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Author Topic: Curious child  (Read 357 times)

Martin Kristiansen

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Curious child
« on: May 29, 2018, 05:07:36 am »

Something I have picked up on is the cultural differences when looking at street photography. I look at images from North America and Europe and often just donít know how to read them. Old men sitting and talking seems straight forward but I canít read the subtle signals, are they well to do, old hippies, homeless, beggars? I lived in Florida for a short while but long ago. Same with England

In South Africa we have issues around our history of cultural appropriation and mass human rights violations. Taking photos of people on the street without then knowing can arrouse massive suspicion and things can quickly spiral into violence. Blending in is not an option, I am white with white hair and I am very visible. I also tend to frequent places the majority of the white population avoid making me even more obvious. Street photography tends to be very interactive with people stopping you ask what you are doing. Sometimes you will be asked to take a photo or to delete photos you have been taking.

Violent crime is a whole other thing. I have been robbed at gunpoint, my partner has been robbed at knifepoint twice, my sister has been carjacked, her current employer was shot 4 times in the back five years ago, three friends have been shot. We run risks. But there is a lot of material. It is facinating.

The little girl below was photographed at Park Station downtown Joburg. You see hardly any white people there and she was clearly fascinated.
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Ivophoto

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Re: Curious child
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 06:53:46 am »

Something I have picked up on is the cultural differences when looking at street photography. I look at images from North America and Europe and often just donít know how to read them. Old men sitting and talking seems straight forward but I canít read the subtle signals, are they well to do, old hippies, homeless, beggars? I lived in Florida for a short while but long ago. Same with England

In South Africa we have issues around our history of cultural appropriation and mass human rights violations. Taking photos of people on the street without then knowing can arrouse massive suspicion and things can quickly spiral into violence. Blending in is not an option, I am white with white hair and I am very visible. I also tend to frequent places the majority of the white population avoid making me even more obvious. Street photography tends to be very interactive with people stopping you ask what you are doing. Sometimes you will be asked to take a photo or to delete photos you have been taking.

Violent crime is a whole other thing. I have been robbed at gunpoint, my partner has been robbed at knifepoint twice, my sister has been carjacked, her current employer was shot 4 times in the back five years ago, three friends have been shot. We run risks. But there is a lot of material. It is facinating.

The little girl below was photographed at Park Station downtown Joburg. You see hardly any white people there and she was clearly fascinated.

I fully understand your point.

Here in our part of Europe we have also such kind of issues, not so much criminality but I recognize the difficulty to photograph peoples on the street and the sometimes violent reaction. Some neighborhoods in the cityís are a no go to point a camera to peoples .
I would not raise a camera to Muslims in certain areas, p.e. Molenbeek, the area Trump calls the hell hole. (It is not Ďthatí bad, but there are issues)
The Fatih area in Istanbul is not unsafe or criminal, but it is a very religious area and photography is a problem. I donít photograph in that area.

Some reasons it can be difficult to photograph on the street:

Cultural difference
Criminality
Adultery (no joking)
Illegal migrants
So called privacy
Peopleís thinking to know something about portrait rights, etc.

Itís not always that friendly world.

Social and economic difference also has its influence.

All this makes those photos differ substantially from photos made on other continents and are probably difficult to read.








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farbschlurf

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Re: Curious child
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2018, 08:37:44 am »

Interesting.

Maybe OT:
For all those reasons I somehow lost fun on "street" during the last years. Not that I really achieved a lot with my attempts, but I tried at least, 20 or even 10 years ago. But I lost the thrill of getting out in potentially "out of my comfort zone" areas and/or situations. Or basically the "thrill" was getting too much for me, rather. It seems to me you really need a certain mindset to do good street. This includes some robustness or ruggedness regarding getting (too) close to others or getting intrusive. I lack that. And actually I don't like it. The picture in this thread is a harmless example, but mostly I think what is supposed good street, is almost every time also voyeuristic in a way, too. We see what we're not meant to see, we get to know feelings not belonging to us, we grasp something from someone else that they would not give us, probably. I took me quite a while to realize, I was uncomfortable "taking" other peoples emotions. And I didn't want to de-sensitive myself, either, so I just gave up on it, mostly. My dilemma. Probably I'm just too aware of the feelings that can arise when someone else is doing the same with me. You know: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Maybe I'm just oversensitive in this respect, for whatever reason.



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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Curious child
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2018, 08:54:06 am »

Interesting.

Maybe OT:
For all those reasons I somehow lost fun on "street" during the last years. Not that I really achieved a lot with my attempts, but I tried at least, 20 or even 10 years ago. But I lost the thrill of getting out in potentially "out of my comfort zone" areas and/or situations. Or basically the "thrill" was getting too much for me, rather. It seems to me you really need a certain mindset to do good street. This includes some robustness or ruggedness regarding getting (too) close to others or getting intrusive. I lack that. And actually I don't like it. The picture in this thread is a harmless example, but mostly I think what is supposed good street, is almost every time also voyeuristic in a way, too. We see what we're not meant to see, we get to know feelings not belonging to us, we grasp something from someone else that they would not give us, probably. I took me quite a while to realize, I was uncomfortable "taking" other peoples emotions. And I didn't want to de-sensitive myself, either, so I just gave up on it, mostly. My dilemma. Probably I'm just too aware of the feelings that can arise when someone else is doing the same with me. You know: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Maybe I'm just oversensitive in this respect, for whatever reason.

I understand what you are saying I think, and feel much the same way. I actually prefer to approach people and open a dialogue. Now I kind of flit between two positions of going undetected and asking to take a photo. Often people will ask me to take a photo. I never turn them down. How people present themselves can be as revealing as anything else I believe.

It is quite draining. I am not shy but tend to introversion so need a recovery period after a long days work.
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Rob C

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Re: Curious child
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2018, 10:15:33 am »

Something I have picked up on is the cultural differences when looking at street photography. I look at images from North America and Europe and often just donít know how to read them. Old men sitting and talking seems straight forward but I canít read the subtle signals, are they well to do, old hippies, homeless, beggars? I lived in Florida for a short while but long ago. Same with England

In South Africa we have issues around our history of cultural appropriation and mass human rights violations. Taking photos of people on the street without then knowing can arrouse massive suspicion and things can quickly spiral into violence. Blending in is not an option, I am white with white hair and I am very visible. I also tend to frequent places the majority of the white population avoid making me even more obvious. Street photography tends to be very interactive with people stopping you ask what you are doing. Sometimes you will be asked to take a photo or to delete photos you have been taking.

Violent crime is a whole other thing. I have been robbed at gunpoint, my partner has been robbed at knifepoint twice, my sister has been carjacked, her current employer was shot 4 times in the back five years ago, three friends have been shot. We run risks. But there is a lot of material. It is facinating.

The little girl below was photographed at Park Station downtown Joburg. You see hardly any white people there and she was clearly fascinated.

You raise interesting points.

Listening to Frank, Leiter, Klein et al. made me realise several things about working in the street: the main one, and borne out from examples of which I have drawn my understanding of the genre, is that time has moved on. Neither the neighbourhoods nor the same mindsets - of photographer as of subject - remain as they were.

Klein speaks of going down to Harlem and photographing people on the streets, they, in turn, generally acting as if they (the subjects) had a right to be photographed, almost as if they were all actors on a stage. Very seldom, he says, did anyone appear to object. He also admits that with a camera, he felt at ease in situations where he would have been worried about looking certain people in the eye.

The most I now about sub-Saharan Africa is from a shoot in Kenya. We arrived in Nairobi late at night, spent the next day with a PR guy and then flew by small 'plane to Kichwa Tembo where I had the second-worst night of my life, in a tent with deep pockets inside which vanished several large arachnids. Next to the main (main! what a joke!) tent was another connected via a flap, which was supposed to be the toilet/shower. To have a shower, you stood upon a wooden pallet - of the type on which folks deliver crates of whatever - that was sunk into the ground above a drainage pit. I took a look, in the morning, and noticed the pallet was full of webs. You can bet your ass nobody who had that tent had ever used the "facilities".

From there, we flew on to Buffalo Lodge, and that was a far better-appointed deal. As they unloaded our stuff to the little hut/cabin (or would you call it a tiny bungalow?), we wandered off to find Reception. Once there my wife remarked to the woman that she had liked the kittens at the door to the place. The woman was horrified. Her instant reaction was to send somebody to find them all, with warnings about scratches and rabies. Exit cats to cat heaven.

But I digress. From there, we were driven, for what seemed an entire day, to Mombassa, our third location of the shoot. En route, the driver pulled over at a roadside stall and reappeared with a long knife, which he then put betwen his legs and sat upon. As you will understand, a silence fell upon us in the van, and eventually somebody asked about the knife. He told us that he belonged to a different tribe than of the area where he was going to sleep in Mombassa. To get to the hotel on the beach, we had to take a ferry. Sitting in a van on that ferry, surrounded by a crush of black faces against the windows, the sense of being one mother-effin' alien was very powerful. It also made me realise how it works the other way around in white societies. And how zoos must operate on animals.

We flew back to London straight fom Mombassa. We had to buy a ticket at the airport in order to be able to check in for the flight. At the desk, we had to hand over the baggage, as usual, and then watch as this black giant put them on a scale, added the pressure of his foot - all perfectly openly - and told us we were overweight and how much we had to pay him. The client on this shoot did a lot of travelling to Nigeria. According to him we got off lightly. In Nigeria it is not unusual (I hear a song coming on) to be asked to hand over your watch. No, it doesn't get returned.

I hope never to have to visit Africa again. No wonder our ancestors all left as soon as they could, and began the long trek up north!

Working in India? I never did, but I lived there for around eight years as a kid. I never felt threatened, including the years just before and after 1947. Were I to return, I believe I'd bring that sense of ease with me, for better or for worse.

It might well be that, in life, your own instincts and reactions also bring with them the reactions you invite from other people.

Rob

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Curious child
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2018, 10:50:09 am »

Kenya is pretty soft as African countries go, not that I have visited them all. Try Ethiopia for a real intense experience. South Africa is an odd case. Freeways and high rise buildings, fast internet to my home, fancy restaurants, and over the hill a whole other planet. Literally over the hill. It does your head in.

But for all that I got really bored living in other places. Every now and again I feel the need to escape and end up in a quieter safer place for a while.
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