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A picture is worth . . . — 14 Comments

  1. And a good picture it is too.
    I am also the sort of person who likes pictures of dilapidated doorways, strangers looking from distant windows, imaginative graffiti – but I have few in which I feature myself (unless it’s via an attempt to be clever with the reflection in a shop window.) But it’s not because I’m shy. It’s because I’m the lucky person carrying everything, including the camera.

  2. And now we have thousands of pictures on our hard-drives. One positive of the ubiquity of digital photography is that film (and film cameras) have become much more affordable. Just last week I bought 20 rolls of professional quality film for £20, at least one fifth of what they would have been worth a few years ago. I still find though that with taking film photographs I weigh up each shot with much more care, so per 36 shots there are a lot more ‘keepers’ with film than with digital.

  3. I enjoy your black and white stuff, Daniel. Is monochrome film still easy to get?

    I knew guys in the North who would shoot a whole roll of film for one shot; I used to envy them the money to be able to do so!

  4. Hi Ian, yes the film is available (though rarely over-the-counter). I have bought film from discountfilmsdirect.co.uk who are good but quite expensive and also from eBay where there are a few good bargains to be had. The problem is that getting the films developed is expensive if you can find anyone to do it. The best way is to develop them yourself which I promise you is not as hard as it may sound. Have a look at ilfordphoto.com if you are keen :~)

  5. Daniel, I fear that anything that demands manual dexterity or artistic skill or, as in the case of taking and developing one’s own photographs, both, is completely beyond me!

  6. Ian: This post, along with two others of yours have been an interesting commentary on photos and what legacy we leave behind. Normal, everyday, mundane fills in the gaps between history’s big events. But I’ll bet we wouldn’t hae to go very far to find local folks who don’t see themselves in photos very often because of economic status.

  7. Gram,

    I suppose the rich and the elegant like being photographed because they are rich and elegant. Ordinary people might not be so happy being photographed because they are ordinary!

    There was an incident in Paris in 1947 when Dior tried mixing the two worlds up. He launched his ‘New Look’ and tried having photographs taken at a street market in Rue Lepic . The women of the area were so angry at being faced with such wealth while they were so poor that they tore the dresses off the models.

  8. I cherish the ordinary old photos of my ordinary old relatives. Last year I received a photo of my great-grandmother (whom I never met) and she was stoop-setting at the front of the farmhouse – apron, babushka, and a weary look on her face. But . . . when I was raising Goodight’s mother, I lived in an apartment complex where there were people who couldn’t afford a loaf of bread, let alone a camera or some film. They would have loved to pose for a photo like the one you took of the Rwandan children. One of the consequences of poverty is the lack of documentation of . . . the ordinary.

  9. I agree with you, but I would never take a photograph of people in poor communities unless asked, or unless they were demonstrating something and it was courteous to be able to ask if a picture might be taken. I think some of the aid agencies are extraordinarily paternalistic in the images they take and use in the promotion of themselves. One of the things I admired about the British agency Christian Aid was their efforts always to use positive pictures.

  10. I concur. I wouldn’t take a photo without permission, either. In that apartment complex, I sometimes asked if the parents wold like me take photos for THEM to keep, not for me to keep or use.

  11. I love to photograph people but it’s very difficult to do so without intruding. As for personal photos, they’re all stuck in rarely viewed albums, perhaps I should think about converting them to digital, especially those of the children. I had a bit of a ‘gap’ in the early 80’s too because I tended to brandish a video camera. Now I have the magical Digital SLR and can take thousands, store them on Flickr and I’m a happy camper. I love my camera. Not so much photos of myself. Did you ever send a print to your Rwandan friends? Oh and a great initiative too. I’ve heard of programmes like this, very worthwhile.

  12. Trying to send a print would have been impossible; there are no addresses in such places. However, I’m going back to the area at the end of April, to look at how stuff is going and maybe I’ll take some pics with me.

  13. Thanks for the compliment.

    On the price of film and processing: I used to get my films developed but not printed. That was much cheaper and if you opted for prints they would also print a lot of the ones that didn’t come out but you’d be charged by the print.

    So I have a huge collection of 35mm negatives which have never seen a sheet of photopaper.

    Now, with modern technology, I have scanned in some of these but I really must get down to going back through them all.

    Regards,

    Pól

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