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Author Topic: Spontaneity in streetphotography?  (Read 969 times)

opgr

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Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« on: September 30, 2017, 10:29:44 AM »

Is spontaneity an essential ingredient in streetphotography?

I'm a great proponent of ambiguity in streetphotography, or at least a twist in thinking or perception, so i believe that to be an essential ingredient, but i'm currently wondering whether true streetphotography also (necessarily) requires spontaneity.
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Oscar

Rob C

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2017, 10:38:49 AM »

Is spontaneity an essential ingredient in streetphotography?

I'm a great proponent of ambiguity in streetphotography, or at least a twist in thinking or perception, so i believe that to be an essential ingredient, but i'm currently wondering whether true streetphotography also (necessarily) requires spontaneity.

Seems you're just trying to find problems for yourself. It's in the street - it can be whatever you want it to be. If HC-B was or was not street - it's arguable - he did find locations and wait like a wild beast (or domestic cat) for his prey to walk into frame; other times, he just danced his way around the place and caught it on the hop, as it were. I take all this in good faith from what I've read or heard him say on screen; he may have been given to romaticising much as anyone else, though.

Be like Nike.

Rob

Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 10:02:10 AM »

Essential? No.

Many a famous shot has been staged.

Rob C

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 10:59:37 AM »

Essential? No.

Many a famous shot has been staged.

It happened a lot with flags and poles... as for dying Spanish soldiers, the jury is still out, and Capa's too long gone to clarify.

That's the thing about war photography: you can do it in the landscape, in the sea and even in the street! Struck me that's much like taking a leak.

There's an amusing swamp pop rock number that goes something like this:

"I couldn't resist
Had to take a piss
Down on Bourbon Street.

It hurt like hell
When they put me in jail
Down on Bourbon Street

Who dat, who dat
Who dat told on me?"

All of life is in music! As, of course, in photography.

RSL

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2017, 11:11:59 AM »

Oscar, I think Rob nailed it. What is street photography? As I said in "On Street Photography" I don't think you can define it in words, but people like Cartier-Bresson, Winogrand and Frank defined it by example. Essentially it's photography that captures relationships between people, and between people and their artifacts. I'd also add that a majority of street photography isn't made on a street, in spite of Jackie Higgins's The World Atlas of Street Photography, which tells us a picture of a street is street photography.

I'm not sure what you mean by "spontaneity" when you apply the word to street photography. How about an example? I think the reaction of a good street photographer always is spontaneous. Even when, as Rob points out, a photographer lies in wait, the actual shot is a spontaneous reaction to something in front of him. You don't "set up" a street shot. I suspect Paulo is referring to Doisneau's Le Baiser de L'Hotel de Ville which quite obviously is posed, and once the paid poseurs discovered that the picture was making money they sued Doisneau (unsuccessfully) for an extra payment.

GrahamBy

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2017, 08:39:56 AM »

...referring to Doisneau's Le Baiser de L'Hotel de Ville which quite obviously is posed, and once the paid poseurs discovered that the picture was making money they sued Doisneau (unsuccessfully) for an extra payment.

Actually the story is more amusing. A woman who claimed to have been in the photo sued for payment, supposing that the photo was unstaged. It was then that Doisneau revealed that it was staged, and revealed the identity of his friends who had posed. There was an article on the woman in the photo, who I think is still alive and has a signed original print... she's quite happy with that :)
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RSL

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2017, 09:11:30 AM »

Yeah, I think you're right, Graham. It's been a long time since I read the story. In any case, it's a nice shot but I never could understand why it got worldwide attention.

GrahamBy

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2017, 10:21:35 AM »

Right image, right time, luck... there are a lot of other "baiser" photos that are no wher near as famous.

(And be careful about whether you say that as a verb or a noun, ša change tout  ;D )
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RSL

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2017, 10:32:14 AM »

Right image, right time, luck... there are a lot of other "baiser" photos that are no wher near as famous.

(And be careful about whether you say that as a verb or a noun, ša change tout  ;D )

Quite right on both counts. I even have a few "baisers" I shot myself.

Rob C

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2017, 10:47:24 AM »

Wasn't it Avendon claimed you can't "perform" and photograph at the same time? Well, I assume he was looking at things from the male perspective, but Newton and Bailey both used ceiling mirrors to cast doubt on that theory... Personally, I'd find a ceiling mirror very worrisome indeed: what if it fell? I could get hurt!

Rob

RSL

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 12:09:02 PM »

Rob, you'll want to stay out of Southeast Asia.

Rob C

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 02:00:24 PM »

Rob, you'll want to stay out of Southeast Asia.

Russ, I very much do not want a return, but with two exceptions: for the prawns and Chinese Chablis. Surprisingly good!

Rob

degrub

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2017, 02:05:07 PM »

Don't forget the pepper or chili crab !
You can thank the Aussies for the wine.
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RSL

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2017, 08:02:37 PM »

Russ, I very much do not want a return, but with two exceptions: for the prawns and Chinese Chablis. Surprisingly good!

Rob

Rob, When I moved into my trailer for my year in Udon Thani I found that my predecessor had affixed a huge mirror to the ceiling in my room. I got it down ASAP since I realized it would be wonderful shrapnel in an attack. But ceiling mirrors were de rigueur in massage parlors.

Rand47

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2017, 03:22:39 PM »

These days, I'd differentiate between candid (or even staged) photos of human interaction, juxtaposition, etc., and "street photography" as it has come to be practiced by the unwashed masses of digital photographers out doing their best imitation of some kind of photo-ninja thing.

As for spontaneity, well, I think that might be part of the definition of having "awareness" to how the world unfolds in front of your lens.

Rand
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GrahamBy

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2017, 04:11:17 AM »


As for spontaneity, well, I think that might be part of the definition of having "awareness" to how the world unfolds in front of your lens.


I think the ambiguity of the original question was whether the spontaneity was in the subjects or the photographer.
It seems to me that unless someone knows they are being watched, pretty much everything they do is spontaneous, so there is then the question of whether the photographer recognises that something interesting is happening...
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opgr

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2017, 05:33:26 AM »

Generally, there is a splitsecond between you becoming aware of a scene, and the scene becoming aware of you. Pictures from the first half of that splitsecond tend to be better pictures.

A staged streetphotograph seems like a contradiction in terms, although i suppose one could make a case that it is like a literary device: this is a scene that could happen here, as opposed to: this is a scene that did happen here.

However, streetphotography as a genre should clearly have some constraints as to what is included and what is excluded. There should be a story, maybe even an intent, and clearly, the story may well be entirely fiction, as long as it is congruous fiction and congruous intent. Yet, the more i think about it, the story almost universally depicts a spontaneous moment or scene.
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Oscar

RSL

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opgr

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2017, 08:11:57 AM »

For me the core of my point here seems to reside in the word "contrived".

"Contrived" is an interesting word, as it clearly represents a very subtle but very real difference. A difference we apparently recognise in enough situations that we reserved a word for it. It's that subtle difference between truthful spontaneity and... staged(?) spontaneity. (The latter probably a contradiction). It is therefore clear, that people can recognise the difference, and likely can recognise that difference in photographs as well.

Perhaps one could posit that streetphotography can never be contrived. And yes, that probably concerns the photographer just as much as the scene being photographed.
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Oscar

RSL

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Re: Spontaneity in streetphotography?
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2017, 09:51:06 AM »

I agree with you 100% Oscar. I also agree that it's obvious on the face of it that Le Baiser de L'Hotel de Ville is posed. That's not the only posed "street shot" Doisneau did, and it's not difficult to see that they're posed. I'd expand on my views about street, but I've already expanded in "On Street Photography."

I keep pointing to my own post of "On Street Photography," forgetting that people on LuLa have access to the LuLa version, which also includes pictures: https://luminous-landscape.com/on-street-photography/
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