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Author Topic: So It Goes  (Read 5223 times)

Rob C

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So It Goes
« on: July 15, 2017, 04:23:45 AM »

Nice piece; I also believe that the photographs from Andrew's article work very well within the parameters that he set for himself with the project.

However, it's a pity he used a cellphone. Perfectly adequate for the purpose, it also make future exploitation (not a pejorative concept) difficult, as I have discovered to my own cost.

Rob C

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 10:17:02 AM »

I agree. It's a very nice, thoughtful piece. The images work very well (my favorites are the fifth, the dirty rabbit, and the last, the roofs and wires.)

I do have to agree, somewhat, with Rantoul that there is too much essentially meaningless text applied to much photography these days, which is why I cancelled my subscription to Aperture many years ago (after subscribing regularly starting in the 1960s.)

But Andrew writes meaningful text, not deliberately trying to obscure. Good essay.
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camgarner

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2017, 03:04:30 AM »

I find this conversation very interesting.  My daughter who finished her MFA a few years ago gave me some insight into the educational process that is followed in many MFA programs.  She went into the program as a photographer and came out a person who is passionate about exploring many forms of art – obviously a good thing.  The focus of her program was critical thinking and exposure to other forms of art that may be used to express her creative passions.  Little effort or emphasis is placed on the craft of making art.  As a young struggling artist, she continues to explore different media to help execute her projects.  She currently spends part of her time writing art reviews for several art magazines.  Her focus is performance video and sculpture – a far cry from photography.

She is long on critical thinking and short technical execution (my opinion) but she is confident she will learn what she needs to communicate her concepts.  Given the work I have seen from her I can’t disagree.  I come at this a different way as I learned my technical skill first then later learned the importance of better defining my concepts.

There is no right or wrong approach but my belief is art is a mixture of some level of technical competence and some level of communicating a congruent concept.

Adams quote not withstanding – “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept” –  I do believe that many young MFAs over intellectualize their work at the expense of technical competence. At some point, they need to communicate more with their imagery and less with the written word.
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2017, 04:24:05 AM »

Courses.

I wanted to be a photographer (pro) from the moment I was about sixteen and realised that my painting/drawing skills were never going to allow me a career as an artist, which had been the original "plan", inasmuch as any callow youth has a plan. Anyway, Vincent, Cézanne and Alberto Vargas had already been invented, so where could I fit and win?

My entrée was via the engineering industry, and I spent maybe six years there learning my craft, much of it in b/w and colour darkrooms. Part of the deal was that I also attend night school towards getting a professional qualification.

Disillusion came early, when the lecturer mocked my comment on admiring David Bailey with the remark that were he to shoot fashion as did Bailey, he'd quit. Instead, I did. I didn't get fired; I suppose I was more valuable to the firm doing what I did for them than I would have been just holding a bit of paper confirming I'd bought into the college philosophy. Vindication came some years later when I'd gone solo and the lecturer's day job in a studio vanished with the times. (The studio for which he worked also ran a colour processing lab, and I derived great pleasure driving up in my increasingly nice wheels and parking outside the glass door right under the collective nose... Not an unworthy revenge, just deep satisfaction that I'd listened to my own music.)

In all my career, not one client asked to see qualifications other then my portfolio (we didn't call 'em books in those days).

I think a long art education is fine if you want to be a historian, a talker and not a doer. What I think art education should be about is NOT mind-setting, but totally about practical skill and technique. Knowledge of your predecessors should be taken as granted, and part of what led you into an interest in art or whatever you call what you do. Neither you (nor the State) should be spending money for you to do what you can do mostly for free in any library.

I have long held the notion that people should never allow their own identity to become subsumed into anyone else's ideal. That's why I think all this critique stuff so dangerous, even when people think they look for it as nothing more than part of a game they are playing. Be very careful: if you allow anyone to fuck with your head, that's how it remains.

Rob C

Sharon VL

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2017, 04:45:29 PM »

Sometimes you need words. To my husband this photo is upside down. To me it is a photo of trees walking.  ;D

Telecaster

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2017, 05:14:24 PM »

Sometimes you need words. To my husband this photo is upside down. To me it is a photo of trees walking.  ;D

This is one of those "Why didn't I think of that?!" moments.  :D  "Trees walking" as caption: perfect.

-Dave-
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degrub

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2017, 06:17:22 PM »

Sometimes you need words. To my husband this photo is upside down. To me it is a photo of trees walking.  ;D

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MQVSFIA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 06:25:24 PM »

This is one of those "Why didn't I think of that?!" moments.  :D  "Trees walking" as caption: perfect.

-Dave-
+1.
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 03:51:03 AM »

"Sometimes you need words. To my husband this photo is upside down. To me it is a photo of trees walking."  ;D Sharon VL

In this case, and as I read the text without having clocked in, I saw no image on the screen. In my mind, though, I saw the reflections of vertically reversed trees in the eddies at a river's bank. For me, because of the aquatic distortions, that would have been a more convincing image for the title.

Does that make my head better than yours? Of course not. What it does is underline something writers of books fear when picking up the cheques for letting their work be turned into stage or film productions: the alteration of their mental perception of their created characters into someone else's idea of what those characters must be.

When I was shooting stock, the agency used to send out leaflets giving its latest needs, and also suggesting thought-association concepts. In other words, provide images that say something such as "Hello!"; "Oh shit!"; "I feel wonderful!" and stuff along those lines; it would have drained my enthusiasm to go out of the house to shoot, working like that. And there's the rub: I wanted life in snaps to feel exciting. After all, I was living those snaps as I made them. It's part of the job description. At least before you take it up.

Now retired, however, I sometimes employ that technique in order to give myself something new to look for within the small shooting arena that I allow myself. It seldom produces anything, and the reason is that the area remains unchanged, the difference being only in the mind when I find something that matches the mental word image. Remove the thought, and the snap's exactly the same as if there had been no preceding mental caption. In that sense, the caption can be a misleading (to the photographer) influence before the fact, resuting in a picture without any real visible sense. That's why most of the time I wander around without an idea in my mind (other than thinking about having a coffee) and just let things come to me. That way, its the receptive part of my mind that does both the walking and the working. Perhaps it simply boils down to the differences betwen proactive and reactive mindsets.

But lots of stock shooters did very well following the agency rules!

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 05:05:25 AM »

I think words cn be very useful, as is any other technique for opening the mind to wider possibilities, or for explaining what has been tried and done.
The curse of some courses is that they instill a belief that this or that theory is the truth, before which all others must kneel.
Until the fashion changes and last year's true believers are washed away...

It's fascinating to me that at university level, there is a philosophical divide between the sciences and arts/letters that is rarely discussed: in science, you are educated to do, or at least use science. In the arts, you are mostly educated to analyse other peoples doings. Most authors do not have post-grad degrees in English Lit, vanishingly few mathematicians or physicists do not have corresponding advanced degrees.

I suspect it's because beyond the technical skills, the greater part of being an artist is senstivity and an experience of life, things that are not teachable.
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 05:58:01 AM »

I think words cn be very useful, as is any other technique for opening the mind to wider possibilities, or for explaining what has been tried and done.
The curse of some courses is that they instill a belief that this or that theory is the truth, before which all others must kneel.
Until the fashion changes and last year's true believers are washed away...

It's fascinating to me that at university level, there is a philosophical divide between the sciences and arts/letters that is rarely discussed: in science, you are educated to do, or at least use science. In the arts, you are mostly educated to analyse other peoples doings. Most authors do not have post-grad degrees in English Lit, vanishingly few mathematicians or physicists do not have corresponding advanced degrees.

I suspect it's because beyond the technical skills, the greater part of being an artist is senstivity and an experience of life, things that are not teachable.


This must stop! I find myself in absolute agreement with someone!

Not that I was ever in university, mind you, as it never appeared as a wish in my mind. The wish had been - if vaguely - for art school, but I was denied that by my last school where the arts were considered a preserve for the dunderheads, and the annual, published results looked better (for the school) the higher the number of passes in maths, English and the sciences. So, denied higher art classes because they thought they knew better for me, I couldn't go any further on leaving those halls of basic acedeme. Sucks, but that was the darker side of the 50s mindset. (I may not have learned much about photography in art school - it didn't exist, AFAIK, in the art courses in Glasgow at the time, but the connections would have been priceless.)

Rob

jeremyrh

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 11:45:04 AM »

I think words cn be very useful, as is any other technique for opening the mind to wider possibilities, or for explaining what has been tried and done.
The curse of some courses is that they instill a belief that this or that theory is the truth, before which all others must kneel.
Until the fashion changes and last year's true believers are washed away...

It's fascinating to me that at university level, there is a philosophical divide between the sciences and arts/letters that is rarely discussed: in science, you are educated to do, or at least use science. In the arts, you are mostly educated to analyse other peoples doings. Most authors do not have post-grad degrees in English Lit, vanishingly few mathematicians or physicists do not have corresponding advanced degrees.

I suspect it's because beyond the technical skills, the greater part of being an artist is senstivity and an experience of life, things that are not teachable.

I don't think it's very helpful to try to draw exact parallels between "arts" and "science". One can just as easily say that science students simply study the works of others (Newton and pals) without ever developing their OWN theory of gravitation. I have tried long and hard to develop a grasp of mathematics that would allow me to go further than balancing my cheque book or (at a stretch) solving a problem on an exam paper. Alas, I have found that this is not teachable. Or at least not learnable.
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Sharon VL

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2017, 12:32:31 PM »

"Sometimes you need words. To my husband this photo is upside down. To me it is a photo of trees walking."  ;D Sharon VL

In this case, and as I read the text without having clocked in, I saw no image on the screen. In my mind, though, I saw the reflections of vertically reversed trees in the eddies at a river's bank. For me, because of the aquatic distortions, that would have been a more convincing image for the title.

Does that make my head better than yours? Of course not. What it does is underline something writers of books fear when picking up the cheques for letting their work be turned into stage or film productions: the alteration of their mental perception of their created characters into someone else's idea of what those characters must be.

When I was shooting stock, the agency used to send out leaflets giving its latest needs, and also suggesting thought-association concepts. In other words, provide images that say something such as "Hello!"; "Oh shit!"; "I feel wonderful!" and stuff along those lines; it would have drained my enthusiasm to go out of the house to shoot, working like that. And there's the rub: I wanted life in snaps to feel exciting. After all, I was living those snaps as I made them. It's part of the job description. At least before you take it up.

Now retired, however, I sometimes employ that technique in order to give myself something new to look for within the small shooting arena that I allow myself. It seldom produces anything, and the reason is that the area remains unchanged, the difference being only in the mind when I find something that matches the mental word image. Remove the thought, and the snap's exactly the same as if there had been no preceding mental caption. In that sense, the caption can be a misleading (to the photographer) influence before the fact, resuting in a picture without any real visible sense. That's why most of the time I wander around without an idea in my mind (other than thinking about having a coffee) and just let things come to me. That way, its the receptive part of my mind that does both the walking and the working. Perhaps it simply boils down to the differences betwen proactive and reactive mindsets.

But lots of stock shooters did very well following the agency rules!

Rob

It was meant humorously, Rob. I took the shot with my iphone which presented it to me upside down. I immediately thought it looked like some graceful, slender trees walking. My title failed to convince my husband but that's still what I see. ;D

hermankrieger

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2017, 12:51:27 PM »

For a photo essay where the captions are part of the photos, see "Churches ad hoc"
www.efn.org/~hkrieger/church.htm
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2017, 02:20:49 PM »

It was meant humorously, Rob. I took the shot with my iphone which presented it to me upside down. I immediately thought it looked like some graceful, slender trees walking. My title failed to convince my husband but that's still what I see. ;D

Hi Sharon,

Yes, I know - the emoticon tells me so; that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your proposition, though, and thinking and seeing life/reality(?) parallels is what photography seems to do well - it's a quick medium that lets you do and show that.

But verbosity, layered on top of graphics, can do as much to confuse the senses as to clarify; I think that's why we have this vast body of people who are expert in curator-speak: it's hides and disguises and clothes those pesky nude emperors. You could say that art has spawned a marketing and advertising world of its own, complete with specialised language and codes.

Of course, it some big gallery were to take it into its head to represent me, I'd be perfectly happy to espouse the opposite opinion and tell you exactly how valuable, essential and helpful the art behemoth has become! I'm nothing if not a quick learner (as long as it doesn't involve books, that is) and knowing the side that's buttered has been essential all my life.

;-)

Rob

OmerV

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2017, 05:57:31 PM »

I don’t get it. Those photographs could have been made in Wisconsin. In fact, on first seeing them I thought Boston, and I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana, gothic and all. Molitor is basically illustrating Neal’s point: These are generic photographs that could have come from some black & white stock agency. Change the name of the town in the essay (Boston in Winter) and no-one would know the difference. Yeah, unfortunately, so it goes.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 06:03:24 PM by OmerV »
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GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2017, 04:23:32 AM »

Yeah, I'm not sure the excuse that eg Dorothea Lange's photos could get by with short captions because everyone knew the story. First of all, not everyone knew the story at the time, that's why they were made. So a test: if I don't give you any info at all about the following photo, does it grab you by the throat anyway?

(Ok, I'll tell you that the photographer was called Alfonso Lannelli... I'd never heard of him, presumably many of you have...)
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2017, 05:22:56 AM »

Yeah, I'm not sure the excuse that eg Dorothea Lange's photos could get by with short captions because everyone knew the story. First of all, not everyone knew the story at the time, that's why they were made. So a test: if I don't give you any info at all about the following photo, does it grab you by the throat anyway?

(Ok, I'll tell you that the photographer was called Alfonso Lannelli... I'd never heard of him, presumably many of you have...)


Yes it do, yes it does. Never come across Lannelli either; feel that we should have all come across him. Classic style and subjects.

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2017, 05:55:11 AM »

It seems the credit on the photo was incorrect, it should have been Iannelli. He appears to have been a fascinating man:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfonso_Iannelli

The Wiki site make no mention of his photography, but I was able to find the photo through google under Alfonso Iannelli.
The title of the photo is "Boy smoking a cigarette, Kentucky Coal Miner Series. Harlan County, KY 1946"
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Dale Villeponteaux

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2017, 09:46:01 AM »

The Iannelli who took photographs was the son of the sculptor.
Found this on the web. I never came across him either.

Regards,
Dale
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