26 by 26 6:42am, 30 May 2013
Remove the separation between yourself and your subject
— Graeme Williams

Graeme adds…
"Following the end of apartheid in 1994, I realized that I was no longer motivated by objective journalistic or documentary concepts. Rather, I wanted to find ways of expressing a feeling through a body of work. This involved letting go of the narrative and the idea of separation between myself and the subject."

The Edge of Town

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All images copyright of Graeme Williams

Accompanying text for "The Edge of Town":

A film exploring his mission to find a new character for his work after the trauma and bloodshed of 'the struggle' era:


As well as being a good place to connect with other members and share your initial reactions, thoughts about how to 'solve it' and any links you think might help the group. This can also be a good place to include any old photos you have that fit the challenge or your work-in-progress during the two weeks before posting your final image to the group pool.

We're looking forward to hearing people's thoughts, good luck everyone!
— 26 by 26 team

(a quick reminder that submissions should have the challenge number in the title or description, there's only one submission allowed per challenge and old photos are only permissible in the discussion threads and not the group pool)
scala66/Paul Marsh PRO 5 years ago
Mmmm , like the idea of this one. Another challenging assignment.
scala66/Paul Marsh PRO 5 years ago
#15       spnc year 3
catt1871 PRO 5 years ago
First thought...
DSC_8836-34 by catt1871

Trying to show my state of being at the time (it seemed like a good idea)
g*treefrog 5 years ago
~ Meredith ~ 5 years ago
Hmm this is going to require some thought. Found this one in my stream that might fit the brief.

Rain Rain
Mark W Russell 5 years ago
#32 Untitled III
dacaccia 5 years ago
IngeHG PRO 5 years ago
Tough one ! Unless I can find a parade or street performance somewhere within the next two weeks this will be really difficult (and I'm guessing macros of inanimate objects wouldn't count).
The pictures below are from a set on Thaipusam, a religious festival for South-Indian and Tamil Hindus, nowadays only celebrated in Singapore and Malaysia. Even there where the pilgrims are happy and proud to be seen and photographed I can still feel my distance though.

Standing out in the crowd like an Indian prince
The kavadi bearer and his sister
Monty May (OBSERVE) PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Monty May (OBSERVE) (member) 5 years ago

Two Girls In A Mercedes

maximilianen 5 years ago
Meeting Point
cjcrosland PRO 5 years ago
Another fab instruction! I am very much enjoying the progression from one instruction to the next - it feels like each one is building on the previous one.

Did you have to wipe the lipstick of your camera lens after that shot, Scala?! :-)
Julia M Cameron PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Julia M Cameron (admin) 5 years ago
My initial reaction is that the photograph could be a fairly intimate portrait...close-up and personal so the viewer gets the feeling of being right in the "scene".

photodrum PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by photodrum (member) 5 years ago
I think IngeHG is spot on with the street performance idea. In Tampa each year at Halloween time, they have a parade in a section of town called Ybor (ee'-bore) City, an old neighborhood where Cuban immigrants lived and where they made cigars. The Halloween word was modified to become Guavaween, after the popular fruit, savored by the local population. These parades, over the years, have grown to be very popular but they have also grown to be more troubling. There have been thefts, stabbings, pick pockets, fights and other incidents that can occur where people are crowded very closely together (a perfect human expression of the ideal gas law). I attended the event in '99 and a scuffle broke out all around me when someone tried to pickpocket. I stuck my (then film) SLR over my head and fired off a couple of frames, all the while being jostled about and propelled forward as the crowd surged down the street. It is one of my personal favorite street photography images.

Guavaween 99 2
david_gillett 5 years ago
The first thing that springs to mind is to try and blur the boundaries between what constitutes the photographer and the model. Perhaps allowing some of the key decisions to be made by the 'sitter'.

The precise moment the shot is taken could be an interesting choice to relinquish, giving the subject much more control of how they wish to represent themselves. I'm thinking they could click their fingers to trigger the shot...something along those lines anyway,
darcydancer PRO 5 years ago
I like this instruction, here's one that i feel fits the brief.

Spine Brighton
Larking About Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Larking About (member) 5 years ago
I think the examples of his work above are beautiful shots - but I still feel a disconnect or observational feel - he has gotten close but do you think that is a way to connect with the scene ??? In my mind eg Monty May's & Darcydancer's examples show more of a connect - what does anybody think?
scala66/Paul Marsh PRO 5 years ago

thats 18mm for you ,lol.
MrGorski 5 years ago
What if you don't take "subject" = sitter? I was thinking of Fukase's 'Ravens' as an example: in that work there is no distance between him and his subject, which, for want of a better word, I'd call 'Hell'. It seems to be projected out of him. Rinko Kawauchi's 'Little More' has a similar distance dissipating approach, although she couldn't be further away from Fukase's bleak and baleful images. Also, I wondered a bit about shrinking the distance between us and our subject(s): does that entail opening up some distance between us and the world? For instance, isn't there some well attested sense in which the world begins to appear slightly deranged when we go all subjective?

On a different matter, are we going to have any women challenge setters?
26 by 26 5 years ago
Week #8 is set by a female photographer. Though we'd love everyone's suggestions for future challenge setters, we'll set up a discussion topic in the next few days.
Neale Willis PRO Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Neale Willis (member) 5 years ago
Yes, tricky - portraiture, engagement, street photography, observation and the overlaps before one interferes with another.

A few oldies that may meet the brief:
Staring role.
gri2011 5 years ago
gri2011 5 years ago
gri2011 5 years ago
gri2011 5 years ago
gri2011 5 years ago
gri2011 5 years ago
Juan y "Ella"
gri2011 5 years ago
gri2011 5 years ago
Leripix Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Leripix (member) 5 years ago
The supporting text for Graeme Williams's series includes this

"The way I went about this was to make use of layers of visual information and also to photograph from a position that would give a sense of my involvement and hence communicate something more intimate. I realized over time that the closer one gets in proximity to the subject, the more the photographer’s presence shows through in the photographs"

I guess this means that the photographer has to be a participant rather than a spectator. Easier to say than do . . .
Leripix 5 years ago
#09 Get yourself in the midst of an encounter: shoot a picture with people, rather than of people. - Tiffany Jones

Mark W Russell Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mark W Russell (admin) 5 years ago
I have had time now to view the video reference at the top of this thread and also to explore other essays on Graeme Williams web site; in particular; Avoiding Places, Objects of Reminiscence, Marking Time, Painting over the Present, most of which are devoid of people yet build a strong image and relationship between the photographer and the "subject".
I am beginning to get a sense of where Graeme is coming from, in that he is looking to go beyond narrative and towards an attempt to really engage with the subject.
For me this is NOT necessarily about getting physically close to the subject, but truly engaging.
If I have got this wrong I would be willing to be challenged.

An example I can show is a couple of shots from a 10 hour stint I did at the Ashboure Shrove Tuesday "football" game;-

The game IV - the "hug" on Station Street

Crowd III

And a couple where the sense of "place" has had a strong impact:-

"Factory view" - Instruction #51 - 'Buildings are like humans and have their own character.' - Alexey Titarenko

Blue hut
sobrenivel Posted 5 years ago. Edited by sobrenivel (member) 5 years ago
*  *

Sin título

Sin título

Sin título

Sin título

Sin título

photodrum PRO 5 years ago
After looking at Graeme Williams work and reading through some of his text, I begin to understand that to him, at least in some of his work, he interprets "removing the separation" as closing the distance from observer to observed - that is to say making images where the subject is proximal to the lens. What if the "subject" is not a person, place or thing, but a concept? Some examples might be prejudice, exploitation, pollution, fascism, environmental degradation, human trafficking or even some of the emotions addressed in the previous challenge? How then might one remove the separation of observer (photographer) from the observed? It would almost seem to me that removing the separation could only be accomplished by becoming one with the subject; or more literally the subject and observer are the same person. If that were so, would not one then turn inward and explore personal concerns and idiosyncrasies? The mirror is always the most terrifying subject, especially the psychological mirror.
Kristin Ator 5 years ago
For me, I read 'removing the separation', as a switch from photographing the scene as an observer to photographing the scene as a participant. I know that sometimes I look at a photo and it engages all senses: I can almost smell, hear, feel the temperature and energy from the scene. I don't think this is something that I achieve often, but I certainly react to it when I see others achieve it. I don't think necessarily the subject needs to be human, though Graeme Williams certainly does it well through the example shots.

I'm not sure if my example portrays what I'm trying to say, but maybe there is a feel of a warm autumn evening, with that crisp smell in the air and the sound of crunching leaves?
Voltaire 2010 5 years ago
It's a difficult one given the inherently voyeuristic nature of the medium, but I suppose a lot of photographs do manage to make that transition somehow. Not easy to define. An interesting challenge.It does link well to the last challenge and the one on SPNP about making a connection. As for an old photo, here goes

Woman at Seven Dials by Voltaire 2010
johnpaddler PRO 5 years ago
The precise moment the shot is taken could be an interesting choice to relinquish, giving the subject much more control of how they wish to represent themselves.

- or hand them the camera and have them take a double selfie of you & them together - facebook or crowded photo booth style. Might be fun!

Agree with Larkin' - despite the proximity the wide-angle lens conveys (and demands), there is still observer distance in the Graeme Williams examples. For me Monty May & Sobrenivel (bottom photo) are more at one with their people. the closeness coming from eye contact and sharing an emotion.
martkelly 5 years ago
I agree with Mark. However close, as soon as someone is aware that a photograph is about to be taken, there is a barrier, or separation, between them and the photographer.
If you as a photographer immerse yourself in what is going on, then even people who know you are taking photographs stop being aware of when you actually take the picture.
With the separation reduced in this way, you can then start to get the feeling that Graeme mentions. The feeling of joy at a party, or the collective mood of a demonstration begins to come through. The first picture by gri2011 above fits this.
MrGorski 5 years ago

I agree. I think what I posted yesterday is in line with what you're saying here.
MrGorski 5 years ago
Kristin Ator:

I'm with you on this one.
cjcrosland PRO 5 years ago
Agree with Larking - I'm thinking about emotional connection as well as physical proximity. Although the "closing the gap" wording is sparking off ideas for me - thinking about Graeme William's background makes me think about bridging cultural / racial gaps, gaps caused by poverty, prejudice, disability etc.
LornaMcHardy 5 years ago
Kristin Ator:

That's how I read it; seems to me that the minute you're photographing a "subject", there is a distance by definition. So it's a case of photographing something that isn't a subject, but something that is part of the photographer - in a wide sense, obviously :0)
LornaMcHardy 5 years ago
Quite a tall order, this one, requiring technical expertise I'm not convinced I have. I'll give it a go...
Mark W Russell 5 years ago
the story so far:-
amjamjazz 5 years ago
The internet has removed the boundary between photographer and subject by politicising the public space. People now assume ownership of their image.
Acknowledging this new relationship implies a new degree of co-operation between photographer and subject, and a new collaborative moment to record, rather than the classic 'candid' attempts at objectivity of the print era.
Car Hole. Peckham
Mark W Russell Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mark W Russell (admin) 5 years ago

Hi Rob
Thanks for your contribution and really interesting point about co-operation and collaboration. As someone from the print era I find this kind of liberating.
PS I very much like your biginabox website and its content.
amjamjazz 5 years ago
I can't see a red light without smelling vinegar either. ('Stop' was too expensive).
When I started, people knew that even if their picture 'got in the paper', it would be wrapped around a dead fish tomorrow. And still smelling of vinegar.
martkelly 5 years ago
I decided to be less objective and just get a feeling for what was going on at some demonstrations in London. I have arrived a some images which I think will fit the challenge, but I'm struggling to decide which one to use.

London Demo 1 by martkelly

#7 (London Demo 2) by martkelly

London Demo 3 by martkelly

London Demo 4 by martkelly

London Demo 5 by martkelly

London Demo 6 by martkelly

London Demo 7 by martkelly

London Demo 8 by martkelly
BeccaG PRO 5 years ago
i think this one fits the theme - So you want to be a gangster?
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