From Zeb to Ra: the unprivileged gaze

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I saw some photographs the other day in a gallery being described, amongst other things, as “… a representation of an unprivileged gaze or view… I (the photographer) like to assume exactly the position that everybody can take…”. That’s a rather good attitude to have I think and one which is starting to dawn on me.

At the beginning of my so far brief adventure in photography, the focus was very much on subjects that are physically impressive and imposing. There was a phase where I went to many examples of such architecture and basically did a “stand-in-front-and-click-shutter” move. The thinking of the photographs usually occurred in the digital darkroom, several days (or in extreme cases, months) after. A “decisive moment” person I’m emphatically not (although on occasions even I can be decisive if slow-moving things are being photographed..).

So what’s changed? Not much, certainly non-trivially enough to be nothing, yet somehow definitely non-zero.

I think I still do the majority of the thinking not in the moment but am slowly starting to have an idea of what I want before I sit down in the darkroom. Finally, a man with a plan! (Well, almost..)

[Tangentially, this is somewhat related to the attitude of post-processing. For example, the straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) requirement of many news journalists – i.e., there was a recent rule change in many leading media outlets to not accept edited RAW files from the camera and wanting the SOOC JPEG files instead. Obviously, due to the fake news era we purportedly live in, any malicious editing of news photography can be dangerous. However, for other types of photography, I find the process of editing and refining to be simultaneously relaxing and interesting, especially when I stumble across something previously hidden during the “first attempt”. Call me an iteratist (if that is a word).]

So, one of those “man with a plan” situations occurred last weekend when I went, plan-and-cam-on-hand, to (drumrolls please..) Pimlico – a rather anti-climatic end of a sentence if there ever was one (it’s a somewhat nice place, if overblighted by the absurd amount of millions-a-pop apartment blocks that acts as fairly large gold bars for foreign investors). This particular residential building I’ve gone past for several times now, but never seem to take any good pictures of (either wrong lens, wrong light or that the photograph suffered from a particular “death-by-tree” situation).

Equipped with the correct lens, waking up at the right time and treelessness, the result was a series of abstractions that details the subtle evolution from a certain stripped animal to an Egyption God-like architectural pose. Importantly, they are not special in any way or form. As similarly observed by a passing pedestrian, it certainly qualifies the unprivileged gaze moniker that is almost haphazardly but lovingly thrown upon.

Having incredibly overhyped what amounts to 3 fairly ordinary pictures, it’ll be a miracle if the pictures survived the extraordinarily verbose introduction..

Come together, the Zeb-Ra trio

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