Saturday, July 7, 2012


Photo essay by Andre Dot reviewed by ypell.

This is a difficult subject, because it looks directly at a human being in a state of deep and perhaps irrecoverable misery. I know I would personally have difficulty undertaking this as a subject, but that doesn't mean one shouldn't. I give Andre Dot credit for taking it head-on.
Andre Dot clearly gave this work a lot of thought and effort. There are many pictures of homeless people on various photo sites, and they rarely go to such lengths to communicate the message of loneliness and despair inherent to this topic. To achieve his effect, Andre uses a series of strongly contrasted black and white stills. Those stills are further given an aesthetically degraded appearance in post-processing. This mirrors the degradation of the subject and his environment. In many instances, the use of devices such as film roll thread and artificially damaged print results in a gimmicky feel that detracts from the subject or fails to save a poorly done photo. In this case however, these devices have a purpose and the "wince factor" is absent.
A simple series of stills may not have conveyed the message that much more forcefully than a single one. Indeed, it may have appeared needlessly insistent. But in this work, the appearance and departure of a dog brilliantly establishes that the series is chronological and unifies the series into a quasi-cinematic whole. Furthermore the dog adds a key element to the pathos of the scene.
This work has a strong emotional impact not only because of the subject, but also because of its delivery which forces us to dwell on that person's plight in its many unseemly and pitiful details. We inevitably ask ourselves who this person is, how he got to this point, and imagine the before and after of the current scene. We also have to face our own reaction: are we feeling compassion? Repulsion? Superiority? Are we like him somehow? And how do we feel about those feelings and what are we going to do about them?


To paraphrase Andre, photography is not only about pretty things: flowers, blue skies, beautiful women, cute babies and animals. Life is full of ugly and unsightly scenes that most would rather avoid and pretend they do not exist. 
The images in this essay are raw. They tell a story of a miserable human existence without any embellishment, pretense or excuse. 

The original photo essay can be found in Andre's stream on ipernity. Andre is a photographer from Russia who I had the pleasure of discovering recently. 
Ypell is also a photographer. He is from Montreal, Canada. To see his work please visit his ipernity gallery.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Photography: what is it?

"Photographers: You're Being Replaced by Software" blurts the title of an article by Mark Meyer on petapixel. A good look at the image very quickly reveals the images to be fake: synthetic. However, setting aside the quality of the images many questions come to mind as to the nature of photography. What is photography really? What is the role of the photographer? Is photography capturing a photo on film or a CCD, downloading it onto the computer, starting photoshop or equivalent software and clicking a button? Must a photograph relate to or depict a real object, scene, situation, etc...? If this is the case can some of Man Ray's "photographs" be called photographs? Where does the photographer fit in the whole process? Is the photographer simply a button pusher? An extension of the camera? Or is the camera--film or otherwise--a tool which allows the photographer to capture what the photographer sees, feels or thinks?
Before talking about replacing the photographer we must define what the word photographer means.
I find the title of the article sensationalist and alarmist in the same vain as the painter Paul Delaroche who declared painting dead when he first saw a daguerrotype in 1839. Painting is still alive and well despite the widespread use of cameras--every person with a mobile phone has a camera. I doubt very much that Blender or any other software will ever replace or even remotely compete with photographers. However, if we think of a photographer as some one who draws with light by capturing the light and shadows on film or a CCD why can't we think of the person who uses the mouse and software such as Blender as a painter--a digital painter--or even a "photographer" of sorts?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Seeing

As the saying goes, we see in terms of our education. We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect. And indeed it is socially useful that we agree on the function of objects. But, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. Move on objects with your eye straight on, to the left, around on the right. Watch them grow large as you approach, group and regroup as you shift your position. Relationships gradually emerge and sometimes assert themeselves with finality. And that’s your picture. - Aaron Siskind, The Art of Photography - LIFE Library of Photography , Page: 18

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Abstract -- Light and Shadow

Abstract photography is sometimes looked upon with disdain from some who believe that photography can never free itself from depiction of reality. This view considers the camera simply as a recording device not a tool similar to the pencil or the paint brush used to draw or paint the interaction and interplay of light and shadow.
This photograph, is inspired by and is a tribute to Jaroslav Rossler, the great Czech avant-garde artist.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Self Portrait

What would be better for a first post than a self portrait? The self portrait is probably one of the harder photography assignments. How do you shoot your own portrait? How do you want to present and portray yourself? I think that a portrait is not just "recording" the light reflection of a person's face. It must contain a certain level of defining the person and this becomes more important in the self-portrait.
We all have different aspects to ourselves and identities. We behave and project different aspects of ourselves depending on the situation and context. It is as if we have different faces that we wear at different occasions, a mask if you wish. This self portrait is an interpretation of this understanding.