Saturday, 16 February 2013

Between Two Worlds

A business man walks down a street in Cape Town while a street vendor looks on.

One of the striking things about walking the streets of Cape Town and taking photographs is just how many cities in one it seems to be.

I'm toying with the idea of making a series of street photographs called Between two worlds in an attempt to show this pluralistic nature of Cape Town.

You can browse more street photographs in the Between Two Worlds project.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

On finding oneself in print

A woman looks into a bookshop window - Cape Town Street Photograph
Long Street in Cape Town - Street photograph

In reading various blogs about photography I have seen several authors write that the Ipad is a fantastic way to show off one's portfolio of work.

I disagree.

Perhaps in part because I have a Galaxy Note 10.1 and I do use it to show off my latest street photography to long suffering friends and relatives. But this isn't another salvo in the tablet wars.

I don't like showing my photos on my tablet at all. The resolution is fine yes, although the Samsung is not as good as the Ipad in this regard, and of course the photo's look great. But there's something wrong with the light.

As photographers we obsess about light - we love it's patterns. We observe it, we wait for it, we lament it's harshness, we diffuse it and most importantly we record it. Why then when it comes to displaying our work would we choose to do so on a device that does not reflect light at all?

This to me is key - the tablet emits light to create the image. A print has the image on it and reflects light into the eye. It's a massive difference. No?

The second reason I prefer to inflict my photographs on others via the printed medium has to do with the digital age tendency to throw images away almost as soon as they have been viewed. Spend 10 minutes browsing a street photography community on Google+ and you will probably work your way through a hundred images. You will see some great exposures to be sure but it is the nature of the medium and the proliferation of images that even very strong images are discarded and forgotten almost as soon as the +1 button has been clicked.

I see this phenomenon on the tablet as well. It takes just a swipe of a finger and a photograph is dismissed and the next one is scrutinized even as the finger hovers. (Of course this might just mean that the photo's are no good!)

On the other hand when I hand someone a copy of a photo book made for me by the Pics2book guys over at Orms their demeanour as they approach the photographs is different. There's a stronger sense of respect and people tend to spend longer with each image.

And for me this links to a larger thought. I sense a hunger in the zeitgeist for something more enduring. We are bombarded daily by expertly crafted images in the main exhorting us to spend or click or vote or do something. The same applies to other symbols. Take words as another example. Beautiful words that, prior to the information age, were reserved for lovers or for ceremonies both secular and spiritual have been co-opted by a fast paced cycle of manipulation and consumption. Their power to move us, in my view, is drastically lessened. This might just be a rant but I don't think so when the local mall has a clothing boutique called P:oetry and another called Philosophy, a jeweler's window presents a well crafted soliloquy on the nature of love and in a delightful piece of irony, a coffee shop features Eliot's immortal line "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons" - clearly the marketing guy googled poetry to do with coffee and did not know that the line is a powerful expression of ennui and not the exciting tribute to caffeine that it has been used for here.

But I've gone off topic - and the topic is this. If I were a professional photographer (I'm not and don't aspire to be one) I would print my portfolio in a lovely photobook from those pics2book guys and allow prospective clients to hold and pore over the photographs, to put them down, pick them up again, tilt them towards the light and to engage with them in a way that the pixels just don't allow.

The kiss