From: Jack Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 09/23/02-09:10:04 PM Z
First a side-track.
I have just returned home after a long day's drive through the
Salinas Valley. The home of Steinbeck country . . where the desperate poor
of Dorothea Lange landed. It is, indeed, the salad bowl. I still swear
Weston was simple and he photographed cabbage etc. due to the fact it was
Where he lived was foggy as we left. Salinas Valley was hot and
there were square mile after square mile of lettuce. Miles and miles of it.
Though time was not on our side, I thought of photographing the
braceros and doing even a video. Those folks are not paid enough. Many were
stopped over all day . . in the strawberry fields where the initial
plantings have acres of plastic covers saying, 'peligro' due to poisonous
gasses used to fumigate the soil. They haul boxes of lettuce and place on
trucks. Each lettuce is stopped over for, placed in a plastic bag, twisted
and put in a box. It is really tedious and hard work.
Anyway, I was thinking of our list and the Weston thread and nudity
and these men and women out picking green onions and me sittin there w/my
map and wife and camera. I am political and maybe this is for another period
in my career but, gee, the thread of "is it okay to take pictures of people"
came to mind.
When faster film and cameras were popular tools (G. Eastman and the
Brownie etc.) one of the 'fashionable' things to do was to catch folks off
guard. Lartigue mentions this. It was "fun" to catch the hoy poloy in odd
moments due to the 'speed' of the camera.
Marco is right in that Cartier-Bresson's work does no denigrate the
person. They are used in a classical parable so to speak. He did mention the
camera is to be used as a caress (of love) or as a gun or, as other tools.
There is not one sacrosanct way to employ the camera. One, in their normal
life, is good and not so good. Does the camera reflect this demeanor when
employed? If there is a humanistic bent in you, go photograph folks on the
street. If Helen Levitt used a 45º mirror, it was primarily to capture
children unaware because there is something so tangibly sweet (or not so
sweet) about them in their venture into life and experience. Winogrand often
did try to exhibit large juxtaposition (wheelchair man and beautiful women
on street in axial sunlight . . or everyone looking @ a shuttle takeoff but
one) He was, in my thinking, concerned about himself, hence the lone
individual. Robert Frank saw the disenfranchised and reflected upon them via
his own interior sadness and angst. Diane Arbus was 'nuts' (pardon the
expression) and showed that. Andre Kertesz was darned near a poet and showed
that: no harm as the eye cannot wield a dangerous tool. Mary Ellen Mark
wishes to show the 'affected.' Ralph Gibson is into sex and fame. Each
person who photographs quickly on the street does work that reflects much of
their own persona. Therefore, though I am not into 'hurting' a soul
physically nor mentally, if one is an artist, just go out and do it and
don't fear the reaction you get . . nor, try to predict it. Just do it.
> From: Marco Milazzo <email@example.com>
> Thanks for responding to my message with civility. I'll do the same. But
> for the moment, let's skip over personal issues of my feelings and yours,
> and just look at street photography, or really candid photography in
> general. At bottom, I'm just asking a question. It may be a question that
> was answered in "Criticism 101," but I didn't take that course, so maybe we
> can discuss it for a short while here.
> This is my premise: Sure life isn't fair -- that's a "given." But I think
> we're supposed to try to make it as fair as possible. Having an
> unflattering picture of you taken without your permission hanging on a
> gallery wall may seem like small potatoes compared to some injustices
> society can deal out, but it has potential for real abusiveness.
> The real point is that freedom to photograph people without their permission
> also implies freedom to distort their image, to catch them at their worst,
> or to tack onto their picture, some title just a bit short of slander.
> That's all perfectly legal.
> (By the way, most of us got the "Arrington vs. the NY Times" case wrong. I
> later learned that an appeal court decided that ending up on the cover of
> the Times Magazine is the price we may have to pay for living in a society
> with a free flow of information.)
> Not all street photography is abusive. I see lots of street photography --
> Cartier-Bresson's for instance -- which (pardon the corniness), seems like a
> celebration of life. But some street photography seems designed to make
> people look ugly, venial, ridiculous, etc. in one way or another.
> As I sit here this Sunday morning, caffeine- and carbohydrate starved, my
> brain is unable to come up with a resounding summation, so let me stop here,
> and say that if any of this strikes a note in your symphony, please
> respond -- I'm all ears. If not, well it was just an idea.
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