Richard Nagler’s photographing methods can be characterized in multiple ways. Whether he was seeking a staged photo or natural photo, he was always pursuing the “perfect picture”(Gautier). Nagler experimented with taking photos from afar as well as up close and personal. Nagler’s focus in his photos is on the elderly. He gets very close to his subjects, and many times has conversations with them before taking their photos.
Richard Nagler starts his photo book with a photo of two women talking over a meal(above). This photo was chosen by Nagler because it sets the theme for the rest of the book. Nagler discovers that the people living in Miami Beach highly valued interactions and intimacy with each over almost anything, much like the Jews that liven in the Europen Shtetles valued family and community. Many of Nagler’s photos are of people interacting on many different levels; whether they are talking to each other, kissing each other, or even sitting next to each other, there was always an importance on human interaction.
Nagler’s interest with street words is apparent in his photographs. Many of his photographs are of single words or phrases he passed by on the street. Nagler has a few word photos in this photo book, but his main interest is the people on the street and not the words. For Nagler, there was much to see in the interaction between humans and their environments, “I decided to try to find other situations where a single person and a single word came together at an exact instant to give us insight into the human experience in the environment of the street”(Gautier).
Intimacy is also a significant aspect in Nagler’s photographs. Staged or not, photographs take up close and from far of people showing intimacy with someone or something. In his photo book, there are many photos of people either enjoying the company of others through conversation, through physical contact, or quietly enjoying their surroundings. In “My Love Affairs with Miami Beach”, happiness is a continuous theme. We truly see the connection the residents of Miami Beach had with their city.
Captured from far, here is a couple sharing an intimate moment
Again from far, this old lady is having a intimate moment different from the lover’s in the background. While they are enjoying each other, she is simply enjoying the calmness of the outdoors.
Joyful Action Photos
Nagler strives to show the lively side of the elderly. In Miami Beach, the elderly people portray a sense of joyfulness and activity that is usually associated with the young. They sing, they dance, they love; The elderly break the stereotypes that are formed around them. The cover of the book portrays an elderly lady mid dance. Nagler tilts to camera, giving the shot a less formal and more playful feel. It was not common to see the elderly in this way, and it certainly does not match our perception of Shtetl life.
Nagler takes his photos from multiple distances in his photo book. He has many shots from up close, and many from far. It usually depends on what he is photographing at the time. When shooting a single person, he likes to take a close up shot. This bring the viewer closer with the subject and allows us to analyze the person. When shooting from far, Nagler is usually focused on the big picture rather than a person. He incorporates backgrounds into the photo to enhance the message is is trying to convey. For example in the photo below(right), Nagler takes the photo from far so that he can include the reactions of the many old people. Many time while taking word photographs, Nagler takes the shot from very far away. Nagler has many shots where he is close up to a person, while capturing a background which adds to the photo as well. For example in the photo below(left), Nagler is focused up close on the old man while capturing the young lady in the background. Although photos like these are close up, they almost always have background noise. There are also some instances where Nagler tilts his camera before taking a shot. This effect gives the photo life. It is not like a standard straight forward shot, and gives the photo a playing feeling. For example, his cover photo(bottom left) is tilted and adds life to the already lively old lady.
When I take my photos imaging Nagler’s, there are many aspects I need to take into consideration. For one I am going to start paying more attention to my surroundings. I will start by looking for street words. Once I find a street word that interests me, I will wait for someone to walk into the shot so I can take the perfect photograph. Besides word photos, I will look for photos that portray intimacy. There is much intimacy that goes on around us. Not only with each other, but people show intimacy with their surroundings, the food they eat, the work they do, and much more. I will try to take photos up close of people, as Nagler did, while maintaining an interesting background. Photos taken from far distances will portray a whole situation instead of a single person or object. Nagler always kept a digital camera so that he could snap quick photos when needed, “it made the photography much easier because it was quicker and I could see results more immediately”(Gautier). For this reason, I think it would be appropriate to use my IPhone. My iPhone is on me 24/7 and by using it, I would make sure to never miss a shot. I will also focus on taking photos of people’s emotions. I think there is multiple opportunities to capture emotion on a University Campus. Like Nagler, I will focus on life. Finding interesting characters and taking photos of them smiling could make for a great group of photos. I will also try to find shots of people dancing. Nagler has many actions photos, many of which are of people dancing. Looking for elderly people might be challenging on a college campus, but I will make sure to take photos while at home and on different parts of Ann Arbor.