about timelessness. Michelangelo's work didn't survive because of some inherent timelessness, it survived because a lot of people knew that it was Michelangelo's work, that it was interesting/skillful/beautiful, that it was worth collecting/seeing/et cetera.

Other artists, whose work was also great, weren't so lucky...

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) I don't mind the "derivative" criticisms. They're perfectly OK to make. After all, everything is derivative. What got me going was the suggestion that I was copying that Winogrand picture, when I went to a bit of trouble upthread to show I already took that photo (or its facsimile) and then went deeper into things after that. Perhaps what was most irritating was the implication that it was even worth copying. I'd have been quite content with a cogent discussion on some of the many points I've tried to make over the years here on PN. How there's no magic to street photography. How the "decisive moment" usually isn't handed down from On High, but is approached as your understanding of a scene grows. Sometimes (most times) you miss it. I also think it's always a good idea to have a good neg to work with (even if you're going to discard most of it). Oh yeah, and focus the lens too (you can always blur it in PS if you want to). Form, composition, content can all be achieved if you relax and allow yourself to see. Pretty basic stuff that a lot of photographers think is magic. It ain't. Instead, we get someone making the profound point that there were other schools of thought in photography at the time. True, but then we hear that these more "mature" photographers somehow superceded everything beforehand, assumedly rendering it quaint. That's preposterous and deserves challenging. Too much POW discussion is about "Art". It's not art when you're doing it... it's what you happen to be doing, nothing more or less. The "Art" bit, the "philosophy" bit, the "genre" bit comes afterwards when the critics have to try and think up something new to say. The best thing to do is to take the best photograph you can at the time. But to do that you need to know what's achieveable, and how to achieve it. That's why a POW discussion is important. I've published a few sequences of failures to try and encourage others into believing they could do it themselves, that they needn't give up and sell their cameras or go back to their day jobs because they didn't make a picture they wanted to one day. Everyone goes through it, a sort of pain barrier of wondering how in the hell the "greats" got those shots, until one day they make a magic image and realise it's achieveable for them too. The pride may be purely personal, they may never show their images, but they know that once everything came together for them, and that if they keep at it, it may happen again. To get to that point, the first great image, you have to know it's possible. You don't need genre nazis haunting your every footstep pulling names out of books and whispering, "it's all been done before so don't bother". I thought learning was a pretty basic element of why this site exists, and why so many fought so hard to keep it alive, and pay their yearly subscriptions to maintain it. If you score a POW it's easy to sit back and take the praise, and contribute only humble thank-you's. That's not me. Once in a rare while - like this week - I take the chance to ascend the soapbox and preach. Rest assured, when this week is over, I'll sink back into the dead zone again, where old duffers like me (apparently) belong and, to tell you the truth, are quite content to remain.

Chris Waller
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Tony, That's a great picture. It's a slice of life. It'll still stand up another thirty years hence.

Landrum Kelly
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Keep saying it with pictures, Tony. The images will stay in my memory. The very bad logic? That I will fortunately soon forget. Art is long. Art criticism comes and goes in waves of fashion. I just wish that I had taken this picture, or the one on Speaker's Corner (your most recent POW before this). --Lannie

Kent Tolley
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) "And I certainly don't think it's good enough for you, Andy, to allege by implication that I copied it." - Tony

Tony - you call your folder "Poor Imitations of Cartier-Bresson." Andy just reminded us that this shot and your folder is derivative in nature and form. He didn't imply it; he made it explicit.
("And the clear answer is his work is derivative of the work made popular 20 to 30 years earlier than 1975 by the Fench photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson ...its derivative nature in form does not make it stand out.") - Andy

You both agree on this. I don't understand your objection to Andy?
Your statement that the Winogrand pic would have been one of your rejects sounds conceited. You may not like the chaos and apparent snapshot quality in Winogrand but you have to admit he is an original.

Philipp Gebhardt
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I love these picture, it is a total different world to my world. Maybe you can sell it, as a poster by diviant art, or a other site.

Kent Tolley
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) The title alone, although it explains the distinction between what this looks like and what it actually is, does not make the picture work. That's like having to explain a joke to somebody. If you made that distinction visually - if it was abundantly clear that they were NOT POSED but they LOOK POSED - if the primary thing I got was that they have actually unconsciously posed themselves and that their vision of themselves is magazine-like and I got these things visually (not in the title) it would be wonderful. The perfectly clean frame and their stillness adds even further to the studio, posed quality. Maybe a crooked horizon or a background or surround of chaotic, unposed people would set these kids, like a jewel in a setting. The distinction would be clearer and your idea would work better. I love the idea but think you didn't bring it off. In that sense it is a little out of focus. Many others in this portfolio work better for me.

Kent Tolley
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) correction: their stillness is right, it's the rest of the frame that should not be still.

Tim Everett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) I Find it very hard to beleive these Posers were not Posed, Even if it was spontanious the very fact it looks to Posed spoils it for me. It Looks like a scene from an Advert for Jeans or something. It does not do much for me, I would not rate it Highly as most people seem to?

Andy K.
One last comment Of course I didn't mean to imply Tony copied the Winogrand photo. If Tony took it that way then I apologize as it was not my intention to suggest that. What I did mean by posting that book cover was to show by example that even nine years earlier than this picture, HCB's style was being reworked and explicitly rejected. Good, bad, indifferent, I don't really care, but the fact is many photographers thought the HCB way of seeing had dead-ended by the late 1960's. The art world did as well: you cannot treat MOMA's championing of Winogrand, Arbus, Friedlander or Eggleston in the early 70's as anything but a rejection of street photography as it had been practiced from about the 1940's to then. HCB himself stopped shooting by the early 70's; Magnum (who later aallowed Martin Parr to join) pushed the work of Webb, Koudelka, DeKeayzer, Gruyaert, Richards, etc, none of whom shot at all like HCB.

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Kent, you use "conceit" incorrectly. The oblique angle is too easy. My pointing out that I took an oblique angle shot myself, and then went looking for a better one, is not conceit. If Winogrand had come further around to the front, cut out the confusing background, included a few of the arms, legs, and torso he chopped off he probably would have had a better shot. Interesting faces and expressions are easy to find. Putting them in a balanced pictorial context is the difficult bit. That's why, to me, if I had taken the oblique shot, it would have been a reject. Matter of fact, I DID take the shot, and DID reject it.

As a rule, I try to avoid oblique angles because they're cliches in outdoor photography. They're cliches because, usually, the photographer didn't have the moxy, the time or the opportunity to get in closer or squarer. Even if this isn't the case, it still looks that way. It's just an unsatisfactory angle to me, in most cases.

CLICK HERE and you'll see the similar shot I rejected (top left).

I think this scene in particular required a concentration on the foreground "neatness", with little else to distract it. Receding parallax lines would have ruined the basic "tableau" setting. Tableaus are meant to be looked at from the front. A rectangular film frame further reinforces this. That's why the background is square - up and down lines, with everything neatly placed - broken up by the kids themselves, who have all kinds of angles to them.

On the long title: at the time (I think this was just about the first photo I posted to photo.net) I put a sentence as the title because I didn't think I could post a comment on my own picture (PN newby). Anticipating the comment that the shot was posed (as two-out-of-three do say, see Tim's comment below yours) I put it right up front that it wasn't. Still didn't do me any good, did it? This is all a long time in the past, nearly five years. Sorry it affects your appreciation of the pic.

Tim, I'm flattered in one way that you find it "very hard to believe" it's not posed. It wasn't. It's the scene as I found it. The Levis Jeans ads are the "poor imitations" (>>>>>>> before the Thought Police raid this comment, I'm just being cheeky <<<<<<<).

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) "...you cannot treat MOMA's championing of Winogrand, Arbus, Friedlander or Eggleston in the early 70's as anything but a rejection of street photography as it had been practiced from about the 1940's to then. - Andy.

I find that assertion very easy to resist.

"Rejection" is too strong, too dramatic a word. An "alternative view", perhaps? The MOMA didn't "reject" HCB just because they exhibited the works of other photographers. Why would they? HCB must have been one of their biggest money-spinners. Crass and commercial, but I bet it's true, and MOMA has to pay the bills, after all.

No human endeavour stands still. There's always change, but you don't have to "reject" the past to make way for the present. You add another cloister to an already broad church, not knock it down. Building is the MOMA's job, not rejection.

G .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, LOL at the jeans ad suggestion ... jeans ads became trendy in much later years than this pic! So Tony was ahead of his time ...

I am really chuckling to myself over all these comments which contain contemptuousness, analytical philosophising and artsy critique ... not that I am beyond participating, just that they are so irrelevant in this instance. Art TRIES TO CREATE SOMETHING whereas street photography RECORDS SOMETHING THAT ALREADY EXISTS, albeit varying in style and standards of that recording.

This is a record of a time, place, people representing the era, and showing that innocent ego teenager pastime of posing - a human element that yes is timeless, as Lannie says. People of this age always have preened and posed (to attract the opposite sex) and always will. It's practically a nature shot!!! Nostalgia and fashion are relevant if you are into nostalgia and fashion, this picture contains an element of that and you can enjoy it if you so wish, otherwise forget the style v substance. Take it as it is, a record of something timeless, but something which has been portrayed in a most artistic way. Not fashionable art, not contemporary art, not even classic art, but in the art of the true street photographer. Be invisible to your target, compose it right, expose it right, but let the subjects do their thing without intervention.

Hat's off to you Tony. Philosophy and arid artsy discussion pales to insignificance when viewing as observatory witness to a naturally evolved moment. I don't even know why I am commenting. This is one of those pictures where discussion is not required. It stands alone way and above the vast majority of pictures. As somebody above posts "it just is".

G .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, ps I must defend FLASH!! So what if a website uses it? If you don't have the software to view it then just don't bother. Having tested every available software for displaying pics, slideshows and webgraphics, I have wasted much time and money on various programs for display purposes. The quality of all of them sank without trace. Flash wins with me, and I hasten to add it wouldn't have survived otherwise!! What's the difference between having to have flash software to view, to needing browser to view? It's all the same ... ... Off topic, I look forward to your message Mary :)

G .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, For those of you that prefer oblique angles or a bit of motion blur, try this one.

Brieanna Moore
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Makes me happy.

Rienk Jiskoot
Cheers hello Tony, happy to see you made it a third time to the POW hall of honour. What interests me is why there's such a big difference between your later work and the "HCB"-inspired portfolio. It has nothing to do with quality, it's not a critic, just wondering. Did you get bored by trying to reach/copy (meant as a compliment, really...) the HCB-level of street photography by growing up and getting your own style/colour inserted in your work? Or did you turn away slowly from the b/w HCB-style? Just wondering, please don't shoot me! Cheers, and again, congratulations.

Kent Tolley
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Tony - thanks for this photo and your discussion. It's made me think. I am grateful to Andy for bringing up that whole discussion. I needed to think on that as well.

You may not want to but if you mouse on this photo in your folder, select Options, then select Edit Image Info you can change the title or any other information. You can even upload a new version of the photo without the red stain on the central figure's jacket.

Congratulations on your accomplishment. It's clear that you are one of the most successful photographers on this site.

LIU Yuan
Samsara

Samsara means the eternal cycle of life, it signifies the theory of reincarnation, being included in Hinduism. Am I trying to be philosophical or even religious? No, by no means, we've had enough of that this week. I'm saying this with the greatest "lightness" (as Tony said above about HCB's work). The term "samsara" came to mind when I realized this coincidence:

Some 30 years before the above photo was taken, Cartier-Bresson escaped the POW camp of the Nazis. That was his third attempt and he succeeded. 30 years after Tony triggered the shutter and captured the above scene, this pic made it to POW on this site. This is the third time for Tony, a record on PN.

What does this mean? Nothing. Just an interesting coincidence and it probably has nothing to do with samsara. I've chosen this "decisive moment" to mention it as the discussions seem to be closed and tomorrow we'll move to another POW. I have to make it clear, I definitely don't consider being caught by POW on PN a torture. I agree with Eugene that "the level of criticism itself is the best compliment to the photographer" albeit the criticism may veer from constructive to ludicrous. Personally I think it'd be unwise if the photographer assumes a defensive position. ("lightness"!)

Timelessness, fashion etc might sound irrelevant to some viewers but this photo for me would inevitably trigger this sort of discussion. I assume the intention of the Elves was just to show us something "refreshing" and in a way it is indeed compared to what we often see these days. Timeless, fashionable or not it all lies with the eyes of the beholders [but in the fashion industry we do see a cycle at times :)]. BTW, I have the TCM (Turner Classic Movies) channel at home and I enjoy it a lot. And BTW, I've just noticed a very active candid photography forum on this site.

I've enjoyed reading the above discussions and I thank Tony for the inspiration.

Marc G.
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) In case some people missed it earlier, and hoping to stress how true and how important I think this paragraph was, I'd like to copy and paste here something truly great (imo), that Tony wrote this week: "Real street photographers are able to take motion and make it look like it's a tableau, when it's not really. (...) The immediate aim is to extract a sort of "truth" from an otherwise random scene. The ultimate aim is to educate oneself in why people do what they do. The theory goes like this: if you can capture the essence - the "truth" - of a scene, then you understand it a little better than you otherwise might have. It's a practical way of attempting to learn about life, but only one of many such ways. Part of the understanding is learning how to anticipate what your subjects will be doing before they do it. The concept of "the decisive moment" is not entirely about rapid reflexes. It is about understanding what you are seeing. (...) Photographers, unable to draw, run, or be courageous enough to stand up in front of an audience (all true of me, at least), make a photographic record of their understanding of others and the world we all live in. The more technical constraints you put on yourself - printing full frame, for example, or never posing your subjects (although they may pose themselves) - the more you test yourself and your perceptions." I don't think there can hardly be a more simple and true definition of what street photography is, was, and will always be. Human beings have always tried to understand the world, and the world was always made of a hundred themes or so, to be understood better, again and again, in various ways, over time. All the rest is indeed about fashion and trends, and sounds really pale to me, in comparison to such a noble and typically artistic endeavour: understanding the world is what art is really about, no matter when, no matter how. Thanks for this beautiful post, Tony.

Vincent K. Tylor
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Here's the problem I have after reading some instructive insight above, a few very well expressed specific points of commendation, suggestions for improvement as well as putting up with the barrage of philosophical... um... thoughts. I can see why the photographer that took this image above would take issue with a few others presumptuously articulating here, on his image, what the photographer himself was trying to do, whom he was attempting to emulate, what is inside his head, so on and so on when he did shoot this. Who wouldn't take issue? That said, at the same time it also seems somewhat reasonable to see why some might indeed make those points of view known, since Tony has clearly demonstrated his own appreciation for and influence from Cartier-Bresson and even gone as far as naming perhaps his best folder of work as "Poor imitations of Cartier-Bresson". Right there Tony, in my opinion, you have presented on the table, in front of all on this site to see, the proverbial and mostly unwelcomed and dreaded "can of worms". How can you expect others not to formulate those assumptions in mind then, if not also in print above? Nothing good, that I can think of, could ever come out of such a comparison made by the photographer himself. You are certain to raise the eyebrows of some of those looking on, and of course to add even more accolades for the name whose work yours (as you say) are a poor imitation of. Perhaps that IS the purpose of naming that particular body of work, to give credit to Henri Cartier Bressen, and help others not so experienced to perhaps delve further into this photographic icon's body of work and life. Actually, only after his recent passing last year did I come to know so much more about his accomplishments and influence on the photgraphic world. If this getting his name known is not your purpose though in that folder title, then any good that can come out of your doing so is lost (so I think), and I'd suggest naming it something different. Just a thought for the sake of peace... He has very clearly articulated his much simpler approach to the making of this shot. Why not just believe him then?It is difficult enough to try to understand what we might have been thinking and whose influences are actually having an effect on us, when we go out shooting, much less trying to put into words what someone else is actually doing and thinking. The other question or thought I have, has to do with the general feel one might get when looking at Tony Dummet's participation/posting and interaction on this site. I personally get the impression that you are retired practically and anything done photographically speaking now, is done almost as a secondary hobby. If your work 30 years ago can can garner such appreciation from so many people on this site today, and if you are clearly all that much the wiser and smarter now than you were then, then please share why you wouldn't be looking forward to the absolute best years of your photographic life? Your best work should be something many in the photographic world would be keenly anticipating. In other words, the journey should just really have begun. HCB died at the age of 96 you are just 51. That means you're just barely half way there... Fire them twin diesels up Tony!

Tony Dummett
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, I think) Nice post, Vincent. I called it "Poor Imitations..." because to call it "Equally Good OR Better Imitations..." would have been both wrong and conceited (ah... that word again). I wanted to include HC-B's name in the title of the portfolio, but did not want to suggest that I in any way sought glorification by association with that name. Hence, I specifically used the word "poor". And I meant it. I have been very rarely, if ever, able to approach his lightness of touch. Lightness ain't me. Being a very untidy person, I over-compensate when taking photos by using too heavy a hand, trying to keep things neat and orderly. I had met The Man just once, a few months before I took this pic. We shook hands upon introduction and next time I saw him he was walking away up a Paris lane, alone. I was a bit miffed personally, just standing there feeling foolish, but knew he was regarded as stand-offish, so I forgot about it (as I am sure he already had). My main problem was when I was going to eat next, not photographic style. I also had a chance, a few days after the meeting, to go through his prints in the Bibliotheque Nationale (via a friend of a friend who was a staff member there). I had an hour with them, lifting them out of a used Kodak Polycontrast 20x24 paper box and, with gloved hand, going over them with a fine-toothed eye. I saw all the scratches and touch-ups old negatives needed to have done to them, smelt the fixer on them and generally, in that dungeon below Paris, drank in the experience. I was also careful not to make too many false moves, as there was an armed guard standing right behind me. It was a pretty special moment: my own private viewing. Yet, seeing all the marks of darkroom work on the unmounted prints (nothing faked, just repair work) much of the adolescent awe I had felt for the old man's work dropped away from me there and then. Seeing that Cartier-Bresson had the same problems with neg scratches, dodging and burning, sharp focus and incorrect exposure as I did ( and he didn't even do his own prints!) snapped me out of it and convinced me that there was hope for me as a photographer yet. Being ignored by him immediately upon our earlier meeting added a little bit to my determination to make the best of his very simple philosophy - point, see and shoot, and don't edit, except in the viewfinder - and to give up the "hero worship" part. If he could do it, so could I. Whether I succeeded, or even came near, is for others to judge. Some are too kind. Others too harsh. A few get it just right (but I'm not going to say what I think that is). As it's hardly likely that another POW will ever come my way, I'd like to say thanks to all the commenters - all of them - for taking the time to come along and throw in their two-bob's worth. The POW was sprung on me absolutely by surprise (nothing could have shocked me more) and I didn't have time to make any of the changes in the title, or the "red" tone that I should have. What's done is done and can't be undone, only forgiven. I had "other plans" for my photographic career, but living a life got in the way. It's a long story, and a mundane one. I've often regretted that I didn't have the committment to continue. If I had, perhaps I'd have thousands of passably good shots now, instead of a few tens. But I didn't and I haven't. And that's life. So, my message to other wannabee street photographers is to first find your hero. Then get stuck into his or her work, pore over it until you get an idea of what they're on about and how they did what they did. Learn all you can about their technique and their philosophy. Remove the magic spell by performing photographic autopsies on them. Then go out and develop your own style: it's all you can do anyway, if your're honest with yourself. If you're any good, you'll find out about it soon enough, not by the praise of your fans, but by the self-knowledge you acquire, the confidence you achieve in assessing situations and the goodwill you bring to others on the way. You're telling their stories, after all.

Steve Aronoff
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, The thing I find interesting about the photo, and perhaps this is a sign of the (old) times, is that all the boys look like the same boy. Not only do they have the same hairdo, they look like they have the same face. Weird.

Alexander Chubb
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, maybe if mr bresson would us a computer he could fix the scratches and marks.

hugo tuffen
Nice but vacuous! It's clearly a well-taken photograph but, if you don't mind a bit of friendly contentiousness, I don't think that these people make a very interesting subject for a photograph. In my view they look affected and superficially fashionable, which means that any reportage would also lack depth unless it is an obvious critique of that affected superficiality! I think that the photos by Hugh Hill on this site provide a much more moving and relevant reflection on the lives of real people in London.

G .
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, "... unless it is an obvious critique of that affected superficiality".

As a viewer, I would say it obviously was, but that would be up to the photographer to confirm. Even the title refers to 'poseur-ing', so the concept has certainly been acknowleged, even without the title's reference! This is a photographic record of the oh-so-common teenager trying 'to be somebody' when they have not yet experienced much of adult life. The superficiality of poseur-ing is what makes this capture so familiar, with an element of charm (or fondness) and humour. Not that we are laughing at them, but we recognise this natural phenonemon from when we as adolescents also poseur-ed ...

Even if we weren't so brazen as to pose unashamedly so superficially, we surely still see this as part and parcel of humans developing their personalities and identities?

hugo tuffen
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Hi G, I acknowledge your point of view but just because it's part of teenagers' development doesn't necessarily make it interesting for me...each to their own..

I think that the most resonant images of people capture the reality of despair, elation or just everyday life; artifice doesn't come very high on the list!

Cheers, Hugo

M.M. Meehan
Response to Belgian Kids in Kensington Gardens (these kids weren't posing, so much as poseur-ing. I took several images, but they weren't aware of my presence...(too taken up with themselves, Congratulations on the POW. Wow, what a great discussion. Just a bit about my reaction to the photo without reading: It screamed '60's' to me. So very typical of that time in fashion and behavior. Actually, looking around today, there is still much the same fashion and behavior. The hats have changed a bit. Then a bit later in the discussion, someone mentioned a bit more contrast, might be nice. I agree, a bit, might. I was away when you were awarded this POW. I looked for the winners of POW from the time I was away, in the "Gallery" "Photograph of the Week" "all" "search". This one does not appear in that search. The listing of the POWs seem to skip about 3 weeks. At least that is my observation. I could be wrong. I wonder if you could have a look at it, and if I am right, perhaps your wordly icon could do more towards having that corrected than my blitherings? I followed our trusty Marc G's comments to find this POW.

Next Image >>