Wednesday, 13 July 2011

And The Winner Is...

And The Winner Is..., originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
'Beauty Comes In Batches' was the original title of this post, and I like it so much that I thought I'd include it here even though the course of the piece told me to replace it in the end.

Of course not everyone will agree with me that this is a beautiful image, and they're right. If it's not beautiful for them then it's not beautiful for them, and no-one has the right to argue I reckon.

However, for me there's a certain enjoyable harmony and coherence to the mish-mash of grimy graffiti and protruding tubes. I love the little alcove for the heavily tagged electricity and gas junction boxes. The scarred wall and the tired posters echoing the turquoisy-blue of the door-in-an-arch. It all goes to make up a pleasing if not an award-winning image.

Not that I run after awards. Indeed, the very idea seems slightly ludicrous to me. In the same way as you thinking this image is singularly unremarkable, which by definition makes it so - for you - I can't quite conceive of the logic in getting other people to somehow 'validate' my own, or anybody's, personal image of the city.

How on earth could anyone have the slightest idea what a given image means to a given image-creator? They weren't there, they didn't make the creative choices, given limitations we can't even begin to guess at by looking at the picture, and of course they haven't inhabited the photographer's skin, no, not even for one millisecond, so as you can see I'm pretty sceptical about 'photo competitions' and the like.

Which gives me a slight dilemma, because I make videos talking about other people's photographs. My response would be, though, that I comment on what I like and say why I like it, and often offer ideas for trying other approaches to see what would happen and for building the photographer's imaginative arsenal.

But never for one instant (ok, very very rarely) would I presume to be in a position to say that an image is good (although I do, but what I really mean is 'I like it'), or far more dangerously... bad (which would be both unnecessarily hurtful, and, of course, quite simply wrong for everyone in the entire clickin' universe except me).

Paris remains a rich personal hunting ground for just the reason that through an innocuous archway urban signals like these may catch our eye.

Can we draw conclusions from what we see here? Could we delve deeper into people's lives, both modern and olden, thanks to the evidence laid and plastered before us? Should we even dare pretend that we could possibly stab at realities and fundamental truths about archaic archway makers and energetic electricians and slippery street artists and felt marker manufacturers simply because they seem to have passed this way?

Perhaps no more than we can say what this image really means to the person, the life and experience which created it. Which is nothing at all.

Which is why I'm not keen on self-serving photo competitions but am a huge fan of anyone who goes out there and presses the shutter button because a fleeting emotion told them to. Now that really means something.

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