Knut Skjærven

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The Workshop

Published December 30th, 2012

THE WORKSHOP

INVITATION

Yes, it will happen. But it will not happen very often. Maybe once a year with a limited number of participants. The first workshop will take place in Berlin from June 20 to June 23, 2013. Check out the Draft Program.

It is all about seeing. Yes it is.

The workshop will teach you what to look for in street photography and how to handle it. How you take pictures that make a difference. We call it Itching Images.

Welcome to The Workshop. If you want to go, you need to act now.

Send an email for more information and the price for the workshop. Use this address knut*skjaerven.com (substitute the * for an @).

The original post: http://streetphotographerstoolbox.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/the-workshop/

About the photo: It is shot at Paris Bar, Berlin, July 22, 2012.

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Coach Session: Come Fly With Me / The Vision/ 01

Published August 31st, 2012

All

Here is the full text for the first task in Street Photograph's Toolbox that was launched two days ago.

Please visit the blog for further information. Here: http://streetphotographerstoolbox.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/coach-session-come-fly-with-me-the-vision-01/

You should subscribe to that blog if you want to follow this process first hand.

Good luck with it. Have a good weekend :-).

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COME FLY WITH ME / The Vision/

Coach Session 01, 2012

Once again welcome to Elisabeth and Stepanie.

I hope it is ok that I use your first names since we virtually will see quite a lot of each other in the weeks to come. Not all the time, but some of the time.

As I have suggested several times this toolbox, and the coach process in particular, is not only about taking pictures. We will also dwell upon things like creativity and project handling. So consider yourself being part of a project. Your very own photographic project. You are just about to start it.

Congr ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Coach Procedure/...

Published August 16th, 2012

All

The coach process is bases on very simple learning principles. Call them Wax On, Wax Off.

You Wax On when you, for instance, learn from famous street photographers. Reading and looking in photo books are good examples of Wax On activities.

So are going to galleries. You have to familiarize yourself with what the masters have done. Copying them, or simply being inspired are good ways to go initially. Don’t neglect these ways.

There are several other resources within Waxing On. For instance, the resources that you will find in Street Photographer’s Toolbox. This site.

When you Wax On you pollster yourself with good and useful information and experiences. This is a very important step for securing progress.

You Wax Off when you start to put the new knowledge to use. Meaning grabbing you camera and go out the door to photograph. You are using some of the energies that the Wax On processes installed in you.

These two types of processes, Wax On, Wax Off, do not come one after the ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Brief Encounter/...

Published August 16th, 2012

Session 12: Brief Encounter

Task Description:

Here is an easy one. Or so it seems. You are asked to take a picture that is structurally similar to Brief Encounter above.

I shot Brief Encounter in the large gardens surrounding Schloss Charlottenburg outside Berlin in May 2011. It is one of my favorites since it at once honour a demand of simplicity, different levels of content, and it adds a new idea to the situation unfolding.

Brief Encounter is handling the situation creatively in that it combines content that was never intended to be framed in a picture. The man in the background and the lady in the foreground were never intended to be in any sort of relationship, which they have been made to be in this shot. Nor were they ever intended at once to be separated and link by a virile fountain.

The shot has that open end that makes different interpretations very possible. Some of them suggesting quite a different sort of brief encounter.

Let’s have a closer look at the image. It h ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Tandem Tantes / ...

Published August 8th, 2012

Task Description:

Here is an easy session that trains your photographic vision well.

Look for things that are similar. Like the two woman in the photo above.

I call the concept tandem tantes because “tante” is Scandinavian word for “aunt”. And I enjoy the rime. The important thing is not, by the way, the tantes but the tandem. An object that comes in two or even more numbers. Like on a tandem bike. I am sure that you have seen them.

What could be similar? What could be tandem?

Almost everything that you can think of can be tandem. Here are a few examples: I thin man who looks like a pole; a big woman who looks like a boat; an object that have the same colour or the same shape as another; a background that tandems a foreground; a foreground that tandems a background; a mother and a child who looks looks alike. You name it.

Look at the two women in the picture: Same body structure, same bodily position, same movement with their right hands, almost the same position with there ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Solid Statement ...

Published August 7th, 2012

SESSION 10:

SOLID STATEMENT

Task Description:

Whatever we do there is always a little of ourselves in it. We make statements even when we think that we are not making them.

So also in photography and in street photograph. Perhaps even more so in street photography, because the opportunities are endless and choices have to be made as to what to do and how to do it. When to do it.

I have titled the image below Solid Statement, and not only for obvious visual reasons, but because to me this is also a statement about street photography.

This simple image expressed what street photography is, and, in my humble opinion, what it ought to be. I mean this: This situation was never there to be taken and was never meant to be, I am sure. But now that it is, it adds a dimension to reality by combining two elements foreign to each other: The solid lady being the center of attentions of the passing three, who gives her all of their attention. From right in front of her eyes. Are they mocking h ...

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Photography Visual Basics

Published July 17th, 2012

All

There is a new blog for this who want to an hence their skills as street photographers. Enjoy.

http://photographyvisualbasics.wordpress.com/

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ITCHING IMAGE: VISUAL LINES

Published July 13th, 2012

ITCHING IMAGE:

VISUAL LINES.

July 13, 2012.

This image have all the chances of falling apart. It consist basically of two squares of the approximate same size and could easily be perceived as two images in one. There are no physical lines too keep the images together or link the two squares. Other that they both stand on the same ground.

But the image does not fall apart, does it? The physical lines have been substituted by visual lines that hold the image together. Nikita Khrushchev and his gang are looking in the direction of the man with the dogs. Bodily postures add to that interest in some of the men. The whole gang seems to be taking a turn to the left from the viewers point of view. Soon they will meet on the pavement outside the wooden fence for a real chat. Khrushchev seems to be curious about what the man outside is holding in his hands. It that an iPhone he is playing with? The 4S maybe? Or is it something else? The interest is there.

The man’s stubborn neglect of the mas ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Objects.

Published May 29th, 2012

26/05/2012

Training Sessions: See Street University.

Relates posts in this section: Introduction; Trick Effects; Pose; Objects; Photogenia; Aestheticism; and Syntax.

Library Thing: Image, Music, Text, Fontana Press, London 1977; Henri Cartier - Bresson The Minds Eye, aperture, New York 1999.

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IMPORTANT:

As you probably know by now these post are written for the blog: Street Photographer's Toolbox. The blog is under development but not made public yet. Stay tuned. Have a very good day :-). Thanks for reading.

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Aestheticism

Published May 25th, 2012

CONNOTATIONS:

AESTHETICISM

This is actually one of the very few places where Roland Barthes refers to the great master of French street photography: Henri Cartier - Bresson. The article is written in 1961 and Bresson was at his peak of performance as a photographer.

In describing his fifth connotation procedure Aestheticism, Barthes uses these words: "Thus Henri Cartier - Bresson constructed Cardinal Pacelli's reception by the faithful of Lisieux like a painting by an earlier master. The resulting photograph, however, is in no way a painting ...". /24

In the sentences before this rare reference to Cartier - Bresson, Barthes says: "For if one can talk of aestheticism in photography, it is seemingly in an ambiguous fashion"./24 When photography try to turn painting it could be a) either a trial or an aspiration suggesting that photography, like painting, indeed is an art form in its own right; or b) "to impose a generally more subtle and complex signified than would be possible with o ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Photogenia.

Published May 24th, 2012

CONNOTATION: PHOTOGENIA.

It is a fascination notion. Maybe the most spectacular of them all. Speculative.

Ronald Barthes calls it photogenia and it is the fourth of his connotation procedures. But he does not really give you anything more than a clue as to what is to be understood by photogenia. He cleverly escapes the question by stating that “it will suffice to define photogenia in terms of informational structure. In photogenia the connoted message is the image itself, “embellishes” (which is to say in general sublimated) by techniques of lighting, exposure and printing.”/23.

“The theory of photogenia”, he states, “has already been developed (by Edgar Morin in Le Cinéma ou l’homme imaginaire) and this is not the place to take up again the subject of the general signification of that procedure”./23

Thank you Mr. Barthes. Thank you for this extensive explanation.

That is where he leaves his readers, in nowhere land.

What, however, after all is important is the clue that he gives ...

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ITCHING IMAGE: STREET PHOTOGRAPHER'S TOOLBOX

Published May 21st, 2012

ITCHING IMAGE:

DECISIVE MOMENTS / COMPLEX

This is definitely a more complex version of a Decisive Moment.

Complex is not the same are complicated because there is nothing complicated in this image. But it is, in my view, complex both visually and related to content. The share number of themes working together have increased when comparing this image to the other example of a Decisive Moment: Come Fly With Me.

The viewer will automatically ask for these many themes to work together for it to build a coherent image in his/her mind. I my view they do, but you don’t have to agree in this.

Let me point to the possible sub themes in image: the sunbathers and black dog looking out towards the canal; the man in the foreground also turning the back on the sunbathers; the sunbathers themselves; the dog and the man both turning their backs on the sunbathers; and, of course, the curious guy in the boat close to the frame at the left hand side.

What is happening here? That is the question. Is ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Itching Images.

Published May 21st, 2012

ITCHING IMAGE:

DECISIVE MOMENTS

Nothing is more important in photography than catching a Decisive Moment. Such moments makes or breaks an image. Here is one that is pretty decisive. I young lady hanging in the air at the landing place of the Copenhagen Marathon, May 20, 2012.

That said, what is a decisive moment? Sometimes it is easier done than said, because all do not agree on what a decisive moment is.

In a way all photographs are decisive moments. They can never be repeated and for whatever reason the release button is pressed, it renders a photographs of a decisive moment. Many people stick to such a definition and you will see lots and lots of photographs described as decisive moments.

However, such a wide definitions renders only small letter decisive moments. Let’s call them that.

Decisive Moments with capital letters are very different. More like the definition given by Cartier – Bresson: To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a faction of a second, of ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: Itching Images.

Published May 15th, 2012

ITCHING IMAGE:

TWO OF A KIND.

One way to create an itchy image is to make a two of a kind shot. Like the one you see here. It is a very simple version.

You get an image of this type when you frame two (or more) similar object in a shot. It has to be objects that are not intended to be isolated or framed together. Such a strange framing is what can make an image itchy. The famous Henri Cartier -Bresson used this little trick in many of his images. He did it well.

Normally shots like this leave an impression of curiosity or humor. A smile at least.

When I speak of objects I include people, who are normally called subjects. Objects or subjects, in this context, it does not matter. In the shot above we actually have one of each: one live person sitting down, and one kind of similar object in the painting. In addition to have a somewhat similar overall outline of the two. Look at their hands and their faces. Same (roughly) positions of hands and the somewhat same strange expression in t ...

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Brains: Are you a Harry? Or are you a Larry?

Published March 9th, 2012

Picture text: Winston's Vocation: The two brain halves caught in one shot. There you see Larry, the book worm. There you see Harry, dreaming the day away.

You have probable discovered that being a good photographer there are some parts of the job you like better than others. And sure, there are probably also things that you do better at than others. That's very natural and goes for all areas of life.

The brain works differently too. Or should I say that the brains work differently. We have more than one and use them in different ways. More or less successfully. That we know from politics.

There are left brainers and there are there right brainers. Properly speaking we talk about the two brain halves and how they function.

Then there are the women. Maybe there are the women. I have to be a bit careful here.

The reason I state it like that is that the left brain/right brain distinction seems mainly to apply to men. Women have a more even spread of brain capacities. Like it or not. ...

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The Things Themselves

Published March 7th, 2012

THE THINGS THEMSELVES

What is barebones and why do I stress that even this site is linked to that notion? And what on earth has it got to do with street photography?

I have wondered about this myself but have not yet found the final words for explaining the connection. So, you have to live with what is written here.

I used the name barebones for the first time in late 2007, when I planned to do a blog on communication. It was named barebones communication. It seemed to be the right word for the right project. Barebones Communication is still the mother blog for all that have happened later. This blog stands on the same pillars. (For an overview of activities, please see The Raw Material.)

Remember I was always a student of phenomenology. That goes back a long way. I still am, by the way.

The word phenomenology is a combination of two Greek words: phenomenon and logos.

Phenomenon could be explained as that which is observable.

Logos is a bit more difficult to handle since it has s ...

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Street Photographer's Toolbox: The Curious Vase

Published March 6th, 2012

You need to know about this vase. It is known as The Rubin Vase or simply Rubin's Vase. It is also called the figure-ground vase.

On this site we will simply call it The Vase. Or The Curious Vase. It is important enough to carry such a generic name.

The reason for its name is that the vase was discovered by the Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin in 1915. Not deep in the ground but right in front of his eyes.

It has to do with the ambiguity of certain visual images. In this context, it has to do with the ambiguity of certain street photographs. And it has to do with figure and ground.

The point it that an image may change content depending on what you see as figure and what you see as ground. Look at the left illustration above and you will probably see a yellow vase on a white background. Look at the right illustration and you will likely recognize the profile of two men turned towards each other.

On the other hand you may even see quite the opposite or nothing meaningful at all. It ...

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Whispering Versus Shouting Images

Published February 7th, 2012

Working Note:

It seems to me that the concepts of whispering and shouting images are good ways to distinguish certain styles within street photography.

A whispering image is an image that you have too listen to, pay attention to, before it reveals its story. Docklands, that you see in this post, I would say, is a whispering image. You have to pay a certain attention, yes even study it, to have it tell its story. It does not force itself upon you.

When whispering images are at their best they are pulling you in. It is possible, therefore, to talk about whispering images as pulling images.

A shouting image works differently. It springs on you as if it forces you to take attention. Something that you cannot get away from. When they are at their best shouting images could also be called pushing images.

Of course there are things in between. There are hardly pulling images that don’t have push elements in them. How else would you otherwise notice them? Likewise, there are hardly pushin ...

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HBC: The Lightness Of Life

Published February 3rd, 2012

All

Thanks to Eric Kim for this interview. It is a great honour.

Best

Knut

http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/02/what-about-henri-cartier-bresson-the-lightness-of-life-an-interview-with-street-photographer-knut-skjaerven/#more-5608

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Using The Visual Radar

Published February 2nd, 2012

You mention using a visual radar. What do mean by that and how do you work it?

It is really very ease. All of us know how such a technique works.

An example: Many modern photo-related programs have, for instance, face detection. You feed the database with pictures of a face and the machine will be able to recognize the face in other pictures. You name that face. It is very handy if you want to search for a person in a large catalogue of images.

In photography the visual radar works the same way. Your mind is the program and that database that holds the data. Like a computer program you have to feed it. Feed it well, and it will serve you well. Feed it lousy, or not at all, and will serve you lousy. Or not at all.

When you study the photographs of famous photographers, or the paintings of celebrity painters, it is like feeding a machine with data.

It helps a lot if you know what you are doing. Roaming museums and photo books will not do it alone. You have to tell your mind what kin ...

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A Movable Feast

Published February 1st, 2012

Just a work note.

I have been struggling to combine the concept of creativity with photography. Can there be creativity at all since we deal with a mechanical reproduction of reality? Photography, even now, is often described as such.

Creativity is defined as the ability and the process of combining already existing things/ideas in a new way. Everything is supposed to be already there, but creative combinations are, in all cases, not there yet. And they never will be.

This definition, here quoted from memory, seems to be the same across branches. It works in science, in business and in the arts. And elsewhere. The structure of creativity does not change even if you shift area.

This could pose a particular problem for photography because in reproduction you can seemingly only render what is already there. How is it possible to combine things/ideas in a new way when you are dependent on what the camera brings back to you?

I can understand that creativity is possible in, for instance ...

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The Interview: On Picturetaking and Photography

Published January 10th, 2012

Tell me about the difference between picturetaking and photography!

I’ll be happy to.

I had to find a way of describing the transitions you have to go through when wanting to take photography seriously. The best phrase I found was that this was a transition from simply being a picturetaker to that of being a photographer. Picturetakers take pictures, obviously. Photographers literary takes picture too, but they do it with a clear purpose, high dedication and by knowing and using the alphabet and grammar of visual communication. Metaphorically speaking. The alphabet consists of the single units used to tell a story. The grammar is the way you put units together.

Being a photographer takes experience and knowledge. Being a picturetaker does not. That is the different. It is huge.

It is all too easy creating some sort of result when you use a camera. Everyone can buy one and start shooting. They don’t even have to leave the shop to start their new career. Knowing how to press the but ...

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