by Simonot Sébastien

untitled seeking critique simonot sbastien

Gallery: Go East ! Trip through Australia

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Street

Published: Wednesday 17th of October 2007 10:15:30 AM


Donna S

Zsolt Frikker
Good mood ! Very nice as raindrops shine.

Cristina do Vale e Vasconcelos

Davor Briski
Nice street shot ! regards db

Alfredo Muñoz de Oliveira
superb street photo!!!

Adan Wong
C'est magnifique! The upper portion of this composition has a certain delicacy to it resembling snow falling down to the ground or dusting powdered sugar on top of a cake. On the lower portion we see how hard the rain hits the street. It's a study of contrasts. We also notice one person protected by an umbrella while the other one is vulnerable. Congratulations on a very captivating shot.

Bryan Waddington
You don't often see photographs of rain and I salute you for braving the weather, this is a lovely image.

JeffS L
Magical. I love the drama of the rain lit up so wonderfully.

Ioannis Gatzelis
Moods Sebastien, Simple and perfect. The moment, the graduation and center direction of White. Congrats.

Joke Weier
Wonderful. Regards

Celal Bayak
great greaat wonderful this photography like live

Frank P
Beautiful, excellent contrasts!

Avital Montagu

7\7! love the atmosphear and magic you created in this shot

Lech Dobrzanski

This is a magic moment with rain and sun rays. It is no chance for rainbow in the city. We have people instead. Under the small roof they tend to integrate. Here this situation is not spotted. The women has nice shoulders, a big nose and fresh hair. The other is better equipped and probably provides better. I can not image painting about rain which is  better than this photo.

david contreras

nice tonal range. Why change parts of the image? It's Sebastien's art. From concept to final print. Let yourself into the image, see it and feel it.

Areti D

I love the exposure in this one. And the light is magnificent, something I wish I could achieve one day.. it really reminds me one of Trent Parke's pictures:

only I prefer yours over Parke's.

Alexis Shannon Mendoza

This shot is spectacular.  Starring at the image brings me some sort of serenity...very beautiful.  Thank you!


Patrick Hudepohl
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Please note the following:

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

While there's a good sense of atmosphere here, the thickness and presence of rain, there's little about the photo that works off that atmosphere or to make me care. Going along with the atmosphere, the lighting is energized and effective but has no story or subject or particular scene of interest to illuminate. The content is not there for me. Why do I care about these figures in the rain or what they're doing or not doing? Is the distraction of the pole which the woman in profile's nose hits part of some compositional meaning or effect or simply a miss? To me, it's the latter, unconsciously seen and shot. It's a great backdrop and time in which something could happen. But nothing does, for me.

Matt Laur
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I'm feeling a wee bit of narrative, there, Fred - with the one person deciding to stay under whatever overhang is keeping her dry, while the other ventures out into that made-for-street-photography rain. But you're right that it's not as freighted with decisive-momentness as a certain Frenchman might have been itching to see and show. The atmospherics are great, though. It's hard to convey that wet feeling as well as is done here.

Timo Hartikainen
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I like it, heavy rain and these two trying avoid it. The pole and the advertisement behind the woman are not making the shot better, but I guess this is a fast snapshot...

Bobby Karimipoor
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot Our devices (camera and lenses) caused alterations everytime!So we should added good eyes to this,also.The POV is very excellent and this is a well expression of life and hurry.Beautiful atmosphere,too.Nice capture and very well for POW!...Best regards(Bobby).

Richard John Edwards
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Some images have a sense of timlessness, this is one of those images.

Michel Yazigi
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Beautiful scene, lighting and atmosphere. The only thing that is ruining this photo for me is the presence of first person (the one who's face we see). I would like to see the photo without her.

C Jacobs
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Four classic POW themes in one: moving water, a woman's back, an umbrella and all in B&W. It only lacks a lone tree. Of the four, I enjoy the capture of the moving water the best - it really conveys the sense of what the day was like. And thank goodness the umbrella was not given the cliche spot color treatment.

Mario Lopez
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

If I had the opportunity to take this scene under the same conditions, i would like to hide the signal street with the woman’s backside (Left side woman)…Of course that option would be very personal and only to avoid disturb me,because in my oppinion, the real aim of this good image and action is the interaction between women. This is my honest opinion and that don't change my vision from a good instantaneous image.Best regards

Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

The rainy backdrop is really beautiful, really.
The foreground, as Fred has noted, without any significant meaning. This picture is the bad copy of the concept of another, this time beautiful PoW: this one.
The foreground is cluttered and the relationship between the two subjects unclear.
I guess Sébastien could not do much about it, but photographing is also taking a chance.

Ken Thalheimer
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I like the lighting on the rain a great deal. The shot has a very good sense of atmoshpere. I like tones as well. I have mixed feelings about the person to the left. I may or may not like it better without her, though there is a good juxtaposition of taking a bit of shelter & not between the two. Either way the sign I feel, is very intrusive

Marie H
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

This one just doesn't work for me. I'm not sure why. I like the rain and light, but the figure and signpost in front of the person at left just seem off to me.

Marie H

Marie H
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

too late to edit.. the dryness of the woman at left .also a touch of surrealism to it in contrast to all the rain and umbrella, on third thought. If an image provokes me to think like this, it is a good image, congratulations!

Jim Gardner
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

If the sign and post were not there I would like it so much more but I assume it was a quickly taken shot without time to pose the people or get a different viewpoint. If it was posed etc I guess it would be a portrait, not what I assume, is a street shot.
I like the grittyness to the shot and by that I mean harshness, nothing to do with grain etc and would have been pleased to have taken it. In fact the more I look at it the more I like it. Is the nearest woman about to turn round to see what the person behind her is doing? Will she wait for the rain to stop or just run for it? Would it make it to the wall or a frame? No.

Wouter Willemse
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

After watching it now a few times, and reading the other comments, I think I get why the image does not entirely work for me. What Ken wrote, above: I like the lighting on the rain a great deal.... So do I. It's epicly wet, and that's very well caught (better than in the PoW that Luca linked to, in my view, though I prefer that photo as a whole). The way the rain lights the scene is really cool.
To the point where the foreground (where the story should be) becomes distracting.

Initially, the foreground story seemed a nice contrast; the umbrella turning away from the other woman without (visible) protection against the rain. But she looks away... would she have stared at the umbrella, the story would be there. Now, it ends up being a photo of an extemely wet street with 2 women blocking the view.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Jim, I understand what you're saying. I have a slightly different take on it. I don't want to make up the story myself. I want to do it in conjunction with what the photographer (the photograph) has given me. In this case, the story isn't there but enough "stuff" is in the foreground to prevent me from getting to a story. I think a photographer doesn't have to come out and tell the complete story, but I think there has to be some sort of coherence within the picture that allows the story to unfold as a story. That doesn't happen for me here.

I'm hesitant about disregarding what you refer to as technical or compositional faults. Many of us have pointed out faults with the content itself. I don't disregard wrong notes when I hear a piano piece, though I can recognize them as wrong notes and may enjoy the piece despite those wrong notes. But if passages and phrases get jumbled too much and there's a lack of clarity and coherence in the presentation of the musical piece, it gets harder and harder to hear what the melody actually is. That's what's happening to me here.

John Rowsell
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

+1 to what Jim Adams said. The elements to allow us to imagine are presented in this photo without an idea being driven at us. (25 words)

Wayne Liao
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I saw some complains about the street line and the post. However, I feel these two make a ordinary photo to an outstanding photo. They bring a lot of dimension and geometry to this image. Congs!

Simon Jenkins
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I think it would have been a stronger photograph it were just of the woman hiding under the umbrella, and the lady on the left and the signage were not there. Opening up the dark tones a little more would have been beneficial as I can see two characters sheltering from the rain in the background, just about.

Michel Yazigi
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I believe the person under the umbrella is coming not going, which gives a different view to the photo.

Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Samme is right. There is something clumsy about the foreground. Unfortunately, in such situations and with the subjects so close, a different composition would have been very difficult.
Overall it's no easy shot. Very little space. The need to avoid that the camera gets wet. A small space.
Almost impossible to "chase" any subject into the rain, as in this photo. :-)

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Jim, thanks. Sure, eye of the beholder. But I think we can specify it more directly, which is very important in looking and in providing a critique. You gave important information as to why you and I see this differently when you said "when I move past the visual." That's very different, for me, from moving past the technical, which most of us commenting negatively and positively did. I didn't hear anyone here getting hung up on the technical. People were disappointed in the content, story, and/or composition, which is different from commenting on noise, stuff being out of focus, or blown highlights (none of which would apply to this photo, which is technically quite good).

Arthur Plumpton
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I think it is the composition that makes this one interesting. One has to think of it I believe as a pleasing balance of tonal masses, the relation of the whiteish blouse and the whiteish umbrella, punctuated by small masses of black and other tonal harmonies and their relationship to the more obscured buildings and street forms. The rain is frozen onto the glass of the enclosure and its texture blends well with the atmospheric background. The predominance of curves in the image is also interesting, umbrella, the tilt shape of the umbrella, the slight turn away of the foreground face, building fronts in the background, the woman's head, the rounded Market Street sign, round translucent shopping bag, other complementary shapes (the pole doesn't matter at all in that context, and in fact adds some tension, perhaps hinting at us to attempt to separate the otherwise complementary two major subjects of the photograph. The black and white rendition is very good, not often a strong point in digital B+W images (I didn't check what type of camera Sébastien was using, but presumably it was a digital).

So from the sensory point of view and particularly its fine composition I find it quite interesting, significantly better than another rain photo referenced above and which strikes me as perhaps less static but quite jumbled from a composition viewpoint.

Does the subject matter tell us anything or mean anything in a narrative or metaphorical sense? No, I don't think so, as others have said. But the point is, why does it have to (I know steet photographers in general wil not agree with that)? What I think is important here is just the physical beauty of the composition and the fine tonality. Many fine art photographs tell much less and don't even look as good. It's a photo that makes you want to go back and look again, not for some secret of the action but for its better than average balance of tones and forms and related artistic impact. Very nice perception.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Arthur, nothing has to mean anything or maintain a narrative or story, as you say. But I find that a story is suggested by the two people in the foreground. I can't (and won't) simply see them as shapes and receptors of light. I do think sometimes people and people with umbrellas act that way and am perfectly willing to accept them at times as compositional elements with no particular plot development. But here, where we see part of the foreground woman's face in profile, we see the arm of the other woman under her umbrella, we can almost palpably feel the tension between the two of them, I do sense a story unfolding . . . and I'm left wanting, not because I always want or think I should want, but because the photo itself feels like it's making me want. It is drawing me into a narrative and then disappointing me.

Arthur Plumpton
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Fred, I am reminded of some popular music and operas that I have been attracted to musically but in which the narrative is of little or lesser importance or extremely simple compared to the music. In those cases I appreciate the music and ignore the spotty or incomplete narrative. It's just the music itself that carries the piece. Some examples of that for me are The Beatle's piece "All you need is love", the McGarrigle Sister's "H2O", some "opera buffa" by Pergolesi or Donizetti, or even Sibelius,s "The swan of Tuonela" or "Finlandia", the apparent symbolism or narrative of which are a little foreign to my experience.

I think there are a lot of analogies that can be made between music and photography. The use of form, color (tone), relative masses, counterpoise, counterpoint, texture, harmony, discord, silence (empty or black space) and other elements in a photo, like the imnage of this present discussion, have their equivalents in music.

Those visual elements can be partly composed of persons, without any need to attribute actions or narrative context to them. Enigma is also often more successful than certainty. There is an enigma in the POW image. As a photographer, I can work with animate or inanimate elements together and consider the effect of the composition without having to provide some strong narrative about the human elements. My point is that the work can be appreciated where a narrative is secondary, as in some music, even that music with the literal accompaniment of words.

One of the hang-ups in photography, I think, is the need to have a narrative in an image, like many photos we see in the morning newspaper, or like many many portraits or street photographs. We should be able to appreciate a photograph simply for its compositional, emotive and mood qualities, like the example I give of music. As a musician, I know you appreciate this analogy between music and visual art and photography. Much music does not have any narrative purpose, but simply incites us to react to the forms and to interprert them in a non-narrative but in a purely sensual or a symbolic and metaphorical manner. For me, the photograph of monsieur Simonot has some musical elements that are very convincing without a need to tell a story. The effect can be harmonious and also post-photographic, in the mind of the viewer.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

the need to have a narrative in an image

As I said, I experience no such need. The photo itself guides me, not some pre-existing need that the medium demands.

That being said, though there are certainly many similarities between music and photography and though analogies can be made and metaphors used, I do think there are substantial differences between the visual and the musical.

I may well ignore the story of an opera if it's lame or distracting and just appreciate the music. But then it's not working fully as an opera, for me. I am making a compromise in order to enjoy it, which I often do.

Sure, I can ignore the two people thrust in my face in the foreground of this photo, or I can pretend they are just shapes, but for me that is a compromise and it's making the best of a less-than-optimum situation. What I prefer is for them to work as people, to work as part of the content of the photo (content being an integral part of most, if not all, photos) and also work on the abstract and compositional level you speak of. When all of that works together, it's great. When it doesn't, I include that in my critique.

Arthur Plumpton
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

That is possibly why some of us react positively to abstract art and photography, where there is no narrative, and others not at all.

On a more closely narrative level (as with the present photograph), when the Beatles use A-B-B-A Sonata form in some of their compositions of lesser story line, like the piece I mentioned, it nonetheless works quite strongly for me. I think we have to accept that visual art can also have impact on different levels of interest. In the present case, the form, mood and harmony of the visual elements, and a slight enigma of the human elements (which I don't need to resolve with certainty) and the contrary-to-the-separrated human characters of the linkage of the bridged two buildings in the background (something I just now re-appreciated), are what are more important for me. That is not an always present manner of reaction I have to each photograph but is case-by-case and subject matter related.

John A
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

When I first looked at this image I will admit that I moaned just a little bit. As I looked at the image a few more times, I had to stop and enjoy several things about it.

From the technical standpoint, the tones and such, it has a lot of very wonderful things about it. The way the rain is described here is wonderful and creates a great atmosphere. The wonderful tonalities in the woman's satin (?) blouse create a very nice glow. The tones and glow on the street in the triangle formed by the woman with the umbrella and the crosswalk are also very nice. And then we have the atmospheric depth created by the fading density of the buildings as we look down the street.

Just getting one of these things done well in an image makes most of us pretty happy but here we have so many nice things. I think on a certain level this is what I may be hearing Arthur suggest in his entries here, that we can revel in these good things alone.

But I think the fact that the instruments are played masterfully, while it can certainly delight us, sometimes just isn't quite enough. I can certainly appreciate all of these things but if the score is weak, then even the beautiful sound rings a bit empty.

I am not saying that this is an awful photograph by any means, but I don't think it is a great one either. I am not sure anyone would be paying attention to it if it weren't for the rain itself. Of course, one might say that is the point, what IS contained in an image is what makes an image. While that is true on some level, it is really how everything works together that makes a truly successful image (unless we are talking singular historic events being captured)

For me I think it is just that the image lacks tension or connection of any sort--other than what we might feel due to the weather. The composition here is very static with the two people dividing up the frame's horizontal pretty evenly--effectively a centering. The woman with the umbrella is just standing there as she is certainly, based on the profile, facing off stage right and there is no sign of action. Someone mentioned not seeing any other activity on the streets, but my sense is that is because we have not been given room to see anything with this tight, and IMO truncated view. The woman on the left really gives us the only sense of connection or activity as she is possibly glancing behind her to see who is there (the photographer?) otherwise, it is just a shot of two people standing in the rain--what makes me want to care about this? I can only look at some of the nice qualities created by the juxtaposition of tones within the image--I do think it needs more than this.

In any case, I end up with a sense that a very ordinary and static image was created in adverse weather and, whether fully seen or not, ended up having some incredible "technical" things happen within it that make it cherished for those things as a photographer.

Anders Hingel

I have come back to this POW several times and it does not seem to slip out of my mind. And yet, nothing really, worth the attention, seems to happen. The image attracts attention and some kind of pleasure to watch and and contemplate. Why is this?

The rain is marvelously filling the frame to such a degree that the viewer, me, find himself in the company of the two ladies protected in the dry. There is not much to look at, into the rain. The street is without points of attraction and partly covered by a sign announcing that we are looking at Market Street, showing what seems to a photo of the street in 1923 ! What ever happened here some 90 years ago, it is gone and done with. A travel in time presented in b&w with low contest and slight Sepia filter ! - but not really working and seems to be a blind alley for appreciating the scene of the shot.

So, I come back to the forefront of the scene, that of the two women. The composition here seems to carry the whole scene of the photo and surely worth the attention. The white line to the right and the pole to the left, framed by the dark areas of the street corners, near by, drags our attention towards the women, that already are centered in the frame. Both with bags, both turning their heads away from each other, one securely protected by her umbrella, giving a clear message of non-communication - in full coherence with the view of Market Street. Not much to say !

People looking for a story to tell will be in difficulties. What they see is a very good image of stillness and silence in heavily rain. A moment to pass.

Overall, I like the photo very much. No sharp voices. No loud music played. Just the sound of rain.
Well done Sébastian!

Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

It's nice to read such an enthusiastic support by Andreas.

However a remark by Elliott Erwitt comes to my mind:

persistence and "just one more" could be a photographer's best friends

the rain background is really beautiful, but I still think that it's the two ladies in the foreground which create an issue.
And I'm not looking for any story, it's just a question of balance in the frame.

Nareen Naranjo
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot Sebastien, in terms of evoking a certain type of dreamy mood this picture is superb. Personally, I would have preferred either just having the woman with the. Umbrella in the picture without the woman on the left or vice versa. This would have "tightened" the photo and your concept. Also to me the phone booth is a distraction. Otherwise a wonderful concept! Cheers : )

Nuno Borges
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

The dry and the wet, I presume.

Arthur Plumpton
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

This is one of the most interesting photos I've seen in this forum, if only because it shows how very different people see impact in a photograph and how they interpret it (the people being other photographers, and this is quite revealing in itself). The critiques are varied and show how photographers themselves see photographs in very different ways and often in ways that say clearly that it is a photographer who is speaking.

It also indicates certain paradigms of thought in looking at art or photography, which I am not convinced also exists to the same degree among sculptors, painters, poets or composers. Whether the photographer was fully conscious of it or not, and he may or may not be, there is a lot going on in terms of composition and feeling in this photo that hasn't even been remarked upon in most reviews. For that reason, I think that it is much more than just a street photograph where we want the figures to tell some story or symbolize something, however simple. It is more visually abstract and compositionally powerful than that. Whether it is a great photo or not is not as important for me as the fact that it is an image that I want to explore more than once and I get feedback from those reviewings on each occasion. While I can add to my earlier perceptions some others that I have gotten from the image more recently and that are quite different from earlier ones, I think it is best for each to analyze the photo in his own way and within the aesthetic that he or she has. If there is one thing it shows from the prior comments, it is that there seems to be hardly any common aesthetic analysis in judging photographs, or it is less comprehensive in its net of evaluation than the critiques within most other art media.

Anders Hingel
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I think you are right Arthur that the POW invites to multiple layers of seeing, interpreting, analyzing what is in front of our eyes. As such it could be used as a very good eye-opener in an arts-lecture. However, I'm not sure that whatever we discover in this photo, is not what we can discover in any other media or art forms than photography, such as paintings and sculptures, but also film and theatre.

The main way into such "seeing", or let me just use the term "interpretation" is to go beyond what you at the very first glance see in front of your eyes. Good art, has always several layers, giving other visual messages than those directly shown: in this case two women, a post, a street, rain, an umbrella, bags, tissues, a signpost, a photo of the street from 1923 etc etc. Good art is never, ever the apparent, only.

Personally, I believe that much comes depends on composition. A way of analyzing a photo like this POW is very mechanically to draw the main lines and shapes in the scene. I will not show it, but it s quit obvious in this case: heavy lines of the street corners, the white line to the right, the pole to the left, the two bags shown on the extreme sides of the women - all constructing the theatrical scene of the two ladies. Our attention is immediately drawn toward the women. We can add the compositional element of the perspective down the street and we have another point of attention. These elements in the photo creates not only attention points, but also balance of the POW. (no rule book tells us to do this and you can surely play with lac of balance in a photo and you create "tension", which the rule book does not tell you to do either). For example a strong tension is created in the POW by the turning of the head of the woman to the left.

This being said, I believe a compositional analysis of the photo can furthermore investigate what happens if some of these elements of the composition was eliminated (take the white line to the right out, or the dark street corners) and see what happens with the composition. In this case, something dramatic in my eyes: The umbrella starts taking force in the composition and moves our eyes towards the left in the frame : towards the woman with the satin shirt, that becomes the main element.

In my eyes, such a simple vision of what happens in the photo tells us that the POW is not just another shot among thousands, but has the potentiality of being a very good photo. It attracts the eye. It invites to have a second look. It forces the viewer into other layers of the scene than the most obvious heavily supported by other elements of the photo: the rain; the soft contrasts, the sepia, the satin, These other layers, might be story tellings, or moods of the photographer or viewer, or associated referential : protection and safety (from the rain); economic crisis (empty "market street"); non communication (of the two women); silence; music of the sound of rain....

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

If a photo draws me in, I may feel invited to analyze the composition to see why. But if composition is the dominant force, when I can clearly see content, it may well leave me as cold as this photo does.

For me, this is not a matter of seeing a photo through paradigms as much as just looking at what's in front of me. Before me are two people on a rainy street. If I ignore that, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not looking at the photo.

Some photos are abstract: we either can't tell what was originally shot or don't much care what was originally shot. On the other hand, most photos -- even a failed narrative one such as this -- act on an abstract level and have abstractions (and composition) at work.

The content here seems so present to me that I can't imagine relating to such a photo as either a "pure" (nothing is purely pure!) abstract or one where I am invited to ignore the content. Others seem to be getting other things out of it, which is fine with me. I don't think this has anything to do with paradigms.

A photographer may certainly use subject matter to express many things with light, composition, texture, focus, etc. And so the subject matter itself may become almost irrelevant in some cases. But many photos invite some literal observance in order to take a viewer deeper. If I don't see "rain" here, quite literally, I don't know how I access the atmospherics. It loses something if I refer to it as varieties of light, shape, design, etc. Seeing it as "rain" gives it an emotional texture that's important to me. So does seeing these as people responding to that rain. That's because that's what's going on. It may not be important, and in this case is not, who these people are and where precisely they're going, but something human is happening here, and it can't be reduced to composition or accessed simply by a compositional analysis . . . for me. That said, a compositional study of it can draw out more, is very worthwhile, and can help me appreciate how it is or isn't working.

Anders Hingel
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

...something human is happening here, and it can't be reduced to composition or accessed simply by a compositional analysis . . . for me. That said, a compositional study of it can draw out more, is very worthwhile, and can help me appreciate how it is or isn't working.

I fully agree, Fred, on this, surely.
Compositional analysis is worthwhile because it, sometimes, like here in my eyes, can help appreciate how the photo is working, or not.
I draw the conclusion that it is clearly working.
If I understand you right, in your eyes, it is not.
Fair enough !

Arthur Plumpton
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

One of the paradigms I see in photography appreciation is that of the need of a quickly recognizable human statement, such as that in the photo posted earlier of a man crossing a rainy streat with a somewhat distorted umbrella. Ah, we are incited to think, something significant is going on here. Many viewers respond (and in my paradigm example "respond" can be replaced by "need") to that everyday human event immediately. Forgotten or ignored is the jumble of elements behind the main subject, which, to my mind at least add little to the image and in fact make it confusing of statement. It is simple in intent (not that simplicity is a bad thing, just that it requires more care in presentation to convince) and doesn't lead to further analysis (I admit that many of my own photos are similar in that sense, if intended otherwise).

The current photograph is an opposite of that form of example. The whole photograph and the multiple input of its various elements and layers hold together in a somewhat remarkable way, maybe by chance, maybe by intent. Anders mentioins the woman with her head inclined slightly to the left, which I also recognize as a positive part of the image, and for me counterbalances the position of the other woman and the angle of her umbrella. Undiscussed and perhaps underappreciated are the dark curved fronts of the opposite buildings, only hinting at their faces (like the faces we see not in the two characters), separated by a footbridge (symbolic?) and perhaps more importantly, the vertical line of light of the distant tall buildings and sky that mark the upper centre of the image. The foreground characters are in very good compositional balance (balance of forms, of tonalities, light-dark, etc.) and the curiosity surrounding what they mean adds to the enigma of the photograph. There are several other ways in which different parts of the photograph speak to each other, but which have been mentioned or which would just lengthen this evaluation.

If I want to see fine photojournalism, readily identifiable human actions, or a more revealing human side as presented in much portraiture, I may not be interested in this image. If the tensions and the harmionies of picture elements are what please me, with an enigma or fantasy of human subjects (and whether or not that enigma can be solved), with the beauty of a black and white image extremely well realised, I might gravitate to this type of photograph. It may not be perfect and may not fit any of the well established image paradigms, but it is where I like to see photography evolving and am glad that it was presented here to help us with that recurring question of what is important to each of us in works of photography and art.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot


Arthur, your recurring talk of need may be telescoping something, possibly more about your viewing approach than others. It's as if you are assuming viewers need something (and perhaps you do, which seems a fine personal approach) and those viewers are projecting their own needs onto the photo. I don't know how it would differ from suggesting that viewing to a great extent boils down to a matter of prejudice. I think viewers are constantly embedded in their prejudices/tastes but some viewers also recognize those and are constantly allowing their horizons to be broadened, even given their prejudices. For me, the photo itself is suggesting something which goes unfulfilled or is not executed well. Now, if you want to say my "need" is better execution, I have no problem with that. But your imposing other specific needs on me, narrative or otherwise, doesn't feel right.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Your assumption, Arthur, that those of us who don't think this photo works have "forgotten" or "ignored" something, is off. I think many of us are capable of seeing the whole and the parts and seeing all that you are seeing and still not liking it or still thinking something is failing to come together. It is not a case of the other guy missing all there is to see. That we don't talk about everything we notice should not be taken to indicate that we don't notice it.

Anders Hingel
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

a quickly recognizable human statement

I would agree with this statement if it is meant broad enough to include statements which have no human elements in the frame, where the "human" in question is the artist/photographer and his intentions. For me all conscious artistic work do "human statements", even in automatic painting or speedy snapshots.

viewing to a great extent boils down to a matter of prejudice

I clearly do not agree on this and Fred dismisses it himself by referring to those of us (all serious viewers) that are prepare to see something new, unexpected and something disturbing in any work of art (photo). The only pre-justice I would accept the existence of, is that of believing that some of us have closed eyes and minds when "looking at photos.

That we don't talk about everything we notice should not be taken to indicate that we don't notice it

I agree, obviously. Seems to be to be a banal statement. None of us have the time or space for writing all that happens when looking at a photo and that passes our mind. However, writing is a question of selection of more or less important elements that we choose to communicate. We surely differ in that choice as the discussion above have shown, at least.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

I clearly do not agree on this and Fred dismisses it himself by referring to those of us (all serious viewers) that are prepare to see something new

This is why it's best to read and absorb the entire idea of a statement or post rather than responding to isolated quotes. You isolate a few of my words as if I had somehow emphasized only that portion of the idea, and then recognize that the isolated quote does not convey the meaning I intended, which is clear from your going on to say what I did mean, which is included in my words that immediately follow the quote you isolated. One has to ask why you quoted only the portion you did to begin with, since you knew it didn't do my ideas justice. Clearly I was responding to Arthur (that's why I started my post by addressing Arthur, who said some of us are responding to needs). I was challenging that and I don't doubt you knew that. Why you quoted only the first part of what I said about prejudice, as if I were somehow emphasizing that, is beyond me.


That we don't talk about everything we notice should not be taken to indicate that we don't notice it --Fred
I agree, obviously. Seems to be to be a banal statement. --Anders

Banal, perhaps. But it seemed necessary because Arthur said in several different ways that he thought people were ignoring or forgetting things and he tied that to their not having discussed them. I was reminding him that he seemed not to be taking into account what you, Anders, thinks is banal, that just because we don't address something doesn't mean we've forgotten or ignored it.

Fred G
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Actually, now that I re-read, Anders, you've given a very false impression of what I said. What I said was this, and it was in response to Arthur:

I don't know how it would differ (what ARTHUR was saying) from suggesting that viewing to a great extent boils down to a matter of prejudice.

By quoting me, you make it seem like I was saying that viewing is a matter of prejudice, and then going on to either contradict myself (or dismiss my own thought) by going deeper into it. That's what happens when you isolate words out of their original context.

Anders Hingel

Fred, let's not start a ping pong that is of interest for nobody.
Just two hints for clarifying what I wanted, and clearly failed, to communicate.
I quoted you concerning "prejustice" and wrote immediately that the quote was dismissed by yourself, doing full justice to your point of view, so what is the problem ?? You choose to oversee that my main message was : "The only pre-justice I would accept the existence of, is that of believing that some of us have closed eyes and minds when "looking at photos." if you permit that I quote myself.
When it comes to "ignoring and forgetting things" in discussions like these, you again choose to overlook my main message, quoting myself again, which will not be a habit, I promise you: "However, writing is a question of selection of more or less important elements that we choose to communicate. We surely differ in that choice as the discussion above have shown, at least."

Arthur Plumpton
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot


I don’t know how you confuse "need" and "prejudice", the latter being a term you have introduced to my text. The need referred not to the POW but clearly to the example (of the man in the rain) given much earlier. Why you question the word need is strange, we all have needs although those can differ. Secondly, your statement « Your assumption, Arthur, that those of us who don't think this photo works have "forgotten" or "ignored" something, is off. » refers to the POW when in fact I was referring instead to the earlier example, where I was suggesting that those who found the photograph of the man in the rain impressive were perhaps ignoring or forgetting the cacophonic jungle of shapes and elements behind him.

Why it is always so necessary for you to challenge every critique and virtually every word others use is something I have real trouble understanding. When you make a critique I read it with pleasure, attempt to understand it and take away from it what I think is valuable for me. I have little interest in analysing every word or thought you have or contesting specific words you use, and am happy simply to say, OK, Fred feels that way, great. It may or may not make me agree with what he said, but that I can live with.

« I don't know how it would differ (what ARTHUR was saying) from suggesting that viewing to a great extent boils down to a matter of prejudice. »

Again Fred’s word prejudice appears and misinterprets my argument, as if it isn’t enough to deal with what I was actually saying, rather than introducing another word/thought.

One step forward, ....two steps back. I think it is often more constructive to build one’s further ideas on the basis of what we can assimilate of another’s whole argument, rather than continuously confronting each word or phrase another uses. Having different ideas from another is not really a bad thing and individual words and expressions don’t need to be challenged at every corner of the road, or interpret them as being other words ("prejudice") or expressions. I gather I am not alone in reacting to this. Giving the chance to another to express quite different ideas from one’s own is perhaps one basis for a solid discussion. At least it can encourage the possibility of moving forward to some mutual understanding of the question.

Arthur Plumpton
Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Strongly held views in critiquing photographs are what I guess to be a part of the aims of the POW forum. Sometimes the defence of one's ideas or position takes on the spirit of a word duel, but this should be considered I think as something positive (including a desire for clarity) and not related to any intentions of disrespect amongst the participants, including Fred, Anders, and myself.

It is a measure of the power of a photograph or a painting that it can be interpreted in many ways. Understanding the differences of interpretation is also of interest for many of us.

Alex S.
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

There are elements that are appealing in this image and I will start with them.

The rain excellent. I do not believe I have seem an image in recent memory where the rain has been so elegantly rendered. It is as sharp as falling rain can be and poignant when it impinges on street, creating starlets and haloes.

The tones are also well rendered, exhibiting a subtle artistic sensibility.

One marvels at the parts of this image the more one looks at it. The figures are pleasing in their tones as are the buildings in the background, veiled by translucent panes of falling rain.

This said, however, the image is not a success. The parts must come together in a street photograph to form a single effect. This, unfortunately, does not happen here. The two figures, one with umbrella and one without, do not work together. The person sans umbrella is not wet, as she is obviously standing under a cover. There is no drama. There is no irony. There is no epiphany. What insight into life do we have here? What makes us care about these two people? Unfortunately the answers are none and nothing.

Part of the problem is that the faces of the people are not shown. In a case like this the artist has the onerous task of making the body language work in place of facial expressions. Body language in this image is essentially static. The figures don't complement or counterpoint each other.

Though the image fails on the macro scale it is interesting--even charming--on the micro scale. One remembers the rain and all it does to enliven everything except those two crucial figures.

The overall solid structure of the image suggest an artist with a clear sense of form. Perhaps in other images he has achieved or will achieve bringing human drama to life, as he unfortunately has not in this image under discussion.

Kristina Kraft
Response to Untitled by Sébastien Simonot

Spray of the rain really adds to the mood and a texture of the image. I think that the foreground woman is reduced to the random element together with the add and the pole. They are all framed very tight and ordered. The woman with the umbrella is a better looking element here, in my opinion.
(I'm not following the conversation here.)

Sébastien Simonot
Solidarity, Sydney Australia For Your point of vue Regards

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