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Author Topic: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld  (Read 3347 times)

OmerV

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2019, 07:44:09 am »

It wasn't a rant, it was an opinion, as I underlined with "FWLIW - for what little it is worth". If you think that me having opinions equates to me being a "wanker", well that reflects more on you I'm afraid.  I think this is the first time I've ever been tempted to click on "Report to Moderator" on this site, if indeed any, but since we have a very good moderator I'll leave that up to him.

If I may expand on my opinion, at risk of being labelled as, I don't know, a child molestor this time, it comes from as Andrew stated, being totally fed up by the identical websites published by the MFA world and its camp followers, which are almost always characterless to the point of tedium, incorporate navigation and scrolling which doesn't even work on touch screens, provides not a HINT of personality or engagement with the audience.. I could go on (in fact I already have).

This may not matter to others, and they are of course welcome to tell me that they think otherwise, and they think that I'm overreacting, but for me, presentation is important, and this counts equally in print and on screen.  A badly designed website, or book, to me says that the photographer / artist doesn't really care very much, or has no design sensibility.   And, as an aside, in fact, Lula used to be like that - pre Kevin days, the web design was appalling - remember the yellow text on black background, the awful drop shadows, then random typography? Michael Reichmann, for all his considerable merits both as a person and as photographer, did not appear to have much of a clue about design.  The Kevin-driven redesign was a huge step forward, and in general there was plenty of evidence that Kevin has far more developed design sensibility. 

So, when I'm presented with a web site like Mark Sommerfeld's, my first reaction is "he doesn't care, why should I".

Right, James Clark, if it's ok with you I'm off for a wank, er, walk.

Could you point us to a well designed photography showcase web site? Genuinely curious.

The white background works to help the viewer concentrate on the art, and also as an analogue to photography books. Of course the cost of printing a book required some compromises, such as minimizing the amount of printing ink.

Still, I can’t imagine seeing Larry Clark’s Tulsa done in Adobe Spark.

bcooter

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2019, 10:37:00 am »

LuLa turning into Aperture?

Slobodan,

I enjoyed the article.   It's not my particular style of photography, but it opens my mind as to why he's chosen for the projects he shoots and why he shoots them in that style.

To me he's playing to his market, kind of has that NYT Kathy Ryan type of art photography.  https://www.americanphotomag.com/behind-scenes-new-york-times-magazine-photo-editor-kathy-ryan#page-5

Who knows what's in a photographer's head or their motivation.  Maybe he isn't playing to a market, maybe he just sees the world that way.

I know that everyone that hires me sees something different in my work.    We shot a book cover and the Art Director was very well studied and accomplished.   She went through our online portfolio and picked about a dozen images.   11 were shot with a medium format back, 1 was film.

Her comments were she liked those because they were shot on film.  ?    I said no all but one was shot with an older contact with an older digital back and she said "I love that".   So the thought that I had used different equipment than a common dslr got her going.

I do know some editorial picture editors want to see you shoot film, or get very close to emulating it, so even though Mr. Sommerfeld's images were film, then digitized, it doesn't matter, it matters that he gets the commission.

What I find interesting is his personal and editorial work is much different than his commercial work, which is a natural progression because the buyer has a different objective.

Anyway, I like that Josh published this.

All the best,

BC

P.S.

I shot this during an editorial shoot in Paris in about 5 minutes.   We also used it for a prop in a movie for a faux art gallery.



Since we made huge prints I didn't need them so I left them at the lab.   A month later the lab  owner called and said he wanted to place it in an art auction.   I don't consider myself a fine artist, but said sure go ahead.   It sold for around 19,000 euro, the second highest in the auction.

What's funny is if I show this to a commercial client that just go huh?

It's all up to the viewer.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 10:44:11 am by bcooter »
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luxborealis

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2019, 11:20:20 am »

Great to see! Mark’s work is definitely nothing even close to what I shoot or even enjoy looking at, but it is thought-provoking, which is what art should be. I love the work I do, but I also see it as homogenous and easy to digest. I’ve drifted into a too-comfortable way of perceiving the world and creating photographs, which is why I love to be challenged by seeing new work, by young artists who are seeing success, as they choose to define it. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant, as I can still learn from it, provided I keep an open mind.

What I find interesting is the slightly different subsection of LuLa forum posters the last few ‘new’ articles by Josh have drawn. Great to see! That’s progress.
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David Mantripp

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2019, 12:38:03 pm »

Could you point us to a well designed photography showcase web site? Genuinely curious.

The white background works to help the viewer concentrate on the art, and also as an analogue to photography books. Of course the cost of printing a book required some compromises, such as minimizing the amount of printing ink.

Still, I can’t imagine seeing Larry Clark’s Tulsa done in Adobe Spark.

Omer, it’s all very subjective and if I point to a design I like it will probably just lead to more sniping. However one example of the top of my head (with indeed a white background is https://www.charliewaite.com)

But the issue I have with these lookalike MFA sites is not so much the white background, it is more the aloofness, the lack of engagement with the audience, the endless list of irrelevant “accomplishments” substituting for a bio. Basically just a bunch of photos with no substantive context.  I repeat, I find this lazy, repetitive, more than a little pretentious and basically off-putting.

And often it is disappointing because the photography is interesting, and I’m interested in finding out more about the context, about the photographer.  Therefore to me this ridiculous “white box” trend is totally counter-productive.
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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2019, 02:09:30 pm »

LuLa turning into Aperture?

Indeed! LuLa is now another 'new age' site. Totally different focus of little interest, to me at least. :(
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James Clark

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2019, 02:21:07 pm »

It wasn't a rant, it was an opinion, as I underlined with "FWLIW - for what little it is worth". If you think that me having opinions equates to me being a "wanker", well that reflects more on you I'm afraid.  I think this is the first time I've ever been tempted to click on "Report to Moderator" on this site, if indeed any, but since we have a very good moderator I'll leave that up to him.

If I may expand on my opinion, at risk of being labelled as, I don't know, a child molestor this time, it comes from as Andrew stated, being totally fed up by the identical websites published by the MFA world and its camp followers, which are almost always characterless to the point of tedium, incorporate navigation and scrolling which doesn't even work on touch screens, provides not a HINT of personality or engagement with the audience.. I could go on (in fact I already have).

This may not matter to others, and they are of course welcome to tell me that they think otherwise, and they think that I'm overreacting, but for me, presentation is important, and this counts equally in print and on screen.  A badly designed website, or book, to me says that the photographer / artist doesn't really care very much, or has no design sensibility.   And, as an aside, in fact, Lula used to be like that - pre Kevin days, the web design was appalling - remember the yellow text on black background, the awful drop shadows, then random typography? Michael Reichmann, for all his considerable merits both as a person and as photographer, did not appear to have much of a clue about design.  The Kevin-driven redesign was a huge step forward, and in general there was plenty of evidence that Kevin has far more developed design sensibility. 

So, when I'm presented with a web site like Mark Sommerfeld's, my first reaction is "he doesn't care, why should I".

Right, James Clark, if it's ok with you I'm off for a wank, er, walk.

First and foremost, I apologize for my directing the term "wanker" at you. It was inappropriate, and I certainly wouldn't want to be spoken to in that way.  (In my defense, here in the States, "wanker" is pretty damn mild - sort of like "stop being silly."  It was clearly taken more insultingly than I intended, and again, I apologize.)

Second, thanks for the further explanation in this response and one before.  I better understand what you're trying to say, and while I still, personally, think it's an odd thing to get so frustrated with, as least I better understand what you feel is missing. 
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amolitor

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2019, 02:28:02 pm »

Web site design for photography is a bit sticky. I have come around to the notion that the web isn't a particularly good place for the kind of photography I am interested in.

The biggest choice in play is whether or not to do thumbnails. In general, whichever way you go, there's some sort of "flip through them in a linear sequence" thing involved as well.

Thumbnails are well suited to the "one-by-one" vision of photography, the idea that every photograph stands more or less on its own. The thumbnails let you pick out the ones that catch your eye, and click in to the gallery there. This model essentially demands graphically strong pictures, since that's all you can see in the thumbnail.  Vast swathes of material just vanish in this model (a lot of the delicate platinum printed material from the early 20th century, photos that are based on masses of detail, that kind of thing).

This one-by-one graphically strong school of photography is and has been dominant for the last 100 years or thereabouts, so it works ok.

Personally, I'm not very interested in these pictures, but that is my taste.

The other approach eschews the thumbnails, and it is here that the side-scrolling pictures-on-white approach dominates. The conceit is that it's like a book, but all too often the artist emulates the worst kind of book, the mid-20th century portfolio style, with Serious Pictures centered one per page, on white, usually recto with either nothing verso of a small blob of text. "American Photographs" and "The Americans" follow roughly this style, but there are 1000s of others. I consider these things to be essentially sarcophagi for photographs. Sometimes they work, more often they simply bore the reader to death within a few pages. These things languish on the shelf, to be dragged out and flipped through at random for a few minutes every year, decade, or never, depending on how Weighty The Title.

The idea is that the pictures shall be viewed in sequence, starting from This One, and proceeding through These In Order and ending with That One. Web sites with the side-scrollers are generally mercifully short, Sommerfeld's 8155 seems to have 26 photos, so it is not too much agony to wade through.

In general you will find that these things are sequenced, but the sequence is generally dunderheaded, barely enough to sustain interest for 26 photos, if that.

I happen to like this usage of the side-scroller:

http://www.katrinkoenning.com/work/Indefinitely.html

While it's still the same tedious stupid-navigation-on-white you will notice that the pictures are of various sizes and placements. While there are simple graphical connections to be made from this picture to that, there are also multiple themes woven in. The connections are not all "this picture, and then the one that follows it"

While you will see the same art-school tropes as Sommerfeld uses ("look, here's a picture of someone's arm for no discernible reason at all") it's vastly more visually interesting. The connections between frames are not merely "here is this form, and in the next picture, look, there it is again only made of of french fries." Both graphical forms and subject matter appear repeatedly.

Koenning's project has vastly more depth than Sommerfeld's, it gives you far more places to interpet and to wonder. And it's a hell of a lot prettier, too.
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David Mantripp

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2019, 02:36:35 pm »

I agree that the use of side scrolling is better on Katrin Koenning’s web site, and the photography is interesting, and therefore I clicked on “About” to find out more about this interesting artist, and...

I give up.
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David Mantripp

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2019, 02:37:42 pm »

First and foremost, I apologize for my directing the term "wanker" at you. It was inappropriate, and I certainly wouldn't want to be spoken to in that way.  (In my defense, here in the States, "wanker" is pretty damn mild - sort of like "stop being silly."  It was clearly taken more insultingly than I intended, and again, I apologize.)

Second, thanks for the further explanation in this response and one before.  I better understand what you're trying to say, and while I still, personally, think it's an odd thing to get so frustrated with, as least I better understand what you feel is missing.

Ok, then we’re friends.  8)
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David Mantripp

amolitor

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2019, 02:46:23 pm »

I agree that the use of side scrolling is better on Katrin Koenning’s web site, and the photography is interesting, and therefore I clicked on “About” to find out more about this interesting artist, and...

I give up.

Well, yes, there is that.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2019, 04:22:55 pm »

I think we shall all line up for a critique of our web sites by David and Andrew. I don't mind going first :)

Hulyss

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2019, 05:27:09 pm »

Actually Hulyss, I immediately thought of your contributions over the years to this forum, without your level of polish, but with a vision in practice nonetheless~

Thank you very much Patricia !


I enjoyed the article.   It's not my particular style of photography, but it opens my mind as to why he's chosen for the projects he shoots and why he shoots them in that style.

To me he's playing to his market, kind of has that NYT Kathy Ryan type of art photography.  https://www.americanphotomag.com/behind-scenes-new-york-times-magazine-photo-editor-kathy-ryan#page-5

Who knows what's in a photographer's head or their motivation.  Maybe he isn't playing to a market, maybe he just sees the world that way.

I know that everyone that hires me sees something different in my work.    We shot a book cover and the Art Director was very well studied and accomplished.   She went through our online portfolio and picked about a dozen images.   11 were shot with a medium format back, 1 was film.

Her comments were she liked those because they were shot on film.  ?    I said no all but one was shot with an older contact with an older digital back and she said "I love that".   So the thought that I had used different equipment than a common dslr got her going.

I do know some editorial picture editors want to see you shoot film, or get very close to emulating it, so even though Mr. Sommerfeld's images were film, then digitized, it doesn't matter, it matters that he gets the commission.

What I find interesting is his personal and editorial work is much different than his commercial work, which is a natural progression because the buyer has a different objective.

Anyway, I like that Josh published this.

All the best,

BC

P.S.

I shot this during an editorial shoot in Paris in about 5 minutes.   We also used it for a prop in a movie for a faux art gallery.



Since we made huge prints I didn't need them so I left them at the lab.   A month later the lab  owner called and said he wanted to place it in an art auction.   I don't consider myself a fine artist, but said sure go ahead.   It sold for around 19,000 euro, the second highest in the auction.

What's funny is if I show this to a commercial client that just go huh?

It's all up to the viewer.


I agree with what you said James !
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James Clark

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2019, 08:19:36 pm »

Ok, then we’re friends.  8)

We are :). FWIW, I never intended otherwise - just opposing banter, (but I do appreciate the viewpoint on presentation).  Sorry again if I acted like.. a wanker ;)
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James Clark

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #33 on: January 13, 2019, 08:24:07 pm »

I think we shall all line up for a critique of our web sites by David and Andrew. I don't mind going first :)

Wish I could get my site up and running. In my own way, I struggle with exactly what Andrew and David are discussing.  How to focus my presentation, how to display it, and how to tie it together.  One think I've never quite managed to develop is consistency of subject.   I think I probably have a developed "style," it's just that it's applied liberally across genre, and as a result my collection (as it were) isn't as cohesive as I'd like.  And that, of course, makes it hard to present and explain.

OTOH, I (unashamedly) shoot to look good on a wall or to make a client's creation look crisp and clean, not to tell any sort of story, generally speaking, so part of the problem is endemic to.. me.  :)
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Rob C

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2019, 07:23:32 am »

Wish I could get my site up and running. In my own way, I struggle with exactly what Andrew and David are discussing.  How to focus my presentation, how to display it, and how to tie it together.  One think I've never quite managed to develop is consistency of subject.   I think I probably have a developed "style," it's just that it's applied liberally across genre, and as a result my collection (as it were) isn't as cohesive as I'd like.  And that, of course, makes it hard to present and explain.

OTOH, I (unashamedly) shoot to look good on a wall or to make a client's creation look crisp and clean, not to tell any sort of story, generally speaking, so part of the problem is endemic to.. me.  :)

Isn't that exactly what you should be doing if you do photography for a living?

FWIW, I'd suggest leaving the angst for the dilettantes amongst us, and just keep right on truckin' earning that buck!

Reality is reality, even if politicians are always in two minds about that. At least two minds.

Were I still actively wearing the earner's cap, I wouldn't give a damn about opinion here or anywhere outside my clients' boardrooms.

Rob
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 02:41:42 pm by Rob C »
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David Mantripp

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2019, 02:29:32 pm »

I think we shall all line up for a critique of our web sites by David and Andrew. I don't mind going first :)

trawling for compliments, huh?  :-)

Actually I like both your site & your photos - I've visited it more than a few times.  Sorry.
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David Mantripp

David Mantripp

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #36 on: January 14, 2019, 02:33:11 pm »

Isn't that exactly what you should be doing if you do photography for a living?

FWIW, I'd suggest leaving the angst for the dilettantes amongst us, and just keep right on truckin' earninig that buck!

Reality is reality, even if politicians are always in two minds about that. At least two minds.

Were I still actively wearing the earner's cap, I wouldn't give a damn about opinion here or anywhere outside my clients' boardrooms.

Rob

To be honest Rob, from my side I don't give a damn about what anyone thinks of my _opinions_.  Never mind my design. Or indeed photos.  Just as well really, on all 3 counts.   All I ask for the right to have an opinion.  Actually I derive a good degree of grim satisfaction from nobody agreeing with me :-)
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James Clark

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #37 on: January 14, 2019, 07:31:31 pm »


P.S.

I shot this during an editorial shoot in Paris in about 5 minutes.   We also used it for a prop in a movie for a faux art gallery.



Since we made huge prints I didn't need them so I left them at the lab.   A month later the lab  owner called and said he wanted to place it in an art auction.   I don't consider myself a fine artist, but said sure go ahead.   It sold for around 19,000 euro, the second highest in the auction.


Good Lord.  Your throwaways are better art than I'll ever do.  I really really love this image.
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Jeremy Roussak

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #38 on: January 14, 2019, 08:58:24 pm »

I'm pleased to read of the reconciliation.

Second, thanks for the further explanation in this response and one before.  I better understand what you're trying to say, and while I still, personally, think it's an odd thing to get so frustrated with, as least I better understand what you feel is missing.

Do you? I'm surprised. Taking great photos is one thing, and obviously an important aspect of selling oneself, or one's ideas; but presenting those photographs in a way that is easy to see, easy to navigate, unburdened with the kind of pretensions which upset David (and which I'm sure we've all read ad nauseam on many sites) must surely be of comparable importance.

When I go to court, I may have a good argument to place before the Judge; but if I don't present it well, its chances of success are markedly reduced. Equally, if I present a bad argument sufficiently attractively, who knows what I might pull off?

Jeremy
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jeremyrh

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Re: Summer On The Way with Mark Sommerfeld
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2019, 01:33:45 am »

Equally, if I present a bad argument sufficiently attractively, who knows what I might pull off?

Jeremy

This is what I tell myself before job interviews :-)
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