View Full Version : this post may be a little controversial
02-05-2005, 10:28 AM
<a href="http://www.terra.com.br/sebastiaosalgado/">sebastiao salgado</a> has been criticised heavily for his photographs.
some people find his photographs a little too beautiful.
now quite of a few of the same critics consider <a href="http://www.magnumphotos.com/cf/htm/CDocZ_MAG.aspx?Stat=DocThumb_DocZoom&o=&DT=ALB&E=2K7O3RBIYCQP&Pass=&Total=229&Pic=1&SubE=2S5RYDYF53IF">this</a>
to be a masterpiece. i still have come across criticism when it comes to this photograph.
now i'm not trying to start a debate on which photographer is better or anything like that. i like them both and i can't compare them myself since they both work different planes altogether
what i'm interested to know is that is there a possibility that we our perceptions of a scene or a subject when shot in b&w is totally different when shot in colour instead.
do we feel more at ease seeing the same scene in colour for some reason?
is it that we automatically consider black and white to be art if beautiful, documentary otherwise.
critics feel that salgado creates pieces of art out of his photographs.
so if his photographs were shot in colour would our thoughts be different
---- a glimpse into a restless and chaotic mind :)
02-05-2005, 03:44 PM
HI sohrab! first I admire you for posting so much at the forum! You dedicate a lot of time to photography! I have only work work and work (combined with illness), and after four days I can enter again TE...
Regarding the thread, I consider that sometimes it is much easier to shoot in B/W, it is a natural way to eliminate distracting colors and to emphasize the main subject...I see that in my photos. A picture that in color has a lot of undesirable elements "suddenly" remains a good one if only converted to B/W.
In other words a good photo in color "seems" to me a more difficult one to achieve.
02-07-2005, 02:40 PM
I’m thinking about some photos of Salgado and I’m pretty sure in saying that they would be outstanding in color too. I’m imagining the muddy-earth tones, the darkened skin of the “mulatos”, and the olive in the uniform of the soldiers in the series about Serra Pelada in Brazil.
Or the rust tones in some others where old ships or factories appear, the dark clothes of Arab women against the yellow or red earth, etc. In fact I now realize that when I look at Salgado’s photos I always imagine them in colors also…Interesting…
So to me, the ART in Salgado’s work is not in the use of BW, but in the capture of intense moments, with meaning, and of course with good composition and technique.
I believe that most of the people that think that his images are too beautiful are those “Fat Bellies” which have only seen poverty and misery in the TV, and have no capability to perceive the human tragedy present in those images. So they look at them just as art and not the capture of human beings in the lowest of the human condition.
Regarding the difference of BW and Color I must also say that I find it’s easier to shoot in BW than in color (mainly people). As Cesar told, the absence of colors put more emphasis in the shapes, textures and volumes and many colorful distracting elements get wiped out of the image with little effort. Of course, getting a good BW or Duotone expression is another question…
So, the classifying of more or less artistic of a photo because it is in color or in BW, is more in the critiques eyes than in the photographer’s idea. I believe that Salgado and Mc Curry just choose the way of expression they feel more comfortable with and that they feel show more what they are seeing, and of course their personal aesthetics preferences.
And, I repeat, those that look at Salgado work as more “artsy” just because it’s in BW, than they don’t know anything about life as they unable to perceive the message in them and only evaluate the aesthetics based in pre-conceived ideas.
<i>Regarding the difference of BW and Color I must also say that I find it’s easier to shoot in BW than in color (mainly people). </i>
I will not agree with this point, Jose.
How would then explain that a good part of McCurry's work simply couldn't make it in BW...I'm feeling that his lighting (and not to say some his portraits compositions) is often too dull to be really dramatic in BW.
For me the point is that BW and RGB are simply two <b>different</b> ways of photographying things, neither one is better nor easier than the other, just a matter of styles and likings. Generally you're one or the other, very seldom both.
One of the very few photogs who's at the convergence of styles is Alex Webb, perhaps because he started with BW.
As for Salgado in RGB, don't forget monitor screens are not the best medium to see an image, open some of his tablebooks and you'll notice that many of his pics are either taken in low but contrasty light (tunnels, mines, industrial buildings..) or display fluffy processed backgrounds and clouds... which are typically to me BW technique features. I have difficulties to see what RGB would bring to his work...
Though it could still be true for uneducated eyes, I don't think there's something about artistry in BW. You'll note that most of the "arty" contemporary photography shown in art museum exhibs is RGB type, preferably polaroid or color experimental and that following a strange spin, BW photography has been clustered to documentary or historical descriptive photography (ie. the opposite of "artistic" photography).
Btw, here's another link to <a href="http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/features/legendsV3Q5/menu.shtml" target="_blank"> Salgado's work</a> (click on gallery 1 2 3 for instance though most shoudl already be included in the previous websites).
02-07-2005, 04:40 PM
Sorry Luko but in your first part of the posting it seems that you’re giving me some reason. Maybe I understood you wrongly. And of course they are two different mediums of expression. I just find that to some extent BW becomes easier to use in some motives.
Contrary to most of other the photographers, I’ve seen mainly Salgado’s work in his printed books and almost non in the web. Personally I have a lot of ease to imagine his work in colors. In fact I think I “see” it in colors. No one knows how they would look like if he have really taken it in colors, of course, but knowing the tones of the places, I think I can say that they would generally be stunning in colors also.
At least in Portugal (I recognize that it’s very far from being a country with interesting photographers) BW has an artsy “aura”… The photos may be a crap but if they are in BW than they are “art”… Also being so lowly traveled as me (never got out of Portugal), and being in a peripheral country in Europe I can not say much about what is seen in art museums. I’m maybe expressing a regional POV, I admit it.
02-07-2005, 09:24 PM
oh yes thats a prettnice gallery i came across it a long time back , but then couldn't find it again
you might also like the gallery on the <a href="http://www.contactpressimages.com/photographers.html">contact press site</a>
look for salgado's name and click on it
i'll come back to this thread later
02-07-2005, 11:42 PM
I am in your way of thought, maybe my english does not help me much, but I agree with you.
02-13-2005, 01:54 AM
hehe. I saw this picture from Bombay Train station recently in a magazine (printed), and believe or not, I remembered it in colour! My mind "added" the missing colour for me, and I was really surprised to see this picture in BW now ;).
Maybe this is a key to a good BW - if the lack of colour is not a problem for your mind to see it ;).
02-13-2005, 08:36 AM
if you're talking about the churchgate station then i have to tell you that after salgado took the photograph, lots of people took similar photograph
raghu rai had his own version with the same flow of the crowd, but with th 3 men sitting perfectly still reading newspapers withthe crowd flowing past them. beautiful photograph.
it has become quite a norm now to take that kind of a photograph now
so i think you saw someone else's work
the only colour work by salgado that i've come across , has been the "shooting of reagan"
02-13-2005, 12:11 PM
I will check it then when I have opportunity :)
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