I do look a lot at other blogs, if for no other reason than to try to figure out how they manage to post so often. A couple caught my attention today as they addressed things I have either blogged on or referenced vaguely before.
Photography Talk has an entry on the "Six Most Annoying Trends in Photography" that I pretty much agree with. I must admit I blanched a bit when I got to Number 6: "Professional Know-It-Alls," but was relieved when I found I hardly fell into their definition, which involved those who live by rigid rules.
Meanwhile, Japan Camera Hunter (an oddly named blog these days, as it has expanded into a rather interesting spot for thoughts on street and film -- as opposed to digital -- photography) has a piece titled "Why your phone is not your friend." The hed caught my eye, and again I feared that it was something it is not.
Lately, on my other blog -- or "phlog," as I like to call it, as it centers more on my pictures -- I have been forced to admit that, though Leica is in its name ("The Guy with the Leica") I've not been able to process the film I've been shooting in my Leicas. It's a money thing that's been going on for some two years now, and frankly I choose not to blog about that merely because I think it would come across as whining. That's neither here nor there. My point is (and, as Ellen Degeneres would say, "I do have one") that I've had to substitute pictures I've shot with digital Nikons and, more often, my iPhone.
This was not shot with a Leica.
When I first broke down and posted the iPhone pics, I did it under the "camera you have" rule (as in: "The best camera is the one you have with you"), but I've got to say as I've returned to them, they're not that bad. Maybe, I feared, I was missing something. Nope. Japan Camera Hunter is merely afraid that, with one's head down on the little smartphone screen, one is missing the real world passing by.
Finally, here's another from the endlessly fascinating PetaPixel site, "Five Painless Steps for Getting Rid of the Fear of Street Photography Once and for All." Again, I'm not sure that it's directly on the mark implied by the title (which is a real mouthful -- don't they have copy editors over there?) It will only take a minute to read, but I can save you even that by saying it comes down to two things: Engage with people to stop being afraid of them; most people like having their picture made. Still, worth the minute to get all the thoughts and encouragement in between.
Amongst those thoughts was an interesting take on the famous Robert Capa quote, "If your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough." The author, Oliver Duong, thinks Capa has been generally misunderstood by having his words taken far too literally.
"What Capa meant was to get closer to your work, to what you are doing," Duong writes. "If your photographs aren’t good enough, you are not connected enough. How does that help in regards to fear and street photography? It tells you that you do not have to get physically close to your subject as the sole goal." Frankly that sounds more like Cornel than Robert to me, but I've been very wrong about things like that before. (Remind to tell you my embarrassing story about "Stonewall" Jackson someday.)
I think his point is valid -- I once read that Henri Cartier-Bresson complained about having to use his 35mm instead of 50mm lens too much when he shot in the US -- but I think Capa is misunderstood on a much more literal level. Many new photographers are afraid to get right into the midst of the action, and so they produce pictures that reflect their distant, stand-offish attitude. A better picture brings across the feel and swirl of events, and usually that requires the photographer to get right in on top of them.
Also, let's remember Capa was primarily known as a war photographer (though I'd bet war pictures only make up about a third or a quarter of his work). An AP photographer once told me he covered war with a 20mm and a 300mm lens, as the action was either right next to you or really far away, and I noticed pictures of another photographer friend, Frank Johnston, when he covered Vietnam, inevitably showed him with only two camera bodies: a Leica with something wide angle (a 28?) and a Nikon F with the immortal 105.
Look at all those great war photographs. I'll bet you can count the ones shot with a long lens on one hand.
Frank Johnston shooting for UPI in Danang in 1967.
Also, when I called it up, there were some intriguing titles at the bottom, like "Joel Meyerowitz Says He Despises Bruce Gilden's Attitude, Calls Him a Bully."