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Walk on by

John_Nevill

New member
I'm relatively new to street photography and saw this statement whilst walking the streets of Rome a few weeks back.

Your comments welcome.

 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
John,

Was this the picture you meant to post? Did you crop it?

I'd call this begging. However, perhaps it is not!

In Italy I've seen several people like this in each large city at different times. Generally in black. Usually bent. Often the face is hardly visible, maybe from shame.

It could be a moment of this poor person's life, begging, prostrate, pleading to God, or something else?

If, in fact, this was a scene "staged" by an actress or artist, then it might be a "statement", a metaphor.

It would then be probably an expression of opinion written in a metaphorical code of

a) "acting as if poor" and

b) being "so poor as to have to go one ones knees" and

c) "driven to such humiliation" by a "wicked/ unfeeling society" that "just walks by".

The hope is hardly with the passerby as she is holding a crucifix to remind him of the day of judgement, or else hope lies with God.

It can be interpreted as "look at the crucifix and pass me by at the risk of angering the angels and damnation of your soul"

or else, "see, I'm a good Christian, I'm just destitute, so desperate that I prostrate myself to you who walk by and I beg that you pity me" or

"I have no hope without your charity!".

So ultimately we are seeing either

a) a tragedy of a destitute woman in a wealthy city,
b) a drama by an artist, shocking us to review our moral purpose or
c) a shameless con-artist.

If the lady is indeed wretched as she acts, that is a shame on us all. It is not a statement at all but the naked uglyand sad truth.

If an actress plays that role, it is convincing and shocks me as intended to think of how cruel our society can be.

If, however, it a parody, a mimic of tragedy for personal gain, then it is an abomination.

Unfortunately, we don't know, so a drama occurs in our minds as we watch the person walk by as if she wasn't there.

The person who walks by, also has another drama, a secret and complex debate, on poverty, blame, reasons and excuses.

So maybe there's a statement. I think, perhaps it's just a poor woman.

Now, tell me if this is the picture you intended to post, how the composition came that way, and what if anything would you do to perfect it for printing?

Asher
 

John_Nevill

New member
During my stay in Rome, I saw many beggars and equally as many fraudsters.

I felt the urge to record this dichotomy in a candid, yet faceless manner. Hence this is what I saw, not what I staged.

I also wanted the image to trigger diverse emotive thoughts and I believe your comments support this.

Is it street photgraphy, is it documentary or is inappropriate? The viewer decides.

The image is a 10x8 relative crop from the full frame. As it was mid-day I thought duotone added to the feel of the emotion.

It has printed well on archival matte and it's definitly not one for the lounge wall, but I believe it does document something about the world we live in.

Thanks for your open critque, its appreciated.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
John,

The picture is compelling. I feel a definite need to revisit.

It does spark a lot of feelings and yes it is street photgraphy where we can only have questions.

I feel guilt enough taking pictures without permission so I don't want to further intervene.

Thus, we hardly ever know the true background, so surely in such photography, it is ourselves that are really being examined.

Asher
 

Michael Tapes

OPF Administrator/Moderator
For me the photograph become far more powerful when I crop most of the bottom away. I would have to live a while with both prints to know for sure, but that is my first take just cropping by scrolling in the browser as I view it.
 

Dierk Haasis

pro member
Michael Tapes said:
For me the photograph become far more powerful when I crop most of the bottom away.
Well, I like the original crop much more. In this case it is not giving freedom and space to the subject - the woman in the middle ground - but leaves her even more lost: So much room, but not for her, lost in a wide space where paople just wander by.
 

John_Nevill

New member
Thanks guys, I tried a number of crops before settling on this.
The first being square with less space at the bottom and more on the left side.

I settled on this, as the focal point sits on the 3rds. This gave a little more space than I really wanted at the bottom, but I do sometimes get criticsed for not putting enough space aorund a picture. Too much time spent birding :eek:)
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
John,

Though I love this,

could you also share with us what you actually framed in the shot in that initial decision?

Asher
 

Dierk Haasis

pro member
Dierk Haasis said:
Well, I like the original crop much more.
From the following discussion I infer that my 'original' is not the same as the actual original. What I meant, in answer to Michael, was the crop showing more foreground.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
John,

Back to my original question, how did the actual capture before any editing work look? This was a moment of decision: stage one in the creative process. I am so interested because I have been intrigued by this subject and am not sure that I have yet done it justice. I will try to dig out some of my shots if I can find them.

Thanks,

Asher
 

John_Nevill

New member
Works this end np, its on an hosted server, so i'm accessing it remotely as well.
Is you browser trying to open it? try saving the target file.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
John,

My browser just sees it as code. How would I save it as a target file?

BTW, John, how far are you from London?

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi John,

I'm visiting in June!

Hope to meet you?

Well, until I get my new IntelMac or my son gives me one of his PC laptops (he has just ordered a 17" IntelMac because it runs windows faster), I am Windows-challenged.

I forget what the equivalent is for Mac! Anyone know the key code?

Asher
 

Sid Jervis

pro member
Asher Kelman said:
Hi John,

I'm visiting in June!

Hope to meet you?

Well, until I get my new IntelMac or my son gives me one of his PC laptops (he has just ordered a 17" IntelMac because it runs windows faster), I am Windows-challenged.

I forget what the equivalent is for Mac! Anyone know the key code?

Asher
ctrl click
 

Gary C-G

New member
How interesting can we let this discussion become before breaching the moderators' sensibilities? I feel that this shot is worthy of some grown up debate regarding this woman's social status and attitudes but I don't want to fall foul of some over zealous PC police. I am a photographer and father of three with some fairly strong opinions on the plight of the "peasantry" of the world but I am alos a realist and realise that many don't have the stomach for blunt truisms.

I feel that this type of street photography is more than mere decorative art or a demonstration of technical prowess. it is about human emotion. It succeeds by stirring emotions within us, by making us reflect on the human condition and our role in our little snapshot of existance.

So with respect to our new community and an uncertainty toward the welcome my somewhat socio-political comment might draw I will withhold my reaction to the photo, which is quite profound. I might say though that work of this type is diminished on the forum if we must restrain our emotional responses to it.

Say the word and I'll elaborate.
 
Last edited:

Dierk Haasis

pro member
Gary C-G said:
I feel that this type of street photography is more than mere decorative art or a demonstration of technical prowess. it is about human emotion.
Which is why I prefer the non-cropped version triggering loneliness much better.
 

Jan Rifkinson

New member
John_Nevill said:
I'm relatively new to street photography and saw this statement whilst walking the streets of Rome a few weeks back.
John, Was she on spanish steps? If so I stopped & watched this person for about an hour (a year ago) to see if s/he would change position. After about a half hour, I saw very slight movement, readjusting knees & elbows but s/he never looked up. Not one person dropped a coin in the time I was watching but I suspect it must be a good sport otherwise s/he wouldn't stay there. And I wondered to myself if this was what it appeared or another one of those human "statues".
 
John_Nevill said:
Ron, I moved host a few months back and the link died.
John,

PM me with the links and I will fix them if you would like. Just be aware to power may go out at any time on me so responsiveness is not something I can guarantee.

thanks,

Sean
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I'm glad you brought this up again John!

I have lots of images of the street guys and have a liitle more insight. I'll have to dig them out and post.

Asher
 

John_Nevill

New member
Sean, i've mirrored the links onto my new host and uploaded the original image. Saves you time and keeps the threads intact. I'll check my other posts and do the same in due course.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Glad you did that, John! It is haunting!

Now I have been studying this again. It's a new phenomenon. This lady might be the one exception. However, this posture is now the trade mark of groups of people moving from scandinavia down to the rest of Europe. They work in teams, setting up the same poses. Now, that doesn't mean they are not poor and in need of help!

It is no longer a straightforward issue of dealing with one's conscience in passing a beggar without giving alms! One can now balance out the guilt with the possibility that this is once again a scam.

Trouble is that for me, guilt comes easily and I have to go back again, one way or another!

It's hard not to think someone prostrating themselves, as in your picture, needs and deserves at least a coin or two!

Is it a job, a lack of choice, a clever scam? For sure it's a captivating picture. I'm not free of it even now.

Asher
 
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