Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/08/20

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Subject: [Leica] Seen God
From: ricc at (Ric Carter)
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2010 11:29:51 -0400
References: <9F07836ED74F1C42AA69DFBAF8A1E2F1479F163379@MBX1.asc.local>

TRUE evidence that this is a great photo:

Kyle Cassidy comments on someone else's photograph;^)


On Aug 20, 2010, at 11:08 AM, Kyle Cassidy wrote:

> One of the most important things that I learned from Mary Ellen Mark 
> trashing my portfolio, setting fire to it, and jumping up and down on the 
> ashes is that a photo needs to be able to exist on its own; that if it 
> needs to be propped up with words, it's success as an image is incomplete. 
>  The most common example of this, I think, is when we see photos of 
> relatives "this is my son," or "this is my grandfather who is the best man 
> who ever lived" - the photographer adds in words what exists in their 
> heart but possibly not in the photograph. Cramming all the things that 
> exist in your heart into only the visual box of the photo is the 
> difficult, but paramount job of a photographer. 
> How hard is it to get "this man saw god" into a photograph without words? 
> It can be done, and I think it just wants a little more time spent. What 
> I, as a viewer, need to see from this image is to see an interaction 
> between myself and this man, I want to realize through his expression, his 
> demeanor, and especially his eyes, that he has experience something 
> profound which has changed him.  What I do see is a really wonderfully 
> exposed and processed photo of an old man who looks like he's talking to 
> someone else. All of the elements are here - the guy is great, the light 
> is right, the framing, the technical skill is there, but (imho) the moment 
> is missed.
> It might require spending more time there and it might also require 
> getting "up in someone's face" - seeing this photo made me grab Eugene 
> Richard's "Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue" off the shelf and look to see if he 
> always caught subjects looking at the camera - and he doesn't, but there 
> are two things I noticed about these most amazing of American documentary 
> photos, one is that regardless of whether the subject is looking at the 
> camera, or looking away, there is the look of a profound moment - as 
> though you can see into someone's head and know what they're thinking, 
> sometimes this is relayed directly to the viewer through eye contact, 
> sometimes it is relayed specifically because the subject is looking away. 
> The second thing I noticed is that he REALLY fills the frame. I think you 
> might want to have been a whole step closer here.
> Stay as long as it takes, get as close as you can, when you leave, your 
> world should move a little because you've met someone who saw god. I think 
> in documentary photography it's not good to be a voyeur, standing back in 
> the place where we all feel comfortable, you need to be inside the bubble 
> of intimacy.
> That's my two cents, take it for what it's worth. Hope this helps.
> kyle
> ________________________________________
> I had gone into the rainforests of the Western Ghats mountain range,
> at a place called Valparai in Tamil Nadu (the state which I belong to,
> and stay in), mainly to see the endemic flora and fauna (including
> leeches!) during the monsoons. At a beautiful view point - the day was
> very wet and overcast, so the landscape shots had to wait for another
> day - I met this man, Velu, who claimed to have seen Murugan, one of
> the Hindu pantheon of Gods at this spot in 1983. Since then, for the
> last 27 odd years, he has been coming to this spot at 11am to extol
> the glory of God. This has become a part of local folklore, so much so
> that the spot is nowadays officially called "Seen God". Here is Velu
> explaining to us the circumstances under which he saw Murugan. There
> are psychological connotations as well - "Vel" means spear in Tamil,
> and Murugan is always depicted with a spear in traditional religious
> iconography, and Velu is a popular name for the God. He seemed
> slightly unbalanced in a peaceful sort of way, but he spoke good
> English as well as Tamil, which probably shows an educated background.
> C & C always welcome!
> Cheers
> Jayanand
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

In reply to: Message from kcassidy at (Kyle Cassidy) ([Leica] Seen God)