Thursday, December 27, 2012

THE ARTIST CHOOSES VOLUME 2


Yes, I know, it wasn't that long ago that I posted Volume 1 of my favourites. But, you see, I have so many favourites that I just can't help myself. Anyway, I know that at least some of the images in this slideshow are also favourites with some other people.
I've chosen John and Yoko's Give Peace a Chance for the soundtrack because, in essence, that is why I do what I do: to try to spread a little love and promote a little peace. So, please enjoy and as usual, your comments, Likes, feedback, Shares are very welcome.
Peace to you all










Sunday, December 23, 2012

Interview with Street Photographer Umberto Verdoliva (from 121Clicks.com)


An inspired photographer and inspiring too. Do you know what he think is the most important quality for a street photographer to possess? good camera? no. stealth? no. guts? no. zone focusing? no. Here is what he says:
"The main quality you need is love to the people. Be attentive to their actions, have respect them. Commit to capture significant aspects with patience, intelligence, sensitivity"
Love for the people. Exactly

JUST CLICK ON THE LINK AT THE BOTTOM. THANKS!!


Interview with Street Photographer Umberto Verdoliva



Interview with Street Photographer Umberto Verdoliva - 121Clicks.com

Friday, December 21, 2012

No Ordinary Moments No Ordinary People

On the streets there are no ordinary moments, and there are no ordinary people. Every moment has the potential to be special or decisive and every person is, well every person is special already. This slideshow in Volume 6 in my Melbourne People series. Now that I have left Australia and no longer have access to the city, I think there will only be a couple more (I still have tons of images to sort through!). Meanwhile, please enjoy this small offering and the soundtrack too which will blow you away: a track by James Taylor and one by Jim Morrison. A double treat!
Peace!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Composition in Street Photography is Humanist concept: A powerful interview

All street or documentary photographers will have heard of Joel Meyerowitz, and many (including me) admire him and his work. This interview speaks about composition in a way you may not have heard before. It's a very humanistic approach which I share and which goes against the grain of much street photography which seeks, in Joel's words, to "collect objects" or to put it another way, to objectify the world we seek to record with our cameras.
I have one point of disagreement with Joel, which is not a huge deal, well it could be. He says that with a rangefinder the photographer has one eye free to see the rest of what's going on around the scene, but an SLR with its viewfinder in the centre of the camera blinds the photographer to the context. I personally have only ever used SLRs and now a DSLR and I do not feel that I am ever unable to see or be aware of the surrounding context when I am working. It's just a technical thing, but don't let it convince you that you can't follow his marvellous advice with an SLR. It works very well for me.
What he says represents, I believe a landmark statement in the aesthetics of street photography and in my not so humble opinion, should be part of the gospel we follow as we take our cameras on to the street.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Ode to Family: A slideshow of some families found on the street

video

An Ode to Family comes at a good time as I reconnect with my son here in England after not seeing each other for eight years. What a joy it is and will be for a while to come yet. And as Mr Bowie says in the marvellous song I've chosen for the soundtrack, we are all Absolute beginners when it comes to family relationships. And as long as we remember that single fact, we shall always be capable of being family

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Is More Less, or Is Less More? Part II


Welcome back to this split post. Let's get on with Part II

And now, what about the marvellous Eggleston’s approach? His statement reminds me of how you hear people say “Money doesn’t mean much to me”. Whenever you’ve heard that statement from someone, how often has it come from someone who has heaps of the stuff and has no money worries? I rest my case. What I’m getting at is that Eggleston is such a skilled and experienced artist that he can take a one subject, one frame approach and know he will come up with the goods the majority of the time.

In a way it’s the exact opposite to the ‘spray and pray’ brigade isn’t it? I don’t mean in terms of the number of photographs made, but in terms of the numbers of good photographs produced. I think there would not be much argument with my assertion that Eggleston will consistently come up with more ‘good’ images per hour spent with his camera than a member of the photographic paramilitary who machine guns everybody and everything in the hope that something will come out of it. Maybe I should conduct a study. Any adherents of either approach out there want to contact me? We might have an interesting experience finding out the real truth of the matter.

I am very Buddhist in my inclinations, philosophically. One of the Buddha’s main teachings was the Middle Path. The name of this teaching speaks for itself: Life is best lived without extremes, by following a balanced way. For ‘Life’ read “Photography’, which for some us is life! This Middle Way can really only be followed by taking a mindful attitude to all our actions. This would seem to suggest that the ‘spray and pray’ brigade are not adhering to the way wouldn’t it?

But what of Eggleston’s one subject, one photo approach? Nobody would argue that he’s not mindful in his approach; he is actually an extremely thoughtful person when it comes to his work. But, it is extreme isn’t it; one subject, one photograph? Well, it’s not for him; he’s learned from experience what works for him, so he’s come to a balanced position in his practice.

For me, it would be extreme, as it would be I suspect for most of us. The clue for me is what I said in the previous paragraph: ‘he’s learned from experience what works for him, so he’s come to a balanced position in his practice’. And that’s going to be different for each of us and it will be an evolving aspect to our photography too won’t it? I mean as we gain more experience we may find ourselves edging closer to Eggleston. Mind you it’s going to be a few lifetimes before I get there!!

In the end it is for me about mindfulness. And being mindful requires that we are as much in the now of whatever it is we are doing as we can possibly be. In my work on the street as a documentary/street photographer this means being right there and mentally present to all that’s going on around me.
I think I’ve said it before somewhere else that practising being fully present mentally will allow the development of one’s intuition and, over time, increase the connection between the shutter finger and that intuition. And it is this that allows one to be there for that moment that asks to be recorded and preserved. It also allows your subjects to come to you, to invite you to photograph them. Paul Strand, one of the masters, knew this: he said once, ‘I don’t choose the things or people I photograph, they choose me’. Trust me when I say they aren’t going to choose you if you’re machine gunning them!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Is Less More, or Is More Less? Part I


William Eggleston, that really terrific photographer from the US who chronicles urban life so wonderfully, has a rule: one subject, one photograph. He reckons that he was getting so confused trying to decide which frame was the best one that he gave up and now only one exposure per subject. Of course he’s the first to admit that sometimes this strategy results in a good image, and sometimes it doesn't.

Then, at the other extreme, we have the ‘spray and pray’ brigade, or put another way, we have the ‘photographers’ who use their camera like a machine gun, ‘shooting’ at x frames a second. And, you know what? Sometimes these people end up with a good image; most of the time though they end up with a whole lot of film used or memory cards filled with no result at all worth bothering about.
A disclaimer from me before we go any further. I absolutely despise the language of photography sometimes (I have a post on the subject if you’d like to read it). ‘Spray and pray” strikes me as crude in the extreme from a standpoint of language alone. And ‘shoot’, ‘machine gun’, and all the rest of the violent, acquisitive, even war like language we use when talking about photography. Now, having got that out of the way, let’s move on shall we?

The digital camera and other aspects of the digital revolution give us the freedom to press that shutter button as often and for as long as we like, without any apparent cost. Of course in the old days of film with just 24 or 36 frames per roll, we had to take a little more care about what we photographed—unless of course someone else was paying for the film. Mind you, even then, you had to change rolls sometimes in a hurry and memory cards have relieved us of such inconveniences forever.

So, where does all this leave us as serious photographers? Do we just fall into line and keep the old shutter finger permanently down? Or do we take Eggleston’s approach and just make one frame of any one subject? Well, obviously both are extreme positions aren't they? Let’s look at each approach separately for a minute.

‘Spray and pray’ is not only crude as language but is, in my opinion, a crude way to pretend to create photographs. Yes, pretend. It is not, again in my opinion, photography; it is nothing really. Well it is, it’s abuse of the wonderful potential of the technology of photography and an insult to all serious artists. Strong opinions? Yes, indeed. But it’s what I believe. And that’s it!

But, what do you get if you take that approach? As I said you may end up with one or more good images in terms of recording some expressions or movements or whatever. But, look, even sports photographers if they are good, mostly keep their cameras in single frame mode. They know that at several frames a second you are quite often going to miss that special move, or expression or other exciting moment. John Free, the humanistic and compassionate street photographer, talks about how we photographers work at 1/500th of a second (shutter speed), so even at ten frames a second you are going to miss a lot with this machine gun approach aren't you?

Indulge me once again as I make another declaration. Whenever I hear or read a photographer saying “I went out today, shot 1000 frames and if I'm lucky I will get one keeper out of the lot”, I cringe. Do people realise what they are actually saying when they make this absurd statement? They are claiming to be completely hopeless photographers. Why would anyone bother? First of all to make that many images and secondly to waste their lives with so little to show for it? Mind you, a good life is not just about what you can ‘show for it’ is it? So, well, let those people get on with it. I will say no more about such activity!

End of Part I. part II is coming soon!!
Peace!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Three Heroes Visit the Land of Forgotten Angels

We hear a lot about how populations everywhere are ageing. And many of us of course are confronted with this fact as not only parents age but as we ourselves grow older. Another thing we hear a lot about is the lack of services for older people and in many cases the lack of respect and thought given t these people that sometimes reaches the extent of old people not only dying alone but laying undiscovered for months and even years.

The film I am posting here is by three photographers in Singapore who decided they would like to document and publicise how old people live in a retirement home. They hope to raise awareness of the issues associated with ageing and care for older people.

They have called their film Journey into the Land of Forgotten Angels. This is a title I really relate to and respect. It is also a lovely film made with compassion, love, hope and a sense of mission that I can really admire and support So, please watch this short film and share it widely amongst your friends. Oh, and watch for the scene of the front of the retirement home: they have Love printed above the front door. How groovy is that?
Peace to you all.

PS One thing we who are artists could learn from these guys is how powerful our art can be. I know as a photographer that I could do a lot more to highlight social issues, raise awareness and contribute to the sum total of goodness in the world.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ron Corbin: Street Photographer of the Lost Angels of the Streets

Before tonight I had never heard of Ron Corbin. I can't believe that I haven't come across him or his work before.  Such an angel of a human being, he deserves to be known universally. A humble and compassionate person, Corbin is a street photographer of a special kind. His images are not "pretty"; he says so himself. He photographs people in deep distress, caused by substance abuse, street life and the horrors that go with those things. There is beauty here despite the ugliness. It is the beauty that resides in the essence of life, in the souls of us all, regardless of the lives we've lived or are living. 

Anyway, I won't detract from this marvellous work by prattling on. You will perhaps be shocked by what you see on this video, but you will be the better for it. I've been humbled tonight, watching Mr Corbin speak and looking closely at his photographs. He photographs the people most of us prefer not to see and from whom we turn away. 

For Corbin street photography is not about the hunt, it's not about stealing souls or capturing a quirky or cool scene. For him it is about making a record of those invisible people, angels lost in the wasteland of alcohol, drugs, prostitution. In other words, lives lived on the street. I know it's trite and such a "cliché" these days but I truly believe there is something amiss in our world when the atrocities you will see hinted at here are allowed to continue. It is also a sin (in the real sense of the word) that we idolise and reward people for being nasty, competitive, vain and "hard", but ignore truly compassionate artists such as Ron Corbin. He struggles "from pay check to pay check" while talentless "celebs" get rich from their five minutes on "reality" television. No justice there is there?

I offer this video in the hope it will be watched by many and that those who watch it will be inspired to do something. Anything at all, but something
Peace to you all
paul




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Fresh Take on the Decisive Moment

I've been thinking for a while about Henri Cartier-Bresson and how he is known (among other things) for "inventing" the concept of The Decisive Moment. Finding and 'capturing' the decisive moment is a kind of holy grail for many photographers, especially social documentary and street photographers.

Then this morning I read a friend's post on a famous quote by another photographer that has been misinterpreted or used to justify opposing points of view (well what's odd about that you might ask in our world of cut and paste, of spin, of just generally taking things out of context). So, I thought, this is my chance to have a look at the Decisive Moment concept: where it's come from, what it means and what I think about it all in relation to my own work.

First up, let's look at what Cartier-Bresson actually said about the concept. Well, after a very long and often interesting, surf of the net, I failed to find a single quote from the man himself that includes the words 'decisive moment'. Here, though is one quote that comes close:
“I kept walking the streets, high-strung, and eager to snap scenes of convincing reality, but mainly I wanted to capture the quintessence of the phenomenon in a single image. Photographing, for me, is instant drawing, and the secret is to forget you are carrying a camera
And then there is this from in interview from 1957:

Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! the Moment! Once you miss the moment it is gone forever. 

No direct mention here of the Decisive Moment, although we see 'moment' in that second quote. I think actually that this second quote is a fairly good definition of the decisive moment, though I'm still bothered.

Here's the thing. We can accept that when we are making a photograph and  it all falls into place that this is the 'decisive' moment, but what is this mysterious 'it'. We can say, lighting, composition, subjects and all the rest, have to be in the right place at that right time, but what really determines exactly when the 'decisive moment' occurs? You see, I have a motto myself: There are no ordinary moments. Meaning, of course that every moment is special, and yes it is I think true to say, every moment is decisive.

And here's a little bit of evidence to suggest that I might just be onto something here. From my research I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty where the actual words 'decisive moment' came from. Jean Francios Paul de Gondi, a cardinal no less of the Roman Catholic church who lived from 1613 to 1679 and came from a rich banking family (didn't they all in those days? Churchman didn't always mean holyman) wrote this:
There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.

In other words, this rich (though he ran up huge debts and died "poor") cardinal who isn't known for much other than writing his memoirs and whose main claim to fame in our time is that he is to be found on Wikipedia, came up with the idea that a lot of us photographers use as some kind of benchmark for our own work.

Of course he is saying that all of life, all that happens has its decisive moment. I, in my not quite infinite wisdom, choose to believe he means by this that no moment is by definition "ordinary". 

So, does this mean we just keep our finger down on the shutter button? Do we 'spray and pray" (what a disgusting image that conjures up; what a sad way to use a camera) and hope we come up with some kind of 'decisive moment'? Hardly. For me it means that every moment has the potential to be special. A street scene of people milling about at a bus stop for example, is always for someone going to contain something special. If I come along with my camera it will be a good scene to photograph or it won't be. It will depend, as we say, on the coming together of elements. And one of those elements is me! Or you; the photographer anyway. 

What I am getting to here in my usual round about way is this: If I am THERE at that bus stop, really there, and I choose to make a photograph, then almost by definition I will come up with a decisive moment. This is so because by being truly present in that space and in that time (ie the moment) I will simply be another element that joins with the flow of all the other elements. I will 'see', I will 'feel' how it is and what is going on. Whether that photograph will be worth processing and showing to others, well that's another question (for another day).

What I try to keep in mind, and our cardinal friend here has helped me remember this, is that even if the photograph I've made isn't one I choose to process and/or show to others, it doesn't matter. In some way, in some form, I have preserved a decisive moment. What I need to bear in mind is, of course, that it may not be a moment that makes a great photograph  it may not be THE one I want to keep and preserve.

It is the coming together and it is the attempt at coming together, that makes what we do worthwhile as documentary or street photographers. It is the intention, the attitude, the frame of mind, we come to our work with, that matters. It is also of great importance that we recognise that all moments are special, that none are "ordinary". That way our life is one long significant - and decisive - moment.

Oh, one last thing. Take a look at this famous image by Cartier-Bresson. It has been cited by many as a classic example of the 'Decisive Moment'. And it is indeed just that; it shows us a very special moment and it has been photographed in a very special way.

Would you like to know how the master made this photograph  Now, it may or may not be true, but I have read in a number of sources that he held his camera above his head so it could see over a fence, through which he himself could not see, and he made the frame.

Chance? Serendipity? Coincidence? No. None of these can explain this extraordinary photograph, this decisive moment. The only explanation is that the photographer was really there, his intuition was working, he was one with his camera, and he just knew, he just felt, when the right moment to press the shutter came. Cartier-Bresson was, in very real terms himself right there in that decisive moment. That is the holy grail I seek: to be in the moment with my subjects. That way, all moments are special, all are decisive

Sunday, October 21, 2012

They Took the Children Away

Inspired by a genocidal atrocity systematically committed over many decades and which shames my country, this  video poses the question, How could it be that people thought it  a good idea to take children away from their families because - and only because - of their ethnicity? Not to mention that the stolen ones belonged to the first peoples of this land. It also makes the point, I think clearly, that it is impossible for anyone, unless they have had their children stolen to know what it is like; nor can anyone who hasn't experienced it possibly know what the stolen ones have experienced.For me it also poses this question: How would I feel? I dedicate this video to the children and their parents and as a kind of prayer: may such atrocities never be visited upon anyone ever again.Peace to you all
video

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Now I have my very own website

Yes, my friends, it is true: I now have my very own website. While I've had it for a few weeks now, I guess I haven't been making as big a fuss about it as I should. But, the time has come, and now so will the fuss making!

I've often found it hard to think of a website as a "real" thing. Does that make sense? I mean how often do we talk about cyber space as not being the "real world"? It's as if what goes on in cyber space isn't real, or not as important or significant. And if that's so how can a "place" there be real either?

But lately, as I work more with my photographs and spend more time on Flickr and Facebook, and other places, I'm starting to come round to the fact that what we do on cyber space is every bit as real as what we do in what we would be better off calling terrestrial space; i.e. the "real" world.

One thing I've learned from Facebook for example is that the friendships formed there can be as significant or even more so than ones formed in the terrestrial world. I have received a huge amount of support and encouragement from friends (and I do mean friends!) on Facebook. And, I must add, they have from me I hope received the same. I have learned much from people there and that's been a huge good in my life.

So, anyway, back to my website. While I might accept that a website is a real place; just as real as a gallery in my local town; just as real as a store on the street in my town, I also know that one website among the billions now on the web is going to be a pretty lonely place unless people know it's there.

And that's where this post comes in, at least partly. Once you read this post, you will know it's there. Then you can visit and enjoy my images, perhaps even buy something there. But for me your enjoyment and edification is the key thing. If I am very fortunate, you will like my site and recommend it to friends.

One thing I will say is that I have been just as thrilled by the 'opening' of my website as I would have been had I opened a shop in the town. Actually, I would say I am even more excited: now there are millions of people who might have a chance to see my work, whereas I live in a small town with quite a few less people passing through. Not to mention having to be there all day every day!

I have approached my site with the same sense of purpose, commitment and care as I do with the rest of my work. I have done and continue to do the best I can to make a visit there as pleasant as enjoyable as I can.

So, my friends, please visit my site and do enjoy the experience. I would love to hear what you think! Oh, I guess it would be good if I gave you the address wouldn't it? That way you might actually be able to find your way there!!

Just click here and you will be taken as if by magic to Paul's Pictures.

I very much look forward to  your comments and feedback.

Thank you and Peace to you all

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two's Company


A couple of days ago I uploaded one of my early slideshows, and I thought today I would upload my very latest one which I just finished making today. It's about couples. I see them everywhere as I wander the streets sharing moments with my subjects. Here it is then for your enjoyment. Please feel free as always to comment or  give me any feedback.
Peace

Saturday, June 2, 2012

On the Streets of Melbourne: Part 1

video

I have just realised that it's possible to post videos here on my blog. Talk about slow!! Never mind, it's a human failing to not always be "quick on the uptake" as they say (whoever they are). Anyway, this one is my first made up of my street images from Melbourne Australia. There are a few more, which I will post in the next while.
While making my slideshows I have had in mind the viewers' enjoyment of the show and of the music background also. I hope I have succeeded.
In the meanwhile, please feel free to comment, share, whatever.
thank you and
Peace to all of you

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm Back: This post is a real treat: My photos accompany a beautiful song sung beautifully!

Hello my friends

Yes I know: it's been a while. Who knows how time goes and why and what happens when we allow it to fly by unnoticed or allow it to be occupied (ie stolen) by the mundane, unimportant and wasteful? Well, no more!! I am the master of my own time, and that's all we will say about it.

For my first post in this new era, there is a treat awaiting all of you.

A while ago I was asked by a folk singing couple if they could use some of my street photos as backing for a song by Bette Midler, The Rose, in a video they wished to produce. The Rose? How could I say no? I had already heard these wonderful artists doing their rendition of this fantastic song, which was the title track and name of the movie starring Bette Midler (if you haven't seen the movie, then please please get hold of the DVD).

And the result? Well when I first saw the video I was speechless. Susan and Colin Parrish had transformed my photos. Well, they were the same images: they hadn't changed. But as I watched them roll by and listened to that heart achingly beautiful song, I was blown away by the power and the beauty of the two very different art forms combined. And the message they wished to convey, and that which is inherent in this song, is there for all to see: Everyone is a flower, a rose. We all have that seed within us to become a beautiful bloom. We are all special, no matter what. I have tried to live this ideal, and I am grateful to Colin and Sue for allowing me to join with them in presenting this simple but profound idea to you all. I urge you to listen closely to the lyrics. They never cease to inspire and move me.

Both they and I have had very positive feedback from people who have seen the video. I hope you will enjoy it as much as they have. It's on YouTube and here is the link. After watching this video I am sure you are going to want to know more about these wonderful artists and their group Takin' Time. So, you can find their website here. I am lucky enough to have both their albums. Wonderful songs sung wonderfully.

It's good to be back on this blog. I hope it's good for you too!!
Peace
Paul