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Thursday, 15 September 2016


It's why photography of derelict factories bore me to death.

I've visited factories (of trains, beverages...) where beautiful photographs coul be made but it's of course forbidden to do so.

So long. And it perpetuates the notion that there's no industry left in the developed world.

"Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn't photogenic." Brett Weston

I really like these, especially some of the closer shots.

I agree about access, and it likely is what makes the difference for many. Some have access given to them and make good use of it. Some fight for access and through effort and maybe some luck eventually get it (I'm thinking of photographers like Mary Ellen Mark).

I guess that the youngsters are seing the world in portrait mode, as in a smartphone.
There are no landscape photos on the assignment.

The ubiquity of cell phone cameras has blunted but not eliminated the public's reluctance to be photographed.

I can do no better than quote part of Ed Hawco's comment, above:
"I find this series fascinating and visually compelling as a set. As you say, it's a "window" in which each image lends context and tone to its neighbors, elevating the entire body of work."

This set is a fine example of what Robert Capa meant when he said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." He wasn't talking about the distance from your subject, but how involved with it you are; how much it means to you.

Nico Young is one to watch, if he carries on like this. Bl@@dy excellent.

"His photos were brimming with an uncommon authenticity and emotional depth.

So says Kathy Ryan, Director of Photography, NYTMagazine.

It's too bad, but uncommon authenticity is seldom seen in photographs. I wonder why, he asked rhetorically.

BTW if you want photos from a restricted area, don't bring a backpack full of gear. Guerrilla photographers don't follow rules—they just get the shots, unobtrusively, using whatever it takes.

I asked a similar question on a forum I frequent:

"Is it just me, or do other people experience the situation where you are walking somewhere - to the shops, a doctor's appointment or to meet friends - and you see something and think, "That would make a great picture!"

But, on further considering the angles and lighting, you realise that to get the picture you would have to be about 17' tall and standing in the middle of the road. During the rush hour."

According to the replies, and your post, it ain't just me!

So right re access. It is not only a 'problem to be solved' but also a reward in itself - photography can grant you the opportunity to see things that are really special.

If I am in such a place / situation with a camera I feel I have a responsibility to do a good job with the tool that has got me in there, while at the same time respecting the individuals who have given me access or to whom I have been given access.

This applies whether these are religious ceremonies on my travels; performers such as the circus acts I have photographed; or in my current series, portraits from 'alternative' nightclubs (goths, fetish, techno, drag, etc.) in London.

I try and 'trade' access for photographs - i.e. I get permission to shoot and I share the results of that shoot. It is a 'stone age' barter deal that takes money off the table and allows for a much better 'exchange' (I find). Hardest to do when abroad, sadly...

We have now the equipment, time, know how and money to access about anywhere and anything. There's not much Victorian reserve and fear of the unknown left in us either, so we get in there and seize access wherever and however.

My own experience is that what I feel about the subject has by far the strongest influence on what in the long run I get out of it.

So mostly I try to access me. I find that harder to do in new exotic locations because it takes me a while to get past WOW! Where I can slow down and sort of live in the subject and its buzz is where I do my best. That's to say close to home, the places I go every day, is where it's at. I like where I live. That doesn't mean I don't think much of exotic places. It does mean that I'm an enthusiastic student of where I live.

Kenneth Clark said something like, "We make art out of what we love, and we tend to love what is familiar."

To get folksy: there was a veteran Maine fishing guide who said that he preferred clients who happily spent long years on home waters to those who made careers of trying all the far flung greats. The former, he said, seemed to better understand what he was trying to show them about his own territory. To me that's another way of saying that the skills and regard developed at home, those that can be developed only at home, are the chiefest tool for travel.

Nico's work is from the heart and well done.

"I guess that the youngsters are seing the world in portrait mode, as in a smartphone. "

I was born before WW2 (hardly a youngster) and I usually shoot people in portrait mode 8-)

Peter Wright's featured comment made me nod "How true". I go about my daily life NOT carrying a camera and always underestimating that which is right under my nose. "The grass is greener on the other side of the hill" I tell myself over and over. Which has me, more often than not, seeing something interesting and then hoping to return under equally interesting moments. It works but not all the time.

And then your comment Mike about, "and being there is not always easy or safe" seems to be truer with each passing day. My home of Northwest California is now notorious for its public lands being used by welled armed "growers" that make you think twice venturing alone onto remote roads or trails in anticipation of a pleasant day of photography.

Apropos access, you've linked to another article firewalled behind the NYTimes subscription. A pity - I was interested enough to try and have a look. One could almost suspect some kind of deal going on here - but I'm not that cynical. Am I? :-)
I do hope you can try to fight this temptation - many of us do not have, and are not likely to have, NYTimes subscriptions. Please, please limit links to those that everyone can see - it's frustrating when the link hits a dead end in this way, to say the least - especially when that's it for the day.

[Really? You were kept out? The way it's supposed to work is that when you follow a direct link it's supposed to let you in. Also, non-subscribers get 10 free articles a month, which allows most people who seldom visit the Times to see occasional articles. I'd promise to check into this, but given all I have to do I doubt I'll get around to it soon... --Mike]

I liked these shots, but I think they are better described as "from the inside," rather than just "access." "Bikeriders," "Tiny" and the Turnleys' "Maclellan Street" photos show a world to which a photographer from a conventional background (at least from one I can understand) have achieved access to an unusual culture, but at the end of the assignment, they move on. Well, Mary Ellen Mark definitely did stay in touch.

I would count Larry Clark and Nan Goldin as full-fledged, continuing insiders, and Nico Young gets a membership card now as well. I wonder what he will be doing in a few years, when he is no long the accepted class photo-geek, perhaps one of many in this Instagram moment.

The link to NYT definitely gives free access to the article. I am in UK as I think commenter Andy Sheppard is.

I would count Larry Clark and Nan Goldin as full-fledged, continuing insiders, and Nico Young gets a membership card now as well. I wonder what he will be doing in a few years, when he is no long the accepted class photo-geek, perhaps one of many in this Instagram moment...!

Thanks You,

I have health issues that prohibit me from walking far - so if something isn't accessible by car or wheelchair, I'm out of luck.

I still travel and photograph avidly, but have been frustrated by the attitude on various well known online forums. When I've asked about accessible sites to photograph at a bunch of locations, I've inevitably been rubished by various people "oh, well, if you can't walk 20km there's no way you'll get a decent shot at [pick your national park, monument, region]"

They just don't seem to be able to see past their noses. Sometimes being restricted means you end up seeing places in a different and creative way.

I've won prizes and received compliments from far and wide including pros - so I must be doing something right, even from my wheels.

It's how you look at something, not necessarily where you are, that counts.

Obviously - as you know the system - that means I/anyone may well have bumped into the 10 article limit some time ago. When you follow the link and try to 'read more', the firewall pops up. Which means locked out without a subscription. Which means not free. As you are aware of the VERY short access period, you are aware people will be locked out.
Please, dear god, not the 'huh?' response again...

[Well, you know, you're the one who's made the decision not to subscribe and yet to bump up against your free article limit for the month. Why should you think you have a right to the NYT's content for free? In this case they located a new talent in a high school student and gave him an assignment. The project doubtless took a lot of time and effort on the part of at least several people. Yet you seem to be peeved because you're not able to access it without paying for it--even though they allow you to do that, so long as you don't overdo it.

I frankly think the Times is worth subscribing to for its photographic content alone, which is copious. Not for nothing have I been calling it "the World's Best Photography Magazine" for many years. I don't think there's a single other media outlet that does as much with photography, and that includes dedicated photography sites...except if your interest is mainly or exclusively centered on cameras and equipment, in which case there are indeed better sites.

So I'm just not very sympathetic. At some point you just have to live with your own decisions and not excoriate me for them. The last thing I mean is to be unfriendly, Andy, but c'mon now--I simply can't ensure that every last reader will always have a good experience with every last detail of every last thing I write about. --Mike]

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