Do we get too obsessed by "real"?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
OP MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,382
Re: Was that Sally real? Of course she was …

GnarlydogOZ wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

I keep returning to the late great Gary Winogrand’s remark: “I take photographs to see what things look like when photographed”. Most perceptive. Photography makes your audience see what you have seen and register the image in their brain. It is very quick, it only takes a fraction of asecond.

and yet I disagree.

What I see and mainly feel in a moving photograph is not often perceived by somebody else. An emotional image to me is such because of my life experiences, my psychology, my compassion and my passions.

I often start to form an idea of one's personality by observing their reaction to certain photographs. Some might find them moving, others find them ordinary. Much can be said about one's perception of reality and reaction to a (what some call) moving photograph.

We can quite easily disagree and remain happy on the subject of perception.

My understanding of what Gary Winogrand said was that photographs don’t necessary show what people remember seeing. What he saw (remembered) and and what his camera captured could be different. I don’t really know from his remark whether he was trying to record what he actually saw and remembered or trying to take a photograph of what he was going to remember to show others what his memory had been.

He, of course, was one of the greats of street shooting capture.  He was so prolific in the days of film that he did not even bother processing a lot of his film - presumably he knew that it might not have been a job worth while.

The words that you have highlighted are my own and are less perceptive other than noting that this is a precise rendition of the scene and no more what my brain has seen than Winogrand’s “looks like when photographed”.

If I follow any genre of photography it must be candid - see an image and catch it - quickly.  I am still working on it, I need to be able to see and respond quickly with full knowledge of the gear in my hand.  This means I practice a lot and I get a lot of rubbish in the process. I can understand why Gary Winogrand might have so many “practice shots” in order to get his memorable ones.

I think that a photographer can only guide his viewers by the images presented to try and state an opinion, as much as any artist might speak to their audience. Even the technically factual photograph can be interpreted in different ways. Images as opinions are generally more interesting.

On the other hand we can truly try to be scientific and precise in our representations - often the subject matter is the interest in itself.

Speaking to our viewers through this medium is usually more interesting than actual fact (surprisingly). Considering how many people are told to smile for their photograph or naturally “put on” their “photo-face” - I prefer candid for portraits as not everyone can assume a natural expression when posing.

These days it is easier (cheaper) with digital to machine gun images so that hopefully some of them will end up looking “right” when photographed.

I am also trying to figure out the philosophy of photography as others might have noticed.

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Tom Caldwell

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