Archive for November, 2010

Blog Project 2


Part 1: Identify 3 favourite works from your own practice and explain why you have selected these works.

The three favourite works I have chosen are photographs taken in the context of the streets of Auckland, as I am interested in documentary and street photography, and Auckland is where I live. I enjoy capturing moments in time in our everyday lives. My method is to walk around on the streets with my camera handy and observe the world around me. As an observer I take myself out of the situation and I see more.

This method is similar to that of Ans Westra , who likes to take photos of people unaware of the camera, as opposed to Marti Friedlander’s method, who likes people posing for her. I look for things and people that stand out, either by their ordinariness or by their extraordinariness. I see a lot of beauty and humour around me and love the quick way my digital camera helps me to capture this.

Bertie Plaatsman – “Titirangi Market”, Auckland – 2010

This photo is part of a series I made for the Photography brief: “Making Stories”.  These two women caught my eye by the way they looked.  The shape of the blue skirt, the fancy shoes, the tattoo and the colours (red, blue, green) work well together. The red in the shoes, although subtle, is very important for the photo, it ties it together. I like the contrast between the skirts and all the trousers (mainly jeans) of the other people around. The fact that you only see part of these women plus that they are in the foreground, adds a certain stillness to this photo eventhough it is a busy environment. The shiny asphalt, caused by the rain helps to enhance this effect.

The content is not about the shoes, but about the people wearing them and how they present themselves at that moment in time. It is not necessary to see the rest of their bodies to get a sense of their personalities. From researching the work of American photographer Louis Stettner I have learnt that it is not always necessary to show the whole subject. Even if only a little bit is omitted you can be left with a more interesting photo, as there is more room for the viewer’s imagination. I find that this applies to this photo where I have captured the essence of what was there at that moment.

Bertie Plaatsman – “School Dairy”, Mt Albert, Auckland – 2010

This photo is part of my “Dairy Series” taken during the Photography brief: “Memory and Archive”. I wanted to photograph and document Auckland dairies as they are so typical for the street scenery in New Zealand. With the growth of supermarkets and superettes, these landmarks may disappear from the street scene forever. Some already have disappeared. As I grew up in the Netherlands where there are no dairies, I imagine I look at them in a different way than New Zealanders do who grew up with them.

There is a great variety in size, presentation and location of dairies and I enjoy driving around the suburbs of Auckland to locate and photograph them. What also interests me are the advertisements of typical Kiwi staples like: Anchor milk, TipTop Icecream, Sunday Star Times, Big Ben hot pies, etc., because these products are so much part of  New Zealand’s identity. One could say they have nostalgic value and that is why I like to document it. One thing I have learned is that there are a lot of dairies around, even in a small area of a suburb there can be many. I am continuing with this project and any reader who knows of a dairy that is particularly worthwhile photographing, please let me know by leaving a comment on this blog.

Bertie Plaatsman – “Ellerslie Fairy Festival”, Ellerslie, Auckland – 2010

This photo is part of the same series as the “Titirangi Market” photo made for the Photography brief: “Making Stories”. It was taken during the Ellerslie Fairy Festival in September this year and although this woman enjoying her cigarette was there, she seems out of place. I was interested in her posture, the way she has placed her feet, and her gaze, it gives me a sad feeling. The fact that she sits at the end of the bench rather than in the middle, enhances this feeling. I like how she is colour-coordinated with the red colour of her sweater and her slippers. The strong colours of red, blue and yellow work well in this photo and all components, including the stand for “Auto Trader Buyers Guide – Free Here” make for a good composition.

Part 2 and 3: Post at least one example of written research that is relevant to your work. Write a comment to explain the relevance of these research contexts.

  • Research from a dictionary:

“Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places such as streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions, and other settings.”

Author unknown. “Street Photography”. N.d. Web. The Free Dictionary by Farlex. 18 Oct. 2010.
This quote applies to the “Titirangi Market” and “Ellerslie Fairy Festival” photos. The dairy does not qualify as a “candid situation” and falls under documentary photography. I have documented (parts of) people who were visiting a market and a street festival. I am interested in documenting people I do not know in public spaces. Candid means: “not staged” and that is what I want to achieve, a straightforward picture of people just as they are when they are not aware of the camera. It is easy to put on a smile when we know we are being photographed, but I want to portray people when they are not hiding behind a smile, but when they are just going about their business. This shows people in a different light than if they had been posing and maybe we recognize parts of ourselves or others in them.

  • Research from a Gallery Site:

“The first section of the exhibition considers ways in which photography can reveal the world unawares and show people caught with their guard down.”

Author Unknown. “Exposed – Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera – Tate Modern – 28 May – 3 October 2010”. N.d. Web. Tate online. 18 Oct. 2010.

This quote applies to the woman in the “Ellerslie Fairy Festival” photo. She is totally unaware of my camera and “caught with her guard down”. If she had been aware of the camera, she would probably have changed her posture and smiled or would have told me to move right along. The photo as it is is more authentic. Part of the Tate Gallery website about the exhibition shows interviews with the exhibiting artists. Click on the link to the video interview with American photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia and you will hear and see him speak about his interesting project “Heads” (2000). His method for this project differed from mine in that he set up flash lights and a camera, he had a designated zone for photographing his subjects and he stayed in one place, whereas I walk around the streets looking.

What is also interesting to me is that he talks about how he got into trouble photographing and using the photos of people who did not know they were photographed. He says there is no expectation of privacy in public spaces anymore, since there are so many surveillance cameras around nowadays. He also makes the point that he did not conceal himself or his camera as opposed to f.i. Walker Evans who used hidden cameras f.i. for his project “Subway Passengers” (1930’s). Sometimes it would indeed be handy to be able to make my camera invisible.

Author Unknown. “Exposed: Philip-Lorca diCorcia” 14 Sep. 2010. Web. Tate Channel. 18 Oct. 2010

  • Research from a  webzine:

“I would take long daily walks with my camera, leaving myself open to whatever happened around me. I suppose I was driven by a great need and love to get close to the world around me.”

Bishop, Bob. “Louis Stettner, New York-Paris”. N.d. Web. Parisvoice, The Webzine for English-speaking Parisians. 17 Oct. 2010 .

This is a quote by Louis Stettner, an American street photographer who inspires me, and applies to my method of taking photos. I get closer to the world around me, because as I said before as an observer I look at things differently and see more and I do not need to talk to the people I photograph. My fascination with f.i. dairies is that they are typically Kiwiana. I do not have to talk to the owners, that would be a whole new project on its own.

  • Research from an electronic source from the Unitec library catalogue:

“Some photography, certainly street photography, involves luck — right place, right time.”

Saffron, J., “Quiet Spectacle: An Interview with Chris Hondros”. Afterimagev. 35 no. 6(May/June 2008)p. 15-18. Art Full Text. N.d. 20 Oct. 2010;hwwilsonid=E30L5FP3I0J33QA3DIOSFGOADUNGIIV0

Interview with Chris Hondros (PDF)

Copyright: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. To contact the publisher:

Chris Hondros is an American photojournalist who photographs countries in war time. This quote is absolutely true and I would like to add something to it. In a conversation I had in class about my work,  I said I consider certain photos I was able to take, f.i. the “Titirangi Market” photo, as a gift and someone pointed out that to receive the gifts of great moments in time, besides luck you also need the eye to identify the gifts.

  • Research from an artist site:

“Louis has photographed Paris and New York for over 60 years, capturing the changes in the people, culture, and architecture of both cities. Using both black and white and color images, his work documents fleeting moments in the life of the cities, moments that often cannot be recaptured. Stettner has documented the architectural and cultural evolution of Paris and New York, making his archive of thousands of images an important resource. Few photographers have such an extensive archive of both cities, one that includes historic images of each city’s most celebrated landmarks and the daily lives of its citizens.”

Stettner, Louis. “Biography”. N.d. Web. Louis Stettner. 18 Oct. 2010

This quotation alignes with my fascination with Documentary Photography, particularly in relation to my love of street photography. It also states the importance of Documentary Photography as Stettner’s images are documents that allow us to see how much has changed over the years, in fashion, hairstyles, architecture, advertising, etc. Also, it shows us the differences in culture, in this case between Paris and New York. My dairy series relates to this. Dairies are landmarks for New Zealand and important in the daily lives of the people in New Zealand and how will they look in 60 years time. Will they still be here? How will they have changed? These are questions that fascinate me, not only when I look at dairies, but with everything I see.
In a larger scope of my work, unrelated to this blog, but related to this quotation, you will find photos taken in the Netherlands (where I grew up). Again I relate to Stettner as his photographs were taken on two different continents too.

Part 4 and 5: Post at least 3 works from other artists/designers that are relevant to the works that you have posted of your own. Write a comment to explain the relevance of these art contexts.

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Sidewalk Café Boulevard Diderot     Paris – no date

Margary, Karina. “Es aguantar el aliento en una misma realidad…” 13/10/09. Web. 17/10/2010

Although not in colour, this photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson (French photographer, born 22 August 1908, died 3 August 2004) has similarities to my work in that it captures a moment in time and it shows the essence of the moment. He has caught this man and woman (and the dog) unawares and it is a great composition. This is one of the beautiful moments right there for grasps on the street. Although this photo shows almost the whole scene, you cannot see the whole of the leg of the man, the paw of the dog and the rest of the chair the woman is sitting on. It is relevant to my learning in that it is not always necessary to capture the whole image. As I am developing an eye for this, it can be done while photographing , and also while editing my photographs.

“Titirangi Market”

Robin Morrison “Fish and Chip shop, Kaitangata, Otago” – 1979

Morrison, Robin. “Photographer”. N.d. 17/10/10.

Robin Morrison (born 16 June 1944, died 12 March 1993) was a New Zealand photographer who was interested in photographing New Zealand landmarks and his photos have great documentary value. Like dairies, Fish and Chip shops are a common sight in the New Zealand streetscape. Morrison’s style is similar to mine as we both photographed the shops straight on with a small part of the scenery on both sides of the shops still showing. This photo has been taken 31 years ago and I wonder whether it still is a Fish and Chip shop. Maybe it is still a shop selling other goods and the signage is still there, which shows us the typography of that time. Maybe it has disappeared altogether. I like the idea that you can revisit these places after a certain time and re-photograph them again. I intend to do this with my dairy project. Even if I could not do it myself, other photographers with an interest in documentary photography could follow it up. That is quite exciting!

“School Dairy”

John Daley – “Adelaide Road” – Wellington – 1968

Daley, John. “Big Smoke – New Zealand City People in the 60’s and 70’s”. 17/10/10. Random House, Auckland. 2004

Another New Zealand photographer whose photos I like a lot and find inspiring is John Daley. I love the humour in his photos. This photo shows three ladies in Wellington and it is funny how they are walking next to the zebra crossing instead of on it. I have added this photo as it compares to my “Titirangi Market” photo in that it shows the fashion of that era. Obviously, these ladies are a little older than the two friends in my photo, but still it clearly shows what was in fashion at that time. I am also drawn to the symmetry of the lines of the zebra crossing and the ladies aligned with the middle line of the road.

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