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Thread: Photography and Politics

  1. #1

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    Photography and Politics

    There is a section in the LFPF called On Photography, dedicated to the of aesthetics, philosophy, history, photographers and photographs. At one time people could discuss in this section political and social issues as they impact photography, or as these issues guide and inform the work of many photographers. And that is as it should be, in my opinion. How, for example, can we discuss the photography of Strand, or Sebastian Salgado, without taking into account their views on politics and environmental management of the planet.

    My recollection is that these discussions were very interesting and spirited. People would sometimes go over the line and become abusive and/or rude, at which point the moderators stepped in and deleted the abusive thread, and if it was repeated, banned the offender. However, the threads themselves were not closed or deleted.

    Unfortunately, when discussions about politics itself were banned, and rightly so in my opinion, the ban was also carried over to any discussions about photography that involved social and political issues. That was, in my opinion, a bridge much too far, and it has lead to the unfortunate situation the forum now finds itself in.

    My suggestion to the moderators would be this, continue to ban discussions about politics itself, but allow those discussions in the area "On Photography" as they relate to aesthetics, philosophy and history of photograph, and the work of individual photograhers. Otherwise, you might as well eliminate the section "On Photography" because some things simply can not be discussed with the kind of restrictions that are now imposed on the members of the forum.

    Sandy
    http://www.sandykingphotography.com/
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  2. #2

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    Re: Photography and Politics

    I'm glad Sandy started this thread, because it raises an issue I was thinking about earlier today. I was on a mini-vacation for 3 days, and thus missed the storm which apparently arose over Richardman's portraits of transgendered individuals. I thought immediately of the "This Place" exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum last May , which showed the work of 12 photographer's working in the Israeli/Palestinian West Bank. Under the rules of avoiding that which might trigger a political debate, a discussion of the exhibit would now be taboo on our site, even though some of the photographers, such as Steven Shore, are known for their large format work. At an earlier time, the work of Sally Mann (with whom I took a workshop, specifically because of her facility with 8x10 cameras) and certainly Jock Sturges (again, 8x10 work) would be disqualified (both were accused of pornography). Going back even further, Bruce Davidson's 8x10-based "East 100th Street" might have been questionable because it's sub-texts were the civil rights and inequality issues faced by the residents of East Harlem. And going back further, much of the work of the f64 Group was intentionally political, viewing the world through a Socialist prism. Many projects by well-known large format photographers would run afoul of the rule banning work that is likely to trigger political debate, because much of photography is political in nature. Yes, I agree that we want the forum to be about photography, not politics, but at the same time we must recognize that much of photography is grounded in political views (bad pun, anyone?).

  3. #3
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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Sandy, you bring up good points and we are in the middle of a big review of things right now.

    Rick "more to come" Denney

  4. #4
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Oh, no!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here it comes!

  5. #5
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Photography and Politics

    On a related note, at least some people who are serious about education don't think that being exposed to positions that you disagree with is being harmed: http://www.npr.org/2016/08/26/491531...ntent=20160827
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

  6. #6
    Foamer
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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Quote Originally Posted by rdenney View Post
    Sandy, you bring up good points and we are in the middle of a big review of things right now.

    Rick "more to come" Denney

    My biggest concern would be LF forums being used as a platform for "activists" pushing for this or that. Second concern would be posts whose ultimate intention is to divide us or disrespect people with a differing POV. Finally, we're an international forum. I'm sure that the non-U.S. members here are bored with myopic posters that can't see beyond U.S. borders. (I would not be interested in a photography forum that often got sidetracked on the politics of Uruguay.) OTOH, I think everyone here enjoys a discussion about a good Petzval or a story about about E.O. Hoppe's wonderful shots using a LF camera in Germany in the 1930s (many of those photos appeared to be political in nature--the "triumph" of National Socialism.)


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  7. #7
    Greg Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Peter, I hadn't seen that, but I'm glad you posted a link to it. As I teach at different universities I have seen a trend of "safe spaces", and I believe they are antithetical to the entire purpose of free speech and higher education.

  8. #8

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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Are there really that many large format photographers that are "activists" that it could realistically become a problem?

  9. #9

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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Sandy, I think many people have been thinking the same way. Ansel Adams was not "just" a landscape photographer. He used his photography in a consciously political way to influence opinion on the subject conservation. Presumably we are allowed to discuss that there!

  10. #10
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Photography and Politics

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    There is a section in the LFPF called On Photography, dedicated to the of aesthetics, philosophy, history, photographers and photographs. At one time people could discuss in this section political and social issues as they impact photography, or as these issues guide and inform the work of many photographers. And that is as it should be, in my opinion. How, for example, can we discuss the photography of Strand, or Sebastian Salgado, without taking into account their views on politics and environmental management of the planet.

    My recollection is that these discussions were very interesting and spirited. People would sometimes go over the line and become abusive and/or rude, at which point the moderators stepped in and deleted the abusive thread, and if it was repeated, banned the offender. However, the threads themselves were not closed or deleted.

    Unfortunately, when discussions about politics itself were banned, and rightly so in my opinion, the ban was also carried over to any discussions about photography that involved social and political issues. That was, in my opinion, a bridge much too far, and it has lead to the unfortunate situation the forum now finds itself in.

    My suggestion to the moderators would be this, continue to ban discussions about politics itself, but allow those discussions in the area "On Photography" as they relate to aesthetics, philosophy and history of photograph, and the work of individual photograhers. Otherwise, you might as well eliminate the section "On Photography" because some things simply can not be discussed with the kind of restrictions that are now imposed on the members of the forum.

    Sandy
    I agree with you Sandy though I still don't think it would work. See this. I think we are past the tipping point with rudeness.
    http://time.com/4457110/internet-trolls/
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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