sábado, 14 de abril de 2018

About Failure


“Street Photography is 99,9 % about failure. So often I feel defeated by the street. I sometimes find, that if I keep walking, keep looking, and keep pushing myself, eventually something interesting will happen. Every once in a while, at the end of the day, when I´m most exhausted and hungry, something – a shaft of light, an unexpected gesture, an odd juxtaposition – suddenly reveals a photograph. It´s almost as if I had to go through all those hours of frustration and failure in order to get to the place where I could finally see that singular moment at day´s end” – Alex Webb

sábado, 7 de abril de 2018

About Photo Competitions


As every person have a photographic voice. The great question is: what you really have to say?
Nowadays everyone is a photographer – with or without smartphones. 95 million photos and videos are posted to Instagram every day and over 6 billion per month to Facebook. And 80% of those will never be seen. Ever. 
A large percentage is poor quality photography. Constantine Manos said - 99% of the work on the Internet is bad photography. Of course the vast majority have no great things to say and pretensions or ambition to make also great photographs and they all almost shoot the same picture. Photography then becomes a game, an act of friendship, communication and love. That’s fine.
But if you take Photography in a more serious way you wil have several challenges when you start to share your work and you feel there is almost a fight for acceptance.
So when we start to publish have to choose between lots of Sites and pages because photographers have become a huge target to the photomarket. In social networks proliferate pages that easily praise mediocre photographs. Probably their administrators / curators do not know enough about Photography and are doing a bad job. Of course there are a few honest Sites with good know-how about photography - where we can share our work.
But we can see also lots of Sites asking you to submit your work and calling for entries -  you will know later that it will cost you money - and where you read promises that you will have international exposure and fantastic awards if you will be a winner of competitions. Competitions judged for unknown photocelebrities and run by people living of photography without knowing anything about Photography – where we can see a lot of cronyism. So their reviews are dangerous in many cases because it creates a false notion of what good photography is. So award winning photographers are common these days!
But are they really encouraging good works? Or, on the contrary, are creating the disappointment and desistance of many potential good photographers - encouraging only a restrictive and competitive social group?
But at same time we see more and more images obtained by anonymous amateurs are as or more interesting as those made by some recognized as Photography Masters. What then distinguishes the top photographers? Why does one reach the celebrity and distinction and others with equal or superior quality remain anonymous? What are they finally doing to Photography?
But the worst! Not only we have increasingly paids entries but also must pay to be published!!! Yes you can receive an e-mail saying: “Congratulations! Your image(s) have been selected for the BEST OF THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHERS. You'd be even more delighted to know that your work is among the Top 3% that made the cut! The publishing fee is between US$ 375 - 500 per page”! I think we must fight this. Even now there are some platforms that are just shameless means to extort money from unsuspecting photographers. With curators quoted without their knowledge they just charge money for every photo entered in fictitious contests – nothing more. They are part of just another mockery that circulates on the Net.
No thanks!

Does anyone know a photographer who isn't award winning these days? Its like being published or exhibited or awarded or liked or followed means virtually nothing anymore.
– Nick Turpin.

“Competitions are for horses, not artists” - Bela Bartok

sábado, 31 de março de 2018

Sobre Fotografia de Rua

Em Portugal pouca gente sabe o que é Fotografia de Rua apesar de ser das formas mais populares e praticadas no mundo dos dias de hoje (é bom lembrar que cerca de 60% da população mundial vive actualmente em cidades). Dentro dos denominados “Photo Books” os que mostram “Street Photography” são os mais vendidos. Com a intenção de divulgar melhor o conceito permiti-me juntar as seguintes linhas:
Trata-se de uma variante da Arte Fotográfica (talvez a mais antiga, mais “libertadora” e a mais difícil) executada apenas em lugares públicos (Ruas, Museus, Parques, Praias, etc.) feita espontaneamente (sem pose) e não “encomendada”por órgãos de comunicação social (fotojornalismo). Daí que há cada vez mais consenso que deveria antes denominar-se “Public Candid Photography”. O seu valor documental fica reduzido quando há pose, encenação ou manipulação excessiva (over editing).
A fotografia de rua é como uma terceira faixa de uma autoestrada - separada, mas paralela às faixas do fotojornalismo e da fotografia apenas documental (com aqual é frequentemente confundida). Embora existam fotógrafos que se dedicam exclusivamente à fotografia de rua, há outros que para além de fotografia de rua também podem fazer fotografia documental ou de reportagem – passando temporariamente para a faixa ao lado. O próprio Henri Cartier-Bresson fez fotografia de rua e também de reportagem. No entanto os géneros não devem ser confundidos apesar de o fotógrafo ser o mesmo.
É claro que uma fotografia «encenada» em que haja uma «direção» e uma «coreografia» dos “actores” que passam na rua também pode ser extraordinária como Arte, mas não é Fotografia de Rua - que deve ter o maior grau de espontaneidade possível (discutível o denominado “eye contact”). Há autores conhecidos (por exemplo: Diane Arbus) que fizeram fotografia documental e “encenaram” com tanta qualidade que agora integram a história da fotografia em si – mas as suas imagens são apenas documentais e não são classificadas como fotografia de rua. A qualidade da fotografia não depende do género praticado.
Portanto a fotografia de rua não é apenas documental / descritiva ou de reportagem. Enquanto uma fotografia apenas documental pode transmitir hábitos e costumes (p.ex. o que as pessoas vestem em determinada época), a fotografia de rua tem uma filosofia própria que privilegia a possibilidade de, através do enquadramento encontrarmos alguma história nas entrelinhas das expressões e ou situações dos vários personagens que se cruzam.
Tal como referiu Joel Meyerowitz:  “You could frame anything: unrelated things, and putting them in a frame suddenly they are related and you have an image that perhaps is surreal, or magical, or prophetic.”
Ou seja: Durante encontros ocasionais de rua o enquadramento tenta relacionar o que aparentemente não estava relacionado. Pessoas e pessoas, Pessoas e objectos, Objectos e objectos. Ao enquadrar e relacionar pessoas e ou objectos, subitamente, pode ser criada uma imagem – onde o vulgar passa a ser extraordinário.
As fotografias de rua colocam questões e privilegiam a possibilidade de encontrarmos alguma narrativa nas entrelinhas das expressões e ou situações dos vários personagens. O humor, a ironia, a subtileza, os nonsense, as contradições sociais, o enigma, o mistério, a magia e o surreal em Street Photography são uma mais-valia muito importante.
No entanto há também fotógrafos de rua conceituados que exploram apenas os contrastes cromáticos, os jogos de luz / sombra, as geometrias e o grafismo – e dispensam uma eventual “história” associada à imagem. São pois diversos os sub géneros de Fotografia de Rua.
Inclusive, embora seja sempre preferível incluir gente nos enquadramentos a Fotografia de Rua pode não mostrar pessoas - como foi o caso de Atget que muitos autores consideram o “pai” da fotografia de rua. Desde que nas imagens de paisagens urbanas se pressinta a presença humana.

sábado, 24 de março de 2018

A Photograph as a Portal


The great photographer Ansel Adams wrote: "You do not photograph with the camera alone. You bring to the act of photographing all the images you saw, the books you read, the music you listened to, the people you loved. "

So the way of seeing reflects everything we are and what we believe - photographs are, after all, a chronicle of the photographer himself and translate the dreams that each one has to tell. In conclusion: when we look at a photographic work, we can also perceive its author. The photographs do not reflect only what is photographed but also the voice of someone dialoguing with others through their specific way of seeing.
The image functions as a portal through which two souls communicate. The photographer's and the observer's. And there can be positive or negative encounters. It all depends on what each one has to tell and what the aesthetic culture of both allows them to see.
And sometimes the difference between a good picture and a mediocre picture is a question of millimeters, a tiny difference. But it's essential.

“I leave it to the audience to evaluate my work. The viewer’s ability to read my images certainly depends on his and her visual education.”- Mario Cuic

sexta-feira, 23 de março de 2018

Framing in a Frame

A space without name. A desert where some tin and wood constructions emerge along the side of the road. A lost landscape waiting for someone to stop for a coffee before heading off. A departures place. The mystery and echo of loneliness in the distance. Two or three figures spy the traveler. On the horizon of the open window of an abandoned car comes a man with one leg and supported by crutches. I think of David Lynch and shot remembering "Paris Texas" soundtrack .

sábado, 17 de março de 2018

Switching from B&W to Color


When sometimes people ask me why I´m doing now Photograpy only in colors I answer that it is because  I have color memories and I dream in color. But what interests me more is the emotion of the images through the use at same time of shadow and color rendering. I feel color brings out in my photos an extra meaning and better depth / layers / tridimensionality - improving object recognition and associations inside frame. Color should be part of the story, not a distraction from it.
It is definitely a personal preference. Some photographers only shoot in color, others prefer black and white for all their work. What really matters is that a photograph is good one - either in Color or in B&W. Both mediums have is own benefits.
It is known that there are several great photographers that have switched to color: Stephen Shore, Fred Herzog, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Joel Meyerowitz, Nikos Economopoulos, etc.
The evolution of a photographer is done mainly in an instinctive way. Things happen gradually and intuitively without being programmed. And sometimes they surprises us.
Our way of seeing may change over the years. If it is so - means the photographer in us has not stagnated and evolved. And it can switch from B&W to Color or from Color to B&W.
All quotations from authors defending the supremacy of one over the other are biased and are intended to justify the kind of photography that one does.


sábado, 10 de março de 2018

Shooting in a small town:

As we are photographing in the street it is important the relashionship between things and persons. The gaze between people, the gestures, humor, the adds, juxtapositions, etc.
I agree with Joel Meyerowitz quote: “ You could frame anything: unrelated things, and putting them in a frame suddenly they are related and you have an image that perhaps is surreal, or magical, or prophetic.”.
It will be better to get if you photograph 3 or more People in the frame where at least someone is doing something to someone else. But this is easier to do in big cities (New York, London, etc.) where the human flow in the streets is enormous and full of interesting characters and events.
And I must confess that I do not sympathize with a genre of street pictures depicting only the daily flow of people in the streets of cities who are an increasingly frequent cliché: just people passing by without any kind of relationship. This may be photojournalism and good to document clothes and habits for someone in the future (if it will be one) to know how we used to live in the beggining of XXI century. But it is boring and poor quality street photography - where everyone tries to shoot the same thing the same way.

But when we inhabit a small city it is very difficult to get street shots with good narratives. In small towns usually only few people pass through the streets and extraordinary situations are rarer than in big cities.
On the other hand, nowadays people who pass through the streets are almost unrelated either by gestures, gazes or contact and about 30% is "connected" to the mobile phone. Again I quote from Joel Meyerowitz:
“In the 60s and 70s you could look at my street photographs and trace lines from the eyes of people connecting with other people’s eyes, setting up these force fields…” ” Today Nobody’s looking at each other. Everybody’s glued to their phones...” The best street photographers now show humans dwarfed by ad billboards. The street has lost its savour.” – Joel Meyerowitz.

To overcome these difficulties it seems legitimate that – shooting in a small town – we have to find other ways to make interesting street photographs and finding our own “voice”. It is understandable that we can direct our attention at themes with less narrative like: Graphic, Abstract, Minimalism, Without People, Shadows / Light play, etc.
Do we have to follow always the traditional or politically correct current of the works of the best known people, based on the idea of telling a story? As if an Art form had to have necessarily to build a narrative. Photography on the streets may also be Art and contemplated as for its aesthetic and compositional characteristics. Just a way of seeing where visual pleasure and composition are decisive.