Quick update from me on this new challenge. It appears the topic is still unclear to many readers, so let me rephrase in a more pragmatic manner.
Most of us are stuck at home, and international tourist travel is still a remote dream in many countries. I would like someone from Baltimore to be able to get a taste of what it’s like to walk in the streets of Windhoek. Or for someone in Newcastle to get a feel of the streets of Barcelona. Or for someone in Zurich to virtually stroll Hong Kong.
Of course, there’s Google Street View for that. Open Google, type the name of a location, click Map, drop the little yellow guy at bottom right on any street. Voilà.
And I’m not trying to supersede Google Street View or Google Photos, 20 monthly photos at a time 😉 But I still believe we can bring more to the table that an car with an automatic 360° cam on the roof. Hopefully we can 😉 This post contains 4 pics made while walking in Nimes. Looking at them, do you get a feel of what this ancient city is like? What if I focused exclusively on the ripples in the cape? Probably not so much.
So, I’m not entirely sure how to phrase this differently differently from the previous posts, but here are pointers and an interesting example from a website. For this challenge (of which results will be published next week), I would like scenes of your city (where you live or travel to often enough to know well).
Not details of a statue or wall, unless they are extremely typical of the city and nowhere else. Not some temporary event, unless that too is extremely typical of the city and nowhere else. Just go out in the street and shoot. If you ever think “hey this is a nice street, I’d love to show XXX who live 4 000 miles away”, that’s perfect.
What qualifies ? Streets, beaches, churches, buildings, parks, … almost anything that’s actually there and not identical somewhere else (so not a Louis Vuitton shop that’s very similar in Paris, London, NY, … and every airport in the galaxy). Details such as cars and statues and trees are OK, if they are typical of the place. The Torero above is very typical of Nimes and the Camargues area. And there’s context, it’s not just a photo of the statue.
At the end of the day: what do your eyes see? When you visit somewhere new, you eye doesn’t instantly settle on a detail of a statue. It takes in the whole place. I’d like you to send photographs that create a sense of being there. That, and nothing else, is the whole point of this challenge. Help others see your part of the world as they would if they were strolling there for the first time.
Obviously, they wouldn’t go to the ugly part of town (unlike Google Street View) so you can concentrate your efforts on interesting or beautiful parts of your world. But interesting doesn’t mean iconic. There’s a lot more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower. And here’s a lovely example from The Eye of Photography. In this series, Karin Borghout focuses on dead-end streets in Paris. And I, for one, would love to find the time to photograph the Mews of London, for example. Her photographs are very literal and very well executed. They put the subject and viewer first. Her style doesn’t get in the way. Neither do any technical imperfections such as blown highlights, ugly shadows, spots, compositional imbalance, a crooked horizon …
So, beyond the catalog of photographs we could assemble over the months, this is also a very interesting form of practise. It’s actually very difficult (hey, the name challenge is there for a reason 😉 ) but perfection isn’t the goal. Trying is.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the ability to make the subject the center of attention is essential to storytelling. Famous directors of photography – those that win the Oscars, all know how to back off in service of the mood required for the specific scene. They often initially want to do something special and spectacular and then back off, focusing on the story, not themselves. The inability to do so explains why sooooooo many advanced amateur videos on the web are tiring and boring at the same time. Too many effects, too little substance.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong personal style. All the best photographers who have published posts and photographs on DS do. They have a very strong personal signature. But it never comes at the expense of what’s being depicted. It’s only a top layer that adds consistency and personality to their work. So, for this challenge, I want you to photograph unplugged 😉 No fancy anything. Just photographs that show others what the nice bits of your world are like 🙂 🙂
And, just like in the now reopened English pubs (lucky bleeders) this is a Last Orders call 🙂 Please send me (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) your photographs (1 to 3) in jpeg format and around 1500 px long side, in an email mentioning the name of the challenge. I’m really good at loosing photographs, so please make sure your email title will help me find them easily 😉 See you next week!!
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