Photos and war and quotes

Seems the theme of my past week has been photography.

It started with an article on Stuff about @Deanogormano‘s new exhibition at the Page Blackie Gallery. He has staged a series of photos themed around the forces in the Vietnam war. The article quotes him as saying “I thought wouldn’t it be cool to try and stage something that could allow you to potentially feel something similar, but wasn’t actually real? “I’m not trying to trick anybody, but I’m just trying to play with the idea of how do you feel about something that is not real but is made to seem real?” What really intrigued me was this quote “The weird thing is that I wanted it to not look staged and I found that it had to be more staged in order to look less staged.” which refers to some of the action shots, not the posed portraits.
This one is my favourite of the portraits on the website. (Am hoping to get to the exhibition on Saturday.)

Posed photographs or not posed photographs are (sort of) the subject of Believing is seeing: observations on the mysteries of photographs by Errol Morris. This is a bind up of articles published in the Opinionator webpages of the New York Times. The first chapter muses on potential fakery and deception in photos purporting to be photojournalism as represented by two photos from the Valley of The Shadow of Death by Roger Fenton taken in the Crimean War. Quotes from chapter one that leaped out at me “Much of our problem comes from our collective need to endow photographs with intentions…The photograph is posed not by the presence of the elephant but by its absence. Isn’t something always excluded, an elephant or something else? Isn’t there always a possible elephant lurking just at the edge of the frame?

There are no elephants lurking outside of this photo by Geoff Dale, only a policeman with a rifle.

(Hopefully the right photo shows!) It’s from his book Press pass: 40 years of award winning press photography. According to the caption “The policemen are hiding because their colleague (not pictured) is carrying a rifle, not because they are scared of the steer!” Unfortunately I can’t find many of his photos online. The one I wanted to show you was a 1974 photos of a nun wearing her habit with knee-high rugby socks and rugby boots. (There’s also a 1993 photo of big Jens Voigt leaning right over the front wheel of his bike descending to Taupo. JENS! VOIGT! In NZ!)

Yesterday @digitalNZ announced that a new collecting function was available on their site. I follow a lot of people interested in digital heritage so my tweet stream exploded with links to sets that people had created. Today that led to photos of Lt. E.H.Garland. He could appear in Spartacus because look as I might, I could not see any tattoos. Y’know. If the photos were taken this year, rather than 1916.

More World War I photos can be seen in the Kiwi Faces of War Flickr group. “These World War One soldiers, relaxed and fresh-faced, were photographed on the eve of their departure from Wellington, New Zealand. Many were photographed alone. Others were accompanied by the families and friends they were about to leave behind.” Not all of the soldiers have been identified so Te Papa are appealing to the public for help. With some success too- excellent.

Finally, to bring us back to photographs staged and unstaged, here’s a beautiful portrait of a cop and a tiny girl. It features in the exhibit All Women by Bev Short at the Portrait Gallery.



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