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The Derisive Moment - street shooting not what it used to be

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by goldenlight, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Close your eyes and imagine that you are strolling along the Rue Mouffetard in Paris. Not too difficult is it? The year is 1954 and your name is Henri Cartier Bresson. O.K., I know that's a quantum leap for most photographer's but just for a minute let your imagination run wild and visualize that you really are the most celebrated of all photo journalists, the master of the decisive moment himself.

    As usual this famous old street near the heart of Paris is alive with the everyday hustle and bustle of people going about their business, either shopping in the market or meeting friends for a coffee in one of the cafés. You wander along, keenly observing everything that is happening around you, waiting for circumstances to converge as the elements of a scene all come together for one brief moment to truly define the subject. A split second in time immortalized on film by your quick reactions, anticipation and skill as a photographer.

    Suddenly a boy aged about 7 turns a corner, cradling a huge magnum of wine in each arm and wearing a cheeky grin full of pride, apparently very pleased with his endeavours. In an instant you pull your ready primed Leica from your pocket and instinctively frame the composition to include the two young girls following slightly behind, their attention also caught by the boy with the wine, judging by the expressions on their faces. With a single click of the whisper quiet shutter you have captured a timeless and remarkable image that is destined to rank as one of the greatest street photographs of all time.

    But wait, without warning you are surrounded by a small but angry crowd accusing you of being a pervert. Taking pictures of children. They want to drag you off and lynch you. A gendarme quickly appears and asks you to identify yourself before insisting that you accompany him to the station where your photographs can be developed and viewed. As a precaution your hands are cuffed behind your back and you are unceremoniously bundled into the back of a police car to the jeers of the onlookers.

    The developed film reveals more problems. A group of picnickers on the banks of the Marne and a man jumping over a puddle, all of whom you apparently photographed without them being aware. This could constitute, you are told, an invasion of privacy. Did you ask their prior permission? No, the gendarme thought not. Fortunately there are no pictures of gendarmes otherwise you really would be in trouble and could be held for up to 42 days without charge under the counter terrorism laws. Eventually it is decided there is not quite enough evidence to charge you on this occasion and you are released under caution with a stern warning that any future photographs of children may result in you being placed on the sex offenders register. You are also strongly advised to destroy the negatives....

    (First published in Amateur Photographer magazine)
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    See, I have a problem here. I'm not one to follow the rules to well. I work the streets all the time here in the States or better known as the Colony.
    We do have many issues with exactly what you posted but I can't live in fear of the law or my government. I respect peoples rights but I expect the same in return.
    Children are an issue but for me there was never a photographic attraction except my kids.
    I'd rather work with adults and maybe find the child inside the adult....

    The laws, internationally will in fact get worse. pedophiles, terrorist, LAWYERS ...etc will make it very difficult to work on the street or any public place.

    THAT is the single driving force that should make every street shooter WORK!
    Call it rebellion if you will but within those paranoid laws, are many images of the Human condition and social consciousness that need photos to be seen in order to wake people up.

    If we as streetshooters do not make images that reflect the paranoia, we have no one to blame but ourselves as new laws fall upon us.
    Every human being has to make a stand at some point in their life.

    It's just like everything else in society...you either eat it and get full or you ask what the hell are they feeding you....
    I don't eat unless I like the taste.....
  3. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Reminds me of a day a fews years back while I was walking one of the paths in the Grampians National Park (Victoria, Australia) doing landscapes and carrying tripod, big camera and even bigger lens over my shoulder and other gear in a backpack. I was coming back to the car park, down one of the tracks that followed a river, and about 20m below and maybe 200m away was a group of women and kids playing in the river. One of the women spotted me and immediately everything stopped and I was locked on by every pair of eyes as I passed them; if they'd had guns, I suspect that every one would have been trained on me.

    We were in a major tourist attraction that sees tens of thousands of tourists each year, every one of them armed with all assortment of cameras, and this was the first time ever that I'd experienced this. It was quite unnerving and made me feel very uneasy. I actually wondered where the men folk were and whether I'd be shortly chased, or worse, just because I was travelling solo with some hefty camera gear.

    Unfortunately, we've come to a point where you're considered guilty until proven innocent, because of mass paranoia about all things photographic. That's why I always carry my newspaper credentials with me now, so that if I am accosted, I can show (for what it's worth) that I'm an accredited photographer (on assignment). The days of innocence have long, long, gone.


  4. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Without doubt we need to make a stand. The issues run much deeper than the detrimental effects on photographers; the whole concept of freedom in our great Western Democracies is at stake. Street shooting is important, both as historical record and social comment; in fact it is essential to the health of any free society. Glad to hear you are making a stand, Don, just as I'm sure HCB would if he were still shooting today.
  5. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    It certainly is not the old days of H.C. Bresson and R. Doisneau in Paris or D. Arbus and G. Winogrand in New York on the streets. I think it is harder in Europe than in the states. A gendarme made me delete pictures off my memory card in Paris several years ago and a woman tried to call the police on me in Paris for taking photos of a group. I was far away and shooting with a wide angle but Europeans seem more paranoid about it than Americans, on the other hand Americans are likely more paranoid about issues involving children.

    Innocent as they may be today EVERYONE has a camera and has access to the internet instantly. Back then these photographers were one of a very few people stalking the streets, people probably didn't even know what to think of them, they were so few.

    On the other hand we have some distinct advantages that the pioneers didn't have, first very fast film and lenses and the past 10 years digital has enabled us to do things they could not including shoot unlimited numbers frames with little effect on the bottom line.
  6. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    A lot of the issues shooters face they bring on themselves. I'm not saying that we aren't in a screwed up place at the moment, but if your out making photos, you know the paranoia out there. Having confidence in your stance and movements goes a long ways. If you look like your doing something wrong, well....

    On the streets, there's a certain feeling of despair. It's like people are loosing everything including their rights. A shooter on the street is a prime target to vent the frustrations they feel. There are sooo many cameras out there it's a real problem.

    I don't let any of this take effect on what I do. I'm not saying to abide by the rules...but just pay attention to what's going on around you at all times. That's the stuff ya have to make photos of.

    I was detained about 3 months ago when I was making photos at a soldiers funeral.
    I purposely made some images of some FBI agents that were present. This ain't the first time I've done that...anyway...they wanted to know why I made the photos. I calmly explained that as a patriot, I felt it important to record their presence at a soldiers funeral. They checked my photos and after about an hour let me go on my way...no issue.
    NO ISSUE! Who the hell do they think they are. I'm an AMERICAN Citizen, protected by the Constitution. Anyway, I asked for it and I got it...right or wrong...that's the paranoia out there...

    As far as children goes...sorry, I completely understand. Living here in Philly, having a very good friend that's a trial attorney, I understand the issue of pedophiles, degenerates, scumbags, missing kids etc....

    I'd like to get Bill down here...he's got some strong opinions on this.....
    I gotta breathe....
  7. cosinaphile

    cosinaphile Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    new york city
    this mass paranoia, is deliberately cultivated by all western govt`s at this very sad, very dark juncture in history, it serves their interests as they slowly throw a cloak of fascism and police state politics over the last free nations of the earth.

    many great philosophers in centuries past have correctly observed that the first and most feared enemy of any govt is its own people ,
    the freaks who run the show, and play the never ending mindfuck game with innocent citizens of the "western" nations know this well ,.... but sadly the great majority of citizens dont have a clue as they continue to trust the treasonist media and their military and political criminals to protect them from "danger" and tell them whats really going on

    orwell spins in his grave
  8. cosinaphile

    cosinaphile Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    new york city
    as far as paedophilia's criminals and other deviants , that threaten the most innocent
    thousand inhabit positions of authority in the churches legislatures and govt and other power structureswhere their money and power prevent them from ever seeing justice for their henous acts

    they are protected by the political and judicial structure s in place all around the world, in all cultures, and have been since the beginning of time
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