Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/07/01

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Subject: [Leica] Documentary Photography 2003
From: George Lottermoser <>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 13:18:28 -0500

Yesterday I took the afternoon off to see and hear Michelle Shocked perform at 5:30pm at Summerfest in Milwaukee, free admission between 1 and 3. While waiting for the concert to start, my Leicas tried to find photographs in the fountain where children played - the sun beginning to set behind them - backlit water - children laughing - lovely to a fault - how to avoid the clichés?

³‹ except, in the case of dystopias, in the relative and ordinarily tragic sense of life in some extremely unfortunate place. In the mirrors of our darkest fears, much will be revealed. But don't mistake those mirrors for road maps to the future, or even to the present. We've missed the train to Oceania, and live today with stranger problems.² _ William Gibson

Joe Olla, supervisor, thatıs what the I.D. hanging from his neck read, and on his red polo shirt the white letters read Summerfest Security. He said to me, "Could you step over here?" I did. And I asked him, "Whatıs the problem?" He said, "Thereıs been complaints about you." I feel stunned. Complaints about what? Iım photographing children playing in the fountain near the front entrance gate of the Milwaukee Summerfest grounds. Joe and at various times 1 to 4 other security personnel, all young, big and brawny "detain" me for over an hour because some dad said that I photographed his son.
	The security personnel would not allow me to speak with my loving partner, Ann, nor her with me. Their attitude and demeanor brought her to tears.
	Ultimately these security men said that I could not remain on the grounds with my cameras, even though no such rule is posted publicly nor printed in their brochure. Eventually the security personnel brought a Milwaukee County Police officer into the situation; and she informed the complaining dad as well as the security folks that I broke no law; that I have the right to photograph in this public place. However the security people continued to impress their authority upon me, stating that, "you cannot be on the grounds with your cameras."
	These same security folks again would not allow me to find or communicate with Ann before escorting me outside the gate, where I waited for her to pass by, as she waited in the first row, saving my seat, at the Michelle Shocked concert.
	After about an hour waiting for Ann outside the gate a pair of security fellows told me that I would have to leave the sidewalk or be arrested for loitering. They said that anyone whoıs in a place for over an hour is either planning on robbing the place or hurting someone. I asked one of them if they could escort me into the Michelle Shocked concert where I could communicate with Ann and put an end to this entire fiasco. He said, "No, I canıt do that."
	I continued my waiting and contemplated my potential loitering arrest and watched my fellow human beings being patted down, having their day packs searched, and being told that they canıt take water onto the groundsŠ thatıs rightŠ no water. They want you inside with nothing but your moneyŠ preferably hungry and dehydrated. I experienced very clear visions and feelings of all those whoıve experienced discrimination, false accusations and humiliation at the hands of authority figures. I watched the hundreds and thousands of Jews climbing onto the cattle cars "for their own protection." I saw the Japanese Americans walking through the gates of their internment camps. I thought about the young Iraqi students currently being arrested for yelling things to their American occupiers and about the Iraqi elections which are not being recognized because the occupiers donıt like the results.
	I wondered where on this earth I could run to, where I may find some children playing in water in the heat of summer time, back lit by afternoonıs setting sunŠ a place where I might create a joyful photograph of that simple pleasure which would bring a smile to every viewer and allow them to remember those times in their own lives when water and sun and time were free to enjoy.
	No longer will we see images of these spontaneous activities in their reality where a group of children composed of all skin shades and ethnicity, rich and poor, play together in reality. Weıll have to rely on the stock subject photographers, who will rent the fountain, pay the kids parents and give you that bland crap that appears in every stock shop catalog; plastic overworked smiles, too perfect lighting, costumes courtesy of the gap in over saturated color.
	At some point in this 3-hour ordeal I thought, "Itıs time to sell all the gear. Documentary Photography has died when you have to rent the cypress tree, and get detained by rent-a-cops for photographing children playing in water in the summer sun set.

Fond regards,

G e o r g e   L o t t e r m o s e r,    imagist

<€>Peace<€>   <€>Harmony<€>  <€>Stewardship<€>

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