Blog of the week goes to photography student Shelly Holland for her careful reflection on her neighbourhood images. Of the image above she says:
“In this photograph the old woman, wearing a blue coat that contrasts with her pink umbrella, has chosen a dangerous place to stand, where tiles from the roof of a derelict building could be about to fall on her head. The graffiti on the wall to the left of the frame seems to be shouting a warning ‘Hey’! to the old woman to look out. The woman is bending over and appears to be trying to avoid any tiles that might fall on her. Her umbrella may save her from the rain but it won’t save her from the tiles.
This photograph demonstrates how unaware we can be of the dangers in our environment. It has occurred to me since taking the photograph that I could if luck was against the old woman have been taking a picture of somebody possibly getting badly hurt rather than intervening. Maybe Susan Sontag was right.
‘Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention…..The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who is recording cannot intervene’.
(Susan Sontag, On Photography, In Plato’s Cave, pages 11-13).”
Photographing graffiti seems like a safe choice – it’s there, you can take your time and it isn’t likely to take offense and biff you on the nose. And if you look at viewing statistics on flickr images of graffiti and street are are immensely popular. But it is actually a difficult choice – the message, if there is one beyond ‘look at me’, is already there on the wall and the challenge for the photographer is to add ‘something’. And you can’t add anything without thinking about it – something Shelly has clearly tuned into.