Moments I

FRANCE. Paris. 2014.

A short post today: of fleeting moments, and people who have gone by but the photographer keeps. After this post I may change the post layout so that each shot gets more focus unless the photos were intended to be sets.

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Thinking Colour

SOUTH KOREA. Seoul. 2013.

The above photographs were taken with the intention of capturing colour. More precisely, I’d been working with the assignment — “colour in unexpected places” — that a friend had given me. It was a particularly novel experience since, in the past half a year of getting more into street photography, I have rarely shot in colour.

Most famously, perhaps, Henri Cartier-Bresson shot exclusively in black-and-white. The tale has it that he shot in colour on a few occasions, but never liked the results enough to show them to the public. During a conversation with a street photographer I met while out on a walk, the subject of the talk came to why I preferred black-and-white photography. We see in colour, experience things in colour, remember in colour. Colour also has the capacity to preserve the subtle details of the scene that would otherwise be lost in monochrome. And its potency in triggering certain emotional and subconscious reactions can be immense. I personally tend to recall more vividly the “snap-moment” of colour photographs. Indeed, I find shooting in black-and-white an entirely different exercise, since then I’m seeing in black-and-white — in terms of light and dark contrasts and in terms of situation.

The answer I gave was that I liked the simplicity of palette. Rethinking the question, I might add that I’m drawn to the gap the absence of colour creates between the photograph and reality. My focus, at least for now, is on the goings-on within the frame; and insofar as black-and-white isolates the situation from what it was in experience, I can embrace that for the sake of the personal message.

Subject to Object

Photos I, IV: SOUTH KOREA. Seoul. 2013.
Photo II: SOUTH KOREA. Busan. 2013.
Photo III: SOUTH KOREA. Bundang. 2013.

Photography is a still. By this I mean that, regardless of the motion–unless the motion itself is part of the capture–the subjects photographed are necessarily also objects in the scene. The relationship in the shot with the man juxtaposed with the lighthouse is, in this sense, not man-lighthouse but object-object. Then there are such inanimate objects as mannequins which, in photographs, take on a personality. Photography conflates the two.

I was never really interested in street photography until the combination of an excellent art history class on 20th-century photography and an awesome friend got me into it. Over last year’s winter break that I spent in Korea, I started randomly wandering the streets and shooting scenes I found interesting. The temperature often fell quite far below zero; I remember being paranoid about having my camera malfunction, since I knew even less about handling cameras properly then than I do now. I’m still not too far along, but already in retrospect I’m convinced that getting into street photography was probably one of the best decisions of my life. Hopefully I’ll see progress as I carry on with the blog.

Variety in Vertical

FRANCE. Paris. 2014.

Hooray for updated watermarks! All existing and upcoming photos have been re-marked after I figured that big, obtrusive blocks of texts weren’t exactly conducive to viewing pleasure. I’ll henceforth be sticking to the revised signature.

Lately I’ve been trying some new stuff with vertical framing. All four shots above were taken on the same day, consciously framed very differently. I’ve noticed that when taking photos, I subconsciously focus on a distinct unit — for example, a single person or object or a single group of people or objects — then frame using the background. Stepping away from this habit was part of the challenge. Also: over these past two weeks of no posts, I’ve accumulated here in Paris a bunch of photos that I haven’t yet had the chance to go through. Once again, I’ve been working most extensively with black-and-white photography, but I suspect we may be getting a little more colour soon! In the meantime I’ll begin uploading photos that I took during my visit home to South Korea last winter (partly to make up for my recent lack of posts). Expect more content over the next few days!

Scenes from First Week

FRANCE. Paris. 2014.

A few scenes from the streets of Paris! The last shows the gates of Cité Universitaire, my residence during the three-month stay here. All preceding photos were taken either on Boulevard Jourdan, the street on which Cité is located, or on my walk to my university’s Centre in Paris.

Geometry

FRANCE. Paris. 2014.

Fourth day in Paris = about time I put up a post! I’ve been experimenting with geometry lately, so no real spur-of-the-moment or movement-oriented shots here. The place I’m staying is around 20 minutes by public transport to where I have class, but day two onward I’ve taken to walking instead (it’s a nice distance and not at all too complicated). In general Paris seems pretty navigable on foot. And thanks to the secondhand compact camera I managed to pick up just before I left, I’m no longer lugging around a heavy SLR on lighter walks. Photos 1, 3, 4, and 6 were taken with the compact.

Upon arrival I’ve adjusted into an unfortunate sleep schedule due to a few impending deadlines, but otherwise, all is good. The only problem I have thus far is that the grocery store and bakery are a 15-minute walk from the dorms, and in the time it takes me to get back I manage to nibble through half of my baguette. In general life I’m getting by in everyday interactions with the abysmal French I have; in terms of coursework, the shift from philosophy to a more facts-based history has been an interesting one. But above all I appreciate that I don’t feel harried here. It’s okay to take my time (as long as I’m respectful of yours), chill a little, sit on the banks of the Seine without feeling as if I should always be on the move. A nice break from what’s been the most hectic six months in a long, long time. Life is interesting again, so I guess I’m settling in.

Inspiration: François-Xavier Marciat

“European Landscapes” — Black and White

“Miscellaneous & Coloured”

“L’eau…” (Work for Mixart Belgium 2007 exhibition)

Photography by François-Xavier Marciat (http://expo.f6creations.com/)

All photos have been taken directly from Marciat’s online portfolio, linked above, and placed under subheaders as categorised by the photographer himself. I’m mostly a fan of his black and white photography, but I couldn’t bring myself to skimp on the colour pieces.