ON THE GO: How Fluent Are You?

Normandy Beaches © Knut Skjærven

Normandy Beaches © Knut Skjærven

It is rather familiar. I am sure you already know what I am going to write about here but you may not have thought it through in terms of photography. In terms of street photography.

It goes like this: If you want to look good you need to make sure that you do. Going for a job interview you need to dress for the occasion. Going on a first date you dress to make a grande impression. Make sure you smell good too.

Much of the visual communication we entangle works on a latent, subliminal level. Like in a job interview, like at a first date. Even in the photographs we send off  into virtual space. You don’t want to send conflicting, ambiguous signals. You want to be fluent and precise in what you say.

The word goes that you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. Being fluent in what you do is important. Particularly for visual communication like photography. It is a question of doing the right things in the right order. Not too much and not too little. To the point of the occasion.

There are interesting research results that you might want to consider. In trying to sell recipes for food one of the promotions was executed with a lean and easy to read typeface. The other promotion used a typeface that was harder to read.

Not only was the second promotion easier to comprehend. It effected the evaluation of the product as well.

Does this translate to photography? I think it does. The less fluently you are as a photographer the harder your message will be to understand. There is more to it. The less likeable you will be as a communicator.

The takeaway from this might well be to pay more attention to what a) you shoot and b) how you shoot it. Make sure you limit the visual options and that you position each part in an orderly way to one another. Be articulate.

As I said, most of us already know this. The question is how well do we handle it on a day to day basis? When out taking pictures. I know, I don’t’ always live up to it. Then some afterthought will do well. To prepare you better for the next time.

Could it be that particularly in street photography all encounters with people are like job interviews? Like the first date with a stranger? You want to fit the occasion when you show your work publicly.

You give the answers. Make sure you are fluent about it. Occam would love it if you were.

If you want more on this, please search for fluency effect on Google. There are plenty.

Common sense will do as well.


Copenhagen, August 15, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven

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Itching Images: Two Of A Kind

Twin Sisters © Knut Skjærven

Twin Sisters © Knut Skjærven



By Two Of A Kind you should understand just that: Two of a kind.

I am sure the two are clearly recognisable. They are the two musicians playing.

You have two of a kind when you have two people, or objects, that are similar in terms of shape, movement, placement and size.

In this picture they even work in synchrony, which it the utmost execution of this theme you can get. The two musicians have the the same size, same shape, the same gestures and the same bodily positions.

You can modify the theme to also include combinations that are less identical than the two musicians in the picture.

Two Of A Kind is a theme under Gestalt Factor of Similarity.

© Knut Skjærven

Copenhagen. August 12, 2014

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ON THE GO: Top Down or Bottom Up?


A Second Look © Knut Skjærven

A Second Look © Knut Skjærven

Why New Street Agenda? It is a reasonable question.

Too many times are the word NEW used to create initial attention to an area. It is a term that works well and for that reason it is frequently used.

That said, you often find yourself dealing with minor changes and not anything dramatically new. Often you are disappointed. And with good reason.

In street photography, the idea New Street Agenda really gives you a different and a new view on things. So much that you can rightly speak of an old and now a new street agenda. It is a change of parameter that goes to the bottom of things.

Within science, including psychology, there are two basic ways. There is a Top Down way of doing things, and there is a Bottom Up orientation.

Don’t take these notions as a play with words. There really is a huge difference on the two ways of orientation. Top Down is based on a set of preconceived models. Bottom Up is based on a radical description of what you have in front of you. Like a photograph or a genre within photography.

In street photography Top Down would be the old way. Bottom Up will be the new way.

Top Down tries to explain matters and are modeled over ideals within natural sciences. Bottom Up tries to understand things and are modeled over ideals from human sciences.

New Street Agenda adds to this. We use a bit of both. We might well advocate Top Down orientations, but always suggests that Bottom Up orientations are accompanying them. Explanations have to be accompanied by understanding.

There will be much more about this but just let me make an example on the two different ways of thinking.

If you want to learn how to shoot like HCB or Robert Frank or Rene Burri or Vivian Maier or any other, you could create a checklist based on their ways of doing and shoot according to these checklists. That would be the a Top Down handling.

Or you could study how the same heroes use visual language and techniques to get a feel for and an understanding of how they work. That would be Bottom Up.

For people who want to study and learn street photograph to eventually create their own style, Top Down will not do it. Bottom Up is the way to go.

An eye on both would be even better because that further a dialog between the two.


Copenhagen, August 11, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven

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Itching Images: Plane Integration

The Reader © Knut Skjærven

The Reader © Knut Skjærven


By Plane Integration we understand a photograph in which two or more planes integrate.

In this shot, you will find two planes: a foreground plane and a background plane. The foreground plane is made up of the woman and the black chairs. The background plane is the CD’s covers.

To qualify as Plane Integration the link between the two has to be more than random. It has to be meaningful in a deliberate way. In this shot, the deliberate link is the repetition of the square pattern that you find in the CDs and the the woman’s blouse. Or for that matter, in the two black chair.

Plane Integration is a theme under Gestalt Factor of Similarity.

© Knut Skjærven
Copenhagen. August 10, 2014

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Itching Images: Intro to the New Version


Fernisage © Knut Skjærven

Fernissage © Knut Skjærven

Welcome to the new version of Itching Images.

Things have changed since the first series of Itching Images were launched at Street Photographers’s Toolbox more than two years ago.  Street Photographer’s Toolbox is now an integrated part of New Street Agenda. The two first workshops have been held in 2013 and 2014 and dates for the next are about to be set.

Not that any of the information on Street Photographers’s Toolbox are obsolete. The context has, however, changed. Now we have New Street Agenda, as the overall theme, and a few adjustments need to be made.

Instead of making adjustments to older posts I will develop, expand and renew the series of Itching Images right here.

As I do this definitions will be written to The Wordbook; there will be a special page on Itching Images as a submenu New Street Agenda in the page section above; and Itching Images will be integrated in future workshops; Personal Coach Program; and on the Facebook based New Street Agenda: The Academy.

This should make it more convenient for you. As well as for me.

This is the first post in the new series. It is the intro. To find all post on Itching Images in the future you could open the page Itching Images or click on category Itching Images.

Good luck with it.

By the way, the Personal Coach Program (PCP) will be ready at the end of August.

© Knut Skjærven
Copenhagen, August 10, 2014

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The Academy: August Challenge 2014

The Playground © Knut Skjærven

The Playground © Knut Skjærven


Even in this summer heat, let’s keep our heads cool and reset the July challenge for the rest of August.

From today (August 7) you need to present a well balanced shot The Erwitt Way. Meaning INCLUDING A DOG.

It has to be shot in August 2014. No oldies please since it is part of the challenge that you shoot anew.

Before you shoot and post, please observe the following:

1) Read the original July briefing which now is here:https://knutskjaervenvisuals.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/the-academy-july-challenge-2014/

2) Make sure that people, and there best friends, are the bearing element.

3) Be ARTICULATE and have good size and clearance on each major element in your image.

4) Don’t crawl in the corners for only yourself to see.

5) Do your very best, please.

6) Make sure that your shot is in visual balance.

7) Read The Wordbook or search the internet if you need to:

Remember that this group can only exist if you engage both in posting fine, relevant images and have an opinion on others.

Good luck with it.

Copenhagen, August 7, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

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