Are you a photographer with or without a camera?
Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey opened a discussion about photographers who carry or don’t carry a camera. He offered eight famous names and asked who’s carrying camera all the time and who’s carrying it only on assignments? Elliott Erwitt, Philip Blenkensop, James Nachtwey, Bruce Davidson, Lauren Greenfield, Joseph Koudelka, Steve Mc’Curry and Cristina Garcia Rodero
David’s post is a perfect cause to wrap my thoughts into the following post. Once I used to be a person who carried his camera all the time and photographing just about everything. From landscapes, family pictures, intimate naughty pictures to street photography. Last few years I take a camera with me only when I intend to do photography.
Few years ago I faced up the dilemma of not being under control of my images. I was doing great photography, but I couldn’t stuff it into a satisfying frame of reference. Basically saying rudely I didn’t saw any purpose in lovely “decisive moment” images. Let me explain that.
My last street photography project was London in Borut Peterlin in 2002/3.
Right after I came back from London I started to work for Mladina and when I became a photoeditor in 2006, I realized very important fact. I thought who the f… am I that my lyrical opinion about London or Prague would be relevnt? I understood that outside there are bigger stories then myself and although I’m neglectable in this world, I’m (as we all are) indispensable!
I offered my knowledge to the world, moving my ego backward and allowing the information to be the most important. Of course we could debate that from the series to the series. Story on Strojan Roma family in exile is an example where it’s not important authorship, but the subject. You could argue that my Striptiz portraits are all about authorship of the pictures and I could agree, but I’ll add that I never wanted to be a portrait photographer. In fact I consider portrait photography the most boring branch of photography and I would never do it, if editor would not demand from me to take this rubric in Mladina weekly.
Bottom line here is the following. It’s not important who’s carrying camera and in what occasions, but who’s in the foreground of the picture? Is it the authors interpretation or is it the information of the subject being photographed?
Forgive me, but I’ll do some speculation.
Fine Art photography is about 20% of subject – 80% of authorship
Documentary photography is about 50% subject – 50% of authorship
Photojournalism photography is about 80% subject – 20% authorship
Dayton border 50% subject – 50% authorship
Rehabilitation of deaf children 60% subject – 40% of authorship
Strojan Roma family 65% subject – 35% authorship
Workers demonstration 85% subject – 15% authorship
Press conferences 90% of subject – 10% of authorship
What do you think? Do you agree with my theory? Does it make sense? Is it useful to think about that before you start to do photography?