A realization:

Almost all photography is street photography.

The lowdown

This is the problem:

Everyone wants to tyrannize their view of ‘legitimate art’ upon others.

Why? Insecurity, petty soul, and lack of philosophical insight.

Even Henri Cartier-Bresson was a tyrannizing artist. How so? He said:

If you do not shoot the way I shoot, or approach photography the way I approach photography, you are not legitimate.

Who is the master and slave?

Mexico City, 2019 #ricohgrii
Mexico City, 2019 #ricohgrii

There is a saying by Plato that goes like: “All men desire to become tyrants of everyone else.” And it is true. Whenever anyone criticizes you, they are essentially saying: “How dare you not be me!” (Barbara Kruger).

Barbara Kruger: "How dare you not be me?"
Barbara Kruger: “How dare you not be me?”
HOW DARE YOU NOT BE ME! Barbara KRUGER x KIM

Different approaches

I believe anyone should be allowed and entitled to their own unique approach in photography. No following rules, conventions, or what has come before us.

For example, I like to shoot lots of abstracts, or photos of just nice textures and colors.

Some pretentious folks might say:

“But that’s not street photography!”

According to who? To them? To the masters? To some random commentator on the internet?

The best way to annoy a poet is to ‘explain’ their poetry to them.

Standardization

I refuse to be categorized!

Nerds like to categorize, standardize, and put things and people into boxes. Why? When a nerd categorizes a person or a thing, they feel more powerful. They feel as if they are exerting their nerd powers over the grand. For example, if a nerd criticizes the battle tactics of Napoleon, I feel this nerd deserves to get slapped. If a photography commentator (Susan Sontag) criticizes a type of photographer or approach (without having even attempted that type of photography), they deserve to be ignored (and even disparaged).

Why I am Anti Susan Sontag

I genuinely believe that Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” is probably one of the worst texts on photography. Why? It isn’t about photography; it’s about Susan Sontag’s own personal philosophy about human nature– about human nature being perverse and sinister. Sontag seems staunchly anti-capitalist, and pro-Marxist/communist, yet apparently she would squeeze others for (huge) sums of money.

Straight fronting

For example, as reported by Nassim Taleb in his essay ‘The merchandizing of virtue‘:

People in publishing were complaining about her rapacity; she had to squeeze her publisher, Farrar Strauss and Giroud of what would be several million dollars today for a book advance. She shared, with a girlfriend, a mansion in New York City, one that was later sold for $28 million dollars. Sontag probably felt that insulting people with money inducted her into some unimpeachable sainthood, exempting her from having skin in the game.

nassim taleb

Therefore if I use my B.S. detector, I smell that “On Photography” has brainwashed a huge generation of photographers (especially poor art/photography students who are forced to read ‘On Photography’ as a primary text). Let me quote some notions which are VERY BAD:

On photographers being evil predators

laughing lady

The quote from Sontag:

There is something predatory in the act of taking a picture. To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder—a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.

First of all, Sontag says that taking photos is predatory. Also, that by photographing someone is to violate them. To treat photographing someone as a ‘soft murder’.

Do you agree with this sentiment?


The camera as a gun

eric kim street photography hanoi-0004960 laughing lady

Furthermore, Sontag makes the claim that the camera is a gun:

Eventually, people might learn to act out more of their aggressions with cameras and fewer with guns, with the price being an even more image-choked world. One situation where people are switching from bullets to film is the photographic safari that is replacing the gun safari in East Africa. The hunters have Hasselblads instead of Winchesters; instead of looking through a telescopic sight to aim a rifle, they look through a viewfinder to frame a picture.

Thus Sontag makes the subtle claim that “street photographers are also photographing people like a human safari”.


Conclusion

Before I rant on, let me conclude simply by saying:

  1. Ignore anyone who name-drops (famous photographers) who try to make you feel stupid.
  2. Ignore how others categorize your photos.
  3. Don’t read any essays on photographers by academics, ‘public intellectuals’ (like Susan Sontag), or anyone who you smell as being pretentious.
  4. Anyone who refers to themself in view of a camera brand. For example, never trust anyone who calls themself a ‘Leica photographer’, ‘Fuji photographer’, ‘Canon photographer’, ‘Nikon photographer’, etc. #ricohmafia is fine, but we should NEVER classify ourselves based on the equipment we shoot with. Even worse is ‘iPhone photographer’ (they try to “rich shame” photographers who like shooting with Leica cameras).

More real thoughts to come!

ERIC


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