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MonoMonday 172 "Le Regard Oblique" alt "Intention"


I am continuing this month's MonoMonday challenge exploring some of my favorite photographers.

For #MM172, I have chosen Robert Doisneau and his photo series entitled, Le Regard Oblique.


Antonyms of last week’s alternative theme Serendipity: composition, concept, design, intention, plan, purpose, scheme


Where last week’s theme F8 and be there was a somewhat technical approach to taking a picture and trying to be dynamic to capture a moment, this week's theme is slower and more intentional. In Doisneau’s Le Regard Oblique, he was posititioned hidden behind an art gallery window with a deliberate set-up to catch the people’s reactions looking in the window.


I have to admit I was turned on to Robert Doisneau by mistake. I had taken a quote from a Dennis Hopper photo book, which is a favorite of mine, and misattributed a quote instead belonging to Marcel Duchamp. I will tell you about it quickly as I found it interesting. Dennis quoted Marcel who had said that it is enough to point your fingers at something and that becomes art. A few of these “Readymade” objects slightly modified or just signed by Duchamp became symbols of the last century's art movement, like his signed urinal in 1917 “Fountain” or his graffiti on a cheap Mona Lisa reproduction with a goatee and mustache, signed L.H.O.O.Q.  Read phonetically in French sounds like, ”Elle a chaud au cul” meaning “she’s got a hot ass.”


Other than the obvious humour, the intent is interesting to correlate to photography in that we are often robbing pictures of something that isn’t ours and using them to our own interest or claiming them as art.  Sure, there is often a level of technical skill and setup, but the camera is doing most of the work. We just point and shoot. “Point your finger at it and that becomes art.” Duchamp didn’t create the urinal or the Mona Lisa per say. He just signed the urinal with his pseudonym “R. Mutt” and presented it as art. No credit given to the industrial designer who made it. The same with the famous Mona Lisa, making a joke of the most famous painting by Leonardo. I keep coming back to the mantra in any case as an excuse that I can hopefully make a worthy contribution in my photography if I stick to it.


There is a lot more to that story, but I will skip it and get back on track to Le Regard Oblique, a photo that has been thoroughly analyzed — or, overanalyzed. Le Regard Oblique, has been a fixture in sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis, and gender studies circles since it was taken by Robert Doisneau in 1948. I may even admit to having a copy on my wall in the office.


So, the challenge for #MM172 is to plan a photo and then take it. All the better if you can show that there was a deliberate plan. I am not holding you to make a Street photo though it would be my preference and to show an intentional look or gaze. IF that’s not your cup of tea, you can choose whatever genre you like. This will be a challenge again for me too as I tend to improvise ALWAYS. I sometimes have a loose goal of what I will expect to see when out walking and I may choose a few lenses to put in the bag depending on my mood, but I never have a set destination or specific photo I want to take.


To get the ball rolling after the example of Doisneau’s Le Regard Oblique:


I want to photograph somebody eating in the window of a diner. Where should I stand to take the picture?


I am curious to see the change in a person’s face going in then coming out of the church and to see if there is some expression like hope and happiness or desperation and sadness. Where should I stand and how should I draw there gaze to me?


The sun light is beautiful this morning. How can I show that? (city, countryside, where ever)


I want to show the perfection of the waves crashing on the beach. How is the best way to show that? (or the calmness)


Today is windy. How can I show that in a photo?


I can’t get out of the house today and the dogs are driving me crazy. What is it they are doing and can I convey that in a photo?


OK, so in a few minutes I was able to draw out a few ideas. After seeing the variety of pictures last week, I am sure you will have some great ideas depending where you live, the local culture or your mood for the day!


Please remember to tag your photos #MM172 so that I can be sure to find them.

Happy Blipping!!


A link about Robert Doisneau's Le Regard Oblique and a write up about the photographer.

Robert Doisneau photographed with his heart.  As a photographer Doisneau was part of a vivacious cultural scene in Paris with celebrities from the worlds of literature, art, poetry and film. He was impressed by Atget, Kertesz and Brassaï, photographers with an excellent eye for architecture and the city. His interest in popular culture, language, the suburb and the demi-monde he shared with famous writers and poets such as Blaise Cendrars and Jacques Prévert in particular. Together they roamed the 'banlieues' of Paris and made many tours of pubs, bistros and places like Les Halles. All his life Doisneau photographed life in the streets of Paris in a way that was as committed as it was poetic, with much attention for the human sides of life.

This humanist approach was enhanced by his commissions for Rapho, a photojournalistic agency highlighting individuals and their stories. Doiseau focused on the individual and showed great respect for the people he photographed. He did not refer to himself as one hunting for images, but rather as an angler: one who calmly bides his time until something turns up that is worth photographing. His style is sometimes called 'poetic realism', where atmosphere is as important as the clear photographic rendering of the scene he records. Robert Doisneau is the maker of one of the best-known and most favourite photos of the twentieth century, The Kiss at L'Hôtel de Ville of 1950. Through his innumerable publications and exhibitions he has contributed the most to our picture of French life of all French photographers.






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