yesterday a brief discussion came up under "student work/workshops" that i thought might be interesting to bring up right here….herve brought it up, after seeing my India student essays,  with regard to what he described as a "trend" by workshop students in particular and many photographers in general to photograph what he described as "incomplete" or "not quite" photographs….photographs which could possibly require just too too much imagination on the viewers part…not enough "explanation" perhaps….

simply put, probably most would say the above picture to be rather "incomplete" and the photograph below sufficiently "straight"….or not??? i only use these two since i made them last week and they happen to be in my camera this minute and i promised herve this discussion…and i am either too lazy or too jetlagged or both to go searching for surely  better examples….

in any case, my answer back to herve’s comment  was that i thought that what we are seeing today among serious photographers  is not what i would call a "trend" , but simply our evolution in seeing…artistic evolution/revolution  based on our intractable human nature and our most basic and eternal deepest desire to just "shake it up" .. my theory is that tastes obviously change from one generation to the next, or there are parallel and perhaps conflictive artistic developments within the same time frame…in any case, this is not a new discussion…but, we have not had it here….

so i ask you… you see a "trend" towards the non-literal in documentary photography???  if you answer "yes", do you think this is a positive or negative trend? if you say "no", do you see the positive  "norm" for photographs to be getting looser and looser with no end in sight ??




274 Responses to “incomplete…”

  • this is a good subject…I think there is definitely a trend in images outside of the box or “open” being made and being excepted…I can only imagine this trend to grow as well, due to the evolution of technology…if you think about it many people can now make pretty good “closed” images, literal images, with a DSLR and even a point-and-shoot for that matter…I think it is a reaction to the popularity of images, good images, and good cameras…


    ps…David, if you get the chance to check out my images after your recovery from being homeless and workshops that would be great…also your always welcome in Tucson! its nice and sunny : )

  • CHRIS…

    i did a few reviews today and will do more tomorrow…i will try to do yours….nice and sunny in tucson sounds pretty good….i think you are right about digi changing aesthetics for many many reasons…tech always changes more than just tech…

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Great question!

    Williams Zinser, author of ‘On Writing Well’ sums up the principles of writing in a section of his book. And I’ve always thought Zinser’s description of the craft of writing to be closely associated with photography in this regard.

    Here’s an apt metaphor for anyone (I think) who’s trying to ply her craft. Substitute the word ‘writing’ for the word ‘photography’ in
    this passage from his book:

    “The point is that you have to strip your writing down before you can build it back up. You must know what the essential tools are and what job they were designed to do. Extending the metaphor of carpentry, it’s first necessary to be able to saw wood neatly and to drive nails. Later you can bevel the edges or add elegant finials, if that’s your taste. But you can never forget that you are practicing a craft that’s based on certain principles. If the nails are weak, your house will collapse. If your verbs are weak and your syntax is rickety, your sentences will fall apart.

    I’ll admit that certain nonfiction writers, like Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer, have built some remarkable houses. But these are writers who spent years learning their craft, and when at last they raised their fanciful turrets and hanging gardens, to the surprise of all of us who never dreamed of such ornamentation, they knew what they were doing. Nobody becomes Tom Wolfe overnight, not even Tom Wolfe.” — William Zinser

    From my point of view, no one can be David Alan Harvey overnight. And I take very seriously Zinser’s advice in the same chapter as this passage “to take satisfaction in the plain strength” of my writing AND my photography.

    There’s nothing wrong with shooting loose, but we should all understand that it’s not enough (over time) if you can’t first make a photograph that stands on its own — solid and sturdy.

  • Love that Herve brought this up. I tend to agree.

    I will say that with the advent of digital, with more and more to see online; more and more people get to see more and more styles. Styles that were not easily available for viewing in the past. And if Magnum and VII and Geographic are publishing or promoting particular “looks,” human nature will dictate that some form of copying or experimental borrowing of ideas will occur. Nothing sinister here just trends.

    The images in your first round of essays–the ones for the stipend–well, they do sort of go together…mostly. That may be because of your tastes, meaning they bubbled to the surface and your eye comfortably settled upon them or there was an overabundance of this “incomplete” style due to who you are and therefore who–again, mostly–is attracted to you and this site.

    Whew, I’m not sure any of that is making sense, and I expect there may be some need for clarification…but yes I think I do see a trend. But, no I don’t think it is bad. But I’ve personally grown a little bored with it. Like certain styles of popular music…some grows on you, some just grows tired.

  • Welcome back David. Waiting to hear your take on India!

    Yes, it’s a trend. Personally I don’t care for a lot of it…I’m a lot straighter than most, but you can’t stop progress and I do think it’s ineitable. To expand on what Chris said, once you get the basics you want to keep going… finding new ways to express yourself and push the boundaries.

    My take on it is that a lot of these types of images are good “exercises,” something you would see in a slide show from a photo workshop (as we have seen from yours) but not a “finished product.” Incomplete was a good word choice by Herve.

    An analogy that comes to mind is the work that is done is a ballet class vs a ballet performance…they are not the same thing.

    Stretch yourself in a workshop (or on your own) but then go out and use elements of your “exercise” in a “finished” image that is a bit more “clear”…for lack of better words.

  • ps Inevitable is what I meant to write.

    I love how two others were posting at the same time I did, saying similar things.

    Glad to have you back inspiring such great conversations!

  • Perhaps the incomplete style can be a bit grating because fundamentaly a lot of it is derivative of someone elses work , and the imediacy of the media climate today is such that any influence or trend is replicated at great speed?
    I say Yes to Daves question , but you better be able to pull it off intelectually otherwise it’s just a picture of half a guys head.

  • Part of a photograph’s power derives from what happens offstage–what is referenced in the frame but not seen. Photographers are always looking for unique perspectives and views. It’s somewhat strange to see a person’s head chopped off in a picture. If you leave the head on, you might be left with just a snapshot.

  • Yes, it seems going less literal. At least if anybody here saw The Genius of Photography, it really looks like the approach can be quite oblique in some cases. I find it sort of novelty and I don’t see why different approaches shouldn’t coexist. I would get very bored if everything suddenly was only large format colour work or only blurry grainy 35mm black and white.

  • I agree Preston , like I said “You better be able to pull it off!!” , otherwise is it copying? do you slavishly imitate ? All I’m sayin is that a lot of the pictures I see being served up lateley – I’ve seen before!

  • Hi David,

    Ive been away for a long time on vacation and so had no time to write.

    I personally like this \, to me it suggests that the photo isnt just a self contained world, cut out of reality by the borders of the frame but rather something small of a larger whole. It technically ends at the borders but we can imagine it spilling out beyond. Ofcourse theres a change from generation to generation, and thats good! While I love past work of masters like Klein or HCB I think there needs to be a new idea once in a while to refresh everything. It doesnt mean that we abandon all thats come before but it means we just step back, build upon whats come before but forge new ground.

    We talked about the seer volume of photographs these days. Just check out Flickr. And you said you like that because the more photos there are the more good photos. You have to realize that the vast majority of new photogs are ones who havent gone through the kind of training that you older guys have. Infact we are figuring things out for ourelves, learning from books and from the web…and I think that has the potential for many new styles and trends to come out of it….most will be shit and crap but some will be brilliant.

  • I’ve been reading this blog for a few weeks and have enjoyed the discussions–I haven’t participated yet but I’ll just plunge in on this one. I like the “incompletes” alot–they are like “nano images”–just a small part of a story. When I look at them, there is a tension there that drives the imagination. Thanks for lots of interesting discussions.

  • Flickrization perhaps?

    I’m on a proposal deadline tonight but will comment further later.

    Over and out.

  • There have been a number of trends since, for instance, HCB’s day: 50mm to 35mm, b&w to color, whole to incomplete. With each new trend, editors and art directors seem to like the snap that the new trend has.

    I like the closer up incomplete shots to some extent, especially to convey that sense of seeing something fleeting or fleetingly.

    What is kind of cool is that with the advent of the smaller sensor in digital cameras, you can get the “snap” of the wider angle lens, but still get the field of view of the longer lens.

    BTW, I’m still making changes on my site, and I am excited by how things are looking, in case anyone is interested.

    Kinda nice knowing David is back relatively where he belongs.

    C’est tout

  • Literal/non-literal. At first I thought you going to approach the subject of students trying to shoot like their teachers, then I got to the part where you said the pix were yours.

    I think it’s a trend, actually I HOPE it’s a trend, to create more oblique, less literal photographs, even in “documentary” environments. The more I look at pictures the more I believe that a single image is mute, or at least a blank slate for our interpretation, assumptions, and biases. What do we learn, what can we learn from a single image on the front page of The New York Times, in Time magazine, or in the National Geographic if the photo in question is stripped of its caption?

    Even a well-designed picture story really only provides clues to the events at play within the frames. And of course none of those pictures provide any real clues about what was taking place beyond the frame.

    I’m all for more oblique, more puzzling, more opaque imagery. Make people better readers of photography. We’ve been living in an image-based world for how long now? And people still believe that photographs represent objective truth. Don’t promise an easy answer, raise a question.

  • Sean Cayton’s Zinser analogy is excellent. Charles Harbutt used to hold photo workshops that essentially followed Zinser’s model. He forced students day by day to break photography down to its basic elements, then rebuild it as something new and, ultimately, personal.

    Maybe Paul Treacy has a joke up his sleeve, but until then, what’s Flickr got to do with it?

  • “do you see a “trend” towards the non-literal in documentary photography?”

    No, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a truly literal photograph. Even a straight portrait against a monochromatic background can be interpreted many ways by different viewers. Are any photographs truly literal or factual depictions of reality?

  • Herve, Chris, Cathy, Michael K, Sean, Glenn, Rob, Preston, Rafal etc etc

    Finally, another interesting discussion has again crystallized on this forum after a long dry spell! And I find myself agreeing with things that each of you has said. Rather than be redundant, I’d say just go back and read what other people have written so far…

    Except for one possible aside at this point… yes, looser, more opened up, more cryptic, more fragmentary, more ‘stylized’ are all certainly trends and a reaction to the almost ridiculous ease with which the great multitudes can now take ‘technically’ good but rather literal pictures. But there are still vast areas of more traditional photographic styles and approaches that I don’t think have been by any means exhausted or even fully explored. One of the inevitable tyrannies of the young is to think their own current revolution is the only revolution, or that what is new is necessarily better than what is old. Sound curmudgeonly? I’m thinking in particular of two very, very literal photographs with complex but classical compositions and everything in focus and everything in the frame that transcend just about anything else I’ve ever seen in photography. One is a photo by Ruth Orkin of a young woman walking briskly down a sidewalk in Rome with maybe thirty or more Italian men oggling her, mocking her, joking among themselves about her, trying to get her attention. The other is by Jeff Wall, and it’s a modern recreation of a famous Japanese woodblock print by Hokusai reset in the wastelands of suburban Vancouver where a guy with a pony tail but in business drag has his briefcase opened by the wind and papers and documents are being strewn across the marshes. You could imagine and write an entire novel from either of these photos. So ‘literal’, ‘complete’, ‘in focus’ or ‘classically composed’ does not have to mean that imagination and viewer participation are stifled. Yes, this is a dissenting opinion. But I too like the newer, looser, more fragmentary, blurred stuff when it works and when it resonates. But face it, a lot of it doesn’t… it looks like someone is trying to look like Dave Harvey and not quite bringing it off.


  • Frankly, I don’t think those images up there are any good. They don’t do anything for me. They neither entertain nor challenge me. Next?

  • Paul,

    Love the Victoria’s Secret shot!

  • When I hear “incomplete,” I get a negative connotation… the picture doesn’t work because something is missing. But, to me, every photograph is incomplete, there is always something left unseen, either squashed in the compression of dimensions or left outside the frame. Sometimes, when a photographer leaves out something intentionally, against my expectations, I see it more as an elision, a device that can at once stress what’s missing (through its absence) and force me to look closer at what is there. In the photo above, I don’t see the man’s face (expectation) but I do see a gestural moment between the man and the dog, there is a rhythm and and neat mirroring (chiasmus) in the position of their limbs, and they’re both wearing black “coats!”… I don’t see this as loose shooting or incomplete, but rather a very tightly observed moment.

    I do think that images or photography is evolving very quickly, but I’ve also noticed another trend: a rekindled appreciation for documentary photography of 30 years ago. Susan Meiselas “Carnival Strippers”, Bill Burke “I Want To Take Picture”, Henry Wessel, the Kalvar book, some examples… all newly or back in print!

  • Wow, absolutely brilliant, honest words from everyone above, I even sense some of us are both very open-minded, yet still ask that there must be meaning at the end of it all.

    For me, It just can’t be for the sake of doing things differently, or refreshing a craft (why? When yourself, David, says when visiting people’s home, you are more taken over by the (family) snapshots pinned on the fridge or around the house). That, refreshing a craft, would be the result of taking shots a certain way, not the reason beforehand. I mean, ultimately, someone else, the viewer, the public if you want (all who see in this world), will find relevance in it, it’s not enough that the shooter, a bunch of bloggers, or even a whole photo agency, decree a new way of “seeing”. I mean, maybe, but we’ll… see.

    I am also not sure that way of “seeing” is so new. Many photographers, famous ones, have pursued that unachieveness in part of their craft, if not whole, that time and space ended not frozen (shot), but suspended, thrown as it is at the viewer. early Lartigue, or even Cartier-Bresson, whose decisive moments were often quite undecisive, narratively. Not to speak of cut limbs and rules broken as to the manner born, (even tinkering with the negative to challenge even seeing, just as Cage tinkered with the piano to challenge hearing), etc…. Here, though, geniuses as they were, meaning is unmistakable.

    I am also afraid that instead of bringing a superb new blooming trend in photography, one just ends up monkeying MTV video type techniques and gimmicks, blurred, tilted, fast moving, super-short sequences, and etc… gee, we are even 25 years late on that account, no? And when you can pack up 30 such shots in one second of video, why pretend that one shot taken skewingly beats it all, when it probably would be unnoticeable in the 30 shots/sec of a video? Just asking…

    My good friend Chris lent me the “9 days in the Kingdom” book. Well, here, I find them shots all too literal, very old way of seeing, nothing wrong with it, but much unexciting this time around, even a lot of expected, almost cliche-ed or hackneyed subjects (Nachtwey in the aids temple, ah but of course!). Where is the new way of seeing there, as in most of the glossy books lined up next to it in the stores (Mc Curry, Follmi, Bertrand, etc, all in “9 days” BTW…). My point has 2 sides: can we see anew one day (your pix above), and see as before, another day (your shot of the katoey in the girlie bar in “9 days”)? What are the chances that someone finds relevance or strength of vision in your 2 shots above, and the likes of it, if his name is Joe Schmuk (or Herve, aha) and not DAH? Yet, they seem much less about the person who took them, and more about the possible new way of seeing by us all. Paradox, until we accept that you have dedicated your life to have the right, the craft and the authority to create photography anew, and that this will show to be built on a solid foundation and body of work that eschews all gratuitousness.

    Because of that, I dare think that the very same 100% alike, “new seeing” shot, if taken by the both of us, are actually very different from each other, in the public eye, the profession’s eye, and in its relevance. No shot is an island? :-)


    Doesn’t it all come back to shoot as we want, see old, see new, but make sure we mean it to be exactly that we wish it to be, and that it reflects more than an idea of, more than a difference from, but coming from your very heart, or your guts. Then, a classic or a clean slate from the tradition, matter very little. As Asher implies so well, we’ve been arguing ever since Niepce about the literalness of photography or not. And indeed, it is an argument about what is seeing, too.

  • Thank David for picking our brains.

    I can understand this ‘incomplete’ style could be interpreted a trend. Photography is growing as it has never been before on both sides of the camera. All sort of styles of images is easy to produce and share. The non-literal pictures are more and more available to view in the pool of million images.

    Personally, they are more provoking than the ‘complete’ style. Did someone say a good image asked questions not answered ones? And people are more literate about it. That is a good thing that we are seeing the content of the photographs not just the aesthetics of them.

    I hope I am making sense here.

  • Thank David for picking our brains.

    I can understand this ‘incomplete’ style could be interpreted a trend. Photography is growing as it has never been before on both sides of the camera. All sort of styles of images is easy to produce and share. The non-literal pictures are more and more available to view in the pool of million images.

    Personally, they are more provoking than the ‘complete’ style. Did someone say a good image asked questions not answered ones? And people are more literate about it. That is a good thing that we are seeing the content of the photographs not just the aesthetics of them.

    I hope I am making sense here.

  • Thank David for picking our brains.

    I can understand this ‘incomplete’ style could be interpreted a trend. Photography is growing as it has never been before on both sides of the camera. All sort of styles of images is easy to produce and share. The non-literal pictures are more and more available to view in the pool of million images.

    Personally, they are more provoking than the ‘complete’ style. Did someone say a good image asked questions not answered ones? And people are more literate about it. That is a good thing that we are seeing the content of the photographs not just the aesthetics of them.

    I hope I am making sense here.

  • Thank David for picking our brains.

    I can understand this ‘incomplete’ style could be interpreted a trend. Photography is growing as it has never been before on both sides of the camera. All sort of styles of images is easy to produce and share. The non-literal pictures are more and more available to view in the pool of million images.

    Personally, they are more provoking than the ‘complete’ style. Did someone say a good image asked questions not answered ones? And people are more literate about it. That is a good thing that we are seeing the content of the photographs not just the aesthetics of them.

    I hope I am making sense here.

  • Thank David for picking our brains.

    I can understand this ‘incomplete’ style could be interpreted a trend. Photography is growing as it has never been before on both sides of the camera. All sort of styles of images is easy to produce and share. The non-literal pictures are more and more available to view in the pool of million images.

    Personally, they are more provoking than the ‘complete’ style. Did someone say a good image asked questions not answered ones? And people are more literate about it. That is a good thing that we are seeing the content of the photographs not just the aesthetics of them.

    I hope I am making sense here.

  • DAVID A H or MUHAMMAD or BUDDHA or M.GANDHI or JACK NICHOLSON… would agree!…., and also,…ask:

    “…so i ask you… you see a “trend” towards the non-literal in documentary photography??? if you answer “yes”, do you think this is a positive or negative trend? if you say “no”, do you see the positive “norm” for photographs to be getting looser and looser with no end in sight ??…


    …The poor (or “rich” guy ), i mean DAH even gave you the answer… ???!!!!
    my… (not really, that!!!, idiots-except Joni K. & of course couple more)…….( BobB please interfere… here.. i beg you…!)

    First of all, DAVID… your good friend ( or ,…who gives a shit!) , Paolo P.,
    said that he prefers the “unfinished pictures”…,o.k, all he wanted to say is that his photos … are cool,… or , the “coolest” out there, regarding …” war-danger involved” documentary work…

    the answer to DAH’s question …is “NO”… but….ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE… THE LOOSER AND LOOSER AND LOOSER AND LOOSER… hold on… , i’m rollin g a joint… right now… my “bong” ,from venice is broken,… hold on…
    …LOOSER and LOOSER…. to infinity… as the new M8 Leica upgrade… suggests… but who gives a shit about ” white balance ” perfection…
    You still need the “false” feeling … biatchhhh… or your lies are as….. as the….

    welcome … to almost… 3000 idiots!!!!!!!
    I’m tired… really tired … from allllll of you…
    “Wrobert, Alkos, , Giancarlo , JoniK , and many more friends out there ready to turn shit upside down.. even the little bitch ..”Marcin or alias”…are welcome…
    I see you all as the “evolution”…., i dont know about that ” revolution thing…” but why not…???

    So, as always… “NO”…, positively NOT…

    peace out


  • I agree with you on ‘9 Days in the Kingdom’, Herve. I believe that the photo editors are very old school. But that fits the aim of the book. You can even feel the bureaucracy in it.

  • I agree with you on ‘9 Days in the Kingdom’, Herve. I believe that the photo editors are very old school. But that fits the aim of the book. You can even feel the bureaucracy in it.

  • I agree with you on ‘9 Days in the Kingdom’, Herve. I believe that the photo editors are very old school. But that fits the aim of the book. You can even feel the bureaucracy in it.

  • I agree with you on ‘9 Days in the Kingdom’, Herve. I believe that the photo editors are very old school. But that fits the aim of the book. You can even feel the bureaucracy in it.

  • I agree with you on ‘9 Days in the Kingdom’, Herve. I believe that the photo editors are very old school. But that fits the aim of the book. You can even feel the bureaucracy in it.

  • I understood absolutely nothing of what Panos said….All I got was someting about M8 WB problems which Im sure will bring up the memories of a certain french guy David met in Seoul with those very problems. Any word from our friend, David?

    I didnt realize the two photos were yours David, just saw that. I like the first, I think its a good example of what you are trying to say. Not a fan of the 2nd, I wouldnt say thats a good example of this style of shooting.

  • and when i say “IDIOTS”, i’m happy to admit…
    … that i really MEAN IT….”

    … but:….. “Wrongbert , Alkos, , Giancarlo , JoniK , and many more friends out there ready to turn shit upside down.. even the little bitch ..”Marcin or alias”…are welcome…

    i believe in you guys( above mentioned!)…. i do….

  • Nope, still nothing Panos……

  • “coming from your very heart, or your gut”

    you hit the bullseye, herve.

    i hone in. it’s how i see. how i intuitively interact w/ the subject. if i were forced to make pictures differently, it’d be insincere.

    that said, there’s a whole slew of others who navigate with the opposite tack. that’s what makes this so interesting.


    “..Nope, still nothing Panos……

    Posted by: Rafal Pruszynski | January 31, 2008 at 02:13 AM”

    … RAFAAAAAAL , once again… welcome back from your vacations… i can’t believe you even admit it…

    , and now… once again… really, once again:” go DO yourself”…

    did you read what i said you “UNINSPIRED LITTLE SPIDER…?… back from vacations… my ass!…
    …back from the “therapist” you mean,… biatch !


    “…Any word from our friend, David?



  • …I have to admit though… that i agree with little rafaaaal, and i vote the first photo as my favorite….

  • ;-)

    The title of this blog suits Panos’ stream of conciousness quite nicely…

    Looser looser looser…

    If I am ever in LA I am going to have to do rush hour with him, just to see how he does it.


  • I think you can be discriptive in a loose way, Nan Golden, Eggleston, Winnograd, Frank, and the list goes on…and I dont think its due to photography being any easier because of the digi revolution, but thats not to say I like digital photography, I dont. I think peole just want to be noted for something different, or unique and there are a lot of folks out there who just point their cameras in a really boring way. A hell of a lot of people. also there are boat loads of people with cameras that all produce a homoginized style of photography, and when people constantly tilt their cameras and try and add a sense of mystery or magic with cheap tricks, I think its just a product of that homoginization.
    I personally do not own a digital camera. so there. not even cell phone camera. I dont like them. I think they remove your own personal touch and your work just ends up looking like all the other useless mugs out there who do not understand how to use a film camera.
    so go ahead robots, go buy your stamped out cameras and tilt them in the most bizarre ways, or shoot them dead-pan style, or what ever cliche it is…who cares, the hungry suckers just lap it up anyway.

  • Quick question, here and on the other blog:

    Are any of those that post here headed for the Olso workshop?


  • FUCK!!

    sandwiched between Liams useless comments..

  • i think photos are meaningful because they resonate with the viewer and if you look at people’s photos you can learn a lot about the people who took them. before i look at a photo i ask why did the photographer take it and what is he trying to say? the back of the guy with the front of the dog in the photo above mean/say nothing to me but to the guy and his dog it may be a tender moment and end up in the family photo album. it does have a certain stylistic approach, to me seems trendy and that’s well….that’s up to the viewer. but phots that are able to elicit an emotional response from many viewers, that is, reflect a common sentiment among a vast number of people are the ones that live on after the polyester fades. to me it’s the emotional component and not the stlye.

  • Trend? For who? We seem to be forgetting history only to focus on our generation as the most pivotal time. I would agree that a ‘personal’ evolution of seeing and enjoying.

    I know plenty of photography enthusiasts who started liking the literal photographs and as they explored more they slowly moved into the blurry, abstract photographs. I also know many friends who went the opposite way and there are those who are totally loose and open to just settle on anything as long as it fits their eye.

    These are just pictures. Something to see. It’s like sitting on a train and looking out the window. If you like the pictures when the train stopped or when it’s moving you look when you want and when your eye is engaged.

    There are no rules. There can’t be rules.

  • Rene…yes, there are no “rules.” But there are styles. And as in any art form they come and go. They are critiqued and discussed and trashed and praised and copied and ignored… Trends sometimes do occur.

  • Aritstole wrote:

    “A mistake enriches the mere truth once you see it as that…”

    “Ask the eye to see its own eyelashes…”-Chinese Proverb….

    It’s a terrific discussion and Herve’s question, or assertion, raised under the India Workshop post is a challenging one and one that seems to come up often, particularly around those prides of photographers whose work can, for lack of nuance, described as “documentary/journalistic/reporting”. I’d wanted to weigh in there, but was distracted the last 2 days: that’d be spending quality time with Mrs. B and Mr. B jr. :))…

    Much of my own sentiments and perspective can be chewed upon above, and I feel very close to what many of the other folks have written above, so if I can on a just-begun nibble of morning tea, try to turn the general-philosophic into the specific personal with regard to incompleteness and the life of an image….

    I am incomplete and as a photographer, let alone a person, this has been the star around which my entire work and idea and balance has pivoted. You see, I am blind, legally and literally blind. I have written extensively about this at LS and other places and working through this in a book at the moment, but it has defined me as person, for good and ill, and acutely demarks the celestial navigation by which I seem to speak upon things, the swaying and the shiftin, with my photographs. I cannot see in my right eye and i have absolutely no (obviously) peripheral vision and my depth perception also is challengingly reduced, though I’ve learned to adapt, first by using cues and marks and signs (thank you Barthes and my high school driving teacher) to negotiation first sports and then driving girls to a park for beer and kisses and later painting and photography. You see, I actively must work in order to see, particularly all that which passes upon the arc and wall of my sleepy, dark right-hemisphere….but i digress…

    It’s interesting to me, having come from a background in poetry and painting, that photography and photographers often still seem content to ghettoize, categorize their particular form of art and story-telling. Having “trained” as a painter, the notion that a particular “form” of expression represents a devaluation of expression, or that a particular style or focus or aesthetic or principle represents an unholly blanket on the art itself seems ridiculously pedestrian. Which is not to say that certain aesthetics and morals and styles and notions aren’t rejected, cursed upon in other art forms: those madmen and madwomen the Impressionists were villified, and not how quaint their paintings seem to my son, cubists, fauvist, realists, dadaist, supremists, expressionists, neo/geo/con/pro/no/go…HEY HO, LET’S GO!…all, without termdity, scaled the arch of our human telling…and just 2 days ago, i posted at LS a reference to John Cage’s extraordinary and magnificent (and one of the most important artistic songs that’s impacted my own life) 4′ 33″..and had a bit of both the chill and the laughter to see what came about from it…

    The truth is that photography is simply another language, a language, increasingly, more people feel comfortable to swing and tingle, to scan out against the maddening ways and negotiated days of their lives. In truth, the grammar and sytax of language is actually a deeply individual and spiritual orientation, and so do how we negotiate things with images. That, very often, photography remains disdainful of the “questioning” of the image, of the story, of the moment, of the form is just another indication to me how young it still really is. All images are incomplete and yet, because of the very specific and special properties of a specific kind of photography (documentary), we tend to see any rendering or subterfuge as a weekness or a copying, a mimicing or a laziness. The truth is the camera is an apperatus through which we, initially, believe could complete our own visual and sensorial incompleteness. The camera allowed us to stop time, to arrange the environment in such a way that we and others (viewers) could “understand” the story, the moment, the people the place inside that frame….the lie upon which we’ve learned much, indeed…

    but, we’ve come to understand that this “sophisticated” understanding is just as deceitful. We’ve learned to trust less, we’ve learned that story has often less to do then what is in front of the eye, but the environment around which the eye and all it records clashes and rashes. The collision, the encircling of things, mediated but not defined by the point of focus, at that moment, ourselves. Think for a moment how we “see” when we walk. We “sense” we take in the entire world, all that collides, and this becomes our negotiation, but in truth, we’re selective, simply because the orbit of our eye is limited: WE SEE ONLY WHAT IT IS WE SEE, and that is usually only that is directly within our sight patterns…thust the “traditional” framing is that which mimics, in truth, the subjectivity of our own wandering, but this is not the seeing of all things, or the seeing of a story at all…

    for many, as Preston pointed out, what happened off frame, away from the camera, just out of reach is infact just as interesting: in fact, On-camera events can often be made more tense by that which it suggests is occuring off camera, and vice versa: so that what we see is just a portal toward that and those events which take place out of the camera’s frame. I’ll give u an example. my first photo on David’s new website is a close up picture of a girl listening to her friend tell a very sad and dramatic story about her mother. She (the story teller) started to cry, intensely, about canada, korea, stress, trying to help her mom. Her friend’s reaction (the woman i photographed) started to change and in that expression of her eyes, came (for me) the more interesting challenge: though that 1st portrait is a photo of a particular woman, it is in truth also a portrait of the girl who is not in the frame…is this obvious to the viewer, probably not, and it’s not important either, for that photo is my story and was my photo for both those girls, a rhyming of things…that the viewer has to work more has never been a condemnation, for 9at least for me) i like to be challenged by things: stories, novels, poems, photos, moments, drama: im a hungering person who doesnt want to be told something, but suggest to look instead…

    and the technology of the cameras and the negotiation of this has changed our predilection for imagery…just as certain aesthetics/principles (look at the trend/obsession with hyper realistic images, pointed lighting, intense closeups (dusseldorf school), grainy, out-of-focus, med format, holga, film obsession, digital obsession, crisper lenses, plastic lenses…each time one things of a new “trend” one quickly realizes that there is not one, that in truth is an alphabet of appetities….

    let the camera be a part of your body, like the swaying of breath….

    for the language by which we choose to speak and spell out things will be understood and not understood anyway…that yes, in the end, any style, whether it’s the truncated limbs we see now (give me Ackerman’s reaching arms and Paolo P’s cloven shoulders anyday) or the backs of heads, or the unframmed framed, in the end, for me it doesn’t matter, it’s still a question of this:

    do the photographs compell, challenge, speak upon something that stirs….

    i am incomplete…i see very differently, i struggle with the darkness that makes up the entirety of the right hemisphere of my life and in that negotiation arrives an algebra, a morphology and syntax of expression…

    let people copy, let others denude, it’s a part of us all…

    I photograph, myself, in the only way i know how: to as best as i can, speak with the language that seems to mine, a language that bits and unstucks in others trapped-roof-mouths as well…

    that we purport to speak of moments is quite, either, heroic or foolish and deluded, and this too is a result…let cameras lift and dilt the way our gait lifts and dilts: those, to me, pictures often look more real to the shadows and broken limbs and incomplete faces that cross the lens of my own seeing and unseeing world….

    to negotiate sight from blindness, this is our human aim, and while it shall never become complete, it is, for each of us, our efforts toward sight that lend that incompleteness its rich and varying completeness…

    i can hope that i can see…


  • I do think there are definite, fundamental rules: Make the picture undeniable. Have a point. Don’t bore. Transgressible, sure, but then… why?

  • @Panos: get that bong fixed soon so we can understand your writing :o)

    @wrobertangell: “I think you can be discriptive in a loose way, Nan Golden, Eggleston, Winnograd, Frank, and the list goes on…”

    … damn, that’s a hell of a list already…

  • I hate to write when I’m rushed as I did in the previous post. Michael, I think I do understand what you’re saying. I said, Trends? For whom? For Hard Core Photography Flickerites? For Magnumites? For Army Core engineers? For Taipei publishers? There are countless microcosms.

  • Panos,

    you have a photo of a guy beating his woman. Heres my question: do you feel like the tiniest little coward? I ask this because instead of helping her you hid like a little chickensh… and did nothing?

  • @Bob Black – Alphabet of apetites! Precisely!

  • Hi David,
    Its a tough question whether this trend is better or not good…….its a must for any creative work to do something new, to experiment, to describe the same thing in a different manner………
    The world is changing fast in every aspect………may be it a digital technology, may be it the a culture, lifestyle of a nation, may be it the environment of the world……….
    So the passion or emotion of the photographers must undergone a change in his deep inner core area……

    BUT every new works are not good and every old works are not bad either……The evaluation will done in due course……so by standing in this present scenario it is difficult to make a decision that “trend” towards the non-literal in documentary photography??? is good or bad……..time will decide who will remain and who will wash out…….

  • Well, I am not sure that this so called “trend” is a brand new way of doing in the world of photography, many photographs have been taken this way and way before the digital era… Maybe big names started showing up with the style, people get inspired and start shooting the same way, this is why we might call it a “trend”, something seasonal maybe… Like a sleeping way of framing which come back for time to time… Same could apply to strobists and so on…

  • Rene :))))…indeed, indeed! :))


  • ps.:

    everyone, remember Moiyama’s Shashin yo Sayonara (Bye, Bye, Photography)….a book composes almost entirely of Incompleteness (beginning and ending of film rolls)…

    one of the books that helped me realize I wasnt a freak ;))))

  • Hi David,

    This is an interesting discussion but I don’t think it’s that complicated. I think it comes down to purpose and intent. If you’re doing a shoot for NatGeo, as a professional, you will tend to be more literal because NatGeo has a broad range of readers, many who have never heard of HCB or Capa or even DAH. And you work is going to be tightly married to a story. So you’re not going to submit a bunch of “artistic” photographs that are part of some experiment that attempts to take a cubist approach to photography.

    On the flip side if you’re shooting for yourself, or if you have a client who has given you such license, then you experiment and play, you try new angles, and lack of focus and “incomplete” photographs.

    I think the digital age has given a generation the license to be more trendy. More hip. “Screw the old dudes, just click man.” To take a thousand pictures and see what “sticks”.

    Personally as a digital shooter, I get more satisfying photography when I lean back on the “rules” of photography. The tried and true methods and foundation. When I find that my pictures suck, I stop and go back to the basics.

    -Just my 2 cents.

    PS: I have to say it’s easier to read this blog and communicate with others when there is no crazy rambling or psuedo-personal attacks. I would really like if this did not turn into the 10-million-other-forums on the internet.


  • all i was saying Joni is that if you see Paolo Pellegrin’s essays for example you will notice a brand new way of “seeing” things outside of the box, beyond trends or “finished”, “closed” styles…
    Things are getting looser because of a few artists that break barriers… i dont even believe that they see any barriers in the first place…

    … by the way.. hopefully the “bong” should be replaced tonite…

    RAFAL ,STARTS A NEW AMAZING TOPIC THOUGH… look what he posted below:


    you have a photo of a guy beating his woman. Heres my question: do you feel like the tiniest little coward? I ask this because instead of helping her you hid like a little chickensh… and did nothing?

    Posted by: Rafal Pruszynski | January 31, 2008 at 09:10 AM…”

    David what would you do… in a violent situation???????
    Thanks again Rafal for the topic… i know that we discussing something completely different at this point… but i think that this time, Rafal asks a great question… aaaalthough, Rafal you dont really know what my reaction was right after i clicked that particular “domestic violence” photo.. you mentioned above…

    … now according to the dictionary:

    Urban Dictionary: looser definition:
    …looser idiot bitch geek nerd retard fag stupid loser noob failure poser asshole dork dumbass fool homo lame lazy moron queer wanker cunt dickhead emo fat … – 24k – Cached – Similar pages…

    so since we defined the word LOOSER, i’m going back to LIAM
    LYNCH’S comment about me above:

    LIAM L. SAID TO panos:

    “…The title of this blog suits Panos’ stream of conciousness quite nicely…

    Looser looser looser…

    If I am ever in LA I am going to have to do rush hour with him, just to see how he does it.


    Posted by: Liam Lynch | January 31, 2008 at 04:12 AM…”

    So, LIAM just decides to attack with a bunch of insults…
    One thing for you little lamp…. i mean little-LIAM…
    GO FUCK YOURSELF… stick your head in your ass, do something…
    Rafal above placed a new topic… Get involved , give us an answer…
    Dont insult people before you even read their comments…
    Get a little loose or should i say LOOSER…????
    just to use some of your words???
    so be a nice kid, finish your milk and dont mess with bigger dogs especially if you are not willing to fight… little bully!

    Now back to Rafal’s question: “People what would you do if you find yourself in a “violent” scene… or situation… Do you get involved to the point of a resolution…?????????

    “…i posted at LS a reference to John Cage’s extraordinary and magnificent (and one of the most important artistic songs that’s impacted my own life) 4′ 33″..and had a bit of both the chill and the laughter to see what came about from it…”

    from wiki:”…Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, the three movements of which are performed without a single note being played. Although 4′33″ in fact consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed,[5] it is frequently erroneously perceived as four minutes, thirty three seconds of silence[6] and has become one of the most controversial compositions of the century. Another famous creation of Cage’s is the prepared piano (a piano with its sound altered by placing various objects in the strings), for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a few concert pieces, the most well-known of which is Sonatas and Interludes (1946–48).[7]…”

  • RE What Should Be Obvious: This isn’t some freewheeling internet slapfest. This is David Alan Harvey’s virtual living room. One should conduct one’s self accordingly.

  • @Sherman – It’s all fine and dandy but photographers were doing all of this way before digital era or before I was even born. That’s why I question whether we’re not a little narrowminded here.

  • also SIDNEY makes sense here:

    “…But I too like the newer, looser, more fragmentary, blurred stuff when it works and when it resonates. But face it, a lot of it doesn’t… it looks like someone is trying to look like Dave Harvey and not quite bringing it off.


    Posted by: Sidney Atkins | January 31, 2008 at 12:03 AM

    ASHER makes me think:
    …”do you see a “trend” towards the non-literal in documentary photography?”

    No, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a truly literal photograph. Even a straight portrait against a monochromatic background can be interpreted many ways by different viewers. Are any photographs truly literal or factual depictions of reality?

    Posted by: asher | January 30, 2008 at 11:49 PM

    … i think we evolve… soon all those magazines promoting the old fashioned way… safe way to look at things.. will eventually die along with their subscribers…
    I also see it in my work too… some cliches, some “magnum” stuff, some “natgeo” stuff, some “leica” stuff… bullshit… i need to get looser and looser and way looser… otherwise i will die like ELVIS, constipated, in my own bathroom.. with an issue of “natgeo” in my hands!…
    What a sad picture…
    Hey. lets all enLIGHTEN UP…
    Good morning from L.A

  • About what to do when a guy beats a girl, over here at least keep on moving. A couple of times I’ve said something and both have threatened me, which I hope that at least gives them a common enemy. But really not worth getting into those things. Keep on moving is a mantra.

    @Panos: yeah, when you see a bunch of bits you’re closer to the whole. Nothing wrong with that. There’re no rules or anything in photogrpahy, so you can do what the fuck you want, but it’s nicer if you’re not the only one to get the joke.

  • bring on loose!! when it’s well executed there’s nothing better than loose, artistic, telling, viewpoint, lyricism… ‘evolution’ is the key word here.. to think that images are ‘objective’ anyway is a joke.. so why not use your inherent subjectivity to make something interesting yet still telling? BUT, i think the key is that is has to be well executed.. but we’re all evolving anyway, right? some better than others.. some are born with it, some aren’t.. anyway, thank god for evolution… ha!

    running like a bob black… lance

  • Looser: more loose. As in not tight.

    Loser: someone who loses a lot. Slang insult.

  • Sometimes an incomplete images leaves more to the viewer to fill in and discover.

    Our experience with looking at images is changing rapidly due to the big amount of visual information we are looking at daily, so more people are able to decode complexer and more ambiguous images.

    Maybe the makers of images find it interesting to play with these concepts, and influence each other..

  • Another development is the hyperrealistic high definition look.. Could we consider that the ‘complete’ look..

  • hi everyone,

    firstly, david – i hope is all is going well? have you made any headway in finding a new place to live. i really hope it is all worked out soon.

    as for today’s topic. i’m glad that a more lyrical, non literal shift has occurred. i want images with some mystery; images that draw me in and make me really think about what i’m looking at, that challenge me. sometimes the pictures that put it all on a plate leave me a bit cold. to me the so called “incomplete” image (lets face it aren’t they all) makes me ask question, and i like the picture that raises more questions than it answers. that doesn’t mean that i don’t like or get excited by the more literal pictures…….or admire any less the photographers who make them. there is just something about those ‘non-literal’ pictures that brings the subject to life, adds a new dimension.

    i think antoine D’agata is a good example for me. while his work definitely bears witness, it transcends being a record. i once tried to describe his work to a friend, who had never seen it. i told him that some of the work that is produced about that “world” gives me the impression that the photographer is detached – like they are looking in at fish in a tank; for me antoine seems like he’s in there swimming with the fishes. he takes me into that “world”, rather than being just an observer of it. having said all that there are people who photograph in similar situations in a more literal way who bring just as much to their pictures. think of eugene richards and cocaine true cocaine blue.

    i guess at the end of the day, any move/shift/progression/trend what ever you want to call it, that adds to the language of photography is a positive thing. surely it means that more people have the chance to understand it, feel it, be moved by it and communicate with it. that has to be a good thing.

    well thats it from me for now.

    take care, peace and happiness to you all.


  • antoine d’agata..
    Someone just mentioned..
    couldn’t be more loose, more ESOTERIC!
    perfect example…

  • rafal, please joniK’s comment about getting involved into that domestic violence type of scenario… In my case first I tried to make myself present with the camera, second , I tried to yell.. I got yelled back… and not only that , but when I went even closer ….!, the girl I was thinking I was helping… She literally SPAT on my face and my camera…
    ” go your own way YOU pervert… Stop making photos and leave…”
    that’s all she said to me… The boyfriend on the side just laughing..?
    now that I’m thinking about it…
    I deserved that spit in my face…
    I can still taste “crack” for her saliva in my mouth…

  • Well, as joost says, I think that there’s a tendency to picture perfect large format colour as well… Luc Delahaye, Alec Soth, Rineke Dijkstra… that sort of stuff. The stories are still made out of bits even if they show you a huge bit in each picture, and the images are ambiguous even if you can’t see a bit of grain in a huge wall sized image.

  • Cage’s….
    Pardon my ego, Panos, But I brought him first ;-)

    On beating a woman, all comes down again to what you are doing at the moment? Are you a passer-by playing photo-journalo with his cam, hoping for his great shot of the week or month? Yours to keep, and impress others how you got really Capa-close?
    Are you someone who has taken a strong interest in a subject (battered women, say), really working at it with conviction, with intent to share what it is to be a woman, a junkie, an exploited child, etc…?
    Again, the same photo, by 2 photographers, engage them, and possibly the viewer in a very different manner. One is basically jerking off with his camera (yeah!!!), the other is sincere. Sincere with his or herself, sincere with the craft, what relevance it is or not in a wider scheme, beyond the move, technique and stance that allowed the picture to be taken.

    Fuck, it’s not even about photography, it’s about us. what are we doing (relevance), with and without a camera?

  • god damn Herve ,
    you are the soul and brain of this blog, at least for this week..
    … And sorry about giving your credit to bob by accident… regarding Cage, I mean…
    I agree.. Its all about how you position yourself in this world…
    … About your philosophy…
    I dont know Herve… help me out here!

  • As a trend there must be lots of people who are trying to emulate Paolo Pellegrin’s work. I imagine that people are more receptive to this type of work than a few years ago and editors more likely to publish. I try to use photography as a way of communicating and am not interested in art and such. What David called incomplete pictures I always think of pictures that you can smell. Some times the feeling’s these incomplete pictures generate can say more than something that’s well lit and pin sharp.

  • When ever I tell myself to loosen up, inevitably I feel as though, the angle shifts a bit, the shutter may get dragged a little, you know the drill…

    Then I think about loosening up in other terms. Of taking deep breaths, slowing the heart rate, relaxing, coming into the mindset that you won’t get a killer shot everyday, and you don’t have to…let it flow…somethimes loose feels like that.

    Trends: they come and go and come back again….then go away…again…then they stop by unexpected for dinner…


    thinking about Capa’s surviving D-Day images…

  • Bob – you sure have a way with words (and images too, IMHO) – alphabet of appetites indeed.

    As you and others have pointed out, we can approach this question from different angles depending on the intent of the photographer and the intended audience. Are images in general more “non-literal” these days? – no way. Are “documentary/journalistic/reporting” photogs getting more “non-literal” – yes.

    Why then? Three points:

    (a) In general I would say that people are becoming more visually literate. We’ve simply “read” more photography, and we don’t need to be hit over the head for us to understand the message…and in some cases actually prefer to fill in the blanks ourselves.

    (b) As Bob pointed out, viewers trust less…because what we’ve “read” in the past as true has been proven false. What makes a documentary image successful (to me, anyway), is whether or not the intended message was aptly communicated, not whether or not it was a literal representation of fact.

    (c) The camera phone killed the spot news star. Simply “being there” doesn’t cut it anymore. Those of us who want to feed a family as photojournalists need to speak visually with an ever more unique, creative eye to rise above the crowd. We are also looking to other markets to supplement our income. I feel Photo-J nudging ever closer into the art world…and more influenced by these less-restricted aesthetics.

    …and perhaps to add a question to your points on photography as language:

    Compare the vocabulary of photography to the vocabulary of written correspondence over the same time span. Hand-written letters of the 1800s took time to compose and even longer to be sent to their intended destination. It was a very formal and structured language. So too, the photographs. Jump to today and the vocabulary of text messaging….hmmm. Is this “incomplete” or “non-literal” style of photography a visual equivalent to text messaging?

  • David; Just a short question about style/looseness of style. Did James Nachtwey’s decision to leave Magnum come down to a style/substance debate?

    It just seems to me that Magnum members have a variety of styles, and are encouraged to pursue their own vision.

    I hope I haven’t asked an off-topic subject but i feel there is a link here.

    Thank you.

  • “Every time someone tells me how sharp my photos are, I assume that it isn’t a very interesting photograph. If it were, they would have more to say.”–author unknown

    Goofy little quote but somewhat relevant?

  • Michael K
    That’s like “that’s interesting,” “that’s different,” or my favorite, “oh, what kind of paper did you use?”

    Gotta go

  • Interesting discussion…
    especially appreciated Bob’s comments…

    “all images are incomplete”
    “I am incomplete”
    “I can hope that I can see”
    etc. and etc.

  • hi folks,

    hhhhmmm, sharp v’s blurry. is this really the crux of the the argument? does “lyrical”, “incomplete” or “non-literal” equate to sharp v’s blurry? personally i don’t think they do. just like it has nothing to do with large format v’s 35 mm, or colour v’s b&w, or digital v’s film (which is a debate i have a particular loathing for). i think this goes far beyond the mechanical or the aesthetic.

    i was just thinking of some photographers who, for me, have that lyrical, non literal quality to their work. provided an example or two as well:

    alex majoli (libra me)
    luc delahaye (Winterreise)
    Gueorgui Pinkhassov (sight walks)
    lise sarfati (acta est)
    sally mann (deep south)
    james fee (psycho ward)
    Miguel Rio Branco (silent book)

    perhaps not the definitive list, but just a few of my favourites that came to mind. oh, not mention DAH of course.



    whew!! now the writing on this post alone has the grist and the makings of at least a broadway rock musical!!! keep going…i will be back….

    i only need to say one thing which i already said but nobody read…i did not put up my pictures here as examples of my “work”..they were just what was on the card in my camera in the bag when i sat down to write that post….i probably will not “keep” either…most of the time i “play”, and most of the time i “fail”…

    oh i just looked up and see one comment i will answer quickly..


    i cannot discuss why nachtwey would make a personal decision regarding Magnum…. he and i have been friends long before either one of us was in Magnum, but it is only proper that jim alone could give you his reasons for leaving…BUT, i will say this….he certainly did not leave for any reason having to do with his photographic style or any conflict thereof in Magnum…as you said, we are all about letting photographers “sail their own boat”…

    cheers, david

  • PANOS:

    No need to react so aggressively; I was really not trying to insult you (as Michael Kircher seemed to realise)…

    I started with a wink to show the statement was tongue in cheek, and I was referring to what you said before about posting when in traffic…

    I referenced “incomplete” since there were a few here who did not seem to understand what you were saying, and I mentioned you posting in traffic as I thought that might be where the rushed post and confusion arose…

    As to the “Looser” part… I was refering to your words… you first wrote that out, and mentioned “hold on…LOOSER and LOOSER…. to infinity…”…

    It seemed stream of conciousness to me, and still does, and I was not calling you a “loser”, or even “looser” (as in more loose)… I was just quoting you…

    Seriously, there was no insult intended. Yet now I am “little lamp”, I should go “fuck myself” and so on… a kid to your big dog?

    And then you say I should not “insult people before you even read their comments..”

    Good advice?

    Again, no insult intended. “Loser” and “looser” are two different words, and you will find that the Oxford dictionary differs quite a bit from the Urban Dictionary on that subject.

    I used to be a moderator on a fan forum for a punk band many years ago, and got to see (and do) my share of flaming, and have no interest in it any more… trust me, I was not trying to burn you.

    And in defence of Panos…

    RAFAL: Surely chickenshit and coward are a little strong before you know the whole story?

    Besides, Donna Ferrato is known for her images reporting on domestic abuse… woke up a lot of people, but I wonder what initial reaction to her was?

    And is a man in a similar situation perhaps more “obliged” to help than a female photographer?


    Again, great words, Bob > succinct.

    Cannot find what caught my eye in all these posts when I first read what you wrote about language (I, like Panos, was reading it off my phone while stuck in traffic) but I agree wholeheartedly with you and others who made the reference to language…

    And whatever language’s role in terms of direct communication, there is still much to gained from lyricism and poetry. Well said…

    And finally ROBERT ANGELL:

    “sandwiched between Liams useless comments..”

    I seem to be on a roll here. Not sure if you were being tongue in cheek, but sorry for any offence caused… none was intended.

  • I read that David. Still didn’t like them is all. I read what you said. I’m sure most of us did.

  • This is interesting…

    David posts two images as example of tight and loose images for the purpose of discussion. Paul critiques the images on their own merits even though that clearly wasn’t what they were put up there for.

    Is every single image used for whatever reason open for critique? No matter what? This reminds me of the critiques of Sean’s images in his essay for the stipend. The stipend essays weren’t really a contest where the “best” images win. It was about funding a photographer’s work/project.

    Just don’t get the need to critique EVERYTHING…no matter what.

  • LIAM….

    my oh my, we need you as a negotiator in the mid-east peace talks….you keep your cool and call it straight….nice


    you asked what i would do faced with some kind of violent situation where i could either help or shoot…this is a time worn discussion but always a good one…surely, i cannot say what i would always do…it would depend on so many factors…but i will tell you about one event that happened two years ago right out in front of your beloved favorite natgeo magazine building in the downtown area of our federal village…

    i was having coffee with john echave, picture editor on my cuba work…sunny day…white clouds…small talk ….boring washington….

    out of nowhere screeching tires, hysterical screams, people running, and the silly looking tour bus has just crashed hard at full speed right in front of us into a utility pole with about a dozen japanese tourists on board…failed brakes…now , suddenly quiet except for a woman crying on the bus…i saw the broken fuel line and smelled the gas…engine steaming, bus leaning on it’s side…i knew it was going to blow or at least catch fire quickly….john and i ran to the bus….i always have my camera…..flames starting coming from the engine…still the crying…we ran to the back and pulled out the crying woman…others unhurt had jumped off the bus…flames suddenly ten feet, then 20 feet in the air …now the whole damn bus is spectacularly on fire, flames reaching up several stories…yes, right here in front of my favorite coffee shop in front of natgeo where nothing ever ever ever HAPPENS…now suddenly there is a man in the back window of the bus….where did he come from???? i was now waiting for a large explosion…..john and i ran to the back of the bus and pulled the man out through the window….my camera is always with me……no pictures….

    somebody from the Washington Post and local tv all showed up…they “missed it” too but they still had a dramatic front page feature…when this event was the buzz of the city for a few hours anyway, everyone asked me if i “got the shot”…..i guess i am not much of a news photographer….HOWEVER, if i had been a little further away , like even half a block, and i had seen others helping already, you can bet that i would have been shooting….


    you are always “on it” amigo….nobody says it like you…and THAT really is the longest comment ever….akaky’s insurance comment from before Christmas held the record up to that point…where is akaky?? did we lose him??? seriously bob, thanks….your insights always have me reading your work over and over….


    you had me with you all the way until you asked if the “non-literal” photograph was the equivalent to text messaging…hmmm, seemed to obfuscate your previous good points…but , i will go back and read again…


    running out, but coming back…..

    peace, david

  • hi all..

    Very interesting question to me. I find some of these incompletes fascinating because I am permitted to see in a fashion which is so different than my own..and short of LSD I don’t know if I could really see that differently.

    The few times I have taken a couple of images with a digi,(thanks Preston!) I have been amazed at what the camera did that I wasn’t seeing. Shooting MF, I shoot the image I want to take..and I question if that would be possible if you wanted to make an incomplete..a different ball game?

    Just the same I like them because they remind me of movie stills..but I do wonder if they are a product of lives being more fragmented..


    very very well put….thanks


    i cannot even talk about books like “9 Days”…they are not in the “book discussion” in my opinion…on a separate shelf, or not even on the shelf at all…same with all of the Day in the Life books…now, i have worked on many on these books that are non-books to me…why would i do that?? two reasons: a great time to hang with all of my friends that i rarely see..(.i met sebastao salgado as my room mate on “Day in the Life of Australia”…he showed me his portfolio as a little known photographer back then…) 9 Days was a perfect time to connect with my girl and a whole host of friends in Thailand, one of my favorite countries and cultures…the other reason is to shoot on my own….i know in advance on a project like this that i will have little control over what gets published but i can do whatever i want from the shooting end and can always end up with a few little morsels for a book of my own i may do someday…besides, these projects are just a whole lot of fun…BUT, i do not see them as anything other than the provider of the two points above….

    i do not chastize the producers of these books…they have their own motives and this 9 Days was in honor of the King of Thailand’s 80th birthday…ok fine…good idea…and published are the pictures you so described….

    oh you must be thinking, surely the payment must be the third reason to do one of these projects….no no….but there sure were of lot of nice free dinners!!!

    cheers, david

  • David wrote:

    they were just what was on the card in my camera in the bag when i sat down to write that post….

    That to me says it all, David. if they do not mean anything to you (glad to hear that! :-) ), then how come they can be an example of a “new way of seeing”, one that stands well and anew against another way, of seeing ?

    It would be as if someone posted a literal shot that was actually one not worth keeping, to illustrate the importance of literalness and “quiteness”,a more classical style, in “seeing”.

    So, we’d need to look at good, intently pursued, work in “unliteralness” to find the relevance of such way of doing photography. I have no doubts few of us would see but plenty of relevance in it then. Or at the very least, respect for the means trying to achieve meaning thru a different, refreshed way of expressing oneself.

    Another point that came to me about the discussion, is that photography is not really a language (language is something that use symbols to meantion, speak of reality, and also something that relies on rather instantaneous understanding to be of use, not quite like photography, which does use mechanics, not symbols, to do that), but it does have its many different languages (dig, film, color, B&W, and etc… a hundred of etc…s, just like the many signs and words, and tongues forming languages).

  • “…then how come they can be an example of a “new way of seeing”, one that stands well and anew against another way, of seeing ?”

    Taking a chance, speaking for DAH, I don’t think anything was standing against anything. The pictures were just examples. That they happened to be part of the 90% reject (sorry David) set is irrelevant. They were words that David will omit in an upcoming draft of his finished speech.

    Which brings us to – “Another point that came to me about the discussion, is that photography is not really a language (language is something that use symbols to meantion, speak of reality, and also something that relies on rather instantaneous understanding to be of use, not quite like photography, which does use mechanics, not symbols, to do that), but it does have its many different languages (dig, film, color, B&W, and etc… a hundred of etc…s, just like the many signs and words, and tongues forming languages).” –

    You may be confusing Language with languages.
    Language is the symbolic representation of ideas. Based on that definition, photography certainly fits the bill. I would suggest that black&white is a language, sepia tone an accent.
    What would incompleteness be? Perhaps stream of consciousness, fragments, James Joycean (Joycist?), Jack Kerouac. ??

    I certainly would not confuse digital with language. I would say that digital might be a microphone. Of course using a microphone to cluck or pop into, or if you defined holding the mic as one word/phrase, throwing it in the air another, twirling it on a cord another, then I suppose you could call the microphone a language.

    But, then again, I heard somewhere that “the medium is the message.” Kind of like you are what you eat, teach by example…

    Rambling, much caffeine, need food.

    sitting in chair, Aussie licking himself on the floor


  • None taken Liam.
    I just wanted to ratchet it up a few notches, but felt rather flat in that location. sorry.
    Going back to the final pick for Davids emerging photographers, seems like a fair amount of that work fits into the “incomplete” catagory. I would say a majority of the images are tilted, dark, obscure, and not discriptive.
    Seans set for example, there is not one shot that is straight, level. that just bothers me, I can’t look at landscapes that are at a 45 degree angle. so then you level out the shots and you have a bunch of really boring images. I hear voices, Wrobert, your work is boring too…yes, If anything, maybe my work is boring, square…whatever. but, I did not make the cut, so I am not part of the photo elite, positioned for critique.
    to me, when people make and present pictures that cannot really be understood, because of negative space or obscure angles, or psychedelic colors, or because they have 1:1000 hit ratio, I believe its due to a real lack in personality, talent. weekend warriors, kiss-asses, suck-ups, test-tube babies, churning out the homogony that surrounds us.

  • Wrobert, descriptive does not necessarily mean complete, does it? Is “wooden” descriptive of a chair?

    Do you understand every work of art you see? I certainly don’t. Must it be every artist’s job to “define?” Don’t some artists “express” instead? Do Van Gogh’s paintings present reality?

    Tell us, what is talent? The ability to use a level? Or is it the ability to see and interpret?

    Dinner ready, dog asleep on floor


  • who is a good photographer? who cares. bunch of self centered hacks that just want to be noticed. look at me! my works the best, its “different” and if you say something bad about it its really going to hurt my feelings.
    jeezus. fuckin cronies.
    all that shitty distortion or fake digital realism, man that shit really bugs.
    in my book, there is a grand fucking canyon between the work that is worth it and all the other piles of garbage that have saturated the world.
    a crutch for a lack of talent

  • hey, if you want to represent something in your imagination, then grab a paint brush.
    what have you got.
    pictorialism and discriptive.
    thats it.
    I am definatly not into the pictorialist sensability, and personally I find photography that mimcks a painterly approach as LAME!

  • MICHAEL … It’s not very Aussie to let the dog in the house,I’ll have to quote the old man when he said ” FORCHRISSAKES LEAVE THE MONGREL BASTARD OUTSIDE!!!”
    I’m remembering something I read about John Loengard the Life Magazine photographer said about the shot at the beginning of a roll of film as he wound on the film exposing a couple of frames or only had acouple at the end and just shot them off so he could rewind and put in a fresh roll, He called the “wind ons” and said that sometimes they ended up being mush more interesting pictures than the ones he was actually shooting.
    BTW DAH – I think I remember seeing a day in the life photo by Salgado from my home town Mount Isa , shot at the local pool!

  • Wow, wrobertangell: that’s some righteous shit indeed….

    “to me, when people make and present pictures that cannot really be understood, because of negative space or obscure angles, or psychedelic colors, or because they have 1:1000 hit ratio, I believe its due to a real lack in personality, talent. weekend warriors, kiss-asses, suck-ups, test-tube babies, churning out the homogony that surrounds us.”

    god, that’s a mouthful: indeed…

    i would, lovingly, refer u again to the link to Moriyama, as one example, to the contrary, that i sited above…

    and living in downtown LA (i place i also know well) is like karmic? ;))…

    photography was first used by painters (camera obscura) and what exactly does this mean: “…I find photography that mimicks a paitnerly approach as LAME!”…

    what the hell is a “painterly approach”?…as a dude that painted, even i dont understand what that means…does that mean: imposition of self upon a materiality for the sake of expression (hmm, that’d be photography); concern with form and content in order to tell/argue/ascertain/express/describe an event/place/person/stateofbeing? (hmm, that’d be photography); concern with the nature of making an object (hmm, that’d be photography); abstract representation of a person/place/idea/thought/moment (hmm, that’d be photography); use of light to convey a moment/place/person/thought/time (hmmm, paint (color) is part of the optical relationship between light and chemistry, hmmm, that’d be photography too) ;))))….

    incidentally, i know of noone in this world who is a member of the photo “elite”, do you?…

    it’s only fucking photography, nothing substantial and nothing worth the scorn…

    now, how one lives, how one behaves, how one acts (especially toward others), that’s an interesting vehicle for examination….

    only those who are so enamored with their own forking tongue, dissecting dislike of what is and isnot something, constitutes the elite…and your language sounds terribly elitist…

    ironic for a guy whose made such heartfelt and committed and passionate portraits….

    by the way, those portraits u make (gorgeous and strong) are as much a product of YOUR imagination as any of the “incomplete” photos u so derisively scorn…i hope u know that brother…it dont make them less important, but they aint an ounce more fucking real than anything else…living down in that neighborhood should have taught u that by now, right? :)


  • Wrobert, this argument about photography as art or representational vs photography as documentation or presentational was settled years ago. People on both sides met, shook hands, and agreed to go on making photographs.

    Sometimes the people who don’t step over a line or push the envelope are scared to take a chance. One of the biggest impediments a photographer faces is the tendency to critique or edit before he/she even takes the picture.

    It is a problem I’ve become aware of and work hard to overcome.

    Hello, my name is Michael, and I’m a precritiquer.

    light from the left, shadows on the right


  • GLENN – but inside licking his balls is where he is, nevertheless.

    RUNNING BOB – “but they aint an ounce more fucking real than anything else.”

    Reminds me of Gary W’s views on photographs – the photograph is not the thing; it’s a photograph.

    dog lying on his bag with his legs flopped open


  • Michael :)))))))

    the damn Aussie is the think (real deal) indeed ;))))))…and that goes double for my brother Glenn, the Gladiator of the Outback, Campbell :)))))…

    one last post for wrobertangell:

    how about chuck close: painter and photographer extraordinaire:

    some of his paintings:

    some of his photographs:

    and from his remarkable exhibition (OF PHOTOGRAPHS) here in TO, at the AGO:

  • I ask you Bob,
    what is the purpose of your photography?
    do you want me to understand something in your pictures? or look at them as abstract pieces of art, something that comes purely from your imagination and understand them as that. untangable and personal.
    are you representing something real .
    what do you want me to experience when I look at your images.

    the camera obscura was a pre text to photography. not photography.
    H F Talbots negs were street scenes. they were reality.
    reality existed in the way his camera showed us.

    please, you have got to be kidding. that comment about the photo elite.

  • I try’d my damndest to make portraits that represented the physical nature of the people that sat in front of the camera.
    there is no way I was going to try and presume that I could understand what was going on inside their minds. all we have is what is on the surface, in my oppinion, thats it.
    I wanted to be as clear and honest as possible. to represent their physical atributes as honestly as I could. and create a sense of equility.
    no freaky angles, blurry shit, dark shadowy suspect light, none of that. I am a realist. thats it.
    I want to represent the nature of the things I shoot as honestly as I can.
    to me thats discriptive. that is not pictorialist. huge fucking difference

  • Michael,
    thats what its boiling down to. discriptive photography slipping into the fuzz of pictorialism. is that not what this whole discussion is about.

  • In the end it all comes down to personal preferance though doesn’t it? One man’s meat, another’s poison etc??

    As long as you are trying your hardest to be creative (without being gimmicky), that’s the main thing.

    You’ve only got to work for a variety of editors to realise everyone’s got different tastes.

    Closer to home; my partner has difficulty “getting” some of my work (& plain old dislikes some of my styles!). Yet she will, love something that I want to throw out or delete. It’s all pretty subjective really….

    I find that I subliminly take slices out of a variety of work styles (not limited to photography) & it somehow forms my own style. I’m not talking about being a copycat though.


  • W Robert,

    Just came from your site. Love…LOVE your submission to Dave’s project.

    However, after reading your recent posts I do wonder…you talk about honestly representing, clearly representing, being a realist, etc.

    You used a very unique and interesting lighting technique, a unique and interesting development and printing process, very shallow depth of field, display in tryptich…how is this more “honest,” more realistic than the “blurry shit?” Isn’t all we do, or try to do, honest? Real? To us, at least?

    You seem to have a seriously strong negative reation to what is being described as the loose stuff. What’s with that?

  • cmon Bob, its not me that writes 10,000 words per post, not so enamored with my own forking syntax…

  • Please read the statement that I posted with the images.
    the shallow depth of field was a product of 2 things.
    1. the lights very low output, and
    2. bellows extension factor forced my exposures to be 15th sec @ f 5.6

    also I like shallow depth of field.
    It forces the viewer to look at what the photographer wants the viewer to see.
    that is a subjective decision,

  • I think all the photogs that did not have their work selected by DAH, should post up on their sites that work, so we can all see what got side lined.
    I would really like to see all that work.
    lets not let it go to waste.
    thanks for looking, lets just shake it up a little…


    JONI KARANKA (one of my heroes in this and ONLY blog) SAID:
    “…Keep on moving is a mantra…”

    SHERMAN said
    I think the digital age has given a generation the license to be more trendy. More hip. “Screw the old dudes, just click man.” To take a thousand pictures and see what “sticks”.

    panos says… Sherman i would be the first to say that “screw the old ways”… but i’m not so sure about that “screw old DUDES”… thing… it made me laugh… kinda creepy though… Dont get CONFUSED… using a DIGITAL camera DOES NOT show any progress or make anybody more “updated” or even more… any kind of “breaking barriers” or ” rules”… man
    Now , tell me which canon-like, i didn’t say canon, o.k?, i said canon-like…so which dslr can say “SCREW YOU “.. in the face to someone like
    HENRI.C.B, or DAVID A H, or…. Koudelka or Josef Saudek…
    or any motherfucker out there that uses MEDIUM FORMAT & up…

  • HERVE….

    this is a word forum…..not a photographic gallery…..this whole forum has the feel of “work in progress” , not “final production”…i like the look of a room with prints all over the floor and coffee spills or thumb tacked to the wall all crooked…

    when i posted those two pictures it was pretty clear to me that whether they represented the “best” of a genre or not, they at least were clearly two different kinds of pictures for the sake of this discussion…plus , maybe even better, they were a “raw” take fitting the general spontaneity of this forum…recent thinking….how i think in the course of a day….

    the “rawness” of this picture pick is very much like the words we all write here….does anyone here go back and do a rewrite?? herve, you are a good writer, but would you stand by every sentence structure even though you made your point?? spellcheck maybe, but i think we write here “freestyle”, and were we to think that maybe our words here were to be immortalized in print, we would move a few words around….

    by the way, i think both “literally” sometimes and i “freestyle” other times depending on my mood and the subject and do not see any conflict….i do not think the choice of those two particular pictures has stinted this discussion one single bit…everything we do here is relatively spontaneous….it was in this “unplanned” spirit that i pulled those two “out of the bag”….but, i think i will keep the dog picture…at least for awhile!!!

    also related to this discussion is the feeling a photographer should have when working…not a good idea to “over think” or be overly self conscious when actually photographing…self conscious “literal” or self conscious “incomplete” looks about the same…self conscious…


    calm down boys….

    both of you do very interesting albeit very different work….both “honesty” and “reality” are pretty relative terms when it comes to photography or any other art form…just because one of you is doing slow shutter speeds and trying to get inside the head of someone or inside your own head and the other of you has a big camera on a tripod and the pictures are “sharp” does not preclude either of you to be either “honest and literal” and the other to be “esoteric and abstract”….

    i must say however, that i am always suspicious of an “artist” who “hates” the work of another…..i.e. working with a “chip on the shoulder”….wrong mood to be in i think….and what photo elite?? i do not know anyone who would walk in a clubhouse with that sign over the door….

    bottom line: i would proudly display prints from either/both of you on my wall!!!

    cheers, david

  • something for BOBB from panos:
    or maybe i should let DAH say it…


    you are always “on it” amigo….nobody says it like you…and THAT really is the longest comment ever…”

    Wrobert nailed it here… let’s go back at his words…
    “who is a good photographer? who cares. bunch of self centered hacks that just want to be noticed. look at me! my works the best, its “different” and if you say something bad about it its really going to hurt my feelings.
    jeezus. fuckin cronies.
    all that shitty distortion or fake digital realism, man that shit really bugs.
    in my book, there is a grand fucking canyon between the work that is worth it and all the other piles of garbage that have saturated the world.
    a crutch for a lack of talent

    Posted by: wrobertangell | January 31, 2008 at 08:48 PM…

    panos agrees:
    NOW THATS TRUE PEOPLE, LET’S ADMIT IT… Wrobert… continues:

    hey, if you want to represent something in your imagination, then grab a paint brush.
    what have you got.
    pictorialism and discriptive.
    thats it.
    I am definatly not into the pictorialist sensability, and personally I find photography that mimcks a painterly approach as LAME!

    Posted by: wrobertangell | January 31, 2008 at 08:59 PM

    BOBB nailed it below
    “Wow, wrobertangell: that’s some righteous shit indeed….”
    but BOBB messes up royally below:
    …incidentally, i know of noone in this world who is a member of the photo “elite”, do you?…


    my oh my, we need you as a negotiator in the mid-east peace talks….you keep your cool and call it straight….nice…”

    That totally sums it up…
    Liam L. i didnt forget about you all day…
    This time ( and not the only one i’m afraid …) … i fucked up…
    totally misunderstood your sense of humor… i need to promise myself to never skip my medication EVER again ( bong just been replaced…)
    I totally challenge you in “cellphone-typing” battle… I wanna see your ( 0 to 60), and your quarter to a mile… times… with youe eyes on the phone… biatchhhhhh!
    Anyways like said above i totally fucked and i should apologize…
    Now lets go back to “Wrobert” comments…. enough with me


    WHAT IS “ELITE”??????? i mean for you???

    …incidentally, i know of noone in this world who is a member of the photo “elite”, do you?…

    and QUESTION FOR DAH… although he never said the word “elite”..anywhere…
    So DAVID if there is “ELITE” then ….do you belong to that ???? elite?

    If yes… what the FUCK that ELITE shit is???????????

  • ALL….

    who in the world is a member of the photo elite??? maybe an effete curator or two?? certainly not any photographer i know….if you disagree, please list any photographer who you think would consider themselves to be in the “photo elite”….

    cheers, david

  • David
    you brought this topic to the table. its a real one.
    I am calm and this is not about BobB either although he wanted to weigh in and so, you know, I responded.
    But don’t you get sick of all the “churning it out”.
    anyway, who said “hate”.
    I never use words like that. in fact I hate people that do!
    what am I supposed to do David…dum dee dum…
    keep my mouth shut.
    I mean, don’t you get sick of all the BS.
    I have $7000 hanging around my neck, I am a photographer,
    on the weekends. anyway back to the office…
    If you think I have a chip on my shoulder, yer all wrong mate.
    ( not really sure what that meant, kind of cryptic )
    also “photo elite” well.. now theres a subject…

  • I think the question is
    “who would admit that they are in the photo elite” is the websters def jam…
    ” a group or body consideredor treated as socially superior “.
    wouldn’t the finalists be descibed as such?

  • i’m not sure if incompleteness in pictures is a trend or something more permanent. but i definitely like the look of it. an “incomplete” picture has drawing power that i often find irresistible, perhaps because its very “incompleteness” is an invitation for me to participate in the image-making process. like in david’s sample photo: who is that man? what does he look like? where is the dog going? what has attracted its attention? does it have a tail? our human brain likes things whole, neat, understandable. its first order of business when it encounters something baffling is to make it comprehensible, to rein it in. or in photographic parlance, to frame it. i like david’s man-dog photo because it’s frameless. or rather the frame is not where i expect it to be. the “incompleteness” wakes me up.

    actually, i think an “incomplete” picture is straighter than a “straight” picture. by straighter i mean closer to raw experience. because that’s how we see the world everyday, as a stream of sensory stimuli. (hmm, am i going the james joyce route here?) when we want to understand we pause to take stock of things. when we want a photo we pause to frame a scene. often we get a “straight” shot. going back to david’s man-dog picture, i think that’s how we’d actually perceive the experience if we were there: a man we don’t care for standing in front of us and a dog darting about for no apparent reason. it’s a confusing scene, it doesn’t make sense, so conventionally it doesn’t make for a pretty picture. but it’s as straight as we can get to experiencing that particular reality. to make a “straight” photo out of it, we may ask the man to pose for the camera, and please put a leash on your dog so he can get into the picture as well. for me that’s not “straight” but “straightening.” there’s human mediation involved. the frame is a mediating element– this is how i see the world, this is how i make sense of it. maybe that’s why i think a “straight” picture can be less interactive–because it’s already trying to tell you what it means. maybe that’s why i’m fond of “incomplete” pictures–because i get to play the meaning-making game too. which is not to say at all that a “straight” photo is static or boring. i’m talking about degrees here. we can make a case for an “incomplete” picture to be an instance of mediation too. i just talked about the polar extremes to simplify things.


    p.s. again, i like the idiom (btw, i love how monty python uses the word in the holy grail movie) of “incompleteness” but that’s different from particular expressions of it. one example that quickly comes to mind is that kind of shot where you have a scene, any scene, and then in the foreground is a head jutting out from the bottom frame just so to reveal the eyes. i saw this the first time in a photo by nachtwey. that blew me away. but since then i’ve seen it replicated in the works of so many photographers. i don’t know about chronology, i.e. who did it first, but regardless, i think it’s now developing into a cliche. so my feeling is– let’s keep the idiom but lose the cliche

  • WROBERT said:
    “…, and personally I find photography that mimcks a painterly approach as LAME!

    Posted by: wrobertangell | January 31, 2008 at 08:59 PM…”

    “…what the hell is a “painterly approach”?…as a dude that painted…, ”

    PANOS ASKS: “..Why the hell did you you use “PAST T.” BOB?…
    what do you mean “painted”…?? Not , “painting” No more… ???? why NOT ?

  • Michael Kircher, I didn’t critique them. I simply typed that I didn’t like them. Seemed valid to me as the discussion is about a style of image making, is it not? These, as examples, I didn’t like. Simple as that.

    It’s late. I’ll read more on the morrow and venture further opinions then, perhaps. Sorry if I’ve annoyed anyone.

    Good night.


    i AM posting all of the work you describe as “sidelined”…and much of it was not “sidelined” but just on “hold” until i could fix the new website….i was hoping you were going to forgive me for being slow on this considering i was in India with slow internet connect and then evicted from my loft and with all of my stuff rapidly packed in boxes and in three different storage areas ….i feel lucky to even be using a friend’s computer….

    this forum comes with no guarantees of any kind for anything….i just do the best i can with the time i have to create a free discussion…and paramount for me is to provide funding for some of you to finish your projects…this is now a reality that started out as an idea that blew in on the wind during my family time at the beach last summer….

    but, this is not my “job” nor my obligation …when i make enthusiastic predictions of what we may be able to do here, i hope you will please take it in the spirit of “let’s do it if we can”….and for heaven’s sake WE have done a lot in one year….this is just a little photo blog….but WE have created enough interest to get some non-profit funding and more is on the way…many of you will be exhibited in two key photo festivals this summer (so mentioned in a previous post)….

    honestly, i cannot do much more than what i am doing….not unless i go BIG, and we will all have to take a vote on whether you want me to do that or not….i like it like this..small, personal…..i do my workshops, do my personal shooting, take some good assignments, work on a book, and spend time with you here on this forum to share some of these experiences for those of you who perhaps seek a little insight…but , i am not THE ANSWER to anything….i am a photographer….that is all…and , for me, that is enough…

    all i really do here is get all of you going at it with each other…like the guy who sets the napkin on fire and then walks out of the bar!!

    sorry for the ramble!!! 6 cups of coffee and still on India time takes the mind off and off and off!!!!

    peace and goodnight, david

  • “PEOPLE OF THIS FORUM, ALL or whatever…”
    QUESTION: ” what creates, consists, holds together …) that ELITE…?
    Who is on the top of that ladder, and who in the bottom…
    C’mon BOBB , talk to us..
    We are ALL ears…

    p.s : Not to diss you or anything, but BjAPatino… sorry for skipping you at this point… you are out of order … you need a new “altenator” or something… I mean , for the car!!!!
    hey… by the way … BONG is working…!
    “motherfucking “elite”… i wish i could make it there … sometime
    peace out..

  • David,

    On a re-read, I find my text message analogy a bit confusing as well…with a little wine in my belly, I will try to clarify (?).

    I could be wrong, but Bob B’s words got me thinking about vocabulary and how vocabulary has changed over the years. Not so long ago, we had to write down our thoughts on a piece of paper…fold said paper into an envelope, and give it to somebody whose job it was to make sure this paper was delivered to any far flung destination we dared mail to. The energy (or perhaps more importantly the TIME) it took to compose this message, send it, and receive it, was valued far more then than now. Because we valued this communication, our vocabulary was more…thorough, or perhaps less open to interpretation. I would argue that the same energy, time, and value was placed in the photographic process relative to it’s station in history. Glass plate negatives, poisonous developing chemicals, hours in a darkroom for a single print – it was WORK to communicate this visual message, and perhaps we (the photographers) were less willing to risk the message being misinterpreted.

    We are asking if there is a trend today in making images that aren’t quite there…that are “incomplete” or open to more interpretation…but aren’t we really asking if these “incomplete” images have value or merit? In other words, we value images differently today – a single image means less because it is so easy to give it away to the masses. The author and reader of this message care less about the way it is composed. We care less about the preciseness of our vocabulary…our aesthetics. We accept these images the way we accept a text message:

    but…AISB @TEOTD, ICBW.




    i was off to bed , then saw your last post…ok , maybe “hate” a bit strong…but, you sure seem angry at best….but, of course you are not supposed to keep your mouth shut!!! we are having a fine old discussion…the whole point…keep talking mate!!! and it is quite possible that i misinterpreted what you were saying…this form of communication is not perfect….if i confused what you were saying with a “chip”, then my mistake…

    i do not “churn” anything out…ever…the minute i start “churning” is the minute you will never hear from me again…

    but, i did not bring this “photo elite” topic to the table…i do not remember who did (it is late), but it was not me…i just responded..

    wow, you think the finalists would think of themselves as “photo elite” ?? i doubt that…

    ok, now really to bed….

    back to you tomorrow….

    cheers et al, david

  • seems like sometimes you have to kick up the dust.
    for what its worth, this is the forum that I like to visit, and I think its pretty amazing that you give so much.
    I am just speaking my heart, and even though I may seem hostile or whatever I am a pacifist all the way.
    Like i said in “homeless” although this place is raw, beautiful but raw, you are all welcome here.

    now to lay low for a few.

  • for the record,
    jan 31st 2008 08:22pm

    wrobertangell references the “photo elite”

  • wrobert,

    You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I’ve been reading the comments here and had a few thoughts:

    The first time I saw your photographs I thought they were really fantastic precisely because they brought to my mind a painting, a portrait by Hans Holbein here at the Met. There is something equivalent, the 3/4 pose, the almost scientific observation, and the strong humanity that breaks through the illusion, and illusion it is in both painting and photographs (simulacra). You may not be referencing that work or painting, but I did, and because your photos now reside in my head, that reference stands. In my head. Along with your photographs… in my imagination, or cognition. So I offer this just as something for you to think about. If strangers are making this connection perhaps it is something you could use.

    A direct suggestion, not that you asked. The eyes of your subjects gaze away from the camera in the 3/4 views. I imagine that if they were looking straight at the camera, the resulting triptych might have a very strange energy, viewer confronted by gaze times three… might triple the energy already there.

    Ironically, I found the out of focus passages really quite beautiful and luminous. Push that? 8×10 with a 150 year old Dallmeyer and cut the dof to the length of an eyelash. Sure, pictorialist, but imagine how a “realist” like yourself would approach the problem… could be some interesting friction/energy there, too.

    I have a good dozen more ideas… I love the work though, and I don’t think it is lacking in any way… to the contrary, it really got the synapses firing, and I just got to thinking about your current work being a springboard to something… something you may not have considered. Just some ideas, take them for what they are worth.

    Maybe livebooks will host a “Website de Refuses”?

  • Getting to the party late — and hoping not everyone has left yet — I’ll add just a few thoughts to what’s already been said…

    BOB, you said: “to negotiate sight from blindness, this is our human aim.” This seems to be true in more ways then one, literally and metaphorically (and I’m certain you meant it both ways…) I’d just add that it is not only our aim but our human condition… one from which rarely and with strenuous effort, and often only through compassion (intellectual, as well as spiritual), can we lift ourselves….

    As for David’s original question, and without reopening the whole discussion about merits or demerits of one style versus another, it does seem to me that one might readily identify a trend toward fragmentary images, an impromptu style, so to speak, and often a careless one at that. I see the same approach towards exposure and tonality: many just don’t care if their shadows are a black indistinct form. Having gone through some fascination with the apparent easiness and informality of such style myself, I wonder how much of this stylistic “development” is due to deliberate choice versus plain old aping around…


  • mike SAID:
    (and that’s it… i’m going for a new “fatty”…:)

    so mike said:”…The first time I saw your photographs I thought they were really fantastic precisely because they brought to my mind a painting….

    panos says…: (“mike , you are really pissing people off now, man…please…!)
    MIKE continues:..
    “…I have a good dozen more ideas…”

    panos begs!!!:
    please… tell us yiur DOZEN ideas…”

    mike “hits”, again:…”If strangers are making this connection perhaps it is something you could use…”

    panos says: “medication”… to use, prescribed though!!!!

    mike all over the place, again:

    “…got to thinking about your current work being a springboard to something… something you may not have considered…”

    …you are retarded … so there is something -you never considered-, well executed mike,

    “…Maybe livebooks will host a “Website de Refuses”?…”

    panos ends here and goes to hell…. :

    “…how about , let’s see some of YOUR pictures, mr, JUDGE… or should i say… YOUR HONOR… mr mike…”

  • oh before i really go … hey GIANCARLO… what’s up… where you been motherf***er… we missed you … WEST COAST!!!!!!!

  • Mike,
    thanks for the words. I had not thought of the subject having eye contact with the perspective angles.
    I was really thinking about the structure of the face. the front door so to speak and trying to show it as an architectural idea..definately curios about your input though.
    anyway, this whole mad tirade, well I have got to break from the forum for a while.
    I have been hogging pretty hard, and just want to step back into that shadowy area and read.
    but really Mike, thanks.

  • Hey Panos!

    Been busy working and shooting, but am reading this blog every day! :)


  • Some questions:
    * Is an incomplete ‘better’ to catch a moment and everything involved, specially because it can refer to stuff happening outside the frame?
    Can an incomplete picture easier bring in emotional subjective elements?
    * Could it be that an incomplete picture forces the viewer to look and think about what he is seeing?

  • Mike:
    Language is the symbolic representation of ideas.
    What I meant is that language and languages use symbols (words) that are very precise, whereas photography uses the effect of light to represent concrete objects, not symbols of them. This is relevant to the discussion, as interpretation of a photograph can be a lot more wayward than the mere assembly of words. It may require work, deciphering, as david said earlier (and poetry is close to photography, or vice-versa, here) . I am not saying that if a photo is taken “incomplete”, it is not worth deciphering, but that it may be part of a photographic language that represents a very personal way of seeing, at times, rather than an evolution in seeing happening all over.

    David, all my points were taking in consideration of that word, evolution, so that just as in any evolution, something has changed irremediably (in the way of seeing). I am not sure about that across the board, that was really my point. Here, I think of serial music, which came as an evolution of western music but ended in a dead-end street, while at no point ever becoming a decipherable language to most people. But serious new photography needs to be seen a lot more than serious new music needs to be heard. Therefore, unlike serial music, the public, the viewers, the profession will have a “say” in validating a possible new way of seeing.

    Other than that, I am sure that unliteralness is as valid as literalness, and photography does even a good job of disguising one with the other, after all, and many times. Let’s say I see both as visual tools of expression, that the photographer does have, and always had, at its disposal.

  • For me the only thing that really matters is the emotional response that I have to an image, or any art form for that matter. When a piece of art connects with you on an emotional level it changes you. It’s that epiphany, that moment of revelation where everything seems to come together.
    While literal photography can potentially communicate at that level, it often times gets lost in all the static, and never seems to penetrate that emotional core. When I look at straight up photography (including my own) I kind of see through the array of gimmicks made in an attempt to make something look interesting. Perhaps it communicates what it looks like when I long to know what it feels like.
    In recent memory everything that has had a lasting emotional mark on me has leaned toward the ambiguous side: Trent Parke’s mysterious “Minutes to Midnight,” or Wulf Barsch’s work, or one of Gueorgui Pinkhassov’s beautifully elaborate compositions. Alessandra Sanguinetti’s project “The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams” awakens in me a nostalgia so profound that I’m overwhelmed with a longing to return to my childhood and perpetually relive that last summer of innocence before everything became so complicated.
    I think that as photographers we tend to make literal images by default. It is much more exhausting to create an image with emotional substance because it requires more from the artist, and often times the difference is in the subtleties. When it comes down to it you just have to shoot what you feel, and that will trickle it’s way down into the final image.

  • David, point taken on the 2 shots you posted. I am also glad that here, and also on the review of my essay you e-mailed, that there is definitely such a word as “better”. Better photo, better work.

    Lately, in a recent discussion, it almost had seemed as if quality (within a single photo, or processing a print or a B&W conversion) was a notion not worth mentionning.

  • i think it’s about time that we buried the arguments about camera type, film type, colour and b&w, art and documentary: who gives a fuck! make the pictures YOU want, in the way YOU want. people should stop worrying about what others are doing, or what others think and saying. just get on with it.

    i agree total with bob black in his last response. photography is always abstract and subjective always surreal. its not about cameras and film, or sharp and blurry, they are tools and aesthetic devices, just like a paint brush, or chisel and hammer, oil paint or wood. tools that are used by the the mind of the photographer to CREATE. and why bother to argue about the out come. if it COMMUNICATES something then it is good.


  • w robert said:
    I wanted to be as clear and honest as possible. to represent their physical atributes as honestly as I could. and create a sense of equility.
    no freaky angles, blurry shit, dark shadowy suspect light, none of that. I am a realist. thats it.
    I want to represent the nature of the things I shoot as honestly as I can.
    to me thats discriptive. that is not pictorialist.

    i think that this is a good point and found that there was much truth in this. many people try to express or develop their oiwn style to the point where that style seems to be the message. I think it is a good thing for the subject be the message and the photog be striving to let the subject show through and not thier style. sometimes it may take a conscious effort to get the ego out of the way.

  • from here forthwith, i shall reduce, in honor of non-elitism, to reduce each of my comments from 10,000 words to 8,000 words.

    so funny these proclamations about what is and isnt good photography…

    i dont belong in the elite, just the rabel.

    u guys can home there, photography just aint that important to me…nor concern for such tripe as a a “competition”…

    wrobertangel: u work is very strong and i like the “objective portrait” series very much…though your words are hilarious and, well, like a teenager, and that’s cool, whatever…incidentally, a triptych? not painterly?…

    panos: my dig is this:

    arguing over photography is a trip when stoned, but it’s just that: a game, funny, sometimes stimulating sometimes boring as shit…

    i regret having knocked on the door last night….

    that’d be the word from me: a copout:

    but, it’s all so funny, still this idiocy about the photos selected…

    we’re all in the same stupid game, and not a one of us has any more insight than another…to think differently is a real, “foreshortening” of the old cranial lens…

    peace, yea indeed…



    now that was just perfect!!! thank you


    well, our tongues are getting all tied and the semantics are getting clogged…throwing around words like “quality” is as bad as me using “better”…we would need a ramped up preamble outlining “definition” and/or context to either of those words beyond the “technical” and even there they would both be highly subjective….i will have to go back and see the letter i wrote to you to see the context of “better”…

    but, at least, you are the progenitor of some interesting discussion bro!! and you slipped in another little comment way back there that i want to riff off of later…i think you said something about if a photograph had a “famous name” attached to it that it would go further than otherwise…is that right?? bring that thought back or whatever your thought really was….or slip it to me in my email and i will put it out as “breaking news”!!!!


    yes, of course…i have always come from the “sail your own boat” school of life…nevertheless so many changes are taking place so so fast around us, that what might be a very time worn discussion for you might just be something new to think about for someone else….besides, we are not “concluding” anything….but, sometimes rolling ideas around does help some to get out of bed the next morning with a whole new plan…if you do not need that , then cool!!! go for it!!

    one thing i have noticed as a workshop teacher in the last four or five years is that photographers are “learning backwards” from the ways of yesteryear..for example, we used to learn how to develop a roll of film and then go to another class and learn the history of photography etc etc..we didn’t even think about mounting a print on aluminum for a show before we knew how to develop film….however, so many of my students these days have very little clue about the history or the basic tech of photography…yet, they may be doing brilliant work…i will take brilliant work anyday….so, i just gently get them to back to “basics” at some point as a frame of reference..i do not hammer them for being “uneducated”….it is like learning to play the piano before learning to read music…instinctive….probably the best way…play a piece you like, then learn what the notes were…or not!!!

    i do hope to see you again in london soonest….

    cheers, david

  • JAY…

    show me a man/woman with “their ego out of the way” and the Louvre and MOMA etc would be empty and you would have no books to read or music to listen to or films to watch!!!

    peace, david

  • OK…all the above has been fairly interesting. But tame! So let’s really go for it now! Let’s really get into it! Ready?

    Alright David,

    Patriots or Giants? ;^}

  • There was a band here in Oz in the 70’s called ” skyhooks ” who’s signature tune was EGO! …It’s not a dirty word!
    Is’nt the whole thing about finding your own wayt of doing things? I have been taking pictures for papers for a little while now but the things that get me psyched ..the thing that makes me think that maybe there is a voice there is the stuff I do when the assignment is over ..when you don’t have to do more…You have done enough! to fulfill your brief , probably harking back to a previous post ” when do you know it’s over?” the film piles up in the fridge long after the digi files have been sent , published and forgotten!
    It’s never over!
    If you are not looking to take pictures that initiate an emotional response, then you shouldn’t be there!

  • who are the patriots???


    i am just not a “fan”…seems “passive” to me….i would rather go out in the backyard and play a game of touch football with a few friends, than watch the Superbowl!! playing the game i like, watching the game on tv..boring.. pretty damned un-American, huh???

    cheers, david

  • wrobertangel:

    I will try to keep it short ;) (promise).

    1. I meant about “teenage language” im talking about all that nonsense about: when people make and present pictures that cannot really be understood, because of negative space or obscure angles, or psychedelic colors, or because they have 1:1000 hit ratio, I believe its due to a real lack in personality, talent. weekend warriors, kiss-asses, suck-ups, test-tube babies, churning out the homogony that surrounds us” etc…that’s just really stupid and simply lessons the the strength and insight and frankness of your concerns.

    2. Your portraits: As I said, I think they are very strong and i love the triptych, yes that beautiful painterly triptych. Your attempt to express their physical reality as an indication (a subterfuge of the lie of the camera) through the means of triptych is wonderful, intelligent and, in truth, a quite painterly approach to the rendering of a life. I respect that (would argue that’s what I am after as well) and (as writte above) like the series very much. Why do you think i posted chuck close??…that’s what his paintings and the rejection of that have attempted to wrestle with, and now too his photography.

    2. what am i after in my photograph. That’s a complicated question, and I’ve promised u and others to keep a limit to the words here. So, i will say only this: i use to have the same approach as u: in otherwords, i wanted my camera to be as “honest” as possible: use sharp lenses, nice cameras, good lighting, remove “myself” as much as possible, etc. To “represented the physical nature of the people that sat in front of the camera.”…and then i realized that that was a delusion…that who was i to say who these people were, especially how they appeared in my camera. Oddly, a camera records exactly what a person does and doesnt look like (and that’s not even going into the “them” inside them). Also, the cameras and lighting you use are just as “questionable” as the technique you criticize others. That’s just it wrobert: each time you, or I, or anyone attack critically other work, it becomes increasingly clear how hypocritical that criticism is. My work, and i’ve said this again and again, is really about my own struggle with what it means to see, what it means to photograph, what it means to attempt to convey expression, the living of the light in the face of what is inevitable: death and unknowning and all that shit. Yea, that sounds totally shit, but tha’ts it. I spend lots of time talking to people i shoot (i dont shoot in a studio, i dont, not anymore often, shoot people i havent spent time with, listened too,e tc). I dont make any claims for my work: none. If people gather something from the work, fine. If not, it’s ok. I dont think my work is anything, zero, just photographs that were born from my own struggle and as a way to replace words that I often have when watching, listening, rhyming with people. I’m also trying to render the emotional and visceral and yes “physical” experience of the people i am photographing…and how is this different from your own work? I have no idea: for it seems we are after the same…only this: i never though my work was better or more important than your work anyone else…in fact, i actually embrace all work…this doesnt mean i like all work, just for me, it’s a simpler equation:

    whatever speaks, is all that matters to me. That can be your portraits with the expensive cameras and the strict lighting (by the way the light in the eyes, and especially glasses, of your portraits reminds me of the brilliant light in the Eurgene Smith pic from Pittsburgh photo of the steel welder, know the pic?: so u see, i see botherhood in all that) and the obsessive control to attempt to render objectivity, or my own stupid pics using small 35mm cameras (using both good/famous cameras and shit/cheap toy cameras)…it’s all the same…

    what do i want from my work?

    no delusions. at the end of the day, it’s just this:

    was i able to tell someone’s story, if even my own, that registered somewhere with someone as an expression of the wonder and the sadness and the odd, ineluctable and fucked nature of what it means to be a live…

    call that Xenos (that’s for Panos)…

    nothing more than that…

    and now im tired and tired of my stupid words…and this entire onslaught..


  • ok, that wasnt “short”…fuck…sorry wrobert, david and the rest…mean that sincerely…fucking diarhea of the mouth…

    (slinks away slowly)


  • hi david,

    thats a very good point. i’m definitely not knocking education, not for one minute. i hope this doesn’t sound trite, but i think the pursuit of knowledge is one of the noblest things life. and that definitely pertains to photography in its mechanical, historical and aesthetic aspects. i think we all need to know and understand as many aspects of photography as possible, how else can we find our place within it? how else can we drive it forward?

    i just don’t like the debate, and it has raised its head in the posting above, which suggests that one mode is better or has a greater quality than another. i.e. film v’s digital, large v’s small format, blurry v’s sharp, the use of deep shadow etc., i think we should all welcome the freedom to explore all of these. not because its a fashion or gimmick, but because it is a tool or a mode of working that allows us to express ourselves.

    thats why i love sally manns’ work for example: she uses a large format camera with 19th century glass plates and defective lenses. what she creates is something that is very powerful. i never get tired of looking at deep south. in that case her mode of working fits perfectly with what she photographs and i think it shows in the work. on the other extreme look at alex majoli and his olympus point and shoot cameras. he uses them to amazing effect; is his work any less powerful because of it?

    it’s be great to meet up again. just let me know when you are here.

    peace to all,


  • here is the Smith pick that wrobertangell’s portrait remind me of: that is a complement robert…so u see, different phtoographers, regardless of the cameras/situ/idea/orientation of arrive at the same place…

  • GLENN…

    good boy!!! i barely know who the Patriots are myself…only because my brother lives in Boston and i have read a bit about some illegal stuff they did to get ahead (spying on plays i think), do i know about them at all!!!

    i did exaggerate just a bit with michael above…i CAN get into watching a game…any game….BUT, i never did achieve fan status…not a die hard “yankees fan” or whatever…i always looked at fans as people who lived vicariously through know, had 8-5 office desk jobs and needed the “outlet”….i am probably all wrong, but that is just how i saw it in my own perspective….growing up i was wandering around shooting or in the darkroom, not in front of the tv…

    surely though if we had pubs like you have pubs i mighta done some time looking up at the bar tv!!! maybe it ain’t too late!!

    cheers , david

  • @ Glenn…sort of the Brisbane Lions of American Football. (but you probably knew that!)

    @ David…oh yeah, likewise. Much rather get out with my nephews and get a little roughhousing exercise. Do not love spectating. Just trying to lighten the tone a bit…not that it was a real problem or anything! ;^}

  • The Brisbane lions suck! 3 premierships in a row for fucks sake if thats who the patriots are then you can haveem!
    It’s pretty un Australian of me to be dismissive about football ( Rugby I mean) It’s a constant battle , I have to live in the shadows , hide from view have a little footy banter on hand for the stray boyfreind of my sisterinlaw – But mostly I could’nt give a rats!

  • I think people (mostly men) are interested in sports out of need to evaluate and compare numbers. Personally I grew up a football fan, bitching at Detroit my entire life with my dad. It just sort of stuck.


    There seems to be rather a lot of testosterone kicking the ball around here!

    Hmph, I believe the initial discussion was titled ‘incomplete…’ and I could make all sorts of comments about the very ‘male’ dominated- er- conversation that has ensued, but my take on the initial post is well, if the imagination has to be invoked then that’s a good thing and if the story needs to be told literally well that’s a good thing too…

    We need all kinds of story tellers- from the simple and unassuming Hesse’s to the difficult and dogged Joyce’s, to the ridiculous and ample Fry’s!

    A good yarn, is a good yarn whatever faculty it invokes. So the visual yarn is possibly the best, simply because it can be far more intimate, more provoking, more personal because really it is visual, it is the language of the individual.

    Now some of us may be able to do a colorfield painting like Rothko and invoke the beat of a tribal drum that sends us hurtling into the miasma of being and some of us maybe able to replicate the tones of a Caravaggio whose camera obscura technique clearly placed a figure in a space and time. But both these masters told their story, clearly and articulately by the means that suited it and them best.

    Thats really what its about, stylistic concerns are not that important to me… ‘there are a million stories in the big city, this is just one of them…’

    So, in summary…

    A big ol’ bear hug to David Alan Harvey, ‘cos goodness deserves hugs…

    Kisses to Bob Black, from whom I expect a book SOON!

    Gentle caresses to Panos and Wrobertangel who really just want to see something from their own over burdened hearts…

    And love to all the rest of you, ‘cos you are a most brilliant mob of people….

    Peace Brothers…


    laughing, yes, you are so so right!!! i am not quite sure how this ended up such a “male dominated” discussion…not intended for least, not by me…”boys night out” never appealed to me much either…always a whole lot more fun with the “girls” hanging out with us…i mean, that (female approval) is all we really live for anyway!!! thanks for putting in your “two cents” and for your “nurturing” comments for the “arm wrestlers” assembled…we will try to be gentlemen now that you are here!!

    i do miss hanging with you in bkk…still “playing back the tape” on our most unique experience…please stick around and keep us “in line”….much appreciated….

    hugs, david

  • see, this is what i’m talking about! viewers interacting with an image.



  • DAVID JUST said:

    “…HELLO LISA….

    laughing, yes, you are so so right!!! …

    …and for your “nurturing” comments for the “arm wrestlers” assembled…we will try to be gentlemen now that you are here!!

    please stick around and keep us “in line”….much appreciated….

    hugs, david

    Posted by: david alan harvey | February 01, 2008 at 10:06 AM…

    panos says:


    p.s” testosterone… sucks..”

  • There is room for everything in photography. That cannot be in doubt. It does’nt matter in that case what you do, what you use as long as you get results you want. Does it have to mean or indicate anything? Is’nt this in the eye of the beholder?

    I always associate documentary photography with journalism. If someone says documentary my mind is suddenly seeing Jody Cobb, Jim Nachtwey, Deanne Fitzmaurice, world press photo, etc. I “get” those images, I see a bit more of a crazy world. What does it mean? I guess the same as any piece of written journalism. Its symbols and communication ABOUT a subject that informs. I find Davids work challenging because I don’t quite “get” it. Its art, its full of questions and implications but it has’nt left the realms of journalism as I understand it somehow. I guess I understand Cuba better than Divided Soul. Perhaps its a little (but not entirely like) Hunter S Thompson producing written journalism. Its not conventional, its not “straight on” but it is informative and interesting and sometimes difficult. However I think you can overstep the bounds to where any semblance of journalism is lost, impressions are given but no direct information (even what a person actually looks like) is passed. Is my definition of documentary wrong?

    Bob, sorry to pick on you but you are an interesting example, I don’t get your pictures. I don’t get any information or story from them. I can’t see a thread. Is this documentary photography? Or is it pictorial photography? Art? Fine art?

    Off to be literal but with an open mind.

  • Speaking of testosterone, painting, realism and photography, I came across a quote by John Currin this morning… “Pornography… is so dependent on the idea that the camera doesn’t intercede between you and the subject.”

    So does that make porno the purest form of photographic realism?

  • re: testosterone..

    I’d like to make/see a short with all different people reading posts aloud in the tone that they hear them in their head..and then with the writer reading it in intended tone, over and over, different posts, faces, mouths, words…I for one heard a lot of the above in a tone that made me feel like the kid in the room who wants his parents to stop fighting..but i am sure others heard humor or what have you..

  • Off topic apologies, seems like a good time though…

    David, did we ever figure out if we can get your name in a different color under your posts?

    Oh, and underneath the family/friends link can we get a “Coffee with Bobby, Black” link :)



    aren’t you up a little early??? it must be 8am or so in l.a….somehow i imagine you sleeping in a bit…particularly after your last bong hit which i felt all the way here in ny!!

    by the way, is it really “wise” to drive, blog, and hit the bong simultaneous??? like a scene out of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”…..i sure wish Hunter S. was still with us…

    i will be in and out here today…later….

    cheers, david


    well, i just mentioned Hunter…the author of “gonzo journalism”…where documentary crosses a line and becomes personal…for me, the best..the absolute most honest…not pretentious…the real thing….for others, not so…

    yes, you should “understand ” Cuba more than Div Soul…it “explains” Cuba in clear terms..Div Soul is an authored concept..more room for “discovery, mystery”, but still with journalistic “roots”…did you read my intro? tells you how/why it came to be that way…

    “Living Proof” is totally straight except for the sequencing… i cannot stand to sequence in chronological or any other logical order…i do not remember things in order, so why would i do a book layout in “logical” or chronological order???

    my next book,”Off For a Family Drive” will really be hard to understand….i hope…hey, i loved Faulkner and Joyce…had to read ’em more than the other at it, discover it…BUT, i also loved Twain…looked easy, was easy, but underlying themes….

    anyway rushing out…i will come back to this soonest….

    cheers, david

  • LANCE…

    hey are you and kelly up for dom republic soon?? i may go down like…now!! wanna go??


    posting some of your work soonest….who is David??

    cheers, david

  • Jason…I just finished laughing my ass off long enough to drop this thank you in here! Thanks! Funny as hell!

  • I wonder how much is style, and how much is bending and forcing so-so pictures – getting lazy about quality – into concepts, rather than the opposite.. how much is emulating, and how much really comes from the inside..

  • Okay, taking the obsessions in order of appearance:

    1. So what then constitutes an incomplete photograph? What constitutes a compete one? Isn’t the point of photography, of literature, of the arts in general, to communicate something the artist has seen and felt to the viewer? If an “incomplete” photograph can do this, if it can convey some portion of what the artist saw at the moment when he or she pressed the shutter release, then isn’t this photograph, almost by definition, a “complete” photograph?

    2. Sharp versus blurry, Hemingway versus Faulkner; at their best, can anyone really say that A Farewell to Arms is better than The Sound and the Fury because the former is more easily understood than the latter? Arguing about style, to my mind, is usually pointless; you go where your vision takes you, using the best way you know to communicate what your vision is. Will everyone like your work? No. You can’t please everyone. I think Jackson Pollock’s work is rubbish, I think Andy Kaufman was seriously unfunny, and that music has been going down hill ever since Puccini died. That’s just my opinion. Other people clearly have different opinions about Pollock, Kaufman, and music since 1924. C’est la vie.

    3. The photo elite is anyone who makes more money taking pictures than I do or who owns a camera I’d have to mortgage my house for. I realize that includes just about everybody, but then, I take pictures because I like taking pictures, not because I expect to make a lot of money at it, although gangbangers do pay well for pictures of their pit bulls; I’m not sure why that is, though.

    4. I’m not sure how Bob can bat out those long screeds while running; he must be on speed or some other extreme stimulant. I think slowly and write even more slowly, worrying about such things as correct spelling, adverbial overuse, the passive voice, dangling participles, and split infinitives. I do this because I know that if I commit any of the grammatical sins listed above, a nun will hit me with a ruler. I realize that at my age, this is not a likely scenario, but neither are heatstroke, hunting accidents, or shark bite, and all of the above happen to some unsuspecting schnook somewhere in the world every day of the year. Bob must enjoy writing, which is always a good thing; I enjoy having written, a state that, unfortunately, I can’t get to without sitting down with my jar full of pencils and actually writing something. This is always a bummer.

    5. Was there something else? I forget now.

    Sauntering off at a slow mosey,


  • Beautiful, Lisa. Beautiful.
    Thank you.

  • Erica, you have such an incredible perspective.
    Yourself and Lisa are like a hot knife through butter. Most refreshing.

  • Scoots back as he remembers what the deal is here.

    6. Giants v. Patriots: who cares? First, the Giants play in Jersey. You can call yourself the New York this or the New York that, but if you dont actually play in New York, you ain’t the New York anything. As far as the NFL is concerned, the only real New York team is Buffalo. High school football is a lot more fun to watch. As for football/futbol/soccer/calcio, has anyone considered the possibility that this alleged sport is merely a clever way of getting foreigners to engage in track & field events under the guise of a ball game?

    7. Yankees and Red Sox: Unlike just about any other sport you can think of, Thomas Aquinas uses baseball as one of his proofs for the existence of God. This being the case, it follows then that if God exists, then the New York Yankees are His Anointed Ones here on earth. It therefore follows, as night follows day or my relatives follow a free lunch, that the Red Sox and their fans are the minions of the AntiChrist and that Fenway Park, the odious hole wherein these vile wretches conduct their loathsome rituals, is Satan’s playground. That the United States Air Force will not nuke this diabolical abcess off the face of the earth convinces me and a good many other people here in Yankeeland that at least one of our great nation’s armed forces is in league with the devil. But, on the bright side, pitchers and catchers report in 13 days! Spring is coming, boys and girls!

    moseys off singing, Take me out to the ball game,


  • Hey David,
    My 90% comment was not intended as an insult! I thought you said neither of those pictures was a keeper for you. I like them both. The second has more immediate appeal, maybe based on contemporary trends, etc., but the first is actually elegant.
    Which is the incomplete one?

    Dom Rep…? Hmmmm….

    Take a look at my site, now. Much is re-edited; I will welcome whatever you have to offer.

  • The important point that david was making was about the evolution of seeing, to me it is worthless if we forget that premise and switch to blurry, tilted vs straight shooting, right vs wrong, these different senisbilities are enemies of each other. actually, funny that what started this debate was me saying merely: :I am a bit at odds…”. In the history of photography debates, not even a small swiss army knife! :-)))

    I also am a bit put off by people who think that the passion we put in photography should NOT be transferred in talking about photography, and arguing . That reeks of political correctness, middle-ground, peace brother! If you can’t take the heat, have a cold one, we’ll be back to our regular programming in no time. Maybe it’s the french in me, but I have no problem having a “go at it”, while not making a big deal of anything said, afterwards, and certainly no personal deal from me or against someone.

    Bob, you write long posts, as you wish, with plenty of opinions, why always this need to neutralize what someone else says. The coolness and relevance of what you write is that it is highly subjective. A person is expressing what he feels, what he lives, what he shoots. Bravo! yet, I sense from you many times, you want to “close” the discussion, with final words on the subject. IMO, subjective (“I”) can’t be objective (“we”), ie. at the same time.

    You don’t know what is good photography, fine. Me, I am not afarid to use the word good (though about photos here, not photography), and better and quality (in photography, that means for me strentgh of expression)

    David, I sure thought of Joyce, during this discussion, but as much as I know abit about Cage, i am way way below standards to follow Joyce’s genius. Alas, David, there are no famous photographers alive. I mean FAME (fame is when people “know” you, independantly of what put you on the road to fame). And my comment on “depends who proposes it” had nothing to do with finding it unfair, but yes, context matters a lot. the context of your career, of your body of work, of your networks to have a different attention given to what you do and propose than Joe Schmuck.

  • ERRATA (again!): I meant “these sensibilties are NOT enemies of each other”.

  • DAVID:
    Email message at

    Time sensitive.

    Ciao Amigo

  • “HUNTER”,… “fear and loathing…”,
    When the artist becomes the center…
    when the artist becomes bigger and more important than the “art” itself…
    when its all about you, me, you..
    fuck the art… Save the artist… Art is dead… just as ” grunge” is dead…

    Hunter… Yes , like Hunter… Or
    Charles Buckowski …
    I’d rather photograph my precious BONG all day long,
    or my ” perfect greek- god like”naked body, than acting like I’m doing Artistic bullshit…
    give me a second… No traffic right now…
    I need to drive a little faster…

  • hey Akaky, isn’t it funny when someone ” high” on speed lectures the one that is “high” on marijuana???

  • Hi David,

    Been following your blog here for a while. We actually share publishers (pH) they did my book “Touch me I’m Sick” and a new one on b-boys “Cypher” coming out in November. Anyway would love to catch up with you off list sometime and send you a pdf of my the b-boy book. I was going to have Sara e-ntroduce us but hopefully you’ll pick up on this.

    Anyway, to my mind the second picture is more incomplete than the first. The first picture has a universality to it that the second doesn’t. I have a whole set of pictures from the horse races in Saigon of men holding their cigarettes and race forms behind their backs. They say as much about the subject as the straight ahead pics. In you case the clothes, the stance, the ground, the dog, all tell a story. Yes, i may be able to see the face (sort of) of the person in the second pic but it tells me a lot less than the first. So called “incomplete” pictures can take us out of the photographers own “story” and let us devise a more universal one of our own.

    Anyway, nice to meet you and I’ll try and hang out here more often. It’s a great group of people.


  • but , Akaky please dont diss the gangbangers or their love to their pit bulls ….
    at this point, they are my ONLY customers, you know..
    please dont insult my clientele…

  • BobB
    thanks for getting back, so the point was that you do have an intention with your photographs. you want the viewer to have some kind of experience, a response when looking at the images. its here that we have a common thread and its here that thread ends.
    the difference here is that I want to represent a reality of the subject . now you can pic it apart and critique my work, find and point out the subjective decisions and use them as angles for your position of argument but the fact is if you saw any of the people in my portraits sitting at a cafe or walking down the street you may well be able to recognize them from the shots.
    so your saying that we share the same intent but then why is our work so different.
    I am not generalising, I dont want you to have the general idea of a human being, a blurry mass that is indistinguishable. I am trying to deal with the uniqueness of the individual, and its my belief that the truth is preasant there.
    look, I understand that how somebody expresses themselves with the camera is their own personal use of the langauge, and I aint telling anybody not to do something, but I think also there are a lot of turkeys who aspire to be different, who want to escape that homogonisation, and think they can achieve that pinnacle by a language of double meanings and false realities, or incomplete photographs.
    I will say it all again
    first actually whats the definition of “incomplete”
    not complete, not finished, not having all its parts, imperfect, defective.
    1, i think “incomplete photography” is a cheap way to try and add some kind of fake vitality to what would be an other wise boring photograph.
    2, I think the selection of work that David chose for the final essayist
    ( photography elite ), are a group of ” incomplete ” sets.

  • … and Herve is right suggesting to Bobb to quit neutralizing any dangerous conversation… That’s why I hate any kind of school, and that’s why I detest anyone that teaches… or claim to be a teacher…
    Death to all teachers and also death to all PRIESTS… Weak ass motherfucking unproductive leeches…

  • last post of the day (not to cut off or have the last word, but only ’cause i’ve already written too much) ;))))…trying to be succinct:

    Herve: I too enjoy talking/arguing/discussing/rambling/chewing upon ideas and especially enjoy (dependent on the tone and lift of thought) confrontation discussion: confrontation of ideas not character, this is a very different thing. If my posts often come across as some “need to neutralize what someone else says…” or an act that I “want to “close” the discussion, with final words on the subject…”. That’s not my intent nor my orientation, but the opposite. This “closure” of argument is probably more about having, in unversity, been taught to “argue” as a philosopher, so the rounding of thought within a post…also, it often might appear that way born of the tone of written words, or the fact I might not return to a post after a post (for innumberable reasons, not about what as said). My “argument” most often is with either the “idea” (and i too like the toss of things) or the “character” of how somone says something. Levinas has a few things to say about this. My objection with wrobertangell’s posts were only about the way he wrote about those chosen. I have no objection to his thinking or his aesthetic (his work is strong and i like it alot), just the condescension contained in some of the posts…..u r also a critical thinker, and i enjoy that and enjoy our “spouts” (u may be friend, well im irish and the french have nothing on the language of argument/debate against the irish either ;)) )…we havent met in real life, but this may be more an indication of the nature of using language (writer/poet) and angling with words. by the way, i do know what I THINK is a good photo, exclusive for me…but I cannot affirm this in any real way, only simpler: i know what gets me, and that’s sometimes perceived as good work, sometimes not…the argument of Quality is slippery, right: I find (no offense) those who “know” what Good Photography is seldom seem to convince me…not what photography moves them, that’s understandable: maybe its only semantics, who knows…

    Neil: I dont mind being picked on ;)). Looking at my pics David has shown is strange. they are removed from the context of the entire story, with other more contextual photographs, but that’s cool. it’s ok. the thread: might be more apparent in the entirety of the sequence. documentary? yes, about a group of 8 immigrants with whom i spent 2 weeks as they were planning for the departure of 3 of them, theme: part of that is related to the nature of “face” particuarly “Asian Face/Eyes” which is a singificant part of this story, but i dont wont to waist othes time talking about that…Faces (asian faces) is a long project of mine, so that’s what it is related to as well (you can see a small series here (photos 1-15) and a small description i wrote: the photos 16-30 are from a book my wife made about bodies….but…well..

    lastly, let me just iterate that I have nothing AGAINST Herve or wrobertangell’s ideas/convictions/aesthetics…in fact i said, it’s a great topic and one that i think is important to talk about (though i see lots of contradiction in the concerns written here) and particularly like the “objective portraits” work that wrobert submitted. That he still cares about the photographers chosen still mystifies me, but, respectfully, i’ll allow all peace…

    once someone wrote to me at Lightstalkes: “you have no idea how to make a photograph and yet you talk endlessly about them…”…

    it’s funny to me..taking a photograph is actually fundamentally easy (one can learn the mechanics is a relatively short time, and i’ve been holding cameras for a very long time since im 40), but, again, seeing and telling with one is very different…something, i know, i have not yet learned to master, no matter my hope…

    akaky: :)))…when “writing” (not leaving posts), im just as obsessed with dangling modifiers, over use of adverbs and other stuff…windbag, here, for sure ;)) me..

    sorry, never meant to be making a speech, ever…

    language fails, continually…



    IMO, subjective (“I”) can’t be objective (“we”), ie. at the same time.

  • Panos, I’m not insulting the gangbanger clientele; I need them too much. Their money is what keeps me just barely in the semiprofessional realm of photography. I dont know how it works out in LA, but here in NY the Latin Kings pay better than the Bloods and the Bloods pay better than the Crips. I used to give the shots away for nothing-largely because I was afraid of getting my ass kicked in six ways from Sunday-but when I saw one guy I’d given a free picture to pay for a Snapple and a bag of Cheez Doodles with a hundred dollar bill I started charging. If you’ve got that kind of money to spend on junk food, you can spare some for a picture of your damn dog.

  • Wrobert, I looked at the work David selected, and I was blown away. It is all excellent work! Some of it appealed to me more than other.

    I’ll bet that there was little value judgement going on, probably a little, but not much. One chooses, juries, picks photographs, first on an initial visceral response. This is the important thing to pay attention to and respond to. Beyond the first response, David used his knowledge of what editors would look at favorably (I think). There is a lot going on here – establishment and funding of a foundation -providing funds for working on projects.

    I just don’t think that the quality of your work had much to do with it. Maybe a different juror would have picked it. It is certainly good and worthy of consideration.

    The concept behind your work, and it is conceptual) is fine, and the work, itself, is executed well.

    I wish you could feel better about the whole thing.



  • … And Mike, please stop messing with the “porn” realism!!
    you gonna force me to have a “porn” relapse in the car, and start checking all the artistic porn sites I can find… Please dont excite me..
    I’d rather stick here with this blog…
    Please dont give me ideas… I’m ready to “switch” the channel…

    and speaking of being a fan or a football groupie… I’d rather masturbate all day long than watching boys play with boys…
    only the name “PATRIOTS” is enough to make me throw up..

    … Sad if you think that I have couple good friends from Boston…
    anyways … I dont wanna miss paula abdul though….
    Oh well, I guess TiVo is the answer

  • wrobertangell:

    just read ur last post…that’s thoughtful and I understand. I dont disagree actually what you’ve written and in no way disparge that, at all. another (something to think about) reason for much of the incompleteness of the essays (i can only speak for my own) is that we’re viewing a series a images removed from the thread of context/intent (what other images co-exist with the ones seen)…anyway…i get what u r saying and I am sorry i got my dandruff up:

    it’s about language…never in my life been called an “weekend warriors, kiss-asses, suck-ups, test-tube babies…”..anyway, i get the drift….

    anyway, i appreciate your response/thoughts :))…

    Panos: I dont want to neutralize anything, believe me, and im not about people being all kiss-ass…but, well…words…i fucking hate ’em most of the time, most above all my own…


  • Here is where I cause a ruffle in somebody’s feathers. I think these types of photos done well-and sparingly can add a wonderful artistic flair to ones work. The problem I see is photographers claiming subjectivity for poor composition. Anything goes! I have students I have taught who think there are no parameters to photography-anything is a good image. Not true. Motion used properly can make a photograph come alive. A piece of the subject can really emphasize what the story is about. But unfortunately too many photographers use subjectivity as an excuse for really poor skills. Incomplete-sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t.

  • Ok,,,thats pretty strong. actually I find Cara Bowerman’s wrk extremely beautiful, i have to take back the blanket statement,
    i just think there are some sets that are incomplete and well, as I said I just can’t get into that.
    there are, for what its worth, in my oppinion some really beautiful shots in the essayist finals.

    off topic,,
    my prayers going out to the poor people suffering from mindless violent acts oversea’s,
    please God, if you exist, please bring peace to the world.

  • wrobert , out of curiosity…?
    which violent oversees acts you are mentioning above?
    what the he’ll am I missing living in my cozy L.A luscious bubble life?

  • Akaky , I got you…
    In L.A, Latin gangs do appreciate photography plus willing to pay…
    of course the majority of the gangs are CRIPS here in west coast… About 80% versus BLOODS 20%…
    its hard to get cash out of either one… But they let you exchange photos with “Bong-fuel”…. which in my case is as good if not better than money…
    and as DAH once said… ” i am on a higher ground…”
    for me…? Its my everyday life…
    I could be wrong but I think that Crips pay better in L.A…
    go crips!!!

    p.s… I wish in a future superbowl we will see a game between Crips and Bloods… I wouldn’t miss that, for sure

  • I have been reading this blog for a long time now. At most, I’m an amateur who loves this thing called photography. And I also love words, and how they coincide with images in our minds. This blog is a learning experience combined with inspiration.

    I have no reason really to participate in the commenting of this blog, but I was once told by a very good friend of mine when we were discussing whether or not it is natural for a person to like their own photos more than they should. I think it relates to this conversation. She said “….All I can tell you is this, If you don’t trust yourself, no one else will. If you have nothing to say, anyone will listen. And if you have no idea about the path you are taking, you will have no followers.” I think photography allows everyone a voice, a tounge connected to their creative and observant minds. And as long as you don’t suffer from multiple personalities, then there should only be one voice. Afterall, it is the person who is at a higher level of acceptance that sees beauty in all forms.

    Thank you Mr. Harvey for sharing yourself with so many curiuos minds.

  • It’s all up to the photographer isn’t it? I love Majolis and Pellegrins work and both shoot pretty loosely on lots of frames. The thing is that they do it for a reason, they know why. So if you know yourself why you do it and not just because it’s a cool effect I think it’s more than okay.
    On my website in the series “Perfect blur” I wanted to shoot sort of perfected houses in perfect weather. Sort of the work I hate, blue skys and all digitally perfected. To throw things of a bit I decided to make the shots blurry, because I really thought that it added to the pictures. Some people may not think so, but I do. I wanted it more surreal, so just to f#”k with people I just defocused the shot on my Leica and personally I like it. Funny thing is that when I sold my M8 and was going to continue this work with another camera and lens, it just didn’t pop the same way, so it only became a short series of pictures.


  • Charles Peterson, your book is great!!! …

    Saw it for the first time (yeah, i know it’s been out four years, sorry) two days ago in Evergreen library … literally grabbed it out of the stack of thousands when it caught my eye, seriously, weird … this happens here in DAH land. The forward was a great tribute to a “real person” … “fuck me i’m tired” lol … and of course your lonely stage image has always summed up Cobain for me.

    look forward to your new book :))


    please note that mike just posted five new photographers from this forum on the new link: Cara Bowerman, Glenn Campbell, Robert Angel, Raechel Running and Jason Andrew..we are still not quite ready to go live, but almost.. .. ….ok, i have some work to do here at Magnum, but will read all of the comments and respond when i get “home”…

    cheers, david

    p.s.. i see that robert mentioned Cara Bowerman above… strange coincidence, because it was about 5 hours ago that i went through and decided to put her up today…yes, fine photographer….

  • Thanks David I love wavelengths like that.

    Have Sara swing you a copy on me next time you’re over that way. Check out my website if you ever have a moment and go to the “cypher” gallery for a look. Shot it all (well 90%) on medium format – a crazy route to travel for breakdancing but, well I love a challenge (not to mention the look).

    Real jealous of your hip-hop book (in that good way of course). One of my original ideas for the b-boy book was to shoot it all over the world, but just turned out too expensive to do on my own. Did sneak in a shot from Japan and Vietnam though and I might make it to Cambodia before final art is due.

    Anyway, sorry to hijack this thread but nice to finally meet. Your work and outlook is inspiring.


  • David:

    New additions look great! :))…all the work, clara’s gorgeous split-leg cowboy dance, brother glenn’s colordreamshadows,jason’s haunting song of color and collapsed circus bodies (detrius dreams), rachel’s hard-bone, cowboyscollapsingonthe plain and robert’s anthropologic oneiric-rich wing’d face portraits….all strong work and the addition (as always) fleshes out even more deeply and beautiful the variety and possibility, the vein still sucked upon and nourishingly pumping that is photography, in all it’s documenting-conceptualizing loose-hard dreams….

    terrific all and i’m so happy to see additions…the still aching song toward completing of our incomplete dreams…


    congratulations all!

  • ps….as an aging Punk, i can tell u Touch Me I’m Sick absolutely Rules as a book :)))…have also thumped it as well :)))…

    lovely to see Charles here! :)))…and then some!…

  • I get the feeling that most people are here to have some Alan David Harvey sunshine and to read their own WONDERful comments.

  • David,
    thanks for posting me up, only spelt my name wrong.
    wrobert angell

  • Hey david,

    for me this whole assignment was something interesting. I did something I had never done before as far as trying to do a story. My feelings about it now are a bit full of doubt…I think it was too safe and if I ever had another chance art it Id do something very different. But that will be the next assignment, right? Any plans?


    sorry for calling you a chickenshit. I think we got off on the wrong foot. In real life we’d probably punch each other in the mouths and then be friends afterwards. On the internet aggression festers and its like gangrene. I dont want to punch you in the mouth though, I think you’re a funny

  • Well this is the subject of a long essay. Maybe even a book. The Heart of Western Culture?

    Poetry. The image must be poetic, lyrical.

    Take care

  • Hi wrobert,

    sorry about that I fixed it for you.



    we fixed it…sorry…


    i think i will do things differently next time…maybe more specific “assignments” , with the funding up front….in other words, choose photographers based on portfolio, fund them, then see what they do…

    do not worry about your “safe” will key off it and roll in a whole new way i think..anyway, we will see….


    i do not know about dah “sunshine” (i am now cold,wet,and have a sinus headache!!)….but i, for one, certainly enjoy reading through this comments roller coaster ride…i do not know the “motives” for the writers here, nor the readers…

    i just took a spin through your website…i just saw your portraits and your daily life sections….very very nice with “daily life” and you do something consistently very few photogs can do…humor…nice twists, turns, subtleties, and irony….you have a special eye for this…the “portraits” section truly strong as well…power, knowing….

    i will go back and finish looking tomorrow…

    cheers, david

  • PEOPLE OF THIS FORUM… JUST GOT IN( I HAVENT READ ANY COMMENT the last 3 hours… ), from a long day….
    no bonghits YET,…. I have some GREAT news to share and TWO QUESTIONS for everyone…

    BUT , before i continue , people you need to see this…. click on the link… it looks “fresh”… who the hell is singing this song on your slideshow….mr DavidMcGOWAN ?
    people i need to read the posts before i start talking crap… i need , i need , i need… tired of my nagging ass..

    so people enjoy the slideshow below… i found it this morning… when i was digging around,,, i thought i could share…


  • Charles:
    In you case the clothes, the stance, the ground, the dog, all tell a story.

  • “Sometimes, more often than not (for me that is), it’s about what’s not on the photograph, what has just slipped out of the frame, or about something that I anticipate further down the road or about the things that can’t be photographed anyway, it could be about the thin, thin air that surrounds me, the atmosphere of my mind…”
    something I wrote on my blog ( )long ago… still stands.

  • Jesus Herve… the guy is going to sleep!!!!!!!!!!

    p.s:..Juuuuuust kiddin!

    Also, While in India, did you find that what you shot definitely follows your idea on the evaluation of seeing?

    PANOS JUMPS IN LIKE A RETARD:”…HERVE , you got the NERVE????”?
    How do you ask something like that?… David was in India trying to “help” photogs that willing to follow “A” vision…
    He is just a fucking photographer just like you and me… he is not in india to promote his photos… or push himself… of course he is “pushing” himself ANYWAYS- thats why he is a “magnum” photog and i am NOT… you see the difference?
    …The poor homeless motherfucker (david i mean)found out in fucking india he has no home.. and he came back emailing all our lazy asses his fixes for our bugs and viruses… waisted time on each & everyone’s psyche…..and now you ask from him to change the world with a camera….. Herve please…

    But … on the other side.. your QUESTION IS HONEST AND COOL…
    o.k big fucking “MASTER”… show US what you got….

    By the way ( i always forget it too, we are here because we forced ourselves in… not because he (david), chose us… remember that… dont act like me… NOT SAFE

    question unanswered…”…Also, While in India, did you find that what you shot definitely follows your idea on the evaluation of seeing?…”

  • nice job VELIBOR…. I ADMIRE YOUR WORK! panos admitts!
    people , click below:

    ( )long ago… still stands.
    Posted by: Velibor Bozovic | February 01, 2008 at 11:30 PM

  • Panos that’s Smog aka Bill Callahan.

  • Panos that’s Smog aka Bill Callahan.

  • Dope….!!!… thanks DMcGowan….

  • o.k. let me now shut up… go back… and read all the comments i missed!… be back in a couple of hours…

  • Jesussss… how, but how, but how, but how….. did i miss this one….”…


    i think i will do things differently next time…maybe more specific “assignments” , with the funding up front….in other words, choose photographers based on portfolio, fund them, then see what they do…”

    do not worry about your “safe” will key off it and roll in a whole new way i think..anyway, we will see….



    sorry for calling you a chickenshit…”

    panos scratches…. bonghit involved…. pause… exhale…always
    apologies ACCEPTED, thank you…
    but out of curiosity.. only…?…, why did YOU choose me as a TARGET in the first place?…. why did you think ( i mean originally… not now!)… of course, but why was i the “easy” target???
    I’m looking forward to your “insights”…
    Honestly, no sarcasm here”…

    still… “apologies, ACCEPTED”…

  • Charles,

    Cypher, yes! Good for you. A while back I was discussing with Panos that I was one of the very first to host(ess) the b-boy open floor…”Streetbeat’s breakshop” This was back in the early 80’s! I was and still am a hip hop dancer…have been photographing it a bit over the years but no work to see online.

    Someday soon hopefully…

  • all I want to say is this, photography can be very creative, and that can be a lot of fun, and I just think being creative is worth while, no matter what your doing.

  • Hi David,

    I sent you a mail yesterday to request a review of my photographs. Hope you received it.


  • HERVE…

    hmmm, in some way i think you might be missing the point…….you ask “what is the story?” (think you might have been referring to the now ever controversial “dog picture..referring to one picture i believe)..

    so many writers above have answered this question in such an articulate way….and i am running to catch a plane, so this will not be my best…but,….

    who says there has to be a “story”???? have you ever seen me write or heard me say that there has to be a “story”??? maybe you have me mixed up with someone else or you ASSUME i like pictures that “tell a story”….

    i mean i am so totally bored with pictures that “tell the whole story”!!!…utilitarian…yuk!!!

    and i do not mean now (as in trend), but starting when i was in college or maybe forever…yea, even my new “Off For a Family Drive” cover that i shot when was 14, asks a whole lot of questions!!!

    and sure, I HAVE TAKEN plenty of pictures that “tell the whole story”, as part of a magazine assignment or whatever…but, the pictures I KEEP have mystery, are challenging, ask questions, and when they are really good..contradictions!!

    my oh my herve, (thanks panos for your response)… while in India i spent one week trying to challenge 8 students to push themselves as far as THEY could go…i doubt that the “evolution of seeing” was on my mind much when i just wandered through the little town nearby for a couple of hours….mostly herve, i just play play and play… and sometimes the result is just a visual question….this leather jacket and black dog combo obviously worked!! you have been “on it” for days!!

    ok herve, you my man started this long long thread…good on you….i will switch topics over the weekend (probably, but not promise)….


    rushing (yes, what’s new??) to plane…to richmond , virginia to join my best friend medford (you remember , the guy who bailed me out of mexico on my way to thailand)…

    anyway, medford and i will drive down to outer banks of north carolina to see my son bryan and his lovely michelle(see story feb 07 family/friends) for his birthday today….the fact that my son is 41 today sort of twists my head around in a way i cannot completely understand..i “think” i am in my mid-twenties or something and how did my son get so old???….but, what a beautiful twist!!!

    so i might post, i might not post this weekend…always depends on my mood….we should certainly have a new thread to chew on by monday….

    good weekend please to all of you…

    cheers,peace et al, david

  • Hey Uncle Dave, wish your boy a happy birthday from a fellow aquarian – I’ll be having mine on Feb 3rd , and please let Medford know that he is the man, I loved his dog fence pix.

  • Damn, I’ve been a day and half without checking the comments and I can’t follow anymore. Got bit messy before. I agree with Panos that Bukowski is deceivingly simple. Maybe Factotum qualifies as incomplete? It’s just a big bunch of annecdotes! Time to go out to shoot some 6×6 ;-)

  • Checked the new essays. Jason Andrew goes for something completely different and Cara delivers some boobs. Nice!

  • A question about Glenn’s gallery. Second image down. Thumbnail shows full length photo, enlarged image shows cropped image. Which is the intended photo?

  • Raechel’s, Glenn’s and Cara’s collections impress.

  • David, You are excused for erring a bit reading what is said or to who it is said, since you are quite busy and there was so much written in one day.

    Charles Peterson is the one who said your shot told a story, not me. I asked the question to him, not to you. Totally agree with you about “fuck the total story”.

    Case closed.

    And even agree even more about playfulness, hey, let me do a “lese-majesty” here, i am glad you agree with me! ;-)

    Brilliant photos or not, (and your points, with Photography in mind, were spot on) my own essay showed you I too enjoy the moment wherever I am, and don’t think twice about the perfect possible shot. Hell, I am not a photographer, i just take pictures and love photography. If I do “brilliant” shots some day, it won’t be at the expense of playfulness, all I can say.

    The playfulness in photography is something paramount, and I was just thinking lately, that a lot of that is missing in so much of what I see here in the links. People seem so intent on doing “Photography”, capital P.

    I dunno, maybe it’s me, who is entirely out of that “serious photography” league. Maybe that’s the only way to be a photograph when you don’t start at 11 or 52, like you and I. Maybe… Playfulness, I can relate!

    PS: Charles, see, no story! :-)))))

  • Who thinks digital faciliates more esoterical/incomplete imagemaking?

  • Joost – for me the fact that it does not cost money to take bad pictures with digital frees me up to experiment try that 3 second exposure and see what happens. Or try an angle that that looks strange. So yes, for me it produces more incomplete pictures.

  • Harry’s correct. Digital allows for greater experimentation, and for more people.

    With computers and digital technology, cameras and scanners included, we all have immediate access to the best photographers in the world. The best photography in the world. Ten, fifteen years ago this wasn’t quite the case. We get to see much more than what was once a month laid out before you in American Photographer, Popular Photography, Nat Geo, etc.

    More to see, more to emulate, no need to worry about “wasting” film, experiment like mad, and learn quickly…immediate feedback!

  • Dave, Happy Birthday to your son, and similar wishes to Glenn; my daughter is 4 today (shares the date with Glenn) and I am still trying to get my head around that!


  • Happy birthday everybody especially those who do have an actual birthday… like… Liam’s daughter or David’s son…

    So … happy birthday … once more…

    “…Who thinks digital faciliates more esoterical/incomplete imagemaking?

    Posted by: Joost Burger | February 02, 2008 at 12:39 PM…”

    MICHAEL K. posted:
    “…Harry’s correct. Digital allows for greater experimentation, and for more people.
    …More to see, more to emulate, no need to worry about “wasting” film, experiment like mad, and learn quickly…immediate feedback!

    Posted by: Michael Kircher | February 02, 2008 at 02:55 PM…”

    panos thinks… panos stopped thinking.. CONFUSED… people i’m really stalled!!!…

    and the dark side… the “manipulate the image”, side…. of photoshop… but other than “CHEAP TRICKS-SPECIAL EFFECTS & SHIT….”, what else could the contribution be of using a DSLR???

    Now.. i will agree with everybody that most of as POOR and cant afford the luxury of having a “darkroom” in our home… or thousands of $, to buy expensive rolls of film…
    I totally agree that DIGITAL ERA made photography really “cheap”…
    Photography for the masses… affordable dslrs….
    no need to put any effort… learn at home… yourself…

    YEAHH, but on the other side… ALEC SOTH once said that:
    “DIGITAL made photography a FOOLS PARADISE…
    So who wants to clear that up for me??


    CATHYYYYY , please get involved… Except of couple exceptions…
    toooo much “testosterone” in here… still!!!!
    ( i totally agree i’m part responsible)

    JONI, first time in my blog life i will totally disagree with your “boob” comment…

  • Joni – I agree that the picture in incomplete – it’s also on the front page of my site.

  • About incompletion and digital. I have this thing that when I see a digital camera I end up looking at the back. When I look at the back I reset the exposure to get it better than the time before, I reframe to get it better than the time before, and the end product is a pile of shit. With film I shoot once, I don’t know what I get, I experiment, I have sort of a clue but between the time that elapses between shooting and developing I simply surprise myself. Incomplete? Maybe, but not because of trying to shoot badly. Sort of pisses me off to hear that incompletion, bad shooting and digital all go hand in hand. Most my contact sheets are collections of failed experiments. Beautiful.

  • PEOPLE OF THIS FORUM I REALLY FEEL THE OBLIGATION TO THANK ALL THE individuals,… friends, etc…, that visited my web…citizens from the CITIES THAT I LIST BELOW:

    Bulgaria : thank you VARNA.
    Japan…. : thank you CHIYODA
    Colombia: :thank you BOGOTA
    Luxembourg: thank you
    Russia : thank you St PETERSBURGH
    Hungary : thank you BUDAPEST
    New Zealand: thank you LOWER HUTT
    Switzerland : thank you MENZIKEN
    Argentina : thank you VINCENTE LOPEZ
    Vietnam thank you
    DUBAYY thank you
    Mexico thank you TUXTIA GUTIERREZ
    Finland……….HELSINKI & JOENSUU… whats up
    Netherlands…. GIESSENDAM
    Belgium….. ANTWERP & IXELLES
    Denmark…. HILLEROD & ARHUS…
    LATVIA…. RIGA thank you….
    Singapore … hey….
    Slovenia…. SKOFIA LOKAV& TRZIN
    SERBIA & MONTENEGRO … NOVI BEOGRAD & PANCEVO… hey brothers what up…. hey from the battle zone called LOS ANGELES…
    Phillipines… MANILA & DAVAO CITY… thanks
    Australia… SYDNEY!!!!!!
    Venezuela… CARACAS
    Ecuador… GUAYAQUIL & QUITO
    Ireland…. dublin… DUBLIN… let me guess????
    Malaysia… KUALA LUMPUR
    South Africa…… ROSEBANK & ROODEPOORT…. thank you from the bottom of my heart…
    India… CALCUTTA & BANGALORE…& MAHAPE super thank you… India… holly land….
    Norway…. BARUM & SANDVIKA… and….
    South Korea…..SEOUL & PUSAN…

    & my home KKKKKKALIFORNIA…..

    thank you… to all those friends… to all the above cities… and not only… that visited my website the last week .., according to “GOOGLE ANALYTICS”…

    peace out
    thank you ALL

  • hey… INDIANA & MARYLAND… i love you too!

  • I am not sure if Carolyn has ever posted here, some of you know her I am sure, but Paige, a bit above, mentionned her in her blog, and here’s a fine example illustrating what could possibly be portending to an evolution of seeing, with much sensibility behind either what we labelled here either uncomplete and complete, unliteral and almost literal (the only real literal shots i know are my ID cards one, and then again….).

    One thing, I am… literally conquered! Most especially her work in the baltic, Eastern Europe republics. Very inspiring:

  • I think with digital the ‘feedback loop’ is shorter and cheaper. I have immediately an idea what you have shot, and if you want you can emphasize your mistakes, and keep on improvising.

    @Panos: I have never been a huge DLSR fan, but my compact allows me to experience and see the whole scene if I use the screen..


    hmmm, i will go look…might be a mistake…


    you are “right on” about carolyn drake..her best is just terrific…i met carolyn a few years ago when she was an intern at natgeo…i could see from her work even at the very beginning that she had “something special”…..

    cheers, david


    a mistake…two pics cropped wrong in fact…..thanks for tipping us off…sorry glenn, will fix soonest….

    cheers, david

  • No problem, David…glad to be of help.


    No photoshop. Wasn’t talking about that at all. So, just the tool, the camera. And yes, as Joost mentions above and I mentioned before…instant and cheaper feedback. Some are able to use it to their advantage…others might not. That’s cool.

    But I will ask…what for you is a “cheap trick?” You mentioned that above. Again, not talking about photoshop…just the camera. Is panning a cheap trick? Are we talking about a purposeful blur? Conscious use of slow shutter speed? Using a faster shutter speed to stop the action? Is use of a flash a cheap trick? Does it depend on whether it’s used as the main light or just for fill? Mounted on the camera or held off to the side? Dragging the shutter?

    Is the use of a filter “cheap?” A polarizer? 81A warming filter? How about white balance? Can we adjust that for our purposes? What about film choice? B&W? Velvia 50, Kodachrome 25? How about paper? Stronger contrast over weaker. All have different characteristics that one person might prefer, another might hate.

    Then there’s digital cameras and their various tone compensations? More saturation or less? More contrast or less? Custom curves?

    Genuinely curious while guzzling a dark French Roast!

  • @Herve: thanks for introducing to Drake… by incomplete you mean pic 17 of travels in moldova? :o)

  • Good morning, all.

    David, just caught on about your son being 41. That sure is a reality call! No grand fathering so far? I can’t quite recall.

    Joni, yes, maybe. I am not sure. That’s the point, when “quite” and “note quite” meet in a shot, it is usually bound to drag you in a bit more seeing than just looking. this is not too representative of her other job, bit flickR-ish, or friday-pixish, no?


    I think pix 11 (1 too, if angle more straightforward) in “orphan girls” gets a bit towards the idea even better. Though, after looking at hundreds of masters in the last years,and zillion photos, I also find it very classic, as docus go.

    Hence, my regret we did not follow the discussion closely to “evolution of seeing”, and went on about this vs that. On the other hand, neither of us, and David will agree I am sure, are theoricians of photography.

  • Hey Herve…I’d say we clearly are ALL Photography Theoricians! For good or for ill! ;^}

  • @Herve: yes, but I guess I prefer those more odd pictures of hers. Like the woman eating pizza in suburbia (very parr) or the man on the electric lines. The fragmented ones are cool. I like it less when you actually see the people, excepting some that have just a stunning use of light. We almost had sun here yesterday (only a thin cover this time) so I was shooting medium format again. Ah… sunlight…

  • Joni, I probably like some of those pictures too. I did not look at all the series. the fashion thing, as a whole, seems a bit off in interst and strentgh (one gorgeous “blue” pix there though!), though, which could lead to an interesting new debate:

    How much should a budding photographer interested in being in the profession, esp. that of photo-journalism avoid to mix very different genres, avoiding to project too many scattered wants?

    Michael. Sure, after all, we are only missing a full fridge, or a couple nice bottles at room temperature to become great theoricians! No recording, please…. :-)

  • Carolyn Drake, yes!

    An excellent example of SUBSTANCE and CONTENT combined with authorship (a subject that I am far from being an expert in.)
    This is my kind of photography. Sorry, I just DO NOT get the out of focus indulgent crap (excuse the opinion) that is so highly regarded around here. As I always say…I am a photographer who doesn’t like photography! Or at least does not care for the super loose. If that’s what you do or enjoy I am happy for you…we certainly have our own likes and dislikes and I would never argue or defend mine over yours but as far as my personal preferences Carolyn’s work is something I can relate to and enjoy looking at.

    By the way, Carolyn has been featured a couple of times in my friend Tewfic’s blog…The Travel Photographer. I’m sure many here know him from LS. I HIGHLY reccomend it. Everyday he features great photographers and multi media presentations from around the globe.

  • DAVID,

    I sense that you will be changing topics very soon but want to get this in quickly…off topic. I considered PM-ing you about it but I’m sure many would enjoy your response, if you care to give one…

    My workshop with Alex Webb is next weekend and I am wondering if you have any advice about how to maximize the workshop experience…What do you tell your students at the beginnng of a workshop about how to get the most out of it?

    Probably just the opposite of what I’ve said above about being loose, right?

  • MICHAEL K, when i mentioned “cheap tricks”, it was fore photoshop tricks or other software that mimick technics with a false feeling…
    I wasnt talking about any camera though!… I will agree with you about affordable experiments… and instant feedback from the customer… on the scene… it changed the whole business…
    No customer wants to wait anymore…. I had customers that they started terms like FTP, RAW ,RGP… etc…
    There is no way back anymore… all i was saying though that digital or no the “esoterical” part of photo… i think it still has to do mainly with the photographer… unless its a photoshop cheap trick… or other magic software of any kind…
    But i agree that the digital era… save money, saves ,saves, saves,a lot of dough… plus many clients now are ONLY DIGITALLY ACCESIBLE… Welcome to L.A of 2008
    Saves money or reshoots.. even if you still shoot film….. lets face it.. its the cheapest polaroid you can get….

    CATHY…, DAH, ALEX WEBB… what the hell is panos is doing?
    Anyways, that’s exciting, im jealous… RIGHT ON, CATHY…

  • sorry about the RGP thing… mistakes!!!!, …ready to get outt of the car…now

  • greetings & salutations all !! I have been following this thread while on the road and i think the overall discussion is very rich in content. At this time I’m in Tuba,Arizona checking out of the Quality Inn Motel headed now for the Grand Canyon. My friend Daniella is visiting from Holland and wanted to see some good old American Scenery. Back soonest….

  • I have SERIOUS doubts about posting this!!!
    Alex Webb is giving a public talk in LA this coming Friday.
    I believe it costs $10 to attend. Here’s the link:

    Panos if you show up and start a riot I will disavow all knowledge of you! NO HECKLING! :))

  • M K
    I believe I was the person who referenced “cheap tricks” way back jan 31st 2008 04:24 am.
    what I actually meant in that comment was that there have been in the past, people with cameras that have been able to use the loose style, snap shot style, incomplete style, or how ever you want to refer to it, pre digital era, and have been able to create masterfull images that have with stood the test of time, and sustained scrutiny. consistantly produced images that are beautiful to look at today. people that broke new ground and created a new vocabulary in the photo sphere.
    these people gained notoriety for ther achievements, books, shows, $$, fame, whatever.
    then you have the wannabees, who want the golden life, but don’t really have the talent, ( by “talent” i mean being able to create images that are generally appealing, that show a unique quality, or draw the attention for reasons unknown, magical ), these turkeys, as I have called them, due to their lack of talent, are borrowing this vocabulary and trying to expliot it for their own gain and interest. ( its nothing new )
    and especially now, where a lot of people are using the same digital cameras, creating a kind of homogonised world of similarity, you know, trying to be “different”, but evrybodys using the same canons and with the same boring ass lenses, and all that shit looks the same to me, so how are you going to stand out?
    make pictures that look wrong.
    what I meant by cheap trix, tilted, blurry, shadowy, undecypherable, trying to spice up work that really sucked in the 1st place.
    not everyone is a great photographer, sure you might hit the jack pot 1:1000 times with your digi’s but who cares.
    I am not saying don’t shoot or anything like it, I just think there are a lot of turkeys who try and use the loose style to make up for not really having anything going on in their boring ass photography.

    for amatuers only-
    I think whats interesting is why people want their photos to be looked at.
    you take pictures, I ask you, why do you want people to look at your work?, what do you want from that?
    do you want your work hanging on walls for the public to see, what is the reason you take pictures? for money, attention, for what f..king reasons do you shoot.

  • I wonder how many super bowl suckers are watching that shit, meanwhile the political US is completely blowing it around the world. and what have we got to share…
    DA Soobbabowl…duh…hu hu…yeh bozz

    GOD.. we are f..cking doomed…

  • w. Robert…

    Well it’s haltime and Tom Petty sucks so here I am. By the way, tired refrain you got there…more people watch football than care for politics Aaahh we’re doomed!! Well it is as it ever was and, well…here we still are. Thankfully many of us can multi-task in that area.

    And to answer that presumptuous why do you shoot question…simply because I love it! I absolutely love it!

  • Just kidding about Tom Petty by the way. Good stuff.

  • people of the superbowl…. JUST came back home,…i just posted 7 photos of “recording”… or describing to myself…
    a movie visit experience….
    thats my only contribution to myself and YOU, today…
    peace, click below:

  • I think the question I really want to find an answer to is,
    “why do you want people to look at your photographs?”

    “why do you shoot?”
    ok wrong question, thats a no brainer to answer.

  • i just completed a 13 hour trek in the car and miraculously I’m home safely; thank GOD !! There was an ice storm in Flagstaff, Arizona that nearly claimed my Life. This snowstorm even made national news in Holland, go figure. Nature vs Man = Coexist

    “why do you want people to look at your photographs?” Bob since you asked the question why don’t you answer first ?

  • Ha! My birthday was on Saturday (the 2nd) as well. I turned 44 (oh my where have the years gone). Happy birthday to your son David. Ground hogs Day.

    I was out of web range there for a bit visiting the parents but to answer your question Herve:

    I think that “story” can be defined in many ways. It doesn’t have to have a narrative per se, a beginning, middle and end. It can be a feeling, an emotion, a deja vu, a “Oh yeah, I can relate” and so on. A personal story of the senses, of the heart. The “story” David’s picture related to me was that of my own travels in the developing world and the people I met there. It’s a very small “story”, a slice of the big picture that makes up our universe.

    But since you need things more literal here’s an attempt: the crossed hands indicate a moment of concentration perhaps, or contemplation, or worried, or wise. The cheap leather jacket indicates a certain need to be fashionable or suave despite the dirt road and stray dog I can just picture the cheap sunglasses and white shirt open at the collar). It could be a picture about a person’s standing in life or aspirations despite their surroundings.

    David mentioned my picture of Cobain from behind performing surrounded by blackness of the stadium. Despite it just being a pic of a performer from behind, it tells a story way beyond what is merely contained within that frame. Now that analogy is a bit skewed because we all know the backstory to that particular person and the image takes on extra resonance due to tragedy. But maybe if we also knew the backstory to this man with his hands behind his back this particular image might speak more volumes than a straight frontal portrait. We don’t know that backstory but we can be allowed to imagine it.

    Life is an ongoing story and no matter what a photograph will always only reveal a 1/125th of a second of it.

  • w. robert,

    Above you say, ‘I think the question I really want to find an answer to is,
    “why do you want people to look at your photographs?”‘

    Also, “what do you want from that?”

    Genuinely curious…do you want to find the answer to that question with regards to yourself? Is it rhetorical? Or is it a direct question for folks in here? If it is the former….no problem. But if it is the latter, why? That’s some serious audacity. Why should anyone be troubled to try and satisfy your presumptuousness? And lastly, why should you care why people want their work seen?

  • with the portraits, its important for me that the subjects see and like the the images of themselves. thats first and formost.
    everybody gets the same treatment, and there is no special attention given, photographically, to anyone.
    but the thing that i am proud of is that the people get their images, and that there is no $ attached, I shoot the portraits for free. most of the people I shoot, bar a few, are pretty low income, sometimes people drop off film, so i can continue, because I have no $ to speak of. but after that its not really important to me weather anyone else see’s the work or not.
    what is important to me is that the people that i have photographed get the portrait returned to them.
    the satisfaction is when I hand over that portrait.
    I mean its nice when people look at my work, especially my peers. but it would not change anything if nobody looked.
    I don’t expect anyone to answer my pushy questions especially that one, but I think its something worth thinking about.
    obviously everybody is different, but I think there is a fairly universal thread that photographers want their work to be looked at, and appreciated, why is it presumptous to try and analyze this.
    I guess another question I have is, if you new that no one was going to look at your work, would that change the way you shoot?
    I dont expect anyone to answer that, but I wonder if anyone consciously thinks about it.
    I just can’t help but think there is a certain level of vanity that photographers have, that when their work gets overlooked or ignored they get pissed,
    some people cover it up with praise and back slaps, some people start ranting, like myself or a few others. but the common thread is, unless you are living in a cave, you want your work looked at.

    anyway, I don’t really even think my work should be up on Davids site. I was not picked initially, only as an after thought, and I cant help but think i kind of forced myself up there by ranting on about the final essayists.


    you said “unless you are living in a cave, you want your work looked at”….hmmmm, seems to me there were a lot of people living in caves that certainly put pictures up on the walls assuming , i am sure, that someone would take a look!!!

    actually, when i think back to my childhood and my first pictures, i did not expect anyone to look at them….i did not even show my pictures to the rest of family unless really pushed to do so (a big complaint of my father!)…even now, my friends will tell you that i am reluctant to show work….i usually show work only to students as a helpful “tool”..obviously i have earned a living showing my pictures to quite literally millions of people…but, that is an abstraction and never a goal…and , of course, most of them do not know they are looking at “my” pictures…they are just looking at the subject…basically, i think i must have made all those early pictures just so that i could see them….a simple reminder of time passing…or memory…it is often a pleasant surprise if someone else may enjoy the work, but i try not to think about that too much or for too long..

    i too get my biggest kick out of giving pictures to the people in them…”Living Proof” was done just so that i could see the expression on the faces of my “boyz n the hood” when they saw themselves in print!!..i wanted a book THEY would like…direct, simplistic, all full bleeds..i gave them all dozens of prints….at no point did i ever think i was doing a “photo book” for my colleagues “to like”..

    your pictures were not picked as an “afterthought”…your pictures, and the work of about 25 others, just were slow to be uploaded because we have been trying trying to get the new site done since before Christmas…had that been done, your work would have been up on the first day…perhaps your triptychs were not up in the so called “finalist” (a name never given by me, but by others ) category…however out of the 250 essays submitted, certainly in the top 25 and definitely work i have been wanting to show..
    and i have zero reason to bs you…or anyone….remember, we were just trying to show the range of the audience here..that is all….the stipend is incidental….but, because of this , we have more funding for more people already….

    relax wrobert….you are a thoughtful “deliberate” photographer….just keep working the way you do…no need to justify….your work speaks….and all of us are looking at your work!!! do some more!!!

    cheers and peace, david

  • “why do you want people to look at your photos?”

    on a very basic level i suppose it’s about communication and what it means to be human. humans communicate and weather it’s ideas or information or whatever it’s the nature of the species. sometimes when people become famous they become “artists” but we are all creating and expressing ourselves creatively in nearly everything we do from making a great pot of chili to matching my pants and shoes and shirt together when i leave the house. i think one of the fundamental reasons for art is that it is a form of communicating. people who write or create want someone to look at thier work because they have something to say.

    Now, “What do you want from that?

    On a very basic level shrinks tell us that everyone wants to be heard and valadated and recognized and accepted and loved and blah blah blah. this can come in many ways with $ being the least at times, unless you are making a living at it. if it’s family photos it’s a reminder, sometimes only to yourself, of people, places, relationships, feelings, experiences, etc. for other photos it’s a way of seeing and expressing in shapes and colors and forms. sometimes it’s kind of like a game of putting pieces together and seeing things in ways that are meaningful or pleasing to me and maybe or maybe not to someone else. a harmless pursuit i suppose…if it doesn’t become too self indulgent at the expense of……

    now, another thing regarding an earlier post by w robert. style versus content. what i was saying is kind of summeed up in an out of date book “The elements of Style”:

    “thereforethe first piece of advice is this: to achieve stly begin by affecting none – that is, place yourself in the background. a careful and honest writer does not need to worry about style. as he becomes proficient in the use of the language his style will emerge, because he himself will emerge, and when this happens he will find it increasingly easy to break through the barriers that sepate him from other minds, other hearts – which is of course, the purpose of writing, as well as it’s principal reward.

  • thanks David,
    I really appreciate your thoughts on my questions, I must say you have a really calm way of communicating, and it really comes through on the post ups.
    Its been a really tough post up this incomplete one, I think in many ways I have been pretty aggresive, in the way I communicated my questions and realizations, I went back and reread my comments, and thought, i’m just not really making my self clear or whatever, its been a difficult thing for me to process this one, “incomplete” i don’t know why, it just leads me to other questions that I have a hard time dealing with and the more I tried to sort things out in my mind, the more it seemed as though I was getting further from the mark.
    anyway, I am glad you came through on that last comment, I mean really, that is the best part for me too, well it certainly is crucial and very rewarding, giving back to the people that were kind enough to let me into their private life. with the close up portraits, in that photobooth and the lights, its pretty intense.
    also I have a back log of new work that is waiting to be scanned and cleaned up,

  • JAY…

    everyone should keep e.b. white’s little book by their bed side!!! thanks….


    this was a good thread…got us all going a bit!!! that’s ok i think….a good question or thought forces all of us to think about our motives, results etc etc…

    in any case, we will all wait to see your “back log”…

    cheers, david

  • CATHY, thank you for the info about
    Alex Webb this week in L.A…
    I’m afraid to go because I dont wanna have
    somekinda HECKLING “relapse”…
    but remember: I’m not the one that crucified
    Jesus… But then again… maybe I’m lying…
    anyways, I will be the guy in the back ,
    with the red rose in my teeth ( or in my hair ),
    so if you see me, please say hi…
    kidding… thanks again

  • also I totally agree with David about WROBERT’s medium format great work…. The delayed post on the website of Wrobert’s work it is not an “afterthought”…
    to me the delay was simply a mistake…
    Wroberts work shouldn’t just been included in the 10 best, but probably in the 3 best category…
    wrobert , keep it up…

  • PANOS…

    yes, and there are several more photographers coming who you will like as well…it was not really a “mistake” as much as my “over enthusiasm” for what was going to be technically possible before Christmas…and totally overwhelmed on how much work it was all going to be…on the other hand, if it is to be viewed as a mistake, then it is my mistake alone…

    did you go see alex webb???

    cheers, david

  • David,
    Alex Webb is “on” this Friday…
    but… DAH’s blog is taking all of my time…
    I can only “do” one “magnum” guy at the time..
    I have a weird feeling that if I go I will keep
    posting “crap” through my freeky phone again…
    anyways… kidding…
    I’ll keep you posted if I make it… its my girlfriend’s
    birthday on Friday , made plans since last year…
    god damn…

  • David,

    Alex is not till Friday night for the public and then I will be with Alex and Rebecca in the workshop over the weekend. Please see my posts about him above…including asking for your advice on how to be a “good workshop student”

    I know you are trying your best to get the rest of the submissions posted but I sure wish I knew which of my images you are planning to post…it would help me as far as deciding on selecting 30 images to bring to show Alex…something I am struggling with this week! Almost all will be NOT the ones I submitted for the assignment but maybe I will pick a couple from there.

    Any message you want me to give the Webbs?

  • Too bad most are probably not reading this thread any longer.

    It seems possible that I will be the first of our group to meet Panos…HELP!!!

  • Oh…maybe not.
    Better not ruin the girlfriend’s birthday Panos.

    (sigh of relief) :))

    Seriously, let me know if you are going… I’ll find you and decide if I want to introduce myself.

  • CATHY….

    there is no way i can tell you how to be a good workshop student with alex or with anyone…i think the fact that you are taking the time to even do a workshop is enough….most good workshop teachers only want to get “inside your head” and let you fly….most do not want you to be “like them”….just relax….enjoy yourself …alex and becky are both patient and great teachers by all accounts…

    cheers, david

  • I’d like to learn how to make pictures that are less complete! It’s such a hard balance! Sontag says that family photos are the most arranged kind of photos there are. People smile and pose and you KNOW what you’re going to get what you snap that picture.

    When I take a photo I can often see how it will turn out in my head. Sometimes I catch the idea I was working for and everything comes together in the frame, but in a way, that takes the surprise out of the process. Shouldn’t your work keep surprising you to keep things fresh?

    When I shoot haphazardly I don’t feel that I have enough choice in the final picture. Yes I may get something interesting, but was it really something “I” made? I want my work to be heartfelt. I would like it to be a reflection of my feelings and not simply editing skills.

    Honestly, this is something I’ve always loved about what the magnum photographers do! There are heads cut off, single limbs and arms poking into the frame, lots of diagonals and dynamic framing. Content and form have a nice dance with each other…How do I get there!!

    Maybe I should shoot with a 20mm and crawl around on my belly on the time ;-P That’ll be a different look.

  • I guess what I’m saying is, I’m still trying to discover how to anticipate…

  • Watch this, so you know whats gonna happen when i’m gone:

  • David, is it possible to ban these moronic, off-topic, ad hominium attacks? It’s like having a small child throw a tantrum in the middle of an interesting conversation.

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