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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Gotcha! Bratislava, Slovakian Republic, 2003
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Gotcha! Bratislava, Slovakian Republic, 2003

This clever street sculpture lampoons tourists who bear cameras in downtown Bratislava. I used a wideangle lens, moved behind the statue, and waited for an unsuspecting couple to walk past it. The result is an incongrous image of art imitating life.

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Phil Douglis20-May-2007 19:44
Glad I made you laugh out loud, Tricia. This humorous approach is aimed directly at the paparazzi amongst us. The sculptor is making fun of them, and now I am doubling the pleasure. To see more humor of this kind, take a look at the photography of Elliott Erwitt at His images are always rich in incongruous relationships, and they often use humor as a medium of communication.
flowsnow20-May-2007 18:46
LOL..a sneaky paparazzi `statue' in action. Very very cool sculpture and I like the angle you shot this.
Chris Sofopoulos31-Aug-2006 19:55
:)) Of course Phil. The right statue with the camera!
Phil Douglis31-Aug-2006 16:43
And the "right" sculpture, Chris. Without that, there could be no picture.
Chris Sofopoulos31-Aug-2006 08:56
The result is impressive Phil. The right angle and of course the right moment with that couple passing by.
Phil Douglis28-Jul-2006 23:41
Imitation is also flattering, is it not. In this image the artist salutes the street photographer, and my image is a homage from a street photographer to this artist. It goes round and round.
Guest 28-Jul-2006 12:03
Imitation, indeed, goes on and on and its part of life. We keep imitate what people did in history, whether they were right or wrong and no matter its good or not to imitate.

CM 17-Mar-2006 05:16
I took a picture with the statued but yours is much much better than mine
Phil Douglis20-Nov-2005 02:49
Thanks, Kelly. Glad you are amused. I selected this vantage point and waited for people to walk by. So the "correct" moment you see here was one of my own choosing.
Guest 20-Nov-2005 02:21
This cracks me up! Could be another commentary of papparazzi how the people were there at the correct moment too, great vantage point
Phil Douglis27-Mar-2005 21:31
Art imitates life, Benchang. This is not just me. It is all who share this wonderful form of expression.
Benchang Tang 23-Mar-2005 13:25
This is your self-portrate, Phil. You were shooting the couple and then, you would ask us who they are, where from, and where to, and what they are talking about! Thank you for sharing.
Guest 23-Dec-2004 20:56
Phil Douglis23-Dec-2004 20:49
I knew you would enjoy this one, Mikel. As a professional photojournalist, you must sometimes function as a voyeur with your camera. However, knowing your work, you prefer to engage your subjects openly and respectfully, not sneak up on them from behind as a Paparazzi. (I don't think that's Charles and Camilla, however. More likely Joe and Jessie from Cleveland.)
Guest 23-Dec-2004 17:42
Klever sculpture indeed, at least for a photographer though fiew times I've been that hidden as to do a photo. ;) Anyway, it is just like if a Papparazzi wold be sping on the cupple walking down the street... who are they, Carolina of Monaco? or Prince Chals with Kamila? :)) it's very funny indeed.
Phil Douglis09-Dec-2004 19:27
Thanks, Antonio. I agree. Photography is about expression, not voyeurism. Discretion, courtesy, dignity, and respect have always differentiated the artist from the hack or sneak.
Antonio Pierre De Almeida09-Dec-2004 05:14
I love the way you composed this one, specialy because of the pavement that makes a curve and shows our eye where we have to look. I like the fact that it is a fun picture too. The photographer that shoots the "paparazzi" because in my point of view there is a big difference. A photogrpaher should never be afraid of being seen his duty is to portray not to steel. Photography is not voyeurisme. Good photographers are never hidden and seem to pass without being noticed, because they are discrete. Henri Cartier Bresson was never hidding when he took all his unforgettable pictures.
Phil Douglis07-Dec-2004 02:39
Indeed it can, Dave.
Dave Wyman07-Dec-2004 01:12
>I still think this image is very amusing and highly incongruous,<

I do, too, Phil, I just think it can be viewed now in more than one context.

Phil Douglis06-Dec-2004 19:44
Thanks, Dave, for mentioning how changing times can affect the meaning of pictures. Although I made this image well after 9/11, the wave of suspicion that now greets photographers on city streets had not yet become evident. I was thinking purely of art imitating life when I made this shot, but I can well see how it acquires a different meaning if we look at it in light of current fears of potential terrorists lurking behind every street corner. We live in a very dangerous world, which in turn inspires fear and paranoia. Photographers are now viewed with much greater suspicion, nearly all of it unjustified. I still think this image is very amusing and highly incongruous, but when you place a context of spying and terrorism, everything changes, doesn't it?
Dave Wyman06-Dec-2004 16:39
I like this image, Phil. Well, I like all your photographs. But this one caught my attention this morning as I looked back over some of your galleries. A real photographer might just be arrested in Los Angeles for acting the way this ersatz photographer is acting, given the jitters some Americans have about current world affairs. I've learned about too many stories of people with cameras being confronted - by security guards and police in public places - for simply looking through their lenses. A good friend, part of a group exploring the architecture of downtown Los Angeles, was threatened not that long ago with arrest for trying to photograph a building.

So, in light of what I think is a stream of (unjustified) paranoia in the U.S., I think this picture works on a few levels of incongruity that it might not have had prior to 9/11. It's humorous, and perhaps also a sign, for now, of the times.

Phil Douglis02-Dec-2004 04:18
It was about time that somebody created a work of art in our honor, Clara! And all I did was to bring it to life by finding a truly incongruous vantage point. You are right -- we often watch the watchers as the watch other watchers. And so it goes.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 23:55
meta-language in all splendor. the true photographer remains hidden, invisible. it happens to me a lot, when i walk the streets sometimes someone strange is observed, scrutinized by another passer-by, then to me is that passer-by the one interesting to me. we watch, and we watch the watcher, endlessly, here that attitude made solid.
Phil Douglis08-Nov-2004 23:50
There are two levels of incongruity here, the artwork itself, which imitates life, but is not alive. And my photograph of that imitation of life, shooting actual life, as it walks unknowingly past it down the street.
nut 08-Nov-2004 23:30
An artist like to do it and I saw some in the school of art. Imitation is one of incongruity concept too.
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 20:10
Not only scale incongruity, Nut. Art imitating life is incongruous as well!
nut 06-Nov-2004 18:10
To statued paparazzo, all human being are superstar. Long street here can see well with scale incongruity.
Phil Douglis12-Aug-2004 19:49
Once again, Bryan, you raise a point that I never really thought of before. But now that you mention the curving brick, I must have instinctively recognized the way it wraps around the building to link the secret shooter to his prey. So much of expressive photography is based on our instinct that causes us to subconsciously recognize the expressive value of what we see as we shoot. Where do such instincts come from? Much of it is just there -- you either are blessed with a photographic "eye" or you aren't. For those that have been blessed with this gift, it must be worked: sharpened, broadened and deepened through trial and error, patience, and practice, practice, practice. You have such an eye yourself, Brian. So do such pbase artists as Andreas Hering, Stefan Rohner, Jennifer Zhou, -- all of whom you respect. Just as you and me, each of them is now at a different stage of development, and each will develop their instincts and build a personal style according to their own goals and efforts. Speaking for myself, I am now 70 years old, and am learning more about my instincts for photographic expression with every picture I make -- my failures, as well as my successes. I feel as if I have only just begun!
Guest 12-Aug-2004 19:26
Phil, I just have ask you... did you mean to include the curve of the brick? For some reason it creates a nice flow to this funny foto. Bryan
Phil Douglis02-Jun-2004 19:12
"Sneaky" is exactly what I was thinking when I made this shot. I am sure the sculptor had a similar thought in mind, as well. Thanks, Dirk, for your comment.
Guest 02-Jun-2004 14:19
Hi Phil,

Very clever and this made me laugh, I like how sneaky the statue guy is standing there, you choosed the right angle and composition for making this working so well. Aha, I love it. Thanks a lot Phil for this enjoyable image.
With kind regards,
Guest 07-May-2004 06:16
Nice, sculpture and shot. I would love to take a shot of the sculpture taking a shot of someone posing.

Good work, as is your whole gallery. Thanks for sharing!
Phil Douglis05-Dec-2003 21:51
Thanks, Jeff. It's not often that you run across an work of art that satirizes street photographers. I knew what I was looking for as soon as I saw this sculpture. It was simply a matter of lens choice, working out my vantage point, and then waiting for some tourists to walk by so I could incongruously juxtapose them with this intrepid bronze photographer.
Guest 05-Dec-2003 14:05
Nicely composed image. Nice movement in the leading lines and the diminishing point goes to just the right spot. It's also a humorous shot as well. I like it. Nice find.
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