Bringing Things Together

The Silent Reader © Knut Skjærven

The Silent Reader © Knut Skjærven

I am going to bring things together.

I will cluster two different sites: Street Photographer’s Toolbox (The Toolbox) and The Europeans. That way I don’t have to do things twice. Nor do you.

The first site holds a lot a text. The second site holds only photographs. More than anything they should be considered as chapters in the same book. That is what they are.

One of the the themes in The Toolbox is how to use gestalt factors in making what we have called Itching Images.

Itching Images are photographs that in one way or another stands apart from mere street documentation. They are the proper street photographs as we define it in this context. When you look on photographs from old masters you will see Itching Images all over. Being itchy is one of the hallmarks of street photography.

Time has now come to see how this works in practise. How are gestalt factors used in real photography? I am going to suggest how the gestalt factors are used in a number of images. Being well aware that the images used here for illustrative purposes bear no comparison with masterworks of the past.

Here are a few things you need to know:

1. Street photography, or photography in general, is no strict science so what are suggested here are suggestions only.

2. Statements made about a photograph are never right or wrong. They could, however, be more or less reasonable and well argued.

3. Many more things could, and should, be suggested about the same photograph. Here we deal with one, or few, dimensions only.

4. Not all photographs in The Europeans are categorised in gestalt terms. Nor should they be.

5. More photos will be tagged with along the way.

6. This cluster is particularly made for those attending The Workshop(s), who are presently working on a task along these lines.

Here is what you could do:

Selected photographs in The Europeans have been tagged with 1 or few of 7 gestalt factors. You have to open The Europeans, find the CATEGORIES in the blogroll at the left side and open the drop down menu to see how it is structured.

CATEGORIES contains two sets of information: a) the location where the shot is taken, and as of now b) the gestalt factor that it suggested to support it. Each photo has been marked with up to 3 factors. When you follow a particular tag it might look like this.

Please remember: Moving from lines and dots in the original gestalt research, which by the way is about 100 years old, is definitely a jump. So flexibility and interpretation are needed. Very much so. It is all a question of executing common sense and good reason.

Here is an example: The photograph above has been marhed with two tags. Besides its location tags, that is.

The tags are The Factor of Similarity  referring to the fact that there are 3 people in the shot. One real person and two others in the pictures on the wall. Here clustered in one photograph.

The other tag is The Factor of Common Fate, indicating that literally the three people have a certain fate in common. That common fate could be described as aloneness, or being in a solitary situation. Other words could be used for it, I am sure.

Could other gestalt factors have been tagged as well? Yes they could. But these two seem to be the most obvious.

If you want to see other pictures tagged with the same, or other categories, just go ahead and press the tags. You find tags beneath each photo in The Europeans. So far only a few are tagged with gestalt factors. More will come, but all photos will not be tagged this way.

May I suggest the following? Start tagging you own best images. If nothing else then only in your head. Start looking at the works of the masters of street photography. See how they made Itching Images by using gestalt factors instinctively. Not all of the time, but definitely some of the time.

Good luck with it.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen April 30, 2013.

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