dark and long...
Olympus Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Digital ED
1/125s f/3.5 at 200.0mm iso400
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What I find compelling is the ring on her finger. Despite her difficult situation, she wears her ring. Is she a widow fallen into hard times? Is her spouse alive and if so, where? Does she have any children? Does she choose to live like this? Portraits like this one are so fascinating because they "engage" the viewer with more questions about the subject.
Ana Carloto O'Shea
It's interesting to see that this image has originated such a response from people...
This is a photo from city life as much as those candid with beautiful women that abound in Pbase. This is the way of the world unfortunaly and we don't see it getting any better, that's what really concerns me... When I was 6 yrs I used to think that when we reached the year 2000 we would live in a really advanced society and these kind of images would only belong to the history books... But I think it's even worse now... people can collapse on the street and everyone ignores them for fear of whatever...
If you (and others) don't put these images up, people will think the streets of London are paved with gold. Thank You.
A telling document of life on the street. I am reminded of the books about poverty by Jonathan Kozol and Lee Stringer. It is very difficult to photograph something as emotional and personal as the life of a person on the street but without these images there would be no document of these people and this time that they lived. They would be forgotten. News programmes and reporters try to show this unfortunate part of life but seldom do they give it the weight that is needed due to a mere blurb on a television news report that can be switched to Bob the Builder or an episode of Fawlty Towers. In the papers a person can just flip the pages to something more pleasing. Still images carry weight because a moment in time is captured where the image is left to hang in the mind of the viewer. It is not a meagre flip book of images rotating through the minds eye. It is very unfortunate that images like this are and need to be taken. Very well done.
Ethics and morals are delicate subjects that vary with the cultural and individual conscience.For instance, I was raised rural lad where hard labour may grind the earth under your skin.But you still held your head high in dignity.And respected those who could not.And would not portray them in their suffering moment.Perhaps this has something to do with my parents harping "If you don't have anything positive to say,then shut up!"I guess that was ingrained pretty deep.Because I try to remember or consider the positive attributes of a friendship or relationship.Negativity tends to mire me down pointless.So for speaking on behalf of my own conscience and no one else, yes this is against my ethical fibre.I could not press the shutter button for this one.And over the years I have edited and deleted many images that grew offensive as I "matured"(loosely said) or changed my mind set.Pressing the shutter is largely an instinctual gut reaction with little or no time to rumble with the conscience for the limited candids that I have done.I have asked permission 95% of the time.The other 5% I feel pretty d*** guilty about, even though they are by law fair game of public shooting.I am a very private whiny insular being I suppose, who values personal space at a premium.And to factor these petty personal whims into the opinion of your great photograph I believe would be unfair.For I must put these small things aside and broaden my outlook to view the whole scenario.And try not to color it with the strokes of my contaminated conscience.For this is a marvelous image that speaks louder than my whisper.And I can recognize that.And I also,to a small degree perhaps understand a little of the WHY that moved you to make it happen.And so I try to imagine through your eyes of what you might have thought or felt.Which stands tall and honorable with full right of ethics far above my sole spit of quibblings.There are marvels such as these,that have genuine intrinsic merit irrelavant of my personal values.If I can be a better person for understanding art as such, all the better.Now I'm really ready for a shrink :P
Rod, as usual your response is humane, honest and self-questioning. I realise the reason most people don't do this sort of photography is because they are afraid of offending people and/or invading their privacy. It's something I struggle with a lot myself. I started what turned into an interesting discussion in the forums on the ethics of candid photography here:
I have difficulty with the way people will say that they think to take such photographs is rude but resort to extreme relativism when pushed to say whether they think it is rude therefore for other people to take such photos, saying "well, that's just me." To my mind, if you think it would be rude of yourself to take photos this way , it seems morally evasive to insist the same behaviour by other people in similar circumstances is not rude, too. To many people, my style of photography is rude by virtue of their position towards the ethics of candids. That's fine, I just disagree with the assessment that "candids without consent are always wrong."
I do find your argument about the type of lens, or more exactly, the 'space and intimacy' part academic, if not a little specious: I take candids with the person literally standing next to me, so close we're actually touching and ones from far away, using a telephoto. In my mind, I've already resolved whether or not I'm ethically justified in taking the photo. Often, I think "no, it's not the right thing to do." But once I'm satisfied that I am justified (or perhaps more accurately, 'not unjustified'), I use whatever technical method will best execute the shot under the circumstances. My point is, using one lens or another, being near or far doesn't make the shot any more or less authentic, or ethically justifiable; by the time you take the shot, you should have already settled your conscience on whether you should take the shot or not. Provided you don't physically harrass someone or go to perverse or objectively invasive means to get the shot (putting the camera through a window, jamming the camera in someone's face...), how you get it is an afterthought.
Clearly, you like the shot but the means by which it was achieved would have prevented you from taking it on ethical grounds. So Rod, my dear friend, time to pass you over the coals: does that mean the shot is ethically deficient or not? :)
I could never find myself nabbing this type of image.I feel that we are bombarded with poverty and injustice of all sorts (emotional,physical,social,etc) from every angle, daily.To photographically participate in the madness would only gnaw at me with with nightmares. Because it is so abrassively personal and close.Our own condition is unbelievably fragile in terms of health,jobs,family,home,etc that a minor play of fate can land is on either side of the deal.And although we deserve a wake up call on occasion, I believe that many of us are thankful for the bright blessings in our lives.At least as photographers our mandate seems inevitably so.Perhaps I am foolish thinking this way, but the telephoto choice can be almost like a physician's probe.Enough distance from the contagious disease for inquiry and prognosis without breaching the shock of intimacy.
It takes a bold spirit to nerve a personal question to any stranger under the most rosy of circumstance.Since I in turn would feel discomfort, if someone approached me as such.Some people have an innate gift for sensing the tick tock of a person first time around.And they can gingerly open the pandora with gentle diplomacy.It is amazing.In most situations I would like to believe that the subject deserves a personal voice.This is peculiar, but my photography is mostly with a normal range point and shoot.If I can't touch the subject, on most occasions, it is not speaking honestly to me.And that I have perhaps, stolen something however unpalpable with injustice.Crazy.
This image has unflinching raw truth.Throwing our hearts into a turmoil of pain,tear and sympathy.The hues although surface bright scream in bitter contrast to the dismal affair.It is as if we need the hammer of brutal blood red to swiftly pound our concious alert, having all too often averted our concerns elsewhere.I applaude your sensibility and honourable intentions.Fantastic from everyside of my boxed world.
Funny you should ask that, jude but as I was taking a series of her like this from across the steet, a passerby said "I hope you're going to give her some money!". Well, I didn't engage with her because I was too busy. I can understand her sentiment to be charitable and to give someone 'unfortunate' something for what I am getting out of it (with my telephoto attached she probably assumed I meant to sell the image). Then I thought "well, I don't see her begging: who says she wants charity? Would I offer money to someone who looked 'normal' just because I took their photo? Clearly not. What if this lady's sense of dignity was affronted by my assuming she'd want my sympathy money?" The fact is, I have no intention of making money from this photo, just sharing it because I think it is compassionate. Probably every other day I give a beggar change, though I realise that there's a strong argument for giving to charity instead; which I do also - but sometimes I just cannot pass by someone looking desperate and it's clear by the way they act that odds are they would appeciate the help, even though too often I know it goes on drugs or drink. In this case, the lady was just walking along, doing her own thing, quite oblivious to everyone else. If I see her again (quite likely) and she appears ready to accept money, I will give her something then, as well as make an effort to talk to her, if she feels like it
A photo to make one stop in their tracks and think of another's life .. wondering what leads them where they are.. what they are thinking and doing.. Maybe even reflect on the mercies granted the viewer in their own life. The array of colors that keep her warm from the elements defy the washed out ones that seem to be her belongings, her life in a single cart..
Do you ever wonder if they are less aware of their misfortune than we are? that maybe inside thei way they live is the "norm" for them after a while? Not meaning it's easy or one they'd want.. just that they have adjusted in some way to what IS.