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Old 08-21-2007, 07:12 PM
luisafonso luisafonso is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Default Mediocre photography or visual poetry? :)

My dear friends,
I really don't know if this is the right place to post this or not - nor I am that comfortable in presenting something about me in a public forum - but since you're the only photographic family I have I really can't share this with anyone else. And since I do value your opinions and sharing is the key around, here it goes.
I've been published this month on a good Czech magazine called PhotoArt. I am not here for the usual "congratulations" because, honestly, it was really not a big deal. It's good to be published, but since I am no professional photographer no real income come from that. It only serves the purpose of boosting your ego a little.
But what I really wanted to share with you is the insightful article that Professor Ludvk Baran, a very famous emeritae lecturer of Czech Photo and Film Academy (FAMU) wrote to go along with my photos. The link to the pages are here - 30-31, 32-33 and 34-35 - just to see some of the references he is talking about.

The picture as social control
They used to call it the "hidden camera". It was supposed to reveal moments in unexpected situations hidden from the sight of others. Such pictures had the marks of accidentalness, decomposition and impersonal framing. A fleeting view when the picture disappeared as fast as it appeared. Today images from automatic and monitoring cameras in boxes, jewellery stores, supermarkets, banks, in the street, at crossings, in hotels and various institutions have an impersonal share in the emergence of pictures. The detached character and chance nature of the shots has even become a style of shooting in the contemporary period. It is no longer social control of the behaviour of a person in an unguarded moment, without regard for formal aesthetics. This style observes the space in which something is expected to happen passively, but interestedly. It impersonally serves a purpose and acquires certain special non-forms. The observer must himself discover the main motif in the ready image, which by selection and change of situation shifts attention to the topical subject which is the basis of the image. The entryway into the underground captures a hall with a stairway, lifts and a wet plane reflecting daylight and artificial lighting. The shot is diagonal and captures the widest possible space. The passengers calmly walk along, monitored by a dead and quasi-impassive eye of the camera. Nothing unusual is happening; the picture has a kind of formal composition with an intersection of lines and slightly ironically presents the sloping surface on which we are moving.
The Portuguese photographer Luis Afonso apparently carelessly plays with a camera in front of a billing placard. The mother holding her child is blurred, while the model with the styled hair, in a corset, looking on askance, disdainfully asks us: What do you say to that?. This is a shot without correction or control, which could be made with a mobile phone. Despite the pictorial issues, the picture is lucid and imparts information on the moment of the gesture of the half-open mouth like communication between the inanimate and animate.
The shot of people sitting on a bench, framed between railings, looks quite random and paltry, but has a lighting mood and refined composition. It is more lucid than the contact of the mother with the model in the corset. The backrests of the benches on which the man and woman sit back-to-back, both resting their heads on the left hand, divide the picture in half. The averted views express complete indolence, unfamiliarity. They have no contact a simple street scene of boredom, dejection, empty time when nothing is happening or expected. The formal faults such as the closeness of the framing, colour mistuning and white painted construction of the bench slightly mask the pictorial accomplishments. Both figures wear jeans and have no bags, she is curly-haired, he has a shaven head: contrast and conformity of situation. They are close, but indifference makes them far from one another. The scene is actually of social control, characterising alienation and neutralisation of human relations.
Afonso provokes with another shot showing the alienation of human relations in the city traffic. Three black-and-white figures in the windows of a bus are close to one another, sitting in dull silence, resigned to the situation which plays out daily like a quiet, sad theatre play. It is also almost a chance control picture of social behaviour in voluntary isolation. This small set of an apparently mediocre photographic level, demonstrates an original poetry in various levels of legible significance.
Afonso has derived something general from specific situations. His acumen cannot be denied even in the shot of the street ball game. Here, however, the linking of elements is formal. The live full shadows of the boys in the asphalt surface are here in contrast with the inanimate outline of the lying figure. The aspect of the picture with the boys at the top makes the game the main motif. If we turn the picture upside-down, the outline of the figure on the ground becomes a warning against possible injury. A warning title would contribute to this. In reality it is an advertising announcement with a web address. Having the whole heads of the boys wouldnt be bad. The basis is free and the isolation of the figure gives too much space and interrupts the contact of the three motifs.
Afonsos fifth shot with the cyclist driving under the shower of an artificial waterfall is conventional, descriptive and lacks expression. Whats hidden behind the first plane? The formal composition of lines, boards, water flows and surfaces do not say much about enjoyment of free time. They describe a manner of recreation without any accent or dynamism. If the movement was blurred, it would help the colour mood.
Pictorial studies of social behaviour thus show the positive and negative sides of daily order, which varies in everything, in the city and the open, and can be a critical and ironic view of contemporary human collectiveness. Social control can become a program and may infer poetry with an apparently careless picture which acquires a new expression through its detachment. It is a method of reportage with a predominantly critical objective.
by Ludvk Baran

Comments welcome. :)
Stay safe, l.
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