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Street style or just strutting?

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by stillshunter, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    I feel bad having segued from Sue's Photography e-book thread. So here's a thread to keep us on topic. I'd be super keen on others opinions. Here's the thread first...


    Well I'm no street photog, but my major gripes are, first, his approach and, second, with the relevance. Can't be bothered to reload the book to find the quotes that particularly irk me. Then again I think this footage of him at work, and the results, say it all.

    [video=youtube_share;eU8VU4Cdm0g]http://youtu.be/eU8VU4Cdm0g[/video]

    [video=youtube_share;XcAk07X2yiU]http://youtu.be/XcAk07X2yiU[/video]

    Am I alone in thinking him a class Wally?
    If not can someone please explain the relevance of his outputs? Honestly what is the point of these 'candid portraits'? I understand the relevance and power of documenting life, e.g., on the street, candidly, but this satisfies none of this for me. Where's the document or - more importantly - the dialogue? At very least where's the commentary? Does it say anything to you? I mean really!
    Also is there something that grates with you about his 'style'?

    Might just be me, so would love to hear other's opinions.

    P.S., And I must make abundantly clear that it's not about 'being in your face'. Bruce Gilden is like the epitome of this style - especially with his simultaneously fired flash (see below).
    [video=youtube_share;BepqQ3p4DKg]http://youtu.be/BepqQ3p4DKg[/video]
    No Bruce's work has a point and I clearly see art in his outputs. While on the other hand, Thomas, I don't know...is it more about bravado than the image?...it sort of strikes me that the photo is more akin to a trophy...
     
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  2. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Dan
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  3. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
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  4. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    Kristen and Dan,

    Thank you! The videos well reinforce the art of street photography. Each is about the ultimate document. Some allude to the dialogue - even though most of it is about stealth there is something of the quality of dance about it...this is prevalent in the Moriyama and Watson pieces.

    I'd not heard of Joe Wigfall before, man I love his amateur attitude - so humble and so real.
     
  5. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    As far as the "in your face" stuff goes, I agree with you, Mark, up to a point.. what bugged me about your comments was the way you dismissed him out of hand, without really saying why. Now, you have.
     
  6. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    Yeah I noticed the thinness of my opinion only after you quoted me in your reply Sue - a little late for a edit or PS I'm afraid: :blush:. So I thought of following up with a reply to better justify my position, then thought better of it as it would only detract from the intention of your original thread. So here we are and I leave you with apologies!

    Spent today viewing a few more videos and reading blogs, and remain astounded at the different approaches of street photographers. At the end of the day I still reckon Thomas Leuthard's method rates lowest for style, but highest for machismo. Looking through more of his shots today and I'm still baffled by his titling a book "Collecting Souls".
    Obvious to see the process of "collection" but I see nothing of "soul" resident in his portfolio.
    I'd far prefer to spend time with the works of our own Ray and Don than be "educated" by the e-books of Mr Leuthard or the blogs of Eric Kim.

    Harsh I know, but he is likewise permitted to share his opinion of my meagre offerings as found on flickr etc. If we put it out there.....

    ....be glad to hear opinions to the contrary as I have so much left to learn, esp. about this genre. So this is all based on my own gut reactions.
     
  7. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Nothing wrong with gut reactions at all.

    My comments were engendered by the fact that I am seeking any and all stuff on street photography, because I am getting oh so bored with being the official in-house cat photographer, and shooting the same old stuff in my town. I have a few ideas about other stuff, but what is appealing about street is the everchanging nature of it.

    I have only two street shots I consider to be any good, but I'll keep trying. Reading Leuthard was good for me. If he can get shots of people, so can I.

    I'm not even looking to do that kind of in the face street in any case and I prefer stealth, not because I will get hit or aggro, but because I prefer to photograph people when they don't see me. I don't want to see them like in that vid, with shock or anger or irritation on their faces, and I don't want posed.

    But I do want to keep reading all I can, (including the Leuthards and the Weeks' of the street photography world) because it fascinates me, as do the people in my town. I don't read Eric Kim at all, but perhaps I will, soonish. I looked at his blog site but it seemed such a mess, I left almost immediately.
     
  8. elsie350

    elsie350 SC Regular

    121
    Apr 7, 2012
    I don't see anything massively wrong with his style, it's just the way that he does it I guess. It's probably the way I started off but it made me feel as uncomfortable as the people I was taking pictures of so I looked at everyone else's style and tried to find something that worked for me.
    I really enjoy street photography and have found that its not about owning a certain camera or shooting a certain way and one persons interpretation of what is street photography and how it's done will always be different from another's. I for one remain open minded.

    Best wishes to all
     
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  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Well, there's process and there's results. As observers, we're probably better off not knowing too much about the process because it can skew our attitudes toward the results, and probably not for the better. We probably don't want to know too much about how sausage is made either, particularly while we're trying to enjoy eating it! I'm personally offended by this guy's process, as I am by Bruce Gilden's, and that puts me off both of their work. But if I just saw Gilden's work, without knowing anything about the process, I'd like it, some of it a lot. This guy's work, what little I've seen, doesn't do anything for me. I like some of Eric Kim's stuff a lot, but I've seen some of the video of him working and I don't like his process either, although its a lot less in your face than Gildens, it's HIGHLY interactive, with him essentially setting up and posing a lot of his shots. To me, that's the farthest thing from what I want in a street photograph, but if I didn't know it and just saw his work, I would (and DO) like quite a bit of it.

    My whole thing is to be as inconspicuous as possible and record the moment my subject(s) is/are having without involving myself in the shot at all, other than as the observer who MAKES / TAKES the shot. Ideally, my subjects never know they've been photographed, which seems sort of sneaky, but keeps the result about them - not about me or their interaction with me. Next to ideally, they may realize they've BEEN photographed, but not until the moment AFTER the shot has been taken, so it doesn't show up in the work. And least preferably, they may realize it just as I'm shooting and react in the shot - most of these shots get trashed and never see the light of day, but every now and then one or two of them just WORK, despite my best efforts, and so I end up really liking them, even though they're abject failures by the standards I shoot for. I talk about process here and on similar forums because these sites are about photography and about technique and I learned a LOT from other shooters on this and other forums and am happy to talk about how I do it, in case anyone finds value in that.

    BUT, ultimately, the work lives or dies on its own merits, regardless of how the photographer went about it (as long as no animals were harmed!). And by that standard, I like a lot of work that has been done with processes that I can't relate to at all. If someone likes or doesn't like my work, that should be all that matters - how I do it is my own problem. :cool: As such, you'll likely never see a video of me going around shooting - first, it would be BORING as hell, and second, being followed by another (video) camera, would totally blow my cover and kill my process. And, although I'm interested in how others do it from a technique point of view, as a VIEWER of photographs, I'd rather NOT know how the photographer went about it. Because, as I said at the top, that can negatively skew my impression of the result. And the photograph itself is ultimately what matters.

    -Ray
     
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  10. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    What a Class A offensive idiot. I get that he wouldn't want to talk to is subjects before he takes the shot (if he worries about effecting the picture). But what the heck is stopping him from saying a few words AFTER he has taken the shots? Something simple like "You have a very expressive face" or even a knock knock joke would do. He's just a common man's paparazzi. It's just take take take. ^%#^% him. The only thing you will learn from this guy is how to be a little less human.

    Sorry, this just makes me really mad.
     
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  11. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    @Rajiv: Mate I'm so glad it's not just me. What gets me the most is that I'd forgive him something if the resultant images were outstanding. But again I find them offensive in their very absence of content - more like a catalogue of his own self-gratification. Again it's like a human trophy room. Though it does add weight to the old saying that images say more about the photographer than the subject. :thumbup:

    @Ray: I really appreciate your opinion in this matter. Though I have to say that you are selling yourself a little short here mate. I have been witness to your photos over the last couple of years and always enjoy your street images. Again, I see far more education in studying a single one of your photos - i.e., I will never forget the image of the Amish ladies at the fair - than I would from reading all three of Mr Leuthard's free e-books. But I agree with your sentiments 100%. Again, if his results were different then I'd not even wander to questioning his process. But not only are the results poor, but much like Eric Kim, they claim themselves as 'teachers' - I mean Eric runs workshops OMG!!!! - and I get very concerned if anyone, innocent as they might be, emulate any of their actions or even swallow a half teaspoon of their self-spun and self-gratifying wisdom. I love the idea of street, it is not only relevant but an important document. So I fear what results from learning the finer points of the art from this sort.
     
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  12. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Dan
    I believe there is a place for both stealth and interaction in street photography. It ought to be obvious by now that no single definition of this genre of photography has prevailed as the universally accepted standard. I certainly agree with Ray that to be followed by someone with a video camera would change the whole experience, and not for the better (though I admit that I have thought of trying that someday just for the fun of it). It puts me in mind of the 20th century history of sub-atomic physics. The problem that has developed in that discipline is this: when experiments are developed to "observe" the unobservable world of sub-atomic "particles" that world is changed by the fact and presence of the observer. I think the same applies to street photography. No matter how much we talk of being "invisible" or practicing "stealth" there is always something that the presence of the photographer is changing, even if that change is minimal, or sub-conscious. When I am on the streets I enjoy both the process of observation, and the occasional interactions. If I did not enjoy both, I would not do it.
     
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  13. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Dan
    Isoterica, thanks for posting those three videos. I enjoyed all of them.
     
  14. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I was just browsing through Thomas Leuthard's flickr stream and while I have no love for his methods, I think some of his work is great. Ironically the best of it isn't shot in the in-yo-face style shown in the videos. He gets around though! Turkey, Lebanon, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands...

    I quite like Ray's sausage analogy. I would like the guy a whole lot better if I had just seen the images, not the process behind them.
     
  15. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    +1
     
  16. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I don't know much about the art or style of street, and I don't shoot it myself, but one line from the Bruce Gilden video struck a chord.

    He said that 20 years ago, everyone was different. There were more characters. Now, Manhattan is like Disney Land. Everyone's the same. They all dress the same. I see this trend everywhere and, as I much as I love the internet, I think the internet is one of those vehicles driving sameness everywhere. Sorry this is off topic (irony -- going off topic on a thread that broke out of another thread because it was off-topic).
     
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  17. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Of course, the biggest problem with Leuthard's methods is that eventually someone is just going to react and punch him out. I'm obviously not encouraging or justifying such a response. I'm just pointing out that such aggressive methods with inevitably provoke someone who will react aggressively with the photographic equivalent of road rage.

    BTW, I find this an interesting and refreshingly civil discussion about a potentially emotional topic. That this forum can support such an exchange is one of my reasons for liking it so much.
     
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  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Kristin - that was a great post - where'd it go?!?!? I read it and liked it and came back looking for it and POOF!! Bummer - very useful input for sure...

    -Ray
     
  19. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Excellent. That means I am a series of bleak landscapes interspersed with damp impenetrable tangles. :biggrin:
     
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  20. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    LOL

    It also means I am usually out of focus and slightly off center. Sounds about right.
     
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