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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 04 Apr 2012 (Wednesday) 08:26
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Composition and all that Arty stuff - discussion thread.

 
Tom ­ Reichner
"I am a little creepy"
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Omak, in north-central Washington state, USA
Oct 29, 2017 22:21 as a reply to post 18484120 |  #3826

.
I would have no idea that those were eviction notices, or that this was even under a bridge, if your text did not accompany the photo.

To me it looks like a concrete wall, presumably of a building. And the clean, litter-free ground in front of the wall makes me think of a well-kept area, possibly new construction in a trendy suburb, with permits or building specs affixed to the wall. . It certainly doesn't look like an urban area where vagrants and homeless folks gather.

I think some "supporting elements" would be useful in conveying your message to your viewership. . But if these supporting elements are not there, then you don't want to "fake it" by importing cardboard boxes, rubbish, etc.

It's just one of those areas that doesn't look at all like what it really is, so it'd be really difficult to convey thoughts and feelings about homeless people strictly via visual imagery - and even more difficult through a single still photo. . A series, perhaps, shot over time, may do a great job of communicating what you want to communicate, especially if it shows frames from days/weeks prior, with homeless folks camping out there. . And if presented as a series, a close-up of one of the notices would make it clear to the viewer that they are eviction notices, and not building permit postings.

So, no matter what angle you shoot it from, I don't think it conveys what you want it to convey, because the supporting content just wasn't there at the time you shot it.

.


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OhLook
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Oct 29, 2017 22:59 |  #3827

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18484316 (external link)
I think the rectangles are all working well together. I like the fact it isn't shot straight on because there is a sense tension. I think it needs to be really large and maybe large as to be able to read the notes and might work really well in a project about the homeless.

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18484354 (external link)
.I would have no idea that those were eviction notices, or that this was even under a bridge, if your text did not accompany the photo. . . . A series, perhaps, shot over time, may do a great job of communicating what you want to communicate, especially if it shows frames from days/weeks prior, with homeless folks camping out there.

Thank you both for your thoughts. I agree that the image needs context. I originally posted it in Urban Fragments, with explanatory text and with this below it to show the documents:

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The trouble is, the wide-angle scene needs to be shot from a distance to get its bleakness in, but then you can't read the notices.

This is a location 1 or 2 miles away where copies of the same notices were posted:
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I didn't see the first location when people were still camping there. It had been cleared out.

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davesrose
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Joined Apr 2007
Atlanta, GA
Post has been last edited 22 days ago by davesrose. 4 edits done in total.
Oct 29, 2017 22:59 as a reply to post 18484120 |  #3828

Especially viewing at web size, I would say the space doesn’t convey message. The passing viewer is not going to know those are eviction papers. After reading your description, I can understand what you’re going after. We have no context about eviction papers or that this was a spot where people camped. IMO, it’s better to find intimate subjects. My great grandfather was actually a painter in Pittsburgh and is known for regional paintings in the 30s (depression era). This was a painting made from a situation he sketched.

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Owain ­ Shaw
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Oct 30, 2017 04:44 |  #3829

OhLook, I like the idea and I've seen you post a few of these (with that little bit of accompanying information) in the Urban Fragments thread. It's an interesting subject and an interesting mini-series.

I think that part of its potential strength comes from its subtlety and the fact that these areas are nondescript and don't have any visible markers within social norms and expectations of homelessness. Homelessness needn't be a synonym for squalor (something often seen in homeowners and renters too) and the homeless community sadly comprises many people, down on their luck, who haven't always been homeless and hopefully won't be for too long into the future - though programmes to help are increasingly needed. The photographs can become about what isn't there, and homelessness is often an 'invisible' problem for too many of us, and I need to include myself here. Subtlety is good, in my opinion. There's far too much obvious work, including about homelessness, and good photography shouldn't be immediately obvious but it should ultimately be understandable.

One of the videos that (I think it must have been) airfrogusmc posted over the years states that no one photograph tells a story - they depict a situation but they don't tell the story on their own, you need other information to get that and I think this is part of what you're up against here. If you shoot close to get the details of the notices, you lose their context. If you shoot them in context, the details that are important to understanding the photograph become illegible.

One option would be a large format print or display, enabling the interested viewer to get closer and examine the notices. Another option might be a series. One photograph in said series could be a cold, objective close-up of the notices - maybe even a diptych as they are in two languages. Then you proceed to the photographs of the notices in context. This wouldn't be an unusual format for an exhibition - even including a physical copy of an original would be within normal bounds - or for a web piece.

Since we're here for "all that Arty stuff" as well, one other idea might be something along the lines of a Victor Burgin text and image piece.
http://www.bbc.co.uk .../06/18/burgin_416x3​00.jpg (external link)
https://courses.washin​gton.edu ...ordsinimages/marlbo​ro.jpg (external link)

I am partial to Burgin's work myself, and I like his photographs independently of the text - which would be an important part of any such project. The images and the text need to work, and then work together. Here the text could easily come from the eviction notices themselves, of course.

In any case, I would encourage you to keep at it.


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airfrogusmc
I'm a chimper. There I said it...
Joined May 2007
Oak Park, Illinois
Post has been edited 20 days ago by airfrogusmc.
Oct 31, 2017 10:15 |  #3830

One of the all time great color photography books and bodies of work.

Click on American Color 2. It is worth the time spent looking.

https://pro.magnumphot​os.com ...ID=2S5RYDYR2KI4&POP​UPPN=1 (external link)




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OhLook
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Oct 31, 2017 11:45 |  #3831

davesrose wrote in post #18484371 (external link)
IMO, it’s better to find intimate subjects. My great grandfather was actually a painter in Pittsburgh and is known for regional paintings in the 30s (depression era). This was a painting made from a situation he sketched.

That painting is moving (no pun intended) in a different way. My shots rarely include people. For homelessness particularly, (1) I don't want to feel I'm taking advantage of people in bad situations, (2) I'm wary about my safety, and some people in those situations can't be trusted.

Owain Shaw wrote in post #18484464 (external link)
OhLook, I like the idea. . . . It's an interesting subject and an interesting mini-series. . . .

One option would be a large format print or display, enabling the interested viewer to get closer and examine the notices. Another option might be a series.

Thank you. The various images (including any to be taken in the future) do form a series just by being related, but you're suggesting some kind of public display, for which I have no platform. I also don't have a pro-quality camera and don't make prints.

I appreciate your comments about subtlety. Plenty of photos of homeless people are around, including images used in news stories. I'm more interested in scenes that imply the human situation.

My original question was specifically about whether the relative sizes of vertical and horizontal elements worked to convey a sense of constraint. Was I asking too much of these shapes?


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airfrogusmc
I'm a chimper. There I said it...
Joined May 2007
Oak Park, Illinois
Oct 31, 2017 15:12 |  #3832

I think the shapes all work so very well together and nice framing on your part and in the context of other images that could help solidify your message it could be extremely effective.




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AZGeorge
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Southen Arizona
Oct 31, 2017 18:57 |  #3833

Owain Shaw wrote in post #18482115 (external link)
. . .How and when do you decide what to print? What do you then do with it? Anything related to printing work on an ongoing basis, rather than a one off print.

Like many, most of my recent work never sees printing.

Many of my large prints these days are for charity or other organizational auctions. When the print fetches a bundle I know it was right. Either that or the charity has generous supporters. <G>

In general, I recommend "print and donate" to shooters like you and me who don't need the funds but do what the work to amount to something. These days, a "Printed from Film" on the card could well earn your favorite group at least a few extra dollars.


George
Democracy Dies in Darkness

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Owain ­ Shaw
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Joined Aug 2006
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Post has been edited 20 days ago by Owain Shaw.
Nov 01, 2017 04:07 |  #3834

OhLook wrote in post #18485482 (external link)
That painting is moving (no pun intended) in a different way. My shots rarely include people. For homelessness particularly, (1) I don't want to feel I'm taking advantage of people in bad situations, (2) I'm wary about my safety, and some people in those situations can't be trusted.

Thank you. The various images (including any to be taken in the future) do form a series just by being related, but you're suggesting some kind of public display, for which I have no platform. I also don't have a pro-quality camera and don't make prints.

I appreciate your comments about subtlety. Plenty of photos of homeless people are around, including images used in news stories. I'm more interested in scenes that imply the human situation.

My original question was specifically about whether the relative sizes of vertical and horizontal elements worked to convey a sense of constraint. Was I asking too much of these shapes?

You never know when the right piece of work may fall under the right eyes. In any case, I did later (albeit tagged on the end but it was more a part of my thinking than I actually expressed) suggest a web piece ... I think we all have the public platform to make that happen these days. It could be done through a (photo)blog rather than a webpage.

On a related matter, and also related to the subsequent post by AZGeorge about charity, my brother got me an excellent Christmas gift last year. It was a calendar produced by a charity organisation in London. The organisation gives homeless, or sheltered accomodation tenants, disposable cameras for a competition, and produces a calendar of the winning photographs. The project is run by CafeArt (external link).

I think the composition is effective as a composition, as an image, but I can't say that it conveyed those ideas to me - but I think that isn't the way I normally respond to images.


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Composition and all that Arty stuff - discussion thread.
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