Every other day is my first day on the Internet. Time and time again, Tobyjoe has asked me, “What is this? Your first day?” because I’m upset by something I have read, taken part in, seen, or instigated on the Internet.
I got dissed today on Flickr. Actually, I wasn’t really dissed but I am so much of a sensitive and selfish freak that I assume everything directed toward me is, in fact, a diss.
Here’s the skinny. On Thursday, a friend of mine sent me a link to a Web site she thought I might enjoy because of the new project I’m currently working on. This was the featured story at the time.
I read the paragraph below. I’m not sure I agree with what the author wrote, but that’s not the point.
Diane Arbus’ apartment room portraits. She met many of her subjects on the street and followed them home to photograph them in their surroundings. The pictures were taken indoors, but it’s still street photography. One could ask, “why?” but one can ask “why?” about a lot of things. Trust me, the medicine is good for you — Arbus was a street photographer.
Let’s back up for a minute. Up until recently, I didn’t know anything about how Groups worked on Flickr. I knew how to join one after someone sent me an invite but I had no idea how easy it was to add an image to one of your Groups. (This should further reiterate how every day is my first day on the Internet. Had I spent about half a second more looking around, I’d have figured this Group thing out a long, long time ago.) So, I’ve warmed up to Flickr Groups. I decided to join this gent’s Not Street Street Group even though I do not know this person and I’m not a street photographer. (I hold street photographers in high esteem; the good ones amaze me.) Since this was a group about NOT street street photography, and a group that even the author admitted was undefined, I figured I’d take part. I figured I might help him to define it.
I convinced myself that since my pictures from The New York Post Project were posed portraits of people I approached on the street, they would fit into this group. The thought that they might not be street photographs because they are shot outside also crossed my mind so I looked at some of the other ones in the group. I saw this one and this one and assumed that my own worked as not street street scenes as well.
Today, the administrator of the group left the comment below on one of my photos. (I have since deleted the comment because, well, I can. I am God of my Flickr page.)
These are street pictures, why are they in the Not Street Street pool?”
I immediately removed the pictures because it is, after all, his vision and I’m not one to crash a vision or a Flickr Group. I also realize that while my images may have been posed they were still taken outside and near a street. But one wonders. What if my pictures were taken in Phoenicia in upstate New York? What if I had asked farmers to hold the New York Post? What if they were on a street? Would that be considered not street street photography? Similarly, if I had asked these New Yorkers I met on the street to come into the lobby of my office building, or into the local Starbucks, would that be considered NOT street street photography?
In a perfect world, I think he should have written me directly, deleted the photo, or started a discussion about street photography. Because, had there been an open discussion, I could have lost the battle the mihow way: by jumping in, eventually saying something nonsensical, being trashed because of it, and then promptly being voted off the island, because when it comes to online forums I am the world’s biggest loser.
The statement below was pulled from the “Welcome Section/Disclaimer” on the group and written by the author:
I’m not entirely sure what I’m talking about in terms of what this group is for—but I know it when I see it.
My photographs were not what the author of this group was looking for and he knew it when he saw it. I’m totally cool with that. I feel a little foolish, like I underdressed for the big ball, but that’ll pass. It always does. He did leave me with a big fat question, which is the main reason I’m writing this today. What is “street photography?” And if you have an answer to that one, what is considered NOT street photography? I always thought that street photography was a from-the-hip kind of art form not something posed and in a park. I feel that this image, this image, and this one, as well as this one are all good examples of what I might consider street photography. But like I said this is my first day.
I realize that I know very little about the subject. I also realize that if you put something out there you open it up to critique. I’m excellent at handling creative feedback whether it is positive or negative. I wrote the author of said group and explained why I had uploaded the images to his the group. But I’m still left wondering: what is street photography anyway?
P.S. If you diss me, I will cry.
P.P.S. This is why I shouldn’t join online groups.