Self reflection : Working on series (again …) 7


 

(English version at the bottom of the page)

Il y a quelques mois de ça, je vous avais parlé de cette série qu’ Alex Coghe avait publié dans son Street Photography Notebook (un e-zine que vous pouvez vous procurer ici le #39). C’était une série de 15 photos sur les gestuelles et essentiellement les mains. J’ai énormément de mal à sortir des séries de mon travail. Ce n’est pas vraiment ma façon de fonctionner. Je suis très instinctif dans la rue et je ne travaille jamais sur un thème précis. Je n’aime pas beaucoup aussi le travail d’édition. Je trouve ça très fastidieux. Néanmoins, si on veut montrer son travail aux autres, il est impératif de passer par l’édition. C’est ce que j’ai fait quand Alex Coghe m’a demandé si je voulais être publié dans son TSPN (The Street Photographer Notebook). J’ai mis un peu de temps à répondre à son invitation, car je ne voulais pas juste présenter une collection de mes meilleures photos. Je l’avais déjà fait lors de ma publication dans Inspired Eye. Attention, ne vous méprenez pas. Rien de mal à montrer son Best Of, mais je voulais présenter quelque chose de différent. C’est ainsi qu’est née cette première série : Hands Tale.

 

Peu de temps après, j’ai aussi proposé cette série pour le Festival de Street Photography de PhotOfeel de Courthézon. Certains participent aux festivals très huppés comme Miami, SF, Londres, Milan, Rome … Moi j’ai opté pour Courthézon, un petit village situé dans la vaucluse à un peu plus d’une heure de route de chez moi. Ma série a été retenue pour le festival et mes photos ainsi que celles des autres photographes sont exposées dans le village pendant les mois de juillet et d’août. Le week-end dernier avait lieu l’ouverture du festival. Je suis allé voir toutes les séries exposées et je dois dire qu’il y avait quelques vraies bonnes photos. Le parrain de cette année était Jean d’Alger (Jean-Michel Coulon). Je vous avouerai que je ne connaissais pas qui c’était. C’est une Street Photography à l’ancienne mais ce n’est pas péjoratif ! J’aime beaucoup et au delà de ça, une belle rencontre humaine. Vous pouvez aller jeter un coup d’œil à son travail sur son site. Pour les autres photographes présents, quelques belles séries et d’autres plus quelconques. 

Revenons à la série que j’ai présenté. On pouvait soumettre jusqu’à 20 photos. Certaines séries présentes étaient composées de 20 photos. Je ne sais pour vous, mais ça me paraît énorme ! Comme je l’ai dit, le travail d’édition n’est pas vraiment ce que je préfère. Mais quand je m’y mets, je suis assez dur sur la sélection des photos. Sur cette série “Hands Tale”, je me suis imposé de ne pas dépasser les 10 photos. Je voulais une série cohérente avec très peu de photos. Je ne voulais pas faire du remplissage pour montrer un maximum de mes photos. Vous pouvez voir que les photos présentes dans cette série ne sont pas forcément mes photos que je considère comme les plus réussies que j’ai pu faire. Mais ce qui était important c’est que chacune d’entre elle a sa place dans cette série. Au final ce sont 9 photos qui sont exposées lors du Festival de Street Photography de Courthézon.

 

 

Je devais aussi envoyer un autre dossier de candidature pour la deuxième édition du Festival Street Photography de Saint-Raphaël. Là aussi, ce qui m’a motivé, c’était la proximité avec l’endroit où j’habite. Par contre j’étais bien embêté car je n’avais pas envie de proposer la même série pour deux festivals différents. Je me suis replongé dans mes photos pour essayer de dégoter une autre série. J’ai hésité à proposer ma série sur les touristes (Tourists in the city), mais je ne la trouvais pas assez bonne. L’actualité récente m’a inspiré une série. Je l’ai appelée #RGPD. Bien sûr en rapport avec le Règlement Général sur la Protection des Données. Cette loi européenne est entrée en vigueur fin mai. La photographie de rue sera forcément impactée par cette loi. Jusqu’à présent, des jurisprudences ont été rendues en faveur des photographes de rue en France. La liberté d’expression artistique prenant le pas sur la liberté individuelle dans la mesure où les photos ne nuisaient pas à l’image des personnes photographiées. Avec l’avènement du RGPD, la donne est amenée à être modifiée … ou pas. Pour le moment on est dans un flou complet. 

 

 

Je me suis donc amusé avec cette série à présenter des photos qui passeraient le test du RGPD. Des personnes de dos, des visages tronqués, des silhouettes, des flous … Ce n’est en aucun cas un projet photographique. Je ne me suis pas subitement mis à avoir peur du gendarme européen en  évitant de rendre reconnaissable les personnes photographiées ! En fait j’en ai rien à faire de cette loi. Si je dois continuer la Street Photography en étant hors la loi, eh bien qu’il en soit ainsi. Les photos présentes dans cette série ont été réalisées uniquement pour leur côté esthétique et le côté mystérieux qui s’y dégagent. C’est une des choses que j’aime tout particulièrement dans la photographie de rue. Cette possibilité qui m’est donnée de raconter des histoires avec mes images. Je n’ai pas envie d’apporter des réponses, mais plutôt que celui qui regarde la photo, se pose des questions. 

 

 

Je ne sais pas si cette série sera retenue pour le Festival de Street Photography de Saint-Raphaël. J’en saurai plus dans un mois. J’ai sélectionné 12 photos pour cette série. J’ai dépoussiéré quelques vieilles photos faites à l’époque avec mon Fuji XE2. Mon gros soucis c’est que j’ai perdu les fichiers RAW après un crash de HDD et qu’il ne me restait que les jpegs. J’aurai aimé les retoucher différemment pour une meilleure cohérence avec les photos faites avec mon Ricoh GRD IV. C’est surtout visible sur la photo prise à la plage … Mais elle me plaisait bien et je l’ai quand même insérée dans la sélection.

 

~o ~

 

 

Self reflection : working on series (again …)

 

 

 

 

A few months ago, I told you about this series that Alex Coghe had published in his Street Photography Notebook (an e-zine that you can get here the issue 39). It was a series of 15 photos on the gestures and essentially the hands. I have a lot of trouble getting series of my work. It’s not really my way of working. I am very instinctive in the street and I never work on a specific theme. I do not really like editing too much. I find it very tedious. Nevertheless, if you want to show your work to others, it is imperative to go through editing. That’s what I did when Alex Coghe asked me if I wanted to be published in his TSPN (The Street Photographer Notebook). I took a little time to respond to his invitation because I did not just want to present a collection of my best photos. I did it when I was published in Inspired Eye. Don’t get me wrong. Nothing bad with showing his Best Of, but I wanted to present something different. This is how this first series was born : Hands Tale.

 

 

Shortly after, I also proposed this series for the Courthézon PhotOfeel Street Photography Festival. Some participate in very exclusive festivals like Miami, SF, London, Milan, Rome … I opted for Courthézon, a small village located in the vaucluse just over an hour drive from home. My series has been selected for the festival and my photos and those of other photographers are exhibited in the village during the months of July and August. Last weekend was the opening of the festival. I went to see all the exhibited series and I must say that there were some really good pictures. This year’s guest photographer was Jean d’Alger (Jean-Michel Coulon). I will admit that I did not know who he was. It’s kind of old fashionned Street Photography but it’s not pejorative ! I like a lot and beyond that, a beautiful meeting. You can go take a look at his work on his site. For the other photographers present, some beautiful series and others forgetable.

Let’s go back to the series I presented. We could submit up to 20 photos. Some series present were composed of 20 photos. I do not know about you, but it seems huge to me! As I said, the editing work is not really what I prefer. But when I work on it, I’m pretty hard on the selection of photos. On this series “Hands Tale”, I imposed myself not to exceed 10 photos. I wanted a consistent series with very few photos. I did not want to fill to show a maximum of my photos. Besides you can see that the photos in this series are not necessarily my photos that I consider the most successful I have made. But what was important is that each of them has its place in this series. In the end, 9 photos are exhibited at the Courthézon Street Photography Festival.

 

 

I also had to send another set of photos for the second edition of the St. Raphael Street Photography Festival. Again, what motivated me was the proximity to where I live. By cons I was very annoyed because I did not want to present the same series for two different festivals. I went back to my photos to try to find another series. I hesitated to apply with my Tourists in the City series, but I did not find it good enough. Recent news has inspired me a series. I called it #RGPD. Of course in connection with the General Data Protection Regulation. This European law entered into force at the end of May. Street photography will inevitably be affected by this law. So far, jurisprudence has been rendered in favor of street photographers in France. The freedom of artistic expression took precedence over individual freedom as long as photos did not harm the image of the people photographed. With the advent of the RGPD, the deal is brought to be modified … or not. For the moment we are in a complete blur.

 

 

So I had fun with this series to present photos that would pass the test of the RGPD. The back of people, truncated faces, silhouettes, blurry pictures… This is by no means a photographic project. I did not suddenly start to be afraid of the European policeman by avoiding making recognizable people photographed ! In fact I don’t care much about this law. If I have to continue Street Photography by being outlawed, well let it be. The photos in this series were made only for their aesthetic and mysterious side that emerge. This is one of the things I particularly like about street photography. This opportunity to tell stories with my images. I do not want to give answers, but rather that the one who looks at the picture, asks questions.

 

 

I do not know if this series will be selected for the Street Photography Festival of Saint-Raphaël. I’ll know more in a month. I selected 12 photos for this series. I dusted off some old photos made at the time with my Fuji XE2. My big problem is that I lost the RAW files after an HDD crash and I only had the jpegs left. I would like to post-process them differently for better consistency with the pictures made with my Ricoh GRD IV. This is especially visible on the picture taken at the beach … But I still like it and inserted it in the selection.

 

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7 thoughts on “Self reflection : Working on series (again …)

  • Alex Coghe

    I know the challenge to create a series. As editor I can see how many photographers, especially street photographers, don’t have a “serial approach” and when I ask to think for sequences and series, they meet the hard side of photography. As a photojournalist I am used to work for series and sequences. I do this also for my erotic photography projects. And I see how is important (fundamental) for a documentary photographer to have these skills.
    I think there is not just an approach to this: for example with my social documentary project ITALIA DOLCE VITA I am applying a lot of the street photographer approach and method by looking for single stories, and yet they need to work inside a project with clear visual and content purposes. When I am busy as photojournalist in a breaking news coverage I think more for sequences and I am worry all the time to create something (making a lot of pictures) with a structure, where I can find after in the editing phase a chronological story with the start and the end. My social documentary can be long term projects and short ones. This makes the things pretty different. In any case social doc requires you an analysis before you go to make the photo shoot, with some steps and ideas you will prepare before, then there is still a margin left to the unpredictable.
    Street Photography projects are mostly a collection of photos with a common theme: it happens most of the time to find this after, in the editing phase. I think you achieved to do pretty well with your “Hands Tale” project and I recognized immediately a project with a clear vision and where all the photos fit the theme. It doesn’t matte how much experience in photography can have an observer: also for him, it is clear what you would show.
    To be able to make series corresponds to me to a litmus test for real photographers: if you go to make a book or you will have an exhibition, you will be in the situation to make editing of your work in order to have a structure of what you want to show. The same for sending work to agencies or a magazine. If a photographer doesn’t know how “to speak” to an observer (a photo editor in those cases) will be always a 50% photographer or less.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      In documentary and photojournalism, projects and series are almost compulsory. That’s why you’re so comfortable with this. We can see that in your work. For my street work, I have no focus. I just wander in the city, trying to catch any moment I can see in the streets. As you said, it’s at the editing that some series might emerge. That is the case for all the series I’ve been working on. Regarding my other project I’m working on : Tourists in the city, I have a litlle more focus on the tourists with a street mindset. I won’t say that it’s documentary because, the pictures don’t show the reality, but my interpretation of the reality.
      What I like about Street is the randomness of the genre (even if you don’t considere Street as a genre 🙂 ). But you’re right, having a different mindset and working with focus can sharpen your eyes.
      Thanks Alex for these great insights on your way of working !
      Cheers mate

  • John Harper

    You’ve become quite the globetrotter with your exhibitions; Courthézon, Saint-Raphael 😉 I spent a week in Saint-Raphael many years ago, so I have heard of it! I liked the “Hands Tale”series very much when I saw it in Alex’s magazine, a series makes sense to me (if you shoot a wedding or portrait session then essentially it’s a series). As you know I’ve tried so often to create one relating to Street/Life Photography, usually it ends in failure. Currently it’s British Seaside resorts, although it has to be said Martin Parr pretty much did all the work anyone could possibly create in his book “The Last Resort”. Anyway, your GDPR “Incognito” series works well, there is a well known Street Photographer (his name escapes me) has made a name for himself by never publishing a recognisable face, photos like No.10 fit his style. GDPR doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned, I’m ignoring it.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Ah ah, I was a little mocker when I said that some people usually apply for big festivals like SF, Miami, Milano or Miami. I don’t feel like applying to these festivals where I would not be able to be present. Don’ get me wrong. If I lived near London or Miami, I would participate to these festivals. I think that your “British Seaside resort” is an interesting one. Martin Parr just documented Brighton no ? And it was in color ! ;). Just gather enough material to edit the whole stuff later. I’m pretty sure that you might end up with a consistent series.
      Regarding the GDPR, you’re lucky, it doesn’t concern UK since the Brexit. But if you happen to travel in Europe, this law is applied in EU countries. The first law suits will give us some information how photography and street photography will be considered. In the meantime, I just ignore that law. Taking pictures of the back of people, or non recognisable people is quickly borring …