Monday, October 4, 2010

Future now cleansed

"I wouldn't want some guy taking pictures of my kids even if we were walking around in public. I'm not saying the police (or mall cops) should be allowed to stop someone from taking pictures. I'm saying that I might stop someone myself if I had to."

"How about a photograph you take of kids at a playground that ends up on a pedo site?"


I think these two comments pulled from the recent discussion on Boing Boing reflect a widely shared sentiment among the public. People generally don't want their kids photographed without permission.

For street photographers this presents a dilemma. Children are everywhere these days. They're sometimes hard to avoid. How does one go about shooting in public without shooting kids?

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, this dilemma is now solved. One of the latest features in Photoshop CS5 is Content-Aware Fill. When combined with other tools, C.A.F. can now eliminate kids from just about any photograph. Fountains, parties, fairs, anywhere that young ones hang out can now be sanitized with just a few mouse clicks. Take that, pedophiles!

I've taken the liberty of performing this service for a number of well-known photographs depicting children. I think you'll agree that the revised photos are improved in every way. Just imagine, a world without kids!

Helen Levitt

Improved version

Martin Parr

Improved version

Joel Sternfeld

Improved version

Garry Winogrand

Improved version

Stephen Shore

Improved version

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Improved version

Thomas Struth

Improved version

Eugene Smith

Improved version

William Eggleston

Improved version

38 comments:

Michael Sebastian said...

Good post, Blake. All that photographers can do is to vigorously stand up for their own rights, and take every opportunity to educate the public.

Pedophile-phobia is rampant in the US, along with a wildly disproportionate fear of child abduction---which is actually fairly uncommon.

As for the person quoted first above---if s/he were to accost me while I'm photographing, my response would depend on his/her tone and degree of aggressiveness. I would probably talk but little; hand him my business card with a link to my "privacy" page that explains his lack of any in public; and summon police if he interferes or lays a hand on me.

Photographers acting legally are not obligated to yield to the ignorance and fear of others.

cacv12000 said...

The Joel Sternfeld image is much improved. It appears the parents are looking over the edge for the missing baby.

bvc said...

Cute :)

In a surreal way, some of those actually are improved.

Ulrich said...

A milestone of modernity I'd have said but the tool purged the bottles in the photograph by HCB! We need V2.0. Bueller?

Droid said...

The Boing Boing comments were interesting and pretty well every viewpoint was given. One thing I've wondered is how much have the Paparazzi contributed to the very negative attitude of the public to being photographed? Also, from what I've seen, there's a decent chance that if a street photographer takes your photo, you are going to wind up posted somewhere.

K. Praslowicz said...

Also, from what I've seen, there's a decent chance that if a street photographer takes your photo, you are going to wind up posted somewhere.

The sad part about that statement is that I believe it true because I've seen so many Street Photographers with absolutely no ability to edit their own work.

So much of what of what I see on shared on Flicker under the title of street photography does looks like stalker photos because the photographer seems to just post everything they take no matter how drab it is.

jophilippe said...

Who want to have this ?
http://jophilippe.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/kids_tshirt.jpg

Anyhow - and as much as I find this rampant paranoia excessive and pointless - I have to agree with Kip, internet mass photo sharing really hurts. So-called "street" ad nauseum...

phillhunt said...

The Garry Winogrand image for some reason reminds me of "Garfield minus Garfield" for some reason.
http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/

And yes; what Kip said...

Blake Andrews said...

Garfield Minus Garfield is genius. Definitely an improvement over the original cartoon.

The T-shirt is also funny but I suspect it would create hassles if worn.

Someone did a similar series in the 90s removing models from porn photos found online. But that was before Content Aware Fill so they were replaced with white space.

darrylbaird said...

Well, I actually I think the street-photo-over-saturated WWW is a perfect way to help educate the eyes of the public.
If we're patient long enough, the really good images will become more and more obvious, while also serving to improve those lurkers who actually want to improve their "street" smarts.

Give it time, cream rises to the top,

Walter Beckham's Photo Blog said...

Would love to see a Friedlander!

bayxsonic said...

This is ridiculous, that tool doesn't work well in every situation, and most of these pictures look awful and obviously "photoshopped"
Good luck with your archive of ugly/photoshopped pictures

Blake Andrews said...

@darrylbaird: I don't share your faith that good images will find their way to our attention. They may, but the more likely scenario is that we drown in a flood of unedited, uninspired web images. What rises to the top these days looks less and less like creme to me.

@bayxsonic: Yes, they look Photoshopped but I think that's preferable to showing innocent kids. Think of the children!

James said...

perchance to dream a world without children...

bryanf said...

@Blake: Perhaps there is no creme, and in fact I think having the mentality that you're only searching out the best photography of any kind is sort of an absurd way to approach the medium.

And of course the paradox is that if finding the 'best' is one of your concerns then shouldn't you place your own work in that spectrum? And if so, then should any of us justifiably be uploading any work to the web?

After all, none of are so egotistical to believe that we believe in the best or that relative to other superior work, our work is just nothing but mediocre crap.

You can't complain about the flood of images on the web if you have an open faucet yourself...

Disgruntled Photographer said...

Oh the world would be so nice without screaming kids in the middle of everything! I can't tell you how many of my pictures have been ruined with some kid walking into the middle of it. Try to take a picture of a fountain anywhere without some kid trying to play in it!

JB said...

Half of those ARE improved.

Droid said...

Blake, I agree with your comments about the dilution of quality due to the internet and I would also add the digital camera to the mix, since it is more convenient than scanning negs or prints - which means less self-editing. At first it was a trickle and easy to manage, but Flickr changed everything. I've tried to get in to Flickr but just hate having to wade through so much crap, even on moderated sites. Also there are so many different photographers posting single or a couple of images that it increases the mess, since there is no continuity. I won't even go in to the inane commenting. To me the photobook is still the best vehicle for presenting and looking at photos. For one thing, I know that there has been some effort put in to editing and the results are usually cohesive and tight. Also, even though the selection process is somewhat flawed and unfair, at least I know that the photographer is well thought of by people who I trust. I know the internet has made some stars of people who would never be accepted in the art or publishing world, but there are more than enough good artists out there being published to keep me happy.

Anonymous said...

I like the concept of what you are doing. Some of the pictures look quite convincing and good. However some of them look poorly photoshoped and muddy so be careful because the pictures can loose their depth. Best of luck.

bluerush said...

This is one of your more intense posts.I could connect to the situation well and am now able to appreciate my country's weak laws in a much positive way!

Strange that many of the readers couldn't get the obvious 'hidden' sarcasm!!

jon said...

Great laugh Blake ;-) Weren't you in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Nick Turpin said...

Great point well made Blake, these are amusing but terribly serious at the same time. We all live in a media generated bubble of fear these days and you demonstrate well how ludicrous it is.

Nicola said...

The paradox is that, very often, people that stop you from take pictures of childrens are the same that appreciate a lot works of HCB or other famous street shooters!

Droid said...

I didn't want to bring this up earlier, because I like what you do and this blog. But, to me it feels wrong to alter other people's images and post them. I know you wanted to make a point but to me all you needed to do was post the originals as examples of important works with children in them and let us use our imaginations. But since nobody else has brought this up I guess I might just be old fashioned.

Blake Andrews said...

@Droid: That's a valid point and I'm not sure exactly how to address it. For the purpose of this post I think the altered photos were necessary. But posting them may very well be overstepping a boundary, just as posting the originals may be.

I push that boundary on the internet far more than I ever would in print. I would never publish the same photos in physical form even though legally I'm not sure there's much difference (Fair Use law hasn't caught up to the internet). But in the blogosphere the line has been so muddied that it feels fair game.

It's something I've wrestled with. The only half-hearted excuse I can offer is that most photo-blogging would cease to exist in its current form without showing (properly credited) photos. I've had some discussions with Doug Rickard on this and in fact it's probably time for a round-table blog-o-talk on this issue with other bloggers. Consider it in the works.

Droid said...

Yeah, I totally understand where you're coming from Blake and I also think you're a stand up guy and only altered them to make an important point. At least you credited the images and I can't think of why any of the photographers would mind since you are basically presenting them as important works. It's a tough decision on your part and I'm glad I don't have to make calls like that. I prefer being on the receiving end of blogs :)

Droid said...

PS I meant that I can't see why photographers would mind having their original work shown and credited - I'm not sure how they would feel about the alterations.

As for rules in the blogospehere, I think they should be treated the same as any other print media. Why reinvent the wheel?

Pornography in Trees said...

I've spent all day Content-Aware Filling myself from my parents newly digitalised photo album.

I feel safer already

PaweĊ‚ Piotrowski said...

In my opinion, the more "civilized" country is the more people see the photographer who takes pictures of kids is pedophile. This is a difficult thing, and I suspect that it will only get worse.

cacv12000 said...

Somehow I don't think Helen Levitt whom you used in your first example would be confused with a sexual predator. Therefore, she could photograph children all day with impunity.

Anonymous said...

What a dumb idea from the mothers of America. Stop watching action 9 news.

jophilippe said...

... Oh, one more thing that I missed. Aren't the 2 kids in picture #4 that of the photographer ?

Blake Andrews said...

Yes, those are Winogrand's kids. Photographing your own is one way to insure parents don't flip out on you.

John Kryven said...

Why not to leave bottles on Cartier-Bresson photo?
;)

Moopheus said...

I think you're on defensible ground here fair-use-wise; it strike me as a valid form of commentary that takes nothing away from the creators.

Also, I like the baby crib with no baby--gives it a bit of a Charles Addams edge.

Charlie Kirk said...

Blake - you are a genius.

Anonymous said...

Did you miss the joke behind this post? Or the lesson here - that the fear has overtaken common sense?

Tomasz Kulbowski said...

What? No 'improved' Sally Mann?? :)