Ray -I find great sympathy in my heart for your fatherīs problems with Hong Kong textile production. I spent many years shooting fashion in Scotland and had a very good client producing fully-fashioned knitwear. Each year Iīd go off somewhere and shoot his Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections for publicity releases and Iīd also produce 60"x40" blow-ups for stand displays around the world at the fashion shows to which his stuff would go.
Then, what with the effect of socialist governments at home and the instinctive ill-will against industry that these people cannot escape reverting to, the entire UK fashion scene began slowly to vanish with London and its masive PR presence remaining as sole UK sentinel in that field. Anyway, the last shoot I did for him was very successful; the next one didnīt happen: he turned up at my place one day, somewhat shame-facedly, and asked me if Iīd print up several batches of pictures which heīd had taken during a trip to Hong Kong where he had decided to switch production; several months later the factory in Glasgow closed with the loss of many skilled jobs, followed soon by the label.
Would I have wanted my two kids to follow in my footsteps? Your Pop was right again: no effinīway!
Called away for lunch, so with interrupted if not heavier head, I shall continue.
The dearth of argument, intellectual or otherwise, is possibly more to do with the power of expression than time. Not everyone is comfortable sitting at a keyboard, music providing the background and the physical discomfort of a badly fitting office chair on wheels doing its best to intrude and distract every now and then. There is also the thing that internet chat does tend to follow a pattern where views are expounded and once contradicted or approved there is no where else for them to go. There is so much more to personal conversation via eyes, smiles etc. that is simply not available to the internet version.
Anyway, once a position is taken one has either to defend it or give way to a better one; not all souls are willing to admit they were mistaken. And thatīs also why you -and I - have fallen into the religion trap. I am not an atheist, though most organized religious groupings would certainly consider me as such; itīs just that my idea of a supreme power is personal and not particularly based on the mores of any established system of belief. I have no problem with people who do subscribe to established systems just as long as they do not try to impose their ways on me. Worse, impose their way on entire societies.
As far as photographic art is concerned, what is there really to say? Books have been written and shows curated with a wealth of obscurantist twaddle to project a sense of importance into things which, at the end of the day and if viewed without external input, would appear as pictures, good, bad or indifferent and nothing more.
The best imaginative photography that I can remember was perhaps produced in the 60s; styles were set and reputations established. TV commercials became quite interesting for a while and fashion magazines flourished in a hothouse of creative growth that seemed to die off in the more materialistic years that were to follow. I donīt know if the Pirelli calendar rings any bells in your country - in mine it was the best there was. And the best of those? For my money, the Sarah Moon and Francis Giacobetti ones took the prize, but where are those calendars now? They have become slavish followers of fashion rather than setting the fashion, just as Playboy lost its mind and became an upmarket clone of Penthouse, thus alienating zillions of subscribers, myself included.
One has to ask, where, in all of this highly visible showcase of photographic talent, stands the true amateur?
The late, great, Terence Donovan, said that the greatest problem facing an amateur was finding a reason for taking a photograph; I think he was absolutely on the money. Why indeed! When you take away the financial imperative you donīt really have a hell of a lot left other than the feeling that you SHOULD be doing something with your supposed talent; motivation is key. Where do you find it? I have the same talents or lack of them as I did when I was still earning a living from the business - now, time becomes the pressure and the depressing feeling that age might just step in and eff everything up just as the digital darkroom and the possibility of a new, Grandma Moses career in art awaits.
But even then, there is the problem of financial balance which dictates that you donīt spend more than you expect to earn! As I indicated earlier, just before lunch, my life was model based work and most of what flits through my mind is orientated that way still, and as you know, those girls are in it for the money. Being a muse is not highly rated, even if itīs just what I crave!
Landscape photography should provide an outlet, but rather than that, for me it provides a problem. I live on an island that feeds off the back of tourism; every day I see photographs being sold as calendars or postcards and I get the awful feeling that were some of those same images printed up large and on matt paper and put on the internet under the banner of some art gallery, they would be just as viable and valid as much of the rest of the stuff which sells itself as high art (photographic). I shall refrain from naming names - supply your own - but you have to admit that when the American West stays in colour and fails to go black/white, you will find it very hard to tell whatīs art and whatīs commerce of the most banal kind.
Off to water the plants - Ciao - Rob C