Salgado technique - not about films and developers - but about people
When I was more naive I was wondering about Salgado technique in terms of which films and developers he uses. Now I know that this does not matter: Kodak or Ilford, D76 or Rodinal, it is not so important.
Now I think that the way how he approaches to people is more important.
I have seen in videos and read in interviews how Salgado does it. He smiles, even in hard situations. Then he speaks with them for some time, breaks atmosphere, make small talk, and then he starts to take pictures.
This is very interesting, and I find it very hard to do it. I did try it several times, I am not shy guy, talking to strangers it not some hard thing to me, but somehow after small talk taking pictures is either hard for me, or they say please don't take photos or ... I don't know.
Any thoughts about this?
Welcome aboard. I'm trying to be better with people but cameras are very intrusive and I hate to push my needs (for images) into someone's private world. Yes, people have a private world, even when they're on the street. I try to be respectful of this and I suspect the difficulty is as much mine as their tension. I do think I'm getting better at this.
Interestingly, I've been in several situations where people have been taking pictures with P&Ses and phones and it's all OK. But when I lift up a battered black F they seem to think the game has changed. As if images from my camera will end up on a magazine cover, whereas in reality it's the phone images can be on facebook, and in a minute too. I've seen this even amongst those too young to have known the heyday of Life, and The Post. The world of La Dolce Vita and paparazzi on Vespas.
By the way, I'm headed to Krakow in a few weeks. Any tips on behavior so I don't get punched?
I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
- Garry Winogrand
Of course it's never about that. Buyers, collectors, galleries, etc, certainly could care less whether you shot your great image with Tri-X or FP4, developed in Rodinal or any other concoction. The ones who constantly worry and obsess about such things are the ones who are hopelessly in the search of "something" to elevate their photography, and of course they are looking in the wrong places. As far as Salgado's way of shooting, well, that's his style. Some people would call it exploiting and others call it getting close to the subject. Personally, if your job is to photograph and sell prints, the Salgado approach leaves me a bit uncomfortable. At the end of the day, you are engaging, befriending, smiling with one purpose in mind: take good pictures and making art for your own benefit. Of course there are exceptions but again, the thought of engaging strangers for a while, with the intent of simply taking their pictures and then leave, doesn't give me a good feeling. I've done it, I may still do it, but I do not enjoy it. The other side, which some call "voyeurism" , and what pretty much was Bresson's method, is to be a ghost. It really comes down to one's personality, values, and needs. In the end, do what you are comfortable doing and create your own style/voice around it. Forcing oneself to be different, to emulate someone else, is not always the best answer.
I approach my subjects and shoot them from the hip like a moron. I then develop in rodinal stand for an hour or two. Or even ilfosol stand in the fridge for a whole month. According to many forums, that's supposed to make me into a HCB or better.
I think I'll start engaging with my subjects a little more as my results have been disastrous despite all the "you'da best" and all the taps in the back I get in various forums.
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Max, I disagree with your opinion of Salgado's motivation. I think he has to sell to keep going, however, his work has social value and benefits those he "exploits?". As a comparison, HCB benefits monetarily and artistically.... the only way he advantages those he photographs is there inclusion in his art, their 15 min of "fame" if you will....AND in most cases remain unnamed... unrecognized. I rate Salgado with others like W. Eugene Smith who advantage others almost at their own disadvantage and risk in Salgados case, to the benefit of the group he shows as being disadvantaged by those in power, the truly exploited. Respectfully, Bill
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
rumor has it he shoots digital now anyway...don't take me as the gospel though!!
Yes, he does shoot digital (his loss anyhow - thinking that DoX plug-in in photoshop is the same as TriX), and lately some animal endangered species - not people. But I am interested in his earlier work. Other Americas book is just brilliant, as well as Workers and Migrations.
if i take the time...
not sure about salgado's technique but do know that when i take the time to speak with my subject, i'm always more satisified. i don't do it often enough, but when i do i come away with both good photographic results, good conversation, and meeting/interacting with people.
It's great to be inspired by some of the great and widely acknowledged names in photography. It's also good to try to learn from them.
Then you have to figure out what you want to do with the frames, and the people that you photograph.
What are you trying to achieve?
- Make beautiful portraits?
- Describe human injustice?
- Record an interesting street scene?
Based on that you need to find a way to interact with the people in your photographs, in order to record what you're trying to achieve. Salgado talks to people. Cartier-Bresson did not. Both are successful, and very different.
(And, for the record, in case it matters, I pretty sure that even though Salgado shoots digital, he still makes silver gelatin prints via digital negatives).
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
- Yousuf Karsh
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".