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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 04 Apr 2012 (Wednesday) 08:26
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Composition and all that Arty stuff - discussion thread.

 
Clean ­ Gene
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Sep 05, 2014 00:31 |  #3556

airfrogusmc wrote in post #17132079 (external link)
If it looks the same it can't be coming from someplace real.The work I saw is not a style but a technique and not a real way of seeing in my opinion. Camera on a tripod in a busy place, long exposure and printed very flat. Cool once maybe but is that enough to build a body of work on? Where is any of the person that took those images?

A few words form a few great...
"You should be able to look at me and see my work. You should be able to look at my work and see me." - Roy DeCarava

"..all photographs are selfportraits." - Minor White

"My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph." - Richard Avedon

If ALL photographs are self-portraits, then it has to be coming from some place "real" whether the photographer wants it to or not. You could take a hundred people and make then try to absolutely copy White or Avedon, but you're still gonna usually know what's an Avedon and what isn't simply because all but one of them are Avedon. Anything that a person does is gonna be shaped by personal experience and personal history, that's inevitable, and it is absolutely "real".

It's just that in many cases it is BORING.

You might say that you don't see the photographer in the photograph, but I think you might be ignoring the possibility that many artists DON'T have anything unique to contribute because the photographer really ISN'T a very interesting person. I'm more leaning towards rejecting the mindset of don't be cliched, I want to see the real you and what you want to say. The problem with that mentality is that there are more than 7 billion people on the planet, communication is faster than it's ever been, and photography has become accessible to nearly everyone. So yeah...7 billion people making photographs CAN'T result in 7 billion photographers who look unique. There's bound to be a LOT of overlap. And it's not just because the photographers "aren't being real" but because a lot of people really aren't that interesting and don't have anything unique to say.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Sep 05, 2014 01:28 |  #3557

airfrogusmc wrote in post #17133026 (external link)
Everything has been done. 2000 + years of two dimensional art and its all been painted, sculpted, sketched or photographed. I have my influences. As Z said you learn from others but there is a big difference in being influenced and copying. Look at art movements. Different artists all working in a similar way, all influencing one another but yet the great's work all had a personal signature. The question then becomes do you want to be a copy of someone else or do you have a voice? Do you have something to say visually or do you want to just take cool pictures? Nothing wrong with either path but one path is what separates work that is special from work that looks like everyone else's.

Yeah, but here's the question: did the great works have a personal signature because only those artists were being honest, or were those artist's works appreciated because they happened to be in the position of having a SCARCE vision that people actually cared about?

I have a problem with this whole aspect, because it seems to imply that anyone could matter if they just get honest and find what unique thing they have to contribute. But that's like telling anyone that they can be a great mathematicician if they just work hard enough at it. Not everyone is cut out for that, no matter how hard they try. Not everyone is cut out to be a well-respected artist because of the whole scarcity thing. Human beings are similar in a LOT of ways, which means that a lot of people making art are going to result in a whole lot of art that is really freaking similar. That's what one would expect to happen if the artists ARE being honest. Because a lot of the ways that people are unique happen to be in areas that no one cares about or are considered bad. It's not just a matter of being unique, it's a matter of being unique in a particular way that appeals to peoples' sensibilities. And with art becoming as ubiquitous as it is today, it's gonna be impossible for many people to meet that standard.

Does that mean that their work doesn't suck? No. Does that make their work any more interesting or important or significant? Of course not. But let's not add insult to injury here. Some people just plain are not cut out for certain things due to the kinds of people that they are. That should be enough. We don't have to say "you suck" and then expand on that by saying "you suck because you're just being fake and not being honest." That's like if I had a mentally retarded son who dreamed of being an astrophysicist, and told him that he'd be a failure because he's not working hard at it. It's hard enough telling him that he'll never be an astrophysicist because he's mentally retarded, but it'd just be cruel to watch him pour all of his effort into it and then blame his failure on him being lazy. Why add the unnecessary step of making it out to be that person's fault, when the reality is that most people will never get there regardless of how hard they try?

Because really, the economics of vision is a real factor here. Even if every single person in the world had a unique vision and truly did "honestly" express it through their art, the consumers MUST outnumber the producers or else there's no economic incentive for producing for anyone other than one's self. There's only a limited window for people to find an audience who cares about their work no matter how "honest" they are being. It's the equivalent of the argument that lots of people throw around with regards to the poverty issue: "yeah, it sucks that you're poor, but you should have worked harder and made smarter decision." That's a nice sentiment, but it breaks down because there aren't enough good jobs for everyone. If everyone is graduating high school and getting a college degree, that just means that the education got lowered in value because it's not as scarce. This is precisely why a high school diploma is nearly worthless these days, and people are getting college degrees and going to work as cashiers at Wal-Mart. "Unique training and skills? Okay...it's not nearly as unique as it used to be since there are more people with the same training and skills. Or, even if it is unique, it's of no use to us which means you're of no higher value to us than the guy who we just hired straight out of high school." I saw this analogy somewhere else, but it's the equivalent of locking ten hobos in a boxcar and making them fight over a ham sandwich, and then chastizing the losers for not fighting hard enough. Yeah, sure...if the losers fought harder, any ONE of them could have gotten the sandwich. But you knew damn well that at the end of the day, no matter how hard everyone fought, there were gonna be nine hobos going hungry that night.

Make no mistake: a lot of people will absolutely fail as visual artists. We shouldn't assume that it's just because they CHOSE to not say anything unique. It's probably more like the hobos-in-a-boxcar analogy. They all tried as hard as they freaking could, but at the end of the day there is only room for so many "unique visions".




  
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ziemowit
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Sep 05, 2014 03:21 |  #3558

I never said anyone can do it guys.

Of course you need to be a talented and vaguely interesting person to have anything interesting to say. Everyone can write, not everyone can be a poet. I thought that goes without saying. Just look at flickr. Tons of foolishness every second. If you're a fool, honesty in your case will produce foolishness. Kind of obvious.

Honesty is just a part of the equation. And probably the easier one to do, then developing yourself to be in a position to see anything in an interesting way.

Education helps, and I don't only mean schooling, but your own personal daily education as an artist. Lots and lots of hard work. That is if you care to do it.


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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 06:59 |  #3559

Clean Gene wrote in post #17136585 (external link)
If ALL photographs are self-portraits, then it has to be coming from some place "real" whether the photographer wants it to or not. You could take a hundred people and make then try to absolutely copy White or Avedon, but you're still gonna usually know what's an Avedon and what isn't simply because all but one of them are Avedon. Anything that a person does is gonna be shaped by personal experience and personal history, that's inevitable, and it is absolutely "real".

It's just that in many cases it is BORING.

You might say that you don't see the photographer in the photograph, but I think you might be ignoring the possibility that many artists DON'T have anything unique to contribute because the photographer really ISN'T a very interesting person. I'm more leaning towards rejecting the mindset of don't be cliched, I want to see the real you and what you want to say. The problem with that mentality is that there are more than 7 billion people on the planet, communication is faster than it's ever been, and photography has become accessible to nearly everyone. So yeah...7 billion people making photographs CAN'T result in 7 billion photographers who look unique. There's bound to be a LOT of overlap. And it's not just because the photographers "aren't being real" but because a lot of people really aren't that interesting and don't have anything unique to say.

Yep they are all a clue into who the photographer is how ever shallow or deep or creative or not. Original or just a copy cat....




  
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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 07:01 |  #3560

Anyone can do it just most can't do it well.




  
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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 07:16 |  #3561

ziemowit wrote in post #17136696 (external link)
Honesty is just a part of the equation. And probably the easier one to do, then developing yourself to be in a position to see anything in an interesting way.

Well said....

"A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety." - Ansel Adams

"To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things. Impression is not enough. Design, style, technique, - these, too, are not enough. Art must reach further than impression or self-revelation. Art, said Alfred Stieglitz, is the affirmation of life. And life, or its eternal evidence is everywhere. Some photographers take reality as the sculptors take wood and stone and upon it impose the dominations of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and elevation." -Ansel Adams




  
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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 07:24 |  #3562

"It's just about seeing. You either see, or you don't see. The rest is academic." -Elliot Erwitt

"The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE." - Ernst Haas




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Sep 05, 2014 08:36 |  #3563

ziemowit wrote in post #17136696 (external link)
I never said anyone can do it guys.

Of course you need to be a talented and vaguely interesting person to have anything interesting to say. Everyone can write, not everyone can be a poet. I thought that goes without saying. Just look at flickr. Tons of foolishness every second. If you're a fool, honesty in your case will produce foolishness. Kind of obvious.

Honesty is just a part of the equation. And probably the easier one to do, then developing yourself to be in a position to see anything in an interesting way.

Education helps, and I don't only mean schooling, but your own personal daily education as an artist. Lots and lots of hard work. That is if you care to do it.

Then it's probably a good idea to stop claiming that people aren't being honest. Being incompetent does not make someone a liar, sometimes it just makes them incompetent.

And realistically, how would the critic know if the artist is being honest anyway? I could hypothetically look at someone's body of work and determine that it sucks, but the vast majority of the time that's the only thing I'm gonna be able to definitively state about it. In order for me to say that it sucks because he's being dishonest, I'd have to conclude that what's he's saying through his art doesn't match what he thinks, feels, and sees. And I obviously can't see into the guy's mind, so why even make "honesty" an issue? Lots of people are "honestly" just plain boring.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Sep 05, 2014 08:38 |  #3564

airfrogusmc wrote in post #17136900 (external link)
"It's just about seeing. You either see, or you don't see. The rest is academic." -Elliot Erwitt

"The camera doesn't make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE." - Ernst Haas

The blind usually aren't faking it. In most cases, they really can't see.




  
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ziemowit
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Sep 05, 2014 09:05 |  #3565

I think we misunderstood the term 'honesty' here. When I say honest, I don't mean 'don't lie'. I meant dig deep enough in yourself to find what is that you truly and uniquely believe to be worth photographing on a serious level.

And yes, most people are unskilled and blind, but you know what, I don't really care. Couldn't care less. Let there be a million 'my food on a plate' photos a second, don't care. I got my sources to get a dose of art photography daily, thank you very much. It's called RSS. Currently using Feedly, if you care to know :)


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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 10:06 |  #3566

Clean Gene wrote in post #17137010 (external link)
The blind usually aren't faking it. In most cases, they really can't see.

Exactly....Then maybe being a photographer is not the best place for them.




  
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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 10:14 |  #3567

Clean Gene wrote in post #17137006 (external link)
Then it's probably a good idea to stop claiming that people aren't being honest. Being incompetent does not make someone a liar, sometimes it just makes them incompetent.

And realistically, how would the critic know if the artist is being honest anyway? I could hypothetically look at someone's body of work and determine that it sucks, but the vast majority of the time that's the only thing I'm gonna be able to definitively state about it. In order for me to say that it sucks because he's being dishonest, I'd have to conclude that what's he's saying through his art doesn't match what he thinks, feels, and sees. And I obviously can't see into the guy's mind, so why even make "honesty" an issue? Lots of people are "honestly" just plain boring.

Usually there is a body of work, artist statements and what the photographer has to say about his/her work. And boring? What's boring to you might not be to someone else.

For me a boring picture is one I look at I get right away. Photographs that I enjoy are ones where the photographer has built images that engage me, the viewer, for more than immediate gratification. I see a______ and it's a pretty______. I look at it I get it I can move on. No reason to look deeper.

Great work to me has staying power. Work that the more I look the more I see and it keeps me coming back for more...So see what's exciting to me and others might be boring to you.

The ability to see is something that can't be taught. It can be nurtured. When I look at Zs work I can pretty much tell it's his work. I can see where a lot of his influence has come from but he is not a copy of those influences. He has found a way to see and a why to see that is right for him. I see him in is work because of the consistency in his vision. These issues are some of the most difficult photographers or any visual artist has to face. First thing is you really need something to say. Then you need a tool that helps you naturally express that. The medium for me is photographs. Finding the right tools and mastering them is all part of it. Then hard part is finding your voice and then a way visual to express that voice. If you are being real with yourself then it will usually have a way of working itself out. Most see something and say WOW that looks cool and then they try and copy what they think looks cool. What I am talking about is much deeper than that.




  
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ziemowit
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Sep 05, 2014 11:20 |  #3568

You are spoiling me again A, thank you for the kind words.

I can definitely say I have a lot if influences, from Italian renaissance painting to Egglestone, Winogrand and Moriyama etc. Not sure my vision is as clear as you say yet, but I am consciously working on it.


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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 11:24 |  #3569

ziemowit wrote in post #17137313 (external link)
You are spoiling me again A, thank you for the kind words.

I can definitely say I have a lot if influences, from Italian renaissance painting to Egglestone, Winogrand and Moriyama etc. Not sure my vision is as clear as you say yet, but I am consciously working on it.

I have said this before that I can usually tell your work before I look to see your name. The way you see color is so cool and unique. I also see a little Gibson (composition) in there also. There are only a handful of photographers that post on POTN that I can say that about. :D




  
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airfrogusmc
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Sep 05, 2014 11:26 |  #3570

OhLook wrote in post #17136485 (external link)
That's a big question. Getting too message-y is to be avoided, by me at least. There have been great documenters, such as Dorothea Lange, but didactic art generally doesn't work. But I think a person's world view, or part of it, can come through.

These are small versions (trying not to overtax the server) of images already posted in Urban Fragments. Taken together, do they "say" anything?

I would say you are definitely on to something here. I like them all and they all work well together.




  
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