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Author Topic: The most fustrating thing about photography/art  (Read 11863 times)

wmchauncey

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The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« on: November 07, 2015, 02:30:29 PM »

My pre-retirement career revolved around giving anesthesia, it was easy to measure one's level of competence...
the patient either lived or not.  Was a black or white issue...no middle ground, no gray areas.

The frustrating aspect of photography/art is the difficulty in measuring our level of competency...
if we do this as a hobby, as do I, it is measured simply by opinion polling data.
The professionals have it somewhat easier...does your stuff sell.

Am I missing another method?
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RSL

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2015, 02:46:04 PM »

A vast amount of the photography on LuLa is the equivalent of anesthesia. You should feel right at home. Why are you worrying about your level of competence? What does that mean? Are you satisfied with your photographs? If so, enjoy. Do you need extra income from sales of your pictures? If not, relax. Nobody nowadays is going to make big bucks on photography unless he's become a favored teddy bear on one or more of the big auction houses. Since you're retired, don't sweat it. Just go shoot pictures.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2015, 03:09:09 PM »

A vast amount of the photography on LuLa is the equivalent of anesthesia...

Ouch!  ;D

RSL

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2015, 03:17:37 PM »

Not you, Slobodan. You sometimes do some pretty good work. But, let's face it, an awful lot of the stuff in User Critiques is tourist photography -- the kind of stuff people used to bore their dinner guests with, using a slide projector and 35mm transparencies from an Argus C3, and going on and on while the guests yawned and fought to stay awake. "See that hump back there. That's the Mingus Mountains." You may not be old enough to remember that kind of thing, but you often can experience the equivalent in User Critiques.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2015, 03:29:19 PM »

..You sometimes do some pretty good work...

Ouch, again!  ;D ;D ;D



P.S. I don't mind, Russ, you are correct, none of us is capable of consistently producing only good work... just couldn't resist joking about it

RSL

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2015, 03:30:24 PM »

Okay, fairly often. ;D ;D ;D

luxborealis

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2015, 04:11:59 PM »

I imagine you are oversimplifying anesthesiology and, hopefully, you didn't have too many failures - at least fewer than than 34 of 36 "failures" in photography, so to speak!!

In one sense, given my style of photographing nature and outdoors, primarily landscapes, I hope my work is calming (but not too anesthetic.) Anyone can shoot shocking, repulsive, make-you-think photography - just take a camera on to any one of a number of street corners and back-alleys of any major city: the shock and awe stare us in the face. I know it's Dangerous to say "anyone", but it's actually easier than one thinks, the users of Lu-La just don't seem to choose that path, at least not by the work shown here.

Much of the photography we see here is competent, but pedestrian, but that's part of the raison d'ętre of this site: for users to learn from the feedback they get. It's interesting to note how some people post photos, receive feedback, perhaps not to their liking, and we never hear from them again. Others post and build feedback into what they are doing and are better for it. I can't begin to imagine all I have learned at LuLa, not just from posting my own photos, but from reading feedback from others.

As far as one's own photography, yes, it is tough to measure - and a $$ figure only measure success in one way. I measure my own work by asking myself two questions: Has this been "done" before? If so, how can I make it different, my own? More often than not, it has been "done" already, but not where I live and/or not in these circumstances and if it has, I work to make it unique, but true to my own vision. Yes, they are "pretty" pics for the most part, and I don't apologize for that. But I do know that people do think differently after seeing my work, not radically different, but it does open their eyes to different ways of seeing places they've been to a dozen times before.

I also use many of the fine photographers here as a yardstick. Is the work I'm doing on par with some of the regular posters here of compelling work? Not usually, but sometimes. Hopefully it's improving over the years!
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Rob C

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2015, 04:54:32 PM »

"My pre-retirement career revolved around giving anesthesia, it was easy to measure one's level of competence...
the patient either lived or not.  Was a black or white issue...no middle ground, no gray areas.

The frustrating aspect of photography/art is the difficulty in measuring our level of competency...
if we do this as a hobby, as do I, it is measured simply by opinion polling data.
The professionals have it somewhat easier...does your stuff sell.

Am I missing another method?"

............................................


Russ is right, of course, for the reasons that LuxBorealis mentions:

"Much of the photography we see here is competent, but pedestrian, but that's part of the raison d'ętre of this site: for users to learn from the feedback they get."

So far, so good, but if you really believe that somebody else's work is going to improve your own, I think you have another serious disappointment on the horizon!

The best that other people's work can do for you is twofold:

1. it can open your eyes to genres that you might dig;
2. it can show you the state of the art in those genres.

After that, you're out on your own, baby! If you really think you see improvement in your work, it's because you are doing more of it, not because you allow others to clone you into their ways of doing whatever, and in fact I don't believe you consciously could, even if you wanted so to do. For example: I love Sarah Moon, her feminine touches and vision, her handling of her models; I can no more pretend to have learned anything from her than from St Ansel. I just look at her work and love her for her talent. Ditto Haas, Avedon, Frank. Nothing of theirs comes out in my work, neither as pro nor amateur.

Measuring competence is an attempt to measure art, to measure something we can't even define!

Rob C

amolitor

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2015, 10:29:57 PM »

I can't really speak for anyone else, but I found that my photography improved immeasurably when I started to figure out what I actually wanted to do. What the endpoint was.

Just going around trying to take "good photos" without some idea of what "good" is, and in general what the point of it all is, was getting me nowhere.
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kikashi

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2015, 03:49:45 AM »

My pre-retirement career revolved around giving anesthesia, it was easy to measure one's level of competence...
the patient either lived or not.  Was a black or white issue...no middle ground, no gray areas.

You're very kind: most anaesthetists I worked with were capable of  finding a way to blame the surgeon if the patient didn't wake up.

Rob is overly harsh, though:

So far, so good, but if you really believe that somebody else's work is going to improve your own, I think you have another serious disappointment on the horizon!

Someone else's work obviously can't improve mine. But looking at other people's photography, learning why their images are more pleasing than mine, listening to the critiques of my photographs made by those people and responding to that information: those can improve mine, and I like to think that in the decade I've spent reading articles and forum comments here have indeed done that.

Maybe I'm deluding myself and my photographs are as bad as they ever were. I know of surgeons who claim that good surgeons are born, not made, and that delicacy of touch can't be taught. I think they're wrong; and I think that the suggestion that the ability to improve the quality one's photographic output can't be taught or learned is wrong, too.

Jeremy
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Rob C

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2015, 04:15:29 AM »

I can't really speak for anyone else, but I found that my photography improved immeasurably when I started to figure out what I actually wanted to do. What the endpoint was.

Just going around trying to take "good photos" without some idea of what "good" is, and in general what the point of it all is, was getting me nowhere.

That's it: that fits exactly into my point no. 1 above. It's about self, understanding clearly what the personal goal might be. It was my own salvation too.

Rob

Rob C

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2015, 04:32:16 AM »

You're very kind: most anaesthetists I worked with were capable of  finding a way to blame the surgeon if the patient didn't wake up.

Rob is overly harsh, though:

Someone else's work obviously can't improve mine. But looking at other people's photography, learning why their images are more pleasing than mine, listening to the critiques of my photographs made by those people and responding to that information: those can improve mine, and I like to think that in the decade I've spent reading articles and forum comments here have indeed done that.

Maybe I'm deluding myself and my photographs are as bad as they ever were. I know of surgeons who claim that good surgeons are born, not made, and that delicacy of touch can't be taught. I think they're wrong; and I think that the suggestion that the ability to improve the quality one's photographic output can't be taught or learned is wrong, too.

Jeremy

Listening: yes, but what's the value in those voices? As many have already mentioned, the overall standard doesn't take your breath way... can often remind me of the dumb teaching the deaf to sing.

I think your surgeons are correct: that's native talent, not learning. Just as my wife could always rustle up fantastic meals whenever somebody dropped in unexpectedly etc. etc. Her mother wasn't bad, and neither was mine, but she could leave both of them standing, and do everything so very quickly, too. The surprising part of this was that she never seemed to have actually had to stand and watch anyone cook in order to know how to do it. I base this last assumption on us having been an item since she was fifteen, so I do know a bit about her, and where her time was spent.

If by 'improving the quality' you are referring to technique, as in exposing, processing, I'd agree, but that's all far too late in the image-making process, which starts in the mind and the eye. Technique is neither visual recognition nor is it creativity, and those are the foundations of good photography, whether reportage, studied and contrived, or simply 'on the wing'.

IMO!

Rob C

Justinr

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2015, 07:33:19 AM »

I can't really speak for anyone else, but I found that my photography improved immeasurably when I started to figure out what I actually wanted to do. What the endpoint was.

Just going around trying to take "good photos" without some idea of what "good" is, and in general what the point of it all is, was getting me nowhere.

I'd fully agree with that, in fact I rarely take a photo unless it has purpose nowadays and I think the only way I would return to doing it just for the sake of doing so is if I got a darkroom set up again for B&W prints.
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brianrybolt

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2015, 08:17:32 AM »

Sometimes I take photos because it gets me out of the house where I can think clearer.
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wmchauncey

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2015, 11:27:50 AM »

Quote
A vast amount of the photography on LuLa is the equivalent of anesthesia
I can't say that I would dispute that opinion, however...it would not be limited to LuLu.
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Peter McLennan

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2015, 01:19:09 PM »

The frustrating aspect of photography/art is the difficulty in measuring our level of competency...
if we do this as a hobby, as do I, it is measured simply by opinion polling data.
The professionals have it somewhat easier...does your stuff sell.
Am I missing another method?

In answer to the OP's question, yes.  Yes, there is another method:  Does it satisfy you?

As long as our photographs continue to satisfy ourselves, then our level of competency is good, even increasing. When I pull a 40X60 off my Epson 9800 and go WOW!, it feels just as good as that day long ago when I saw my very first good print appear in a tray of Dektol. 

As long as we continue to wow ourselves, we're competent.  After all, the only judge that really matters is us. We are the most competent judge of our own competency.


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kikashi

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2015, 01:32:56 PM »

Listening: yes, but what's the value in those voices? As many have already mentioned, the overall standard doesn't take your breath way... can often remind me of the dumb teaching the deaf to sing.

I think your surgeons are correct: that's native talent, not learning. Just as my wife could always rustle up fantastic meals whenever somebody dropped in unexpectedly etc. etc. Her mother wasn't bad, and neither was mine, but she could leave both of them standing, and do everything so very quickly, too. The surprising part of this was that she never seemed to have actually had to stand and watch anyone cook in order to know how to do it. I base this last assumption on us having been an item since she was fifteen, so I do know a bit about her, and where her time was spent.

If by 'improving the quality' you are referring to technique, as in exposing, processing, I'd agree, but that's all far too late in the image-making process, which starts in the mind and the eye. Technique is neither visual recognition nor is it creativity, and those are the foundations of good photography, whether reportage, studied and contrived, or simply 'on the wing'.

I suspect, Rob, that the difference between us isn't as stark as it might appear. I certainly don't deny that there is such a thing as native talent; the surgeon who was particularly known for making that comment, Sir Magdi Yacoub, had it in spades. But an understanding of what makes "good" photography can be acquired.

I wasn't referring only to technique, although I certainly have learned a lot of that. I was referring also to knowledge of composition, of lighting; of seeing others' work and analysing, sometimes for myself and sometimes with their and others' assistance, why their photographs appealed to me so much more than mine did.

Nature v nurture. Not a new debate.

Jeremy
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kikashi

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2015, 01:34:22 PM »

As long as our photographs continue to satisfy ourselves, then our level of competency is good, even increasing.

That is true only if the individual concerned has insight; and insight is a rare commodity.

Jeremy
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Osprey

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2015, 01:44:48 PM »

That is true only if the individual concerned has insight; and insight is a rare commodity.

Jeremy

This is best illustrated by American Idol. People have access to professional songs. They probably even have access to preproduction or acoustic tracks from professional singers. And yet, not all of those awful singers auditioning were purely trying to get on TV; some of them honestly couldnt tell when they listened to themselves that they sounded bad.
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Rob C

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Re: The most fustrating thing about photography/art
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2015, 02:03:22 PM »

That is true only if the individual concerned has insight; and insight is a rare commodity.

Jeremy

Jeremy

I agree, and in doing so, suggest that you are actually agreeing with my own view, too! To all extents and purposes, swap 'insight' for 'talent' (in the sense of seeing ability) and you are talking about the same, unbuyable/unlearnable quality.

Ability, in the sense of technique can, of course be taught and learned. The true autodidact is a more rare creature.

Rob
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