#1290. Three more thoughts about (experiential) photography

By pascaljappy | Opinion

Jun 01

Productivity, moments and craft beer …

 

As I am completely incapable of original thought, my writing process, lately, has shifted towards taking other people’s brilliant ideas and morphing them into photographic ideology. Ideology rules the world today, why couldn’t I have a slice of it?

Here’s idea number one: Western (read capitalistic) countries have developed an unhealthy culture of productivity. I can’t open my mail without seeing 5 tips, tricks, hacks, whatevers, to boost my productivity (as if I wanted to). The thing is, productive people (a) tend not to achieve much, but multitask all their life and (b) become very unhappy for it, because our life satisfaction and general happiness depends on the tasks we complete and are happy with, not how much we juggle.

This translates so beautifully to photography that it’s like our art, passion and hobby was the original blueprint for the human psyche.

 

Think about ancient masters – film era, not cavemen – and many great current artists. They’ll typically release around 10 photographs … a year (ballpark). Whether those are to our taste or not is irrelevant. What matters is that each of those photographs will be spectacularly good in its own style and genre. Each will be … complete.

And think about the GAS-powered amateurs we are. Today, we’ll balk at a new camera if it takes more than half a second to achieve this output of 10 images. We’ll shoot thousands in a trip, discard 90+% of them, post-process a few and likely print zero. In this scenario, none will be … complete, and our experience will be lacking.

I won’t elaborate more on this, as it doesn’t generalize to all current artists or all amateurs. It’s just food for thought.

 

The second idea is somewhat related, but has more to do with how we experience time.

Again, because we try to maximise opportunities and bring home as much photographic loot as possible, we tend to “waste” many precious moments trying to capture them. Personally, I’m not subject to the first problem above anywhere near as much as to this one. My wife often tells me I’ll have a lot of memories of viewfinders on my death bed 😉

She has a point … I remember witnessing a double whale breach from a boat off Southern Australia in 2016, at least through the viewfinder of my camera. It was an exciting test of reflexes, that rewarded me with a perfect photo, which I later deleted by mistake. Ugh …

 

The link with the first issue is productivity.

The promise of the shooting envelope is productivity. I’ve taken photos of hunting terns with a spotting scope and film camera, hand-held, lying in muddy marshes, manually focusing with gear intended for visual use that inverted left and right. Some artists photograph olympic sports with a view camera. Anything’s doable. Some approaches are just more productive than others. As in 2 rolls of 36 slides yielding one keeper for me …

The promise of the shooting envelope appears to be that we’ll bag more opportunities, but it’s really that we waste less of those precious moments struggling at the eyepiece. It’s a valid and fulfilled promise.

 

I get it, and letting go of AF would be difficult for me today.

But …

… if you love photography, maybe the moment isn’t the double-breach. Maybe it isn’t the first sprinter to pass the finish line. Or the graduation of your only child. Or the perfect alignment of passers-by in street photography. Maybe the moment is the process of making the corresponding photograph. Maybe a life of image-making moments is as valid and fulfilling as one of examining the world with our eyes? Isn’t that an artist’s life?

 

The third thought comes from a wine-tasting video in which one wine cost two orders of magnitude more than another. Roughly $10 and $1000.

The amazing thing about the tasting is that the cheap wine was very solid and pleasant. Everyone liked it.

The natural question that came to mind was whether the expensive wine was worth 50-100 times more. And the answer was an undisputed “yes”. The wine wasn’t 100 times better. You cannot quantify such things. But, for a wine lover and connoisseur, the rare experience of drinking something well made, well kept and of that class is rare enough to justify almost any price. Many can afford that wine, though few can appreciate it. For those who can do both, the wine might not be worth the money, but the experience of tasting it is worth every single penny.

 

The cheap wine was good, and had no flaws to speak of. But it isn’t complex, and gives very little information about the quality of the fruit, the type of soil, the intention of the wine maker, or the method used to make it. It is a drink that tastes nice. A valid promise, again.

But the expensive wine offers a complete experience involving the cork, the bottle itself, the colour of the wine, the aromas, the flavours, tannins, acidity, richness, juiciness, complexity, length, evolution over hours …

And even more than that, it is the discussion with other amateurs, the guessing games about how the wine was made, the exchange of notes … that make the moment exceptional and well worth the cost.

 

I think the same applies to photographic gear and experiences.

They translate badly into monetary value for most people. The reaction against the price of a Leica Q3 or Hassy X2D by some observers is noteworthy.

But, if you value the experience of holding something well put together and thought out, more than the photographs you make with it, or the performance capabilities of competitors, then it is worth the price of admission. Far more so than the cheaper options.

I feel a close similarity between the two wines and smartphones & cameras.

Smartphones have come such a long way, it’s almost impossible to find one that will not make great photographs. To the point that when I am not in a mood for elaborate thinking and PP, my default is the phone, that great cheap wine that requires little effort and provides superlative results. Phones have become fantastic, and require no effort. But they offer very little complexity. It’s exceedingly rare to look at a phone-made photograph for hours wondering what went into crafting it.

Crafting. If you’re not into wine but into beer, the phone is your Bud, and the “great camera” photo is that great craft beer. If you’re an amateur, you know how much labour and passion and expertise and dedication went into making it. And it’s not just about the taste, but more about the recognition of that human endeavour, that act of creation. The same goes with great prints. They make you look for hours, wondering about the light, the situation, the conditions, the lens, the focal length, the film or sensor, the exposure, the processing, the paper, the printing, the intention, the evocation …

 

I love phones.

And I love crafter cameras (and lenses). And prints.

And my dislike of the marketing promise behind do it all cameras (not the cameras themselves) has never been more intense. To me, it is the bane of our hobby, and the reason for the collapse of its market.

 

These are just personal thoughts. Just three among many trotting along in my mind about this topic. I don’t think I’m inherently right about any of them.

But it seems important to acknowledge that life is what we experience, nothing else. Not what happens but what we perceive of what happens. Not just the things we accomplish but how we accomplish them. Not how many photos we make, but how we make them.

To me, the experience of making and processing photographs is more important than the subject, the gear, or (often) the photographs themselves. What about youz?

 

​Never miss a post

​Like what you are reading? Subscribe below and receive all posts in your inbox as they are published. Join the conversation with thousands of other creative photographers.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Wine. well you already know that my father was – amongst other things – a wine maker. A truly great one. And his legacy was a wife who rarely drank at all, and never more than half a glass. A son whose knowledge of wine would fill a teaspoon – but because he knows absolutely everything about everything there’s anything to know anything about . . . . Then another son who, sadly, died too soon, but wasn’t much interested in wine anyway, so he drank beer instead (and learned german – when he died, he already had plan afoot to move to Germany and spend the rest of his days working for a large German chemical corporation).
    Which just leaves me. And I rarely drink beer. My beer-drinking brother and I were very close, and yet – at every turn, we were Yin & Yang. Strangely close, totally different.
    Out of the entire family unit, I’d say I was the one most interested in – and best at – photography & classical music. Dad was best with blended wines, I edged him out on varietals, we had some delightful “differences” (let’s call them) over that one.
    I’ve just had dinner with my wife at a french restaurant 50 metres down the street. We both had a [real – french!] champagne while we were waiting for the first course to arrive, and a [french] white burgundy.
    Not “quantity” – just “quality”.
    You talk of $1,000 bottles. I’ve absolutely no idea whatsoever, what the price or value of the most expensive wine I’ve ever sampled was – nor do I care.
    For me, it is the flavour – and the after taste. The experience – and the memory.
    What my father got out of it, I’ll never know – his thought processes and mine, on this topic, were at odds – from the time I was first allowed to sample wine.
    He had “expertise”. Right – well I’ll have something different – how about “I know what I like!”, and leave it there. Who cares if it has raspberries in it anyway – and what a ridiculous suggestion, NOBODY is going to put fruit like that in a wine vat!
    Back to you again – that points directly at “over-intellectualising” something which – bottom line – is simply “a question of taste”. How on earth does intellect enter on stage, when all that’s relevant is our taste buds, olfactory senses, etc. etc.
    And I see people doing this all the time, with everything. Music. Photography. Art. Clothing. Cars. Architecture. Humans really are more “vain” than “clever”, when they all start behaving like this.
    “The amazing thing about the tasting is that the cheap wine was very solid and pleasant. Everyone liked it.”
    I don’t find that amazing at all. During my lifetime I have sampled wines few would ever be able to afford – a white, from the 1880s – a red, from the 1920s (the chairman of the company that made it and I drank the entire bottle, after dinner at his house in Sydney, one night – and even though his company made it, that was the last bottle of it that he still had!) Against that, a 2 euro bottle from a supermarket shelf in Menaggio, on the banks of Lago di Como – or the vin ordinaire that we drank at a barbecue in the back yard of the house next to the BnB where we stayed in Blois, in the Loire Valley – enjoying a FIFA semi-final, watching France thrash Switzerland. But that wine stays in my memory to this day, because it was outstanding. No preservatives – quite a common trick in France and Italy – it generally means you need to drink it all during the first year of its life, but that’s not a difficult task with a fine wine!
    An “amazing thing”? I don’t find it at all amazing, Pascal. Quite the opposite in fact. At odd times I’ve been given a red so dosed with preservatives that don’t agree with me, that I’ve ended up with a splitting headache several hours later! Never had such issues with these “simpler” wines, and the taste, the bouquet, the after taste, were all sensational.
    And I certainly wouldn’t regard “price” as a reliable guide to “quality”.
    Helpful perhaps – but no cast-iron proof.
    Getting back to photography. The word speaks to me. You say “the experience of making and processing photographs is more important than the subject, the gear, or (often) the photographs themselves”.
    You’ve heard/read me say before, how much I put into “post”. Earlier, you say “We’ll shoot thousands in a trip, discard 90+% of them, post-process a few and likely print zero. In this scenario, none will be … complete, and our experience will be lacking.”
    For me, until it comes off that computer screen and goes onto some other medium, it might be a “photo” – but has yet to become a “graph”. It is not, in other words, a “photograph” until it’s printed. And for me, that’s never going to happen until I havedone my hard yards in “post processing”. Be it in film or digi, “post” of some description is an integral part of the “process” of creating a “photograph”. Like making babies – the last nine months takes a great deal more effort than the first five minutes! But with any luck, it’s worth it in the end.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Hi Pete,
      wine(s)…
      ( I’m certainly no connoisseur!)
      When I travelled through France many years ago (1972) I learned to choose the restaurants’ wine of the house, because it was always very good – and cheaper.
      My guess is that in a country where good food and drink are really valued a business that produces food or drink sells the next best to the wider market, keeping enough of the best for the locals.
      ( Hungary in the 1960s and -70s was different, they exported their best – for foreign currency.)

      P.S.
      A colleague of mine in Heidelberg in the -70s (a son of a wine maker) told stories…
      The same wine was sometimes filled in litre bottles and in 75 cl bottles with different labels, the smaller bottles for the more exclusive market – and they never received any complaints!

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        “litre bottles and in 75 cl bottles with different labels, the smaller bottles for the more exclusive market” ah Kristian, that’s brilliant – I can’t stop laughing – having spent half a lifetime with winemakers, and being related to heaps of the wine making families in this country, I think I could just about guarantee they’d fall over themselves laughing, if anyone ever suggested they should do that!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ah, winemaking is an elaborate process, as you well know. And those who do it well are bound to attract the attention of people who enjoy quality and cultural heritage. I do not see that as vain or intellectualizing anything, but celebrating the talent, and know-how of the few individuals who are able to repeatedly achieve such heights in their craft.

      Take a smaprthone photograph of a cute baby, and you have a pic that will please the crowds. But it has zero photographic talent. That’s the 2 euro wine that tastes nice. Start with good fruit and don’t mess it up by over-complexifying the vinification. But I would enjoy coca cola just as much. There’s nothing to remember of a wine like that. Nothing that generations of winemakers learned of their vines, of their soil, of their climate, of their terroir, no expertise, nu cultural value. And that’s fine. It’s a good product, enjoyable, honest and legitimate.

      But I far prefer to look at platinum prints of a well lit scene taken with tilted view camera on a larger format glass plate, such as what Sally Mann produces. And I prefer to drink an elaborate wine that displays complexity, that evolves in the glass over several hours (that’s literally like drinking 6 different wines, or more) and spending my money and my liver on the highest-possible quality wines. Since both those prints and those wines require a huge amount of know-how, time, experimentation … they cost a lot of money. Price doesn’t guarantee quality, but I know quality in both when I see it and do not mind spending towards that.

      Life is a series of experiences. Money is meaningless 😉

      Cheers

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I love the wines that perfume my mouth and throat, and leave behind an after taste. Something that makes you pause, to enjoy every drop of it. That lingers on after you swallow. That keeps your senses of taste and smell active, long after the actual wine haas left the glass and gone to another place.

        And in a similar vein – the images – be they photos or oils or sketches or watercolours – that make you freeze in your tracks. Rooted to the spot. Incapable of movement. Engulfed in what you see before you. It’s happened any number of times in my life. Sometimes it was one of the grand masters, certainly – but not always.

        You might be surprised by the number of photos I’ve found on this site – sifting through bank numbers of DS – which have that effect on me. Between the capital letter that starts line one, and the full stop after the final paragraph, some of the images here are truly amazing – well worth going back, and gazing at them.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Well, Pascal, as you say,
    there’s wine, … and beer, – and tea.
    ( and pipe tobacco…)
    And photography.

    If I make a ritual of making my tea – it tastes better, really.
    For two reasons, I think. When making it a ritual my precision in brewing it increases and I (probably) consistently make tastier tea, and, I also prepare myself for the experience and so appreciate the tea more.

    Now, let me compare with just taking a snap, and with purposefully setting my camera up.
    Right?
    Not quite so, but…

    But does that make my photo better?
    Sometimes a little more bother does so,
    and sometimes the spontaneity in taking the snap is what gets it.
    ( Or just the other way around – the snap may be to hasty, and too much bother can make the photo look contrived.)

    But there is a consistent difference, I enjoy making the photo more – unless, well, if I see that I’m botching it, but then also that is more intensive.
    Afterwards I find no difference in how I enjoy a success – but there certainly is a difference in how I react to a failure!
    – – –

    > “We’ll shoot thousands in a trip,..”
    Hmm…
    I’ve found that I’ve stronger memories of experiencing places or situations if I haven’t photographed them!
    Of course, later looking at photos gives the enjoyment of details that have faded but that is different.

    This difference really hit me when I started video filming for friends. I had a very sketchy and thin memory of their performance – framing and following had taken most of my attention.
    I mentioned it to an older friend who filmed professionally – he was not surprised.
    – – –

    Talking of
    > “letting go of AF”,
    a good example, I think, of when gear does matter.

    If I have something to focus on, any focus aid – be it range finding or AF – is the same to me and faster than MF on an SLR screen or an EVF with focus peaking.

    But if I should want to really compose with Aperture & DOF, I’d need to focus manually on a large screen, at least of MF size – the couple of FF SLRs I’ve tried haven’t been up to it.
    ( I loved to play with my grandfathers large glass plate folding SLR that my father still had.
    (He once inserted 120 film in it and found that he loved the lens.))
    As to EVFs, I’ve no idea how much resolution they’d need, I’ve not really tried that yet.
    – – –

    Returning to your wine test story,
    did the participants know about that price difference in advance?
    If so, wouldn’t they (probably even professionals) have been better prepared for the taste experience with the expensive wine?
    And if the price was mentioned after the test, some would have started rethinking…
    ( Which doesn’t mean that I doubt the result or your conclusion!)

    And just suppose that e.g. the Leica would – by some chance – have made a big enough market to be competitive in price?
    How would we than react to it?
    A pro or an experienced amateur (if liking the concept, of course) would, I think, rejoice.
    And among the ” ‘togs” – if I may so use this word – would it ever reach that “magic” status?

    My guess is it wouldn’t.
    As you say, “people” tend to value according to price rather than to photographic capacity.

    – – * – –

    And, yes, our
    > “unhealthy culture of productivity”.
    Those boost-your-productivity guys, mostly charlatans; through my (adult) life I’ve read about a few who on top of that gave (rather expensive) courses which in reality were variations of brain washing, occasionally with a pyramid or Ponzi scheme on top…

    ( Recently I saw a documentary about scientific proof that avoiding multitasking significantly increased productivity – as people of common sense always knew … but it might be a start…)

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Kristian,

      The ritual not only makes the tea better but makes life better. Slowing down, to make something properly, is the antithesis of stopping at the starbucks, and definitely not what consumeristic society would want you to do, but way better for your personal satisfaction.

      Spontaneity only works because you have honed your skill and intuition through abundant prior work and feedback. When you have, instinctual shooting will produce gems. But for people who haven’t, the very few good shots produced spontaneously are just luck.

      The wine tasters knew one wine was expensive and one was cheap. They didn’t know which was which or what the price difference was. In fact, they had to guess the wine difference.

      It would be suicidal for Leica to make cheap cameras, as that is completely out of alignment with the very high build quality and exclusivity that the brand promises. In many cases, for luxury products, increasing the price increases sales, because it guarantees separation between those who can afford it and the hoi polloi. Whether we like Leica or not, and I do very much 😉 , what they sell is exquisitely crafted, and is made in Europe, which matters a lot, in today’s geopolitics. Neither of those points comes cheap.

      Yeah, that hunt for (fake) productivity is terrible. In the US (and many other Western countries) the work “ethic” requires you to be busy, all the time, even at home. Studies have shown that people who do that really work 3 hours a day. The rest is just being busy. It’s extremely bad for them (leading to burnout and depression) and extremely non productive.

      Cheers

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Pascal, I think we should encourage Kristian to write more, on DS – he’s good! Stimulating, thoughtful, thought provoking. Just right, for heading us all to being “different”, instead of following the herd.

        • pascaljappy says:

          Hear hear !!! I’d welcome that 🙂

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          Thank you, Pete!
          And Pascal!
          But, please, be careful with encouraging
          – I’d soon run out of thoughts…

          Have a nice drop of something!
          ( – a Clock like Pooh’s is useful. When you come home it always says it’s “Time-for-a-little-something….”.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Right you are, Pascal, about rituals and living.

        Well, if one should find Starbuck’s coffee good enough, one can certainly make a ritual also of entering a Starbuck shop and…
        🙂

        – * –

        I find your good description of evolving skill also true for elaborate framing.

        So, although the *difference* in the kind of mistakes one makes – when snapping vs. deliberately framing – changes with experience, my comparison still seems valid to me – with the exception for the absolute beginner where all the stuff (s)he may have read starts popping up in the mind while setting up…

        Thanks for clearing up my Wine Test questions.
        Your comparison grows.

        As to Leica, certainly.
        The knowledge of using a hand crafted well designed tool inspires!
        But if one has limited funds it’s scary using it in riskier situations, which may be daunting.

        Now – if the market is large enough – a robotic production line can produce the same design and technical quality at a much lower price, but, of course, still not cheap.

        ( And I’ve no idea whether that could fit into today’s market situation, probably not or someone would have done it – except for the NIV syndrome.)

        You’re right, it wouldn’t work for the Leica *company*, and it would attract customers of a different mind.

        But for someone with Photography First it would solve the risk problem and so, I think, might perhaps be even more inspiring.
        – * –

        Really, as much as 3 hours!
        And – of course – not busy as a bee, rather busy as Rabbit (friend of Pooh).

        Sum, ergo sum, said the bee.

        Cheers, Pascal!

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Hi Pascal,

    I have to admit I am pretty ruthless of late when it comes to spam or channels digressing from their original concepts. You know the ones that start out producing high quality articles/videos and then ultimately digress into “STOP doing this …..” , “10 Best cameras/lenses/tips …” or “Whats in my Bag..” etc. I soon tire of those, hit the thumbs down and unsubscribe.

    Also a quote by David Yarrow is always at the forefront of my mind when browsing the media – “plurality is the bane of many photographers”. When I see a post “I took these at …. ” +40 Photos it clearly means the author has no vision, no editing/curating skills and is bombarding the media with spam and is clearly narcissist ( Look where I went and how many pics I snapped – NOW YOU sort out the good one for ME). Click unfollow and scroll on by with zippo engagement. It is good for the soul to declutter ones life.

    Perhaps the answer is to attend more wine tasting and depart from home intentionally leaving with a camera without a battery in it ? And while you are at it no phone ! Or at the best a Nokia 3310.

    Ugh… as for your mention of “Bud” or “Butt Light” as it has become known in the last 2 months , I almost threw up in my mouth at the mention of it 🙂 🙂

    • pascaljappy says:

      Phew, good job I stuck to 3, then 😉

      Yeah, those listicle posts, with no substance, are a pain in the arse. And my guess is we’re only seeing the beginning of them, now that a post can be generated in 30 seconds …

      Sorry about the vomitting. Is Corona any better ? 😉 😉

  • Paul Perton says:

    Hi Pascal.

    On your wine thoughts; I’m in the process of unpacking the last few remnants of our life in South Africa and a couple of days ago, discovered three wooden presentation boxes, each containing six bottles of red wine. The local handyman who had helped me pack everything had slid one box into three of many plastic boxes everything travelled in.

    I remembered nothing of this until I moved a particularly heavy trunk and looked inside to discover why.

    The box was stencilled Rustenburg – one of the Cape’s finest – Peter Barlow 1999. I doubted it was still drinkable.

    Back on board, I couldn’t wait and set to with the tire bouchon, finding the cork alarmingly loose in the neck of the bottle.

    I shouldn’t have worried. My 100% cabernet sauvignon, its berries picked at their prime, masterfully handled in the cellar and aged in wonderful new oak – the few millimetres I poured as a sample gave off such a wonderful aroma that not to sip would have been a crime.

    Wow – I was back in the tasting room, parting with a great deal of cash, that first sip having transported me back almost 24 years.

    The bottle is now wearing an airtight cap and no doubt will be fully consumed over the weekend.

    Relevance to DS? Not much, but life can be surprisingly good. Now, if only we could get rid of the politicians.

    • pascaljappy says:

      How fantastic !! Even better when it is a surprise find, like that.
      I think anything about living the life is relevant to DS 😉

      Politicians are making themselves rudendant. They’ll be weeded out soon enough. Enjoy Peter Barlow 🙂

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Ha ha – when that happened to me, Paul, I found one left behind by my father – not made by him, but vintage 1952, entered in a wine show in 1954, won a gold medal – then sat on a shelf till I found it in about 1986, opened it, offered the other people who’d dropped in for a visit a glass. Six of us – four turned me down cold, one tried it and apparently didn’t like wine anyway, so he only had one sip. Then I tried my glass. I couldn’t shoo them all out of the apartment fast enough. And spent the following six hours in a state of reverie, taking about a teaspoonful at a time, till finally – c. 11pm – I swallowed the last of it. And sat there, in a state of euphoria.

      This is what I think Pascal wants us to achieve with our photos. Now THAT’S a challenge for us all.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Aah, Paul, but we do need the politicians – we need someones to blame…!

      And thanks for a good story!

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      O.T. , on politicians…

      In 1968 Georg Kreisler made a song about them.

      ( “… Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker?…”,
      “… But what kind of tician is a politician? …”)


      ( Sorry about the advertising!)
      Enjoy!

      Allow me to add the lyrics,
      first the German original,
      then a – necessarily! – somewhat edited Google translation:

      Ja, die Welt ist eine Ansammlung von komischen Tier’n
      Die sich an das Leben klammern und nur selten amüsier’n
      Um gleich alle zu beschreiben, fehlt die Zeit hier momentan
      Und so führe ich nur einige als Beispiel an

      Ja, ein Dramatiker ist ein Stückeschreiber
      Und ein Fanatiker ist ein Übertreiber
      Und ein Botaniker ist ein Blumengießer
      Und ein Romantiker ist ein Fraungenießer
      Ein Philharmoniker ist ein Staatsmusiker
      Der Pension kriegt, wenn er nicht mehr gut gefällt

      Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker
      Woher kommt er, und was will er von der Welt?
      Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker,
      Woher kommt er, und was will er von der Welt?

      Die Amerikaner sind die Haupttouristen
      Die Lilliputaner sind die Zwergkopisten
      Und der Persianer ist der abgewetzte
      Und der Mohikaner ist der allerletzte
      Ein Alkoholiker ist ein Exzentriker
      Der sich selber seines Lebensglücks beraubt

      Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker
      Ist er wirklich so vonnöten, wie er glaubt?
      Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker,
      Ist er wirklich so vonnöten, wie er glaubt?

      Man braucht Kesselflicker und Autobuslenker
      Elektrotechniker und Serviettenschwenker
      Vor Gericht braucht jeder einen Verteidiger
      Dieser Verteidiger ist Akademiker
      Ich bin kein Zyniker und kein Polemiker
      Ich verehre diese Leute wirklich sehr!

      Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker?
      Eines Tages gibt’s den sicherlich nicht mehr!
      Aber was für Ticker ist ein Politiker?
      Eines Tages gibt’s den sicherlich nicht mehr!

      – – –

      Yes, the world is a collection of funny animals
      Who cling to life and rarely enjoy themselves
      To describe everyone right away, there is no time here at the moments
      And so I only give a few as an example

      Yes, a playwright is a dramatist
      And a fanatic is an exaggerater
      And a botanist is a flower waterer
      And a romantic is a women-enjoyer
      A philharmonic is a state musician
      Who is pensioned when you stop enjoying him

      But what kind of tician is a politician?
      Where does he come from, and what does he want from the world?
      But what kind of tician is a politician,
      Where does he come from, and what does he want from the world?

      The Americans are the main tourists
      The Lilliputians are the dwarf copyists
      And the Persian is the worn-out
      And the Mohican is the very last
      An alcoholic is an eccentric
      Who deprives himself of his happiness in life

      But what kind of tician is a politician?
      Is he really as needed as he thinks?
      But what kind of tician is a politician,
      Is he really as needed as he thinks?

      You need coppersmiths and bus drivers
      Electrical engineers and table jockeys
      Everyone needs a defender in court
      This defender is an academic
      I am not a cynic and not a polemicist
      I really admire these people!

      But what kind of tician is a politician?
      One day he will certainly no longer exist!
      But what kind of tician is a politician?
      One day he will certainly no longer exist!

      • pascaljappy says:

        Very funny, Kristian 😉

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        BEURK – have you ever had to work alongside politicians, Kristian? Maybe they’re a better breed in your country, after all, you’ve done a much better job than most countries in rehabilitating other criminals! Of course there ARE some “nice” ones, but working in that environment for the best part of 10 years of my life has left a very nasty after-taste. Not even remotely like any wine I’d ever be interested in drinking!

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          Well, in Sweden too many MPs come from inside the party organisations and too few from real life.
          Local politicians have quite a better reputation.

          The press was traditionally run by enthusiastic editors, nowadays it’s mostly owned by corporations – but it’s still critical enough. And so is our fairly independent Public Service broadcasting.
          So corruption isn’t really a problem except occasionally locally.

          Sweden is not directly run by the politicians but by government agencies who get a yearly general directive from the government. Ministers are not allowed to interfere or to give them sudden orders.
          The parliament makes the laws.

          One of these agencies is “Riksrevisionen”, but directly under the Parliament, that audits economy and efficiency of any part of the government. And it seems to be doing its job.
          – – –

          I think our main problem now and for the near future is that the public takes our “democracy” too much for granted.

          No, I’ve never worked with or close to any politician. I’ve known a couple of local ones and agree with the general opinion that they are usually doing their job.
          On the central level I guess most “western liberal” countries have the same breed.

          But the alternative to let experts replace the politicians would, I think, be worse…
          – – –

          Please, Pete, don’t insult wines…
          But I realise it wasn’t intentional.
          🙂 !!

          ( – of course, there are “wines” that shouldn’t be called wine… just as with politicians.)

          • pascaljappy says:

            Auditing the quality of governmental work seems fundamental to democracy. And yet, it is science fiction in most Western Countries, in particular France, where the very idea would be viewed as blasphemy.

              • pascaljappy says:

                Particularly from the public.

                In recent months, the government has passed 9 laws against all popular and political opinion, using a special right to do so, 9 times in a row. Huge protests have been going on for months, sometimes with extreme violence, but our president is so convinced he is a superior being who knows better he has repeatedly ignored the public and his political opponents (even some of his political entourage).

                He as increased national debt by over 600 billion euros, and is increasingly constested, but nothing will change because he is all powerful. Democracy is slowly becoming a ghost in this country.

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                Maybe I was unclear, I meant, is the blasphemy against auditing shared by the public?

                Your description of public protest sounds to me as if they would prefer more auditing?

                > “9 laws against ..”
                – reminds me of some others, like Orbán, Erdogan,…
                Or?

              • pascaljappy says:

                Oh definitely, they would. Sadly, 99% of people think in terms of political clans, not what is good for the country. That’s when you realise we humans are still pretty much tribal animals 😉

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                Yes, and clan thinking is, I think, increasing in Sweden – as in a large part of the “west”.

              • pascaljappy says:

                We have social media to thank for sending us centuries back in our behaviour.

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                You’re probably right, although I haven’t looked at it that way before.

                But I think the increased corporate press ownership is also to blame, e.g. the Murdoch empire.

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                Thanks, Pascal!
                [ Not being a subscriber I first found only the beginning of the article.
                I then found a way to sign up for a newsletter promising the article, and when it didn’t show up I finally found a button to listen to it.
                I wonder if it was a robotic voice – I almost fell asleep several times, so I’ll have to come back to it. I hope it’ll appear in my mailbox.]

                I found it well worth listening too, much food for thought! A great article. And I’ll look some more at the Atlantic.
                Thanks again!

                I’ve long wondered why Trump lies so much. Recently I’ve begun to think that yelling lies (typo for telling – that turns out to be true…) on that scale erodes also the debate on the opposition side.
                This article strengthens that belief…

                ( And maybe that was his intention? Or is he just shortsighted? I saw him as president as playing with a yo-yo in each hand, one with a US map and the other a mini earth globe with the string slit along the equator.)
                – – –

                [ I’ve long wished for an international payment system so simple and so cheap that it would make pay-per-article feasible for the press, whether paper- or net-based. Good editors would have a better chance to build needed new independent media.]

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          Hi again, Pete,
          I forgot a couple of important details.

          In Sweden documentation (including letters) in governmental organisations is accessible by the public (except where secrecy is necessary), deliveries to journalists can, of course, be delayed but the journalist can then sue them.

          If a journalist promises secrecy to a source, it is illegal to try to find the source.

          Which helps quite a bit.

  • Jeffrey D. Mathias says:

    “…the experience of making and processing photographs is more important than the subject, the gear, or (often) the photographs themselves.”

    You got that right.

  • Jens says:

    Here is my take on your thoughts: I think you’re right on track with our “unhealthy culture of productivity”. You mentioned photographs of current artists and ancient masters – it doesn’t matter how many pictures they took/made, the means they used or how long it took them to finalize them. But in all likelihood they carefully select these and present them fittingly. And they won’t send them via an messenger app or publish them in a photo stream – you’ll likely have to go to a museum / art gallery.
    This slows us down and we’ll take the time required to appreciate their art. If we print out / create a book or at the very least create a themed gallery to share our pictures, the viewers will see them in a different light. I’m not saying that sending a picture via phone isn’t valid for some cases, however it’s the product that symbolizes ‘multi-tasking productivity’ like no other device I can think of. In all likelihood we’ll spent a few seconds to look at a picture before switching to the mail client or similar and possibly kept the audio book / song running all the while. In a way it also stands for another problem that strongly corelates imho – the fear of missing out.
    Why do we carry a phone around? We might miss some news, an invitation, phone call, mail or the chance to share something / take a picture of something. How many photographs of the artists will never see the light of day or how much time passed between creation and publication? Yet we worry that we miss a chance to share our pictures that took us a few minutes at most to create and edit?

    Modern cameras promise that we don’t miss that crucial moment. However that completely ignores the fact that getting there in the first place is the difficult part. If someone spent a lot of effort to track an animal, planned a landscape shot long in advance, got a press pass to take pictures of his favourite sports team.. I get it why people want technology that helps them getting rewarded for these efforts. However the reverse doesn’t work – if we take more or less random pictures with sophisticated gear, we might get a good photograph by chance, but in all likelihood it gets lost in the stream of the 1000s of picture we take. And this is where I share your ‘dislike of the marketing promise’.
    We first have to create these great photographic opportunities before we can have that moment that potentially leads to a great picture. And usually no matter if we got the perfect shot or not, the memories of that moment stick with us and make the pictures precious to us. However the tech/adverts suggests it’s all about *not missing* the perfect moment from this opportunity and uses fear as fuel.

    Since the tech makes some parts much easier, people tend to get more lazy in their whole approach. But even with the smart phone you can properly compose the picture, walk around a space to find a suitable perspective, add lights to the scene, work around its limitations etc. and as such create something great. Yet most people will just take the phone out of their pocket, aim it at the point of interest and let the phone optimize the picture, add some filters/pre-sets and send it via messenger. A high-end modern camera might give you a few more options, but in principle the same applies here. And this is why the marketing promise often leads to disappointment. The tech can’t create the photographic opportunities for you and if you use it mainly to compensate for weaknesses due to lack of effort on your part it’s a waste really. With high MP you might be able to reframe the picture better, increased dynamic range can help with bad light… but that shouldn’t be the main point.
    In a way this ties in the crafter cameras and lenses – the part I enjoy the most is likely the attitude that often goes with using them. Most people who use and buy these do it on purpose and that tends to translate to the pictures they take. Some intentionally slow you down or have limitations and this again helps escaping that viscous circle of ‘min-max’ attitude regarding productivity that assaults our hobbies and passions and focus on the craft.
    And I fall victim all too easily as well… I transfer pictures from the camera to the phone, dabble a bit in LR and send them to friends. Yet it would be much more rewarding if I’d keep the good ones out of this loop, wait a few days before I’m happy with the editing and selection of pictures. And at a later date present a selected few ideally in person and with a print.
    We’re often way too anxious to get rewarded quickly. The gaming industry uses behavioural psychologists to feed the temptations instant gratification. The advertisement and products might tempt us as well, but it’s on us really what to make of it. Many want that their smart phone and professional camera interlock even more to be even ‘more productive’, yet this leads to even faster cycles of picture creation and consumption. I’m not sure if this is a good thing for the artistic part. I’m not saying that a complicated interface or frustrating workflows are good – but not everything has to be mixed.

    It is the same with good wine or food – everything has its place and time. If friends of yours eat food you made while watching a movie or game, they’ll notice the quality, but won’t appreciate all the nuances and it’ll feel disappointing if you spent hours beforehand. Nor is it the time to open your best bottle of wine. And I’m not saying that things can’t complement each other, but trying to min-max the things we enjoy won’t make us happier and failures are just as important. Convenience isn’t everything. Besides it’s both the creation and consumption that need some time and effort.
    It would be a fun concept for an art gallery.. placing toilet seats in the room and having everyone watch the artworks on a smartphone or similar device 😉

    • pascaljappy says:

      Jens, I agree entirely.

      FOMO has been the driving force behind the marketing of most of the modern world. The very fact that is appeals to fear says all we need to know about it: it’s wrong, and it’s bad.

      It’s bad enough in business, but when it comes to a hobby that is supposed to relax you, make you grow as a person, and generally feel good about life, then it is undermining something positive and important.

      You may fall victim to it. I sure do as well 😉

      And I love your concept for the art gallery I’m sure it would work, too.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Jens,
      very well said! IMHO.
      (also) I totally agree.
      – – –

      And these tendencies have, I think, a long history.

      Do you remember – or have heard of – the Kodak Instamatic camera (with special quick loading film cassettes)?
      In a way it was a precursor of the phone camera – and was marketed, and used, similarly.

      When I was younger and and began to figure out advertising in the 1960s and -70s, it was often using FOMO (but without that name).
      ( E.g. a Swedish election poster showing a young girl running over a meadow full of spring flowers, and with the only text “Towards new bold goals!” and the party logo – it was used during the whole campaign.)
      The same today, but accelerated and a bit more psychological.
      And, as you say, the smartphone has given us a personal tool to vastly increase our indulgence in FOMO.

      I’ve never understood the (ever increasing) use of so called Muzak almost everywhere.

      [ I hate it. Especially in restaurants – even when it’s often music!
      I’ve read that it makes their guests stay shorter…
      But: In the -70s I read (in a Swedish newspaper) of a New York restaurant that had the bad luck of both their television and music sets being broken, so they advertised an apology for the coming weekend. They then had so many customers that they never repaired their equipment!]

      Perhaps adapting to Muzak-surround is the same “disease” as addiction to smartphone-distractions?
      ( At least both are promoted by business interests.)
      – – –

      As to adding / mixing experiences … also:

      A song with engaging lyrics needs a simple melody (and arrangement) – otherwise one hears only the text *or* the music.

      Wine and music are, as you say, not really compatible – I find I become noticeably worse at experiencing an interpretation after just half a glass, even if I then neglect the wine.
      – – –

      If the wine in my bottle is *really* good, I find that I unintentionally drink rather less of it.
      Or when I smoke a pipe tobacco I really enjoy, I feel satisfied sooner and much longer.

      ( The same with snacks…
      And food? Yes, well, but depends on my hunger.)

      Re. quality?
      I think our large output and ever faster search *mutually trigger* each other.
      When browsing published material, we go on largely, I think, waiting for quality to pause at – and so add to the demand.
      And when publishing, we are tempted by that increasing demand.

      Even before the internet I think I saw that tendency in Sweden with published literature.

      A tragic (modern) example:
      A Swedish nature photographer became famous for some exceptional photos of hard to find wild animals.
      In the end he felt the public demand for more of that so strongly that he began to manipulate his photos. As a result the demand increased even more and he was caught up in a spiralling process – until he was found out, with sad consequences.
      ( In his apologies he described just that spiralling demand – once he had started manipulating he found it too hard to stop.)

      Would it help – if somehow possible – to make publishing much harder again?

      It would anyway be unfair, too much good literature has been lost in drawers and too much art has stayed hidden in attics – as seen when occasionally found.

      On the other hand, a (typical) example:
      J. R. R. Tolkien was wise to keep his massive *unfinished* work in his own hands.
      Then his son published a version of The Silmarillion…
      In my opinion it was, though rather unethical, a good thing – since those tales are so often referred to in The Lord of the Rings.
      The son continued to publish his father’s “Unfinished tales”, which in my opinion wasn’t right at all.
      ( How often do painters publishes their sketches?)
      – – –

      How much of all this is “beginner’s disease”?

      In the beginning of television that was (at least in Sweden) used similarly.
      ( Some sat watching the test image; from a house in the countryside one could hear the call: “Come in, there’s a nature program!”; at a party there was always someone who didn’t want to miss some television program, sigh.)

      And since some time after plastic was introduced there has also been a yearning for handmade quality products.

      Let’s – at least – hope!
      Until the next tool / toy seduces…

  • >