Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2006/04/06

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Subject: [Leica] Alternate Whispering
From: datamaster at (Gary Todoroff)
Date: Thu Apr 6 20:47:41 2006

B.D. - Probably one of the reasons I photograph is to share the enjoyment of
a moment with others. "En - joy" is an interesting word that brings up the
perspective of "in - joy", as in allowing a fun or meaningful experience of
mine to be communicated to another.

>From that standpoint, if a good caption can increase enjoyment, then I add
that. It doesn't necessarily mean that the photograph can't stand on its
own. Judging a photograph purely by its own merits certainly makes sense in
evaluating the skill of a photographer. However, I think that always
requiring your photographic evaluation approach can limit effective
communication and thereby the enjoyment of a shared moment.

I can certainly agree with you about the baggage often brought to a
photograph in which the photographer assumes all kinds of  enclosed
experience that has no meaning to the viewer.  I have finally figured out
why most people give such poor driving directions - they assume that the map
inside their head is also in yours! Editing out those assumptions in your
own head requires a "stepping outside" approach, not only when you throw
away the photos that don't communicate on their own, but especially when you
capture the photo in the first place, looking for the universal assumptions
and symbols that tell the story to everyone.

Perhaps the debate is more about communication than about a single
photograph.  "Cop-out" applied to the idea of a caption seems like kind of a
harsh word though, and surely more LUgers will contribute to the discussion.

This will be a fun topic over sushi, fine drinks (sorry, Ted, don't much
care for Scotch), and black and white photographs, not necessarily in that
order, next month in Boston!  B.D. - Please send me an off-list e-mail and I
can get you my schedule, if we're still talking to each other by the time
this thread ends!

Gary T

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [
> g]On Behalf Of B. D. Colen
> Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2006 8:07 PM
> To: Leica Users Group
> Subject: Re: [Leica] Alternate Whispering
> Sorry, Gary - if a photograph is presented as a photograph, that is,
> presented on its own and not as an illustration for text, or as
> an excuse to
> avoid writing text - a freestanding photo in a newspaper with explanatory
> caption - then it should speak for itself, without explanatory footnotes.
> Giving a photo a title - and that's really what we're talking about rather
> than captions - is a copout.
> Tina's photo is a lovely photo. As I said, I think it's one of the best
> image's she presented. But by itself it says none of the things
> Tina says it
> says. And if it is presented as a photo that supposedly says those things,
> it fails. One of the things I tell students is that they have to remember
> that what they saw, heard, smelled, perhaps touched, thought or otherwise
> took in while they were photographing is utterly irrelevant to the viewer;
> all that matters is what is captured in that 60th of a second -
> 8000th of a
> second - in which the shutter opens and closes. All that the
> viewer can know
> is what is printed on a single sheet of photographic paper, or projected
> the screen. So if Tina was caught up in the ceremony she witnessed, by the
> beauty, the warmth, the sounds of the father whispering the call to prayer
> to the baby, and wanted to convey that in a photograph, she
> failed. Period.
> And all writing the title does is admit that failure.
> Again, all of that said, I am not saying that the photo in
> question is not a
> wonderful photo - I love it. And I have great admiration for Tina as a
> photographer. But that's not what we're talking about here; we're talking
> about photography as a visual, rather than written, medium.
> B. D.
> On 4/6/06 9:40 PM, "Gary Todoroff"
> <> wrote:
> > Oh boy, a chance to debate with both Ted and B.D. at the same
> time! Although
> > a great photo can indeed stand on its own, words along with a photo can
> > provide a synergy that goes well beyond either.
> >
> > For me, the work of writing a good caption is usually more
> effort than the
> > photograph, and I would love to agree with you both, just for
> the sake of
> > eliminating all that work! However, communication is a commitment and
> > obligation in which the extra effort of writing can often make
> a difference.
> >
> > I will agree that it is important to let a photograph "speak"
> to you first.
> > I have to remind myself to *look* at a photograph in order to *hear* the
> > photograph, an oxymoron that becomes understandable with the lingering
> > effort.
> >
> > However, depth of understanding can come with words that take you even
> > further into the world of a photo. Tina's photograph, I think, is good
> > example of that combination at work. Gents and lady - what a
> great time we
> > could have on an evening over these ideas!
> >
> > In any case, the viewer can always choose to not read a caption. And
> > "Alternate Whispering" makes for a perfect title for the
> direction of this
> > thread within a thread!
> >
> > Best,
> > Gary Todoroff
> > Tree LUGger/Lympa Logger -
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From:
> >> []On
> >> Behalf Of Ted Grant
> >> Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2006 4:53 PM
> >> To: Leica Users Group
> >> Subject: Re: [Leica] Alternate Whispering
> >>
> >>
> >> B. D. Colen offered:
> >> Subject: Re: [Leica] Alternate Whispering
> >>
> >>
> >>> Definitely the original, Tina- But this is a classic example of why
> >>> photographers shouldn't put captions on photos, except where
> required in
> >>> newspapers and magazines. Again, I don't see whispering; I don't see
> >>> religion; I don't see call to prayer- I see father and child.
> Yes, in a
> >>> photo story this image may say every one of those things - but you're
> >>> showing an individual image. Just put it up, and let it tell it's own
> >>> story.<<
> >>
> >> Hi B. D.,
> >> I'm with you when it comes to putting words to a photograph
> because quite
> >> often the words don't do a thing and I've seen news-photos in our
> >> National
> >> Newspaper photographer awards judging lose because we the judges have
> >> said... "What the heck does that have to do with what the picture is?"
> >>
> >> Photography is visual and when it comes to individual photographs
> >> most times
> >> words are meaningless. I've always said, particularly when
> judging... "I
> >> don't want to hear nor read what the picture is, I just want to make my
> >> decision on what I look at, not words that are supposed to make a
> >> difference
> >> to the decision.
> >>
> >> A photograph stands on it's own or it doesn't, look, enjoy or not, make
> >> decision, then find out what it's about. Yes sometimes knowing what the
> >> photograph is illustrating makes a difference. Sometimes before
> >> the judges
> >> give a  final marking often we ask for "word details" because
> >> sometimes it
> >> does make a major difference.
> >>
> >> But in the case of Tina's photograph it gave off such a wealth of
> >> emotion it
> >> truly needed to stand without words. Quite an interesting
> >> photograph to say
> >> the least.
> >>
> >> ted
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
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In reply to: Message from bdcolen at (B. D. Colen) ([Leica] Alternate Whispering)