Alec Soth's Archived Blog

August 9, 2007

Shore, King & Street Fashion

Filed under: vernacular & Flickr — alecsothblog @ 10:30 am

I appreciate the flurry of Flickr commentary. I’ve learned a lot. But I’m worried that Stephen Shore has been unfairly criticized. If your read the full context of his comments, he is simply making a case for raw documentation:

There has to be on the web a treasure trove of brilliant untutored pictures. I’d seen the photographs that were made at the time of the London Underground bombing by people with cell phones in the Underground cars. And they have an energy to them, and an immediacy, that was pretty extraordinary. They weren’t structurally fine pictures, but, you know, this is a new world. This is people in a subway car that has just been bombed – they flip out their phones and start taking pictures. This is pretty amazing. So I thought, okay, I’m going to find a lot of great stuff and I went onto Flickr and it was just thousands of pieces of shit. I couldn’t believe it. It is just all conventional. It’s all clichés. It is one visual convention after another. Just this week a friend of mine sent me some pictures he’s been collecting on eBay. And they were fabulous. It is just stuff for sale. The difference is that on eBay the people are not trying to make art. They are just trying to show something. ‘This is what this bottle looked like. It is not silhouetted. I’m not going to do it at sunset. I’m just going to take a picture.’ That is the motive of most photographers – ‘This is something I find interesting in the world and I’m going to make it clear.’

The very anti-elitist Stephen King expressed a similar enthusiasm for raw documentation in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly. While watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he was exposed to this YouTube video of a man dancing in Best Buy:

The crazy guy dancing in Best Buy, be he fake or fact, demonstrates the real purpose of these things we write about — to cause a sudden burst of happy emotion, a sudden rush to the head, the feet, and what may be the truest home of joy: a butt that just has to shake its happy self…

It’s easy — maybe too easy — to get caught up in serious discussions of good and bad, or to grade entertainment the way teachers grade school papers. Those discussions have their place, even though we know in our hearts that all such judgments — even of the humble art produced by the pop culture — are purely subjective.

I don’t know if these things are art, and I don’t really care. All I know is that they make me want to laugh and dance in the aisle at Best Buy.

After reading King’s article, I tried to figure out what kind of photography gives me a similar experience. Putting aside the raw vernacular of cell phone cameras and eBay, one of the things I came up with was street fashion photography.

I’ve always liked looking at fashion photography. But as much as I enjoy the lavish productions of Steven Meisel, I’m often more taken with pure street fashion photography. My favorite site for this kind of work, Hel-Looks, specializes in street fashion from Helsinki:


Karita (20) by Hel-Looks

And who can deny the pleasures of the most popular street fashion blog, The Sartorialist:


by The Sartorialist

Both of these websites represent the work of professional photographers. The pictures are uniformly well produced. But what makes them so successful is (1) a lack of artistic pretense and (2) enthusiasm for a specific subject. A quick look at Flickr shows a lot of labored artistry and a lot of generic subjects. As I said in the original post, Shore’s generalization is understandable. But I know I’m grateful for having a couple hundred new ways to look at Flickr. In fact, one of the things I’ve found is a Flickr group devoted to street fashion:


by The Happy Hippie

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53 Comments

  1. that’s what it’s all about man! finding the stuff you like and following it. instead of tuning into the TV, i tune into Flickr to see what my favorite photographers are up to. some of them make me wait for days, while others give quick burst of happiness on a daily basis.

    and let’s not forget the conversation! sometimes leaving a comment on a friends picture is like walking into the neighborhood bar and having a conversation with 10 good friends..

    peace, and keep up the great work. this blog is a treasure…

    Comment by bryanF — August 9, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  2. While I’m not so sure about the exclusivity of raw images in producing that moment in time, I think that the sentiment is right. My photography is not popular. But what I do with it makes me happy. It is that moment in time when I’m photographing something and later, when I’m home and processing it, that completes the cycle of the process for me. The whole experience is fun and enjoyable.

    I didn’t jump into the flickr discussion (although I read all of it and mused on some of it) but I found it to be enlightening (especially comments by long-time flickr royalty that popped in to the conversation.

    Comment by dawn — August 9, 2007 @ 11:03 am

  3. alec,

    that’s why context is important. i can see what shore is getting at, but i can also see why so many flickr-ites came on to express their views.

    shore made some pretty big claims about the level of photography on flickr; he said “It is just all conventional. It’s all clichés. It is one visual convention after another.” nothing like sweeping generalizations to get you into trouble. of course, the comments section of your post was flooded with tons of exceptions to shore’s assertion.

    in the end, i really like the way that stephen kind put it–all of this is very subjective. and it is. in the end it doesn’t really matter what stephen shore, stephen king, john szarkowski, or anyone else says. sure, they’re fun to listen to sometimes, and they can definitely be influential, but at some point we must “all think for ourselves.”*

    *that was indeed a monty python reference.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 11:06 am

  4. Thanks Bryan. By the way, I like your work.

    Comment by Alec Soth — August 9, 2007 @ 11:11 am

  5. l like your work also Bryan..doing the streets of LA proud..

    Comment by patrick romero — August 9, 2007 @ 11:24 am

  6. That is precisely the point! Shore did make some generalizations. Alec, your edit of Shore and your request for some voluntary favorite sharing spurred heated debate. Thank you for opening the discussion and encouraging so many people to post their favorites. Your blog just became the newest tool on flickr by asking your community to show the work it loves.

    Opening the archives and allowing the free flow of everything will overwhelm us if we try to search in the conventional fashion. The brilliance of flickr lies in it’s ability to let community members create niche markets and find their kindred spirits.

    Comment by Laurie — August 9, 2007 @ 11:35 am

  7. I enjoyed reading all the comments from yesterday and today and it brough out alot of discussion and I have to agree in regard to The Sartorialist. I’ll take one of his pics over a laviously produced fashion shot.

    Comment by mike — August 9, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  8. have you seen:

    http://facehunter.blogspot.com/

    my favorite “street fashion” blog

    Comment by einars odinecs — August 9, 2007 @ 11:48 am

  9. I love this blog! Really enjoying these discussions. Thanks!

    Comment by Neath — August 9, 2007 @ 11:49 am

  10. Thanks Alec. that’s certainly appreciated. I’m still learning and blogs like this make all the difference

    On a side note: i was born and raised in minnesota, and a few months before i headed out west a good friend of mine showed me ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi’ and I distinctly remember the feeling i had when i saw a few of the Minnesota pictures. I turned to him and said, ‘that’s minnesota.’ that’s what i feel when i’m heading up I-94 to the cabin. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on photography….so thank you for making those photographs and sending me on my way 🙂

    Comment by bryanF — August 9, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  11. These are quite nice by south African photographer, Lolo Veleko

    http://www.artnet.com/artist/424870742/lolo-veleko.html

    Comment by Stuart Whipps — August 9, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

  12. Along with Face Hunter, there is

    Street Peeper

    Fruits

    Style Scout

    Style Arena

    Comment by Alec Soth — August 9, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

  13. I’ve started to visit this blog not too long ago… and I’ve got to say that I love its interactive platform.

    On the other hand, I quite enjoyed browsing through Hel Looks as well as the others, to me going through those photographs have just added to my favoritism for street shots and the fact that they do have some glamour charge takes it to another level, as if a shout to the fashion photographers out there to hit the streets with a more creative approach then the well knows jumping the puddle, or platinum background…
    And as u’ve mentioned the lack of artistic pretense makes them work, and to me more enticing and pleasant to look at… IMHO.

    Thanks for bringing up such an interesting subjects.

    Comment by Ludmilla — August 9, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  14. There are also some comments by Martin Parr in a (rather long) itnerview where he comments on flickr a few times:

    [audio src="http://www.boring.ch/waapn/incoming/podcasts/martin_parr.mp3" /]

    A bit here:

    “There’s also another MP3 (44mb) interview with Parr here I just came across, which is quite extensive and interesting in places, such as where he talks about Bruce Davidson losing a job to someone on Flickr (which I think he feels is a good thing):

    “…within five years flickr will emerge as one of the major sources for licensing imagery… the other point about flickr, is I can’t tell you how bad the most of the pictures are. I mean, we see this in the site up there (at Musee de L’Elysee) the noise of this contemporary photography is relentless and ultimately, nullifyingly boring… we have this amazing interest, resurgence in photography, a renaissance, but boy do we have to wade through a lot of rubbish in order to get to anything half-decent.”

    http://photo-muse.blogspot.com/2007/05/martin-parr-redux.html

    Comment by Tim Atherton — August 9, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  15. I have been enjoying the discussions very much the last couple of days, kudos to you Alec for inspiring such debate one day and then running with it in another direction and taking it somewhere else with thoughtful threads the next, you have an insightful and active mind Sir !

    ‘The Sartorialist’ Scott Schuman is an old friend and he may argue that he is not a professional photographer but merely a self taught amateur someone who has tumbled into the profession through luck and circumstance by combining his passions for fashion and photography. Although that monicor is hard to avoid considering all the well deserved success and exposure he is having, he is a man of many hats, who has found his niche all the while staying true to his vision, not one to be caught up in trends or fads, a lesson to us all.

    It would not have been possible 5 years ago to do what Scott does today and to reach such a global (fashion hungry) audience on a daily basis. The blog started off as a personal project a way to satisfy himself creatively and has become a monster with 1,000,000 + hits a month. Its amazing to see what opportunities are out there when one sticks to ones beliefs and combines ones passions with a little smarts.

    I wrote a post about Scott sometime back http://whatsthejackanory.blogspot.com/2007/03/lunch-break-with-sartorialist.html

    I am glad you brought fashion photography into the mix. There is alot of really great work out there and it has certainly provided ‘art’ photographers another avenue through which to express themselves.

    Comment by andrew h — August 9, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  16. I think the worst Shore can be accused of is over-generalization, but he doesn’t seem elitist. Nazraeli/JGS recently published pictures from one of his iPhoto books in “Witness Number One.” The pictures were all shot with a small digital camera. In the interview by Jeff L. Rosenheim, Shore spoke about his series of iPhoto books:

    “I kind of noticed in passing as part of the iPhoto program that there was this option where you could have a book made… then someone showed me one that they had made out of snapshots and I was excited by it… I love the process of it; I like the ease of it; I like the idea; I like the accessibility of it; I like that it’s something that really is open to anyone and is not very expensive… It’s this very modern process.”

    Comment by N — August 9, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  17. Thanks Andrew. Big fan of your blog.

    Good poing Nguan. The Shore interview in which he discusses Flickr is mostly about his iBooks and his admiration of pure descriptive photography. He is such a monumental figure in contemporary photography. He loves the medium. I think the Flickr folks should cut him some slack.

    Comment by Alec Soth — August 9, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  18. have you seen this?

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/129

    its a pretty incredible demonstration of what Flickr can become.

    (sorry i know this comment is probably better suited to yesterday’s post).

    Comment by jennifer — August 9, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  19. Along with the fashion blogs, here’s a couple more.

    http://www.fashionsnap.com/
    http://theclothesproject.blogspot.com/

    Comment by Jane Tam — August 9, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  20. Alec, incredible blog.
    I really learned a lot too. Liberty rules.

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

  21. N:

    “I think the worst Shore can be accused of is over-generalization, but he doesn’t seem elitist.”

    shore’s sentence, as first presented here on this site, did come across pretty badly. of course, being pulled out of context didn’t help matters. it was a pretty harsh way of putting things, and it did sound pretty snotty and elitist. i wasn’t all that impressed with that quote when i first read it, and i know full well who stephen shore is.

    looking into more of what he has said clears things up a bit, but i can still see why many people weren’t all that excited about the flickr statement.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  22. For fans of ebay photography, look for “Useful Photography #2” (if you can find it, it’s out of print) published in 2002, edited by Hans Aarsman, Claudie de Cleen, Julian Germain, Erik Kessels and Hans van der Meer:
    http://www.usefulphotography.com/
    There doesn’t seem to be any online presence for these images, but it’s worth digging to find the book. It’s a very brilliant and early recognition of the hilarity and weirdness of vernacular image making. I met van der Meer a few years ago, he’s best known for his various series on football pitches (European for “soccer fields”.)

    Comment by Paul Shambroom — August 9, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  23. i think the interesting thing about flickr (or all the photoblogs) is that it really is no different than spending a day gallery hopping. out of everything seen one might find only about five percent. web imitating life maybe.

    at least in my eyes.

    Comment by leveckis — August 9, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

  24. alec soth wrote:

    “He is such a monumental figure in contemporary photography. He loves the medium. I think the Flickr folks should cut him some slack.”

    look, it doesn’t really matter WHO he is. anyone who goes around making claims like that is going to garner some bad reactions. sure, knowing the larger context helps a little, but it was still a pretty lame statement. of course, the whole post was set up in a way to incite reactions from people, so all this attention/discussion isn’t exactly a surprise.

    i certainly don’t think that stephen shore should be exonerated simply because he’s some ‘monumental figure’ in the world of fine art photography. that doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  25. I really like your work leveckis,
    tried to leave comments but it would not take.

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  26. leveckis:

    “i think the interesting thing about flickr (or all the photoblogs) is that it really is no different than spending a day gallery hopping. out of everything seen one might find only about five percent. web imitating life maybe.”

    i agree with you there. some galleries are great, and others are stuffy, boring, mortuary-esque places that i can’t stand. but it all just depends, and that’s the way life is.

    gotta always try to keep an open mind.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  27. I kinda think this is what Shore might have been talking about?
    http://flickr.com/photos/defensorfortis/sets/72157594152852804/

    I had the chance to think on all this a bit today, had a nice time walking around on an island. Seems as thought Shore wasn’t going to Flickr to look for art at all but to look for glimpses of peoples lives. But what he got was a ton of people trying to make art, and doing pretty badly at it.

    Ironically the island I was on was Monhegan, famed summer haunt of many painters. I walked up to the lighthouse and saw 4 or 5 people painting the same frigin lighthouse. Which is probably a pleasant way to spend a day, I imagine (although I hate being out in the sun that long). But I feel like all paintings like that all end up being the same.

    Which is what I thought when I walked into one of the little galleries there. A lot of pictures of lobsterboats, kind of wishy-washy things that you see all over the place here in Maine, home of a lot of pretty good but definitely not all that great art. But then I looked a little more and there were some more subtle stuff, the same themes but with emotion. And I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on what was different.

    Walking the outer perimeter of the island, I can say that of each group of people, 75% of them carried a dslr (Nikon predominated, all consumer grade lenses except for one dude with a bazooka of a L zoom). I had my 5d. I was totally unsure why I was carrying it, other than that I had the idea that it would be stupid to go to the art island without my camera. I took some pretty lame pictures along the way.

    Anyway, you can feel free to delete this I’m not sure if I’m getting anything. Just thinking that I got something out of Shore indicating a coolness about record keeping photography.

    I won’t make apologies for this, but I wrote it quite a while ago when I was new to both photography and writing. But I will say there are three really cool photographs in it:
    http://cgi.chime.com/cat-bin/board/show?topic_id=209;ctid=101;tid=316;id=2871

    Comment by Paul McEvoy — August 9, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  28. leveckis: nice work, just checked it.

    w robert angell: i like yours as well. good stuff. especially that one with the top ramen etc. great stuff.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

  29. Awesome, thanks alot Ryan, i wanted to say that I reaaly liked your input on yesterdays post, i thought you really made key points, i just did not know how to express my thoughts, but I really liked your input. I think you have a great outlook, good energy.

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

  30. w robert:

    cool, thanks for saying that. i like talking about all this kind of stuff. it’s fun. plus, i like hearing what other people have to say about it…and then seeing what happens when big discussions get started. that’s why this whole online thing is cool. can’t have this kind of conversation–with people all over the country and world–in any other way.

    i love all this online stuff. im continally amazed by what i see out there. people are super interesting. and there are SO MANY out there, doing all kinds of things.

    im going to link to your site if that’s cool…

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  31. ryan a said: “can’t have this kind of conversation–with people all over the country and world–in any other way.”

    exactly, which is why i think we can all agree that no matter what’s said, photography wins at the end of the day.

    Comment by bryanF — August 9, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  32. Here’s part of the problem as I see it: no matter the context, when someone makes a broad-brush statement like, “I went onto Flickr and it was just thousands of pieces of shit. I couldn’t believe it. It is just all conventional. It’s all clichés. It is one visual convention after another,” that person is going to get challenged. The fact that so many people over the last two days have pointed to strong exceptions to Shore’s remark proves the, shall we say, tactlessness of it.

    Stephen Shore is a phenomenal photographer, a visionary, and from what I’ve heard, a terrific educator. If the latter is indeed the case, then there is simply no excuse for making a snarky generalized statement about a reservoir as broad and deep as Flickr. If he had specifically stated what he was looking for (vernacular oddities and ironies, projects and exercises examining family and friends, seductively lit erotica, whatever), then somone tuning in late would have a much better idea of how Flickr, or a bunch of photoblogs, or some other photo site, succeeds or fails in his eyes.

    “(T)housands of pieces of shit,” rightly comes off as the, yes, elitist judgment of someone who’s not really interested in looking much farther than his own groundglass.

    Of course Flickr is overpopulated with “Popular Photograpy”/”National Geographic” wannabes. Those are, after all, the acknowledged outlets of “quality photography.” But some of us stumbling around in these giant tubes we call the internets believe in photography as a personal, expressive medium. We try hard, we try to SEE, and we feel fortunate to be working in a time when we have wide-open avenues, free of traffic cops, on which we can display and share our efforts.

    The fact that so many of us make pictures, appreciate Alec Soth’s photography and his erudite blog, and are willing to read through hundreds of posts debating the merits of public photo sites I believe indicates a stronger willingness to find “something I find interesting in the world and . . . make it clear,’ than Stephen Shore, on first blush, is willing to acknowledge.

    Comment by Robert Schneider — August 9, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

  33. woa! Alec’s rolling at full speed…

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  34. ps. art walk in downtown tonight

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

  35. bryan f:

    agreed. communication and the exchange of ideas is a good thing. sure people might disagree here and there, but that’s part of the fun.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  36. robert schneider:

    that was very well said. thanks for that.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

  37. Ryan, please do.
    thanks again.

    (thats downtown los angeles, artwalk)

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  38. Jennifer:
    that was a great post. no one caught it.
    repost from above:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/129

    Comment by Johnny — August 9, 2007 @ 5:46 pm

  39. Its funny to read the comments from everyone who obviously migrated over here from flickr, all the back and forth complements on each others ability to operate a digital camera.

    I agree with Shore, the majority of pictures on flickr are crap, I think saying that there are only thousands of crappy photographs on flickr is an understatement.

    Comment by andrew — August 9, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  40. and for what its worth this will always be the best thing about flickr
    Mario's Bike

    Comment by andrew — August 9, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  41. andrew:

    “Its funny to read the comments from everyone who obviously migrated over here from flickr, all the back and forth complements on each others ability to operate a digital camera.”

    Obviously. Way to assume.

    So, you really think that it’s all digital people on there? And if it was, why would that even matter? You think using an 4×5 camera is really rocket science? Just different tools if you ask me…

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  42. ryan, thanks for looking, appreciated. have some other ‘stuff’ at flickr here also. http://www.flickr.com/photos/leveckis/

    re: the 4×5, agreed and it’s not like everyone using a 4×5 is producing exceptional work either. looking at a pic on the wall or on the web i never really find myself wondering what cam the photog used.

    andrew, “and for what its worth this will always be the best thing about flickr”

    why?

    Comment by leveckis — August 9, 2007 @ 6:30 pm

  43. here is a new street fashion blog from Miami.

    http://2livelooks.blogspot.com/

    I am slightly addicted to these sites much more then flickr but less then
    (not photo-related)
    http://www.gawker.com/
    and
    (photo-related)
    http://www.thecobrasnake.com/
    http://www.lastnightsparty.com/

    Comment by Harlan Erskine — August 9, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

  44. From the link Andrew posted at 5:56

    “Had Cartier-Bresson had the technology we do now he would have probably taken a completely different shot, especially knowing the audience he was shooting for.”

    ———————

    Am I the only one who has trouble with the overall visual interface of Flicker? (I need the small “e”) To me it is not at all like gallery hopping- When you have a real physical experience of going to different places, seeing different tangible physical prints, and speaking (in real time with the actual photographers. Looking at Flickr Pictures is just that- looking at photographs in the context of how they look on Flickr. Granted, it is a different kind of experience- however I don’t understand the tone of a lot of earlier comments in the first post about how Flickr is some kind of new revolution to supplant the established (dinosaur-like) Photographic Culture. To me, the framework of the site with the tags and contacts and smiley icons and avatar icons and pink and teal text and all that makes it hard for any image to rise past the site itself. Maybe my main problem is that I can’t just LOOK at a picture on Flickr, all I can do is See them in their overall context.

    Comment by John Sypal — August 9, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

  45. @Harlan: the thing with the cobra snake and those other party photographers is that they don’t EDIT. i like some of the work but they basically just throw up anything and everything.

    this is one of the major problems with flickr as well. some people have no conception of editing or projects.

    Comment by bryanF — August 9, 2007 @ 6:42 pm

  46. John, i totally agree with you regarding the layout of flickr, s*cks for me too. especially looking at pics on a white background and loosing detail in the shadows.

    though i wasn’t referring to the graphic layout of flickr or the physical space of a gallery. i was referring to the pics themselves.

    Comment by leveckis — August 9, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  47. leveckis:

    “re: the 4×5, agreed and it’s not like everyone using a 4×5 is producing exceptional work either. looking at a pic on the wall or on the web i never really find myself wondering what cam the photog used.”

    indeed, not everyone using 4×5’s, 8×10’s, 5×7’s, or any other large format camera is by any means automatically ‘better’ than anyone else. i have seen plenty of bad view camera photos.

    the main point is that it’s not the camera. edward weston made some pretty stellar pictures using a second hand lens he bought. some people make amazing pics with holgas. hell, i’ve seen camera phone pictures that i thought were exceptional. ya, it’s not all about the camera.

    im not overly concerned with what camera was used when im looking at things either…although certain formats do have a certain look. but you can’t always tell, and that’s not the main point anyway. it’s all about the photo, the subject, the design, or whatever is being conveyed by the image. that’s what matters–to me at least.

    cameras are tools, and each kind, size, style, or format has its applications and uses.

    Comment by ryan a — August 9, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  48. At this point, it seems like this discussion is pretty drawn out but here are a few more words anyway. As someone with a lot of respect for Stephen Shore’s work I still take some exception with his words. I take exception but don’t really find any fault in what Shore says, it’s just that he was approaching Flickr from a particular point-of-view — as we all do.

    Sure, there are 10’s of thousands of boring, wonderful, bad, sincere, clichéd, real, etc. images on Flickr and you could probably subjectively flip any of those descriptions based on who’s viewing any one image. It’s many things to many people whether they consider themselves photographers or not.

    Some people use Flickr to post almost every shot they take/scan since Flickr has organizational tools that can aid an offline edit. Some edit and over edit their images and want feedback, back pats, or simply another voice out there somewhere attached to a set of eyes seeing what they made. Flickr can’t be criticized as being one thing or the other because, as a tool and as a community, it ‘means’ something totally different depending on who you ask.

    That’s why I don’t find real fault in Stephen Shore’s comments since they are (even more clearly in context) his point-of-view and were fed by his search for intimate, real, maybe even visceral images from regular people. Shore’s comments were a bit too full-stop but they are still valid.

    Flickr continues to bug, entertain, evoke, bother, and provide a service for me every day. I dump all sorts of my own images on it — a few of which I really end up liking.

    Comment by Davin — August 9, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

  49. I have to second John’s point too, for me the experience at F kind of bugs, bassed on the layout, i think. I cant really put my finger on it, its kind of cheapening, not $, its the emotion or something. But Ryan from a more social point really makes me reevaluate my gut reaction. It is really a radical departure, to randomly see peoples shoe boxes of images, people you have never met or will never meet, that is really new. Its new for me.

    Comment by w robert angell — August 9, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  50. bryanF, Cobrasnake and Last nights party both edit their work ut not in the same way and not as much as one might is they were showing at a gallery or editing in a newspaper. I have seen them operate and they will take everyone’s picture but the next day part of the fun is seeing whose picture got edited out. In other-words they make it desirable to mark their edit of beautiful people. There are hundreds of other party photographers on the web some local and some in other cities I have looked at and they barely edit anything. I do admit I would like to see what those hotos would look like if they got edited into a set of 100 or so.

    Comment by Harlan Erskine — August 9, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  51. as a person who lives in helsinki and who sees photography day to day from helsinki, hel-looks is just simple Fashion photography, nothing special about this, this “photography”, even if you like the compositions, colours etc., this is about Clothes and nothing else. hel-looks is not about photography, it’s about fucking fashion. it’s like saying thomas ruffs, or struths (can’t remember which one made them) blurry pictures about internet porn are the same as d’agatas pictures about sex (actually I respect more d’agatas photos of porninghtsexdeath than struffs/ruths because d’agatas photos are honest (even if romantic and just about feeling… mistakes of vol2). ruffs/struths are just about boring photographic art from germany. anyway. these hel-looks photos strangely remind me of donovan wylies pictures from estonia where evry person was pictured as the person who was pictured before. but at least wylies pics were about photography, not like these hel-looks fashion pictures.

    Comment by jukka O — August 10, 2007 @ 9:37 pm

  52. i’m drunk

    Comment by jukka O — August 10, 2007 @ 9:43 pm

  53. […] But it would be arrogant to think that designers are the only people going through a crazy transition today. How about photographers? Two posts from Alec Soth’s blog are worth checking out. They both have to do w/ him questioning the quality or lack there of of photographs on flickr. Is there more originality going on w/ product shots on eBay? The first post is titled Where are the great pictures on Flickr? and the second is Shore, King & Street Fashion… […]

    Pingback by DesignNotes by Michael Surtees » Shifting Design Positions as it Evolves — August 29, 2007 @ 3:30 pm


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