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Author Topic: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues  (Read 223 times)

Mark D Segal

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BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« on: September 11, 2018, 09:31:17 AM »

Link to BBC article

This is well worth a read, and the selection of photographs is excellent.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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RSL

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Re: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 09:47:43 AM »

A truly top-notch collection of photographs in a worthwhile article.

OmerV

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Re: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2018, 08:32:13 AM »

The article basically defines photography as a glorified, politically correct form of the travel kind, used by NGO’s for marketing.

No need for likes of Diane Arbus, Larry Clark, Helen Levitt, et al.

The irony is that while we bemoan the exploitative nature of the “tourist photographer,” it is precisely the kind of “responsible” photography being touted in the article that fuels the objectification and de-personalization of mostly the third world as a curio.

RSL

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Re: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 08:39:03 AM »

I'd agree, Omer, but it works both ways.

elliot_n

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Re: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 09:24:58 AM »

“I photographed a magnificent tree in the middle of a farmer’s field in Hokkaido, Japan, called the Philosopher’s Tree,” Kenna explains. “The tree became the subject of many photographers, to the point that signs were put around the field asking people to only photograph from the road and not walk over the farmer’s crops. Those signs weren’t heeded and eventually the farmer cut the tree down to protect his own environment.”

But did it make a sound? Death by perception — a well-named tree.
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Rob C

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Re: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2018, 09:37:02 AM »

1. The article basically defines photography as a glorified, politically correct form of the travel kind, used by NGO’s for marketing.

2. No need for likes of Diane Arbus, Larry Clark (the only thing about Tulsa that I know about and dig is the eponymous song about its time), Helen Levitt, et al.

3. The irony is that while we bemoan the exploitative nature of the “tourist photographer,” it is precisely the kind of “responsible” photography being touted in the article that fuels the objectification and de-personalization of mostly the third world as a curio.

1. Broadly, I agree with you.

2. Though you probably meant the opposite, I do agree no need for Arbus or Clark, though Helen Levitt certainly did bring much valuable documentation to the table. She also highlights a period when photographing children you didn't know came with no stigma attached. I'm no expert on the matter, and my memory banks don't cover the subject, but did all this kiddie porn shit come to being with the Internet? Did it exist before? I rather suspect that the perverts are and ever were with us, but that if they got into snaps, it was a tiny, person to person sort of grimness, and not an industry. Without the Internet and antisocial media, they would have been held in check.

3. Yes, but doesn't third-world tourism depend on precisely that? Why would you want to go to Asia unless for the differences you find to the West? Certainly not for the sanitation. I spent seven or eight years of my mid-childhood in India and have no current desire to return. About the only interest would be to see again our old house, my old stomping grounds as catapult-wielding child. Behind our house was wilderness and God alone knows how many cobras and scorpěons. Oblivious, I never met with any out there, and the only scorpions to cross my path were, perversely, indoors; snakes? only their skins on the upper terraces, probably sent there by the wind... It convinces me more than ever, today, that we hold an assigned life span, and nothing will alter that.

There's no charm in poverty, and little innocence in it either, today; television in the villages undid all of that. Anyone wanting poverty need only visit his own western cities to find it.

Yet, there is also beauty in India, a lot of it. Those who can find it, photograph it and cause no collateral damage are doing nothing for which to feel shame.

Rob

OmerV

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Re: BBC Article on Photographers' Approaches to People and Issues
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2018, 10:58:46 AM »

“I photographed a magnificent tree in the middle of a farmer’s field in Hokkaido, Japan, called the Philosopher’s Tree,” Kenna explains. “The tree became the subject of many photographers, to the point that signs were put around the field asking people to only photograph from the road and not walk over the farmer’s crops. Those signs weren’t heeded and eventually the farmer cut the tree down to protect his own environment.”

But did it make a sound? Death by perception — a well-named tree.

I don't understand the celebrity status of that tree or of the picture. We've all seen hundreds if not thousands of well composed pictures of solitary trees in snow. The demise of that particular tree is the real story but it is a topic for sociologists, not photographers.

Had the playful, metaphorical designation not been attached, would the swarming had happened?

1. Broadly, I agree with you.

2. Though you probably meant the opposite, I do agree no need for Arbus or Clark, though Helen Levitt certainly did bring much valuable documentation to the table. She also highlights a period when photographing children you didn't know came with no stigma attached. I'm no expert on the matter, and my memory banks don't cover the subject, but did all this kiddie porn shit come to being with the Internet? Did it exist before? I rather suspect that the perverts are and ever were with us, but that if they got into snaps, it was a tiny, person to person sort of grimness, and not an industry. Without the Internet and antisocial media, they would have been held in check.

3. Yes, but doesn't third-world tourism depend on precisely that? Why would you want to go to Asia unless for the differences you find to the West? Certainly not for the sanitation. I spent seven or eight years of my mid-childhood in India and have no current desire to return. About the only interest would be to see again our old house, my old stomping grounds as catapult-wielding child. Behind our house was wilderness and God alone knows how many cobras and scorpěons. Oblivious, I never met with any out there, and the only scorpions to cross my path were, perversely, indoors; snakes? only their skins on the upper terraces, probably sent there by the wind... It convinces me more than ever, today, that we hold an assigned life span, and nothing will alter that.

There's no charm in poverty, and little innocence in it either, today; television in the villages undid all of that. Anyone wanting poverty need only visit his own western cities to find it.

Yet, there is also beauty in India, a lot of it. Those who can find it, photograph it and cause no collateral damage are doing nothing for which to feel shame.

Rob

Regarding both Arbus and Clark, both, among others, delved into a side of what humans are, which to put bluntly, is not marketable as "respectful." So instead we get representations of peoples who's potential as tourist attractions is determined by how benign they can be made to seem. Interestingly, in the article there were no photos of "the respectful poor" from either the United States or Europe.

Yes, tourism is an important industry in the third world, but are the tropes and stereotypes beneficial to people who's poverty, as you suggest, is brutally real?

Beauty is everywhere, but by itself and without context, it can be insidiously saccharine.
 
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