‘Street Ballets’: The Photographer Dances

Here I am posting videos of two photographers at work in the streets: Bruce Gilden and Garry Winogrand. Look at the photographers as they move; negotiating the pavements with the rest of the crowd but displaying a particular (photographers) choreography which sets them apart. I think it’s interesting to study photography and the image via the analysis of angle or point of view. This is usually done via an awareness of the position of the camera, from up high, eye level, from below etc…but when watching these short films I became aware of the particular and peculiar perambulations and movements of the photographer (himself) – especially out on the streets, where we all jostle for a ‘view’ for our point in space. To start with Gilden and Winogrand have similar, but to me very different methods. I feel (and can see) that the ‘aggressive’ style of Gilden is not shared by Winogrand who displays gentler, more hesitant actions (He is much more European in his approach) I find myself looking at the postures, gestures and ‘dance’ of these photographers as they negotiate the streets. Gilden is Hip Hop, jerky and insistent, all pause and explosive beat. Winogrand?..balletic and folksy. Gilden holds his camera bluntly out in front of him like a ram, Winogrand cradles his under his chin in an affectionate manner, his hand curling round the machine, like protection or a device to hide it from view. Gilden hardly ever looks through the viewfinder, preferring to shoot from a multitude of angles as he bounces flash off his subject. Winogrand brings the camera to his eye at the moment and instinctively frames while shooting. He hardly ever uses flash. They both press into the crowd, become part of the flow but will make sudden about-turns and halts. Winogrand likes to work with a self-prescribed theme for a shoot while Gilden just…shoots!

They weave, jostle and bump along with the flow of the pedestrians but will suddenly leap or crouch, twisting their camera into position. The best images from these photographers are the ones where the dynamic reflects this ‘street ballet’. Upward angles into startled eyes, sideway shots that illuminate people caught deep in thought; their eyes glazed and brows furrowed.

I wonder: How has technological advancement (of the camera) changed the relationship of the photographer to their subject and vice-versa? Consider the rise of the mobile phone camera. The potential for new positions and points of view. What power-relationships exist between the photographer and the public and how have these now changed? I wonder how these power relationships will begin to shift and have already begun when one considers that the photographer is also a member of the public, and vice versa: ‘we are all photographers now’

Statistic: on average an individual in London is caught on CCTV 300 times per day. Why don’t people complain about that when I take their photograph in the street?!

Enjoy these clips –

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