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-   -   Posts without notes???? (https://www.trekearth.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94130)

pracas 04-24-2005 07:33 PM

Posts without notes????
 
I'm wondering if photographs without notes make good photography...it looks like that the photographer looked at the subject just as an element of composition and nothing much...Should we encourage such photographs?... I see a lot of beautiful photographs of a variety of intersting people without any notes...makes me feel that the photographer just used the subject rather than try and portray the subject....your opinions please
:-) pracas

khmelins 04-24-2005 09:01 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
"Sometimes an image is worth 1000 words"

it is the case sometimes, no note needed imo..
all depends on what the photographer wants to show or make you feel. in many cases the date and location are more than enough.

anton

joseelias 04-26-2005 07:09 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
Well, in my opinion, no photo worth a thousand words… With a clever POV you may turn a photo of a dead bank robber (who has just killed 10 people), in a martyr like image…

Without entering in controversies, just imagine a photo from Palestine, and how the lack of a note explaining the situation may create confusion and difficulty in interpreting a certain situation. This may be an extreme example due to the radical POV’s over the happenings there, but shows well how needed a note may be.

So, without a proper note, “confusion” may be installed regarding what is the photographer objective in showing that photo as well the context it’s happening.

Also, a simple photo of dolphins jumping out of water may be worthless without a note. It’s an image most of us have already seen a thousand times, but what do most of us know about dolphins really?

More, considering TE objective I think that a note is something of the maximum importance. Much more important than in the usual photo-sites.

sohrab 04-26-2005 08:34 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
hi jose
read the 4 word caption <a href="http://pdngallery.com/20years/photojournalism/03_kevin_carter.html">here</a> and let me know how many words you think this photograph is worth
take care :)

khmelins 04-26-2005 08:51 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
a good example, sohrab, i think it is not necessary to go so far.

some examples here on TE, in a different direction:
- <a href=http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Germany/photo97060.htm>this one</a> by inessa
- <a href=http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Germany/photo49273.htm>another one</a> by the same person
- the "Black cat", by Simon (flydragon), not available anymore but maybe you remember it (it is on his website, check it out in the thailand gallery
- much of the work by Olli, like <a href=http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Finland/photo82335.htm>this one here</a>

would a note help in these examples? do these pictures have a place on TE?

sohrab 04-26-2005 09:19 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
see at the moment.. i'm not going into the discussion on whether such photographs have a place on TE or not, since this leans a little too much on the subjective side.. ( am not really thinking about this right now, so i may change my mind later)

but i think it also depends on the perception of the viewer.

now there are some very powerful journalistic shots like the one that i gave in the link.. also see the others in the gallery in my link.
since it's journalistic, they HAVE to be accompanied by a caption atleast which is like a title in a way.. 4 words is not really note.
to me 1000 words is nothing.. the photograph is worth much more.

there are quite a few (in absolute terms and not in relative terms) that are worth much more than 1000 words,
but because they're journalistic, at least a caption/title is needed to give the viewer some direction..
now because there are 4 words attached to it, doesn't mean that the image CANNOT be worth 1000 words or whatever.. you have to see how much the photograph speaks to you after you're put in the right direction..


now there are art photographs... which CAN speak a lot , much more than 1000 words even without a caption or a note. even this depends on the perception of viewer and whether he/she is willing to have a conversation with the photograph
now normally a conversation with a photograph/another person :) is 2 way, even with a person, if you don't make atleast some effort to listen, that person can be rendered not worth any words.

so if you can just let your imagination soar, 1000 words might seema little too less

just to give you an example..
he could see a bicycle in the water while the man ran over it. ( keeping it short , don't remember the exact stuff)
but it was a fantastic bit of perception. he saw something that i didn't. the photograph spoke to him, maybe he was listening..
earlier, i had always gone through this particular photograph in a hurry.

so i WILL NOT say that "photograph is worth a 1000 words"

but rather "a photograph can be worth 1000/more words"

sohrab 04-26-2005 09:22 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
ooops by mistake i deleted some stuff






what i was talking about above was what luko once wrote about <a href="http://www.magnumphotos.com/c/htm/CDocZ_MAG.aspx?Stat=DocThumb_DocZoom&o=&DT=ALB&E=2 TYRYD1D518O&Pass=&Total=125&Pic=26&SubE=2S5RYDI9CN RQ">this</a> particular photograph by bresson

khmelins 04-26-2005 09:39 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
got a bit lost with that deleted part but here is what I tried to say in my first answer directly to pracas:
- started the answer with a cliché (the 1000 words stuff..), it simply means that a picture is just another way of expression, you can complement it with text or not, but it can and will stand by itself
- and than I think I basically said what you just wrote:
some pictures (you called it art photography) may need no note at all;
some pictures need a date and place (the ones you called journalistic)

certainly extremes may need a note, as said by jose.
at the end, it all depends on what you what people to see/feel/learn/..

anton

joseelias 04-26-2005 11:21 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
“Look to that photo of a dying nigger. They don’t have food but are always ready to make another dozen of children!”

Sohrab, how many words do you think that people who think like this image worth? Precisely 4, not more than that! You can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard statements like this, regarding images like that! Sorry to blunt but this is the reality!

To me, you and many others, images like this says almost all, because we have sensitivity and knowledge to understand what’s happening. To understand the human and cultural tragedy behind situations like those. But to many, they need a 1.000.000 words and in some cases they are not enough.

Do you really think that if that image was so clear to everyone, that people would permit that those situations would continue to happen? That image is from 1993. How many children have died since then in the same situation? How many images like that have been showed in the tv, newspapers and magazines? People even show disagreement in showing those images in the news at dinnertime, because they are not suited for that occasion!!!

So, to some people, in some situations, an image may worth a 1000 words. But considering the general, I personally continue to think that no image worth a 1.000 words, being those written or spoken. There’s always much to say about a photo. And this one is no exception.

sohrab 04-26-2005 11:53 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
hi jose

i wrote in the end
that "an image CAN be worth 1000 words"
not IS

also... normally i've assumed that when we talk about an image being worth 1000 words they talk about the impact of the image being worth 1000 words and not literally..

for example.. james nachtwey's photographs of the rwanda genocide CAN have the same or even greater impact (emotional) as a book written on it (obviously depending on its quality)


"Do you really think that if that image was so clear to everyone, that people would permit that those situations would continue to happen? That image is from 1993. How many children have died since then in the same situation? How many images like that have been showed in the tv, newspapers and magazines? People even show disagreement in showing those images in the news at dinnertime, because they are not suited for that occasion!!!"

it's a pity that you feel this way. most people feel the same way.
why not also have a look at how many children have been saved since then.

it's always easy to look at what something hasn't been able to do , but seeing what something has been able to do is what most people are missing out on..

now just giving some small examples... of what all has been done.. by some photographs

all this is very trivial compared to what all has been done.. but makes a world of a difference to people who are affected

i will leave out the famous "sharbat gula"(afghan girl) photograph since most people already know about it. she herself had no idea how much of an impact her photograph had on other afghans

<a href="http://www.stevemccurry.com/web/gallery/monsoon/pages/detail-02.html">this</a> particular photograph appeared in one of the national geographics in the 80s i think ( don't remember the exact issue). mccurry was covering the monssons in india.. there was a flood in this place and this man was trying to save his livelihood. ok as an indian.. i don't really need the words for this one.. i know what's happening. it's quite obvious to me.

but the manager of this particulr sewing machine company got to have a look at this photograph in NG just by chance and he was so struck that he found this old man and gave him a new sewing machine. very trivial in comparison to all the other things that are happening.. but a big thing for the old man


have a look at <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/10/photogalleries/in_focus/photo6.html">this</a> photograph and also read what's written below..

these are just 2 of the many photographs that made me realise the power of photographs..
they're quite priceless to me..

khmelins 04-27-2005 12:38 AM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
one problem with this discussion is that it is completely biased towards photojournalism. that's certainly a very important part of it but by far not all that it's about. if you prefer, TE is not a photojournalism site..

the other thing it that even there we are talking about different things.
- on one side, is a photograph powerful without a note?
- on the other side, is photography a way of education?

lets assume a picture is worth N words (with N>=1000) :).
the question is: how much is it worth to each and every viewer? as pointed out someone can see only 4 words there, while another persons "reads" ~N words in it. depends on the background. is it your goal as a photographer to adress each and every one? is it your goal to "educate" the 4-words person and make it read a bit more?

tongapup 04-27-2005 06:45 AM

bicycle/water
 
are you talking about that magnum photo of the guy apparently riding his bike underwater? do you know which one i'm talking about? it's in my magnum book but with no caption, which is driving me crazy... i want to know what the hell is going on. i think -- now i'm weighing in on the argument, despite myself -- a photo needs context. some need none, like the dying kid -- that's painfully obvious. other gain MUCH from having context.

so if you know the story of the underwater cyclist, will you please tell me?

tongapup 04-27-2005 06:48 AM

context
 
check out <a href="http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Poland/photo164211.htm">this</a>
pic. look at it without reading the photographer's intro, then read it and look at the image again.

not the best example in the world maybe but it was the first one that came to mind.

khmelins 04-27-2005 11:18 AM

Re: bicycle/water
 
as you say, it can't be generalized..

khmelins 04-27-2005 11:25 AM

Re: context
 
btw, i'd give some of your latest photos as good examples of those that imo don't need any note :)

like
<a href=http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/North_America/Canada/photo172982.htm>this one</a>
or
<a href=http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/North_America/Canada/photo172545.htm>this one here</a>

joseelias 04-27-2005 11:47 AM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
Anton,

Mentioning your examples, and taking the work of Olli for example, I recall when his work influenced many of us in TE and many industrial shots started to appear, especially rust photos. And I particularly remember a series of photos from Yitzhak Avigur where he investigated the different types of rust making an interesting note to his series of photos. In fact he became known by then as Dr. Rust.. :-)))

So, I think there’s always much to say. Regarding the examples of inessa the same applies. In one of the images she even shown a poem (which I cannot read unfortunately).

Of course, in more artistic approaches things become more subjective, and I accept that words may be less important in some situations. But as you said; ”how much is it worth to each and every viewer?”. Still, I think that because of this a note is always meaningful. If someone can stand only with the photo, he is not forced to read the note, but if someone needs more information to help interpret it than I think that the “1000 words” are always necessary.

The question is that in a site like TE, with people from allover the world, from very, very different cultures there’s always the need for explanation. We’re not showing photos only to people with our personal cultural and intellectual background.

For example, I’ve seen photos from Mosques which I find very interesting in terms of architecture, but I’m not able to interpret all the religious meanings implicit in the building. Sure I can appreciate it as building, but as a place of worship, full of meanings, no, if the note does not teach me to “read” them. The same applies to a Muslim looking at a church for example.

I agree with you that this discussion is much biased towards photojournalism, and especially the idea that photography is an accurate way to portray reality, which I do not believe at all.

joseelias 04-27-2005 01:01 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
Sohrab,

the impact of the image being worth 1000 words and not literally..

Well I’m not counting the number of characters either… :-)
I mean that a photo cannot stand simply on itself without more info, because the photographer message may be totally distorted by the viewer. And this is even more important when in today’s world an image may be seen by millions of people with totally different cultural, religious and educational backgrounds.

Or, do you think that the image you give as an example has the same impact and sends the same message on a Red-Cross Doctor or in a warrior of a rival tribe of that child?

The same applies to Ruanda photos. A Hutu seeing images of dead Tutsis would probably be “happy”. Now, was that the message the photographer wanted to transmit? In this case, aren’t the words more than necessary for the viewer to interpret clearly not only what is seen, but more important, what the photographer wants to show?

If you see a photo of a Nigerian woman, and then read in the note that she is a victim of Genital Mutilation, doesn’t that change completely your interpretation of it? Before it’s a portrait, after it’s an image of a victim of a brutal tradition. And for those that do not know anything about Genital Mutilation? If more isn’t explained they will not be aware of nothing…

Of course your example is more explicit, but at the end, if we do not know the background of that happening it’s not more than a shock-image…

” it's a pity that you feel this way. most people feel the same way. why not also have a look at how many children have been saved since then.”

What is ok in the world doesn’t worry me. It’s what’s wrong that worries me… I don’t care if in Burkina Faso (ex-biafra) people now eat lobster everyday (which I do not think they do BTW). But I get worried if people die in Ethiopia or Somalia of hunger. All efforts by people and organizations should be recognized and praised, but as long as things like that happen we should not rest.

” this particular photograph appeared in one of the national geographics in the 80s i think
Regarding this image. Show this image to 90% of the Portuguese with the reference that this is the monsoon, and they will ask: Monso…what? People here don’t have a clue about what is the monsoon, and this image would not explain it. Still, most of the people would understand that a flood happened because we have it here. But! Some would think that this guy was salvaging some iron to sell as metal-scrap because of the condition of the sewing machine as it looks it was 100 years underwater and cannot evaluate how things quickly change in a catastrophe like a flood…

Finally, the other image is a good example too of the power of photography. For that particular child and his family I’m glad it worked well, but the real tragedy is the lack of support these people have which make a loss of a single sheep a major issue. This photo may help this child, but still does not show the “whole picture”…

khmelins 04-27-2005 01:31 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
i've read you answer to sohrab also..

and this is what i understand from your arguments: you see an image as an illustration of a message. this can also be seen in the way you take photographs (don't take me wrong, this not a critique nor a complement, this is my opinion only).
it can be very well used in that way. i'm not arguing it should not be used like that or wether that is good or bad.

all i'm saying is that an image CAN stand by itself. and some photographs Do stand by themself as an ultimate and complete expression of a message.

like any other form of expression photography can be complemented by aditional means.
you may read a book with or without illustrations.. hum, can you say "Ha, i think this book would be much better without these pictures in it!" or the other way around?
or what about adding some smells to the book? would be certainly interesting and WILL influence your perception. the same with some sounds and textures and....

For example, I’ve seen photos from Mosques which I find very interesting in terms of architecture, but I’m not able to interpret all the religious meanings implicit in the building. Sure I can appreciate it as building, but as a place of worship, full of meanings, no, if the note does not teach me to “read” them. The same applies to a Muslim looking at a church for example.
and what was the photographer's purpose with those pictures?
- show a piece of architecture?
- show the kids playing in front of a mosque?
- show you the mosque as an illustration to his text about the religious cerimony happen inside?

the question is: what is your purpose when showing a particular picture?

joseelias 04-27-2005 02:41 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
Anton,

You’ve read all?! You’re a masochist! ;-)

I also believe, that an image can stand for itself more or less, but only if directed to someone with the same cultural, and educational background as the photographer, because apart from that, very distorted interpretations can be made from the photos. And we must consider this traditional pretense universality of the photography as something getting very fragile nowadays due to the Globalization.

An image produced by someone is instantly seen around the globe by people radically different. Without a fitting explanation confusion can become installed. And it will get worse, as nowadays the internet is used generally by people with a certain educational degree. As its access becomes more democratic you’ll have people with less cultural, sociological and anthropological knowledge, accessing information which they don’t have enough background to interpret fully.

So, 50 years ago, an image was seen in a newspaper or magazine read only by a reduced amount of people which were more or less from the same background as the photographer, and “everybody” understood it. Then, you could call an image as “universal”. Nowadays with the broader and differentiated audience that’s a fragile statement.

”some photographs Do stand by themself as an ultimate and complete expression of a message”
If an image claims that, I feel it’s minimizing the reality… The photo of the crying / dead sheep shown by Sohrab, for example. Why is the boy crying?
- Is it because it was his pet-sheep?
- Will he be beaten by his father because he was careless?
- Will the death of that sheep represent hunger in his family?
- Or the Taxi that killed the sheep almost killed him too and he’s scared?

Can you answer me just by looking at the image? Considering the different possibilities you would get a different reaction: You would remember your childhood pet dog, would get angry with family violence or remember a “funny” episode of your childhood where your father punished you because a trick of yours, etc, etc…

The only universal happening there is that boys do cry (despite what’s said…), and sheep die (also haven’t seen a taxi there to establish the cause of death).

Of course it’s an emotional photo, and I’m touched by it too, but what does it REALLY show? Don’t you feel the need to know more despite the quality of the photo?

“you see an image as an illustration of a message”
To me, it’s the image AND the note that are the illustration of a message. In some cases one becomes more important than the other.

I believe you’re right regarding the way I shoot photos. In some cases I have more “experimental” photos, which some would post without a note. Still, in my case I always try to write a note to fit it into the TE spirit (at least in my view of it). In this case some like the photo, others the note, others both, and others none…

Regarding the example of the Mosque. That’s what I mean. Without the note, is what I’m seeing, what the photographer wants to show me? Am I looking for the right things and interpret it well?

joseelias 04-27-2005 06:42 PM

World Press Photo Exhibition
 
To exemplify what I’m stating, is the fact that the World Press Photo exhibition presents extensive notes next to the photos themselves. They fit the image into a context and explain it well, not only in terms of the moment seen, but many times in a more or less recent historical past.

I don’t know if you have seen this interesting exhibition but it’s how it works. None of the images is presented without a long note. And we’re talking about some images which could be easily fitted in the “1000 words” category.

green 04-27-2005 09:11 PM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
and especially the idea that photography is an accurate way to portray reality, which I do not believe at all.

Neither spoken or written words are an accurate way to portray reality.

Or in other words, photography and written or spoken words are an accurate way to portray the reality that their authors have perceived or even worst, a reality that those authors want you to perceive.

pracas 04-28-2005 07:13 AM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
Guys,
First Thank you for all the details....Lots of learnings from that(well i've still not learnt as to how to put a general reply to a topic in discussion!)...Now to give you the reson why i started this(everything here is with TE in context!)... As joseelias says it is neccessary for the photographer to explain the context...why he shot what he shot? and under what circumstainces?...If not a photograph is more of an art rather than a medium to express desired results... Imagine NG's photographs without notes...probably you wouldn't be able to distinguish kenya from tanzania...what made me start this is i find a lot of indian portraits showing poor people...yes these people have beautiful expressions as a result years of poverty, i agree...but i found photogrpahs to be meaningless without notes... they were photographs LOOKING AT AND USING the subject as an element of composition rather than a human being...well incases where the photographer is unable to give information on the subject(like a beggar on the train, etc.) i believe he/she should atleast tell as to what made him take the photograph...I'm Strongly against considering Portraits as art form!
:-) pracas

green 04-28-2005 11:40 AM

Re: Posts without notes????
 
I'm Strongly against considering Portraits as art form

I suggest you tell this to the London's <a href="http://www.npg.org.uk/live/staff.asp" target="_blank">National Portrait Gallery</a> curators. I'd like to see their reactions ;-)


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