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Monthly Masters DiscussionMonthly Masters' Discussion- April 2018 - Gordon Parks' "Drinking Fountains"

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minniev
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Re: Monthly Masters' Discussion- April 2018 - Gordon Parks' "Drinking Fountains"

Post by minniev » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:44 pm

PietFrancke wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:32 pm
these are iconic images. Chuck I think that there has been great progress. Not all people change and they do not all change at once, it is a process that takes decades and decades, but it happens. There has long been an undercurrent of resentment and suppressed hatred.

What is new is that the desire to make news and to sell news and to make money and to become powerful has sunk to a new low. Our current president tapped into this, and Fox is also doing everything it can to tap into it. It is all about segmenting the market and then monetizing it (whether it be dollars or votes). A lot of people think what they think. So, today (more than in the past), those that should be more responsible are simply telling those segments what they want to hear.

It is not shocking to me that we live in an age of hatred (we always have). The shocking thing to me is that our fourth arm of government (the media) has decided to do the equivalent of chasing facebook likes by telling specific segments of our population exactly what they want to hear. With no regard to consequence and no sense of morality.

Today there is a special brand of arrogance that feels it can say or do anything. It has been made bold by money and by acceptance. I find it disgusting and it makes me sick and very discouraged. Today it is OK (more so than ever before) to LIE.

edit - to get back to topic.. Image one - dignity, grace, poise while in a position of weakness. Image two - hatred and anger while in a position of strength. YES, pictures convey emotions and tell a story and potentially change the world.
Thank you Piet, for your thoughts (and I do agree with your conclusions about our current predicament, which each day shocks me anew). And thanks as well for building the bridge between these two images in a way that is succinct and profound. You are so right.

I wonder, sometimes, what my forebears would make of all of this. I'm pretty sure that some of them had various prejudices that I don't share, but they placed dignity, honesty, and personal integrity above all, so whatever views they held were constrained by those qualities. We lost a lot when we decided those qualities no longer mattered.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by St3v3M » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:37 pm

PietFrancke wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:23 pm
...
I no longer try to change the world. Rather, I will try to change myself!!!!!!!!
Change yourself and you change the world! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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Post by PietFrancke » Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:32 pm

minniev wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:44 pm
PietFrancke wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:32 pm
these are iconic images. Chuck I think that there has been great progress. Not all people change and they do not all change at once, it is a process that takes decades and decades, but it happens. There has long been an undercurrent of resentment and suppressed hatred.

What is new is that the desire to make news and to sell news and to make money and to become powerful has sunk to a new low. Our current president tapped into this, and Fox is also doing everything it can to tap into it. It is all about segmenting the market and then monetizing it (whether it be dollars or votes). A lot of people think what they think. So, today (more than in the past), those that should be more responsible are simply telling those segments what they want to hear.

It is not shocking to me that we live in an age of hatred (we always have). The shocking thing to me is that our fourth arm of government (the media) has decided to do the equivalent of chasing facebook likes by telling specific segments of our population exactly what they want to hear. With no regard to consequence and no sense of morality.

Today there is a special brand of arrogance that feels it can say or do anything. It has been made bold by money and by acceptance. I find it disgusting and it makes me sick and very discouraged. Today it is OK (more so than ever before) to LIE.

edit - to get back to topic.. Image one - dignity, grace, poise while in a position of weakness. Image two - hatred and anger while in a position of strength. YES, pictures convey emotions and tell a story and potentially change the world.
Thank you Piet, for your thoughts (and I do agree with your conclusions about our current predicament, which each day shocks me anew). And thanks as well for building the bridge between these two images in a way that is succinct and profound. You are so right.

I wonder, sometimes, what my forebears would make of all of this. I'm pretty sure that some of them had various prejudices that I don't share, but they placed dignity, honesty, and personal integrity above all, so whatever views they held were constrained by those qualities. We lost a lot when we decided those qualities no longer mattered.
One thing that I did not mention that I believe is a factor is economy. If you are poor and feel that you take care of yourself, then sometimes you don't want to share with the guy that came from somewhere else (why help him, no one helped me). I think the poor are becoming more so, and the middle class is eroding. The rich seem to be in the process of becoming the ultra-rich. Sometimes I have the impression that the ultra rich have sold a bill of goods to one of the factions. The haters have always been hated, now they are accepted and pandered to. There is (in my opinion) serious manipulation at play and it is difficult if not impossible to fight since the qualities of honesty, dignity, and integrity no longer seem to matter.

Well, they do matter to a certain degree... If a poor man is found to be dishonest, he is shunned. If a rich man is found to be dishonest, then he is admired for being skilled at manipulation. We still require our teachers, our soldiers, our police, to be honest, have integrity and have dignity. (Note that in today's world, while folks in those professions are likely better off than someone without employment, they are not Much better off).

Today we have a rapidly growing class - the working poor.

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Post by vinnylepes » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:15 pm

Gordon Parks is one of my personal heroes, ever since I was in high school and I stumbled into a book of his poetry. I did a report on him way back then, and was so fascinated by the fact that he was an accomplished writer, photographer, musician, poet and movie director--especially when opportunity was against him. I was at a time in my life when everyone around me was telling me to focus on one thing, and while there was some potential wisdom in that, people like Gordon Parks proved that you can spread yourself across media and still make an impact as an artist.

I think this particular photograph is a SHINING example for people who don't understand the adage "learn the rules so you know how to break them". Here's why:
The subjects are shot from behind with no eye contact.
In this image, I find the subjects are more symbolic than personal. Rather than being a portrait of mother and daughter, which would be a good reason to include their faces and eye contact, this is more of a portrait of society and the subjects represent their race given the context around them. The lack of seeing their faces actually adds to the feeling of dehumanization that segregation represents, how easily they were being dehumanized every day in even the smallest ways like needing a drink of water.
There is an out of focus intrusion on the left that suggests the image may have been shot from inside a car.
If you wanted to be technical, you could argue the car is a sloppy attempt at sub-framing the subjects, or flat-out a mistake. But in the context of this image, that little bit of car frame adds so much to the story. We, the viewer, are merely passing by. We are detached from the scene and perhaps not giving it the notice it deserves. We aren't living it. We are comfortable inside our automobile, remaining detached and not confronting the glaring societal issues that are on every street corner. I think without the context of the car, a good part of the story and impact of this image is lost.

I also think the tension it provides is important here. We see a little girl staring into a shop window. This is a classic story for anyone--a story of wanting something. You could go as far as to consider it a little girl dreaming--and if you look at it that way thematically, she is dreaming like every other girl but she is cut off, crowded and separated. Putting subjects at the edge of a frame, especially when looking toward that edge, is a powerful way to suggest tension. You break the "rule of thirds", the symmetry, just about every rule of portraiture--but if you break those rules to support a theme then you have actually used them in their most powerful way. In this image, it makes her small, crowded, unimportant...cut off from her dreams. The impact of that idea is much less if she is properly framed as a portrait subject.
There is a metal bar that blocks our vision.
Here again: if this were a formal portrait or fashion image I would agree the bar is poorly placed. And while it was probably unavoidable and not included consciously in this instance, it is a "happy accident" because it's one more element in the frame highlighting themes of division and separation.

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Post by minniev » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:10 pm

vinnylepes wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:15 pm
Gordon Parks is one of my personal heroes, ever since I was in high school and I stumbled into a book of his poetry. I did a report on him way back then, and was so fascinated by the fact that he was an accomplished writer, photographer, musician, poet and movie director--especially when opportunity was against him. I was at a time in my life when everyone around me was telling me to focus on one thing, and while there was some potential wisdom in that, people like Gordon Parks proved that you can spread yourself across media and still make an impact as an artist.

I think this particular photograph is a SHINING example for people who don't understand the adage "learn the rules so you know how to break them". Here's why:
The subjects are shot from behind with no eye contact.
In this image, I find the subjects are more symbolic than personal. Rather than being a portrait of mother and daughter, which would be a good reason to include their faces and eye contact, this is more of a portrait of society and the subjects represent their race given the context around them. The lack of seeing their faces actually adds to the feeling of dehumanization that segregation represents, how easily they were being dehumanized every day in even the smallest ways like needing a drink of water.
There is an out of focus intrusion on the left that suggests the image may have been shot from inside a car.
If you wanted to be technical, you could argue the car is a sloppy attempt at sub-framing the subjects, or flat-out a mistake. But in the context of this image, that little bit of car frame adds so much to the story. We, the viewer, are merely passing by. We are detached from the scene and perhaps not giving it the notice it deserves. We aren't living it. We are comfortable inside our automobile, remaining detached and not confronting the glaring societal issues that are on every street corner. I think without the context of the car, a good part of the story and impact of this image is lost.

I also think the tension it provides is important here. We see a little girl staring into a shop window. This is a classic story for anyone--a story of wanting something. You could go as far as to consider it a little girl dreaming--and if you look at it that way thematically, she is dreaming like every other girl but she is cut off, crowded and separated. Putting subjects at the edge of a frame, especially when looking toward that edge, is a powerful way to suggest tension. You break the "rule of thirds", the symmetry, just about every rule of portraiture--but if you break those rules to support a theme then you have actually used them in their most powerful way. In this image, it makes her small, crowded, unimportant...cut off from her dreams. The impact of that idea is much less if she is properly framed as a portrait subject.
There is a metal bar that blocks our vision.
Here again: if this were a formal portrait or fashion image I would agree the bar is poorly placed. And while it was probably unavoidable and not included consciously in this instance, it is a "happy accident" because it's one more element in the frame highlighting themes of division and separation.
Delighted that you elected to jump into our Masters Series, a little thing we do every month. Having a creative proThough I sometimes select images for the Masters that I don't personally care for, this is one that I find very compelling and "masterful", rich in levels of meaning. I agree with your points about the "rules" (the folks in this little online community are a rebellious lot and would likely agree) - knowledge about them has to include when to break them and towards what end. You've given a very insightful window into the symbolic properties of composition, and we thank you for that.

Some intrusions are inevitable in street photography especially, and the ability to utilize them as components of the composition or features in the story being told is a gift - I think some skillful folk do it without really thinking about it, it's become inherent in how they see.

Welcome, and hope you'll visit again!
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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