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  #11  
Old 03-06-2005, 03:15 PM
bboss bboss is offline
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Default Re: Photographing Pain & Poverty ????

I have always tried to avoid taking pictures of pain and poverty when travelling in places like India, although I think pictures that bring this information to a wider audience are EXTREMELY important ( for instance remember the response in the west to the 80s Ethiopian famine, and the recent Tsunami).
For me it is the reasons behind taking the photo that is the important factor - what will be the function of the photo. As a 'tourist' taking 'holiday photos' to show family/friends/enjoy myself, there is not much role for painful documentary photos. If however the photos will/can reach a wider audience and help provide information to the (ignorant) world, then taking these photos should be obligatory. TE falls in between these 2 situations.
I disagree that it is the (implied) feeling of the photographer that is important, it is the feeling of the viewer to the photo that is important in this respect.
As for the wishes of the subject of the photo, you would imagine that, if a photo will help to stop similar suffering, they would be all for it.
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  #12  
Old 03-06-2005, 03:42 PM
kikvel kikvel is offline
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Default David

Just to clarify, nobody mentioned that the feeling of the photographer is more important or less important. When I said what I felt...is regarding what the people being shot felt...

I did not ask them explicitly how they feel when being photographed...but I have information from their reactions, their responses...and this is what I felt...

And the point of this thread is what people feel when being photographed. I believe every point highlighted here adds a clarification.

K.
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  #13  
Old 03-06-2005, 05:13 PM
bboss bboss is offline
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Default Re: David

Hi cesar,
I think we are talking at cross-purposes here...
When you wrote ...".. it is just like shooting a picture of a stone or a rainbow, the subject is "interesting", but the photographer really does not feel a thing about it." .. you are talking about the feeling in the photographer, and I assumed that it meant that you put some value on that feeling, and that it relates to the value of the photo.
I only mention that I disagree with this, and say that it is the feeling of the viewer and subject that are important here. I guess I must have misunderstood your point - my apologies.
David
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  #14  
Old 03-06-2005, 06:58 PM
kikvel kikvel is offline
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Default Re: David

going to that particular comment I think the feeling of the photographer is also interesting and important as it certainly has an impact on the photo...

but it is my opinion,
I agree with you that more important are the viewers feelings, and at the end the result should be to move the persons into actions... and not just to be shocked for a few minutes and then fall again into comfortably numbness.

thanks for your time clarifying concepts;

K.
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  #15  
Old 03-07-2005, 06:48 PM
sohrab sohrab is offline
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Default Re: David

just a quick word ( since i'm writing my connection at home is not working at the moment),
if a photographer "feels" it is quite evident in the photograph. most of the powerful photographs belong to photostories ( ofcourse you have the ocassional individual photographs that are powerful as well, but they are mostly taken by photographers belonging to wire agencies, for news purposes. the exceptions are quite hard to come by)
the photographer makes a lot of difference to these photostories, since photostories have a purpose and they intend to show you something. moreover photostories require the photographer to be accepted by the subject, and the nature/ feeling of the photographer makes a big difference

take alook at salgado, eugene smith or even james nachtwey for that matter... they all photograph such issues for a certain purpose with certain feelings.
even though james nachtwey's photographs show the truth in its coldest form, i don't in any way believe that when he took those photographs, he didn't feel anything. in the 1980s when he had gone to ethiopia to do a story on the famine for "life" magazine, he was asked to record his feelings on a tape at the end of the day, he came back with blank tapes. there was so much anger in him when he saw the people in their condition there, that he decided to channelise all that anger and pain into his photographs.

even for individual photographs, to catch that one MOMENT, you need to feel it in order to see it.

there are ofcourse lots of photographs taken not necessarily without an feeling, but certainly without the understanding of what's really happening. and you might have the ocassional poverty photograph in which it's quite evident that it was taken casually.. and emote any feelings. so i don't really consider them worth talking about here.

someone mentioned above that the photographer's feelings don't matter , but it's the subject and what the viewer feels that is relevant. i read in a hurry so i might be wrong here.

so keeping in mind all that i've already mentioned i think the photographer's feelings are as important if not more, than the subject and the feelings of the viewer to create such powerful photographs. there are the ocassional anomalies though
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  #16  
Old 03-07-2005, 06:49 PM
sohrab sohrab is offline
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Default Re: David

just a correction
i was talking about eugene richards and not eugene smith
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  #17  
Old 03-07-2005, 07:18 PM
kikvel kikvel is offline
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Default I have identified the following

- First the feelings of the subject.
This depends on the situation, I remember the person crying the death of a beloved after the tsunami. In this case the death of the beloved is so recent and strong that maybe this person did not even realize or care the presence of the photographer.
In other cases where ther person is in a mroe stable situation, can realize better the presence and intentions of the photographer and can of course feel bad about being exposed in such conditions. This is a very personal reaction and of course will vary from person to person and according to the situation.

- The feelings of the photographer.
Also may vary. I know occasional photographers of poverty. They do just to try something new and do not feel much about it. I know also other persons that really care, and feel touched by this. They even contact them and approach them for a closer contact.
I would say that both type of persons can reach good photo results, but the photographers that were touched may represent better reality accompanying notes to the pictures, and telling stories of the moments shared with the people. They will have the story, uninvented, story that comes from direct experience.
Here we have a BIG difference.

- The feelings of the people that will see the pictures.
Are triggered by the images and notes. This of course will vary from person to person. Some will say OOHHH and in minutes will forget, some will keep the images well within and promise themselves to do something, to change reality.
We can not deny the existence of morbo, human beings are attracted to tragedies, accidents, death, extreme conditions. Some people look for these kind of photos but not to do something specific, but only to see the dark side of humanity. We are really complex. For good or bad.

K.
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  #18  
Old 03-07-2005, 07:48 PM
bboss bboss is offline
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Default for Sohrab

I was saying that I think it is the motivation of the photographer that is the important factor when photographing pain and suffering, and that as an amateur photographer one should have a clear reason for making these kind of shots, and not intrude into someone else's misery just for ones own personal gratification. If there is a bigger issue at stake (bringing the issues to a wider audience etc) then these efforts are to be applauded and encouraged.
These guys you mention are professional photographers, that is to say that their motivation is known (roughly at least, its hard to be very specific, for instance- money, fame, art, career success, even humanitarian concern), and so this is a very different situation.
I don't say that I think a photographer should be 'unfeeling', only that his feeling are not apparent from the image he produces, except in the way I have mentioned regarding motivation . The feeling of the photographer should stay where they are designed to, in the head of the photographer. they are not relevant to the relationship between the viewer and the image, which is the crucial endpoint of the chain for this type of photo. If we were actually to know the thoughts of the photographer as he took the shot it is likely we would be surprised -when actually shooting I am sure the real photographer is only thinking about how to achieve the image, probably not even that, just doing it intuitively.
The most memorable film I saw of the tsunami for instance was shot by a guy on the way to a wedding who just happened to be in the right place (right place to take the photos that is). Can we imagine what he was feeling? And does it matter?
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  #19  
Old 03-08-2005, 10:12 PM
markgong markgong is offline
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Default A hard picture to take

I find that photographing the hurt and the poor are the most difficult photos to shoot. Unlike shooting children or the old, shooting those in pain and poverty conveys a hundred times more emotions. I am a coward, I hide behind my camera, my telephoto lens and shoot till I feel that caught me snapping. I do this for two reasons: One which I mentioned above but another is to avoid unneed pain on the part of the subject. Catching someone begging when they are at their most vunerable can be a dramatic shot, but is it worth making another human being feel like an animal at a zoo? This is a question I often ask myself. I have no clear answer for you.

I just did a series on the beggers of Cuenca. Check my photos if you want a look.

-Mark
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  #20  
Old 03-13-2005, 02:04 PM
pracas pracas is offline
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Default Re: Photographing Pain & Poverty ????

Guys,
for those who said that such photographs help others contribute towards the aid of the poor and those in pain... I'm suddenly very doubtful about this angle... can u really think of a friend u know who did something seeing the photograph? now its general outlook that people would be moved and do something... I'm just questioning the outlook!
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