KL – Nikolaus Wachsman

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This is the most comprehensive book I have ever read on the Nazi’s Final Solution and the concentration camps that were established.

It documents  the inception, the running and the demise of them and looks at individual stories of survivors and those who died, including Kapos and Nazis.

The amount of research done to complete this book must have been immense as Wachsman source list is lengthy.

In parts the book describes in detail the treatment of hundreds of victims from the gassing, to the vile experiments that such “people” like Mengele carried out.

72 photographs are added to the book in two places. They show a wide variety of KL related scenes and some are obviously very upsetting. The photographs themselves are simply incredible as a result of the fact that photography was banned in most places these we taken. They are a remarkable record of this shameful event in human history.

Of all the books I have read of the Holocaust this has surpassed all the others.

If anyone shares my interest on this subject, this is a must read.

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Project 3 Reportage

First of all I will give some context to this set of images. There is not intended to be any narrative within this project, but having reviewed them, I feel there may be is a story developing of a local area and its’ lack of people.

I live in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which has become infamous for its’ lack of ability to deal with child abuse, which has led to hundreds, if not thousands of young people being subject to sexual abuse and much police inaction. As a result of this, the town’s people are somewhat suspicious of anyone waving a camera about, (even acting as a flaneur) and I have been asked on numerous occasions by the police, residents and other people not to photograph in the street. I therefore wanted to challenge myself and do exactly the opposite of what I have been asked as there is nothing wrong in street photography.

The day was cold, grey, overcast with no visible cloud. Simply a grey mask formed the basis of the sky. I armed myself with my Fuji Pro 100x, as a opposed to a DSLR and decided to photograph Bawtry Road, my chosen street. It was apparent within the first 15 minutes I had not only made a mistake with the street, but also the day would not be good for photographing people. The street was wrong as it felt empty and was too open. I could not melt into the background, in spite of my chosen time and camera. There were too few people around and in one image the shop’s  dummies outnumber the people in the shot.

Anyway I decided to pass on and to see what would happen as this would add to my challenge. I have shot 30 images and then have decided to desaturate them as I feel this will give me a true comparison between colour and black and white. Reflecting on some of the images, I also feel that they do not have a purpose, maybe they are even a snapshot! I have added my contact sheet below the individual images which includes basic EXIF data.

I have chosen not to title my images due to the number of them. If there were ten images I would have captioned/titled them.

What is the difference between the colour images and the black and white images. Black and white was seen as the way to go for street photography, even when colour film had been invented and is still seen as the format for many street photographers. I also enjoy images in black and white, when the tonal variations are good, but does converting/desaturating not detract from what street photography should be and that is unmanipulated. Colour can maintain the reality of the image and remain true. This “truth”was assocaited with black and white images in the past as that was the only way images could be recorded but times have changed and there have been so many advances in technology.

In my set below, I actually prefer the colour images. They have more of a realistic feel to them and are unchanged from as shot in camera. colour also shows what I saw and in some images, the colour contrast was what drew me to the image, as in the open drive way with the beautiful orange foliage, set against the mundane backdrop of the fence. This contrast has disappeared in the desaturated image. If I were to shoot in black and white, I would have to go out with the intention of doings so, giving more thought to the tonality of the image and specifically what this would look like in black and white. I have thought and seen in colur and that’s how this set should remain.

Black and white is not wrong, for me. but in this example as refelcted upon above, my choice is colour.

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Contact Sheets with Exif data

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Elements that can be present in street photography

  • Street photography should be free from social and political motivation
  • It is an in the moment art that relies upon timing
  • Generally speaking any subjects in it should be unaware
  • The Flaneur style
  • They should be free from a narrative
  • Should be subjective
  • The subject and the location define street photography
  • Un-manipulated
  • Non interventional i.e. the photographer does not interact with its’ subjects (people)
  • Its’ photographs should be unedited and in a public place
  • Does not have to contain people
  • Should be a true mirror image of the scene
  • It is about the phototaphers’s reaction and observations

Street photography started to change from surrealism, in my opinion, just after the second world war, but this sub-genre can still be found today, albeit not en-masse. Maybe the emergence of organisations such as Magnum also had an impact upon this. However defifnitove evidence is hard to find as surrealism is still being used today. This sub-genre can be demonstrated well by Giacomo Vesprini.  Vesprini, G (2016) Giacomo Vesprini’s Beautifully Surreal Street Photography, Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/giacomo-vesprini-surreal-street-photography (Accessed: 27/03/2017).

Irony in photography

Irony is used to comment on values in different ways and there can be many examples found. It is not hard to find such examples as hoghlighted below. Images taken from Lee, G (2014) 19 Delicious Examples of Irony In Photography, Available at: http://www.sickchirpse.com/irony-photographic-form/ (Accessed: 27/03/2017).

 

 

 

 

 

Project 2 Photojournalism

Research point.

First of all, I have ordered another book, Basic Critical Theory for Photographers by Ashley la Grange. I will add a book review once this has been read.

Next. I have spent some time researching the point of atrocity photographs losing their impact. In May of this year I plan to visit Auschwitz, Poland and I have already done significant research for this visit. This has included reading and listening to accounts from inmates and the SS guards at the camps. The inmates who had to do the most unimaginable “things”to their dead friends, family and country folk clearly became desensitized to the death, torture, the sights, sounds and smells from all around them. Some of them who had to load the bodies in the crematorium, freely admit the sights and smells etc., did not bother them after a time. They did switch off. Therefore, logic states that if we, as the general public are constantly saturated with images, displaying death and violence, then the images will lose their shock horror impact. This has already been discussed by me, partly in Part one, where I have talked about how the UK’s images on Syria are very much censored, in comparison to those in Arabic countries.

Rosler does have a point, but this is an opinion and not a fact and photographers such as Hine, and my ex-tutor Les Monaghan, who highlight social issues, may reinforce the gap between the rich and the poor, but I feel their work is worthwhile (essential), as such images need to reach the public. Without such work, some (most) of the population may never get any exposure to such social issues e.g. extreme poverty in the UK and therefore the good surely outweighs the negative impact.

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Image taken from  Monaghan, L (2017) Relative Poverty, Available at: https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tvqgCcpSwX4/WHUFCJheoTI/AAAAAAAABVQ/yJhY18BqXew8UvOnDTl5r5aTmcq9FCZUwCLcB/s1600/DSC_4293.JPG(Accessed: 21/03/2017).

Sometimes we change our views, as did Susan Sontag regarding immunity of the shock value offered by images. This is not a bad trait to have and by changing our viewpoints , we can demonstrate evidence of further learning and education.

As photographers, we need to change our methodology, as to employ one single method of portrayal forever will cause problems of boredom in the viewer, desensitization, lack of interest and the accusation that we are approaching problems in a single-sighted way.

If we ignore the things in life that will shock and upset us, they will remain hidden and buried away forever, but we need to strike a balance between shock tactics and being tactile and thinking of ways to deliver the message we want to.

To be a good documentary photographer, you do not necessarily need to be an insider, but topical research would be essential to allow you to better understand the subject, culture and the issues at hand. Any photographer will have an opinion on the subject they are photographing, in some way, to be able to recorded the series with feeling. Without any subjectivity, the work will appear bland and featureless. Knowledge is power.

There is a place in war photography for different styles, i.e. late or atrocity and many more,  as in the work of Frank Cappa whose blury images have been copied in Hollywood films such as Private Ryan and the latest film Hacksaw Ridge.

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Image taken from  Chillee (2009) photo from Omaha, Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilliee/3463378711 (Accessed: 21/03/2017).

There is no one size fits all answer. If this was the case, we would all shoot the same way and no one would get bored with that method. If that were the case we would all be automatons. As it is we are human and have human traits, which evolve and change with time.

I will continue and expand upon my thoughts throughout this course with reflection upon these initial thoughts.