This blog post does not have a particular theme related to Japanese culture. While taking photographs in Nara and of a band and their audience in a live house, I recalled some of the inspirations from the documentaries watched in class; in particular, War Photographer.
In my last post, I acknowledged James Nachtwey for venturing into the action and taking photographs from within the scene. I used this photograph as an example, as it contains the crowded energy and aggression of a protest.
My classmate, Sam, referred to Nachtwey as an ‘invisible man’ in his blog. I think is an appropriate way to describe Nachtwey’s passive presence in an active scene. It is most evident in photos where people are unrestrained in their actions and expressions, often made clear by the fact they are not only looking away from the camera but completely unaware of it.
These two parts of his approach to photography have stuck with me and I have made (some) progress in emulating this inspiration (or at least I would like to think so).
I hope it is not in bad taste to compare my light-hearted pictures with those of absolute despair and depression taken by Nachtwey. However, it is the movement and proximity of the scene that I have focused on. Hopefully this is clear from looking at the above Nachtwey photograph and my next photograph below.
Basically, in Nara, tourists purchase deer biscuits, thinking that all deer are like Bambi, and soon find out otherwise. The moment their wallet comes out of their pocket, the deer surround them and harass them into giving out (or hopefully dropping the whole packet of) biscuits.
While the second picture captures the mad rush and subsequent panic, the first is more successful in involving the viewer in the scene. Other people were photographing these poor women, but I feel they were so involved with the activity that their behaviour was very natural.
I took a lot of photos of this great scene, deer queuing up to receive biscuits from a line of schoolboys; but unfortunately only managed to capture the entirety of the scene from this distance. From this photo I can see lots of available opportunities (e.g. Why didn’t I crouch down slightly to the left and shoot upwards?) Although realising missed opportunities can be frustrating, it is fundamental to progress.
To briefly cover a similar opportunity, I attempted to capture the atmosphere of this live house from within the crowd and (as much as possible) within the band. In such a crowded place it was easy to hold a subdued presence and capture the natural behaviour of pre-occupied people from a relatively close distance.
James Nachtwey photos from: