In the Square

Discussion in 'Street' started by Chris Bennett, Oct 3, 2021.

  1. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    In the Square.JPG

    This image really shook me.
    They say the camera never lies. Well that's just plain wrong, because when I see this, it tells me a story that never happened.
    But, it may just be the most powerful and troubling image I have ever captured.
  2. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    Wow! That is a masterpiece.

    That does tell a dark story indeed, could be the plot for a best-selling thriller.
  3. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    As long as he's not a policeman, she'll be's so awful to say such a thing. The image is timely.
  4. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I have to say that I was really torn as to whether I should share this photo. As a parent, I still shudder a little when I see it.

    Just a few minutes before I shot this one, I was berated by a passer-by, who had seen me taking a shot of a lady in the street. He was trying to defend her privacy, while I was trying to capture the amazing reflection her red coat made in the wet flagstones. He made me later, question my motives and validity and tried to make me feel as though I was somehow immoral. As it happened, the lady in question's face was out of view and her privacy had been maintained.

    I will be carrying on doing what I do with a clear conscience.
  5. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    That’s why I don’t take photos of people, I just feel so bad afterwards. I took a photo of architecture in the Scottish National Museum, and just as I clicked I noticed a woman in the frame staring right at me. A second later she looked terrified, and actually ran out of the building. She obviously thought I was photographing her. I felt terrible about this, and vowed never to do that again.

    But on my recent trip to The Hermitage in Perthshire, I took a photo of a tranquil scene. There was an old woman sitting perfectly still on a bench, seemingly at one with her environment. I took a shot from behind, so you just see the back of her head and shoulders, but it’s clearly an environmental image. I shared it here. But my wife berated me about it, saying I was being sneaky, and should have introduced myself to the lady, asking her permission, etc. And I think on the one hand she is right, I should have. But on the other hand we would have to remove tens of thousands, even millions, of great photos from over a century of photography, where people have unwittingly been part of an image other people find interesting. But add to this the sensitivity of a male photographer and an unwitting female subject…dodgy area.

    I was once approached by a female photographer in the botanic gardens, asking if I could sign a model release form, as she had been taking photos of me! I burst out laughing, asking why the f she would want to take photos of an ugly middle-aged man walking round the botanics. She was an art college photography student (so clearly not right in the head!), and should have asked my permission beforehand, but of course that would have ruined the naturalness of the images.

    And what about the man in your photo? How might he feel about being portrayed as a potential rapist? I know I wouldn’t be happy about that. Would you?

    But it remains a good photo…

    Big subject, and no easy answers.
  6. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    The chap who accosted me earlier had made similar presumptions about me, Rob. He thought I was some sort of perverse deviant, and probably still does. I don't particularly like it, but he is wrong. If the person in the above photo had been identifiable, I wouldn't have published it here and I took care to point out that the camera was painting a scene of fiction.
    Given that there is nothing that goes on in that place that isn't monitored by CCTV, anyone who makes claims in defence of privacy is not thinking their argument through!
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  7. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    As you say, big subject and no easy answers.
  8. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    A difficult issue, specially now when sensitivities are running high.

    I normally aviod photographing people, other than in crowded places, for those reasons.
    Chris Bennett likes this.
  9. Wes Hall

    Wes Hall Active Member

    Excellent image Chris, and some insightful pondering on the difficult decision to photograph humans with or without consent.

    I would take the view that a public space is devoid of a right to personal privacy, and the use and proliferation of CCTV, both public and private enterprise, validates this. I think the issues arise when the umag is used for wider targeted public display, then the example of the 'old man/younger woman' image dynamic becomes a problem. Would you say anonymity can be maintained at all these days even if names are withheld?

    It was good to see in Rob's to example that the photographer came to ask permission before they did anything with the image, I think I'd have followed suit in that case.

    Opposite to be what's been said, I got a different story, it is film noir, but I feel a sense of lovelorn and longing from the gaze across to the female on the steps. The ambiguity of her age due to fall off and that his gaze isn't directly focussed on her makes me see less of the predator.

    However, I'm sure had I been reading the news at all before viewing this, I'd probably seen the alternative.
  10. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    A stunning image, Chris and what an interesting discussion it has prompted. I viewed the image with more innocence (maybe I'm feeling more detached from the news in the UK at present - although I read about the case referred to) and I first saw an observer (thinking of either "Blow-Up or "The Conversation as it has a cinematic feel), and then thought I saw engagement (especially the crossed arms). Either way, I saw a story also and it resonates with me very much as I find the way a still image can imply some form of storyline whether one exists or not to be truly fascinating and enjoy images that play with that.
  11. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I must say that it's interesting how people see different stories in this one. I wonder if I might have seen something different had the guy not engaged with me earlier. Certainly, seeing it again now, a little distanced from the day it was shot, I am more at ease with it, though I still find it very powerful.
    I am very glad that I had a camera with me that day.
    Wes Hall and Rob MacKillop like this.

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