A photographer asked today: Content, composition and storyline- which is most important for a street image? And then he concluded: people/viewers don't encourage those images which are the result of an experimentative soul.
Story in itself is not enough …
HCB was the first to acknowledge that form and content are inseparable and their harmonious combination makes the picture.
Then we have understood (probably due to photographic overdose) that harmony is boring. And some "fast-food" ingredients appeared. Street photographers started relentlessly to portray the juxtaposition of amputated human body parts in the foreground and some unrelated objects in the background.
This in itself was not new as distortion is appealing. Already in the beginning of the last century we were experimenting with fetishisation and self-mutilation, headless or limbless mannequins (now humans). It was and it is an approach where normality plays with abnormality, a self-confrontation.
My appreciation was (maybe not anymore) that the important elements are surrealism (contradictions between dream and reality), symbolism (absolute truths described in a metaphoric way) and abstraction (suspending reality by avoiding the literal description of things from the visible world).
Or are they?
Here is a picture proving us wrong and proving the author right (the essence lies elsewhere and most probably only within the artist's vision).
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I am only human, so I react to a recent hate attack on what is "fake", staged and on whether I should continue to use the term street photography.
People seek freedom and the very same people erect walls. The most moron of the creatures, man, the most oxymoron producer among art adepts, the photographer.
Why on earth, categorise art, why put boundaries … my secret dream is to see street photographers capturing devastated brides, and wedding photographers (ab)using church, priests and spouses in creating the creepiest of realities, revealing the most disturbing of the truths.
I feel undeclared pleasure seeing action photographers mutilating doped athletes for a symbolic image of hypocrisy. I admire wildlife observers putting down their top-notch cameras and, with a polaroid, portraying the brainless crowds leaving a hemorrhagic corrida.
Why? Because we should not seek adulation, we should only mirror our beliefs through a camera's mirror (or a simulacrum thereof); produce a photograph deprived of pretentious expectations, liberated from opportunism.
The fact that the individual sees and interprets a picture differently does not change the picture itself.
The photograph's fate and combat is only one. To stay timeless, to exist independently from the brains and the eyes of the beholder and even of the author itself.
Therefore, no comment for the image presented! Many have tried to photograph kids playing in plastic spheres, very few have made it to give plasticity to an otherwise habitual seeing.
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There are more than one reasons to distrust the evidence of our senses. Since Plato's "cave" we are merrily joggling with the veridicality of perception and we desperately seek another truth beyond the plain experience.
It is exactly by this "flaw" that photography is best served into becoming an art. This, plus the mystery of instinctively recognising a meaning without necessary understanding it, or being able to explain it.
Taking it from there, the photographer is entering a world, usually of pain, since the strive, the struggle, the contest to demonstrate that a photograph, the once faithful witness, is nowadays merely an "aspect", a logical fallacy.
"Photography is a contest between a photographer and the presumptions of approximate and habitual seeing. The contest can be held anywhere - on a city sidewalk, or in a scientific laboratory, or among the markers of ancient dead gods."
John.Szarkowski, Looking at photographs
The sidewalk (Paul and Tzen), the lab (Stela and Andreas) and the gods (Guy and Gabi)
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Click below to enlarge
A parenthesis after watching in the news, a cultural mag promoting a TV persona as photographer. Have you ever thought why someone, when successful in something, is trying to be a good photographer too?
Nowadays, clever but untalented people see quite quickly that their visual success (as TV animators, movie makers and even bloggers) can lead them to promote themselves as inspired photographers!
I would stick to the positive aspect: photography is a sanctuary that many want to attain, a kind of a beatification, an absolution of prior sins.
Back to our photograph, the high, almost vertical, vantage point (bird's eye) is one of the best suited to photography. Kertész knew this very well (Tokyo Umbrellas).
It provides the necessary distance and invisibility for the photographer, it is familiar from our top-view drawings at school, it advantages the composition using shapes and abstractions, and finally it is amalgamated in our ancestral desire to fly.
The present image passes all the visual tests of rotating it upside-down (the first photographers where forced to check their compositions inverted) and of maintaining its force at any size (from thumbnail to full screen).
The author risks by insisting to portray situations considered nowadays stereotypes (umbrellas, raindrops, top view abstractions), but he is doing it with such a brio that we put aside any preconception and admire a perfectly balanced, elegantly framed, street view where we can smell the rain on the sidewalk!
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