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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Old 10-03-2009   #41
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For me photography is a hobby - not a craft on which I plan to build a reputation, nor would I pursue it as some sort of political statement, or to make a political statement. It is enough of a worry that I have to think about who might object to developing shots of my kids naked bodies. Cats? Yes, because they are around and don't object. Beach? No, but mostly because I don't want to expose my old cameras to salt air. Nudes? Yes, but just of my wife because she would object to me soliciting for nude models, and just for me as she would perfer I don't share them on the internet. Arrangements of manufactured products? Yes, because for a GASbag like me a good pic of gear, with or without a cup of coffee, is just fine thank you.
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Old 10-03-2009   #42
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i shoot homeless people. nice folk most of 'em.
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Old 10-03-2009   #43
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kids sometimes too.

but NEVER beaches, that's just no good.
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Old 10-03-2009   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35mmdelux View Post
I used to go surfing in Carlsbad, S. Calif., where they have a nuclear power plant on the beach. A great subject for industrial photography btw. Would I photograph it? Not unless I wanted to be detained, answer a boat load of questions, have my name handed over to the FBI, and have my Leica confiscated.

common sense, common sense..
Ya mean this plant?



The Carlsbad powerplant is gas fired. The nuclear plant at San Onofre, is about 35 miles north of Carlsbad, and can be seen and photographed from the I5.

Another view of the Carlsbad plant (which is pretty cool!) taken last summer:



I don't think it's operating either. Most of Southern California's power comes from PVNGS in western Arizona.

Oh look, a beach.
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Old 10-03-2009   #45
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Sunsets ... we have enough sunsets already, and cats ... perhaps; and autumn colour ... that pisses me off every year in AP, the rest is fair game
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Old 10-03-2009   #46
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Sunsets ... we have enough sunsets already, and cats ... perhaps; and autumn colour ... that pisses me off every year in AP, the rest is fair game

Well what about a pleasant looking friendly chappie ?




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Old 10-03-2009   #47
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Well what about a pleasant looking friendly chappie ?




how did you discover it was a chap?.. we need to know
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Old 10-03-2009   #48
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I would definitely favour including the Eiffel Tower as a potential military object.
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Old 10-03-2009   #49
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Rules. Break 'em or not???

I compromised on the concert shots. I brought my M8 w/ a Canon 50/1.4. The house announced that photography "of any kind" was forbidden. So, I estimated the distance from my seat by the bar at The Jazz Standard (great club, btw, on E 27th St in NYC; recommended) to the stage. I did NOT bring the viewfinder to my eye (given that I was sitting where I was easily scrutinized by club management (and, being with my wife, in no mood to be put out to the street). I shot from my chest. With the crowd between me and the stage this was destined to be a mediocre shooting night, but one certainly redeemed by an astonishing set of great music.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3978263895/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3979025534/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3978264331/

These are shots I am not proud to show on a photography site, but their content has merit that makes them worthwhile for sharing.





To make a long story short, the set was great. Bobby Bradford, who played with Ornette Coleman early in his their careers and who made a great body of work with his late friend, clarinetist John Carter, is an old friend (a professor from my college days). The band included Bobby Bradford – trumpet, Marty Ehrlich – saxophones, clarinet Mark Dresser – bass, Andrew Cyrille – drums, David Murray - saxophone My shots all shot with estimated -- not even scale-focused distances -- all came out pretty piss poor.

See Bradford and see David Murray if ever the opportunity presents itself. The entire band was superb. Andrew Cyrille is a giant in the history of so-called new music/avant-garde drumming.
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Old 10-03-2009   #50
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Oh, and here is my other broken rule for tonight, a shoeless homeless person. No beach shots, no cats.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3978266123/

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Old 10-04-2009   #51
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"Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablito View Post
You all really think Evans believed that?
I don't think he meant it to be taken literally. It was his humourous way of saying "Don't think that real photography consists clichés or commercial work -- there's more to it than that". To judge from his own work, I agree.
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Old 10-04-2009   #52
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Quote:
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"Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach." Walker Evans

Does anyone agree with this?
Of course I agree:




(This seal, Henrietta, is completely nude. And on a beach.)







I wouldn't dream of shooting any such subjects.

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Old 10-04-2009   #53
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I live in a world where "Don't" doesn't exist. Only good intentions guide me.

Americans are too hung -up. We like to hide what is true. That's why we don't like our ...(our wife, kids, dog, car, poverty, our fat bellies ... ) photographed. It reminds us we are hiding something from ourselves.

Just keep it real ... who can have a problem with truth.
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Old 10-04-2009   #54
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Fences around US Military installations are strictly off limits. Security has a very good time detaining photographers who do.
Except here in Japan when planes are flying. The photogs are out by the hundreds with stepladders and the latest in zoom/telephoto lenses. People have called the base cops about them before but nobody seems to know what to do. They're Japanese nationals in Japan...or spies.
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Old 10-04-2009   #55
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Am I allowed to take pictures of my doggy?
Holy cute dog!
Post more. I love the sly glance very, human like.
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Old 10-04-2009   #56
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I shoot whoever and whatever I want. Haven't had any complaints in 40 some years.
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Rule # 1
Old 10-04-2009   #57
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Rule # 1

No self portraits, especially next to your RF profile.
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Old 10-04-2009   #58
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Cat's and homeless people are about all I shoot. You can never get enough kitty porn:


Honestly I try to follow my understanding of Eggleston's philosophy of democratic photography: Everything interesting deserves one shot and only one shot.
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Old 10-04-2009   #59
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If you shoot the world as it is, you will always be original. Someone said that once. I think it was me actually.
Thats a way of saying it incudes cats, children at the park and the beach. on the other hand, I have littel interest in cats as aphotgrpahic subject, the children would have to be expressive, and I hate the beach. And pack shots.

I have noticed that people seem to be more sensitive to being photogrpahed in this decade.
They are much quicker to make their 'rights' known. In other words more and more I find people - usually young people assumming they have the right to not be photographed in public.
There is definately a trend towards younger people assumming they have every right to anything, in fact whatever their whim of the moment might be.
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Old 10-04-2009   #60
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`There is definately a trend towards younger people assumming they have every right to anything, in fact whatever their whim of the moment might be. '
the kind of sweeping generalization we get far too much of from a certain generation in this country
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Old 10-04-2009   #61
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I rarely like to make sweeping generalisations, except about young pakeha's.
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Old 10-04-2009   #62
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ah but i`m not young anymore
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Old 10-04-2009   #63
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Glad so much of the western societal paranoia doesn't exist in Asia

Nude, kids, (excuse for a) beach...

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Old 10-05-2009   #64
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The kid at right seems a little paranoid ...
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Old 10-05-2009   #65
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There is a huge trend as well in middle aged people believing laws are made for your safety and well being. A trend of giving into to the fear of media and believing television is reality. Lastly a trend of being superior. A young mind is an instinctive mind. It does what feels natural. An old mind has its own set of rules.


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`There is definately a trend towards younger people assumming they have every right to anything, in fact whatever their whim of the moment might be. '
the kind of sweeping generalization we get far too much of from a certain generation in this country
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Old 10-05-2009   #66
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I don't photograph homeless people if they are aware that I am photographing them.
Is that supposed to be a good thing?
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Old 10-05-2009   #67
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I think my photography rule is something like the old (and often broken ) rule of politics “Don't do anything in your private life that you would be embarrased to read on the front page of the Washington Post”.

Cats are great for testing lenses and finishing off the last few frames of a roll.

I feel obliged to break the rules of "no photographs" every once in a while, especially when I don't understand why. Green Day, a somewhat punk band, had no photographs at their concert. Why should I go to a rock concert and follow all the rules?




At the 6th floor museum in Dallas (re: JFK assasination) photographs are forbidden, but sneakily snapping a photo of Oswald's view was too interesting to pass up:

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Old 10-05-2009   #68
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Quote:
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... There is definately a trend towards younger people assumming they have every right to anything, in fact whatever their whim of the moment might be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by excellent View Post
There is a huge trend as well in middle aged people believing laws are made for your safety and well being. A trend of giving into to the fear of media and believing television is reality. Lastly a trend of being superior. A young mind is an instinctive mind. It does what feels natural. An old mind has its own set of rules.
I find that anyone that is not exactly my age with exactly my experiences just think exactly the way I do. Not to say that all y'all are wrong...
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Old 10-05-2009   #69
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My son is sixteen months old. He just recently started his first swimming lessons. On the day of his first class, I brought my camera along to photograph him and my wife in the pool. I figured this was a momentous event that I would really like to record. Before I could shoot a single frame, the lifeguard informed me that photography was forbidden in the pool area. I do understand why this rule is in place. But I was deeply saddened by the whole situation.
Funny, I worked at a swimming pool for three years in the mid '80's, and between myself and a couple of friends, we probably took thousands of photos. In fact, my camera was always lying in the same spot when not in use, for any of my trusted co-workers to use at their whim. There are a lot of great memories that those photos bring up...
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Old 10-05-2009   #70
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Has anyone here shot people at a funeral? I couldn't bring myself to have a camera around during such woeful occasions. Or should I just grow a pair?
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Old 10-05-2009   #71
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`The kid at right seems a little paranoid '

he just got outa cold water- you know what does
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Old 10-05-2009   #72
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Has anyone here shot people at a funeral? I couldn't bring myself to have a camera around during such woeful occasions. Or should I just grow a pair?
A great Eggleston shot from a funeral:

Last edited by TWoK : 10-05-2009 at 18:05.
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Old 10-05-2009   #73
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i shoot homeless people. nice folk most of 'em.
I have photographed a number of "homeless" people. I do some street shooting. But I cannot remember a case of photographing a homeless person until we talked a while and I knew their name. I would say the percentage of really nice interesting folks vs. ordinary ones vs. the *ssholes is the same among the homeless as the overall general population.

Here is one from Memphis, while visiting with Blake Billings a/k/a "Memphis". I saw this woman sitting on the shelter steps while driving by and went around the block to park and go meet her. While walking the half block to the shelter, I met Steven in his wheelchair with his dog Queen. We talked and I photographed them. Then, I asked Steven if he knew the lady on the steps. When he told me that he and Janet were friends, I asked him to introduce us. This photo of Steven, Queen and Janet was my favorite.

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Old 10-05-2009   #74
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Has anyone here shot people at a funeral? I couldn't bring myself to have a camera around during such woeful occasions. Or should I just grow a pair?
Growing a pair will not do it. But if you have real empathy and a sincere interest in the people and their culture, it flows naturally. If not, you will feel like a turd in the punchbowl.
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Old 10-05-2009   #75
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What would you do when an irate street cart food vendor accosts you for taking pictures not of him exactly, but simply of the area around him on 27th St & Third Ave in NYC?

First, one of this fellow's customers exclaimed to me, "I am god. You can't take my picture. I am the real god." I nodded in agreement and replied that I could see that he was what he said. Then, a little while later, some minutes after I snapped these two shots, the vendor himself began following me down the street, complaining, "this my business. You can no take my picture. This my business. I get cop." Never had that happen before. I tried to defuse the situation, explaining calmly that he wasn't actually the subject of my shots, but he wasn't in the mood to listen. So, I walked away. He gave up his pursuit after half a block.

These are the offending images:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3985290881/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3985290219/

Our vendor friend is the follow whose face is totally blown out in the first image.





Personally, I think the fear campaign that grips a post-9/11 world has every behaving paranoid at times. I suspect this fellow was worried that I would somehow use a photo of his cart to ruin his life and have him sent to Guantanamo. I feel badly for having caused him upset. On the other hand, the images are rather innocuous. One can't even identify this guy.

When I can, I like Bob Michaels' approach. Get to know your subjects. Talk to them. Engage them. Explain yourself and them do the same. However, sometimes, I like the imagery I get from stealthy street shooting.
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Old 10-05-2009   #76
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Hey Bob,

I just wanna say that this is one wonderful picture here, great story behind it and great group portrait! I love it!!

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Old 10-18-2009   #77
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Anything you shoot with respect is ok. I 've seen rules re photography, but unless it's illegal, I shoot first, if it's in public.
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Old 10-18-2009   #78
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Quote:
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"Photography is not cute cats, nor nudes, motherhood or arrangements of manufactured products. Under no circumstances it is anything ever anywhere near a beach." Walker Evans

Does anyone agree with this? Maybe he forgot to add something...?
Under no circumstances should anyone say anything ever that's anywhere near as stupid as that.
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Old 10-18-2009   #79
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you know bob, i can usually tell whether or not the photographer knows the subjects name when looking at a photograph. i like photographs where it seems the photographer knew the persons name.

Quote:
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I have photographed a number of "homeless" people. I do some street shooting. But I cannot remember a case of photographing a homeless person until we talked a while and I knew their name. I would say the percentage of really nice interesting folks vs. ordinary ones vs. the *ssholes is the same among the homeless as the overall general population.

Here is one from Memphis, while visiting with Blake Billings a/k/a "Memphis". I saw this woman sitting on the shelter steps while driving by and went around the block to park and go meet her. While walking the half block to the shelter, I met Steven in his wheelchair with his dog Queen. We talked and I photographed them. Then, I asked Steven if he knew the lady on the steps. When he told me that he and Janet were friends, I asked him to introduce us. This photo of Steven, Queen and Janet was my favorite.

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Old 10-18-2009   #80
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i think it's stupid to create such "rules".
Walker Evans better stayed with photographing and refrained from philosophy.
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