|1. The unaware||59||1 Nov||11 Nov|
|2. The aware||65||11 Nov||21 Nov|
|1. Individual spaces||58||2 Nov||13 Nov|
|2. Covert||64||5 Dec||13 Jun|
|3. Same model, different background||67||20 Nov||3 Dec|
|4. Same background, different model||70||5 Dec||13 Apr|
|Asg. 2 Vice versa
Due 28th Feb 2021
|71||25 Nov||14 Mar|
1. [date] text
[1Nov] This starts with an interesting quote,
Depending upon the time period, context and motivations (ie: Commercial / Artistic / Scientific), the studio may be a stage, laboratory or a playground. Quentin Bajac, Chief Curator of Photography, MOMA, quoted in I&P p.57
I have toyed with definitions of the segments of photography and their overlap, see Roles & Genres. To Bajac's motivations, I think we would have to add Social.
Part 2 moves towards (relatively) contemporary portraiture and draws the fundamental between complicit and non-complicit subjects, labelled the aware and the unaware. Various schools of thought suggest that the non-complicit can be more 'honest' because the subject is not acting for the camera; or alternatively that active cooperation will lead to a more accurate portrait.
The examples given [6Nov]:
Some of the key players referred to as ‘street photographers’ such as Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Robert Frank and, in recent times, Bruce Gilden, fall into the ‘unaware’ category. I&P p. 57
Arguably the first paparazzo (even before the term arose from Fellini's La Dolce Vita, 1960), Weegee aimed to photograph the scenes of NY crimes, usually brutal crimes, before the police arrived by listening to police radio.
introduced a new genre of photography with his book The Americans, 1958, documenting the lives, circumstances and conditions of ordinary citizens with a new informality.
Known for the immediacy of his street portraits, initially in NY. His work is controversial because it often demeans his subjects. Writing in Petapixel in 2016, Jill Corral quotes Joel Meyerowitz as saying, "He’s a fucking bully. I despise the work, I despise the attitude, he’s an aggressive bully" .
Part 2 examines approaches to the portrait, what they reveal about the subject, the photographer and perhaps even the viewer, and allows the student to explore both participatory and clandestine mode.
[9Nov] Three different people in locations of their choice.
[9Nov I&P p.59] This section opens with a delightful photograph by Shaun Clarke, fig. C1, who would seem to be not-famous. It is sourced from the OCA Image Library.
The image has much to offer: a strong full length portrait of a woman of age who appears to be looking to cross a road carrying shopping; the main background item is a large fallen statue, possibly Buddha; other background features are just hinted at disappearing off-frame; the main subject is off-centre which draws attention to and gives room to the statue as secondary subject; the roadway appears cobbled with what might be a tram rail. The location and date leave enormous scope for speculation, as is often the case with fine photographs.
Walker Evans' late 1930s Subway project is mentioned and how he 'went to great lengths to accomplish these covert portraits, painting out any chrome on his camera with black paint and hiding the instrument within his overcoat' (I&P p.60). I recently read the Bill Jay memorial edition of Lenswork (Jensen & Gallagher, 2009, p.63), where he recalls a lens attachment with a 45° mirror that enabled covert photography of subjects at right angles to the photographer's apparent view. He claims. ' Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz and Helen Levitt, among other photographers, renowned fro their street photographs, commonly used these gizmos'. I'm not sure whether I ever owned one of these, but I do remember them from the Polysales catalogue in the 1970s(?). There might be one in a draw upstairs.
Continuing the transport theme, Martin Parr photographed sleeping commuters on Japanese trains for a 1998 series, Japanese Commuters and Lukas Kuzma’s 2013 series Transit pictured people on the London underground.
Elsewhere, there is Philip-Lorca diCorcia (who we met in C&N) and his 2001 Heads project, photographing strangers using strong flash in daylight (the subject of fig. E1, Erno Nussenzweig sued unsuccessfully for $1M compensation). Tom Wood’s 1980 series Looking for Love, where he regularly photographed in a New Brighton, Wirral nightclub and so the attendees were used to him. He returned to give them prints and the cmat states that he, 'thus gain[ed] more trust from his subjects as time progressed. This transformation converts the ‘unaware’ into the ‘aware’'.
I would add to this list Peter Funch who I encountered at the V&A's new photo gallery in its inaugural show in October 2018. The V&A label (fig. F1) reads,
Over the course of nine years, Funch photographed morning commuters at an intersection in midtown Manhattan. Eventually, he captured the same individuals of different days. Funch then paired up the images, revealing the repetition of their daily routines and recurrences of dress, gestures and expressions to transform a seemingly endless sea of faces into a series of highly specific character portraits. V&A display label
This section concludes with a remarkable pair of quotes and a question,
Parr and Wood were photographing New Brighton at the same time during the early 1980s. Parr claimed:
“I am a documentary photographer, and if I take a good photograph in the process, that’s a bonus.”
“I’m interested in good photographs, and if they document something, so much the better!”
Which of these approaches most closely reflects your own experience? I&P p.63
These quotes are quite ordinary in themselves, only notable in combination. I suspect that they were not uttered entirely independently or without consultation. They beg the question, 'what is good?' My version might be,
I am a photographer, inclined to documentary mode. I only publish photographs that I regard as having some merit. And see the Blog for 28th September.
[11Nov I&P p.64] 'five portraits of subjects who are unaware of the fact they are being photographed … that work together as a set'.
[23Nov] Waiting for Lockdown II to end and Eltham's café society to recommence, see Deficit.[13Jun21] Now completed.
[23Nov] It is argued that photographing subjects that are unaware of the process can lead to a more authentic image as the do not compose themselves for the camera. One downside of this approach is that it can result in a cruel depiction that demeans the subject, one example being so-called poverty porn.
I&P Part 2 References
Bloomfield, R (2017) Expressing your vision. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts. [EyV]
Boothroyd, S. and Roberts, K. (2019) Identity and place. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts. [I&P]
Caponigro, J.P. (2014) 21 Quotes By Photographer Harry Callahan [online]. www.johnpaulcaponigro.com. Available from https://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/14295/21-quotes-by-photographer-harry-callahan/ [Accessed 22 November 2020].
Carroll, H (2018) Photographers on photography. London: Laurence King Publishing.
Corrall, J. (2016) Don’t Take My Picture: Street Photography and Public Privacy [online]. petapixel.com. Available from https://petapixel.com/2016/07/29/dont-take-picture-street-photography-public-privacy/ [Accessed 6 November 2020].
eBay (2020) Fodor Right Angle Mirror Attachment Angle Scope 52mm [online]. ebay.co.uk. Available from https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Fodor-Right-Angle-Mirror-Attachment-Angle-Scope-52mm/124319113208 [Accessed 9 November 2020].
Fotograf (n.d.) Clare Strand: Limits of the Possible and the Impossible [online]. fotografmagazine.cz. Available from https://fotografmagazine.cz/en/magazine/contemplation/profiles/clare-strand/ [Accessed 22 November 2020].
Jensen, B. & Gallagher, M. (eds.) (2009) Bill Jay 1940-2009. Lenswork #83, July-August 2009.
Kennicott, P. (2011) Review: Harry Callahan photography exhibit at the National Gallery of Art [online]. washingtonpost.com. Available from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/review-harry-callahan-photography-exhibit-at-the-national-gallery-of-art/2011/10/04/gIQAJ5V1LL_story.html [Accessed 20 November 2020].
Malone, T. (2013) Julian Germain's best photograph: Charlie in his kitchen stirring the gravy [online]. theguardian.com. Available from https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/oct/02/julian-germain-best-photograph [Accessed 19 November 2020].
Strand, C. (n.d.) About [online]. clarestrand.co.uk. Available from https://www.clarestrand.co.uk/about/ [Accessed 21 November 2020].