The story behind the photograph 2

I have always criticized photo competitions because for me, photography is not a competition. I refer you to a blog written some time ago here. But besides that, I have already submitted my work for free contests where there was something to be rewarded. The bait of gain ! Of course without success. Good for me. When you do something, not for good reasons, there is no reason to be rewarded ! There are so many photos submitted in these contests that the chances of hitting the jackpot are almost nil.



This time, I will participate in this free entry competition with the idea of winning a Fuji X100 V. A camera clearly oriented Street Photography but with a fixed focal length of 35mm. I invite you to submit a photo of your side too. It’s free, I’ll remind you ! This contest asks you to submit a photo, but also to attach a text to explain the story behind this photo. I always thought a photo stand out for itself. It’s up to the viewer to  question the photo and interpret it. The photographer gave some information in the frame and that’s what makes an interesting photo for me. The photo can be interpreted differently depending on who is looking at it. Our sensitivity will not make us have the same interpretation of the photo.



This is a very Street Photography reasoning that I have when talking to you about this. The best photos for me are the ones that ask more questions than they bring answers. Some are very mysterious and must keep their mystery. On the other hand, I created a series on this Blog: Behind This Shot, which allows you to learn more about a photo that I have selected. It is a desire to have done this to explain through examples the process that had taken place when I took the photo. It’s like T.M.E (Through My Eyes). Trying to get you into my head to see what caught my eye when I click the shutter button. But I won’t do it for all of my photos.



Either way, you would be disappointed to know that in the end, the story behind some photos is appallingly banal. This is what is beautiful in Street Photography. We manage to sublimate the mundane. These are often simple scenes which frozen at 1/500s or more which offer us very beautiful moments of eternity.



So yes, I will surely submit one of my photos for this contest, but I’m still hesitating because for the photo I want to submit, I don’t particularly want to say anything about it. The photo, you know it, is of the old man with a thoughtful attitude on the beach. This photo is sufficient on its own. It is mysterious. This is what makes the charm and interest of this one. To say more does not make sense.



For the record, I’m never been interested in the story behind the street photos I see in books or on the internet. I like this freedom given to me to interpret the photo I have in front of me with the elements that the photographer wanted to distill in his composition. A good photo is a photo that questions me, challenges me and forces me to have a pro active attitude in front of it. It’s a photo that captures my attention. This is why I no longer give a title to my photos. If I need to give a text explanation for a photo, it’s not a good photo or in the case of this competition, it’s because the process is different.



In the end, the more I think about it, the less sure I will participate in this competition. It’s true that it would be cool to have a new toy like the Fuji X100 V. But it’s like all competitions. There is a jury and their choice will always be very subjective. Moreover, quite funny thing, Valérie Jardin, of which work I am not particularly a fan, is part of the panel of photographers who will vote for the most interesting photo (and story!). And among the thousands of photos that are going to be submitted, let’s face it, my photo is unlikely to attract any interest. Nothing flashy in what I am going to present. No layers, no Light/Shadows, no funny juxtaposition or other gimmicks so appreciated by the competitions. In short, I still have until November 30th to make up my mind …



All the photographs were made with the Ricoh GRD4.

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2 thoughts on “The story behind the photograph

  • John Harper

    Come on. Make your mind up. As they say “ You used to be indecisive, now you’re not so sure” 😉
    I’ve decided on mine, but it’ll be irrelevant because of all the reasons you’ve just stated. Why a story? A picture paints a thousand words doesn’t it? Also we know that freezing 1/1000 of a second can make everything ambivalent and ambivalence is what makes photography interesting. For example I have no idea if that girl at the crossing is about to turnaround and in fact be a bloke 😉

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      I might participate with a text that will not say anything about the photo. Just explaining why I don’t feel like saying anything about it. You know when you start to saw off the branch on which you’re sitting… That’s me ! I guess that the first filter that they will apply is the quality of the photo. I think that if my photo catches their attention, I don’t care much about the explanation behind the frame. I might add that Valerie Jardin is a terrible street photographer to my point of view. It could be funny after all 😉
      Ps : No bloke and very pretty one ! 😉