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Author Topic: What's Photography For?  (Read 3587 times)

Ray

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #60 on: March 01, 2017, 09:05:53 AM »

So edited down, it shows me that photography has changed, for me, from something I thought about before going out to do it, to a process consisting mainly of afterthoughts.

Rob,
I don't see why both processes can not be used. One can think and plan what one wants to shoot, travel to a particular location at a particular time of day when the lighting is likely to be best, take a number of shots from a variety of perspectives, choose the shots which one thinks are best, process them in a variety of ways for an hour or two or three back home, have afterthoughts a year later or 5 years later or 20 years later, and reprocess them with more sophisticated software and a more developed attitude and different insights.
What's the problem?

Quote
But the poor old camera remains just what it ever was, only cheaper to run than it used to be. I guess that, in a way, that makes photography even less valuable, and ultimately just another disposable.

The camera is a tool which has become more useful, more efficient and more sophisticated with time. That's all good. However, I can appreciate that the current ubiquity of the camera might have made it more difficult for the professional photographer to earn a living. That's not something I can comment on, because I've never tried to earn a living by selling my photos, although I have sold a few just for fun, but at least more than the number of paintings that Van Gogh sold during his life (that he'd painted himself).  ;D
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Rob C

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #61 on: March 01, 2017, 09:36:07 AM »

Rob,
I don't see why both processes can not be used. 1. One can think and plan what one wants to shoot, travel to a particular location at a particular time of day when the lighting is likely to be best, take a number of shots from a variety of perspectives, choose the shots which one thinks are best, process them in a variety of ways for an hour or two or three back home, have afterthoughts a year later or 5 years later or 20 years later, and reprocess them with more sophisticated software and a more developed attitude and different insights.
What's the problem?

2. The camera is a tool which has become more useful, more efficient and more sophisticated with time. That's all good. However, I can appreciate that the current ubiquity of the camera might have made it more difficult for the professional photographer to earn a living. That's not something I can comment on, because I've never tried to earn a living by selling my photos, although I have sold a few just for fun, but at least more than the number of paintings that Van Gogh sold during his life (that he'd painted himself).  ;D


1.  Of course, Ray, no question about that, but I wrote that for me it's become a dfferent experience. Without the prospect of flogging something, there's no purpose anymore, no incentive other than to challenge the trust I place in the winds of chance. To be brutally truthful, that pretty much always ended up being what I did, regardless of the job. I was lucky: I worked in a time and a location where photographers were expected to just get out there and do it, with a minimum of fuss; the group therapy sessions of snapper, model, art director, hairdresser, stylist, assistants to all of them and, possibly even the client being along, didn't happen very often, and when they did, I inevitably turned in my worst work. I never did thrive in confusion and mixed messages. In those days, girls were all able to do their own hair and makeup, and most (for calendars, but obviously not fashion) had their own props in the way of jewellery and photogenic clothing. Sometimes Ann and I bought stuff during shoots, and thus we built up our own set of wardrobe props.

2.  It is now a circus animal with redundant knickers. I would be perfecly happy today, using a Hassy 500 Series or my old F or F2. All the new stuff has brought is a diminution of photographer learning skills because people tend to examine everything all the time. If you know your job there's no reason you'd break the momentum to do that. Let's not even discuss battery power dependency. But yes, even from my own amateur status, it's nice to be freed from the expense of buying film. However that would focus the mind more and save so much shit being produced.

I have mentioned before that if I get back to civilization, I could be very tempted by an old 500 again. That, with a 180mm or a 250mm would make my day. Maybe both would be nice to have.

I'm certain none of that would be the answer to many folk's dreams, but I'm me, not many other people. But I do sometimes wonder...

;-)

Rob

Rob C

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #62 on: March 01, 2017, 09:42:58 AM »

Rob, I have to agree with virtually everything you've said.

In particular those comments on Kimmerle, Kenna and of course our mate Bacon.

I also agree with your assertion that photography is a minor art. Brant, Man Ray and Mapplethorpe, amongst others - particularly when viewed within their own timeframe - came close to elevating the medium but alas it remains a poor relation.


It surely does, Keith. But having said that, I'll probably be eternally grateful that it offered me a way of being in the creative arts in a manner pretty much commensurate with my abilities. I'd never have stood a chance of earning a living in any other art form.

It probably wasn't the wisest thing to follow, but it certainly was the most fun I could expect to find whilst earning my daily. I feel sorry for those making a fortune and hating every minute of their working day. I've known a few.

Rob

RSL

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #63 on: March 01, 2017, 10:26:38 AM »

I really think a real explanation and an apology to this community is in order!

Hi Tony,

I was in a hurry last night and didn't have time to respond effectively to your cry for help. Unfortunately, you're not discussing and you're not arguing. You're yelling. What is it you want me to explain? And why do you think an apology is in order?

To simplify what I said:

1. People and their interactions are more interesting to people than are photographic landscapes and other static subjects. You can disagree with this if you want to, but if you flip through any book on the history of photography you'll realize disagreeing effectively will be a tough haul.

2. Photographs normally are put forth as representations of reality. Sometimes reality can be beautiful and can stir an "Isn't that lovely?" response. But what you see in a photograph normally is taken as a true representation of what's in front of the lens.

3. The best paintings are not put forth as representations of reality. Paintings -- at least the best ones -- are designed to stir emotions. Sometimes the effect can go beyond emotion into transcendence. I realize there are people who never have this kind of response to anything, but if you're one of those you at least need to recognize that there are people who do.

4. Therefore, the most effective use of the camera is to make photographs of human interaction. Images of human interaction with other humans and their surroundings made with the camera are more believable than images of human interaction made with a brush, and can be more powerful.

Is that a simple enough explanation for you to understand?

And when the surface of Hell begins to congeal in the cold, I'll apologize.

TomFrerichs

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #64 on: March 01, 2017, 03:35:31 PM »

Friends, be calm.

Russ wrote an essay composed of general statements, grand conclusions, and personal opinion, all in support of his favorite genre of photography, particularly as he defines the genre.

I could write an essay in the same vein with the conclusion: the tomato is the noblest vegetable because it is red and I like the taste.

I can see the arguments now. Some heirloom tomatoes are not red. Some tomatoes are eaten green, with a nod towards the southern American states and their “fried green tomatoes.” Hey, wait! Aren’t tomatoes really a fruit? While tomatoes may be a primary ingredient of salsa, chilies are a necessary part as well. You can’t forget the chilies. And so on and so on….

Meanwhile, broccoli will still be out there, cursed by some and beloved by others. Summer squash will still be tasteless, and green beans—that non-red vegetable—will grace the tables of many gourmands. What I think won’t make a damned bit of difference to the green grocers of the world.

Russ gave us his opinion, and I disagree with much of it. But suggesting that he owes us an apology is granting him far too much power. His opinion is just that: his opinion. No art critic will be swayed; no museum will quit accepting landscapes (if they ever did); and National Geo won’t stop publishing pictures of mammals. I’ll still be assaulted by pictures of golden aspens and cute marmots from local photographers. And life will go on much as it did before.

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RSL

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #65 on: March 01, 2017, 03:55:22 PM »

Russ gave us his opinion, and I disagree with much of it. But suggesting that he owes us an apology is granting him far too much power. His opinion is just that: his opinion. No art critic will be swayed; no museum will quit accepting landscapes (if they ever did); and National Geo won’t stop publishing pictures of mammals. I’ll still be assaulted by pictures of golden aspens and cute marmots from local photographers. And life will go on much as it did before.

Thanks, Tom. Unfortunately you're right, dang it. I think art critics should be swayed and museums should quit thinking about accepting photographic landscapes (I don't think they ever actually accepted any), and National Geo should stop publishing pictures of fuzzy mammals. They're just too cute. >:( At the very least I can say I tried. 8)

Tim Lookingbill

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #66 on: March 01, 2017, 04:53:04 PM »

Ok, since Russ's essay and this thread didn't answer or address the title of this topic "What Is Photography For?", I'll give it a go.

Photography is for communicating the undefinable according to the photographer's sensitivities driven in front of and behind the camera by decision making and impulses too numerous to account for but can be seen, sensed and felt in the final image by those who have similar sensitivities usually other photographers or image makers with a trained eye.

General viewers with untrained eyes or those who are not in the creative field bring their own sensitivities to add and compound or diminish the value of all those decisions and impulses that formed the final image.

As has been said the deceptively simple act of "photographing"... pointing & tripping the shutter... tends to diminish the perceived value of the medium due to the fact the majority of the population is aware that everyone has a camera.

But they are not aware that a good photographer who can effectively communicate still possesses the trained eye that allows them for example to instead of settling on photographing beautiful models and pretty women out in public as they've been doing for years to the point they've acquired a "tin eye" to their genre, can simply start looking for women with different/idiosyncratic features that make them "uniquely" beautiful for instance middle aged women in bright green bikini's with pronounced boxy hips, slender tapered legs and waist, sizeable breasts, platinum blonde "bobbed" hair and a teenage Shirley Temple face.

Notice my description shows I have a sensitivity to spotting this picture of a woman. They do exist but it's rare and I just wished I had my camera.

I saw a rare bird indeed and all the people around me on the banks of my local river had cellphone cameras and not one of them was taking a picture of her! That's what photography IS FOR!
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Rob C

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #67 on: March 01, 2017, 05:13:35 PM »

"Ok, since Russ's essay and this thread didn't answer or address the title of this topic "What Is Photography For?", I'll give it a go.

Tim"

Really?




As for the question, what's photography for? then the answer is rather wide, and the best one can do is reply from a personal persepective, devoid of preaching or suppositions. So here we go.

For me, photography was an interest that began when I was very young. It grew in tandem with a love for art, especially the later schools of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. I would visit galleries whenever I could, and a cousin and I used to blow pocket money buying postcards there, and trying to paint the same things ourselves. He went on to art school and spent/is still spending a lifetime as a professional, fine art painter. I realised I'd never make it because the native talent was far too thin, and as bad, art education had been precluded due to school attitudes that relegated art class attendance to the "lesser student", so the alternative co-existing love of photography grew to replace the other one. The school had never even considered photography could be a career... all fine intentions, but so misplaced.

So I started with love of it, then followed up living the career, and now, retired, I'm still doing it when I can muster up the drive. But what's it for, is the question. It is a means to an end, a way of fulfilling what artistic/creative urge one might have when the more noble arts are beyond one. It's a way of making money - sometimes a helluva lot of it - and a way of starving slowly without really being aware of the fact. It's a way of spending your day in the more pleasant company of pretty girls instead of with some sadistic, miserable old sod in a glass office, the door of which you better knock before entering. It's a way of keeping one's sorry ass off the production line, of avoiding an early death from the industrial smog of a machine room full of turning- and grinding-fluid vapour and the noise levels that turn you deaf too soon.

It's a fine way of seeing the world at a level only a client's deep pockets would allow. It's for providing the space to stop, relax, breath some air and spend pretty much 24/24 with your wife if you want to do that - which I did, which is why I married.

In short, it's for living a life that makes one happy, even if the other rewards may or may not ever materialise.

What it may represent for other people I can only guess. But that's their job to state, not mine to attempt to state on their behalf.

Rob

Tim Lookingbill

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #68 on: March 01, 2017, 05:19:34 PM »

"Ok, since Russ's essay and this thread didn't answer or address the title of this topic "What Is Photography For?", I'll give it a go.

Tim"

Really?

Really!, Rob.

BTW have you shot any similar looking ladies in bright green bikinis or did you just give up looking?
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TomFrerichs

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #69 on: March 01, 2017, 05:44:25 PM »

Ok, since Russ's essay and this thread didn't answer or address the title of this topic "What Is Photography For?", I'll give it a go.

I'm currently on page 108 (of 405) of Photgraphy Theory, volume 2 of the the Routledge The Art Seminar series.  As soon as I finish I'll give you the answer.

This is, however, dependent upon making my way through the thicket of semiotics, Barthes and his punctum, Greenberg's flatness theories (early patron saint of Abstract Expressionism), and sentences such as "An asymmetrical reciprocity joins the snapshot to the time exposure: whereas the snapshot stole a life it could not return, the time exposure expresses a life that it never received."

This may take me a bit longer than I expect.

Tom Frerichs
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #70 on: March 01, 2017, 09:36:48 PM »

I'm currently on page 108 (of 405) of Photgraphy Theory, volume 2 of the the Routledge The Art Seminar series.  As soon as I finish I'll give you the answer.

This is, however, dependent upon making my way through the thicket of semiotics, Barthes and his punctum, Greenberg's flatness theories (early patron saint of Abstract Expressionism), and sentences such as "An asymmetrical reciprocity joins the snapshot to the time exposure: whereas the snapshot stole a life it could not return, the time exposure expresses a life that it never received."

This may take me a bit longer than I expect.

Tom Frerichs

I think you already answered the thread topic, Tom. Only from the perspective of a publicist which is...

Photography is for making thick ornately worded and pretentious tomes of worthless information that doesn't help anyone make better photos.

In case you don't make it out with your sanity after reading all 405 pages of that book, Tom, is there a care giver we should call?
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Ray

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #71 on: March 01, 2017, 10:06:34 PM »

I think you already answered the thread topic, Tom. Only from the perspective of a publicist which is...

Photography is for making thick ornately worded and pretentious tomes of worthless information that doesn't help anyone make better photos.

In case you don't make it out with your sanity after reading all 405 pages of that book, Tom, is there a care giver we should call?

Ha! Ha! Good point. Although there's always the possibility that Tom might find a few paragraphs of useful information and ideas that will help him to make better photos. Perhaps he will inform us of such when he's finished the volume.  ;)
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TomFrerichs

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #72 on: March 01, 2017, 11:56:22 PM »

Ha! Ha! Good point. Although there's always the possibility that Tom might find a few paragraphs of useful information and ideas that will help him to make better photos. Perhaps he will inform us of such when he's finished the volume.  ;)

What I've learned so far is that the (implied) questions are a hell of a lot more interesting than the supplied answers. But then, haven't the questions always been more useful in any creative endeavor?

There is one blessing. Being a selection of papers, an edited roundtable discussion, and a set of responsive papers, all on art criticism of photography, there naturally are no photographs. This makes it so much easier to read on my Nook, which offers an abysmal display capacity.

Tom

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Rob C

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #73 on: March 02, 2017, 03:24:38 AM »

Really!, Rob.

BTW have you shot any similar looking ladies in bright green bikinis or did you just give up looking?


What's this obsession with green bikinis?

Might you be Irish?

Rob C
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 03:31:17 AM by Rob C »
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #74 on: March 02, 2017, 05:57:11 PM »


There is one blessing. Being a selection of papers, an edited roundtable discussion, and a set of responsive papers, all on art criticism of photography, there naturally are no photographs. This makes it so much easier to read on my Nook, which offers an abysmal display capacity.

Tom

Good grief! I must be psychic. I was just thinking that book didn't have any photographs.

I guess when you work with words, words are your work...quote from the movie..."The Ghost And Mr. Chicken"

Happy reading, Tom!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 06:02:01 PM by Tim Lookingbill »
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #75 on: March 02, 2017, 05:59:32 PM »


What's this obsession with green bikinis?

Might you be Irish?

Rob C

Rob, you wouldn't see it as an obsession if you'ld read what I wrote within the context of my original response.
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Rob C

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #76 on: March 03, 2017, 02:54:04 PM »

I found the very first manifestation of your green-bikinied lady strange; the second refence made it even more strange (to me), especially that they should have to be similar.

I've shot very few pictures of ladies in bikinis; a bikini, especially one in green, would feel somewhat anaemic to me, making your choice hard for me to understand.

I did see a lady in a green swimsuit, once though: that was in Lindos, on the isle of Rhodes. She was Irish, I think, and the wife of tv news reporter, Sandy Gall. We were shooting a calendar there and got chatting with Reginald Bosanquet (another tv chap) who was relaxing on the sand with a female singer companion, when Gall came along and asked if anyone knew where his wife was. Reginald B. told him, so he went off to collect her.

In the meantime, as we were working on behalf of a beer company, Reginald took the opportunity of slipping a ring-pull onto my wife's finger and declaring them engaged. I don't know what happened to the ring - I don't think she kept it. Or if she did, it's gone AWOL along with so damned much else.

Later, as we were having lunch in a restaurant a little higher up the beach (Nico's?), we saw Reg, still at the water's edge, in earnest conversation with a gaggle of topless twenty-something-year-old girls. Our model went ballistic and said "photograph him! photograph him! you'll make a fortune selling it to the Sun!"  Reg was always getting press for his boozing etc. but hell, he was just a guy on holiday. Could have shot it without getting off my ass: all my stuff was beside me. Couldn't do that to anyone, sod the money. But hey, the lunch was great!

Rob

Tim Lookingbill

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #77 on: March 03, 2017, 06:08:31 PM »

I found the very first manifestation of your green-bikinied lady strange; the second refence made it even more strange (to me), especially that they should have to be similar.

I've shot very few pictures of ladies in bikinis; a bikini, especially one in green, would feel somewhat anaemic to me, making your choice hard for me to understand.

I did see a lady in a green swimsuit, once though: that was in Lindos, on the isle of Rhodes. She was Irish, I think, and the wife of tv news reporter, Sandy Gall. We were shooting a calendar there and got chatting with Reginald Bosanquet (another tv chap) who was relaxing on the sand with a female singer companion, when Gall came along and asked if anyone knew where his wife was. Reginald B. told him, so he went off to collect her.

In the meantime, as we were working on behalf of a beer company, Reginald took the opportunity of slipping a ring-pull onto my wife's finger and declaring them engaged. I don't know what happened to the ring - I don't think she kept it. Or if she did, it's gone AWOL along with so damned much else.

Later, as we were having lunch in a restaurant a little higher up the beach (Nico's?), we saw Reg, still at the water's edge, in earnest conversation with a gaggle of topless twenty-something-year-old girls. Our model went ballistic and said "photograph him! photograph him! you'll make a fortune selling it to the Sun!"  Reg was always getting press for his boozing etc. but hell, he was just a guy on holiday. Could have shot it without getting off my ass: all my stuff was beside me. Couldn't do that to anyone, sod the money. But hey, the lunch was great!

Rob

I can see you've focused away from my original main point I was making about the woman I spotted and drifted as usual to making it about you, not even touching upon my main focus about developing a sensitive eye toward not doing the usual same old-same old when it comes to spotting the unusual and strange, the different.

Trying to get an equal back and forth with you Rob is just too tiresome. I give up trying to engage in a conversation where it doesn't drift to it being all about your photographic escapades. I've read it already too many times. It's boring!
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Rob C

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Re: What's Photography For?
« Reply #78 on: March 04, 2017, 04:55:46 AM »

I can see you've focused away from my original main point I was making about the woman I spotted and drifted as usual to making it about you, not even touching upon my main focus about developing a sensitive eye toward not doing the usual same old-same old when it comes to spotting the unusual and strange, the different.

Trying to get an equal back and forth with you Rob is just too tiresome. I give up trying to engage in a conversation where it doesn't drift to it being all about your photographic escapades. I've read it already too many times. It's boring!

Well there you are, Tim, the penalty for not making yourself clear in the first place!

Now, had it been clear that you wanted us to focus the 'debate' on not doing the same old things over and over agan, then why did you not make that clear instead of taking us down this strange green path of yours?

But of course, it would all have remained academic: we are what we are and it's all we can ever hope to express, verbally or in photographs.

Perhaps games of ping-pong are your thing, but you must know from experience (you, do, don't you?) that the Internet will never get anyone to change their expressive ablities. So where, I have to ask, is the point?

I really must attempt to fashion further replies in your own, individual and strikingly charming manner; so much to learn!

Rob
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