Minimalist Mondays : Voyeurism

“The basic condition of the voyeuristic scenario is distance, an essential separation between seer and seen. Despite this distance, which is by definition unbridgeable, despite the unrequitable nature of the desire that drives it, the voyeur’s gaze is a privileged one.”

Great book I highly recommend called Train Your Gaze: A Practical and Theoretical Introduction to Portrait Photography by Roswell Angier. The quote above is from TYG. Almost by anyone’s definition it is not a book on portrait photography. It is really an analysis of contemporary art photography as well as some of the classic but nevertheless quite daring, in their time, 20th century photographers.

The chapter on voyeurism begins with a quote by Walker Evans, certainly an idol of mine and countless other photographers.

“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.”

Inglorious Color: Repost from March 2013


Here is a link to the great website American Suburb X and a group of street photos by newly discovered street photography master Helen Levitt. The difference between these pictures and the vast majority of her other previously shown work is that these images are in amazing color.

Seeing those images this morning inspired me to share some of my recent shots. You know, I’ve always thought of myself as a black and white street photographer. But I rarely shoot black and white street photography. I really have done very little in B&W over the last ten years. I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m Ā a street photographer who works primarily in color.

Color is the only way to capture the parts of Los Angeles I continue to want to shoot most. Hope these images from my Leica M-E capture both the timeless grit and the gripping palate of colors of life in LA in 2013.


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THE EVENT: LACP’S First Annual Street Shooting Exhibition

TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT!!! LACP’S First Annual Street Shooting Exhibition

Donald_Barnat_07As I write this the rain is falling on the roof of my building in cold jealous sheets. šŸ˜‰ Damn you, rain! Be gone! We photographic artists must be allowed to co-mingle and congratulate ourselves over wine and cheese that we did not pay for!

Okay. (Let’s hope that works.) No rain can dampen the excitement and warm feelings today holds, not just for me, but for the 28 other street photographers who will be honored at the Los Angeles Center of Photography’s first Annual Street Shooting Exhibition in Hollywood.

I don’t really discuss street photography much here on As I’ve said in an earlier post from last year, I prefer to let my images do the talking for me. It is a sentiment that has been shared by so many photographers throughout the history of the medium. Let the work speak for itself, the images for themselves.

Not always a workable position to take there, it is increasingly less so in the world of contemporary art photography and galleries and clients etc., which all demand that any visual artist know exactly what the purpose is in their work and that they possess and own the very reasons their art exists. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

In my case, I don’t even have the excuse that I’m not good (enough) with words or that I don’t have anything to say about what I’m doing. I’m good (enough) with words to say what I’m thinking and I have actual thoughts on photography and, maybe especially, the street photography that accounts for the majority of my own creative efforts over the last 15 years.

So I’m going to take this opportunity, on the occasion when what I’ve been doing for so long is being recognized, when the undertaking itself is being recognized, to say a few things about the work of street photography.

First I have to say that upon perusing the fine selections for the LACP showing online I’m reminded that, thankfully, whatever positions or thoughts I hold in regard to street photography aren’t instantly transferable to the work of others. Photography itself and street photography in particular means something different to everyone who picks up the camera.

I think when I started to make street photography a form of creative expression I did it because I wanted to capture and preserve and make permanent my own life in the form of what I was seeing in my world. I saw it my way. I don’t believe there is a higher power simultaneously seeing and recording and preserving my perspective… or any perspective at all.

Moments, like life itself, were fleeting, but even moreso. There is no guarantee of permanence of human life or even the planet we live on. I had a desperation to grab the ordinary because I saw it, and still do, as being so extraordinary. Everything I see and photograph is, to my mind, the most singularly pointed definition of unique.

Selecting scenes and frames from what I see happening in front of me is a far more subconscious process. I am looking for specific things and then something inside of me is also more instinctively looking as well. Sometimes the things that are most integral to my images areĀ not physical image elements. At best, meaning when I think an image of mine is most successful, the things that I have photographed are not physically apparent.

More than anything, I’m trying to photograph humanity and the human interplay between the living beings and this imposing city. The grace, lack of grace, responses to life, its pressures and pleasures, the human reactions to the environment that we have created for ourselves.

In street-photographing Los Angeles, I am attempting to make subtle, psychological images of humanity as I find them and see them against the backdrop of one of the more chaotic and overdevelopedĀ places on Earth.

I hope that touches on the more general aspects of my street photography in a way that people can relate to when looking at my images. I thank everyone who comes to and who has supported me and my photography over the years.

I want to once again thank Julia Dean and the Los Angeles Center of Photography. Thank you for everything that you do, LACP!

Donald Barnat
Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Center of Photography proudly presents our First Annual Street Shooting Exhibition that celebrates street photography in Los Angeles and around the world. The exhibition showcases 29 photographers and 39 photographs.Ā  The works were carefully selected among 120 photographers and 767 images.Ā  The selection process was juried by Sam Abell, Julia Dean and Stephen McLaren.

via First Annual Street Shooting Exhibition ā€“ Jan 30 | Los Angeles Center of Photography.