downtown

Art, Documentary, or News: Photography and Racial Politics

 

L1050830-Edit-2That title suggests a lot, I know. These are amazing times online. There are at any point, almost surely simultaneous, multiple battles occurring in larger cultural wars over things like racial and sexual politics. The recent Stephen Colbert – Suey Park skirmish was fascinating, the back and forth analysis provided me, at least, with an education in the current taxonomy of racial and gender politics at least framed by a small subset of the larger culture.

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Anyway, so it now falls on photography to fire our interest and further the fine-tuning of all of our racial and political sensibilities. Here specifically, in the article I’m linking to, the analysis turns towards two different presentations of the same photographs taken (obviously) by the same photographer and how those presentations differ and cross many lines. Some that are probably okay to cross and some that are, increasingly, not.

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None of us really want to offend with our photographs or our presentation of them, or to have our work frowned upon by those who are more in-tuned, sometimes by way of professional experience and sometimes by way of their own personal experiences, to the myriad and shifting protocols surrounding photography that involves the lives of people who are not us. Whoever we may be.

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Okay that was tricky. I have included a bunch of MY recent images that I do (or do NOT) think work well with this subject matter. (I refuse to say. ;-)) But I repeat, these are NOT the images referred to in the articles. These are my own images, taken yesterday in downtown Los Angeles. By me.

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I would love to hear what others here have to say about all of this. Please feel free to jump in. I think one place to start, maybe most obviously, is what is the responsibility of photographers to click the shutter, or not, when seeing realities that also represent stereotypes in his or her viewfinder. That would be a starting point for one discussion, actually. The blurred line betweens art and documentary photography, presentation and commentary, etc., all are other fascinating angles as well. Anyway.

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Here is a quote that describes what the writer of this piece does in the linked article. It’s a great idea. The result itself might elicit a more mixed response from readers.

Below, I step through the images that Politico ran, juxtaposing the caption of the photo from Raab’s site with the Politico caption with a brief comment on how that copy effects the meaning of the picture. 

via Art Photography vs. News Photography: Politico, Race and the “Other Washington” — BagNews.

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LA’s Noir Legend Lives Again at Park Plaza Hotel

L1046201-EditFrom The Park Plaza’s Wikipedia page:

Though the neighborhood has gone through a period of urban decay and now urban renewal, the building, replete with angels at every corner, has lost none of its ethereal beauty and elan, making it truly one of the classic examples of Claude Beelman’s architecture left standing in the modern world. The building is now vacant, mainly used as a rental for movie shoots and special events, however, the City of Los Angeles thought the architecture significantly important enough to warrant a City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Historic-Cultural Monument No. 267, as far back as the early 1980s. This is significant in that many other Wilshire Boulevard area landmarks fell prey to the wrecking ball during that time period, such as the notable Brown Derby. Luckily, despite the demolition of important landmarks all around it, the grand entrance and ballroom of the Elk’s No. 99 / Park Plaza building still bears its old “jazz age” grandeur, much to the relief of Los Angeles architectural aficionados. The elaborate interior murals and decorative paintings were designed and executed by Anthony Heinsbergen and Co, noted painter of many Los Angeles cultural landmarks. The central design of the lobby ceiling is based on the Villa Madama, a Renaissance era project by Raphael and Giulio Romano.

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Broadway: The Hard Way

Time to revisit some of my better efforts that were posted before anyone knew this place was here. Hope you all enjoy them and thanks to smilingtoad and Vincent Bolly for reminding me of this by liking to all these many months later.

50'Lux

About ten years ago we had some family come out for a week or so. On their last day here we needed to run them down to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles because, adventurers that they are, they were taking a train out of town. Okay.

So to get there, we decided that we’d take them up Broadway, something we did once or twice a month on our way to Chinatown for some Sam Woo’s Barbecue Restaurant, probably the best Chinese I’d ever eaten up till that time.

Anyway, Broadway, is a trip all its own. And this busy hot Saturday was busier and hotter than most days we’d taken the drive. This is a part of L.A. that doesn’t look like L.A. at all. It looks like New York City, but in another era, certainly in another century. It is the home of a historic commercial and theater…

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