Almost a 100 years of street photography since Kertész.
The photographic stills of the so called living theater changed a lot in all those years. Greys became colours, the plot became experimental, arbitrary, without a start and an end, unlike the compositional gems of HCB.
The odd, the peculiar, the anecdotic became the standard. As if the less we understood, the greater the artistic breakthrough of the photographer. Freaks and monsters (sensu largo, including half bodies entering and leaving the frame, juxtaposed in Siamese twins postures) became and stayed a dear subject for the street photographers because of their clear and immediate impact on people's delightful suburban lives.
Presently, the once most fearful situation when assembling a scene (seeing fragments not fitting the kit) is almost what makes a street photograph stand out in the "experts" eyes.
Unfortunately, the people who tell you that, the curators who convince you to be as odd as possible … well they spend their lives indoors in verbose symposia, colloquia and round tables. What a waste ... (of time mostly).
If we look closely at the work of the Masters we will see that they all had only a few "good" years. As someone said, don't remember his name (wink): "to be a good photographer is not an eternal achievement but just a clandestine touch of genius!"
Steven is out there at dawn, at night, by any weather, under any light, mostly alone, and he is shooting like there is no tomorrow. And he's right! There isn't!
Go out and shoot, because life is a beach and then you dye ... or paint (yours truly talking in front of the mirror).
PS: Whoever in front of Steven's picture didn't feel on their skin the chill of the night, whoever didn't admire the meticulous construction of the scene piece by piece, whoever wasn't moved by the muted dialogues of the buyer/seller and of the primary colours, is invited to come forward and throw me the first stone.
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The wise advice in art schools (whether it is painting, drawing or photography) "use the whole frame/canvas" does not mean only to fill the rectangle with objects, subjects, shapes, colours, shades …
Populating every angle does not necessarily mean that the frame is used meaningfully.
Because, oddly some might say, the most important part are the limits, the edges of the frame against which the contents are measured.
A shape, any shape, looks totally different depending on its distance from the outer limits, and consequently any cropping becomes an act of creation. Unfortunately, not in this art, not in photography.
We are lucky enough (unlike cinematography) to have a rectangular "dictator" trapping not only our vision but also our subjects. The impossibility of escaping is for once welcome.
In fact, the whole artistic endeavour in photography is the choice of what stays in.
Widely known stuff you would say, but allow me this reminder: Cropping is denying your art previously made through the viewfinder when triggering the shutter. Obsessively changing the limits of your pictures is entering another world, sometimes a world of pain (for the viewers).
Tasos is, honestly and intuitively, allowing his picture to live and grow in the original form it has been conceived. But he is also proving to us all something else equally important: the viewers are able to recognise a meaningful interpretation of reality albeit any "aesthetic" or "technical" barriers. And thus the respect becomes reciprocal. The only way to live a photographic life, a photographer's life.
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Why two pictures? One is not enough to stand alone? Mind you, this is not a diptych, these 2 pictures are not here to provide support one to another.
They're two, simply because I want to double your pleasure and attention for this photographic expression residing at the very profound of Stela Patrulescu.
Why do I get so absolute and intimate (some would think) about this? Because otherwise I cannot explain the continuous, almost nightmarish, envy I feel in front of the clear and direct photographic compositions (or decompositions) of Stela's reality … which is also ours, mine, but I am too blind to see
And if I wanted to turn around the issue back to my overfed ego, I would have asked: why am I so blind? But, for just this time, I will stop talking about me, and return to Stela's work.
If narration is one of the important ingredients of meaningful photography, then the short stories created instantly by Stela are photography's response to the neorealist cinema of nowadays, as well as to the socialist realism of the seventies, which both needed very long scenes to convey a message of doubtful impact. Aesthetic overdose leading to anaesthesia. Two or even three hours of mute film rolling to arrive from the gun to the rose, from the subhuman chaos to the ruler's order. Movie directors are very close to dictating (reading on our behalf) after all.
Just switch on the antonyms, the opposite notions, of the above and you will have the honest, unforced and poetic revelation of the eternal moments created by Stela. Her version of a surrounding world which evolves too fast to be understood and to create empathy. Her still images do exactly that: they dilate time for us to be able to overcome our handicap of visual anaesthesia (even blindness in my case) and to empathise with an action depleted, a low-adrenaline universe which will not make it to the news but it will make your days.
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Stop! It's the end of the world as we know it ... and it was so for some years now but no one seems to care!
Do something different than Google's 9-eye monster recording everything on every street! Street View is not at all a child's play. All, and I mean all, street photography at eye level has been done by that giga-photographer.
Why you people are still shooting without bending your knees, without putting the camera somewhere, anywhere, except against your wonderful front scull of divine homo erectus that you are.
Why some are still disturbed by a tilted horizon? How an Italian urban facade under a warm hue of summer light is anymore something worth recording?
Grow, get connected, use all the gadgets you carry in your pockets and on your tablets and laptops. Use the power of the limitless digital space, use your neurones for editing and selecting quickly and on the money, sort the meaningful bits out of petabytes of raw pixels.
Stop composing! Start curating!
Throw your ego away and punish your own creations by banning them for a long time. Expropriate yourself from them, then appropriate them again. The more the alienation the better the selection. In any possible way, we possess so little of the materiality of a photograph, the latter being mostly created by ingenious mechanics and electronics. Don't be fooled by the "creative" touch of the photographer-artist and his ruling over automation. That "touch" is nothing more than touching the shutter button! And maybe re-"touching" a universe that never existed and never belonged initially to the author (this is the undersigned's clumsy definition of post-processing).
Thank you Niki for the reminder!
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