#1286. Reframing. What do you love in photographs?

By pascaljappy | News

May 10

Also, a challenge resurrection.

 

In yesterday’s post, I committed the content-creator cardinal sin of combining two ideas into one piece of content. If a client sees this, I’m done ๐Ÿ˜‰

On the one side, I was explaining – at length (yup, here is a firm believer in longform) – my process for formalizing my appreciation for photographs.

On the other, the conclusion meekly appealed to readers to share what they appreciate in a photograph, what creates value for them.

 

The mixing was not wholly unintentional, since follow-ups are possible in the land of blog posts.

And, because a criminal always always returns to the scene of a crime, here I sin again.

This post also hosts two correlated ideas, and shares two purposes.

 

Mostly, though, the second idea was only hinted at because I’m not entirely sure any replies would follow even a lengthy post. It’s hard. Expliciting why we like photographs, what makes them precious to us, is really difficult.

We’ve developed an intuitive response to almost everything our eyes lay sight upon. It speeds up the process and keeps us alive. Or kept us alive when our survival depended on visual and interpretive skills. Today, the opposite might be true. With the rise of AI, my hunch is that survival now rests on slow, deliberate thinking.

And, anyway, to make progress, we need to be able to formalize our goals. Otherwise, no feedback can come our way.

 

So, here it is, the question : what is it that you enjoy in a photograph? Hope it’s not colours, or this post might seem drab ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, though. What makes a photograph remarkable to you? What stops you and grabs your attention immediately? Is it the subject matter? The PP? The mystery? The textures? The composition? The abstractness? The memories associated with it …?

And here’s part 2 of my second sin. Just in case part 1, immediately above, yields very little response ๐Ÿ˜‰

On this page are 5 pictures of mine that I like and were made over the past few days or weeks. Why do I like them? Dunno. Don’t ask. Haven’t done my own homework yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ But here’s a suggestion to resurrect old challenges. You could send me (at a given date and a given file size) 1 to 5 of your photos of the month that you enjoy. And if you want, you can explain what you like about it/them. That part’s optional.

 

I was never able to follow up properly on monthly challenges, as photographs arrived with different titles, dates, sizes … My organizational skills couldn’t handle it and I apologize to all who sent photos that went unpublished.

So the idea is simple. On the 25th of every month, I’ll send you an email like the one announcing posts to remind you of the challenge. You can hit reply and attach your photos to the reply, possibly including your text. After 2 or 3 days, I will publish what has arrived.

How does that sound to you?

 

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  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Pascal,
    I like your five photos too, very much!

    Why?
    I can’t say either.
    They are all very much alive – although they are still lifes.
    Why?
    I can’t say.
    You could say a lot about them, but as a viewer I’d rather not!
    Why?
    I’ve found that (especially for simpler things) when I find out why I enjoy them, they lose their magic.
    Of course, understanding why may teach me something – if I’m willing to pay the price of the loss.

    • pascaljappy says:

      That’s very deep, Kristian.
      And so very human, in an age of AI productivity!
      I’ll be sure to keep it in mind, as this supports my point of view that we should all train our intuition rather than training our explicit knowledge of anything artistic!

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        That’s also why I hated the part of literature classes at school where we were supposed to analyze a poem!
        ( Luckily the textbook’s choice all too often was good verse rather than good poetry!)

        An anecdote from life:
        A friend of mine studying art had to write about some piece of modern painting.
        After some irritated thinking she protested by writing about as many sex symbols as she could find!
        She got top marks.
        Which says more about academia than about her…

        • pascaljappy says:

          And probably about the evocative power of that painting, even if that was irritating ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            Well, no. As far as I remember (long ago) she described the painting as fairly uninteresting – and I trust her opinion.
            ( – which also says something about academia.)

            • pascaljappy says:

              And do you know what prompted her to starting writing about sex symbols?

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                It was her protest against having to analyze it, she said, and also against having to do it with an abstract – especially a not too exiting one.
                ( Sorry, I thought that was implied.)

              • pascaljappy says:

                No, you were very clear. I’m just trying to guess whether there was a link between the boring painting and the topic she later chose to discuss ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe the painting was sooooo unsexy that sex symbols became the natural opposite ๐Ÿ˜‰

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                Maybe.
                I gathered that it was her way of making the implied protest emphatic.
                ( – and it was in the -60s!)

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                P. S.
                I forgot to say that this was in Sweden in the late 1960s.

              • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

                I never would have imagined that Sweden was so tied up in knots over sex.
                My sincere thanks to the pair of you for one of the funniest contributions I’ve ever read on DS.
                And I whole-heartedly agree with you Kristian (and your fellow-student). When we “over-analyse”, we don’t promote “thought” – we destroy it.
                All the paintings, all the sculptures, all the photographs, all the architecture, all the landscaping, etc etc that I’ve ever really adored simply had to pass the “knock-me-over-backwards” test. Nothing extra required. The only explanation I could possibly provide is that I am a very emotional person – and stuff like that impacts on me, right through to my soul. “Rules”? – “colour charts”? – forget it.

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                Pete,
                as to what you say about impact,
                Exactly!

                – and “rules”,
                they may have a use in learning history of art, and partially in learning a craft – so long as you *really* unlearn them again!
                ( And, well, “academia” has long used rules to defend its conservatism against newer art.)
                – – –

                Re. “sex” in Sweden,
                not really different from other western countries – except from rumors abroad because of occasional nude scenes in some films.
                But there was a time in the late -60s when certain people had a fad of explaining things as having roots in sex…
                Long after Freud had abandoned some of his theories that saw roots in sex.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I do believe I am repeating myself. I love photography. I photograph all sorts of things. I can’t suggest my shopping list covers absolutely everything, but it comes close.

    Damn – I’ve missed out on baseball matches! Oh well – we can’t all live in America, can we?

    Do I think? – plan? Yes – but not always. Always is “you can’t! – at least, not always!” That photo of the resto across the street that I’ve told you about a number of times was a simple bog standard “snapshot” – in terms of gear, settings, planning, etc. It was totally spontaneous, and from the moment I spotted the opportunity and went to grab the first available camera, till I put the camera back in its bag, in the drawer, would not have taken two minutes. Yet that photo has now had over 620,000 hits – and it’s not on Instagram, either.

    Others, I’ve planned for almost 12 months – because I had to wait till I could get the sun in the right position, and it’s not as easy to move the sun as it is to move a flash or a floodlight.

    What makes a photograph remarkable to me? Are you serious? You already know that I waffle on and say too much – if I dared to answer that question, you wouldn’t need to write any more for DS till after Christmas! Perhaps this will do for an answer instead. I HAVE no “boundaries” – ANYTHING! I even photographed an empty soft drink bottle that someone had chucked behind the toilet in the children’s playground, down the street, once!

    What do I like? – what do I appreciate, in other people’s photographs? Well, till it happens, it’s impossible to say – and afterwards it’s too late, isn’t it?

    OK – I’ll give it a go. “Difference”. If I do something “different”, people yowl and scream at me and say “You shouldn’t do that” or “maybe you need to go and join a camera club, and study photography – REAL photography! – more seriousy?” I kid you not – I’ve BEEN told that – and one day I’m going to post the photo that triggered that comment, here on DS.

    But when I see a photo – here or anywhere else – that is “different”, it has the same sort of effect as walking into a museum and being confronted by a masterpiece by Michelangelo – or Rodin – or Monet – of Van Gogh. Or strolling around Barcelona – gobsmacked by Gaudi.

    So yes, I sometimes find myself dreaming about photos I’ve seen here on DS. Long after they appeared. Going into back issues, finding them again, staring at them. And if I patted all the culprits on the back, my hand would be sore, long before I finished.

    But the piรจce de rรฉsistance – the thing which really distinguishes photography from all other crafts, and hobbies, and professions – is the camaraderie. The friendship. The sharing of knowledge. It pervades the atmosphere, amongst ‘togs from all over the world – not just here on DS. And it’s a key element in why photography appeals to me, so much. So now you can all take a bow – yes, you too, Pascal – while I shut up and go feed the dog.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Difference and individuality are a sign of a strong personal worldview and voice. So, that would also be highest marks for me, Pete ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yes, I agree, that feeling of community is priceless! Thank you for pointing it out.

  • Jack says:

    Like the idea. Count me in.

  • Paul Perton says:

    Aaaah Pascal, you fret at AI, can’t decide what camera to buy, want to experiment with video and sneak around the while shooting images like these.

    I reckon you’re doing pretty damned well and should keep you X1D, buy a cheapo used DSLR and a couple of lenses off eBay and go rip the backside out of it.

    While I’m here – this image was shot a couple of months ago with my tiny Fuji X100F and won’t qualify, but I love it anyway. Why? ‘cos I got a halfway interesting visual and played with the colour – isn’t that the essence of our art?

    • PaulB says:

      Paul

      I like this image.

      In fact, if I look deep enough . . . . I would find photos of the side of a building that I found interesting enough to photograph. When on any other day I would just walk right by.

      I like the bight sun surrounded by deep shadows, with the blue clouds. It is worthy of discussion.

      PaulB

    • pascaljappy says:

      It is indeed, Paul. Great colour contrast and vibe. As you say, that vibe is what we should be gunning for. Thanks.

  • PaulB says:

    Pascal

    Way back, when I took my first B&W photography class, the instructor said that there are four elements that go into a good photograph. These are; tone, texture, contrast, and sharpness (or clarity). Itโ€™s the variations in how these are used that determine the outcome.

    Like Pete, my experience with photo clubs and other photo snobs, led me to the position, I may not know art, but I do know what I like.

    Of the images you have presented here, #4 gets my attention the most. Probably because of the patterns in the image and how it reinforces the qualities noted by my instructor from long ago.

    The challenge seems interesting and should be fun.

    PaulB

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Paul – by the time I worked through your instructor’s “hit list” as far as “clarity”, I just burst out laughing. Still giggling, writing this.

      I’ve certainly told Pascal this – I may have mentioned it to the rest of the group. About a year ago, I strolled into my favourite camera store and while I was there, the manager suggested I might like to pop downstairs and have a “sneak preview” of their next exhibition. A dozen photos, 6 each, taken by two professional photographers who share the prenom “Christopher” with my dog – otherwise just a couple of guys who know each other. And they went to the middle of Australia, where there’s a vast lake called Lake Eyre, a hundred feet (roughly 33 metres) below sea level. Most of the time it’s dried up and just a salt lake – in fact Sir Malcolm Campbell set a new land speed world record on it, in one of his “Bluebirds” – 403mph or 649 kph – before coming here to break the world water speed record, before returning home to the UK – tragically, dying on Lake Coniston 3 years later. Occasionally Lake Eyre floods.

      And after I strolled around, gazing at the 12 photos these guys had taken on Lake Eyre, I staggered back upstairs in a complete daze. I was absolutely gobsmacked by their photos. When the manager of the store asked what I thought of them, all I could say was that if I was judging the display, I’d have to award them at least six equal first prizes.

      Out of the entire collection, there was only one that had ANYTHING in it that was even vaguely “sharp”. I guess I could call it “clear”, if that’s what clarity is meant to ask for.

      But the overwhelming “imagery” was “haze” – “hazy” – “dream like”.

      And I did – I went away from that store and went home, and for months afterwards I could not stop “dreaming” about those photos.

      I have texts on “the rules of composition”. I’ve had 70 years to learn photography. And there’s scarcely a “rule” that any of those photos satisfied. Yet the entire selection of a dozen photos was absolutely and unforgettably brilliant!

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Thanks, Pete,
        for describing that exhibition!
        It reminds me of a fascinating photo book, it was a book of tree and forest photos.
        Mostly in many shades of lush green.
        All were *very* unsharp!
        And all *very* tree-ish!

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