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Author Topic: Minibus Taxi  (Read 1647 times)

Martin Kristiansen

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Minibus Taxi
« on: June 14, 2018, 07:54:31 AM »

A filthy winter morning in Joburg. Going to head to head with one of the notorious minibus taxis. They are a law unto themselves on our streets and gun battles for the right to operate certain routes are a weekly occurrence. between rival organisations.
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Telecaster

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2018, 03:32:59 PM »

That's some serious haze. Reminds me of a hiking trip years ago in the Modoc National Forest area (California) during an El NiŮo. Spectacular sunrises & sunsets.

-Dave-
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Ivo_B

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2018, 04:13:00 PM »

Great shot!
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2018, 08:37:53 AM »

Thank you.

We get almost no rain the entire winter. It gets very dry then at a point the grass starts to burn. That coupled with this being the largest industrial area on the continent leads to a lot of haze in the cold mornings. Skyís get a very dark blue and polarizers start to look silly.
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2018, 09:11:58 AM »

And this is street photography because there's a street in it?

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2018, 09:22:21 AM »

And this is street photography because there's a street in it?

Are you still banging on about that? Itís street photography because where I live dealing with public transport in the form of these very dangerous and aggressively driven taxis takes on an importance that might not be immediately obvious to people living in first world counties. Lives are lived and lost in taxis as millions of people commute in them each day. People traveling in from townships smothered in smoke from open fires, townships that were established as labour reserves by apartheid era legislation. Some people have carefully dressed old hippies drinking craft beer at street cafes. Some of us have this stuff. Sorry about that.
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2018, 09:46:36 AM »

Martin, I'm not criticizing your photograph. It's a fine shot. It's just in the wrong place. It belongs either in The Coffee Corner along with your written statement -- roughly the one to which I'm replying -- or in User Critiques. It's pretty good photojournalism along with your description.

And yes, I guess I'm gonna continue "banging on about that." For a while I let it go, but then I realized that if LuLa posters are as ignorant about street photography as it seems they are, then we need to get rid of the Street Showcase. At the moment it's anything but a street showcase, and it's a shame to push that kind of ignorance and lead people unfamiliar with the genre to believe this kind of thing is street photography.

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2018, 10:03:01 AM »

Well Russ I happen to disagree with you. I have looked at many definitions and watched many YouTube videos.I have looked at many books.  I have also looked at many of the photos by people you quite rightly say invented the genre and then see that so much of what they shot would not pass your definition. Pictures by Bresson of Ghandi for example. Photos by Bresson of South East Asian peasant farmers. I have not found a fully coherent definition of street in fact.

When I am out on the streeets shooting what fascinates me and often risking my life and my gear in an attempt to show what exists in the public spaces around me then I consider that street photography.

If the owners and moderators of this forum would rather I didnít post my work, and they tell me so, then without argument and without anger I will thank them for their input and I will move on. Until then I will continue to post what I consider relevant. Perhaps some will enjoy it, perhaps many will consider the images without merit. All I can say is I am being honest to my feelings and my story. If you get nothing from the photos simply donít look at them.
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2018, 10:49:59 AM »

Martin, HCB's pictures of Ghandi never were put forward as street photography. They're photojournalism, which HCB quite rightly said they were. Most of his real street photography was made well before he and the others founded Magnum and he became a photojournalist. At that point Robert Capa advised him to call himself a photojournalist, and that's what he did. And of course you're right: The people who defined street photography shot a lot of stuff besides street photography. I do the same thing even though street is my favorite thing.

As far as a fully coherent definition of street photography is concerned, if you're talking about a definition in words you'll never see such a thing. The problem is in the name attached to the genre: "street." Anyone ignorant of the photography that defined the genre is certain to misunderstand what the term implies. We really need a better name for photographs that show the often subtle significance of interactions between humans, other humans and their surroundings, but at this late date it ain't gonna happen.

It's not a question of posting or not posting, and it's quite clear that nobody at LuLa is going to tell you to stop posting your photographs. The problem isn't with the photographs. You do good work. The problem is with the definition of a genre. And my problem at this point is that keeping the Street Showcase segment on LuLa is simply adding to the general ignorance about what street photography really is.

I don't know whether or not you ever saw this, but you might find it interesting: https://luminous-landscape.com/on-street-photography/
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 10:55:13 AM by RSL »
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2018, 01:55:16 PM »

Well thank you Russ. Please understand I have no desire to offend you or anyone else. However I have no problem disagreeing and I am able to do that without any heated emotion.

My primary issue with so much of what I am pointed to as authentic ďstreetĒ, and this is my personal issue, is I find it very often vacuous. I see little passion and little interesting. Privilaged hipsters hanging out in gentrified neighborhoods, random people crossing the street at traffic lights, the obligatory homeless person. I donít get a narrative. I donít see a point. I donít feel I learnt anything about the place photographed or outbout myself.

Yes that is harsh. I am not referring to people on the forum necessarily, I look at a tremendous number of images on a daily basis. I think street has such potential, such power. But it seems stuck up its own rear end so very often.

Then the issue of a definition of street. You yourself say itís almost impossible to define but you know it when you see it and you know whatís not it when you see it. That is extraordinarily subjective. My life experiences are very different to most people on this forum. Surely could that result in me seeing it very differently?
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2018, 03:26:06 PM »

I don't think we're terribly far apart on any of this, Martin. As you know, I have no problem disagreeing, and I can do it without heat too.

The problem you're pointing to is the fact that there's good street and there's bad street, just as there's good landscape and bad landscape and good portraiture and bad portraiture. Yes, I see the hipsters hanging out in gentrified neighborhoods and meaningless pictures of people crossing the street at traffic lights too, even in books that pretend to define the genre. The pictures of homeless people just tick me off. It's so, so easy to shoot meaningless pictures of pathetic hoboes, and people who do that are after the easy way out. And I don't think what you're saying is harsh. To me, the classic repository of this kind of garbage is Jackie Higgins's 2014 book, The World Atlas of Street Photography. There are others, but that one tops the pile.

But what about THIS? This is one of my favorites from Garry Winogrand. It's nothing like a hobo picture or hipsters hanging out or who-cares pictures of people crossing at a light. This is real street photography, the kind of thing that defines the genre. It's powerful, unfortunately powerful in a sad way. But real street can be powerful in a happy way, in a reflective way, or in a funny way. For funny check Helen Levitt. If you've seen enough of Winogrand's street work or Robert Frank's street work or Levitt's street work you'll know real street when you see it too. In case you didn't check the reference I gave you, I've attached one of my own. This is not a hipster or someone crossing the street. It's not part of the urban scene. It's something that stirs reflection in me just as Winogrand's picture stirs reflection in me. That's what real street is for.

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2018, 12:43:05 AM »

Thanks for a very productive discussion Russ. I wish to continue with it and will post more later today. Essentially I do think we agree with most points. I have Franks famous book and know it quite well.

Right now I have bills to pay so itís flat shots of clothing, copy work of century old mining maps showing the gold bearing reeefs and catalogue work of industrial lighting. Exciting stuff I know.

To be continued.
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fredjeang2

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2018, 04:17:22 AM »

...It's something that stirs reflection in me just as Winogrand's picture stirs reflection in me. That's what real street is for.
Yes! Great photo by the way.

Ps: I can't cope with those endless homeless people pics taken on the fly, or the clichťs of the wealphy tourist in Chandernagor, the orientalist/exotic factor.
Any tourist shooting in Cuba will get the very same pics of those 50's tuned cars with Napoles facades where there is no
ĒmessageĒ nor any reflection involved whatsoever. Tons of meaningless.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 04:30:44 AM by fredjeang2 »
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2018, 07:27:55 AM »

This was shot from a coffee shop in a part of downtown where a half baked process of gentrification is underway. I would call this "proper" street.
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2018, 10:08:23 AM »

It's certainly street, Martin. But I'm not sure I get the message it's trying to convey.

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2018, 10:17:15 AM »

Of course you donít. Because art of all things is always culturally based and often references culturally significant moments and history. South Africans understand this image. It speaks of separation, apartheid, privilege. I had a very strong response to this photo from different groups in South Africa. People responding to the deliberate  marginalisation of Black people that took place over centuries. 

My point is you can not impose a North American standard on what we are dealing with in our streets. Just as I donít get so much of street photography I see from first world countries despite having lived, long ago, in the US and Europe.
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2018, 10:28:34 AM »

How about this?

Cant be street because the subject saw me and reacted to me right? But if the intention is to photograph people in their interactions on the street then surely the reaction to a photographer is also a reaction. A man living rough on the streets see me and in this area a white skin is very very rare, especially at the time of day this was shot. Whites make up 8% of the population but in this area less than half a percent. I am carrying a camera worth more than this man makes in a year. I am immediately spotted and approached. That is an authentic experience. A chance for him to interact with a rare thing. A chance for me to interact with a person totally removed from my normal circle. Its fascinating. How does he stand? What posture does he take? it all speaks volumes. Human interaction. Neither of us know how it will go. I hope to show some of that in my photo.

Why pretend Im not there?
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2018, 10:32:35 AM »

Of course you donít. Because art of all things is always culturally based and often references culturally significant moments and history. South Africans understand this image. It speaks of separation, apartheid, privilege. I had a very strong response to this photo from different groups in South Africa. People responding to the deliberate  marginalisation of Black people that took place over centuries. 

My point is you can not impose a North American standard on what we are dealing with in our streets. Just as I donít get so much of street photography I see from first world countries despite having lived, long ago, in the US and Europe.

Fair enough, Martin. And yes, I agree that art is culturally based. Took me a long time and three years in Asia to begin to understand what's going on in Asian art, and even now I'm only on the periphery of that understanding. But what I miss is what makes this picture speak of separation, apartheid, or privilege. Is it the fact that we're looking through a fence? Is it because the man's face is split by a vertical bar? Is it because the woman is carrying a bag? Some ambiguity helps, but 100% ambiguity doesn't. I can believe that the picture resonates with South Africans, but I think the best art makes an attempt at universality.

Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2018, 11:00:45 AM »

It is a window with burglar bars. The black man is outside excluded. Apartheid wouldnít allow blacks into buildings with whites in social areas, it was against the law, now we exclude people based on class but obviously not based on legal but economic consideration. That is pretty universal I think. Burglar bars represent a lot in Africa due to crime and suspicion. They are resented and are everywhere. Safety blankets almost.

I agree that art needs to try to be universal. I suspect this image would resonate with most Africans, 1,2 billion people. I suppose I might miss some North Americans. I donít suppose they are my primary audience. I only posted this as an example of how cultural differences might lead us to interpret a genre differently. How we might miss things due to cultural differences. We have to pick our audience.
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RSL

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Re: Minibus Taxi
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2018, 12:11:47 PM »

How about this?

Cant be street because the subject saw me and reacted to me right? But if the intention is to photograph people in their interactions on the street then surely the reaction to a photographer is also a reaction. A man living rough on the streets see me and in this area a white skin is very very rare, especially at the time of day this was shot. Whites make up 8% of the population but in this area less than half a percent. I am carrying a camera worth more than this man makes in a year. I am immediately spotted and approached. That is an authentic experience. A chance for him to interact with a rare thing. A chance for me to interact with a person totally removed from my normal circle. Its fascinating. How does he stand? What posture does he take? it all speaks volumes. Human interaction. Neither of us know how it will go. I hope to show some of that in my photo.

Why pretend Im not there?

It's still street, Martin. If you're trying to shoot a situation where two or more people are relating to each other in some way, and one or more suddenly sees you ready to shoot the picture, that changes the relationship you were trying to record, and you've lost your chance to make what you set out to make. But if a single subject reacts to your presence the way this guy is reacting I don't know that I'd rule it out as street. The interaction is between you and him. I see plenty of situations in Helen Levitt's street photography where a subject reacts to her camera. There's a classic one, which I can't find at the moment, so can't give you a link, of a guy posing and doing a little dance when he sees her raise the camera.

HERE's one of HCB's shots that resulted in him being chased. It's certainly a street shot.
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