3 Photographic works that inspire me to pursue a meaningful photography

I am deeply attracted to the commonly unseen happenings; that’s why I’m in an ongoing exploration of stories and moments that keep my mind wandering in the idle sleepless nights. I try to give such generally unseen moments the important place in history of urban life. And I am afraid that people would not see what lays next to them, if I don’t make them stop and stare. I consider myself as a Social Photographer, and due to photographic styles such as Documentary, Street and Photojournalism I have managed to capture the ordinary in a way that makes people interested in their social environments. The prime purpose of crafting such images, is to make people conscious about what happens right in front of their eyes; which otherwise have remained unseen. I’m just trying to awake empathy for the ordinary, and avoid ourselves be trapped to the full in our own selfish worlds. I try to capture the unseen and the everyday in different social contexts such as Streets, Public Transportation, Rural Scapes and the intimacy of People’s Lives. There is no exact recipe for this, but gaining People’s trust is the most powerful tool for capturing great stories that I have found. I believe that our own-imposed necessity and demand for immediacy, has damaged these social skills that we need to develop in order to achieve meaningful results. The idea behind documenting social activities and interactions, has a massive importance in terms of anthropology, and there are three photographic works that always give me a great pleasure to contemplate.


Walker Evans – Subway Portrait


Walker Evans understood the importance of being inconspicuous in order to capture the authenticity and the nature of human dynamics in a modern society. He used his little 35mm little camera to document people on subways, an amazing subject of study even today in a respectable and very ingenious unnoticed and unthreatening way. This image shows a subject with a very unique gesture, at a so close distance, is an amazing example of the beauty of candid inconspicuous photography.


Every time I get inside any public transportation system, I recall this image in my head and I try to capture something similar to it. Public transportations get really crowded, so getting a clean shot is something I find difficult to achieve.


Frances Benjamin Johnston – Stairway of the Treasurer’s Residence – Students at Work


This image is a magnificent odd to composition in a complex way. I’m lately been very keen to minimalist compositions, but this one in particular, is an exception to that minimalist nature, and I find it amazing even though. Frances Benjamin Johnston took this photograph as part of a commission for the Hampton Institute, which was founded after the American Civil War to provide education and practical training to freed slaves and Native Americans. She was commissioned to document a group of students going in their everyday activities. She used glass plate negatives, which required exposure times of several seconds, demanding her subjects to stay still, and making spontaneous images of them almost impossible. Therefore she arranged her subjects in carefully constructed scenes meant to showcase their hard work and virtue. Whenever I have the opportunity of documenting social groups inside their activities, I keep myself inspired by this image that works as a hybrid or candid and documentary photography.


Jack Radcliffe – Allison


Jack Radcliffe says the following “When my daughter Alison was born, in the tradition of a new parent, I began to photograph her, initially in a separate and private body of work. However, in the process of documenting Alison’s growth, I developed a passionate interest in human relationships and capturing intimate moments in the lives of family and friends.


The work presents chronologically ordered images of Radcliffe’s daughter from 1978 to 2011. Being able to read the evolution of an unknown human being to us, is completely amazing. Since I discovered this project, I’ve felt passionately involved with it, and every time my fascination for the concept grows even more. Another example of intimate documentation with a different approach, is the one created by Nicholas Nixon called The Brown Sisters, which presents us until this date, with 40 pictures, each taken one year apart.


I believe that Family Photography helps creating an intimate setting of references that shape the space of our own memory, and that will shape the newcomers inside our lineage as well. Memory is enhanced and illustrated thanks to photography, and helps connection the perception of the past with the present in a seamless way.


These three images may not be the most amazing pictures in the world, but they build a kind of trinity that I consider important for my own social photography. Evan’s image is the essence of candid photography, which I really love. Radcliffe’s work with his series of Allison is a solid statement about the importance intimate documentary photography has, and Johnston’s photograph is an example to follow when pursuing journalism or documentary. Not everything should be raw, and even though the situations were staged, the message is right and true.


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