Hong Kong Lucida

A Thinking Street Photography Blog

How to Analyse and Appreciate Street Photography Without People

I like the following passage by James Elkins:

Every field of vision is clotted with sexuality, desire, convention, anxiety, and boredom, and nothing is available for full, leisurely inspection. Seeing is also inconstant seeing, partial seeing, poor seeing, and not seeing, or to put it as strongly as possible … seeing involves and entails blindness; seeing is also blindness. (Elkins The Object Stares Back 95)

Even though everything is right in front of us, we see that we do not see.

Street photography is about the human condition.

When street photographs are devoid of people, we are reminded powerfully of what we do not see.

It’s the same as telling you not to think of pink elephants –  the moment you hear the command, you can’t help but think of pink elephants.

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The above scene is moulded by desire, and it calls out for a kind of associative thinking that is different from our everyday calculative, economically disciplined thinking.

It’s as if to say every day is a surrender of our selves.

Those in pain will know: there are so many ways to suffer, and in our suffering, many ways to call for help.

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Monochrome photography eliminates colours that may be distracting.

Here, our attention is drawn to multiplicity and repetition.

What the above says to me: there are many shoes for sale. You can buy any pair or more than a pair.

But you could only walk in your own pair.

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We’re asked to think in terms of symbols.

What does the electric meter symbolise?

For me, the photograph is asking the following questions: how much have we accomplished? Is there any one to keep track?

Where is the electricity meter of our days? Where is the electrician?

Is the photograph asking those questions, or am I the one asking?

Perhaps the photograph and I are one.

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What’s the writing on the wall?

Translation: one, peace.

It’s up to you to fill in the blanks between those words.

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Why would anyone put a sofa on the pavement? I asked this as I took this photograph.

I have been at this spot many times and it’s still here. On some days, it’s occupied.

On others, not.

An empty sofa is like a funeral of the self.

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Whoever placed the chairs here is smart.

Things are different with two chairs.

There are possibilities here.

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We build and dwell … and soon the evening is here.

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We pack up the boxes of our days…

Will they be enough?

Am I enough?

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Is it already time to move on?

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3 comments on “How to Analyse and Appreciate Street Photography Without People

  1. poypoystardoom
    March 25, 2014

    I personally like taking pictures of things other than people (except if those people are not strangers to me). They are easier to take. Lol. I haven’t really tried taking pictures of strangers in the street. I don’t know who I would approach them. Should I ask for their permission or just take pictures without them knowing? Anyway, I’ll stick with street photography without people first.

    • eddietay
      March 26, 2014

      Yes – I suppose it’s a challenge. I do ask once in a while but sometimes, I’d prefer to be candid, let them spot me, and then smile…

      • poypoystardoom
        March 26, 2014

        Really? Wouldn’t it look like your’e spying on them. That’s my biggest concern. Hahahaha

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