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Thread: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits

  1. #1
    New Member mau romero's Avatar
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    Mauricio Romero

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    Hi everyone !
    I'm new here and I'm still trying to understand how it works, so if I get to attach more than one picture in this post I'll be really happy. I'm about to graduate from uni (visual arts & media production) and I do nothing but portraits. For comments and opinions, I would like to know what do you think when you look at photographs taken in other countries, different from yours.

    I have been looking at your photographs and I have this weird and interesting feeling that makes me think of unrealistic worlds; let me explain it. Along with a group of young photographers/students and friends, I've been discussing about this "local view" concept. Every photograph we take looks so real and close to what we live that photographs never have that special thing or distinctiveness, and we catalogue them as local production. With this we are not taking importance away from them; as visual arts students we are very concious about image as a cultural practice and the visual culture we are creating. However, when we bump into portraits of people around the world they seem almost mystic! There are some hypotheses. It can be an extremely good technique, post production and its influence in the final visual effect. Any way, they look so different!

    It's really hard (can you deny it?) to capture the esence of your character when shooting a portrait and those who can, show personality all over the picture. I live in Mexico, the north part near US, and it's maybe because I know (or I get to know at that moment) the people I shoot, but I can see a little bit of esence captured but I'm not always sure if you, people around the world, can see it too. Maybe it's all about ways of seeing.

    There are some question I'd like to ask. Have you ever felt something like this? Why do you think this happens?
    Where are you from, and what do you see in photographs taken in foreign countries?

    I want to share with you a couple of portraits for my project La Barbería recuerda, portraits of mexican barbers, for you to complement your opinion; as you're not mexicans as me, it would be really interesting to know what and how you see this photographs.

    Saludos a todos desde México! ü
    Mau Romero

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits
    Don Severo por mau romero, en Flickr

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits
    Don Pablo y Angel por mau romero, en Flickr

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits
    Don Lalo por mau romero, en Flickr

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits
    Señora Santos por mau romero, en Flickr
    Last edited by mau romero; 13th February 2013 at 04:27 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    Welcome to CiC, Mau.

    I like your images so much that I would like to see them in a larger size. Most people upload images that are about 1000 pixels or so on the longest side. When we click the image automatically displayed at a smaller size in the thread, we can view the larger image.

    One major cultural difference for Americans viewing your photos is that the barbershop has almost disappeared in many areas of America, especially the larger cities. In fact, I was recently describing a "barber pole" to a customer and she had no idea what I was talking about.

    Another major difference is that these three barbershops are lit by long fluorescent tubes, apparently with no diffuser on them. That would rarely be the case in a commercial establishment in America, again especially in the large cities.

    My favorites of your set are the first two. Consider brightening the faces of the barbers in those two photos to see if you like the change.

    In the first photo, I like that you included the chair on the left (I probably wouldn't have been so creative). However, I feel that the effect is at least partially negated because you also included the curtain on the right. Consider cropping on the right to eliminate that curtain, which also emphasizes the nice reflection of the barber in the mirror. The result also strengthens an imaginary line that connects the chair on the left, the barber and his reflection. It's that connection of the barber with his environment that, for me, makes the image special.

    In the second photo, also consider cropping on the right just past the edge of the chair. Doing so will position the two barbers a little to the right of center. That makes the photo seem less static and also gives them space to the left that they are looking into.

    Again, very nicely done! I look forward to seeing more of your photos over time.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 13th February 2013 at 01:24 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    Hi Mauricio,

    Your question seems to me to be more one of content than technique, so I will respond in that vein. If I've misread your intent, please accept my apology. Here goes!

    As humans, we react to all stimuli, whether they be verbal, textual, tactile or visual, based entirely on our own education, experience and environment. That education and experience background teaches us not to be concerned or anxious, etc. in familiar surroundings. To the contrary, if/when we have not experienced a similar event or environment, and are unfamiliar with what we are seeing or feeling, it is only natural, indeed even expected, that that something will appear somewhat "mystic". It's akin to the commonly accepted and so-called "fear of the unknown". We see photos with the same experiential background.

    In my case, our community here in Western New York, USA, at the eastern point of Lake Erie, is an ethnic melting pot, with large Polish, Italian and Irish communities, as well as growing Hispanic and Arabic segments. Many of our business services are performed by folks from those communities. So, I am accustomed to working with, talking with and associating with them. My own barber, for example, is Italian/Sicilian, dark skinned, accented speech, etc. And there are many other ethnic barbers and other service providers throughout our entire metro area.

    With that experience, I see nothing unusual or out of place in your images from a content perspective. Indeed, the only clues I see in your shots that may suggest the images are from somewhere other than my own community, are the bright wall colors. In the US, wall colors tend to be more neutral and less colorful.

    I hope this is what you were asking and that this helps to address your question.

    Good luck.

    Zen

  4. #4
    New Member mau romero's Avatar
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    Re: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    Hello Mike! Thanks for the advice, in my next posts I will try to add images in a larger size!
    About the difference of barbershops, thanks for sharing what you know; it's a good clue to understand how the viewer could respond to the image.
    For sure, I will take your advice about lighting and cropping, I think it's useful also for future photographs. I will be adding more projects and portraits ü

    Thank you very much!

  5. #5
    New Member mau romero's Avatar
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    Re: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    Hi Zen! In fact, my questions are rather of content, however I also asked for technique but my writing ability in English is not good, so my post may be confusing, sorry :c

    That is exactly one of the points we discuss when talking about perception: backgrounds. We are highly influenced by them and it's always interesting getting to know what surrounds other people so, thank you very much for sharing your perception !

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    Re: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    Your English is fine, Mau. I'm always in awe of people such as yourself who have such great command of multiple languages.

  7. #7
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    Re: Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how YOU see things / Examples in portraits

    I don't know how I see things... But, "when I see it I know it"

    I like images which will portray the flavor of people and the area in which I am shooting. Having traveled fairly extensively in Mexico, I think that your images portray the substance of the Mexicanos. I "feel" your images!

    I suspect that the average tourist on a tour designed to visit the famous sites of any area has not the opportunity to actually "see" the people! IMO, this is a loss because it is not brick and mortar that makes a country, it is the people who live their lives within the country. The average person (if there is such a thing) is the soul of any nation, not its buildings nor its landscapes.

    I think when I notice something in an area, I try to capture it. The thing that I noticed about China (especially Shanghai) were the young people who were fashionably dressed and seemed to exude energy and confidence...

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits

    Ways of seeing - Let's talk about how we see things / Examples in portraits

    I often wondered what the older Chinese, especially the older women who never had the opportunity to dress in fashionable clothing and to develop confidence as valued members of society, feel as they see the younger members of their community? I wonder if there is some inner jealousy? I tried to get an image of an older female in a drab Maoist outfit looking at a stylishly dressed young woman but, I was never able to manage that picture...

    Other Shangai images at:
    http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/Other/Chi...7299&k=nK7F6mp
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 14th February 2013 at 10:42 PM.

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