Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Autumn Photo Walk

Carlo and Benni

On October 30, 2010, Jim Palik and I organized a photo walk in connection with the exhibition "The Turning". Even though it was his birthday and he was feeling under the weather, he gave a wonderfully informative talk on "The Art of Seeing and Visual Design", taking the dozen members of his audience through the basics of working with a camera and using it as a tool to create photographic art.
Then I spoke for a bit about photo walking in general, pointing out the important differences between walking alone - as I do most days - or taking part in a group walk. In the latter one often feels more inspired and less inhibited to take pictures of people out on the street. One question that came up during our discussion - and that one often reads about in various photo forums - is what about taking pictures of people in public? Some people get very nervous about doing it on account of legal reasons; others shy away because they themselves don't like being photographed. Of course, if you pick out one person to photograph and then sell that picture without the person's permission, there can be legal consequences. (I always wonder about the Vietnamese children in travel photographers' pictures. What kind of release do they sign?) But if someone is out at public in a parade (like the Christopher Street Day Parade) or a demonstration (S 21) and you take a picture of them, I doubt they can claim that their public sphere has been invaded if you post a picture of them on flickr or on your blog. So we set as one of our goals for the two-hour walk to ask one stranger if we could take their picture.
But first we walked through the weekly flea market at Karlsplatz. There our goal was to capture an image that exemplifies the feeling of being at this flea market. We saw some lovely handmade children's clothes, the normal collections of silverware and records, mounds of broken kids' toys and the fascinating assortment of shiny electronics that look like they might work - but probably don't. So my shot has a row of toasters in the front and a foreign woman in a head scarf in the background.

When we got over to the Schloßpark, where a huge demonstration had just passed through, we were watching some bare-chested young men jumping on a slack line. They didn't seem to mind in the least that photographers were taking pictures of them. There under the pedestrian bridge one has to think of where the troll lives in "Three Billy Goats Gruff" because it is dark and dank and the grass that was once there has been trampled to mud. In a word, it is gray. And as beautiful as the weather was that day (see later pictures), the light there didn't help the situation. Then my eye was caught by a colorful sweater and a nice smile. I took a couple of snapshots of her to try to show how well she stuck out in those gray surroundings. Then I thought of our goal, gathered up the courage and, for the first time, asked a stranger if I could take her picture. "Sure, what is it for?" That was a question I had warned everyone to have an answer for.
"For my blog. We're doing a photo walk in connection with my exhibition in the DAZ," I told her. "And I like the way you really brighten up this part of the park."

With the natural sunlight coming from her left, we got an awesome catch light in her eyes. She has my card. Perhaps she'll see this picture and contact me. Then I'll certainly ask if she would like to do a longer shooting with me. Right after I took a few pictures, her phone rang and I went on.
In the park, we were greeted by many photo ops thanks to the S 21 struggle. Being the day before Halloween, someone thought to bring the horror of that holiday into the discussion (K 21 means Kopfbahnhof 21, which purports to be a viable alternative to the extremely expensive underground station that has been planned now).
I love K 21

 It has been claimed that children have been exploited (German: instrumentalisiert) by their parents in demonstrating against the project. This girl's parents seem to have taken the accusation, or at least the word, literally. 

A girl marches to the beat of her own drum

When we arrived in the Schloßpark, the demonstration had already marched out, but my camera caught the tail end of what looks like a small protest, but there were 20,000 citizens marching.

Lost but not alone
 On the way back to the starting point, we saw some remnants of the march, including this lost green balloon.

Oben geblieben

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