29 August 2009

Inside/outside (revisited)

Unreal Nature's Julie Heywood (from whom I borrow my post title) commented, last month, that “Felix Grant often includes people and surroundings in his photographs of other people's art.” That was an entirely valid observation in the context, but it was a different viewpoint from my own and, therefore, made me think (always a good thing).

Jim Putnam of TTMF has, on more than one occasion, described himself as an “inveterate people watcher”. I would describe myself in the same way. Though my online showing doesn't suggest it, if I had to identify one aspect of my photographic work that is key and core, it would be "people watching" (which was, as it happens, the title of my physical joint summer show with Kevin Jones in 2004).

(As an irrelevant aside: finding those two links made me aware that Jim, Julie and I place different weights on the importance and placing of search facilities)

Since reading Unreal Nature's comment, I've been more than usually observant of my own photographic practice, psychology and habits. Julie made specific reference to a Growlery post about a student show and, looking back at it, I have to conceded that on balance they show art rather than people dominant. To me, nevertheless, seen from within my own head looking out, the first two examples are pictures of people in an art environment rather than of art accompanied by people. To other viewers, I concede, it probably looks different – and the text of my post shifted the balance still further.

Whereas Julie sees me including people and surroundings in my photographs of art, I would describe myself as including art as part of the surroundings in my photographs of people. Neither is wrong; neither is right; they are simply views of the same thing from different places. Radically different views, from radically different places, but only because through the eyes of radically different people. seeing both viewpoints expands my understanding of both ... a bit like looking at a Picasso portrait.

With that in mind I went though a new set of photographs [slideshow here], taken earlier this week during my third visit to a Banksy show. To me, they are people watcher photographs, pure and simple. But I do, now, also see them overlaid with an external view a photographs of art with people in them.

Interesting. And I'd be interested in anyone else's perceptions.


Dr. C said...

I also see a large number of people taking pictures of art, but few of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of art. It would be interesting to have a show of pictures of wildly different people taking pictures of the viewer.

Julie Heyward said...

There are a lot of great photos in your slide show.

Judith Acland said...

Lovely pictures from the show, not time to see all today but what a treasure trove.

Jim Putnam said...

The question is, itself, interesting. As an author relinquishes the capability of how his words are understood, the photographer relinquishes any capacity to determine how others view his published work. For me, I see the people as more important, but then people are themselves art when captured by a photographer with the insight to know that.