Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/03/31

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Subject: Re: [Leica] I missed it.
From: "Bruce Feldman" <>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 17:04:37 +0200

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Alan Ball <

 >The absence of eye contact makes it more difficult for the viewer to
relate to
>the people that are being photographed.

 I think that eye-contact, to the viewer, makes the photographer a conscious
presence in the photograph.  Sometimes that "works," sometimes it doesn't.
Leica-user Rodtchenko's famous "Portrait of My Mother" comes to mind (old
woman with glasses; pimple on her brow picked up by polka dots on her hat
and the circles of her granny glasses, remember?) where she's looking away
from the photographer, would be distancing to the viewer if there were eye
contact.  We would lose the leit-motiv of the photo.  Same with Rodtchenko's
equally famous, "Girl With Leica" -- better known to LUG members as "Leica
with Girl."  It would not be effective with eye contact because we would
lose the primacy of the geometry; the light squares superimposed on the
girl.  And, most importantly, it would upstage the Leica!

One of the reasons I don't much like Diane Arbus' work is because of that
"in your face" eye-contact, confrontational Sixties style.  But, if I recall
correctly, August Sander the technique in a softer, more palatable way in
some of his portraits.  To sum up, I don't think we can generalize about
eye-contact; there are too many other important variables.

Bruce Feldman
Warsaw, Poland