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January 24, 2020 1:22 PM   Subscribe

EarthsWorld takes candid portraits of people at public events, mostly in the US pacific northwest. (via)
posted by eotvos (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Portlandia is definitely a particular slice of life.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:41 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


As a Portlander, I’ve gotta say that these really squick me out. I’m not sure if the quality photo work really justifies the lol-deep-SE/Gresham/Couv vibe.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:52 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Where does it say that all of the people consented to be displayed like this? I'm pretty sure just showing up at an event shouldn't/doesn't equal consent, unless we're trying to discourage people from showing up at things.
posted by bleep at 2:03 PM on January 24 [22 favorites]


The "About Earth" page is quite annoying

I'm pretty sure just showing up at an event shouldn't/doesn't equal consent
Well, my understanding is that you have no expectation of privacy in a public space. Maybe some law-talking Mefites know if there is case law about someone trying to prevent publication of photographs of themselves in public, I dunno.
posted by thelonius at 2:11 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


That's true, then it may just be that I don't find it respectful especially in the midst of creeping fascism.
posted by bleep at 2:13 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]




So, anyone have any thoughts they’re interested in sharing regarding what separates this from People of Walmart? I’m having a hard time identifying any real voice to these photos aside from the urge to assign significance to “earthy” individuals.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:23 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


The thesis is that people still like mullets.
posted by bleep at 3:28 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


The several shots of one guy’s braided rat tail/topknot thing pushed me into feeling like the tone was a bit mocking. Most of them aren’t even that good it’s just “make sure you see this shit from ALL angles!?)$”

Also most of the folks are posted in unflattering expressions and light. Surely a skilled photographer could take candid photos that their subjects would like? I don’t think many of the people would say “that’s a nice photo of me”.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:24 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


My first thought was, "Here I am, people-watching from home." You don't even have to go outside for that anymore.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 4:25 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


> Well, my understanding is that you have no expectation of privacy in a public space.

Legally, sure, but that doesn't make this a good project. You know most of these people would not want these photos posted to the Internet; they're frowning, their clothes are rumpled, they're preoccupied.

It says it's "Adventures in People Watching" but it isn't just people watching -- one of my favorite hobbies! -- it's People Photographing. There's no benefit in these photos being published to anyone other than the photographer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:51 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


This seems like less of the "photographers appraising eye" and more of the "photographers dismissive eye".
posted by aramaic at 4:56 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


I'm fascinated that I have such a different experience looking at these pictures than the other commenters. I just see people, and they all have problems, and style, and poise, and lives. And they are so blisteringly uniquely themselves. People are amazing.

I think that one must bring their own derision to the photos; I don't think it's inherent.
posted by pol at 5:22 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


People are pretty amazing, and it is fascinating to see so many. But I am with many other commenters here in feeling like certain choices, like multiple angles on a mullet, seem to be deliberately mocking. There doesn’t seem to be anything indicating otherwise, so it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this photographer doesn’t have the empathy required to do a project like this successfully and respectfully.
posted by snofoam at 5:38 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I think that one must bring their own derision to the photos; I don't think it's inherent.

In turn, your take is oddly derisive.

It seems reasonable to me that a project that features curated pictures taken of people without their permission should be allowed to be criticized without your shaming 'tude, dude.
posted by jeremias at 5:42 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


NB: I was featured in WWeek’s best of Portland for “Best Use of Irony as a Fashion Statement” for having a mullet and mustache on purpose in 2000/2001.
posted by snofoam at 5:44 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


It seems reasonable to me that a project that features curated pictures taken of people without their permission should be allowed to be criticized without your shaming 'tude, dude.

Yeah, this is not the unedited output of a trail camera set up at a randomly determined time and place. There are all kinds of decisions made by the creator of this and they are totally fair game for discussion.
posted by snofoam at 5:50 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


It may be legal. But this presentation feels awfully rude.
posted by Quackles at 6:23 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


The photographer is demonstrating derision by not thinking they're powerful enough to need to bother with getting permission to display these photos. Somebody he thought was more powerful than himself could threaten him with legal action that even if he won would be expensive. But by not telling us he got their consent he's demonstrating that he thinks he's ok if they threaten him.
posted by bleep at 7:07 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Either that or that the thought of asking didn't even cross his mind, which is somehow worse.
posted by bleep at 7:09 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Only if you don't like mullets? I don't know that there is a bright shining line between three angles of "look at this thing which is ridiculous" and "look at this thing which is beautiful". Maybe with commentary or something it would be clearly offensive or mocking, but here I'm not so sure.

I don't know, it makes me feel complicated things, which I appreciate. And I don't normally get out amongst people as much as I should, I am reminded of just how many shapes my neighbors come in.
posted by pol at 7:10 PM on January 24


pol, I’m not sure where you’re from, but many of these subjects are my neighbors in a very literal sense. I’ve attended more than one of these events. I suspect you might be missing just how curated these photos are. And there’s nothing wrong with curation, but if you feel that this curation isn’t saying something negative about the subjects, I’d love to hear what you think it is saying, because curation always speaks.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:26 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


I'm from rural Montana, and currently live in rural northeast (my town has a population of 700 people). The pictures are certainly curated, as is any set of published media. I am not confident that I can impute any motivation into the collection other that one of "the photographer finds these pictures to be of interest."

I think it is also interesting that I have no real sense of the photographer and their gaze, other than that they seem to focus on faces and interesting hair? I am not a photographer or artist, so it is possible that I am missing a very real transgression that is just going over my head (totally possible, given the responses here and how differently I reacted to the photos).

I don't go to these events often (the closest thing might have been a county fair a few months ago), and when I do I am with my family and juggling kids and so I don't get much time to just watch. So, I can't tell how curated this is, more than to say: I have certainly seen people that look like these people, but I haven't spent more than a few moments looking at them (other than my family, some of whom would fit right in here). It is interesting to see the application of makeup, hair styles, tattoos, etc. To see their hands sometimes and the marks that their life has left on their skin, posture, and expression.

It's true that I would be uncomfortable to spend this kind of time and attention looking at these folks in person, I think my staring would probably cause offense, be interpreted as rude, and I would be too afraid to do it. That alone might be enough to say that this collection is inappropriate? I don't know. I have enjoyed nature pictures of things that probably would have been better left undisturbed. The inherent voyeurism in this kind of art is uncomfortable. But that's a different thing than saying that the selection or curation is offensive by what is chosen and what isn't.

I just kept mumbling under my breath "that's amazing" or "that's beautiful" and imagining the history that led up to the moment of the photo. If the intent is that this is supposed to be mocking or derisive, then I am not at all on board. And maybe I'm just missing the point. I do that a lot (and I come to different conclusions about things than other people a lot, sometimes to my detriment!).

Anyway, my first instinct was to push back on the sense that this was inappropriate because these pictures are ugly and finger-pointy. That at least one person who looked at them saw something different. I have weird aesthetics and find beauty in strange places. But also, this could leave me vulnerable to missing offensive social signals/dogwhistles. If that's happening here (and I think that's what people are getting at?) then I should probably just trust that I am not getting it and not lend my voice/attention/energy to something that is hurting people.

I certainly don't want to hurt anyone.
posted by pol at 8:10 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I dunno, if these photos are intended to make me want to snicker at the people in the photos, I'm not getting it either. I thought this was a curated collection of interesting looking people, with the average-looking people curated out of the collection. (I guess it's worth mentioning that I used to have a mullet like 5 years ago and I think it's a cool hairstyle.)
posted by 23skidoo at 9:07 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


So, anyone have any thoughts they’re interested in sharing regarding what separates this from People of Walmart?

Sure. For me, what differentiates this from People of Walmart is 1) People of Walmart photos have captions, 2) users can leave comments on People of Walmart photos, and 3) People of Walmart photos have a voting system. Those three things (imo) encourage people to make captions that make fun of the subjects, and to leave comments that make fun of the subjects. EarthsWorld doesn't seem to have those three things on their website, and if you check out their fb page, it doesn't seem like there's a "People of Walmart" vibe.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:32 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Not loving the photos, and this is the first MeFi post I've ever seen get 25 comments and no favorites. It's like the MetaFilter version of getting ratioed on Twitter.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:59 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I think most people may be over-analyzing what are after all some superb 'slices of life'. There is a lot of beauty here and moments captured. The photographer is capturing life as far as I can see. No other intent...

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed

Perhaps the discussion should be cast more towards the intent of other parties/actors using facial recognition when capturing peoples likeness in public spaces. Now that does warrant debate and the expression of wrath.
posted by IndelibleUnderpants at 11:25 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


There are millions of things to take photos of outdoors that aren't people.
posted by tommasz at 5:11 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


And that aren’t people who are eating, or whose clothes are dirty, or who are squinting into the sun.

I have a friend who has facial deformities and she gets stopped by “artists” when she’s just out trying to live her life. They want to take her photo or do a character sketch. This feels too close to that. It’s all about the photographer’s desires and not at all about the subject’s.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:48 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


These are great. I did this at Darlington when I was there for a race a couple of times.
posted by zzazazz at 6:25 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I love the images. But I noticed the consistent cyan-magenta colour grading after a while and now I can't un-see it. Surely colour is essential to exploring the uniqueness of each person. Or is that the comment, that they're all supposed to look the same?
posted by CaseyB at 7:07 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. The shots seem poorly framed and lacking a point of view. There's no action or dynamism in the composition of the stills, no narrative in the sets and they don't work individually as portraits either - I don't get any sense of understanding, empathy or even curiosity on the part of the photographer.

What was it they were compelled to capture, is there a back story anywhere?
posted by freya_lamb at 12:42 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


As the person who posted this, the comments have been really interesting and humbling.

I was a bit hesitant to post it, because of the obvious privacy issues. (I'm convinced you have a right to take photos in public. I'm not sure you should.) The 10% of subjects who are clearly giving a "why the fuck are you taking my photo" look to the camera isn't great. That the artist doesn't post their own photo on their bio seems sketchy as hell.

But, for what it's worth, I became interested in this not because I found it funny, but because I thought 5% of the photos were beautiful and unlike most portraiture. To me, it still looks more like Nan Goldman or Merlin Bronques than People of Wallmart, but, I recognize that there's clearly context I overlooked. (The explicit consent of the subjects is a big deal. If everyone signed off afterward, would this be okay? My temptation is to say yes.) The take home lesson, for me, is "if you hesitate to post something 'cause bits of it seems unkind, you probably shouldn't."

Sorry, and thanks.
posted by eotvos at 7:50 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed these, thanks for posting! When art doesn't provide context, people sometimes bring their own baggage to it and then blame the artist.
posted by Kwine at 11:09 PM on January 25


When a MeFite disagrees with other MeFites on the topic of a post, they sometimes bring their own baggage to it and then make a thinly-veiled passive-aggressive comment.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:41 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


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