The Picture That Changes Everything: the Pleasant Madness of Street-Photography part 3

3: There Is No Reason To Hide

There’s an argument to be made that perhaps remaining childishly narcissistic could grant someone a more blissful life than an empathic one. Perhaps, but it seems like such a meaningless story. Even the greatest stories about loners are about their relationships to people in the past: people they have lost, relationships they have ruined, people they fell in love with, people they watch from a distance. There’s the need for connection, even if you think you don’t need anybody. I can’t decide whether I’m a real loner or not. I guess I’m not. I might be extremely misanthropic but I love too many people. All the enjoyable times spend with myself pales in comparison to the happiness I feel when I’m with my girlfriend. It’s how she holds me, looks at me, kisses me, it’s the way she says good-morning with those loving eyes. Watching films by myself is never as much fun when you are watching it with someone else. I love watching their reactions during a sudden shocking or humorous moment. I would have seen a film already and I would just wait until that scene just so I can see how they react. People can be so wonderfully goofy. Hell might be other people but so heaven. It’s good to love people, to feel that some are more important than others. It’s good to love someone so much, you’re willing to die for this person.
But in order to be good at any art form, you have to spend a lot of times with yours truly. There will be great big parties which you will have excuse yourself from because you need to work on your craft. I’m not saying I’m some brilliant writer, but I certainly got better by practicing. You need to learn to be alone, you need to find ways to express yourself through your art. This takes time, this takes loneliness.
It can take a toll sometimes, as it did with me. I went too far in my loneliness. There was a short but destructive period in my life in which I felt compelled to use drugs to inspire my writing. Writing would enhance your high. You write something good, you feel extra good about yourself. You feel like you just tapped into something, like a hidden secret. You feel a greater connection to the universe, you feel like you finally did something worthwhile.
As you can expect, most of my writing then was shit and drugs became less tools for inspiration and more habitual forming, until they became a huge problem. When I finally quit, it took months, maybe even longer, to get me out of this funk. The damage is often times far greater for the mind than the body. I’m better now but when I look back at it, I do feel sympathy for those who never managed to escape the spiral. If you don’t get out in time, you might get stuck for a long time. It’s so easy for good and beautiful people to slip into this cycle of self-destruction, all it takes is a few wrong choices.
But it only takes one good decision- with fierce determination- to get yourself out of it. If I can, so can anybody else- which isn’t really true, but it sounds hopeful doesn’t it?
It’s the loners, the desperate, the lost that interest me most not only in writing but in photography. It’s easy to spot them, you only have to pay attention. They don’t like to be photographed, when they see you aiming a camera for them, they quickly put their head down, they pretend not to feel any shame when somebody sees them for who they are. The beggars don’t like it, to them it often feels like exploitation. The junkies don’t like it, to them it often feels like you’re making fun of them. But it’s not only those inside skid-row, those in shabby clothing and plastic bags. The Lost are everywhere, in every social-group and every class-group. It’s just that one is less obvious than the other. Sometimes I spot them, you can see them lost in thought, dealing with some grievance, some heart break. When you do you have to quickly move on, pretend you just made a random picture and you weren’t targeting them. They will get angry if you did. They don’t want to be seen. Everybody wants to hide. They look away because the pictures tells the truth.
So you need to chose a distance, you need to be quick. This sounds simple but it isn’t. You need to have an eye for composition, to chose the right angle and all in seconds. There’s not much time to think. If you think one second too long, the shot is lost. You will only get a glimpse but the glimpse is everything. You will never know what they are thinking, but you know that whatever is on their mind, it means everything to them. It’s destroying them, it’s taking their soul hostage. To imagine what goes on through their mind; a lost spouse, financial troubles, desire, paranoia, even boredom can be fascinating.
I am not taking pictures of them because I’m mocking them or I feel better than them. I do it because I am them. Even if I have escaped this feeling now, I can only go back to it. I could have easily stayed in that moment. I could have been one of them at moment. It’s so easy to get lost in this world, too easy in fact. To me, only art can make it meaningful. Only art can make this suffering means something. I guess this is also a reason of why I take pictures on the streets, preferably in the city because they have so much more to offer. If you live in a secluded rural town, you might only see the regular ones. The smaller you make your world, the less complicated it becomes. But if you live in a big city, where on a regular stroll you might walk pass tens or even hundreds of people, you can see them everywhere, they are on display. They think they can hide among the great mass of people and they can, just not to street-photographers.
We see them, we make a picture, we move on. We hope we did it well because we can give meaning to them. You might never see the picture but we will cherish it because you have become so beautiful to us. If you only knew how beautiful we think you were, you wouldn’t feel like you had to hide. You would smile at the camera.

Picture belongs to Tom Plevnik, https://tomplevnik.wordpress.com/ 

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The Picture That Changes Everything: the Pleasant Madness of Street-Photography part 1

This article was supposed to be a simple one: an interview with Tom Plevnik, a street-photographer whose work I’ve admired. While this essesntial component is still there, I felt compelled to go a different route. I think I know where I’m going, but let’s see if I get there. 
This will be part one, other parts will follow. I can’t tell you how many parts. I’m curious to find this out myself.  
I hope you’ll bear with me and enjoy the ride… 
Pictures attached to this part of the article and subsequent ones belong to Tom Plevnik, whose work is on display on:  https://tomplevnik.wordpress.com/

1: The Most Deluded Tale of All

Once you become aware of the enormity of human drama outside your own, it changes everything.
It wasn’t always like this. It used to be different. The world used to be so small. When you were a child, everything revolved around you. Your story was the only one that matters. This universe was created to inhabit your being. The people outside your existence were doing everything they could, if you were lucky that is, to make you feel comfortable. This was their purpose: they were teachers, providers, set-design. There are the important supporting roles- your parents, teachers, friends- and the bit players, merely faces to add atmosphere to your life. And all you want to do is play in this giant playground which belongs to you alone…
If you’re lucky, you’ll break free from this. This narcissistic delusion, the gentle kind, the one filled with childlike innocence is not supposed to sustain. We don’t want to become the subject of the most deluded tale of all: the one about the prisoner inside us, the one that never breaks free. You must wake up one day. You must begin to understand that you’re just one of many, another spawn of the thousand year lineage of the human animal. There’s nothing special about you. You’re just as important and insignificant as all the others.
And though this reality has a lot of drawbacks, sometimes it seems unnaturally harsh, sometimes you experience suffering of such magnitude that you could never have comprehended. And you can’t go back. There is no way. Once childhood is gone, it’s gone forever. You’re a lame adult now, get used to it.
This reality belongs to you now. If you hate it so much, you can always leave. It’s not that hard to leave. People leave this world by their own volition all the time. I thought about it lots of times but I could never do it. There was too much promise in the sad adult life.
On my way, the train suddenly stopped. It sat still for about twenty minutes and people naturally got agitated. Looking out the window, I saw the conductor walking next to a teenage boy, probably not older than sixteen. The kid was jabbering away, you could see he had been crying. The conductor called some people, the kid was picked up. The conductor told us why we stopped. Tell you the truth, I started complaining about coming home late.
A young boy shouldn’t want to leave this world, to have the urge to jump in front of a train in the middle of the day. If the young boy remained that child who owned the world, this would probably never happen. There are no catchers in the rye, the kids always slip through.
I felt bad about complaining about my day after this incident. It was selfish but also human. Most of the time we don’t pay attention or even care about the enormous human drama around us. There are people chasing dreams, people getting lost in their madness, people planning their own demise. If the boy had successfully killed himself, his death would probably not have been on the news. This is to avoid copycats. It would be another example of human drama fading away. Family members would talk about him, there would be guilt passed down to both parents, they would wonder why they couldn’t see it….
I wish we could all see it before it’s too late. But the dark truth of the matter, is that most of the time, we aren’t even looking. And we have to look, we can miss so much. We can’t catch them as they pass through the rye, but I believe that if we watch out and reach out when we see them slipping away. that we can catch them before they start jumping in front of trains.

Picture belongs to Tom Plevnik

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Trauma is a Private Wasteland

”Let me tell you something about being traumatized. Being traumatized is like living in a different world. It’s your own private wasteland, it’s filled with your ghosts. It’s lonely in there but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You don’t want to be there but you have no choice. There’s the memory, you’re not allowed to forget. You can only dilute it. Get yourself so fucked up you might forget about it for a few moments. You have to understand that your tragedy wants company. It seduces with salvation but there’s nothing in there. But your tragedy, this parasitic meme, cannot sustain if it doesn’t get your mindful energy. It needs you to live. It tells you: ‘come inside, we don’t have an answer but I can make your pain go away- if only for a moment. You can hide in there.
So you go inside and wreck the world around you. No matter how many people you invite to this wasteland, none of them will be able to find it. It’s because this world belongs to you, its your unwanted creation….This wasteland is the only place that feels real. Cos none of this, all of this around us, none of it feels real. You don’t feel real to me cos you don’t live inside my world. Your trauma is always there to crash the party. It taints everything. It keeps coming back for you. And you need it. Life doesn’t make sense without it. This is what being traumatized is. It’s a fucking shit-show. But it’s my fucking shit-show…”

Picture taken in Groningen, Holland. 

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Lunch on Saturday

”Look I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where I’m supposed to go. I haven’t known these things for so many years, I can’t even count them anymore. It used to be simple, everything seemed so simple. But that was never meant to last…
Sometimes I wonder if we were ever supposed to get this old. All we are doing is passing time. That’s it. I don’t care where we eat. You decide.”


Picture taken in Groningen, Holland.

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Somewhere Else

I’m not really here. All I want to be is to be present, right here, with you. But I can’t. I tried. I just keep going back. Every time I think I’m on my way back, I realize I haven’t moved an inch. At times It’s worse when I’m with other people. They tried to make me feel like I’m part of them and I pretend I am, but I quickly realize this is impossible. The people are here. They flutter now and then but most of them stay where they need to be. They stay in this world. I’m trapped in my own world, I created it without my blessing. I just wish I could be here. I wish I could feel like I should, like you deserve. I wish I could experience joy without this nagging feeling that things are not alright. This consciousness knowledge that the moment is lost. You can never experience it fully. Things are not alright and they will never be alright. It happens to people sometimes. Along the way something happens to them or they make a mistake and it damages them for life. Sometimes they just happen to be born with it. This alienation was always there, it just needed time to grow….
 I just wish I was more like you. The things I could do if I was more like you. Maybe someday you’ll teach me. Maybe someday you’ll make me dream it’s possible. The people can escape hell when they fool themselves its possible. I like that idea. I like that idea a lot.”

Photograph taken in Katowice, Poland.

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Our Disease 20

Kill the Bug

It was a beautiful dream. It was a dream full of angels. He had a sudden mission in life: to return to the world and save mankind from the bugs eating their brain. If he did this, they would come for him. He would be allowed to live among them, in the place that followed the promises of his country, promises he had heard about since he was a child at school. Promises that were broken again and again.
There was a preacher, an old friend who he could never say goodbye to, his mother, the lover that would one day find him, there was the demon that turned out to be an angel. There was no fear, we conquered it. We were ourselves, we were free to explore our eccentricities, it would be explored on paper. So many people were lost in the old world, now we found each other and made sure nobody got lost. Everyone was welcome, the tired as well as the poor. If we could only see ourselves for who we are, if we weren’t so afraid, this world could be ours.
He had asked the angels what he was supposed to do.
They told him to watch for the sign, you would understand then. Everything would be clear.
But you must go all the way, it’s the only way to escape this world. The only way to escape this prison.
Reality is the dream, all you have to do is wake up and pull the trigger.
Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania david lynch i fight with myself
Art by David Lynch

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