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Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by Boid, Apr 3, 2014.
This was great. Lots of great thoughts in there.
Wow, that was absolutely beyond delightful. That's an incredible find - thanks SO MUCH for putting this up!
It's so funny to hear him talk about his photographic heroes in 1977, from when he was young. Because in 1977 I was HEAVILY involved in photography and he was one of mine. If I'd gone to Rice instead of an obscure little college in the Northwest, I could have been in that audience - 1977 is when I was LIVING in the darkroom.
There were things in that talk that wrung so absolutely true to me. One was about how his only decision making process was that he never said no - this is much easier and less expensive to do in the digital age, which I think he'd have loved. When I'm shooting on the street, I'm pretty much the same way - I know most of what I shoot isn't gonna work and it's not a shotgun approach because I visualize every shot and there's at least something intentional happening as I decide to shoot it. But I take a lot of shots because you never know - there's life happening in that frame and if I get it right, it's gonna be happening in the photograph. And what's the worst thing that can happen - you're not gonna use most of them anyway, so what's one more that doesn't work?
But that ties into something else he said about how there are so many shots that he finds on a contact sheet that he never anticipated would turn into prints when he shot them. THAT's why you never say no, because so much of street photography is the happy accident that you didn't even really fully see when you were shooting it. Where something is happening in juxtaposition to the main subject or something is happening in the background that you didn't even slightly notice when you took the shot that just ends up MAKING the shot. The key is being out there engaged in the process and then see what happens. And, as he says, the key is to make the photograph more dramatic than what you actually saw. And there are a million ways that happens - some intentional and some totally unintentional and that's why you have to be alert to the contact sheet, or in our case, the modern contact sheet on Lightroom or Aperture or whatever.
I'd never heard him speak before. What a great guy. For any of you who've had the pleasure of hanging out with Don Springer, Philly's own Garry Winogrand, 30ish years removed, the similarities are a little overwhelming. Except Don towks Philly and Garry talks New Yowk.
And it's amazing to me how many of his lessons I've incorporated personally just by going through some of the same processes.
The primary difference is that he was great. I'm just very occasionally not too bad. Street photography mattered then - it's over-saturated today. But I think what we experience(d) in the process was/is very very similar, based on hearing him describe it... And ultimately, I don't care if it's relevant or not because I'm doing it because I love the DOING of it. If there's an occasionally nice result, great. But once I shoot it, find it on the contact sheet, and bring it to whatever potential it has through processing, I'm largely done with it. Whether anyone else ever sees it of likes it after that is just completely secondary. Which makes sense for a piker like me to think that way. But for an artist like him to seem to feel the same way is really cool to me.
I also love that he shot Rice football games. A year earlier I was shooting high school football games in Arizona with my K1000 and 50 f1.8... Which couldn't be less related to what I've done since, but it's all part of the same thing...
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing
Thank you so much for posting this, Rajiv.