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17 ways to take a photo (working title)

The basic idea: A double page spread (or bifurcated display) showing a photo and a contextual legend / musing. The photos are all different in terms of their origin, motivation, approach. What links them is is the tone of the legend, which is colloquial and meandering, reflecting the thoughts of

  1. before: what led to the photo, the background, situational context
  2. after: thoughts triggered by the photo when viewed at leisure, remembering the situation when the photo was taken, thinking about the the interaction of both

When I began thinking about this, I felt there ought to be more than 10 and less than 30 ways of... So I asked my colleague R., on the way back from lunch at the Baubehörde, for her favourite number betwen 10 and 30. She said "7", then, when I repeated the boundary, she immediately went for "17" (both numbers are primes). So I will think of 17 different ways to take a photo, not technically (no experiments planned, nothing blurred or doctored), but in terms of context, attitude, motive, motif, authorship, collaboration, etc.

The list so far

Lets make up the list, then:

  1. Take a photo because someone tells you to take it (photo of the stairs leading downwards from the bridge towards the canal, stairs that suddenly end in mid air). To this belongs a photo for which I stopped and got out my camera-phone, of a garment rescued from foul water, a sorry or even frightening sight)
  2. Get someone to take a photo because you want to sell something (this could be a photo taken by U. which shows the rug as I lower it because my arms are tiring, myself visible above the collapsed rug, angry that she bothers taking photos of me rather than photos of the rug)
  3. Take a photo of a billboard that I find intriguing (Armenian lingerie ad featuring a beauty spot and a hint of lost fake innocence)
  4. (Re-)take a photo that someone else is currently taking—communicate with him or her, asking for help to reproduce the same position and focal length (this could be of the Michel, which aways has a lot of photographers around it—and it needs a zoom lens)
  5. Take a photo to record something/someone that/who will disappear (for example, the work place that I will leave soon, or someone who will die soon)
  6. Take a photo to capture a scene that has the effect of triggering the thought that it should be photographed (not sure what that will be—carrying around the camera will produce the moment eventually)
  7. Take a photo where people who don't know each other stand next to each other for a few moments (traffic lights; this is cheating a bit, I have done this 2 years ago)
  8. Go to some location and ask someone what would be the best photo to take; the location may be identified in the Neumann manner as in the film 'Meridian', or by chance). Take the photo, or let it be taken by the other.
  9. Turn round 180° and take a photo of what lies exactly opposite the favoured view (this is also cheating, I tried this already when taking photos of low-key St. Pauli tourist locations 6 years ago)
  10. Take a photo, wherever you are at a given time of the day. Set an alarmclock. When it beeps, remember where you are, get out the camera, shoot. (This is amenable to cheating because days are pretty predictable—setting the alarmlock to 12:30 will ensure the photo happens during lunch break, during the morning or afernoon it will probably capture a laptop screen and an extra screen and a wall with some maps and a calendar on it.) This sounds a bit boring, may be deleted from the list.
  11. Take a photo of something not considered worth photographing—again I am cheating, I could use a photo I took some years ago in our kitchen (showing a wooden board, a plactic package of bread, a diry knife, a toaster reflecting the same, etc.), a photo which I then posted on photo.net for comments, accompanied by a comment explaining why I was interested in non-descript 'uninteresting' photos. The comments this drew in response were not kind, I was chastised for my apparently arrogant, artsy-fartsy attitude— presumably my interest in 'the unintersting shot' had implied that I was looking down on the efforts of the spirited amateurs who take the interesting pictures that populate photo.net. (I have to admit that there is some truth in this.)
  12. Take a photo that documents a novel (for me, not in art history) activity, such as doing outdoors water colours together on one sheet of paper. (P. is gone now, so someone else must be asked. Who?)
  13. Use the first photo that someone offers to you, regardless of its subject or quality

I stop here, for now, more ideas to complete the 17 will probably trickle in over time.

(To be continued)

Last update: 05 December 2008 | Impressum—Imprint