>>> Street Photography eXchange #62 <<<

Started Sep 18, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP xtoph Veteran Member • Posts: 9,871
thanks for the comments, david
3

i always appreciate hearing how people see my pictures.

david_g wrote:

Chris, think about getting down at eye level with your subjects. POV is composition, and with a fixed lens you should be looking at every possible angle to express the image (many of your photos are from this same standing above vantage point). Fill the frame with your subject …get closer.…as you know, anything in the frame that doesn't support the subject, weakens it. And finally …be confident enough to allow the image to stand on it's own, without a title.

forgive me if i respond at some length, not because i want to refute your comments but because i would like to understand better where they are coming from. i can't help but be slightly bemused by some of what you say, either because i agree with you in general, or because i am surprised to hear something that sounds like the opposite of what people often tell me about my photos. for instance, you may not be aware that i happen to be a frequent advocate of letting photos stand on their visual merits, without titles (and, too, am more often criticized for a surfeit of confidence than a deficit). i do however bow to the pragmatic expediency of filling something into the title line of the post, which otherwise makes the threads hard to navigate and more difficult to comment upon. i don't know what it was about the title that bothered you, but in case you're interested, the guy in the photo was talking about the countdown to his entry into a detox program, and how he tended to sabotage himself; the title was meant to evoke the longer phrase, 'his own worst enemy', which was what he was saying (among other things).

otoh, if pov is composition (perhaps an overstatement), consider what would happen to this composition were i to have gotten even lower (this is made from only a few inches above the closest figures head): not only would i have lost the nice clean bg framing his head, i would have forced the two seated figures' heads into the same level, losing the more interesting diagonal between them, and up to the standing figure. i also would have lost sight of the second man's hand (covered by the bench), and of the main figure's eyes (also would have foreshortened his pointing finger, losing much of the expressive effect). so getting lower would have cluttered the bg behind the figures, lost the second guy's hand, lost sight of the eye, and lost the clarity of the pointing gesture. similarly, getting closer would have expanded his head in relation to the bg, thus losing the clean patch of gravel as a way to delineate the subject. i can't see what i would have gained--what was it you had in mind?

but mostly, i am curious what makes you say i should 'think about' getting down at eye level, or that many of my photos are from the same standing-above vantage. here's a couple of photos i've posted over the last couple of weeks:

i would say that they exhibit a marked variety of heights, distances, angles, perspectives--all justified internally by reference to the compositions of the respective photos, rather than habit or style. (i have commented previously that i find the frequent admonition to always shoot from a child's eye level can become trite and lose touch with an experiential context.)

for instance in this photo

i am shooting from eye level of the nearest subject. this puts me slightly above the eye level of the second subject--but they are both sitting down next to a sidewalk, and part of what i want to capture is what it feels like to be walking along by them. moreover, if i got any lower, i'd lose a view on the record they are interacting with, which is a significant part of the picture here: composition, again.

of course, i have nothing against getting very low when identifying with the subject is paramount:

but conversely, i don't hesitate to stay at my normal height when part of what i want to convey is the experience of looking, including the inequalities of position:

so i guess what i am saying is that i feel like 'exploring every angle' in relation to the composition and what i want the picture to do, is exactly what i try to do--so i agree with you.

i'm somewhat chagrined that the pictures didn't come across that way to you on their own-so much for confidence.     : )

thanks again for commenting, and hope you do again--

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