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03-12-2007
180 post(s)
I started a similar thread a while back and…no response, so I had it removed. I have a feeling that this time, things might be different. The background: David Alan Harvey, the great Magnum and Nat Geo photog says that there are basically two kinds of documentary shooters: the “stealthy” ones like say, Cartier-Bresson and Alex Webb, and those who prefer to be part of the scene such as Harvey himself and our own Alimo3 for example, photographers who slowly introduce themselves into a community and gradually pull our their Leica Ms, only to start shooting when they are no longer strangers. Now, as you’ve probably guessed I belong (for my sins) to the former group. For me, capturing as scene totally undisturbed is ideal, and I bristle at the thought of being “made out” by my intended targets. This comes as much from love of cinema as a certain unease quite frankly, a shyness vis-à-vis my subjects. What I’d like to know, since most of us in this delightful new site are, for lack of a better word, “people shooters”, or “street/travel photographers”, is: a) Which group do you feel you belong to? b) why? Over to you, my friends. I’d be very disappointed if no one responds this second time around, as I think this is a genuinely valid topic that I’d like to explore further.
03-12-2007
111 post(s)
Moving into the second category. I think I was stealthy for a reason, shooting street stuff you have to be. Now, Im really trying not to be. The difference is that now that Im focusing on projects, Im asking for permission from the people involved to shoot them. Taekwondo was still stealthy, sort of, though with it there was no need to be so as nobody gave a crap about having their picture taken. Everyone was shooting the event so it was normal. But I still wasnt asking for permission until I approached the teacher of a TKD school to shoot his students. Im pretty much done with TKD, I think. Since then Ive done the choir thing, which was 2 sundays where I had permission, I introduced myself to the people beforehand and was free to shoot close. Not stealthy. Im now beginning a series on Buddhism and Ive made sure to have permission to shoot from the monk who interests me. I did a series on Korean thanksgiving which Ill put up, no stealth here except for a few frames. Then again I did a series of purely street shots I call Seoul Nights which will come up too, thats ALL stealth as was a very short set on fireworks. I guess that Id say Im a mix. But I prefer to shoot in close. Theres such a great feeling of ease knowing that the people accept you and your camera there. The reason why DAH is able to shoot up close is that he forms a relationship with his subjects before hand. Ive seen him form connections with total strangers in 5 seconds. After that he was in and shooting away. I think it depends on who you are. HCB was a struck up asshole. I heard it straight from harvey's mouth: the guy wouldnt acknowldge you, good luck even getting an autograph from him. TOTAL opposite of HCB. No idea about Webb.
03-12-2007
180 post(s)
HCB, my hero... a "stuck up ass---ole"???? Great, that's me, Rafal, to a tee: cold, stealthy. sneaky, sad...street shooter ;o)))
03-12-2007
111 post(s)
I heard that HCB would refuse to even speak to people much less give an autograph. Thats not you, Francis.
03-12-2007
post(s)
I had seen your previous thread, and even though I wouldn’t like you to think that no one cares giving a response, I still don’t know what to think myself on the subject you put forward. You address yourself to documentary shooters, and you categorize them into two main groups. Am I a documentary shooter? Are the categories put forward by DAH the best synthesis of documentary photographer’s types? Personally, I feel very little concerned because none of your options applies to my personal experience and the place photography occupies in my daily life. I wish I could sometimes seize the opportunity to capture scenes as a pure subjective observer, turning them into a personal view of the environment (I think the first category you mention), and at the same time I wish I could sometimes be impregnated into a project where I would take a step further. A step that would allow me to follow different slices of an event, and put them together to form a particular understanding of an exterior stimuli. That would require interaction, probably. The real thing is that I personally do not feel I have such a deep approach to photography. I am more in the category of the Sunday photographer, strolling around, finding an excuse (or a way to justify) why an instant, an event captures more my attention than another, beyond its aesthetic form. To answer your question, I think I could go either way, but with a preference for long term interaction, if only I had the opportunity or were in the position to allow more time to this activity. To call for a reference that we all share, I was stroke by the series made by Maciej in the Glamorgan (I think) pub, which called for a certain interaction at different moments, hence is completely different from his usual travel photographs more on the “stealthy” model you refer to. Many photographers are able to go both ways, in fact, it mainly depends on opportunity (or the nature of the event), and it seems to me rather radical to be categorized in just one or another. Gal
03-12-2007
180 post(s)
Gal: I think it's an interesting question, don't you? We're all more or less "street shooters" here, you can see that... It's natural selection;o) But there are those who clearly prefer not only acceptance but active participation on the part of the subject (a bit like studio work with a model, only out in the wild, I think that's fair to say). Those like Tom, who still manage to produce something natural and yes, moving like this, are to be congratulated. BTW I too have long admired Maciej's Glamorgan Club work his best...) It was like his very lens was drunk..;o) The trick in my question is almost no one wants to admit they belong to the first group - HCB the furtive "ass-ole", hee hee That is to say we feel that belonging to the second group is tantamount to being a "nicer person". I too would like... But I honestly think I work best as a night thief, looking for movies out there wihout the actors knowing they're starring in anything...
03-12-2007
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[quote=Furachan]Gal: The trick in my question is almost no one wants to admit they belong to the first group - HCB the furtive "ass-ole.[/quote] Ooohh, I see! I did not get the subtlety at first. Well, I do not know about HCB. Perhaps he was not particularly looking for interaction with his subjects, or simply a sympathetic fellow, but I doubt he was the kind of shy, furtive photographer. He has photographed in places where he could have felt reaaally alone, with no way to go unnoticed. Now, that said, qualifying shyness, or timidity, as a symptomatic of being an "ass-ole", is another step I would not take, personally. I believe there are some limits to how close you can get, and then there are situations where a back position is better suited for observation. Going unnoticed is not a synonym of voyeurism, to my understanding. It is normal, under certain conditions, to be afraid of others unpredictable reactions to our will of having their faces, attitudes registered in our photographs. After all, it is simply a question of our personal cultural approach to the meaning of private life. It is possible that most belong to the furtive kind, even though they do not admit it, but that relates more to the environment where they are used to photograph, rather than a personal behaviour characteristic. I know many furtive European (or North American) photographers, who completely transfigure once they put their feet in SE Asia. But, I agree, there are also people who have a faculty of establishing a connection with others very quickly, independently of their environment. But I think those are the exceptions within the vast majority (I’m talking about any serious photography amateur and not about pros who play in a different league, benefit from a different practice and obey to different stimulus). Yes, it is an interesting question. Gal
03-12-2007
180 post(s)
Ah.... Gal, GAL! I've upset you again, and I was being ironic. "Ass---ole" is a definition of HCB by David Alan Harvey (read Jinju's first entry in this thread) - I was being 100% ironic. I too have heard rather nasty reports about HCB's aloofness, aristocratic ways, coldness - it is no secret. So let me rephrase this in a way that you will not find offensive: Some of us are reluctant to engage with perfect strangers, kids in remote places, etc. to get a picture. Either it embarrasses us, it irks us, or it's just too much bother. Others simply HAVE to, they feel somehow it is more "honest", more "up front". I've taken a ton of pics in Vietnam where people showed me their babies and looked right into the lens but they are nowhere near as good as my furtive pics because I found that after a while all those facing my lens looked the same - proud, smiling, etc. Whereas (think back to my "Cyclo" picture - now those fellas did NOT want to pose for anyone, nor did they want their picture taken, but they are now immortalized ;o))) in my little snap. And Harvey, like me reckons you are more one type than the other. Alex Webb is clearly a "furtive" and he is no less of a photog for it, in fat quite the opposite. Pinkhassov strikes me as VERY furtive in his peerless Tokyo work, And HCB that documented "ass--ole" was the best of all. There will never be another...like him. Bless his men, disdainful heart ;o)
03-12-2007
111 post(s)
Harvey basically said HCB was born with a silver spoon up his wazoo and acted like it. Aristocratic all the way. He was great BUT should we be thankful or resntful? He played a large part in narrowing our scope of what a good photograph is. P.S. Has anyone seen a color book from HCB? Supposedly he made one, David said he saw it and that it was just dreadfully BAD. Was HCB's dislike of color rooted in his failure in it?
08-12-2007
41 post(s)
"But I honestly think I work best as a night thief, looking for movies out there wihout the actors knowing they're starring in anything..."--whether I like to be one or not, this is who I am too. I try my best to remain incognito, unless in India, where I don't care. But even there when I have taken a shot then confronted I have denied any interest in the confronter (I suddenly appear to come down to earth: "your photo!! Why on earth should I be interested in taking your photo!!" The confronter sulks away in shame). But in most places if I am caught I give a beguiling smile and a nod and move on. Rarely do I ask permission and never refused so far.