Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: The Essay  (Read 8155 times)

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 24074
The Essay
« on: October 13, 2015, 03:55:58 pm »

I guess we might all just as well shut up now.

;-(

Rob C

http://www.susansontag.com/SusanSontag/books/onPhotographyExerpt.shtml

Telecaster

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3686
Re: The Essay
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2015, 04:54:34 pm »

I was expecting something on Montaigne actually…

 ;D

-Dave-
Logged

GrahamBy

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1813
    • Some of my photos
Re: The Essay
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2015, 04:02:18 am »

Ha! I think Montaigne would have quite a bit to say about the obsession with producing photos that will last 100 years...  ;D
Logged

MarkJohnson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 91
Re: The Essay
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2015, 04:55:25 am »

A tiresome text .. rather than, 'to photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed', I say, 'to photograph is to love the thing photographed'.
Logged
Mark J

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 24074
Re: The Essay
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2015, 06:26:37 am »

A tiresome text .. rather than, 'to photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed', I say, 'to photograph is to love the thing photographed'.


You may say that, Mark, but it means something quite else, a very different emotional reaction, or even intent at the moment of the click.

Becaue you have a dfferent take doesn't make the original tiresome at all. But you do have every right to view it as you choose.

Rob C

« Last Edit: October 16, 2015, 06:29:18 am by Rob C »
Logged

MarkJohnson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 91
Re: The Essay
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2015, 01:48:25 pm »

Hi Rob,
I don't like her assertions that photographing is necessarily aggressive, acquisitive, appropriative. She doesn't seem to allow that to photograph may be to give something to the world rather than to take something from it, indeed to be an act of love, or that to photograph may not necessarily be "putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge -- and, therefore, like power", that there may be an (important) aesthetic dimension to photographing which is not reducible to political terms and which is not, I think, wholly allowed for in her slightly ironic reference to "virtuosi of the noble image" such as Strand and Stieglitz.
Mark
Logged
Mark J

AreBee

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 638
Re: The Essay
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2015, 02:52:29 pm »

Mark,

Quote
...to photograph may be to give something to the world rather than to take something from it...

Give what?
Logged

MarkJohnson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 91
Re: The Essay
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2015, 03:01:37 pm »

An insight, an inspiration, a moment of joy, something to remember, a work of art even ..
Logged
Mark J

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 24074
Re: The Essay
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2015, 03:29:10 pm »

If you were going to shut up, it should have been in 1977.


Thanks for that link; made for interesting reading.

I find it quite informative to see how different people see photograhy - not photographs particularly - but more the concept of what photography might be in its relationships to something/anything? else. Whether getting oneself too deeply into this is a help, might not be so sure nor clear. As with my own early days in the 'thing', I loved seeing the work of people I grew to admire, but their relevance to what I, myself, ended up doing was a bit sketchy. At times I feel they were not influences, based on the fact that what I was give to do was often totally different to their choices or options, and thus their ways were non-applicable to my situations.

However, work a thing of the past, I now find that finding some of these old favourites again opens up new avenues for me to explore within my own possibilities of the moment. Whether it's all a part of the same psychological makeup, that what you like really influences everything you touch, obviously or otherwise, that one's 'soul' is always in subliminal control, I don't know. What I do know, is that there are some set standards within myself, at least, to which I unconsciously cleave. Perhaps each one of us is programmed - or self-programmed/educated - in similar, if different behavioural/emotional directions.

Anyway, for me, it's far more interesting to ponder photography than to disect photographs. Post mortems don't thrill me much at all.

Rob C

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 24074
Re: The Essay
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2015, 03:44:46 pm »

Hi Rob,
I don't like her assertions that photographing is necessarily aggressive, acquisitive, appropriative. She doesn't seem to allow that to photograph may be to give something to the world rather than to take something from it, indeed to be an act of love, or that to photograph may not necessarily be "putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge -- and, therefore, like power", that there may be an (important) aesthetic dimension to photographing which is not reducible to political terms and which is not, I think, wholly allowed for in her slightly ironic reference to "virtuosi of the noble image" such as Strand and Stieglitz.
Mark


I don't understand her to be speaking about 'the world' but about what the photographer is doing to the subject. Of course we are sucking part of the life, the essence out of the subject! It's there in the reaction that we try to elicit from the subject, the emotional revelation we want to pull out of that person which, for some subjects, is as painful as pulling a tooth. Okay, I grant you that if you can't interact with the subject, are happy to take what's sitting there looking blankly or nervously at you, then nothing's taken, it's all sweet and empty. But that ain't photography. That's testing a lens.

But what are we doing to ourselves the photographers? The emotional kick of pulling off something that's extraordinary is very real; real, too, the bitter disappontmnet when absolutely nothing happens, despite all our efforts and every little trick we know. When we interact, nothing escapes scot-free: there's no such thing as free love. As Suzi Quatro's mother said: somebody always pays.

I have no idea if anything happens to still life subjects or landscapes, though...

;-)

Rob C

AreBee

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 638
Re: The Essay
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2015, 03:58:59 pm »

Rob,

Quote
I find it quite informative to see how different people see photograhy...

To what end?
Logged

MarkJohnson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 91
Re: The Essay
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2015, 04:08:33 pm »

Getting close to my bed time but just to round off the day, portraiture, if you're referring to that, is to me a creative collaboration between portraitist and subject to produce something new, the portrait, where nothing as such is being taken from the subject. If you're thinking of the street grab shot, that might be disparaging or flattering, depending, but anyway I thought street photography was more about unusual juxtapositions, what you might call formalism, but that is to digress too far from the topic..
Logged
Mark J

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: The Essay
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2015, 10:16:35 pm »

Of course photography is appropriative. The fallacy is in assuming that since the photographer "takes" something, the subject loses something. The subject, usually, does not lose anything. But the photographer gains something, a photograph, which partakes of the essence of the subject in some interesting ways.

In terms of landscapes, we're taking as much as any other case.

In some cases, the subject *does* lose out. You can't remember the Eiffel Tower or Half Dome any more, what you're remembering is a photograph, almost certainly. Sally Mann makes this terrible observation in her memoir, that photographs destroy memory. It's a bit of a step from destroying memory to damaging the thing itself, but depending on your philosophy, even that's a reasonable step.

Something is certainly harmed, something closely tied to the the thing itself.

This is not, thankfully, the common case. Generally photographs do no particular harm.
Logged

MarkJohnson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 91
Re: The Essay
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2015, 12:30:00 am »

A photographic portrait is appropriative but a painted one not?
Logged
Mark J

amolitor

  • Guest
Re: The Essay
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2015, 01:26:49 am »

A painting is certainly less so. It is more of a new thing, and less bound up with the subject than a photo is.

You can treat this as a sort of mystical connection, or you can view it as a psychological or social construct. The answer is the same.

Paintings do not destroy memory so thoroughly as photos.
Logged

MarkJohnson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 91
Re: The Essay
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2015, 02:11:04 am »

So a meticulously traced and painted portrait from a camera obscura is not, or only a bit, appropriative, but the same image captured with a photosensitive emulsion or digital sensor rather more so .. ?
Logged
Mark J

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 24074
Re: The Essay
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2015, 04:18:16 am »

Rob,

To what end?


To the end that I like to understand what different people find compelling in the photograhic world, what drives some folks to making images where to others it's just a waste of time picking up a camera, not because they can't do anything with it, but because they don't care to do so.

I enjoy watching videos of some photographers that I admire; I like to listen to their opinions, and more often than not, find them (the people) to be perfectly plain and not conceited; the more successful they are the more natural some seem to be, but the opposite holds true for the shooting stars who are big today and gone tomorrow.

It's interesting to discover that some people that I like share similar emotional ties with their subject as do I; I also find it interesting to hear about their business journey through the photographic life, why things happened to or for them... I suppose that it's just the human bits that attract the most.

Rob C

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 24074
Re: The Essay
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2015, 04:33:38 am »

So a meticulously traced and painted portrait from a camera obscura is not, or only a bit, appropriative, but the same image captured with a photosensitive emulsion or digital sensor rather more so .. ?


Making a portrait of anyone is an imposition unless that person is the one to have requested the sitting.

Sitting in front of a camera behind which lurks some guy peering at you through it, mentally criticising everything about you, evaluating the relative merits or lack of them in your face, isn't fun unless you have an ego as wide as a city bus. To pretend that the process is painless is a fib. In fact, I have found that sometimes, the better the photographer, the less willing the subject: there seems to be a built-in fear of failing the 'test' as it were, that you, the sitter, won't be able to give the snapper the same result as the professionals with whom he has worked, that you will become a disappointment both to him and to yourself.

Personally, I speak only of women: I avoided photographing men all my career, as much as I possibly could. I have no interest in them and actually dislike the experience when it has been unavoidable. What in hell can you say to them? Oooh! aren't you handsome? Gosh! how I wish I knew you better? Do you like football? What kind of car do you drive? God save me from any of it!

Rob C
« Last Edit: October 17, 2015, 04:35:14 am by Rob C »
Logged

AreBee

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 638
Re: The Essay
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2015, 04:56:18 am »

Rob,

Quote
...I like to understand what...drives some folks to making images where to others it's just a waste of time picking up a camera, not because they can't do anything with it, but because they don't care to do so.

What have you concluded?
Logged

GrahamBy

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1813
    • Some of my photos
Re: The Essay
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2015, 05:18:07 am »


I enjoy watching videos of some photographers that I admire; I like to listen to their opinions, and more often than not, find them (the people) to be perfectly plain and not conceited; the more successful they are the more natural some seem to be, but the opposite holds true for the shooting stars who are big today and gone tomorrow.


I think this applies in all walks of life. I've chatted with a man widely considered to be the greatest living statistician (David Cox), who is a completely unassuming guy who still works in a tiny little office stacked with journals and a computer balanced on a trestle table... in an Oxford college of which he is the Master. He presumably has a large ceremonial office somewhere that he doesn't use. Rather like the knighthood he prefers no one refer to. Hey went out of his way to be kind, took me for coffee, told jokes at his own expense. In a similar way, medicos at the very top of their field, on the board of GAVI, or the head of Neurology at a major hospital who stopped a discussion of study design to give me a physical exam because I mentioned some minor symptom.

The next level down the ladder, who are breaking their teeth (and those of their colleagues) to get ahead are another matter, typically they need to belittle the opinions and expertise of everyone around them to feel better about themselves. What depresses me is that business ethics (as described in the book review above) have become the universal standard, in science and medicine as much as they have long dominated in art and fashion. The next generation of dominant scientists will dominate because of their political connections and ability to sell bullshit: I'm already seeing these people take control of important research institutes.

So, I just take photos in the hope that some make me feel good when I look at them, or make my friends smile. And sometimes I'll buy a lens or a camera because I want it, and it might even turn out to be useful for making interesting photos, or not.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up