6.07.2010

Sometime the only rules that apply are propriety.

So, I've made all kinds of pronouncements about how one should do street photography but here's one situation that falls outside my strictures.  I saw the face and wanted to do a quick portrait but she was in the wrong light.  I walked up and asked, in very broken Italian, if I could take her portrait and if she would mind moving about twenty feet to the other side of the street so I could take advantage of the overhanging structure to shield her from the direct sun but close enough to a bright wall so I would have some direction light on her face.  It was near dusk and she was also illuminated by the light fixture in the overhanging structure.  The whole process took about three minutes.  She was amenable but guarded and that was exactly the look I wanted.

Rules are helpful in defining the boundaries that you must inevitably step over to do art.



Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers

Overheard this morning at a coffee shop....

Two advertising agency creatives were sitting at a downtown coffee shop having some sort of espresso drinks and I overheard them talking about business.  Now, it's no secret that the advertising business is going through as big or bigger a meltdown than even the photography business so I leaned over a bit and concentrated.  I wanted to hear how they deal with the slow down and the slow pay and the slow etc.  Quick into the conversation it became obvious that their agencies had lost some pitches and things were.....tense in the respective offices.  Finally one of the guys says,  "We should both ditch our jobs and start our own ad agency."  The other guy takes a long drink of coffee, gives the other guy the "are you insane" look and then says,  "There a ton of agencies.  We don't need to open another one.  Someone needs to open some new clients!"

The above vignette has very little and a lot to do with the blog below...

Kids playing on the Square in Sienna.

Wow!  If you're really freaked out about the economy and the state of the world and you feel a bit paralyzed and helpless I suggest that you stop drinking coffee for a while.  You may find that half the panic is self inflicted..... You are also less likely to spill hot beverages into your lap while driving, or, onto your laptop while contemplating the fall of civilization.

I just got it today.  The realization that we have no machine that will allow us to freeze our cultural evolution at a point where it works optimally for me.  I now understand that we're never going back to the "old days" even though the old days never really existed except as a fluid interpretation in our own minds.  Were we richer then or did we care less?

I read something in a book over the weekend.  It said (and you've heard it before) "the past is like the wake of a boat.  It trails out of view, never to return.  As to the future?  One step ahead and all is blackness.  We have only now."  In a way this flurry of images from Italy is a purge of the past.  I'm showing them and then archiving the prints.  Because if you are busy tending the work of the past you don't have the bandwidth to create here and now.  I'll show some of my favorites over then next few weeks and then get back to work on my own stuff.  In a new way.  With new understanding and new insights.

One of the insights is the need to be flexible.  To bend and try new stuff. To embrace fun and stop digging in my heels, trying to make people understand the value of what we did in the past.  Someone once said, "No one will ever win who bets against the web."  I would add that you rarely win by depending upon the way you used to do things...

It's hot and summer and everyone is moving slowly.  I'm heading out to walk and soak up the feeling of slowness and see if there's a visual component to it.  Wish me luck.


Ah. Verona. Romeo and Juliet. Tourism. Italy.



As I mentioned in the last blog, I love shooting on the streets in Italy.  As part of one of our trips to Italy in the early 1990’s Belinda and I decided to visit some of the smaller cities like Lucca,  Bologna, Parma and Verona.  It was the same trip that found me dragging along my big, chrome Hasselblad 500 CM and my 100mm Planar lens as my street shooting camera.  While all of the cities had their own charming attributes it was Verona that stole my heart because of their wonderfully cynical tourist board.  They took the story of Romeo and Juliet and ran with it.  Right down to designating a small house and courtyard as the house of Juliet.  Tourist would go there to see where the star crossed lovers lived.  And the tourist board indulged them by also installing a telephone like contraption that, for a few coins, would tell you the brief story of the feuding houses in one of four different languages.  I noticed that the photo which graced the machine was from the Zefferelli version of the Romeo and Juliet movie.  So appropriate!
Of course we made the pilgrimage to the house.  How could we come all this way and not see it?  We saw a few adventurous tourists from other countries but we also saw plenty of Italians.  I saw this man listening intently to the taped message and couldn’t resist photographing him.  I printed the images and put them in a show a few years later.  Most people took a cursory look and decided that the man was some sort of shady character doing some sort of shady and illegal deal over the phone.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He was just a local tourist, eager to hear all the news.
I have many images in my files of people on phones.  How was I to know back then that all the phone booths would eventually disappear only to be replaced by the ubiquitous cellphone?  The phone booth now seems like a romantic and chancy part of a past life. The cellphone like an empty appliance.  C’est la vie.