5 min read

Deviation Actions

myraincheck's avatar
"It is important to take bad pictures" (Diane Arbus)

This is the beginning of an interesting book by Clément Chéroux,  Fautographie : petite histoire de l'erreur photographique (I don't know if the book was translated in english, I couldn't find it on the net, but the title should sound like Failography: a brief history of the photographic error). 
Amongst the biggest 'mistakers' of photography, the book mentions and comments the works of many famous photographers: Man Ray, Lisette Model, Lee Friedlander, Ugo Mulas, Andreé Kertész, Lartigue.
Many are the anecdotes and the interesting discoveries, for example the story of a big national contest in France, in 1991, entitled 'Fautographie' (fail photography), a contest that had a big success, with thousands of entries and famous editors and critics working on decoding the case of the photographic error. 
According to Chéroux what is commonly considered a 'photographic error' - the transgression of the dogma of photography, of the aesthetic codes prevailing in a certain historical moment - actually is the lifeblood of the photography evolution. A technical malfunction, accidents, a wrong angle, framing or focus, a wrong shutter speed or exposure, a distorted or unusual use of shadows, reflections or blur, can become the mould for invention and innovation, the discovery of new expressive potentialities of the medium, avant-garde of art, new directions and evolution. The photography errors are unexpected variations of the photographic parameters.
To Moholy-Nagy the error is an endless way to explore the medium and discover new and different ways to represent the world, to Man Ray, it is a way to lose yourself to chance, and let new visual forms and new subject come to life. 

Achille-Quinet, Etude-d'apres-nature

There even are photography books collecting rejected and not paid film rolls, photos that photo labs considered irreparably wrong. Nino Migliori collected them in his 'La ruota delle fotografie orfane' (the wheel of the orphaned photographs). They can indeed appear disappointing to the client of the photo lab, blurred images, crowded compositions, under or over exposures, cut heads, red eyes, clumsy frames etc.) and it is understandable that nobody wanted to take them and pay for them. 

To Nino Migliori these same images instead are images on which the watcher can project stories, meanings, sense. 

Jaques-Henri-Lartigue, Une-Th.-Schneider-au-Grand-Prix-de-l'Automobile-Club-de-France, - 1913.

The Th. Schneider n.6 by Maurice Croquet at full speed, photographed by Jaques-Henri Lartigue was once judged a failure: an amputee, deformed, distorted car. This same image became a symbol of  dynamism and speed for the Futurist movement.

In the early 1900s reflections were considered annoying inconveniences, but they soon became ways to dishevel the normal perceptions. 

Lisette Model, Premier reflect, New York ,1939-40 


Lee Friedlander was one of the first photographers who added with constance and intention his own self-portraits in his images, through his shadow or reflection.

Lee Friedlander

This instead was a fashion service by Tim Walker titled 'Amateur Photographer in London', a collection of strange photographs and an ironic list of advices such as 'consider composition' and 'beware of cars passing subject'.

    Tim Walker, double page on Vogue, Italy, 1991

    The cover of 'End of an Age' by Paul Graham features the dreaded 'red eye' that our digital cameras desperately try to avoid with their red-eye reduction features.

    Paul Graham

    A blurred, out of focus, weirdly cropped image can offer freedom of interpretation to the viewer, it becomes sometimes a sort of Rorschach test, ambiguous designs that become projective tests. The more a photograph is vague and open to interpretation, the more it suggests a personal, intimate interpretation, the more it requires the viewer's imagination. 

    "There are no wrong photos"

    Resources for photos and text:……

A little selection of experimental street photos from dA:

Street Scene - Copenhagen by thelizardking25

street_127 by pivan

street_122 by pivan

Phantomcity 02 by Elerko

moths by SimonSawSunlight

Sunday afternoon on the lake by StephanePellennec

hidding by ferg3110

Watched by djailledie

123 by felixlu

P.S. Don't forget to enter the monthly challenge at :iconthe-yard-collective: ! The theme is 'camouflage', a difficult one this time. Old and new photos are allowed, as many as you want. Just add them to the favorite collection of the group. Have fun!
© 2014 - 2021 myraincheck
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
JACAC's avatar
i n t e r e s t i n g
pivan's avatar
Thank you, Mary!
NunoFigueira's avatar
great journal, very interesting one...and thank you for feature my shot ;)
catluvr2's avatar
These are not pipes.
And I'm grateful for that.
Also, "fauxtography". Gotta love puns.
PatrickMonnier's avatar
Finally I can contribute to a journal!!!

Great article but I think one very important aspect of Failography is for the photographer to be able to recognize one of his/her creations as a failure. 

Too often, the emotional baggage that accompanies capturing a moment blinds the photographer and strips him/her of an objective assessment. 

Last, I think that sometimes a great image is one that is ever close to being a complete failure. One particular photographer that represents this is Martin Parr... A true genius, in my books!
myraincheck's avatar
A street photo is always on the edge of failure, it happens in an instant, it lasts for an instant, the ratio between good and bad photos is depressing. And most of the mistakes are simply missed opportunities, photos that are 'almost there' but not there. The genius mistakes are rare. It takes vision and sensitivity not only to take good photos but also to recognize what is a 'good' 'bad photo' :D
You are right on the emotional baggage. It is not easy to accept that what is dear to us is not understood or appreciated by others. But self criticism, and the capacity to accept and give thought to critiques is important to improve. We should be humble enough to recognize that we don't know everything, and that a critique we don't accept today, we can find it true and honest tomorrow... 
Greeneyedleopard's avatar
I saw this article this morning, but had no time to read it. Finally got to reading it after wanting to all day. The wait was worth it! :) Fantastic article! Reminded me to check my photos for hidden treasures before deleting them :)
myraincheck's avatar
thank you for reading!
Greeneyedleopard's avatar
aegiandyad's avatar
My main entry for this category has to be 'That Awkward Pigeon Moment' That Awkward Pigeon Moment by aegiandyad which is about as bad as slipshod photography with a superior camera gets.
myraincheck's avatar
haha! thank you!
StephanePellennec's avatar
Thanks a lot! I was afraid, considering the name of the journal. But it is a nice and interesting journal and it is an honor to find my photograph in such a good company!
myraincheck's avatar
:D these 'failures' I featured are strokes of genius! Thank you for reading :hug:
Karolusdiversion's avatar
Often errors cause surprising results. It's up to us to look at them with eyes uninhibited.
Incidentally, even God made ​​a mistake as he was shaping a clay statue.
Inadvertently he blew on it... so mankind was created! ...oh my...
arslanalp's avatar
myraincheck's avatar
ActiveShooter's avatar
You sure write fascinating journals Mary! :clap:
myraincheck's avatar
thank you for reading!
IrynaFedorovska's avatar
sometimes wrong is right :D
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In