Under The Influence: Bow Down To The Master

Paris, April 2015




And of course, I have to bow down: I didn’t know the shot before, if I had I had probably never posted mine. There are so many things you can learn from studying great photos:

  • the shoe in the upper right corner does the trick here: opens up the triangle onto which the composition is based.

  • the vertical (the frame)/horizontal(the shadows, the direction of the walk) tension works great here

  • keep an eye on you shadows, see, if there is actually something in there to add more interest

  • contrast works better, the grain in the first image is distracting and gives the image an unclean look…

  • is it only me, but the fashion in the 60ies was way cooler: most elegant ankle…

  • cutting is an art, I am almost sexually aroused by the slip of skirt above the calf…

Fastest gun in the east, Winograd has laser-eyes to be able to spot all this and frame it right…

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The Gary Winogrand Problem, continued


This actually is the only question worth discussing: Why take a picture instead of not taking a picture and let it wash down the drain of all things forgotten? This mixture of apathy and the almost maniacal drive to take pictures that left Winogrand with 2000 undeveloped rolls of film and nearly 300.000 unedited photos: Trying to turn yourself into a recording-device? Into a machine? And does that show an appreciation or a neglect of the world? The act of shooting is what’s important, not the outcome…


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The Garry Winogrand Problem


Modern photography, by reason of unceasing technical advance, is eminently capable of producing a mindless accumulation of automatic images, whose meaning at best is peripheral and uncertain, whose tenor at worst is dumbly exploitative and reactionary. Photographers all too frequently make pictures so conceptually casual and brainlessly superficial that their minimal meaning is exhausted at a glance. A great deal of film is wasted by even the best photographers, and almost criminally squandered by the bad and the mediocre.

— from “I Don’t Give a Rap About Gasoline Stations”, via American Suburb X 


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Paris, April 2015

Paris, April 2015

Photography, with its devices of slow motion and enlargement, reveals the secret. It is through this photography that we first discover the existence of the optical unconscious, just as we discover the instinctual unconscious through psychoanalysis.

— Walter Benjamin

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We Don’t Fit In

Tokyo, July 2014

We no longer fit in into the world. You would somehow think that we could try to change the world to make us feel more comfortable in it, but we failed to do that. Eventually, this feeling of uneasiness will fade: We just have to wait until we have adapted to the machines we have created.

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Not Too Bright, Not Too Dark



Valencia, April 2015

18% grey. This is what you’re camera is trying to achieve when you put it into any sort of automatic mode. Does not matter if it’s aperture, shutter-speed, if ISO is fixed or you allow it to float: The camera will always strive for something in the middle, not too bright, not too dark.

How do you think can something interesting come out of this? How many guys you met that were lukewarm actually managed to keep your interest for more than 2 minutes? Good looking, yes, maybe, but boring nevertheless. Not too many things, that are not too much of anything, too much darkness, too much light, way too fast or grinded to a screeching halt – nothing that is in the middle of everything ever came out interesting. And still, you tell your camera to do just that: Start something interesting with 18% grey. How’s that gonna work out?

Instead be brave, be bold, don’t shy away from underexposed pictures, blurry shadows, outblown highlights: Images can be faulty, as your vision is faulty, imperfect too. The emotion lurks in the shadow, love has to burn into you, pain is too dark to be bearable… And get out of automatic, damn.

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Stay Healthy For All Time

Tokio, July 2014

This is what sometimes happens: You get mad at people when they somehow don’t seem to “get” your picture. You blame society as a whole, the steady decline in attention-span, Flickr as a place of cat-images and superficiality.

This was a subtle image that sums up a problem almost every advanced western society has to deal with: when these three kids are grown up to make their own money they will have to support the pension for at least two elders. It’s devastating demographical math in a picture.

And the image is not even badly composed, has strong straight lines (transporting these kids into the future), has some balance and gestures.

Problem here is: it wasn’t well placed. I just dumped it into a pile of more obvious pictures I brought back from Japan an it just drowned there. It is a good picture, but I let it down. I didn’t put up the fight for it that it deserved.

There is a lesson here, of course, but for today I prefer to bath in self-pity and curse the world for becoming more superficial every day…

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