In Trax

A short writing and a small selection of my photos got published as a 8-page feature in the March issue of Trax Magazine. A big thanks to Agan for the opportunity. :)

In The Crowd, 100305

Some time ago a couple of friends mentioned that my shooting style was somewhat changing. Some like it, others not so much. Basically it is said that my pictures are lately less structured, messier, and that generally I am more drawn into crowded scenes. Personally, I can say I never make a conscious preference regarding that matter and just shooting as usual without thinking too much on what exactly I'm looking for inside my frames. It's not an evolution of some sort. Perhaps I just bump into more interesting things more often inside crowds these days, or perhaps when I find scenes with the possibilities of cleaner composition, I think they've been overdone already and it's hard to make them look different and fresh. But anyhow, I'd like to write a bit about it.

In his phyla of street photography, Michael David Murphy classified this type of street photos as "the moving masses" (though I suppose the subjects didn't have to be necessarily moving) and he did acknowledge that it is a "declaration of the obvious". This type of photographs rarely depicts a singular unique/extraordinary moment at its core, relying instead on a number of 'minor' moments scattered all over the frame in a particular way. As such, it would seem that any moment you encounter in public places is good enough to be photographed in this fashion, as long as you frame it right. And that's where I'm start to wondering, so what exactly makes this kind of photo work? The arrangement of all the elements (everything on its own rightful place)? The quality of the minor moments? The way the all seemingly interact? Because I know some photographers are able to churn out some interesting works in this way. Winogrand is widely known, and Tod Papageorge's American Sport photos also come to mind. I was about to include Alex Webb, but as I remember his signature layered photos they seem to be different. His photos also often deal with crowds, but they still look carefully ordered, almost like choreographed, even. 

Another issue I want to address is how we're supposed to know if we're about to come across potential scenes for this type of street photo and how we should react to it. From my own experience they tend to happen very quickly, much much quicker than the potential moments for juxtaposition, street portraiture, or abstract. Even when the scenes aren't quickly changing I still find it very challenging to keep track of what's happening on all corner of the frame before they vanish. You just notice a small fraction of it at a split second and that's it. You can't fish for it. Sometimes even the very act of raising your camera after you realize the aligning of people would probably take too much time, they'll be gone by the time you peek through the viewfinder. I think that's what makes my attempts to these pictures seem to be messy. I'll be honest and say that sometimes I just point the camera to the general direction of what I feel or deem to be interesting and hit the shutter release like crazy, deciding later on during editing which ones work (they often don't) and why. It sometimes feels like I'm intrigued by this pictures because I can study all the little bits during editing, and being surprised by things I didn't even notice when I took them.  So yes, at this rate it can be said that I depend much on the infinite monkey theorem. Or as Trent Parke said, "You shoot a lot of shit and you're bound to come up with a few good ones." 

So I guess what I want to say is, the effect of trying to figure this all out is that I will post more stuff which may seem loosely edited. And well... I suppose they are. But this blog isn't supposed to be a portfolio site anyway. Let me know if you have some thoughts on the topic.