Last Saturday, January 6, I was party to a very special event at Lake Zurich. The Russian Orthodox church in Zurich was celebrating Epiphany. Epiphany marks two events in the life of Jesus Christ: the visit of the Magi to Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem, and the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Inspired by this event, members of the Russian Orthodox church traditionally celebrate this by submersion into lakes or rivers blessed by Orthodox priests. Last Saturday members of the Russian Orthodox congregation in Zurich decided to use Lake Zurich for this purpose.
It was a beautiful service; even though I am a convinced protestant, I felt completely included.
A couple of weeks ago I went for a walk around the harbour of Scheveningen (Holland) in the beginning of the evening. Despite the fact that it was already September, the temperature was still around 20 degrees Celsius. The light was beautiful; it reminded me of one of my favorite paintings: “North atlantic light” by Willem de Kooning.
I decided to take some pictures with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 in combination with the standard kit lens: the Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 ED. Although I love this camera and lens, given the limited amount of light I knew the noise level would be quite high and therefore a faster lens or a bigger sensor camera would have been ideal. However I learned a while ago that the best camera there is, is the one you have with you…
Street photography has always been a popular genre in the world of photography. It takes a prominent position in the body of work of famous photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank and Diane Arbus.
Why street photography matters
Street photography is also important for our view on history. We have an idea what the US looked like in the 1950s thanks to “The Americans” of Robert Frank; we know what Amsterdam looked like in the 1960s thanks to the work of Ed van der Elsken, and what New York looked liked in the 1980s thanks to Richard Sandler. A couple of years ago, Vladimir Sychyov published his beautiful pictures of Moscow during the 1970s. These pictures provide us with a completely new impression of this city in that decade. The reason for this is that our previous impression was shaped by official propaganda pictures, or pictures taken by tourists that were only permitted limited access to Moscow. You could argue that street photography is a form of “slow journalism”, closely related to the “fast journalism” of press photography.
A great book
“Street Photography Now” is a great introduction to the world of Street photography at the beginning of the 21th century. The book contains work of and information about street photographers from around the globe.
The information about the individual photographers is interesting and tends to focus on the philosophy behind their work and their way of working. Whilst reading this book, it becomes clear that some street photographers take themselves and their work very, very seriously. Take Wolfgang Zurborn for instance: “My aim is to express the loss of orientation in the impenetrable thicket of our consumption- and media-fixated society”.
The book is beautifully illustrated and clearly geared towards the artistic side of street photography. It can serve as a source of energy and fountain of inspiration for everyone interested to develop himself in this area.
However, it does not cover technical aspects of street photography (cameras, lenses, post-production software, etc.). Also, the book does not deal with “the how” of street photography (e.g. if and how subjects need to be engaged) nor does it treat legal topics like release contracts, etc.
…in need of an update
It would be great if the publisher would decide to issue a new edition which would cover the massive impact Instagram has on street photography. The book stems from 2010 and does deal with Flickr, but not Instagram. This is a pity, because Instagram is the single most important development in the area of street photography since the Internet was founded.
The integration of smartphones and social media is having such a profound impact on street photography, that in due course we will distinguish between street photography before and after the introduction of Instagram.
In my opinion, our image of the second half of the 2010s will be informed not by famous photographers like those mentioned earlier, but by the multitude of people who post high-quality street photographs on a daily basis. The evidence? Type in #streetphotography in Instagram. At the exact moment I wrote this post there were 15.859.579 photos on Instagram with this tag…
Review “Street Photography Now” by by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren Thames and Hudson Ltd; Reprint edition (13 Jun. 2011) ISBN-10: 0500289077 ISBN-13: 978-0500289075
Last weekend I happened to drive through the city of Büren in Canton Bern (Switzerland). Much to my surprise, before entering the village there was a beautiful bridge, where the road crossed the Aare river. Later I learned that the wooden bridge had been set on fire and burnt down in April 1989. It has been alleged that this was perpetrated by the Jurassic separatists of the Béliers movement. The bridge was rebuilt in 1991.
After crossing the bridge I drove through a beautiful ancient small town center with lots of well restored and maintained old houses.
When I stopped to take some pictures I encountered a couple of members of a Moped Club who happily gave me permission to take some pictures of them.
All pictures taken with a Nikon D750 and Tamron 28-75 in Raw, processed with Adobe Lightroom
It is great that in these times – when the world seems to filled with politcal, human and moral crises – a fair like Art Basel exists.
Founded in 1970, Art Basel is the biggest fair for modern art in the world. The concept has proven to be so successful that events organised by the Art Basel organisation are now taking place in Hong Kong and Miami Beach as well. Confusingly enough, they are labelled Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Basel Miami Beach.
The original Art Basel is an annual event taking place in Basel, a Swiss city which borders on France and Germany. Around 200 galleries set up shop in small booths, where they expose works of the artists they represent and works they want to sell.
It is a great place to see not only great art, but also to observe “the scene”.
Apple devices and Moleskine notebooks form the vast majority of electronic and physical communication and recording tools of art dealers. For male dealers, the dresscode consists of (light) blue suits with relatively short cut trousers; pochets, cufflinks and socks are apparently considered as optional. If glasses are necessary: big frames. For female dealers the dress code seems to be more liberal, but by all appearances you can never go wrong with black.
The booths tend to be minimalistic in terms of colour (predominantly white) and furniture. Barcelona and Eames chairs can be spotted incidentally, but design does not seem to be a must as far as furniture is concerned. Space is apparently very expensive: some galleries have to make do with a couple of square meters on the inside of the outer walls of the building, sometimes near the entry to the restrooms.
In terms of trading, apparently most of the deals are conducted before or in the first hours of the fair. However occasionally you can spot champagne carts being pushed on other days across the halls to a booth where a successful deal has been completed.
Part of the tradition for non-VIP visitors is trying to have lunch in the foodcourt in the open air. Here price elasticity is taken to a new (higher) level and obtaining a place to seat requires good eyesight, excellent physical condition and an overdose of assertiveness.
However people do not go to Art Basel to observe the scene or lunch, they come to see art. And there is a lot of art to see and admire. Quite often great pieces can be seen that move from collector to collector, without ever having been inside a museum. A couple of my personal favourites are shown below.
Excuses for the high number of paintings from Roy Lichtenstein. I really like his works for their playfulness, relativism and technique. They never fail to invoke a smile in me.
Every year on May 5 The Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day in memory of the liberation of the Netherlands on May 5 1945 from the German occupation. On May 5 this year a series of concerts was held at the Malieveld in the Hague.
They day before I was advised, by the camerashop where I alway buy my gear, that my Nikon D70S camera and Tamron 18-200 lens did not have commercial value anymore. Hence I decided to take this camera and lens along to see if there was at least some artistic value in it.
During the afternoon I attended concerts of The cool quest, Lakshmi, Sarah-Jane and Ceux Qui Marchent Debout. The weather was great and the extremely relaxed atmosphere was even better. Here you can find my pictures of the audience. In upcoming posts I will share some pictures of these bands and enable you to judge if there is still some artistic potential in the camera and lens left.
On May 15, 2016 I more or less happened to stumble on the 20 years Jubilee of the Zürich Museum Bahn (ZMB) in Sihlwald. Great Rolling Stock and a great atmosphere. Luckily I happended to have have my Olympus OM-D-E-M10 and 9-18 lens with me and could take some nice shots of the event. I used Lightroom for post processing.