Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The world is messy. What about the photo?

"Spikehead," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

When I started out (in B & W), a clean shot like the one above, reduced to a few bold shapes & patterns, was the holy grail of street shooting. Even thinking I might have such a shot rolled up inside my (film) camera was enough to send me home excited and anxious. I would worry till I saw the negative, the contact sheet & finally the work print. Could it really be? No mess, no fuss, no unseen car bumper or corner of a swing set intruding? Mostly it didn't happen, of course. Usually something was wrong; the perfection was spoiled. But when it did happen, when I had captured something dynamic reduced to a state of radical simplicity I was sure I had created real art & I was very proud.

"Spikehead on the handball court," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Now I don't feel that way. This shot (shown here a couple of days ago) was made a few seconds earlier or later than the top picture. I find it gives me more pleasure. Tonight at least, I'm convinced the world is messy, cluttered, complicated. I need to see this. I need context.

But this is not a policy pronouncement. I'm still thrilled to get a shot like the top one (full disclosure: I did a lot of digital retouching to get it -- more than would have been possible in analog). In some cases (another night) I would certainly prefer the simpler, cleaner shot. Maybe I've just stopped making a fetish out of it.


Christine (CA) said...

Either or Both. The even greater context is what the use or statement is at the moment.

Chris Bonney said...

The spiked hair needs the consistency of the two white t-shirts to act as a contrast and make the statement/rebellion of the hair more of a story. It's as if the kids on the court have a uniform and the person with the spiked hair is rebuking that.