Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Corners

Waterbury, Connecticut

Sometimes the odd corners at the back and sides of commercial buildings are more interesting than the fancy public facades.


9 comments:

James Weekes said...

I love these little spaces. Especially when someone tries to dress them up a little with a plant. A plant only a very few people (including nosy photographers, and would we even be photographers if we weren't a little bit nosy (read curious))?

Markus said...

Yes, for me they work too, Carl! And I read a certain helplessness from such arrangements - someone feeling that a place is not as beautiful as it should be and then adding a decoration, which (in my eyes) more emphasizes than hides. But I certainly appreciate the attempt.

Carl said...

As you know, plants up here means something that can survive the winter, so, someone did this on purpose. Which is interesting.

James said...

Do people ever give you strange looks while you're poking around? I'm sure I often look very suspicious.

Carl said...

Not very often, but I've been practicing this since I was a teenager with a camera back in the 60s, when any young male was frequently viewed with suspicion no matter what he was doing. I'm very aware of my surroundings at all times and sometimes make decisions based on whether I'm being observed or not.

Another thing that I learned from one of the old, good, photo magazines of that period is, don't ACT suspicious, don't look sneaky. If you stand back and use a long lens, you'll attract attention. Work in close with a short lens and behave as though you can't imagine anyone thinking anything is wrong. "This is what I do, how could anyone think it's strange?" Acting furtive or self-conscious makes people nervous. Acting utterly composed and confident inspires confidence, or at least acceptance. Not confident in an arrogant sense, but in a "what else would I be doing?" sense.

Not easy to explain. Another article back from the 60s quoted Ken Heyman, a fantastic people photographer with the build of a linebacker, who said something like, "there's no way I won't be noticed, so I try to be as boring as possible. That way people just stop paying attention to my being there."

Carl said...

Memory is funny, I don't remember the author of the article on Heyman, but now I recall it was in Pop Photo and had the wonderful title, "Ken Heyman is a great big bore!" Then it explained the title with the quote above and other details about how he approached his subjects. Also technical details including the fact that he considered the then-current fashion, or near fetish, for indoor available light shooting misguided. He carried a big potato-masher electronic flash which he'd hold in his left hand and bounce off the walls and ceiling of the room while aiming a Leica with the other hand, setting the aperture by experience. I practiced this and shot most of my high school senior yearbook that way.

James said...

Good advice Carl. My look is foreign and bearded, which isn't ideal in our current, hyper-vigilant times! I'll have to work at looking confident and boring!

James said...

Incidentally, Carl, the sorts of considerations you mention make me suspect that it might actually be better, from the point of view of being tolerated, to work with a serious-looking rig rather than a smaller camera. Perhaps people are more likely to assume we're working if we're lugging a big DSLR (rather than nipping behind buildings with a little point-and-shoot)?

Of course, big rigs aren't so good for people photographers who are trying not to alert their subjects. But if you're more a buildings-and-streetscapes kind of photographer (as I am), that's not such a consideration.

Carl said...

James, "looking like a Pro" can go either way. I've done a lot of pictures at political demonstrations and find that "looking professional" leads to greater acceptance. But for general walking around, a large dSLR/zoom rig tends to attract attention. You're more likely to be upsetting to security people if you look like a working pro. BTW, carrying a pair of smaller cameras gives the Pro Look, too.

A sidelight is that you can do this sort of work with a large view camera and have very little difficulty as long as you keep that "what else would I be doing?" attitude. It's obvious that you're not sneaking around, after all. Have a look at this set of pictures done around Halloween right after 9/11:
http://www.carlweese.com/fp1.html