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Old 1 Week Ago   #41
Bob Michaels
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Originally Posted by Guth View Post
...... But make no doubt that I personally have a problem with the way the subject matter is conveyed here. I equate this particular presentation to someone creating a photo essay about the Ku Klux Klan featuring pictures of men in white hoods at a pancake breakfast.
Bill: thanks for stating your opinion so clearly. I point out the matter of perspective. Some here worry about chickens while those from other countries, Cuba being a prime example, dismiss cocks while asking me how we can even sleep at night with the way we treat our fellow citizens. It is all about perspective.

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..... I would point out that there's nothing in the way this particular story of cockfighting is told that would convince me this is nothing more than ignorance and a lust for blood sport. That task is upon the storyteller.
Bill, I am contemplating whether that is my failure or if I actually have any responsibility for convincing you anything about your own preconceived notions, which may or may not be correct. My objective never was to inform all the uninformed about the various aspects of this subject. Could it be that you believe the focus of my story should have been about educating you and others rather than what I actually did?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #42
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I was surprised to read that you (Bob) have a history with cockfights involving an old girlfriend. The initial presentation and captions had a rather detached tourist feel to them. I think that rhl's comment on the writing and digging into the voice you really want for this series provide a solid point to move forward from, as you acknowledge. Looking forward to the next version.

Yes, the animal cruelty thing is real. I am reminded of the ending of Uncle Tom's Cabin where Tom is forced to fight. But I am with you on the last statement on what responsibility you have to viewers. Anyone in a country whose President boasts of sexual assault, a country which poisons thousands of kids in Flint, Michigan, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam, is not in a good position to preach morality to others. I hope that the response here gives you more focus to what this sport means to you and how you want others to look at it (because face it, you do have something you want to convey).
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Old 1 Week Ago   #43
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Should i object to pictures of soldiers laughing and having fun because i object to war?

On the contrary: photojournalism shows contradictory aspects of life.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #44
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
Bill: thanks for stating your opinion so clearly. I point out the matter of perspective. Some here worry about chickens while those from other countries, Cuba being a prime example, dismiss cocks while asking me how we can even sleep at night with the way we treat our fellow citizens. It is all about perspective.
Thanks Bob, understood. I can certainly accept anyone outside of the United States questioning how we can sleep at night given the way we treat our fellow citizens. They're not alone.

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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
Bill, I am contemplating whether that is my failure or if I actually have any responsibility for convincing you anything about your own preconceived notions, which may or may not be correct. My objective never was to inform all the uninformed about the various aspects of this subject. Could it be that you believe the focus of my story should have been about educating you and others rather than what I actually did?
Only you can determine what your personal responsibility is in this case. People do plenty of things to both animals and other humans alike that I personally disagree with. Not just elsewhere in the word, but here in my own country, my own state and my own town. No matter how I feel about these things that I see as injustices, I realize that such behavior won't end within my lifetime nor that of my child. I can voice my opinion and share my feedback for your consideration, but you are the one telling this particular story. Even though you asked for that feedback I realize that at best my words merely serve as food for thought. The fact that you've taken them into consideration enough to respond is more than some would do. At this point if you feel that your personal objective has been met then you need pay my words no more attention. I will say that some of your responses in this thread have proven to be more insightful than much of the wording you chose to include with your photographs. But again, your story.

...Bill
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Old 1 Week Ago   #45
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I don't really care about the "cultural" angle like some people who are freaking out do. I understand different cultures have different traditions. Simple really. I don't judge other cultures based on my own as I've been around a bit.

Your photographs though are superficial at best. It looks like you went to a cockfight as a tourist and took pictures which are repetitive and from back in the cheap seats. How many photographs do you have of some dude holding a cock? I really don't see a story here other than a tourist at a cockfight and even that is a weak one. Your descriptions of the images are more necessary than the images themselves in many cases. The fact too that you cut the head off of the liquor woman reducing her to a pair of boobs and a liquor bottle is pretty bad, especially in that context. In the end I guess the real question is what did I learn about cockfighting? The answer is nothing.

Great images need no explanation, mediocre ones do, poor images need defending. You are doing a lot of defending.

If you go back to do it again, get your nose up in it. Figure out what makes the experience unique. Show what the people feel about it. Good, bad, ugly. Doesn't matter. Just make it real. I could go on, but you probably get the picture.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #46
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For me the finest image is "Artificial spurs". First because it's a What-The-F--- moment - I had no idea this was a thing, the arming of birds for a knife fight. Second, the hat on the ground is a perfect backdrop, literally drawing a circle around the subject. And then finally the owner holding the bird, showing how delicate and exposed the legs are. It's quite an image, and can stand alone.
This photo raised my curiosity as well, about the details. How can animal like rooster know it’s being armed more than what nature provides? Are they trained somehow? Some more details beside the photo would help uninformed.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #47
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
Bill: thanks for stating your opinion so clearly. I point out the matter of perspective. Some here worry about chickens while those from other countries, Cuba being a prime example, dismiss cocks while asking me how we can even sleep at night with the way we treat our fellow citizens. It is all about perspective.
Bob, that's not perspective, it's just deflection, and a logical fallacy.

Person 1 says cock fighting is cruel. Person 2, pointing finger, says "But look at what those hypocrites waaay over there do!" Kind of lame, right? Of course there are larger crimes in the world than cockfighting but that's not the point.

Cock fighting, dog fighting, bullfights, they're all the same entertainment really. And the only response to animal cruelty accusations that I would respect from anyone involved in them is this: "Sure it's cruel. Animals die and that's okay with me and my people. It's entertainment." At least that's honest and straightforward, and owning your decision is preferable to hiding behind lame beside the point deflections like "but look what Americans do to their own people" or silly defenses of culture.

Cockfighting exists in the USA too of course, and the videos I watched about it tonight showed about what I expected: bravado, pride in the animals, the promise of profit, and bloody death. But what a surprise - the Americans were owning up to it, with a big proud middle finger to anyone who disagreed with their fun.

What a world.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #48
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Originally Posted by jawarden View Post
Bob, that's not perspective, it's just deflection, and a logical fallacy.

Person 1 says cock fighting is cruel. Person 2, pointing finger, says "But look at what those hypocrites waaay over there do!" Kind of lame, right? Of course there are larger crimes in the world than cockfighting but that's not the point.

Cock fighting, dog fighting, bullfights, they're all the same entertainment really. And the only response to animal cruelty accusations that I would respect from anyone involved in them is this: "Sure it's cruel. Animals die and that's okay with me and my people. It's entertainment." At least that's honest and straightforward, and owning your decision is preferable to hiding behind lame beside the point deflections like "but look what Americans do to their own people" or silly defenses of culture.

Cockfighting exists in the USA too of course, and the videos I watched about it tonight showed about what I expected: bravado, pride in the animals, the promise of profit, and bloody death. But what a surprise - the Americans were owning up to it, with a big proud middle finger to anyone who disagreed with their fun.

What a world.
Cockfighting is now illegal everywhere in the United States, and has been since Louisiana banned it in 2007. Before that, New Mexico had been the only other state to allow cockfighting; they banned it before Louisiana did.

Cockfighting has deep roots in Hispanic culture, and Latin cultures generally, so its no surprise that New Mexico and Louisiana with their large Spanish and French populations were the last states in the US to outlaw cockfights.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #49
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I'm not sure why people like to strap knife blades on chickens' legs and watch them slash each other to death. We sure didn't see the horror of the "sport" depicted in your photos. Just a bunch of people laughing and smiling, drinking and betting. Everyone must have had a good time. I guess that was the aspect of the event you wanted to show.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #50
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Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Cockfighting is now illegal everywhere in the United States, and has been since Louisiana banned it in 2007. Before that, New Mexico had been the only other state to allow cockfighting; they banned it before Louisiana did.

Cockfighting has deep roots in Hispanic culture, and Latin cultures generally, so its no surprise that New Mexico and Louisiana with their large Spanish and French populations where the last states in the US to outlaw cockfights.
The illegality of the practice (which my bleeding heart considers barbaric) has had an effect, but of course it still happens. Such is life.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #51
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I'm glad the US has mostly outlawed cock-fighting, dog-fighting, and the like. It is not good for our society.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #52
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I'm not sure why people like to strap knife blades on chickens' legs and watch them slash each other to death. We sure didn't see the horror of the "sport" depicted in your photos. Just a bunch of people laughing and smiling, drinking and betting. Everyone must have had a good time. I guess that was the aspect of the event you wanted to show.
Or, could it be that my photos of the reality do not match up with your preconceived notions? Have you ever been to a cock fight? Every know anyone who cared for cocks? Have you ever even raised chickens?

Now I certainly will agree that a photographer can have major influence about how any event is depicted. My attempt was to be objective. Others have the right to question that. But there has not been any responses here from anyone who has any actual first hand knowledge.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #53
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As for cockfighting and your claim above, my reading on the subject suggests that Cubans are not actually unanimous on this subject. Are you sure nobody gives a **** about these birds in Cuba?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #54
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Or, could it be that my photos of the reality do not match up with your preconceived notions? Have you ever been to a cock fight? Every know anyone who cared for cocks? Have you ever even raised chickens?
I have seen videos of cockfights. The images in the videos do not correspond to the images in your photo story. I have not attended a cockfight. Cockfights are illegal. I have not raised chickens.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #55
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I have seen videos of cockfights. The images in the videos do not correspond to the images in your photo story. I have not attended a cockfight. Cockfights are illegal. I have not raised chickens.
So you have never been to a cockfight in Cuba. You know nothing about the way fighting cocks are cared for. You know nothing about chickens. You do not even know that cockfighting is legal in Cuba although any betting is illegal. You are simply applying your own uninformed preconceived notions of something you actually know nothing about other that watching videos on the internet. I rest my case.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #56
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I think Bob asked for critique of his photo series, not to become a spokes person of Cuban cockfighting tradition. It is what it is, and this thread is about documenting it.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #57
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..... As for cockfighting and your claim above, my reading on the subject suggests that Cubans are not actually unanimous on this subject. Are you sure nobody gives a **** about these birds in Cuba?
Living in Cuba part time, I see no real concern. Cubans understand chickens are something beyond a meat product that comes wrapped in plastic at the store. They are directly connected to agricultural reality as until recently every Cuban student must spend a month every year on a farm working agriculture with their hands. Many raise chickens at home and are familiar with the process of personally killing one for a meal. They understand that given a choice, any rooster would choose to be a fighting cock rather than Sunday's dinner.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #58
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I think Bob asked for critique of his photo series, not to become a spokes person of Cuban cockfighting tradition. It is what it is, and this thread is about documenting it.
If we were in a bar, I would buy you a beer.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #59
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Great series Bob, and yes, even controversial subjects deserve to be documented properly. Having been to the island and living in Mexico, I can say that this activity however disagreeable from a personal perspective, it is very well a common ocurrance culturally and it’s not the place of the photojournalist to run away from controversial topics. Well done! And excuse my English
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Old 1 Week Ago   #60
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You are simply applying your own uninformed preconceived notions of something you actually know nothing about other that watching videos on the internet. I rest my case.
You dismiss internet videos of cockfights as uninforming yet want us to accept your internet still images. Do you see the irony in that?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #61
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You dismiss internet videos of cockfights as uninforming yet want us to accept your internet still images. Do you see the irony in that?
Oh, no. I never said internet videos were uninforming. What I did say was that knowledge from only watching videos was not a valid argument for contending someone's images did not portray reality when they had so much first hand on the ground experience including many aspects of the subject not included in videos. Of course you and everyone else has the right to believe whatever you want. Especially in the case where everyone wanted to debate how I covered ethical issues when I consciously decided to exclude such.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #62
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To be honest, Bob, I was left a little flat by the imagery. I did not feel that you had any opinion about the event, only that you were there to document it. I did not feel a connection that drew me in and held my interest. Part of it may be the fact that most of the images are square format which leaves me a little flat. (Tried square once with a Yashica 124G but it did not work for me.) I have always liked the 24mm x 36mm framing of 35mm film.
One thing I would suggest is maybe focusing on a single trainer/owner to whatever the end is (a victory or loss). Something to draw the viewer in to better understand the connection between man and bird. Maybe starting out at the home of the owner and grabbing some images of training followed with a trip to a contest.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #63
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Well a few thoughts

The pictorial flow...
seems abit too loose if You are trying to tell a Story...
I have no idea what this selection was edited from but I might change the sequence / add or subtract from the 16 photos

I do very much like your work just felt this series fell short
Best ~ Helen


•••••OOOPS stand corrected !
I looked at just the photos
then realized You had to click on each one to view text...flowed much better
though I am against Cruelty to Animals, the cruel/petty way of having to make a buck and Spectators viewing it as entertainment
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Old 1 Week Ago   #64
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Oh, no. I never said internet videos were uninforming.
You said I was uninformed because I had only seen internet videos. Imagine if the only thing I saw were your internet stills. Would I still be uninformed? If so, it doesn't say much for your or any other photo story.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #65
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Especially in the case where everyone wanted to debate how I covered ethical issues when I consciously decided to exclude such.
As a creator, you can focus on what you wish and consciously exclude what you will. But a viewer has no obligation to respect your personal framework.

I think that if the captions and possibly the photos were tighter and more focused in whatever you want us to see and think, viewers would be less prone to project their personal concerns into the event.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #66
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Helen / Rich: excellent input as you both confirmed the validity of my concern that it is not obvious to the viewer that there is supporting text and one must manually click on the first image, then to the next and continue doing so. Rich, I never told you how to see the full frame images, so you only saw the square thumbnails. This appears to be a limitation to the software, jAlbum, I am using for presentation. I must find some other software that opens with the first image including related text and clearly indicates how to move on to the next image.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #67
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The photos - why the bottle of wine? Why the baseball cap? The main shot - why not change angle to remove distracting clutter? Why ask for critique - when the photo is right there for you to see? These are nice snapshots.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #68
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The photos - why the bottle of wine? Why the baseball cap? The main shot - why not change angle to remove distracting clutter? Why ask for critique - when the photo is right there for you to see? These are nice snapshots.
Great segue into a critical question. Did I not provide enough information or make the erroneous assumption that the viewer would click on an image from the thumbnail to see the full image with caption? I suspect that may be the case when you refer to a wine bottle while the caption explains that is "the bar" which consists only of shots of rum for a cheap price.

I wish I could shoot photos that told the entire story without captions but that is just a limitation of my talent.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #69
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I believe the photo should explain the caption, not the other way around. Don't give up, or frame a "limitation" - take a wine bottle and a person and spend a few hours shooting them as many ways as possible - then see what resonates in you. I take a lot of snapshots, too - on purpose.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #70
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Software may be an issue, however, I opened each image and read the captions.

I, for one, believe that text is very helpful in reportage. If you are presenting an aspect of culture that is new or not well understood by your audience, text is necessary. I am frequently frustrated by interesting images that provoke questions beyond the basic aesthetic and provide no answers.

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Old 6 Days Ago   #71
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Helen / Rich: excellent input as you both confirmed the validity of my concern that it is not obvious to the viewer that there is supporting text and one must manually click on the first image, then to the next and continue doing so. Rich, I never told you how to see the full frame images, so you only saw the square thumbnails. This appears to be a limitation to the software, jAlbum, I am using for presentation. I must find some other software that opens with the first image including related text and clearly indicates how to move on to the next image.
I did go to each individual image on your webpage mainly because I wanted to see how it was presented and what you were trying to accomplish. I guess one of my concerns is I still do not get a strong feeling about the images. As I mentioned, maybe singling out a particular owner/trainer would help by developing the emotion an owner has with his bird. When I am trying to do a photo essay I usually focus on a particular thought I have about the idea. I think you have some access for these sporting events that maybe most people do not have. You have a start here but, for me, it needs further development and a more specific thought as to what you are trying to present.
I am not an expert on photo essays, you might take a look at the few I have on my website. Most were shot with a pair of Nikons with wide and telephoto zooms. The poetry reading essay was shot with an single Fuji X-E1 and 1,4/35mm lens. The planting day essay was shot with a Fuji X100s and the X-E1 with a Nikkor 1,8/85mm lens. I don't know if these essays would help in your quest but maybe they will give you some ideas. The projects section focuses on a single idea that I shot over several years in each case.
As I mentioned earlier, I think you have started a quest to develop something about this event but you need more shooting time for the idea to mature.
Hope this helps.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #72
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...... I am not an expert on photo essays, you might take a look at the few I have on my website. .....
Thanks. I found time to look through your website. Very interesting.

My website http://bobmichaels.org/ does have a number of different stories. But mine use differing presentations as I continue to experiment. Some are text stories with inserted photos, some are a series of photos with captions in a slide show format, some, like yours, have a text lead in with following photos, two are MP4s.

The recent on my website is from Cuba but with differing topics such as:
* raising a pig in your back yard for profit
* obit and funeral of a friend (very different in Cuba)
* Fidel's 90th and final birthday celebration
* May 1st Workers Day Parade (with target audience of Communist party officials)
* International film festival which is in an otherwise small fishing village
* and more. A real mix of subjects and presentation styles. But all were shot with the particular style used in mind.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #73
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My website http://bobmichaels.org/ does have a number of different stories.
Enjoyed a visit to your website, Bob. Especially enjoyed the b&w series that were presented. (As you may have noted from my webiste, I love b&w!)
Really enjoyed the Mississippi Delta images. I lived the first couple of decades of my life in central Mississippi including the turbulent 1960's. That was before my photographic life began. Bookmarked your website and will visit occasionally to see any new series.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #74
willie_901
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In my view, this quote from the American comedian Mark Russel applies:

"I don't make the news, I just report it."

Bob's photographs neither endorse or condemn cock fighting.

The camera saw what it saw.

Anything else is projected by the viewers' collective life experiences.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #75
ptpdprinter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
In my view, this quote from the American comedian Mark Russel applies:

"I don't make the news, I just report it."

Bob's photographs neither endorse or condemn cock fighting.

The camera saw what it saw.

Anything else is projected by the viewers' collective life experiences.
And the photographer played no part in selecting which images to take and, of them, which to show, and in selecting the tone, tenor, and content of the captions? We just had a camera walking around taking images all by itself, and captions appearing magically out of thin air. Curious. I think you are selling Bob short as having no point of view.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
In my view, this quote from the American comedian Mark Russel applies:

"I don't make the news, I just report it."

Bob's photographs neither endorse or condemn cock fighting.

The camera saw what it saw.

Anything else is projected by the viewers' collective life experiences.
In my experience that quote is almost never true.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #77
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I like your photo, Bob.

It has good inverted pyramidal proportions in the foreground subjects and the vivid colours are eye catching.

It would be a bit more whimsical if the guy's head in the background was not visible and the rooster's leg and foot doubled for the guy's right arm due to the parallax of the shooting angle of your camera lens.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #78
Bob Michaels
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
And the photographer played no part in selecting which images to take and, of them, which to show, and in selecting the tone, tenor, and content of the captions? We just had a camera walking around taking images all by itself, and captions appearing magically out of thin air. Curious. I think you are selling Bob short as having no point of view.
ptpdprinter is totally correct. Everything was my decision about what was important. The photos and the general tone of the story was mine and mine alone. The exclusion of the much discussed ethical considerations was a subconscious decision based on my view that it was no part of the story. Not something I intentionally omitted or portrayed different than reality. Just not part of the story based on knowledge. The introduction of ethical considerations was something totally brought about by viewers and their own thoughts.

I am amazed at those who in spite of knowing nothing about Cuban cockfighting, never having been to a cock fight, never being around anyone who raised and cared for fighting cocks, actually never even been to Cuba deciding that ethical issues should be the focus or even part of the story. Then they feel comfortable critiquing how it was implied.

If someone wants to do a photo story about the ethics of Cuban cockfighting, I invite them to live in Cuba part time, begin to understand the culture, go to many cock fights, get to know Cubans who raise and care for fighting cocks. Then if you can find a story there about ethical considerations about cock fighting, do a photo story about it.

Finally, I call HYPOCRITE! to those who express uninformed views about cock fighting while smugly buying their chicken pieces in neatly shrink wrapped packages at the store without ever considering the conditions under which those chickens were raised and slaughtered in modern day chicken factories.

My thanks to each of you who offered the requested critique of the presentation of the story. Be assured I gave consideration to each of your comments.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #79
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post

Finally, I call HYPOCRITE! to those who express uninformed views about cock fighting while smugly buying their chicken pieces in neatly shrink wrapped packages at the store without ever considering the conditions under which those chickens were raised and slaughtered in modern day chicken factories.
I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree on the cockfighting issue, Bob.

In addition to cockfighting I'm also against the inhumane way chickens are treated and slaughtered as in your example above of the worst chicken factories. I know you're going to think this is totally crazy, but I reached my ethical conclusion about chicken factories without first moving my family part time to a neighborhood with a slaughterhouse. I've never been to a disgusting modern chicken slaughterhouse, ever, in fact. I've never met the workers raising chickens in cages the size of a single chicken. I've not done the physically active things you are suggesting are somehow required (?) for having an opinion about cockfighting, in other words. I guess you would say I am "uninformed" about the chicken factory issue, because I reached my conclusion about modern chicken processing by reading alone, and adjusted my behavior accordingly.

But I think I'll stick with my uninformed reading.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #80
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Bob , this is an interesting set of images. I don’t believe in ‘critique’ here, as these shots were not posed, you worked with what you had. To do better would mean moving outside your comfort zone, or more to the point the comfort zone of your subjects.

The image of the boy on horseback with his bird is the best of the set! That is well composed and would make anyone take notice.

A number of these shots need more contrast, this is a situation where color does not help. I think several of these would be enhanced if you found an angle where man and bird were framed against the sky or a brighter background.

Randy
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