Tiding up my mind

So, I was cataloging /organizing/ my photos made last year. The reason is not to tidy up my files in the computer. The reason is to tidy up my mind. Clean and see what shows up, potentially.

When you are tiding up what happens first is that dust comes all over. In my case, instead of dust, I had millions of thoughts going on in my head. Now, it is calming down and I can write them down.

So I was thinking why I took every  particular photo and than I tried to assign the group of other similar photos. And I damasked something about my photos, that I wasn’t aware of.

At the end, I went through every photo I published online in 2016.

I had sorted out my photos into 11 groups:

lonely person /145/
children /103/
poverty, social problems, periphery /55/
no people /47/
shadow /42/
tunnel/underpass /37/
silhouette /35/
dogs /26/
blur /17/
reflections /11/
flare /11/

Numbers in the brackets are indicating number of the photos in particular group.
So, I found out….

Lonely Person

I found out that subject in most of my photos is a human, individual, that is alone. One person per frame, showing his loneliness, wherever he is. Until I made this classification I didn’t think about it this way. I would say, I am documenting life in the streets. But what I see now in this selection, is heaps of lonely people. I know, people looking at my photos probably saw it all the time, but it was not my intent. It was unaware. Partly it is is caused, because it is easier to photograph one person and frame it, make a good composition. And since there is a one person in the frame, it feels lonely, obviously. Especially, if the person is walking in the empty street, standing in front of the store front. If there is no other interaction, the photo only has a this first and only plan. Which is something I wasn’t aware of. I have more than enough of this kind of photos. You know, these people are strangers to me. I mean, it would be a different story if it was a photo of an individual doing something more interesting besides – walking, waiting, biking, sitting, reading, staring. When looking at other people’s photos, street photos, I personally don’t like, or really dislike, when I see a person walking in the frame and nothing else. Yes, you could say, but there are different quality to them. Sure, some photos I see on the internet are very good looking, they have fantastic composition, perfect light, but if they show a walking individual human, but they are usually not much more than this. They are empty. I see, this is the case of most of my photos from this group, and I need to avoid it. I need to add a second meaning to that image. Well, people often do so called “juxtas”, they would photograph a person in front of interesting advertisement or sign, which suddenly brings some other meaning to the photograph. But, most of the time, I dislike to see that in other people’s work. So, I was always trying to avoid to do this kind of tricks. They feel cheap to me. Not always. Sometimes, I can see the “juxta” is not so obvious, gentle, and so I would like it. So, most of my photos is a cliché. Good to know.

Children

This group of photos that I had identified in my archive was a biggest surprise to me. I knew I’d make a photo with a child every know and than, but I wouldn’t have thought it is my second most frequent subject. More than hundred photos has children in them. It is not just an accident. In this case, it reflects my attitude. It wasn’t my intent to photograph children in the streets, but it happened, because I don’t have that psychological block in my head when photographing them. I am not afraid of them. I dare to look in their yes, chat, makes a joke, click and go. With adults it is much more difficult. They are more suspicious. Anyway, big surprise.

I am afraid, it is same as, with shooting very old people. Firstly, they usually walk slower, so I have more time to prepare for the shot, and they often don’t have that good vision any more, so they would not notice me.

Conclusion. Elders and children, in my case, are just an easy target to photograph. There is no other reason behind. I need to keep this in my mind, and avoid it.

Dogs

Same as kids and elders. Easy photo target. No more. I have no other reason why I photograph them.

Poverty, social problems, periphery 

I have been attracted by periphery, socially isolated areas for a long time. In the past couple of years I spent a lot of time in these locations. First, I was shooting places, decay and ugliness, or touchable presence of humans. Later, when I started to photograph people, I stayed faithful to these areas. They attract me. But I ask why? Is it because they are photogenic?  Interesting? Yes, but it is not the whole truth. Maybe, it is a big part of nostalgia and melancholia, that I see in those places. I don’t go there to photograph  poverty. I go there, because I feel as I was traveling in time. As I was looking through the window to the past. Now, when I realize why I do that, I realize why lots of people were telling me: “your photos are nostalgic, it looks like from 70’s”. I didn’t like to hear that. I didn’t want my photos to look vintage or like an old photo. Well, these people were right, they saw an old photo, because I was photographing remains of old world. And of course, I use black and white processing which naturally emphasizes that. That said, as I discovered this, I know that I have to avoid this, too. You know, I already mentioned it somewhere on my blog before. Another reason for going to periphery and seeking for disappearing world, would probably be (if not most importantly) that photographers that I admired, or photos that I always admired come from these era – of black and white documentary photos. And, even I was saying, hey, I am not trying to be like this photographer, I was obviously doing everything to resemble. I need to avoid this. So, I need keep away from periphery. It is a source of my old way of thinking/photographing.

No People

This is an abstract name for the group of photos. I like many of them. The best of them are those that suggest a story or leaves unanswered question. Such as a kid bike laying abandoned on the sidewalk. I know, it is a mundane story, but at least some story. They are photos that I encountered, I wasn’t especially searching for them, but when I saw the particular scene, I made a photo. I have no conclusion to make here.

Shadow

I still make tons of photos with shadows. I always did and I am aware of it. Before I started shooting people, I photographed shadows of anything. Love the little magic and mystery they make in the photo. What is interesting about this group is, that one half of these shadow photos are photos with my own shadow included in the photo (ego). Yep, this is this kind of selfie-shadow that I included on purpose. I do it to add an extra layer to the scene. I know, this is another cliche I am doing. It is not funny, it is not knew. I know, I tried to reduced the number of photos, but there are still some that made it through my selection process. Need to avoid selfie-shadows.

Some of other shadows in this group are main subject of the photo. This is minority. Others are just a by-product when shooting people outside when sun is set low, so I have to count with the shadows in the composition. Sometimes, they add a visual impact to the photo of a person.  I usually goes together with “Lonely person” photo accompanied with it’s shadow to add an visual impact. Cheap trick. Needs to be avoided.

Tunnel/Underpass

I am entering these kind of places, because of it’s mood. As if I was entering some underworld. Also, there is always light contrast that I like. Light entering the darkens. Photos that I make there has typically dark and ominous mood. I question myself why I make photos in those dark places. Well, maybe I am trying to go under the surface of the things. Meant also metaphorically. And tunnels could be such a place where it is easier to enter the world that is not visible. And maybe I search for adventure. I can’t make a conclusion here. Will leave it open.

Silhouette 

This group is rather a part of the other bigger group “lonely person”. On occasion, when my subject meats contre-jour light situations. No more, no less. Just a visual effect, that can help to photo. But it is just a visual effect if not accompanied by other layers.

Blur

Only 17 of my photos  made during last year belongs here. Situation when longer shutter speeds are used. Moving objects are blurred. Or everything is blurry if I move along. I see a potential path to explore here. Some of the photos from this little selection might be some of my favorites. They leave a lot on people’s imagination. They are emotional.  Actually, I have been exploring this for a week or two. Will continue to work on it for sure.

Reflections

I don’t do those very often. I avoided to make reflection photos. Most of them (8 out of 12) are including myself in the reflection. It is on purpose, but I don’t want to repeat same trick. Not original, thought sometimes interesting and more layered photo could potentially come out of it. Not sure if this is the place to develop.

Flares

Last group of repeating themes/elements in my photos is inclusion of flare in the photo. In case of my photos, it is intentionally added element. I like the effect, but it is just an effect in most cases. On many of them it even becomes a main subject of the photo, instead of being just an add on. So, I have nothing again flares, but I don’t want to use them to make photo look interesting. It would be another cheap trick, which is just a meter of knowing a craft.

Baska, October 2016

Ostrava – Svinov, October 2016

Ostrava – Svinov, October 2016

Ostrava – Svinov, October 2016

Ostrava – Vitkovice, October 2016

Ostrava – Privoz, October 2016
Ostrava – Svinov, October 2016

P.

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