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Dissertation Photographers...

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by KelseyRebecca98, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Hello everyone,

    I'm currently in my 3rd year studying photography and in the middle of my dissertation. I have decided to focus on Henri-Cartier Bresson's 'The Decisive Moment' and how it is still relevant in the digital age. I'm currently looking at Paul Hills 'Dialogue with Photography' as well as Errol Morris for the 'critical theory' section we have to complete.

    For my practical, I'm going to be in one spot filming in a ten minute slot. During this time whilst I have a separate camera set up filming, I will be taking photos on another camera. Once complete, I'll take frames from the recording and compare them to the images I produced and comment on the decisive moment (if that makes sense?). Due to this, I'd love to look at a contemporary filmmaker/photographer (not Cindy Sherman) who's work is frames that have been taken from a recording they have produced. I'm really struggling to find someone who fits this and was wondering if anyone had any ideas?

    I would really appreciate it if anyone could throw some names my way.

    Thank you,
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi Kelsey, I can't help but I'm looking forward to reading the answers you get. Good luck.
    KelseyRebecca98 likes this.
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Me too,

    But I presume the point of video and stills is to be able to see where a DM happened and how everything either side was dross?

    Seems like quite a complicated way to do it to me. DMs happen almost randomly, but with practice you can predict them and be ready. But I think to coincide with videoing, you'd have to cheat and stage them. You can illustrate it easily with published filmstrips from famous street and reportage photographers, but most are pre-digital.

    As an urban / street specialist myself, I am always looking for the DM and I think this tome is stuffed with them. Not every one, because it is trying to be a broad study, but a high percentage: https://www.blurb.co.uk/books/6512012-doing-london

    Key thing for me is if you are shooting ordinary, everyday locations and people, it is only the DM that can lift it out of the mundane. That transcends all levels of photography and applies to beginners as well as famous photographers. I think it would be an error to imply it is only something the greats do, or even a mark of the greats.

    But of course if you are taking video and a DM does happen, you are going to capture it. With stills, not on burst, you need a very quick eye and instant reactions. People ask me if I shoot bursts and answer is no, If I shoot 4-500 single stills at a time, as I did yesterday, that would be far too many to even bother editing.
    KelseyRebecca98 likes this.
  4. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I think it will be difficult to find a photographer that sets out to capture stills from video. Stills captured from video are usually a last resort for reportage.
    The technology has a lot to do with this in two ways.
    1. If one is shooting video then one normally wants the perception of fluid motion. To achieve this then the shutter angle is going to be around 180 degrees so as to get suitable motion blur. For many cases this shutter angle corresponds to a slower shutter speed desirable for still photography.
    2. The compression used for most video is too detrimental to still image quality.
    Of course there are exceptions. High technical quality is not essential for good art. We still have photographers using archaic processes for their artistic properties. We see books published containing polaroid images which were just considered as snaps at the time they were taken.
    I think that your project is interesting and hope that you show us some of the finished results. It is a valid niche area in which to work.
    KelseyRebecca98 likes this.
  5. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I know this isn't what you wanted, but in my searching I came across the term Unit Stills Photographer and browsed a bit of work here and there.
    This guy really does a great job.

    If nothing else, it might give you inspiration for scenarios! Perhaps you need some props with you (dog, newspaper, bunch of flowers, balloons, umbrella - something you could 'accidentally' let fly away)? You might end up with a decisive moment, you never know. Good luck!
  6. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Another who just popped up, asked an interesting question, then disappeared? I guess she asked on every forum there was and got an answer somewhere.
  7. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Yes, shame she didn't come back and at least acknowledge we tried to help.
  8. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    KelseyRebecca98 and Catriona like this.
  9. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Ah right, regular visitor then;) Anyway very welcome if she passes this way again.
  10. I completely agree with you that it is a complicated way. It's an idea that has been pushed on me by my tutors and even now I'm still unsure of it! Originally I wasn't even that interested in doing a practical side, I was keen to focus on the theory however, it is something that is required now. I would be more than happy to just go out on to the street and take my own photographs and then comment/analyse them with the DM in mind but it's not going to help me respond to my argument of the DM in the digital age apparently.

    I've just looked through your book and love the images. Especially page 13, for me there really is a DM in that one!
  11. Apologies! I assumed I would get email updates when someone replied to the post but they all went to my junk so I never saw. I really do appreciate the help. I looked through Jaap's website and do believe it could be beneficial if I go along with the idea of looking at stills. At this moment, I'm not sure whether to continue with the practical idea that I have. I think it would be better for me to start considering a new approach?
    AlanW and Catriona like this.
  12. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    And I see that everyone ignored her.
  13. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Jaap's images are indeed inspirational, but are not the type of stills that you originally wrote about.

    Stills from video are niche. Jaap's stills about video are about big business and publicity plus personal shots of great interest about the history of cinema. He has got into a very respected and privilged position that students might only envy. How did he do that? I don't know, but innate ability is probably only part of the reason. I wrote 'might envy'. Some students, a very small number indeed will not envy, but emulate.
  14. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Kelsey, It might be helpful if that approach starts by defining what a DM is and can be. That might just help to frame it. I think the leap into video stills was possibly a bit sideways and not really part of an exploration of that subject area. It could yield DMs of course, but not sure it is the real intention. If it is, it might just be using video in place of the seeing eye and anticipation / reactions that stills require.
  15. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    I would suggest looking at 'artists' rather than photographers as such, given the working method described. Lots of artists work with time based media whereas fewer photographers do.

    Not exactly the same but there was the guy who appropriated Google street view images and 'curated' them to pick noteworthy or interesting scenes as still images in their own right.
    KelseyRebecca98 likes this.
  16. I agree. I think what I wanted to achieve from it was a forced way of showing that the DM is still very relevant because photographers have to work to find that perfect scene and have the patience to wait and time the shot. But with video stills, it would've been taking away that ability as you can re-watch that one clip as many times as you like and have a different perspective as to what you would do in the moment with just a camera. I don't like it and like you said previously, the only way for me to achieve it would've for it to be staged in an obvious way.

    I'm not the best at academic writing which has probably shown already. So far I have only wrote a solid introduction for this essay and haven't been able to get over that awful block of starting the next chapter. Once I do, I'll be sure to come back and post what I have done.

    Is that Doug Rickard? He was one of the main case studies for a previous essay I did. We had to look in to copyright issues and what really counted as 'art'. I hadn't considered what he did to be a DM but I have always been a fan of his work.
  17. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I have to say I leave defining what I'm doing until I'm well into doing the project and can see where it is going, rather than where I start out thinking it will go. I think there could be other angles to your thesis than just DM is still relevant. For instance, do DMs evolve over time with consumers, generation change, changing values, interests, or just enabling technology?

    Don McCullin in his book Unreasonable Behaviour laments the death of photojournalism (which depended greatly on DMs), but all he is really describing is a change towards new connsumer interests as celeb culture took the place of hard news. Now in the iphone era, the man in the street is far more likely to get a DM of any dramatic incident than any professional sent to cover it.

    Wildlife photography has also moved on and now requires huge investment to get new and more dramatic pictures. Astrophotography no longer amazes unless it catches a supernova.....etc
    Zou and Catriona like this.
  18. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I think, also, decisive moments are (or were) more likely to be captured when street photography wasn't treated with such suspicion (apart from on marches). In early days of street photography photographers were accepted as part of the furniture. I know even in my day of the 1970s and 80s, I did not feel conspicuous wandering the streets, snapping, as and when I wished.
    Culturally now, even with smartphones etc there is unease in a photographer wielding a camera and a less easy attitude towards someone watching or waiting for an interesting shot.
  19. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    After Blowup was released in 1966, being a photographer on the street was seen as cool (for a given value of cool). I wondered around snapping away with a chrome SLR and no-one so much as looked at me in London. I was simply part of the furniture. I wish more of my shots had survived my rather chaotic life at the time. :(
    Catriona likes this.
  20. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    I think when people say this they're projecting their own views. I still do not see other people treating me with unease when I'm out taking shots with a large camera. The most I get is people not walking in front of me because they think I'm photographing a wall.

    People do duck, hide their faces, etc. but that's not unease, that's just personal preference.

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