Help! I like Dirty Pictures! – By Alex Kreisman

By Alex Kreisman

Yes I do! But maybe not in the way you might think! A couple of years ago, I had the privilege  to post an essay on one of my visits to an extermination camp in these very pages. I reviewed the article today and felt grateful  to find new heartwarming  comments that are heartwarming. I thank all of the people who actually took the time the post a comment. Thank you guys!

This visit actually had a profound effect on my photography. After that I wasn’t interested in sharing pictures that I thought were meaningless. I no longer considered myself as a street photographer, just some sort of documentary photographer that records parts of history as I see it around me. That led to even less street photography and a big questioning on my part of what i wanted to shoot.  The answer in the end was evident: I wanted to provoke a reaction! Call it story telling, emotional photography, whatever you like. When you look at one of my pictures I want you to feel something; whether it is something that takes you back to a memory, something that inspires some images in your head, something that provoke an emotion, etc…

And so to the dirty pictures, I found out that I liked low light pictures of people pleasing themselves! Sounds Dirty? I assure you it is not!

Thanks to a dear friend, I was introduce in the circle of small café in Luxembourg and found a community of fantastic musicians (most of them amateur)  that just wants to have fun (thank you Cindy!) And thus we are getting to my Dirty Pictures theme: end of film, motion blur, blown highlight, flare and so on…

When you enter this world and that you commit to photography it, you first have to learn a lot of technical aspects and make the right choices

  • you need to focus quickly
  • frame even more quickly
  • see/understand the light (for smaller lighting is difficult and you can loose a stop on the same small stage) and react to it
  • being prepped for what will be coming next, especially with musicians that are all over the place at once
  • recognise that something is going to happen and be ready to shoot it
  • look around you as sometimes people in your surroundings are more interesting  than the ones on the scene

There are a lot more but this is just to give you an idea.

I did learn to focus quickly some years ago, but doing it in a split second adding the framing and shooting at the right moment is something completely different – not to mention the dim light adding some difficulties too.

Welcome in the world of music photography! And what A world it is! There are myriad of ways to shoot scene. I have even seen people using flashes – though I’m not sure what good this does in such big environments…? But, the main point here is that it’s very enjoyable to meet people, see how they do what they do and adapt your style to that environment.

For me, that style, or at least method of shooting has changed over the time too. At first I went for 1600 ISO, f/2 and depending on the lighting 125th or 60th of a sec.  Developed with D76 gave me some great results. Very gritty, good contrast, but still it wasn’t pleasing to my eye. I do not like the rendering of  digital which is in my opinion far to clean, but I like to recognise a portrait. So after 2 years shooting only 1600 I went for 400 ISO f/2, and now I’m shooting between 1/8th and 1/30th of a sec, of course hand held. It’s something I’d encourage anyone to try as it does not come naturally and is a talent that needs to be honed!

I’m also a bloody perfectionist and love to make it more challenging thus shooting only rangefinders, of course everything manual, and that’s where it starts to be tricky. Following some of the artist at such low speed gives you more rejects and motion blur, but, in all of that, from times to time you get a keeper that’s all the more satisfying. And the more you practice, the more you get interesting results.

So yes, I like Dirty Pictures; shots from the end of the roll, motion blur, blown highlight, flare and so on

End of the roll (I’m actually trying to get a series out of it )





But Sometimes, you just get the one that isn’t (or not that much)

Then you get results that for me let you see how much they do care and enjoy what they are doing


How much pleasure they can have in life and me when the shot is right ????











So, now tell me; do you like Dirty Pictures ?

I hope you liked these

For information all these pictures where shot on hp5 developed in d76 stock and scanned with a plustek. All shot on various Leica M cameras with 35,50 and 75mm lenses at f/2 and between 1/15th and 1/30th


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Jalan on Help! I like Dirty Pictures! – By Alex Kreisman

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Thanks for the "dirty" pictures Alex. I think a lot of photographers start out loving the experience of photography and the "story" of the pictures. Then they learn the mechanics of the process. Somewhere along the line many get seduced by the mechanics - the gear and the technology - and they forget about the love of life and story in the pictures. I like your place of knowing enough of the mechanics and equipment so that you can get the story you want; but the dirty picture story is the point! Bravo!

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Alex Kreisman replied:

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Merci! Indeed Jalan, it is difficult once you begining to understands the technics to keep the "artistical vision" but it is possible and I wish for all who master enough the technical side to find their style and to not loose the artistic sense of photography. Enjoy shooting ;o) Alex


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Peter Roberts on Help! I like Dirty Pictures! – By Alex Kreisman

Comment posted: 22/03/2023

Great photos Alex. They ooze the atmosphere of the time and place.
A bit of blur and flare? Who cares? That's what makes them impressionistic in the true sense of the word.
I can relate to the concept of the "end of the roll" and sometimes find it's that magical 37th frame, often taken quickly and without a lot of premeditation, that produces the best image of the roll.
Long live the tail end Charlies!

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