#587. What does your photography stand for ?

#587. What does your photography stand for ?

One thing we can learn from the first round of the French presidential election is a complete rejection of traditional parties. The results have been called an anti-system landslide, much like President Trump’s. Let’s not get bogged down by the irony of calling a ENA / IGF / City-poster-child investment banker and a long-timer member of euro-parliament anti-system, that’s not the subject of this post. I do hope The Private Eye have a lot of fun with the concept, though.

 

 

Nope, what this is about is the whole anti-xxxxx concept. 10 years ago, we voted anti-immigration and elected Nicolas Sarkozy. 5 years ago, we voted anti Sarkozi and elected Franรงois Hollande. Today we are voting anti Hollande (and, having tried both sides of the spectrum and lost 1300 billion euros and 1 million jobs in the process, anti system). Who knows what the long-term result of that will be?

 

 

Similar reasoning got us Brexit and President Trump. It’s too early to judge the benefits / costs of either but analysts aren’t particularly bullish in their predictions.

So, what if the lesson of all this was to be PRO something rather than ANTI ? What if it was all about actively supporting a vision ?

 

 

Companies who adopt this line of strategic reasoning and work on a good positioning tend to fare much better than those who just break down a market through cost cutting and lowering of prices (low-cost / high-efficiency is a vision. SouthWest airlines promised cheaper airfares and new routes. They didn’t start their journey by trying to collapse incumbents). Getting the couch-potatoes up and running (Just do it!), making the world’s knowledge easy to access, simplifying technology and making great to use and look at …

 

 

And successful artists are exactly the same. Can you tell the difference between raging graffiti artists and Banksy ? In fact, can you name a raging graffiti artist ?

Photography tends to be dominated by gear-related flame-wars and by technology. Technology fuels the flame wars. Technology removes decision-making (exposure, focus, sensitivity …) and fuels dreams.

 

 

My jaw drops at some of the photographs on Sony forums that would not have been possible without the incredible progress made by technology in recent years. In those cases, technology is an enabler. It empowers those with a vision to do what could not be done without it.

Those without the vision can simply create 20 crappy photographs in the second (unit of time) that would only yield 8 crappy photographs with past generation tech.

 

 

So, what’s your vision? I believe this should be the first thing you ask yourself when learning any form of artistic expression (unless you just want to record security footage). The reward is much higher personal satisfaction.

 

 

Now, let’s be honest, most people don’t do that. Because it’s really difficult. But then, most people aren’t successful artists, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So let’s give it a try. And, in truth, I don’t really have a formal vision statement to share (and, coincidently, nobody buys my prints 20 grands a pop …)

But I do know I enjoy making visually pleasing photographs out of the ordinary. I like to think we all live surrounded by beauty of some sort and that there’s no need to cross an ocean to create an emotional response. We just to look around us and be receptive to changes in light and arrangements of shapes.

Light and simplicity are my main motivators. A tad of mystery and dreaminess, whenever possible. Composition plays a large part in what pleases me. And technology plays a large role in my photography, but more in the form of optical signature and ergonomics than buffer size and AF spots.

 

 

Occasionally, some sort of childish message creeps into my photographs, almost uninvited, such as this 4-grand machine with its puny 5-foot power-cord (and rapidly shrinking battery life, after just 4 months of ownership …)

 

 

But, mostly, it’s all about the visual fun / beauty of everyday life. That’s my vision. Hopefully, everyone’s is different.

I started this article with 2 photographs from a previous session and shot the others (and more) over a 5-minute period, all within 5 meters of my computer. More will come today if I only pay attention. None will grace the walls of the MOMA, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ve made a few fun shots, that’s enough to power me through a day’s worth of work ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

So, what’s your vision ? What does your photography stand for ? Care to share some thoughts ?

 


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35 Comments

  1. Avatar
    John Wilson April 25, 2017

    We all know how to โ€œlookโ€ at the world around us, but few of us ever really learn how to โ€œSEEโ€. My goal as a photographer is to see beyond the surfaces to the profound beauty in the mundane and the remarkable secrets in the commonplace. But beware; “beauty” need not be in the category of the โ€œprettyโ€, the โ€œfamiliarโ€ or the โ€œcomprehensibleโ€.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2017

      I sure relate to that, John. In fact, “beautiful things that aren’t pretty” is a project in itself. Learning to see is an essential part of learning to photograph but we are never taught that, whereas painters train much harder to educate their eye.

  2. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron April 25, 2017

    LOL – my vision is eclectic – unfocused – all over the place. Whatever pushes my buttons. Often, it’s being told something is “wrong” and doing it anyway – I’ve always been mule headed and perverse, and being told something is “wrong” is a clear invitation to a person like me. I guess I just like taking photos, and my mind functions a bit like a cam – everywhere I go, everywhere I am, I find myself “framing the shot”, doing a quick analysis of shapes, lighting, lines, whatever, and weighing up the pros & cons of photographing what I’m looking at. Can’t help it. It happens on auto. So sometimes I push the button on a camera and capture whatever it is.

    Sometimes it’s artistic, sometimes it’s journalistic. Sometimes it’s inventive or creative, sometimes it’s part of training myself and my eye (both on the gear and on the subject matter).

    I think I’m better off shutting up and leaving this question to the other members of the group, Pascal ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2017

      Don’t believe ya ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve seen your photographs and there’s consistency there ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think you’ve not limited yourself to a genre or a context but your vision is honed. Never shut up, what’s the fun in that ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Avatar
        jean pierre (pete) guaron April 26, 2017

        LOL – thanks, Pascal – that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me, all day ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Avatar
    Jens April 25, 2017

    So very true!
    Bruce Barnbaum, the great teacher of inspired photography, always pesters participants of his workshops to pinpoint exactly what it is that they want to express in their photographs. And the German blogger Martina Mettner has for years been preaching the message of: “Set yourself an assignment and word hard and committed to following through on that assignment. Only the product of such commitment will stand out from the ordinary in the end.”
    Only photography that stands for something tends to be outstanding – excuse the pun. Firing photographic buckshot in various directions and hoping that miraculously something of value can be picked up in the bushes afterwards tends to be disappointing, regardless of how many frames per second are recorded and need to be deleted from storage mediums later.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2017

      Ah, Bruce Barnbaum, one of the great remaining masters of fine art. I love his books and how he really goes to the bottom of everything rather than just glaze over the surface. That gives him the ability to produce a consistent portfolio over the years and a range of different subjects that few others can. Will try to find Martina Mettner’s photographs online. Thanks for pointing her out !

      • Avatar
        Jens April 25, 2017

        Don’t bother with her photography – she is absolutely lousy as a photographer, and she doesn’t pretend otherwise. But she is a very insightful art critic and lecturer, which is why I have subscribed to her blog

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy April 25, 2017

          Hmmm, wish I could understand German … Her website seems really interesting.

  4. Avatar
    Fabrizio Giudici April 25, 2017

    First, being an amateur, I can do whatever I want ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean, a pro must make a living out of his photos, and this means being able to trade off between what he likes and some pressure that customers put on him.

    Now, I agree on the importance of the vision thing. But I’m so relaxed I’m not thinking of it too much. I presume I’m developing it, and at some point in future I’ll be able to define and explain my own vision, but it’s not a certain thing.

    Above all I enjoy the process: planning that today I’ll go out and photos, deciding where to go, spotting some interesting subjects, taking care of them, studying the composition, getting home, hoping that I caught something interesting, post-processing until I get something I like. In case I don’t – it happens – the idea that anyway I’ve learned something, even from errors.

    But above all I quote this previous answer:

    We all know how to โ€œlookโ€ at the world around us, but few of us ever really learn how to โ€œSEEโ€. My goal as a photographer is to see beyond the surfaces to the profound beauty in the mundane and the remarkable secrets in the commonplace.

    For instance, recently I’ve focused on macro (including very small things) and I did lots of exercise, also because of necessity (I couldn’t plan to go to my favourite places). Boys, what I did discover… Exquisite tiny flowers, a few millimetres wide, growing in the cracks of stone walls just a few minutes from home… that I simply never paid attention to. Now I do, and I enjoy them even when I don’t have the camera at hand.

    So, to me it’s mainly that capability of looking at beauty, which to me is godsent, even in things that I wasn’t even able to see. If this will bring me to produce some great images with a vision, the better; if it won’t, all the same.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2017

      Relaxed is probably the best way to be ๐Ÿ˜‰ My vision is pretty fuzzy and not expressed formally at all. But it still helps to understand what it is your react to and are interested in. The effort of articulating it is worth it in the long run. It stops you buying tempting gear you never use (been there), joining groups you can’t relate to, reading sources that don’t work for you …

      Maybe the process is your thing ๐Ÿ™‚ That would be very Buddhist ๐Ÿ˜‰ Enjoying the moment and the journey, not necessarily the end result. Works for me, that’s for sure.

      Oh, now you’ve wet my apetite with those macro shots !!! Do you have a gallery or flickr page where we could take a look at those flowers. That really sounds lovely.

      Cheers

      • Avatar
        Fabrizio Giudici April 28, 2017

        I don’t publish to flickr or elsewhere. Galleries are available under the “Themes” menu on my website (I’m not publishing the direct link here because I think my server wouldn’t handle well more than the few visitors it usually experiences).

        Flowers – probably because they are the latest subjects I’m focusing on – is where I mostly lack a “vision”. I’m shooting in various ways, even at ฦ’/1.8 which is an insanely thin DoF, and I still don’t know whether I like the results or not. Sometimes I like something when I post-process it, and change my mind weeks or months later; and even the opposite. At the moment I’m mostly copying what others do.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy April 28, 2017

          Found it. Fantastic series on castles on that page. I really love castles and would like to spend some time photographing the Chateaux Cathares in the South of France.
          Experimentation is good. I don’t think you can develop a vision without viewing different types of photographs from others or trying different things yourself. I really like the flowers, particularly the dreamy style such as the Allium (nยฐ26). 34 is brilliant too. Great work.

          You have titles in French as well as others in Italian. Have you lived in France ? Cheers

          • Avatar
            Fabrizio Giudici April 28, 2017

            Castles are wonderful. The gallery is incomplete, because of changes in the way I tag photos (also before Lightroom): so basically there are whole years missing. I’m slowly catching up, re-tagging them manually.

            “Have you lived in France ? ”
            No, I hadn’t, but Genova is less than 200km from Nice ๐Ÿ˜‰ Apart some bad periods in which I don’t have time or other problems, I can enjoy even single-day-trips in the nearest part of Provence (my record was a single-day-trip up to Cassis, but it was a bit exaggerated, because of staying too long driving and enjoying too short a time taking photos). But e.g. a roundtrip to the Estรฉrel in a single day makes sense. When I can take 3/4 days in a row, most frequent targets are regions in the 400-500km range from Genoa, eastbound, westbound or northbound; thus Tuscany, Provence, Savoie, part of Switzerland. When I can, I also try to go to Bourgogne, even though it’s a bit farther.

            For the captions, starting from a certain year I’m trying to write in the language of the country where I took the picture. Indeed I’m sure there are a number of grammatical errors – I never studied French; I learnt to read it on the field (it’s really cousin of italian), I usually understand people talking (if they don’t speak too fast); but my speaking is terrible, terrible, terrible and I’m unable to write it. I try with captions because they are simple stuff. In any case, as soon as I’ll have time, I’m thinking of a script to extract all the captions to a single file, so I can submit them to a professional reviewer and then import them back.

          • Avatar
            pascaljappy April 28, 2017

            That’s very interesting. I’m not far from the areas you mention and Italy is my fave country in the world. Maybe we can meet up when I next visit ๐Ÿ™‚

            Great photographs, at any rate !

  5. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo April 25, 2017

    Having/choosing a vision (grapes) also becomes a tool to limit oneself, so as to be able to grow in one’s art.

    [ #583. The Monday Post. Is photography like harvesting truffles, or like growing grapes for wine?]

    And it can really only be formulated in the art, not in words.
    (Although words *can* be good also, ๐Ÿ™‚ .)
    [ In school I hated analyzing literature and art, it just broke it to peaces…]

    But the best results, I think, tend to be the ones (here photos) that come to one, not those planned or searched for.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2017

      Very true. Artists with a vision have to weed out anything that doesn’t correspond to that vision, from their production. It must be hard, at least initially.

      Some people are grabbers (like Paul, you and me), who enjoy finding stuff that inspires an instinctive response. Others are planners and work much more meticulously towards a preconceived result (Boris, for instance). Both can give great results but it sure is hard to be both ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo April 25, 2017

        Aye, but … it’s not a question of grabbing *or* planning.

        Photography is a bit like poetry.
        You can’t *write* poetry, but you can write verse.
        You can train yourself in the craft of language, find your way through your vision and (eventually) write great verse.
        But poetry comes to you, and you have to catch it with your (hopefully) honed tools before it chooses to leave you – with but a memory…

        I don’t mean to deny preconceived results, but when “a Photo happens to find you then” – when you not only know you have done everything, but feel “this is it” – then you will see the difference (then or later).

  6. Avatar
    Adam Bonn April 25, 2017

    Well I think things, and I’m about say things, which may very well (if you’ve seen any of my shots) have you saying

    “Adam, practice what you preach sunshine”

    Firstly photography is art (simply because it’s not real, just a snippet of reality)

    Secondly art kinda lives or dies by its narrative, well it can have a strong narrative, but you can still not like it!

    The key to a narrative is dramatic treasure.

    So where ever possible I try to have a dramatic treasure (I can bang on and on about dramatic treasure in further comments if needed)

    Dramatic treasure isn’t necessarily the drama, nor necessarily the treasure, I tend to see it as the enabler of the story

    Dramatic treasure should be identifiable ASAP within the narrative

    So I tend to look for, and try to find scenes which are enablers of the content.

    This is why in our offline conversations I say things like “I can’t really do landscape” (but Jeez Bob and Boris can!) and “I struggle with more than 3 elements” – it’s too much for me to work with, plus I’m a simple sod!

    When I do street it’s hard to have total pre-visualisation (going back to the same places helps though) so I try to have ideas about the type of things I want in the shot, then attempt to find them (usually failing miserably of course)

    For the street portraits I try and pre visualise the types of faces I want to capture

    For the other stuff, I aim to portray mood, be that via light, repetition of shapes/patterns or simply big and obvious content!

    I also have this thing, where I nearly always mange to get something diagonal in the shot. I like diagonal (as you’ve noticed, often when it has pants on it ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    For my paid work, I try and pre visualise the money ๐Ÿ™‚ only joking, I try and pre visualise (having spoken with the client) what the client wants. But these days I mainly shoot for me!

    • Avatar
      Adam Bonn April 26, 2017

      It’s an interesting and valid point of view Kristian,

      Studio photography can meticulously pre-planned; every single millimetre of the frame, every facet of the light…

      People can always get lucky, but generally good things are hard to accomplish and leaving them to chance is not likely to be a repeatable process.

      As the adage goes, the muse tends to visit when you’re already working!

      As you say

      “But poetry comes to you, and you have to catch it with your (hopefully) honed tools before it chooses to leave you”

      But here the ‘honed tools’ are the pre-planning, and the more honing that can be done, the better placed one is to make the catch when the poetry arrives…

      A man can go from zero to luxury by the simple acquisition of a lottery ticket, but equally this can be achieved via hard work and shrewd business judgement

      The net result maybe the same, but surely the latter has a greater sense of achievement?

      We could set a camera to take a shot every minute, send it out round the neck of a monkey and come back with the greatest street shot ever. But that’s hardly been worked for.

      A quote I’m fond of is;

      It’s important to break rules and push boundaries – but first you must learn the rules you want to break

      (for clarity: I’m NOT disagreeing with anything you say, not at all – but trying to expand on the importance of honing the tools)

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo May 01, 2017

        Aye! ๐Ÿ™‚
        ( Sorry for the delay, no i-net!)
        – – –

        “We could set a camera to take a shot every minute, send it out round the neck of a monkey and come back with the greatest street shot ever.”

        A parallel:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Brassau
        But, sadly, the ensuing laugh was not loud enough to humble the art critics.

  7. Avatar
    Brian Nicol April 26, 2017

    My photography is about creative expression – the equipment I choose helps me achieve what I feel and want to express. I find that the incompetent internet reviewers focus on the wrong things such as resolution when what matters to the sophisticated eye is how the lens (glass) draws or renders an image. I love how this site focuses on rendering which is subjective (artistic) and different things appeal to different artists but poor images are universally deplored but ironically the best that the “internet experts ” can achieve.

  8. Avatar
    Brian Nicol April 26, 2017

    I think digital film, autofocus, and auto exposure and stock photography have done a lot to devalue sophisticated photography but that is too much for me address here. However, there will always be a remnant that appreciate quality – it may be mostly “serious amateurs”! Cheers Brian

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 26, 2017

      Yeah, that’s a big can of worms ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The thing is some people don’t do any better than in the past, in spite of new tech. Tech has just made them lazy. Not that it bothers me, but it should bother them, because it isn’t particularly fulfilling. But others, on the other hand, are using the new technologies to create interesting shots that weren’t possible before. For example, the whole ISO hoohah was frustrating to me because, suddenly, we were offered 12800 but no longer could shoot at 50. It drove me nuts. But then, I see the incredible astrophotography shots that previously required super expensive CCD cameras and that silences all the grumbling …

  9. Avatar
    Sean April 26, 2017

    Hi pascal,
    Regarding “… What does your photography stand for ? …” well, I’m still trying to work that out, because it’s not a practice that’s static and easy to pin down.

    Having said that, I understand that my photography allows me to escape into the now of the present to help me stop worrying about the past or the future – which invariably can be tied to what’s going on in my universe at the time. That universe, or what it stands for, is tied up with what’s referred to as street photography, which allows me to focus on and see whatโ€™s in front of me, without stepping back into and worrying about what was previously behind me, or projecting forward and wondering what potentially may be up ahead to obstruct, hinder, worry me.

    This street photography pursuit allows me to savour the present , the here and now, a fleeting moment that may involve various unique or common, isolated or communal human interactions, behaviours, conditions, actions, within a particular street environment.

    In sum, most likely, my photography stands for not what I’m looking at but what I see, within the perimeter of a fleeting timeframe …

    Regards
    Sean

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 26, 2017

      Hi Sean, that’s super interesting. Using photography to ground yourself in the present probably also opens you up to the lives of others rather than close you into yours and whatever struggles you may be experiencing at any moment. The way you describe it almost sounds like a form of meditation (without wanting to sound new-age-ish). Can’t think of a more interesting use for photography, to be honest … Kind regards, Pascal

  10. Avatar
    Steffen Kamprath April 26, 2017

    I have trouble understanding what a creative vision really is. What does it mean? Is it a long-term meaning/reasoning behind all my photographs? Why I go out shooting? Is it a style? Is it a post-processing and editing guideline? Is it workflow? Is it a genre definition? Is it my why to approach photography? … When reading about it, it seems to mean different things for everybody.

    And when I finally gone through all this reasoning, does it help me? Or does it just limiting me and I can’t do stuff I liked to do? Or is this limitation a relief? Or isn’t it?

    When I look at the top dog’s portfolios, like Gilden, McCurry, Frank, Parr, Webb, Gursky, Maier, LaChapelle, Bresson …, you clearly see a creative vision – whatever that means: content, light, process, editing, workflow. Those guys have done nothing else then their signature style for decades. How boring that must have been for a human being! Is that desirable? For an upcoming artist who wants to live from his art, yes, definitely! But if you have a look a McCurry’s or Parr’s personal blog (or a behind-the-scene report from any other photographer), they also do different photography, actually quite mundane and dull. It will never be published in a book, but they do it and they publish it on their private blogs or instagram.

    So, then again: What’s a creative vision? Is it just the guidelines for publishing? The need to creating a signature style to get recognition? Or stick to a style once you found out what sells?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 26, 2017

      That’s a tough one, Steffen ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Part one : there are probably more formal definitions around. The important part is really knowing yourself. The simple act of focusing your attention on the common thread throughout your best pics, or those you admire from other photographers, is an important step towards doing more of what you enjoy most and do best. It’s a foundation for continuous improvement and for more lasting enjoyment. You’ll derive a workflow, a process or whatever suits you once you’ve made that first conscious discovery. But those are just consequences.

      Part 2: is it desirable. For an amateur, I think the answer is definitely yes. We all have pride and fulfilment hardwired within ourselves. Understanding what drives us is a good step towards feeling better about our “work” (hobby, really ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) For pros, the situation is probably quite different. Some get trapped into a genre that sells well and their work becomes less authentic, less based on their true aspirations and more on what is expected of them. Their past successes drives their future, to some extent. Still, pros like Salgado or Nick Brandt, who don’t shoot daily for a living but work on personal projects base those on their personal vision of the world and the role of photography in that wolrd. My guess is their income and personal satisfaction are way higher that way.

  11. Avatar
    Adrian April 28, 2017

    What I photograph is “travel”, a term so broad as to be near meaningless, “street portraits”, and male physique – which is probably confusing for everyone else as they don’t particularly go together. A professional photographer friend who mostly shoots fashion and food has suggested combining the street and the physique into a kind of behind thr scenes reportage – a perfectly good idea, but not one I felt I wanted to pursue. When I photograph travel for myself, It’s often about a desire to capture a mood or a feeling that a place gives me – the serendipitous discovery of something, the atmosphere or the beauty of a place. The street and street portrait work has become about the everyday that often goes unseen and is therefore ignored, the private moments in public places, and the intimacy of being momentarily allowed into someone else’s life. The male physique work is a specialism of my interest in portraiture, and it was a deliberate choice to pursue it when I realised it was something that I quite enjoyed, and being niche perhaps had a better chance to become a larger fish in a small pond. Over the last 3-4 years as I’ve been more actively seeking opportunities, I’ve begun to realise that my style and interest is less with simple and perhaps more traditional physique photographs and more with something more dark, moody and perhaps occasionally artistic. I think there is a cross-over between editorial, fashion, fine arts and physique that is more interesting to explore.

    The power cords on Microsoft’s products are also frustratingly short and impractical – whereas much cheaper competitors allow you to plug in and work on the other side of the room!

    Some lovely photos.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy May 02, 2017

      The combination of street and physique would be some form of reportage. Interesting, but not really the reunion of two genres. I can understand your reticence.

      I think if all applied the “5 whys” theory to our photography, we’d all end up with a very similar answer, even if the first and middle answers were very different. And intimacy, emotion, feeling would be very close to the final questions. We are emotional beings, after all. Some just try harder to bury that under a layer of technology or fanboyism or intellectual analysis.

      • Avatar
        Adrian May 15, 2017

        Sorry Pascal, I’ve only just seen your comment to this. A “behind the scenes” reportage of physique sports is a perfectly good idea. I have private access to people off stage in ways that many never see, and understand and witness some of what they go through to achieve what people see on stage, and the “unglamour” (and largely unhealthy) nature of it all. It’s a perfectly reasonable idea… But it doesn’t satisfy my motivation for street portraits, nor for my physique portraits. I keep returning to it as an idea, but to be honest although there have been times behind the scenes when I think “I should be photographing this”, I also feel it would be a betrayal of some.of the trust that conferred in me that allows me to be in those situations (also ad a foreigner) in the first place. So much of what I do relies on trust, personal relationships, and a certain intimacy that I am always very conscious that the chance for the next photo is only as good as the feedback from whoever I photographed before – and to break that trust and “professionalism” would undo all the work I’ve put in to be able to “be there” in the first place. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure its what I want – do I want to portray the sordid backstage behind the scenes of these peoples lives, or work with them to create the myth of perfection, strength, desirability etc?

        I think the intellectual analysis is a really interesting point. In the same way that I struggle with art (e.g. Paintings) that requires an enormous analysis to explain why it’s good when I look at it and feel unloved, I struggle with the over intellectualisation of some photography. With respect,I find Ming Thein alls into this category, where I see his analysis of a photograph and then look at it and feel that it doesn’t make the emotional connection in me that perhaps he has been intellectualising. Frankly, if you need to explain a photograph then in my opinion you have failed. Even if it’s confusing or abstract if it creates that emotion then it’s worked. If it needs lot of context, pe-gamble, analysis, intellectual debate… Then… Something’s missing. I wish I was better at making art, but I’m not and in fact I don’t understand a great deal of “modern” photography (e.g. Art that looks like snaps my mom took at family get together). So its just easier to keep doing what I like and try to be better at it. If I look back at photos I thought were really good and think they aren’t that great, then I know I’m heading in the right direction.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy May 15, 2017

          Keeping their trust is certainly *a lot* more important than reporting !! Plus you’re right not to photograph that if it doesn’t inspire you. Finally, even leaving aside your relations with the competitors, they are probably working very hard to look great and to feel great. If things look less glamorous behind the scenes, it would probably be very unpleasant for them to see that exposed. Who are we to pry and judge?

          Art … can of worms, right ? Some of it is brilliant, some I don’t understand at all. Which is OK. But the fact that genius artists coexist with absolute frauds (plus the fact that critics like to talk a language of their own) makes it really difficult to bond with. Most of it is so tighly linked to a context that, for outsiders, it seems like gibberish. The whole thing feels like a club that needs the money of outsiders but doesn’t want to let the outsiders in. Shame, really, because mutual feedback would weed out the pseuds and would help us mortals understand the others.

          • Avatar
            Adrian May 16, 2017

            Completely agree with the comments about art. He whole high end art world works as a members only club of artists, promoters, galleries, sale rooms etc who are all in it together. I read a very interesting story about the Andy Warhol foundation, who do their utmost to discredit any found work as not original so as to maintain the value of the work they control, for example. Photography is a whole other can of worms. Annie Liebovitz took wonderful celebrity portraits, but how much attention did she get purely because she had access to those celebrities (note: I like her work, I’m not attacking her)? What are the point of those pictures that look like badly exposed family get together? Why am I left cold and unmoved by those strange urban landscapes of nothing with no obvious subject? As you say, it is all much like a members only club that we don’t belong to.

            You are absolutely correct about “trust”. It is always something I take seriously as it is hard won and easily ruined. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to produce some of these photographs because of commercial sponsorship, politics of federations, and a complete lack of understanding about photography. One federation requires an expensive “media license” to photograph their events, yet only allows the resultant photographs to be sold through them. A friend reports that they took his memory card after an event. Frankly if I’m paying for a “media license” then I want to be able to sell through whatever sports news agency or syndication I can. The fact that the particular organization doesn’t understand that shows both an arrogance and a lack of understanding and respect for photographers and the business. As a result I often have little respect for the sports federations, who much like the art world run their empires for themselves and their financial gain, but I do respect the athletes and work hard to maintain a mutual trust and respect. Nobody wants to be seen in a “bad” photo, do they?

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    Tarmo May 03, 2017

    Thank you for the post. I saved this one to take the time to read through the comments – and it was actually quite liberating. Due to lack of time and flexibility in my current life situation I’ve pondered on the purpose of my photography. It seems that attempting to answer the question with some profound self-insight or life purpose only leads to either abandoning the hobby or a holier-than-pope mission statement that does nothing to improve one’s photography. I almost took the former path until looking back at what I’ve shot during the last years – and realised that the only correct answer is “because I enjoy doing it”.

    However, reading this actually gave me some ideas as to why I happen to enjoy photography. Hence, a breakdown of my personal “why”:

    – See how things look like
    – Live in the moment
    – Capture beauty

    I think photography gives me something in each of those areas, and it’s easy to see how they would positively contribute to my life. So I think I’ll keep some of my gear for now.

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      Adrian May 15, 2017

      I second your thoughts. I find when travelling that although I often live vicariously through the viewfinder of the camera, it also becomes an excellent tool to oil the social wheels and create unexpected interactions with people that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. So although the camera in theory puts a barrier between me and my surroundings, I find it also helps “live in the moment”, and perhaps liberates me in a strange way that mean I can do things that without a camera I couldn’t. Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy it.

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