Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/05/19

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Subject: Re: [Leica] street photography
From: Guy Bennett <>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 11:00:35 -0700

>I wonder how Johnny Deadman, who made the strong (I thought valid) point in
>the "Nanook" discussion that documentary movie photography requires all
>sorts of manipulation to be effective documentation, without which the
>footage is basically garbage, would react to this? By his standards for film
>work, if he considered his street photography "documentation" he would
>logically then say that what he's garnered is hundreds of feet of useless
>dreck, right?
>  --Michael Darnton
>Guy Bennett wrote:
>"maybe the point is documentation."
>In response to:
>>Actually that opens up all kinds of questions but I guess most of them can
>>summed up in this: What is it, exactly, that "street photographers" are
>>trying to SAY about the people they photograph? In other words, what isthe
>>point?>>Bob (trying to become street smart) McEowenbob

i don't wan't to put words into the deadman's mouth - *i* said that perhaps
the point was documentation, not him (at least, not to my knowledge). he
may have entirely different reasons for practicing that kind of
photography. maybe he'll explain them.

imo, both 'manipulated' (i.e. posed pictures of friends, family, the
indigenous population, etc) and 'spontaneous' (i.e. street photography as
j.d. and others practice it) give valid results, from a documentary point
of view: they record the subject 'az wuz.' they just approach it
differently, one seeks to control the representation (think of curtis's
photographs of american indians - though carefully posed and composed, they
nevertheless remain unique, valuable records of a people we otherwise might
know less about [if only with respect to how they looked and dressed]), the
other does not.

the latter (i.e. uncontroled) type of photography may yield 'truer' results
from a documentary point of view in that subjects act 'naturally' since -
supposedly - they do not know they are being recorded. i personally don't
find anything ominous or threatening about that fact.