3 Important Things in Telling a Story

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When Telling a Story, Intercession, Photography and Writing all Play a Part in Getting the Story Out. 

Intercession |ˌɪntəˈsɛʃ(ə)n| the Action of Intervening on Behalf of Another: he only escaped ruin by the intercession of his peers with the king. The action of doing something on behalf of another: prayers of intercession.

Photograph |ˈfəʊtəɡrɑːf| A Picture Made Using a Camera, in which an image of what is focused on to light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by Chemical Treatment, and or digital process: A photograph of what is in front of you.

Writer |ˈrʌɪtə| A Person Who has Written Something or who Writes in a Particular Way: the writer of the article. a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a vocation or occupation: she was a prolific writer | he a writer of short stories.

I got into photography when I saw how I could put some light on some of what I saw around me in the city of Johannesburg in the 1990s. I am a photographer because through it I can tell something of what is around me, I am not a camera or photographic technophile. When I saw how I could go into a situation with a small camera and come away with tangible aspects of what was there I was officially hooked. As a photographer, I don’t feel that there is such a thing as a boring situation but there is such a thing as a boring story told.

I then started to write for myself when I needed extended captions and some short-form writing to go with the pictures I was making. Robin Comley said to me one day that in the perfect world our pictures would talk for themselves, we agreed in the end that writing could add some context but we never should double-speak to the viewer as it were. The picture and the text can work alongside each other but never repeat each other as a writer and a photographer work together on a joint job. As a writer, I am picture strong, I can get the feel of what I want in the text. I love working with a good editor can get that feeling all in line alongside my images.

After many years in this craft and after many years of hardship for many photographers in getting stories published in a ‘visual’ world, I have given much thought to what I might actually be in all this…

I am the go-between, the messenger, a soother and sometimes the grit in a shoe. The intercessor speaks for the other, the intercessor speaks to another too. The intercessor goes in between for two parties or viewpoints. Sometimes my work can be soothing like an applied balm, and at other times these perceptions can be uncomfortable truths that also need some of the light of the day.

Like any craftsman, it is not enough to just make nice chairs, for example. The craftsman has to keep a note of how his ‘chairs’ are fitting into the rooms and doing all the jobs that they were intended to do. As a photog, I have to keep a firm hold on my position-at-work as I frame images and link words for others to view and read.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

 

 

 

#Paula Lycan

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What I Love About Looking at Paula Lycan‘s Work is its Ability to Travel Through Time. These photos feel incredibly contemporary, depicting queerness in a way that is both sensitive and political. But there are also references to the early beginnings of queer photography, the textural and sensual darkroom prints of people like Peter Hujar. Paula’s construction of the visual language of the darkroom also feels like a very fresh take on visualizing queerness. Reclaiming the labor and physicality of the darkroom tangles into the physicality of the body present in Paula’s images creating a poetically intricate narrative. – LENSCRATCH

Camera & Coffee Sessions, Small Cameras

SINDI ZILWA
SINDI ZILWA Photo John Robinson

When Any Camera Intrudes Into a Person’s Space that Person Becomes Normative or in Other Words, Adopts a Pose That They Feel Is the Right Way for Them to be Perceived

Order coffees.

Unless you take out your camera in front of an inanimate object or a person without any prior knowledge of cameras and photography there will be a change in your subject when they realize they are being photographed. The photographer has always hankered for invisibility.

When any camera intrudes into a person’s space that person becomes normative or in other words adopts a pose that they feel is the right way for them to be perceived by the photographer at hand. Big setups like those with a camera on a tripod and studio lights will give off a more formal feel from the subject while small cameras and less of a studio setup will give off a more informal feel from the subject at hand. In both situations, the intervention of more of the joint humanness shared by both the subject and photographer can lessen the normative behaviour of the person or people photographed.

If the photographer comes away from behind the camera body by using a waist-level viewfinder and or engages more with the subject, the subject will in turn relax and give more of their spirit to the resulting photographic images.

The subject too must be able to trust the photographer to give of their self into the same resulting photographs.

Drink some coffee.

When photography was born, the early cameras were bulky and very noticeable. The image through the lens was transferred onto a large sheet of glass and from this glass plate, a contact print was made. Candid photography was not generally possible. It was only with the start of production of the small rangefinder camera in 1932 and later SLR cameras that it was possible for the photographer to focus accurately and fast candid photography with a small camera was also born.

With the advent of digital photography, the world is awash with the photographic images of everybody and all their neighbours too. The days of many people feeling the need for the services of a person who understood the art of photography are largely over. Everyone now thinks that they are a photographer in their own right. In this wash of people taking pictures of themselves and their friends, the narrative photographer can at last hide in plain sight. The photographer can be invisible in plain sight in this wash of image takers while continuing documenting life as he or she uniquely perceives.

The Leica M6 camera is a small analogue rangefinder camera, it is what I use for most of my personal photographic work. The Leica M6 is a small quiet rangefinder camera and in many ways, it is just like the first rangefinder cameras of 1932 which could be used without much attention called to its self unlike the bulky cameras of those times.

Alongside my Leica M6, I am now starting to use my iPhone 6 phone camera for some of my personal work too.

With the wash of many people taking selfies with mobile phone cameras in public places, I have found out that I can use my mobile phone camera for street photography with drawing close to zero attention to myself while doing my stuff as a narrative photographer.

In many ways, the modern mobile phone camera is the Leica M camera of its day. My iPhone 6 camera is hiding in plain sight in the midst of all the other mobile phone cameras clicking round about…

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

#Art Photography

This Weekend I Am Sharing An Exhibition That is On Display But Not Available To The Public.

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Kick In It, Photo Cheryl. L. Guerrero

The exhibition, Distinction, is at the Photographic Center North West in Seattle, jurored by Kris Graves.

“Kris Graves (b. 1982 New York, NY) is an artist and publisher based in New York and London. He received his BFA in Visual Arts from S.U.N.Y. Purchase College and has been published and exhibited globally, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, England; Aperture Gallery, New York; University of Arizona, Tucson; Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon; and Brooklyn Museum, New York; among others. Permanent collections include the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Wedge Collection, Toronto; and Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania.

Currently, Kris is an Adjunct Professor at The New School / Parsons School of Design, New York and is the Director of Kris Graves Projects and Gallery (KGP), Brooklyn. KGP collaborates with artists to create limited edition publication and archival prints, focusing on contemporary photography and works on paper. KCP focuses their publishing efforts on stories that empower the long-forgotten and underrepresented. These stories deal with issues of race, policy, social awareness, feminism, culture, and wealth. The goal at KCP is to make books and prints affordable to every level of collector.” – lenscratch.com

Camera & Coffee Sessions, The Camera In The World

People Behave In A Normative Way In Front Of The Camera.

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, A FATHER WHO IS DISABLED.

Photo John Robinson

Order coffees.

The camera produces a photograph which is a representation of what is in front of the camera lens, this photograph is not a painting that is first interpreted by the eye and mind of the artist and then painted onto a canvas or other surface.

When taking pictures the photographer must feel as at home with the camera in hand, as with the very fingers when picking up a mobile phone for example. Get to internalise the aperture, shutter speed and ISO of your camera and photography. Photography is about the images photographed as brushing teeth is about mouth hygiene and not the toothbrush its self. There are many people around that are more interested in the technology of photography and the camera then the moments seen with it. I feel photographers must keep the main thing the main thing…

Taking a photograph is as much about what is cropped out as much as what is left in the camera frame. A photograph is also about the position of the photographer and the camera introduced onto the scene or moment captured too. When a Photograph is taken the photographer has left some aspects of the scene out of the picture entirely, made other things seem small and insignificant in the background and highlighted other aspects of the scene in the foreground giving them more prominence.

Stop for some coffee.

The act of photographing needs the photographer to introduce into the scene a camera body and lens. This act alone lets the subject know that they are now ‘on camera’ as it were and the photographer is there to record their activities while there. The mere introduction of a camera into a situation can cause situational changes once it is out there… Pierre Bourdieu says the introduction of a camera into a subject’s setting introduces a reaction from the subject, people behave in a normative way in front of the camera. There are decisions that the photographer has made during the moment in time it was captured.

The social documentary photographer Dorothea Lange said that to know ahead of time what you were looking for meant that you were only photographing your preconceptions. Lange said that you should rather work by looking at that which you instinctively respond. Certain moments just catch the eye…

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Coffee & Camera Sessions, Working With Light

The Sensor or Film in the Camera is the Light-Sensitive Surface That We Draw On

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Photo John Robinson

Order coffees

Photography means light drawing or drawing with light. The sensor or film in the camera is the light-sensitive surface that we draw on, it’s like a sheet of paper if you like. The camera is a pencil or pen with which we draw our drawings with light or photographs as they are commonly called. Light is the lead or ink with which we draw.

An underexposed photographic image is a bit like a sheet of paper with only faint lines or marks on it. An overexposed photographic image is a bit like a sheet of paper that is black with lines and marks on it. The trick is to let a combination of light, dark and shades between leave an image on the sensor/film that we call a photograph. 

The photographer controls the ‘marks’ the camera makes on the sensor/film through the ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings on the camera its self. 

As we are drawing with light we set the ISO setting on the camera first. The ISO setting sets the sensitivity of the sensor or the sensitivity of the film we are using to the brightness of the light we are going to work with. It is no use to the photographer if the sensor/film and the light brightness is miss-matched. If the light we are working in is bright daylight an ISO of 100 or 200 is a good point to start. If the light we are working in is general shade or indoors an ISO of 400 or 800 is more inline. If the light that the photographer is working under is low light an ISO of 1600 or 3200 will be more appropriate. 

Have a coffee break now.

By first matching the ISO to the lighting conditions, the photographer will have a fuller range of apertures and shutter speeds on the camera at hand to work with. 

Aperture or f stops and shutter speeds work in tandem, they work together. For example, A photographer is working in the general shade at 400 ISO at f4 and shutter speed of 1/60 of a second and is getting a good exposure. The photographer can change to f5.6 and 1/30, by increasing the aperture by a stop and decreasing the speed of the shutter. The photographer will still get a good exposure but increase the depth of field and with the decrease of shutter speed will gain more movement in the photograph. 

In a second example, the photographer could have changed from f4 and 1/60 by a stop to f2.8 and 1/125 and again get a good exposure but this time decrease the depth of field but increase the freezing of movement in the resulting photograph.

By understanding how ISO, aperture and shutter speed work together, the photographer is in a position of strength and can make a well-exposed picture with more of the depth of field and ‘movement’ aspects in mind. To know more about quality photography, I am at your service.

If you like what you read here you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Visiting Mom

Images Of an Old Lady At the End of Her Life and a Girl Who Is Starting Out on Life

Photos John Robinson

At the time when my mother’s independence failed her, my daughter Erin’s (1) was just developing. These seven images are aspects of an interaction between an old lady at the end of her life and a little girl who is only starting on her life. We are all somewhere between these two points. These images were taken during family visits to the frail care centre where my mother spent the last few months of her life on this earth.

My mother Lin Robinson had an Astrocytoma grade 4 tumour removed from her brain, after the operation, the surgeon said to my dad and I that mom had 3 to 6 months to live. Lin Robinson went on to live another 10 years or so. After one more operation, my mom opted to have no more surgery done in her head. The last years of her life were quieting ones, there were the visible effects of brain surgery and the invisible ones too to be detoured around by the whole family.

My dad cared for mom at their home until the point came where mom had to be cared for in a frail care centre. Lin Robinson always liked to walk around in the garden with her husband holding the flowers that he grew for her. She died in a room with a wheelchair beside her bed and had to rely on my dad to get food into her mouth. The last time I saw her alive she knew that I was taking pictures and she smiled at me, it was too late for words.

I feel that my mother just got tired of what is, my father and mother were people of great faith and she wanted to move into the great beyond.

That night I drove home under a starlit night after taking the last photograph of my father’s hand and my mother’s now dead face.

 

Public Space

Public Space
Near 29,50.8123S and 31,2.2053E there is a open air gym. This gym is one of many city open air gyms in Durban, these gyms are free to use and are provided by the local council. The gyms are basic and work with the body weight of the user. The Durban beach front is the domain of the casual visitor during the day, in the late afternoons and evenings it is the domain of fitness groups who use the area for running, cycling, weight training and beach soccer.

Photos by John Robinson

Xenophobia On The Streets of Durban

Crowded in between a landlord and fear of Xenophobia in the streets of South Africa.

Crowded in Between a Landlord And Fear of Xenophobia in the Streets of South Africa. Photo John Robinson

The Madiengua family lives in an overcrowded flat in the Point area of Durban, South Africa or “Little Nigeria” as it is locally known.

This family lives with their personal belongings packed in plastic bags in case of immediate eviction by the landlord of their building in the Point area of Durban, South Africa, Paty Madiengua stands with his wife Yvette and 4 children L to R Ephraim (15), Sabrina (14), Geffrey (10) and Genesis (2) in the kitchen of their flat ready be on the move again.

Yvette comes from the village of Buta in Oriental Province, DRC. her parents were killed by the DRC army, she escaped to Kinshasa with her brother and sister where her brother went missing. Yvette met Paty who worked as an egg vendor on the streets of Kinshasa and followed him to South Africa with their 4 children.

Paty works the night shift as a security guard in the city and Yvette sells clothes on the beachfront. Mr Madiengua’s salary does not match up to the rent on their 14th floor flat, the landlords in the area are getting rid of families on the overcrowding rule. While the Madiengua family feel safe in their flat they struggle to keep up with the rent and the cost of a family and they are “fearful of the xenophobia in the townships”.

 

Family Portraiture

ROANNE TRIGG
ROANNE TRIGG, Photo John Robinson

Portraiture has been at the heart of photography from the start.

A good portrait is much more then a likeness of someone, a good portrait tells the viewer something about the subject, like the importance of family for Roanne Trigg. To do this the photographer and subject need a base of trust and to connect first, only then the spirit might come through the lens and touch down the film and then only for a micro second. John Robinson