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Author Topic: Street and signage  (Read 14790 times)

petermfiore

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Street and signage
« on: September 14, 2014, 06:08:03 pm »

I have been noticing that much of the "street photography" on this site is relying heavily on signage. It can. It shouldn't. The best doesn't.


Peter
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 06:54:12 pm by petermfiore »
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2014, 11:25:12 pm »

Maybe it should be considered a different genre: Sign Photography.
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louoates

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2014, 12:16:28 am »

If the signage lends itself to the other street content, it's street in my book. A sign by itself is not. Maybe someone can post some examples.
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stamper

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2014, 03:56:18 am »

The definition of "street" is broad and it should be. Some object to posed candids being street whilst a recent UK magazine reckoned that it is possible to do street without any people in it. The books I have on street encompasses many types of images. Once you try to put rules in place then the whole idea becomes unnecessarily restrictive. Imo I think signs should best relate to a person in an unusual way to make the image "work". Ironically just after posting I noticed Russ's post and it relates to my way of thinking?

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=93435.0;topicseen
« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 03:59:29 am by stamper »
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stamper

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2014, 04:02:23 am »

One that might illustrate my thinking?

RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2014, 12:27:36 pm »

I have been noticing that much of the "street photography" on this site is relying heavily on signage. It can. It shouldn't. The best doesn't.

Peter

Hi Peter,

It's pretty obvious I pissed you off with my "so what?" comment. Sorry about that. If you were familiar with the great street photographers you'd realize I was paraphrasing Walker Evens (q.v.). Evidently I pissed off Terry too, who, if his web is any indication, also seems unfamiliar with street photography.

And that leaves me with this question: what makes you think signage shouldn't be used in street photography, and why do you think the best street photography doesn't use it? From your web site I see you're a landscape painter. I don't see anything there that would indicate you have a background in street photography or that you've done any street photography or for that matter much photography.

What is "good" street photography? It's the kind of photography that, to rely on a cliché, enhances our understanding of the human condition. Street is by far the most difficult of all photographic genres. It gets confused with photojournalism, but the purpose of photojournalism is to explain. The purpose of street is to transmit a transcendental experience. You can see the difference by looking at Cartier-Bresson's wonderful, early street shots -- during his surrealist period -- and his later work in a book like The People of Moscow. In the book he was doing photojournalism and the book contains very few real street photographs.

I agree with Stamper that the definition of street should be broad. On the other hand, without some kind of limit a term like "street photography" becomes meaningless. A picture of a street is not "street photography." I also agree with Stamper's "recent magazine" that it's possible to have street without any people in it, though just off hand I can't think of a good example.

Which gets me back to the use of signs in street photography. To me it depends on whether or not the signs show an interaction with or a relationship to the people in the photographs. If what the picture shows is a funny sign, and that's all it shows, even though there are people in the picture, it's not good street. Which means that Stamper's picture above, even though I like it a lot, fails the test. I suspect he knows that, because he's a very good street photographer.

Rather than go further into my ideas on the vagaries of street photography I'll point you to two articles I wrote on the subject: http://www.russ-lewis.com/essays/OnStreetPhotography.html, and http://www.russ-lewis.com/essays/WhyDoStreetPhotography.html. I submitted the first one to Photo Technique, which was on its uppers at the time and didn't accept it. At that point I gave up and published both essays on the web. As a result they've had a lot more readers than they'd have had in a magazine. According to my web analyzer the second one is the more popular of the two.

I've been doing street since 1953, when I was flying fighter-bombers out of Taegu, Korea. The war ended and I got very interested in shooting pictures of the people on the streets of Taegu. I still love looking at street photographs and shooting them.
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petermfiore

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2014, 03:25:49 pm »

RSL,
Your comment "so what" is just that!

Once an image is dependent on the written word it is no longer
Universal. The written word frozen in a photo has it's limitations. Great street as in your beloved ,and mine ,HBC rarely needed  words
To make his concept. His work is timeless as well as universal. His people in a context of their situation is what makes his pictures profound.

Peter

RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2014, 03:40:44 pm »

Your comment "so what" is just that!

Obviously "so what" definitely is "so what." Haven't a clue what you mean by that.
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Iluvmycam

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2014, 06:12:41 pm »

It started with this...

http://38.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l3nq1o99eR1qah2gqo1_500.jpg

People are always looking for cute juxtapositions. If it is on the street...shoot it.

Basically I only separate street into 2 categories. Street candids and street portraits. The later are posed.
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RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2014, 06:27:49 pm »

That's one of the places it started. Actually Andre Kertesz was a bit out in front.
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petermfiore

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2014, 02:31:30 pm »

Obviously "so what" definitely is "so what." Haven't a clue what you mean by that.

Your comment "so what" is your opinion. Your opinion is also So What! With respect of course...

Peter

louoates

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2014, 05:42:32 pm »

Here are two street shots from this summer that feature words to an extent. The Great Lakes shot features a sign advocating keeping the water clean. It also says something about the unseen person throwing trash on the ground instead of using the solar compactor. The second is a panhandler with a cup -- hoping to soon avail himself of the menu?

The words are vital in the Great Lakes shot, not so much in the panhandler one. What do you think?

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petermfiore

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2014, 05:53:46 pm »

Here is one with signage of a sort....Next

Peter
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 05:55:54 pm by petermfiore »
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RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2014, 06:00:46 pm »

Now you're talking, Peter. That one is very good street. It's telling a story but we don't really know what the story is. It's loaded with ambiguity. If it's yours, why can't I find it on your web?
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Russ Lewis  www.russ-lewis.com.

RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2014, 06:04:55 pm »

Here are two street shots from this summer that feature words to an extent. The Great Lakes shot features a sign advocating keeping the water clean. It also says something about the unseen person throwing trash on the ground instead of using the solar compactor. The second is a panhandler with a cup -- hoping to soon avail himself of the menu?

The words are vital in the Great Lakes shot, not so much in the panhandler one. What do you think?

Sorry, Lou, they're both reasonably good catches, but neither is very good street. There's a story there, but there's no ambiguity. The first one is just a picture of a sign with some stuff tossed on the sidewalk by some passing slob, of which there are far to many out there. The second one is, as you say, a hobo sitting with a cup. It's possible to jump to the "menu" sign and raise the question you raised, but it isn't easy. I should add that I tend to shy away from pictures of hoboes. They're just too easy.
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Russ Lewis  www.russ-lewis.com.

petermfiore

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2014, 06:06:17 pm »

Hi Russ,

It is indeed mine. Captured this past monday on my way to class. My website promotes my life as a painter. My photos have always been for me. I have been making my living for the past 40 years as an artist. I have had a camera attached to my face since the age of eight.


Peter

RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2014, 06:33:35 pm »

You beat me by four years. I built my first darkroom when I was 12.

Do you have more street shots like this one? If so, you really ought to start a second web site if you don't want to mix your photographs with your paintings. And I'd love to see more of them right here on LuLa. We have far too few people here even attempting street photography.

I still don't understand why you shot and posted the Vanderbilt Urn. Obviously you know more about photography than that shot would indicate.
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stamper

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2014, 05:18:53 am »

One more.

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2014, 10:00:00 am »

Perfect example, Stamper!

The two guys in front interacting would be enough to make a good Street shot. We don't know what is going on between them (there's the "ambiguity"), and then the partial sign behind them just reinforces that ambiguity.

And even that's not all: The other three people to the right are just so perfectly posed as if to provide three mor interpretations of the sign.

I love it!

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RSL

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Re: Street and signage
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2014, 01:29:07 pm »

It's another good one, Stamper. Keep it up. I might add to Eric's evaluation that the guy leaning against the corner of the building looks somewhat menacing, which gives the picture a bit of extra punch.
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