Discover more from Sundays with Stella
On Cropping, Faith and Reflections
To Crop or Not to Crop a Picture?
From my inbox this week via the 21st Editions, The Art of the Book newsletter:
"…Gordon (Parks), he was a cropper. You shoot a picture; Gordon would crop it. I said, 'Wait a minute. I don't want to crop'. It was one picture we argued about all the time. He wanted to crop it. I didn't want to crop it. So, I started showing it to different people in the group. More people with me than they were with Gordon. I said, 'See? See, see, see?'
But he wanted to crop it. It was a picture of three, four ladies with black umbrellas crossing the street... And he felt that I should cut the truck out that is turning the corner in the snow, but it's a truck that's got oil, it's going there. I said, 'Best part of the story, Gordon.' He said, 'Yeah, but this is a picture.' I said, 'Nah. Nah...Okay, I won't cut out the whole truck. Just put part of it in.'
He wanted just the ladies. I said, 'It's a great shot. But that's not my shot. That's your shot. You see it that way. I see the whole thing, the truck turning in the snow and turning up, and the ladies going across. It's a whole photograph. The whole thing.' I say, 'Yeah. I can just do the truck and that's a nice shot. This is a nice shot, but the two together makes a great photograph.'
That was my argument. Oh, we argued about that... But I liked that about that Gordon, he would tell you how he felt about it, you know…he was really into cropping."
Adger Cowans Interview: A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks Kunhardt Film Foundation, 2021.
What a fascinating insight! Once in a while, I come across this dilemma in my own pictures. Early in my photographic journey, I restrained myself from post-capture cropping. Back then, I was shooting in black and white documentary style. The premise was to be intentional about what I included within the frame before pressing the shutter— a rigorous way to train my eye to compose in-camera. Although I maintained this practice with street photography, I found that sometimes cropping in post-production makes the images stronger. So I relented and have no qualms about it anymore.
What are your thoughts on cropping your pictures?
Bill Cunningham: A Bright Soul
I finally got around to watching the documentary on photographer Bill Cunningham.
There’s a lightness about him. Whether he is interacting with people on the streets or with the New York elite crowd, he is gentle and kind-hearted to everyone, always smiling or laughing in the documentary. What caught my attention was Bill’s disclosure about his faith.
In a 2010 documentary, he responds with a cheerful laugh, a joke or a story to every question, except one. When asked about his weekly Mass attendance, he falls quiet and looks at the floor for a long time before answering. Finally he recalls with a smile that as a child his main interest in church was looking at the hats women wore. Then, after another long pause, all he really says is that his religion is important to him.
But although he wasn't articulate about his faith, he lived it.
"A vocation is seen as a kind of call from God, pairing a person's interests, talents and passion in some noble pursuit, with the promise that following that path will be of service to others and bring to the one who answers that call genuine fulfillment and happiness," the priest said. "It was the mission of Bill Cunningham to capture and celebrate beauty wherever he found it. His whole life was dedicated to that single pursuit.
I love how God reveals himself in unexpected ways.
Poster For Sale
The East Bay Photo Collective is offering The Stories We Tell Exhibition poster for sale on their website. Proceeds will support the EBPCO community. The exhibition is running for a few more weeks so if you are in the Bay Area, do stop by and see the show. It ends on Sunday, September 3rd.
Thank you in advance for your support!
The Stories We Tell
Jul 14, 2023 – Sep 3, 2023
An exhibition exploring how family stories and oral histories are preserved, passed down, and shared by our elders. How do we know who we are or where we're headed, if we don't know how we got here? These photographic artists explore themes of identity, history and self-actualization through family archives, documents, memories and personal photographs to help retell the stories of their elders and their connections to them. It is through the stories we inherit that help us understand who we are and the journey it took to stand where we are. We are the extension of those who came before us. These are the stories we share.
Curated by Jessica Chen
Here are some photos from the opening last month:
Finally, I loved this post by
When I stumble upon a quote on social media, I save them in a folder for each platform called WISDOM. Whenever I am out of sorts or just looking to be inspired, those are my go-to spots. Usually I’ll find a gem or two.
I retrieved my journal from 2018-2019 and found a quote to share with you. This time, I made sure to fold the corner of the page and put stars on where I wrote it down. As an insurance, I re-entered the quote on my current journal where I have the ability to jot down the page number and a title.
I leave you now with this one.
Pema Chodron on Generosity:
The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign we are holding onto something—usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy, we hold on tight. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering what we can— a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement- we are training in letting go.
As always, let’s meet each other in the comments section below. I love to hear your thoughts if anything I wrote today resonated with you.
See you all next Sunday!