Archive for August, 2012

I am not a street photographer . . .

August 28, 2012

. . . but, oh, do I wish I was. I was downtown with my wife a couple of weeks ago taking pictures of a couple buildings, and we stopped at a cafe for an hour or so. The weather was beautiful, so we sat outside in the sun and had, respectively, ice cream and Eiskaffee. (Coffee with vanilla ice cream in it. Good stuff.)

While we were waiting a younger couple sat down two tables away. The woman was wearing a pink t-shirt and sunglasses. She immediately lit up a cigarette, then pulled out a pink cell phone. She sat there leaning back with her cigarette in her left hand, staring at her cell phone in her right. It would have been a classic photo, and I really wish I could show it to you, but I just didn’t have the guts to lift up my camera and shoot. I was too afraid that she would glance in my direction as I shot.
I had two other wonderful opportunities that day (a woman in a red dress and straw hat with a camera who looked like she had just walked out of a dream, and a kind of macho looking guy wearing a tank top and oil-slick sunglasses picking cigarette ash off of his shirt) and I wasn’t brave enough to shoot. I will regret that for the rest of my life, but I still don’t think I will shoot the next time. I haven’t the nerve for it. Sigh . . .
Here’s one shot I did take:
 
The pink woman was sitting just under the street lamp to the left. I am a coward.
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A quick question . . .

August 25, 2012

Does the food industry pay people to develop packages that look easy to open, but aren’t?

Vivian Maier

August 10, 2012

I first came across Vivian Maier via Metafilter a couple of years ago. I looked at her work again the other day and was once again overwhelmed. This woman was an absolute master of the camera. Every photo takes you into the world, into the moment as she lived it.

The man who discovered her negatives contacted MoMa and Tate Modern but, apparently, they weren’t interested. “They don’t consider the photos to be the artist’s vision if she didn’t print them.” But what if the artist was such a master of the camera, of the light, and of composition, that the artist’s vision is right there in the negative, and it wouldn’t matter if a gorilla printed it? The author of the article seems to share my opinion: "Nevertheless, the strength of the negatives is hard to deny." Of course, I haven’t seen the negatives, so I am assuming that these are being printed with minimal manipulation. Maybe, I’m wrong, and John Maloof has a lab tech with the prowess of Ansel Adams doing the prints. But I doubt it. What I see when I look at these photos is perfect composition, perfect lighting, perfect exposure in almost every case.

She spent most of her time doing street photography (at least from what has been developed. There are tens of thousands of negatives awaiting development.), but I am certain that whatever she had chosen to do with a camera would have been equally impressive.

I’m a little torn in my feelings about Vivian. On one hand, I wish she had gotten more recognition during her lifetime. On the other, I feel that if she had wanted recognition she could have gotten it, so she probably lived the life she wanted to live. Another part of me wishes she had written a book. But what she had to teach and to say is all in her photographs. I’m just glad they weren’t lost. And they came very close to being lost.