Archive for the 'photography' Category

Street shots

June 15, 2008

Over at WNYC, there’s a nice piece featuring six video interviews (although only four are up as of now) with street photographers from New York. Personally, I find street photography a challenge, never being able to surmount the fear of approaching strangers armed with just a lens and an excuse that photography is my hobby. Bruce Gilden (in the first interview), who’s quite a famous name in street photography, has no such restraints. He even uses a flash right in front of his subjects, which I find alarming and frankly a tad disturbing. What amazes me more is that the people (in the video) appear unflustered by a blistering flash of light smack in their faces in the middle of the afternoon! Gilden’s technique is blunt, unflattering and baroque; it is also candid, raw, and a little frightening. But it works – for him. For everyone else, we all have to find our own crack in the wall.

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Chinua Achebe

July 12, 2007
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The photograph on top is an excellent portrait of the recent Man Booker International winner, Chinua Achebe (photo: Frank May/AFP). What is so captivating about this photograph is the way it stares back, challenging and questioning the viewer, while simultaneously looking sullen. Achebe’s brooding face is perfectly complemented by his glasses that look just as downcast. Reminds me of the photograph on the bottom, of Igor Stravinsky, taken by Arnold Newman, who used to capture photographs of famous people with their milieu.

The Guardian has a nice article on Chinua Achebe (and their cropping of the same photograph makes him look even more intense). Some excerpts from a fairly detailed interview with the Nigerian author:

ACHEBE: There are bottlenecks in life, impossible situations, there are things that cannot be explained and if you think about them too long you get into a state of depression. You can’t make this or that happen, the futility of death, and all that. How do you deal with all these things, and still go on living? The way man attempted to deal with this was to create, to create stories and visions so that he could handle difficult, intractable problems.

MORROW: The second question is this. Is there a moment in a man or woman’s life where art becomes no longer necessary, where the bottlenecks disappear sufficiently so that art becomes useless?

ACHEBE: I don’t think so. Art is like a second handle on reality, on our life and the world. That is an alternative that is provided by art. It does not cancel life, it does not eliminate life. It gives us this possibility for contrast, even for escape. So if a life is going to be meaningful — I don’t see a point where life is going to be simpler; I think we can dream of such a period, but I doubt that it will come — it is our destiny that we must wrestle with difficult problems. The very nature of life is struggle. That’s why this need for an alternative — something that can be used as a foil — will always be a necessity to a life well-lived.

Wikipedia has an overview on the Nigerian Civil War and the formation of the ephemeral Republic of Biafra.