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Thread: What's the point?

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    Super Duper
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    What's the point?

    We are all here because we like to take photographs. But somewhere along the trek one has to sit back and ask one's self, "What's The Point?"

    Everywhere you look, there are images ... in fact, a LOT of really good images. So the question is, what motivates YOU to keep doing it?

    Is it a form of introspection? Is it to leave something behind, like a bit of immortality? Is it an outward form of expression for those less gregarious?

    Some of us do it for money, even do it for all of the money we earn. Logically, that's a big motivator ... but not necessarily what emotionally drives us.

    As of late, (maybe I'm getting too old : -) ... but I have to have a purpose, a reason, it has to be FOR something or someone. I still take my camera on outings that have no utilitarian purpose, but then afterwards scratch my head as to what to do with yet more images in the sea of images I have already taken.

    Picasso had a saying that haunts me ... "A picture kept in the closet, might as well be kept in the head."

    Frankly, this is why I shoot weddings. It gives me a purpose. A place to apply the talent and skill I honed doing "decisive moment" images during my travels over the years ... that now just reside on a hard drive or a portfolio ... in a "virtual closet" so to speak.

    Don't get me wrong ... I get a "high" when I pull off a shot that has no apparent reason for existence except to ... well, give me that high. But when I pull off something out of the ordinary for me (like an urban landscape), it makes me better realize it was lucky, and there are others (on this forum) that consistently are lucky with these type shots. Theirs has purpose as a part of a body of work ... mine is a "one of" that maybe gets posted once, and put in the "closet" with a bunch of other "lucky one ofs". Like the attached A900 image I shot yesterday while at Detroit's Farmer's Market that was uncharacteristically abandoned due to a severe winter storm ... it printed up really well, but will be forgotten by this time next year.

    Your thoughts?

    -Marc

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    What a great topic Marc. Very interesting thoughts on this, I kind of follow your logic some. For me obviously it is driven by money but that is a purpose that i have to do. It really has nothing to do with the other side which is the love i have for photography. Yes they are intertwined and in a knot sometimes. But what brings up your point so well is i will shoot something maybe post it here than it resides on a hard drive forever. It never makes it to my portfolio and/or in print form. Even all the nice shots i do on the workshops they really never go anywhere and it is not because there not good they just don't fit in on the Pro side and maybe that is bad. At this stage in my life it is more the challenge to get a shot or maybe better said it is the relief to express myself and get something shot so it does not stick in my head and be dormant. I think the basic fundamental reason we shoot is first to express ourself and also challenge oneself to get better all the time. This maybe the biggest joy about photography and i think why we really even started this forum and that is it is a learning experience that you never stop learning no matter how many images , no matter how long you just don't ever get bored and tired of it. What makes this great for me is i get to share the experience and ultimately i think this is what drives me. I also believe this is my biggest purpose in having be a owner here is i get to talk it everyday and my life get's to expand. I like to say that if i did not have you folks to talk to everyday than I may just get to bored in my life. So shooting no matter what it is gives me energy in my life and what i like most about it is I never stop learning myself, so maybe the actually picture taking process is maybe not so important but the experience of it is.

    Still working on the first espresso here but we still look at photography is a way to master it too which we never truly do no matter how good you are or think you are but we strive every time for that winner. I think the overall driving force is the challenge it brings us even though it sits in a closet and never comes out to the world that is not so important but getting it is. Initial thoughts I may have more after 3 expresso's. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    It is a strange "double-thrill" for me.
    First there is an artistic thing, for many years I painted for a hobby. Starting with a blank piece of paper and filling in some scene with paint and brush. I like watercolor the best, since it is immediate and help me loosen up and not get obsessive with all the detail that I might be able to put in with oils. Sometimes I see something that catches my eye and just get stuck there looking at it finding something in that impression that glues me to the spot. I try to get that same feeling into my pictures no matter what the medium. I rarely succeed, but when I do, maybe once or twice per year, I end up with something that has a bit of the universe in it.

    The second bit is, frankly I am a geek.
    In my other avocation, I spend months arguing with other geeks about technical minutiae related to software standards, particularly xml protocol work. My first personal computer was an IBM 1130, my second a PDP8, my third a vax, my third a MITS, and now I have lost count. I have been working with these to make them do something visual from the beginning. Since my time management skills are so rotten, I will sit in front of a box playing with some bit of technology for over 24 hours in a row.
    I have fallen in and out of love with all sorts of technical things, flying, soaring, woodworking, metalworking, wet darkrooms, roll-your own E-6, chemistry, physics, they all last a few years until I get some level of mastery, and then I get bored.
    I have not yet gotten completely bored with taking pictures from my brownie in 1965 to my P45+ in 2008. I get bored when I HAVE to take pictures, I don't when I WANT to take pictures. It is pretty perverse.
    I am still looking to get that special image, but I am afraid that when I do, I will drop photography all-together.
    I really doubt that will occur since I am so far off the mark.
    -bob

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    Re: What's the point?

    back in the early 70's, my crank got turned when I read the Daybooks of Edward Weston, then the writings of Ansel and the images of same, Strand, and a few others. my photography has always tended toward more contemplation and previewing, more contemplation and perfecting the craft. What I seem to enjoy most is the abstraction and focus of interest a photograph can bring to what we see around us every day

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    ddk
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    Re: What's the point?

    Mine has never been about money, it started with love of equipment and mystic of a darkroom when I was much younger, then I quit for a very long time and not missed it until that part of my life was over; I knew that I made a mistake not recording it. So at times, now, I shoot to record my new life and family and other times I massage and satisfy my creative side. I've narrowed my vision and like you don't shoot scenery or subjects that don't excite me, just because they're there...

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    Re: What's the point?

    It's a drive.

    I was born into an artistic family but although I could 'see' art, I could never create it.

    Then I discovered photography.

    I shoot weddings as a day job, my drive for that is more personal stemming from a chip on my shoulder about my own c**p wedding and in a society where the the couples are very young and the wedding is an excuse for the parents to celebrate, with the couple as an afterthought, I have a drive to try and make it their wedding, not just a wedding they were an excuse for.

    In my personal life however photography is my way to express myself which as I understand it is what art is all about. My current series in Jerusalem is expressing my emotions for the city, how I view it, how I react to what it is, etc. My landscape work was always expressing my own emotions though for years I never 'saw' it, could never understand why I took what I did, what was driving me. When I did finally find out what it was I was trying to say my best friend told me it had always been obvious to him but he hadn't ever wanted to say anything thinking that the expression was on purpose!

    It's a drive, where it will lead me who knows. I'm quite happy just to ride the wave, for most of my life I struggled to find expression and I'm not going to knock it once I've found it!

    The photo that made me realise what I was trying to say, pretty much everything I've ever done has been a variation of the same...


    To be honest I don't think I'm a photographer. For me everything between the picture I have in my mind, be it for years or while looking at the scene unfolding, and the finished printed image is just faff. I couldn't care less about the process, never have done unless it stands in between me and how I want the final print to look. As such I only photograph that which allows me to express, which is why I will never become a 'photographer' in the carry a camera everywhere find photos everywhere type genre. I had an idea for a photo today during lunch. It's a very specific idea. It may take me years to actually make it, but I'll keep looking until I do find it. If I could paint then the expression of my emotional reaction to the scene in my mind would be actualised far sooner. But I can't paint so I'll go looking for it and one day hopefully make it real using a camera and lens as my brush.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 20th December 2008 at 08:51.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  7. #7
    karrphoto
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    Re: What's the point?

    I've found a new passion for photography, something I don't see a lot of, or a lot of the subjects I've been shooting. Panoramas. Yeah, they have been around forever... but, I'm really starting to enjoy photography again going out and shooting and seeing what I can get out of a subject. It's been money in the past, for now, while I'm on disability, it's for the sanity of getting me out of the house and doing something with my time other than rotting in front of the TV. To give you an idea, there are tons of downtown Chicago panos.. but I was able to find a new vantage.. and did a 24 picture pano. I did 24 because I fell on the snow, cracked my 17-40 off it's base and screwed up my 24-70/2.8 that was in my pocket. So I shot with my 70-200. I did 2 rows of 12 and it stitches beautifully. I now have a nice 24"x96" Print and 24"x72" print, the later hanging on the wall in my book binding room. The former I still don't have a wall big enough to hang it on. But it's always been about either the enjoyment or the $, or seeing others reactions to my work.. that always gives me a good feeling too, when someone looks at a print and has a "that's just amazing" response... nothing better, well.. one thing better.. but.. not for this forum. >

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    Deceased, but remembered fondly here... johnastovall's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    As for 'Why, why as van Gogh said, 'To make them say, 'He feels deeply. He feels tenderly.''

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


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    Re: What's the point?

    I think the major part of "why" is to share. As a landscape artist I get to go to places that many don't either because they physically can't or a combination of lack of funds or time.

    When I'm at that right place and right time and capture something that few have seen and I was lucky enough to then I almost feel an obligation to share it. There's also an obligation to teach others as well about our environment and how fragile it is.

    There's more to it but I need to get off the soapbox for now.

    I'll close with this ... I always wondered about people who stated they just loved what they did for a living - now I'm one of them....

    don

    I agree - very good topic
    Don Libby
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    Senior Member back alley's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    was it winogrand who said, i like to see what things look like photographed by me?

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Creek View Post
    I think the major part of "why" is to share. As a landscape artist I get to go to places that many don't either because they physically can't or a combination of lack of funds or time.

    When I'm at that right place and right time and capture something that few have seen and I was lucky enough to then I almost feel an obligation to share it. There's also an obligation to teach others as well about our environment and how fragile it is.

    There's more to it but I need to get off the soapbox for now.

    I'll close with this ... I always wondered about people who stated they just loved what they did for a living - now I'm one of them....

    don

    I agree - very good topic
    Please, DON'T get off your soap box! It is a terrific purpose for your photography ... to help people realize what they have to lose or lose for their children.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by back alley View Post
    was it winogrand who said, i like to see what things look like photographed by me?
    Is that introspective or egotistical? Not that it matters.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    It's a drive.

    I was born into an artistic family but although I could 'see' art, I could never create it.

    Then I discovered photography.

    I shoot weddings as a day job, my drive for that is more personal stemming from a chip on my shoulder about my own c**p wedding and in a society where the the couples are very young and the wedding is an excuse for the parents to celebrate, with the couple as an afterthought, I have a drive to try and make it their wedding, not just a wedding they were an excuse for.

    In my personal life however photography is my way to express myself which as I understand it is what art is all about. My current series in Jerusalem is expressing my emotions for the city, how I view it, how I react to what it is, etc. My landscape work was always expressing my own emotions though for years I never 'saw' it, could never understand why I took what I did, what was driving me. When I did finally find out what it was I was trying to say my best friend told me it had always been obvious to him but he hadn't ever wanted to say anything thinking that the expression was on purpose!

    It's a drive, where it will lead me who knows. I'm quite happy just to ride the wave, for most of my life I struggled to find expression and I'm not going to knock it once I've found it!

    The photo that made me realise what I was trying to say, pretty much everything I've ever done has been a variation of the same...


    To be honest I don't think I'm a photographer. For me everything between the picture I have in my mind, be it for years or while looking at the scene unfolding, and the finished printed image is just faff. I couldn't care less about the process, never have done unless it stands in between me and how I want the final print to look. As such I only photograph that which allows me to express, which is why I will never become a 'photographer' in the carry a camera everywhere find photos everywhere type genre. I had an idea for a photo today during lunch. It's a very specific idea. It may take me years to actually make it, but I'll keep looking until I do find it. If I could paint then the expression of my emotional reaction to the scene in my mind would be actualised far sooner. But I can't paint so I'll go looking for it and one day hopefully make it real using a camera and lens as my brush.
    Interesting Ben, I drew like crazy when I was a kid, and became a painter and designer ... I came to photography through shooting reference for my art work. Eventually, when I traveled on business I didn't have time to draw or paint, so I took my M camera and thought of it as my "portable creativity." Now I'm so busy with photography, I still don't have time to paint or draw.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnastovall View Post
    As for 'Why, why as van Gogh said, 'To make them say, 'He feels deeply. He feels tenderly.''
    Taht requires that the work is out there to be seen.

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    Re: What's the point?

    How many people saw van Gogh's work before he died? I have shows, enter shows, have net folios and keep putting my works up in local venues.

    If I can only communicate with one photo to one person in my life time deep feelings, that is enough "Why."

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
    Mike Johnston


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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    I could write a book on this...and in fact just finished one (shameless plug - though it is more of an abstraction on the question).

    Instead of write something direct here, allow me to cut and paste a few things that were written for different topics, but speak to this. In short, I think "the point" is about communication. It is what drives the world, and we have an inherent need to communicate both with others *and* ourselves. Photos use a visual language that one needs to learn, though some aspects are somewhat universal (what the last blurb below speaks to). I shoot because if I'm not creating, I'm dead, and I desperately need to communicate what I see/feel to others as well as myself. And in the end, it is all about mercy and grace.
    -----

    mercy wheels

    no point in direction
    it's coming no matter what
    say goodnight sweet prince
    your fight was gallant
    your methods flawed
    your heart tragic
    don't be afraid to cry
    before you know it will pass
    everyone will remember you
    until they drop the rose and walk past

    mercy is trying to visit
    but the barricades are strong
    dreams made of heat in your heart
    waiting for darkness to come
    and steel quickly
    wishing for arms to hold
    passing it off as fancy
    but desperate
    for tenderness
    and mercy

    you had a good run
    and thought that living was
    running to keep up
    and keep tabs

    may grace be with you
    because mercy is scarce
    but i fear you'll feel neither
    you were taught to win
    but never learned to fail
    pick it up on the fly
    or during the fall
    find a way home

    mercy dear mary
    slaughtered before waking
    closing doors and bolting ways
    swinging remains reminding
    of lives that spun out
    pirouette and pratfall
    packing boxes
    cleaned out after you're gone

    living in seven time
    but it's an eightfold world
    you tap your feet
    but mercy doesn't feel the beat
    the end of the sky
    shivering hues and streaks
    you loved the texture
    until you could really feel it
    now it's too much
    mercy come
    the mourners are singing
    mercy save
    your broken soul
    mercy love
    your analog pulse
    before it is quiet

    dragged by your feet
    to do it again
    until it's really wrong
    you're on your knees
    mercy wheels
    turning again
    -----

    point

    left point driving right
    here i thought it might
    feel ok or at least not sting
    as bad as some of the other things

    turns out it does and rather now
    intensifies as i'm feeling how
    i didn't before and clearly see
    what a tidy mess lies before me

    time to unpack and stay awhile
    despite it feeling like being on trial
    for crimes committed by the mother
    and counsel now left for another

    discering folk will pass it by
    another search can let you try
    to live and learn and love to be
    alone together, myself and me
    -----

    "Universal" is often loaded with Western-centric fodder. While there are some constants to the human condition, the beauty is often in the diversity and specifics. Art speaks to different people different ways, and the lowest common denominator is often just that. When we engage a piece we bring our baggage to the table and it flows over the experience. An artist can't really account for that...if they try to anticipate they will generally fail (or make a fluff Hollywood blockbuster).

    Discussions like this are relatively new for me because I am not classically trained in the arts, and instead stomped my way into things along the way. I find that artists are generally insecure and selfish (I know I am). I don't say that pejoratively....everyone is to some degree, artists are just more up front about it. They want people to react to their work. Unless it is shown, it doesn't exist. It is a fine line though of having to create for one's own needs, but require that others consume it lest it have no meaning.

    There is no inherent meaning...that is an overlay generated by the person who engages the piece. The level of engagement depends on myriad factors, and the reaction can vary from day to day or hour to hour. It is the proverbial moving target. Therefore an artist has to be true to their own vision and damn the torpedos. The trick is figuring out that internal truth, and experimenting with how to realize it. Luckily my "formal" training is as a chemist, so the concept of experimentation is ingrained in me. And thankfully due to a bunch of other life experiences, I realize that there is more to life than calculation. And so I shoot...and write...and play music...and try to get a good night's sleep every once in awhile.

    Mitch's images often resonate with me because I am essentially an "egg". I resonate strongly with Asian culture and themes, and get a visceral response when I see iconography from the east. Having been to China a number of times, when I see some of the shots of Bangkok, I'm transported to another time and start to smell the claypot, hear the cacophony of dialects, and feel the humidity on my brow. But not all of his shots do that to me. Some have other effects, and others just pass over me.

    While I consider myself to be a member of the human race and certainly am susceptible to all the various common conditions, my unique set of experiences will cause resonance with certain stimuli. And those frequencies may or may not jibe with others. And that's ok. As they say in the auto industry, "there's a butt for every seat."

    (responding to a comment that a person's "critique" that consisted of a description of how the shot spoke to him along with a sketch he made of the photo wasn't really in fact a critique): I think that he did just that in the sketch. Instead of using text, he used image to communicate the elements that struck him.

    The more I think about it, the more I am struck about the profound sense of visual literacy that was transmitted in the exchange. All mediums are inexact at describing the analog world. Text has enjoyed primacy as the de facto "learned" way of analysis. But we are in different times, and it is essential that people can read and write with multimedia. By sketching, the author conveyed his critique in an efficient and rich manner. I often wish I could do that...
    Last edited by nostatic; 20th December 2008 at 13:39.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnastovall View Post
    How many people saw van Gogh's work before he died? I have shows, enter shows, have net folios and keep putting my works up in local venues.

    If I can only communicate with one photo to one person in my life time deep feelings, that is enough "Why."
    That's an interesting distinction. Van Goth moved a scarce few people in his lifetime, and millions after.

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    Re: What's the point?

    How do you feel about the massive proliferation of images and means to see them these days? It sometimes feels so impersonal and superficial.

    (As mundane as wedding work may seem to some people, maybe even looked down on ... when done well, it's extremely personal and one has the viewer's undivided attention ... because it all has to to with them ... their 15 minutes of fame so to speak. Portrait work done well can be the same.)

  19. #19
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    How do you feel about the massive proliferation of images and means to see them these days? It sometimes feels so impersonal and superficial.
    I have no problem with the so-called "democratization of media." I'm a huge fan of amateur cultural production, believe in remix as an art form, and encourage everyone to try and create, be it with text, image, sound, or combination thereof.

    I'm not sure I agree with the words "impersonal" and "superficial." The bottom line is that there is somewhat of a conservation of talent, and not everyone can be an artist. But everyone can create and make art (it just not might be particularly "good", whatever that means). There certainly is a lot of stuff out there, and it can be difficult to find things that speak to you. Lots of chaff per wheat. But is that any different than before?

    Before we had the distribution network and the tools, less people made are but less people could avail themselves as well. There were arbiters of quality and they served as gatekeepers for the unwashed masses. Well now everyone gets a voice and a way to scream. It is a case of differentiation now, but again, talent and uniqueness will often rise to the surface. But sh*t floats as well...that hasn't changed either.

    The bottom line is that what someone else creates doesn't dilute what I create and vice versa. I may not like what the other person makes and find it boring or ugly, but like my dad said, "son, you're not useless, you can always serve as a bad example."

    Just like when Leica comes out with the M8.3, your M8.2 will still make the same pictures it did before. There's just something else out there...

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    How do you feel about the massive proliferation of images and means to see them these days? It sometimes feels so impersonal and superficial.

    (As mundane as wedding work may seem to some people, maybe even looked down on ... when done well, it's extremely personal and one has the viewer's undivided attention ... because it all has to to with them ... their 15 minutes of fame so to speak. Portrait work done well can be the same.)

    I think that it is forcing the realisation that the imagery needs to be intensely personal, a projection of the person creating it. A counter balance to the prolifiration of imagery you mention, from big time commercial at one end of the scale to meaningless snapshots and wannabee photography at the other.

    I think there is a reason why journalistic photography will be remembered while the commercial ads (including most everything connected to celebrities) are forgotten seconds after being seen. One is trying to say something with their photography, the other? I'm sure you can tell us Marc, it was your job!

    To be honest even journalism now has been heavily diluted by a need to make headlines, a soulless capturing of history heavily twisted towards media bias and finding pictures to fit the headline and not the opposite which is what used to make that genre of photography so great.

    The answer? Personally I think photography with soul will survive and go down in history. Photography without, photography just to obtain the bottom line, photography to spec or to please a photo club panel? It always was dead...

    I think that is why of all commercial photography, wedding work as pointed out by Marc is unique in that it really is the photographers artistic response to the emotions and memories being created before their camera. Far more documentary than commercial and the reason why my mentor and myself in turn define our wedding photography as documentary photography (though not to the clients, it doesn't sound romantic exactly! ). I advertise 'Capturing the Moment'. That contains far more in 3 words than any commercial venture and it is exactly that which makes it timeless. It's also why I find a lot of the modern genre of PJ photography to be false, for the main it looks pretty soulless in it's production line reuse of effects, both in camera and without, to try and be different. If you look at wedding forums you see as little emotion in general as the set up pre-PJ days, it's all just as manufactured but this time with a tilt. As in the past it's individuals who are adding their soul into the photos and they are few and far between. For anyone who hasn't seen Marc's wedding work, it's a prime example of what isn't production line PJ wedding photography.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 21st December 2008 at 01:54.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  21. #21
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    I think that it is forcing the realization that the imagery needs to be intensely personal, a projection of the person creating it. A counter balance to the proliferation of imagery you mention, from big time commercial at one end of the scale to meaningless snapshots and wannabe photography at the other.

    As in the past it's individuals who are adding their soul into the photos and they are few and far between. For anyone who hasn't seen Marc's wedding work, it's a prime example of what isn't production line PJ wedding photography.
    Thanks Ben.

    As far as commercial work is concerned, when I was just a puppy ad man, a grizzled old veteran gave me a great piece of advice ... "Always remember, they wrap fish with yesterday's ads."

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Not sure who wrote this if anybody did but It has all been done before just put a fresh wrapping around it. Obviously us commercial shooters do this to make a living but outside we still have the burning desire to create and this goes back to the drive comments which i agree. I think the real bottom line is this need to have fun or the desire to have fun. If this was not fun at the end of the day no matter what i am shooting than i would most likely do something that is. Again not sure who said it but the fact is if you hate your job than what is the point of wasting your time. I love my job wish it made me more money but the end of the day I am happy with it. Can't beat that with a stick even though the Porsche is the dream. LOL But when i go into the box hopefully the right comments will come from friends and family that I had a good life , in the end nothing else really matters.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Not sure who wrote this if anybody did but It has all been done before just put a fresh wrapping around it. Obviously us commercial shooters do this to make a living but outside we still have the burning desire to create and this goes back to the drive comments which i agree. I think the real bottom line is this need to have fun or the desire to have fun. If this was not fun at the end of the day no matter what i am shooting than i would most likely do something that is. Again not sure who said it but the fact is if you hate your job than what is the point of wasting your time. I love my job wish it made me more money but the end of the day I am happy with it. Can't beat that with a stick even though the Porsche is the dream. LOL But when i go into the box hopefully the right comments will come from friends and family that I had a good life , in the end nothing else really matters.
    Yeah Guy, there is also something to be said about how interesting Commercial work can be in terms of exposure to things you may have never seen first hand, or in meeting people from all walks of life you may never have had contact with.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Interesting point about massive proliferation of images - even now with the internet only at 15 years, give or take.

    Can you imagine how things will be like in 20, 50 years from now? And more to the point, if sheer quantity of images available is two or three orders of magnitude higher than today, how do you as a photographer even get noticed above the "background noise" of trivial images? We've touched that subject in other threads, I think it will get more and more relevant over time.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  25. #25
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    Re: What's the point?

    What is the point of Photography?

    It is Magic!
    The point is: That magic moment when undeniable history and art are brought to together by, yes the photographer, who somehow senses that magic moment and snaps it into place – an image that is immortal!
    The Photographers reward is his focus; he learns to focus in on what ever is going on, or at least his feeling at the at the moment. He can make a snap judgment. When I have a camera in hand and am stalking a picture, the world looks entirely different, sometimes black and white, sometimes color but always symbolic.
    Just like we can tell the difference between John Coltrane and Miles Davis we can recognize Elliott Erwitt from Bill Brant. Thus every photograph is a study in anthropology and psychology or between motivation and culture. It is Van Gogh the man that fascinates us, the cutting off of an ear, the fumbled and no doubt painful suicide, We have the paintings to remind us of that history. An artist always has a distinct signature, which is written in life.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Wow, I just got around to reading through this thread. How interesting and a topic I've thought a lot about. I shoot for me. Sometimes it is to document and make a postcard or to record an event What is the challenge for me is to see if I can do it a little differently, to put my own unique spin on it. I progressed the most in that regard when taking a class at ICP called roll a day. Being out every day for many weeks always shooting made me look more closely at my surroundings. This is good timing for this thread because I was thinking for 2009 that I made try and do a book for myself with one shot from every day of the year.

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    This is good timing for this thread because I was thinking for 2009 that I made try and do a book for myself with one shot from every day of the year.
    The best way to do this imho is to blog. One of my "discipline" items is that I write in my blog every single day. And often I post photos as well. As a result I have a journal of words and images with a chronology as well as some context.

    I have the same goal for 2009 though I'm combining my images with words. While my blog has a very small subset of the images I've made, it does at least provide a starting point to go and look.

    wrt the proliferation of images, forget the interwebs, just look at my hard drives. Digital is dangerous...

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    Re: What's the point?

    I think as photographers we see the world differently than our other fellow travelers in life. Whether we do this for profit or for pleasure, each has its own reward and its own purpose and rationale. I grew up with a father who was not just a good photographer but a fine graphic artist. Although I could never unleash the graphic artist in me, I took to photography from the very start. I found it intensely satisfying to see the results coming to life in the B&W darkroom, and the endless combinations of processing and printing fascinated me to no end.

    At close to 60 now, I still have a deep love for photography and what it does for my enjoyment of life. I never leave home without a camera (or two). As photographers I think we all hear the lament that "How can you enjoy this, you've always got a camera stuck to your face?", but when we present our captures later on, we hear "Oh, I didn't see that!". Clearly we not only see what others do, we see beyond. A graphic element that becomes a focal point in a tableau, a scene rendered by manipulation of aperture or shutter becomes an impressionistic alternative reality...

    Part of the reason and enjoyment of photography for me is exactly that... the ability to see beyond the ordinary and hopefully glean an image that suggests a recreation of the scene that's even more poignant or evocative than what others experienced. That's what keeps me going, keeps me challenged and keeps me motivated.

    Cheers and Season's Greetings,

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Wow, I just got around to reading through this thread. How interesting and a topic I've thought a lot about. I shoot for me. Sometimes it is to document and make a postcard or to record an event What is the challenge for me is to see if I can do it a little differently, to put my own unique spin on it. I progressed the most in that regard when taking a class at ICP called roll a day. Being out every day for many weeks always shooting made me look more closely at my surroundings. This is good timing for this thread because I was thinking for 2009 that I made try and do a book for myself with one shot from every day of the year.
    Sorry for all the typos....2009 resolution....post from computer not iPhone.

  30. #30
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Sorry for all the typos....2009 resolution....post from computer not iPhone.
    Does me no good at all either way. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: What's the point?

    two words: speel chex

    oh wait...

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    I think as photographers we see the world differently than our other fellow travelers in life. Whether we do this for profit or for pleasure, each has its own reward and its own purpose and rationale. I grew up with a father who was not just a good photographer but a fine graphic artist. Although I could never unleash the graphic artist in me, I took to photography from the very start. I found it intensely satisfying to see the results coming to life in the B&W darkroom, and the endless combinations of processing and printing fascinated me to no end.

    At close to 60 now, I still have a deep love for photography and what it does for my enjoyment of life. I never leave home without a camera (or two). As photographers I think we all hear the lament that "How can you enjoy this, you've always got a camera stuck to your face?", but when we present our captures later on, we hear "Oh, I didn't see that!". Clearly we not only see what others do, we see beyond. A graphic element that becomes a focal point in a tableau, a scene rendered by manipulation of aperture or shutter becomes an impressionistic alternative reality...

    Part of the reason and enjoyment of photography for me is exactly that... the ability to see beyond the ordinary and hopefully glean an image that suggests a recreation of the scene that's even more poignant or evocative than what others experienced. That's what keeps me going, keeps me challenged and keeps me motivated.

    Cheers and Season's Greetings,
    Well said
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by nostatic View Post
    two words: speel chex

    oh wait...
    I do a lot of right clicking , wearing the mouse out. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: What's the point?

    Firstly - photography for me is primarilly a personal journal of family life. I use the excuses of an interest in 'street' and more recently 'still life' in order to stay on top of fast twitch 'see shoot' as well as contemplative 'no excuses' photography. I guess this is about recording things.

    Secondly - I get an enormous amount of pleasure from looking at other people's work - irrepsective of genre. Some of the landscapes posted here for example take my breath away and yet I have little personal interest in landscape work. I guess this is about being open to other people's experiences.

    Thirdly, I love having a camera in my hand.It gives me comfort and in a srange magical way - illicits a deeper seeing and somehow triggers a greater appreciation of the beauty in all things. I guess the camera lens is a kind of totem for me.

  35. #35
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    Re: What's the point? - and what to do about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Your thoughts?

    -Marc
    Oh Yes - I have thoughts!
    Great post Marc, I'm sorry to be so late to the party, but I've been on holiday, and although I've followed the thread, I didn't feel that I could easily reply on my iphone!

    What's the Point
    This is something I've been very much considering (What's the Point) in the last couple of years, for two principle reasons:

    Point 1.
    2 or 3 years ago I got to the point where I felt I could go full time professional, I was getting a reasonable amount of well paid work without really trying that hard, and the crunch point arrived.
    I decided not to for several reasons, but principally it was because I had a client base in my existing business who would not be happy, and because I wasn't convinced that my commercial photographic skills would produce better work than my software systems skills (and we are all struggling for excellence aren't we).

    Point 2.
    My father died 18 months ago - he was an excellent and prolific 'gentleman photographer' - there was a lot of candid portraits of artists which have gone to the Tate in Cornwall, and other archives - great.
    In addition there were boxes and boxes of slides, albums full of photographs, a wealth of material, much of it wonderful, mostly reasonably well catalogued and properly stored. . . .

    After much discussions, my sisters and I threw it all away.

    We realised that it would be transferred from one cupboard to another, until at some time in the future someone else would make the same decision.

    Types of non commercial picture
    So, after my preamble, let me get to my point. Leaving out commercial photography (which, for my point we could describe as pictures taken for someone else's purpose) I think there are 3 reasons people take pictures:

    1. The Process
    i.e. pictures taken for the sake of taking them - this might be comparison of one camera to another, experimentation, or just to play with our new toys. This site is full of such shots, it's a perfectly valid reason to own a camera, and it makes a fine (if expensive) hobby.

    2. Recollection
    Pictures taken to remember an event, a person, a scene or holiday. Nothing else needs to be said - although if they also communicate then my points below are probably relevant.

    3. Communication.
    Pictures taken to communicate to others.

    Of course, pictures can encompass all three of the above, but it seems to me that your sample shot is about Communication, and this is where the 'What's the Point' problem lies.

    The Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Picasso had a saying that haunts me ... "A picture kept in the closet, might as well be kept in the head."
    This also haunts me . . . . .

    The first part of the problem is that if you take 5,000 shots a month, or even 5000 shots a year, nobody but you is going to look at any of them (not even you probably). Which is why the photographs my father took are largely languishing underground.

    The second part of the problem is that you have to make them available for people to see. Of course, the internet makes this immensely easier (I was absolutely gobsmacked when my son pointed how many page hits my website had last year)

    The third part of the problem is how to encourage people to look for long enough for the image to communicate anything more than a pretty scene or composition.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    As of late, (maybe I'm getting too old : -) ... but I have to have a purpose, a reason, it has to be FOR something or someone. I still take my camera on outings that have no utilitarian purpose, but then afterwards scratch my head as to what to do with yet more images in the sea of images I have already taken.
    So, I'm going to take it one step further -
    What to do about it.

    Well, the beauty of digital is that you can take as many shots as you like, I think this is wonderful (sometimes I take 5,000 in a month). But . . . .

    The answer is to be ruthless and disciplined, and to present a coherent approach.

    Be Ruthless
    Most painters would be overjoyed if they could produce 50 decent works a year . . . . and most viewers don't want to look at any more.
    If they aren't really good, get rid of them. I try to have 3 distinct culls of my work, once after shooting, once about a month later, and again at the end of the year. Each time as many as 90% will go.
    Don't keep duplicates - if you're anything like me, when you see something good, you'll take 20 shots 'to get it right'. Fine - but delete 19 of them, and if you can't tell which to delete, then it doesn't matter which of them you decide to keep!
    There is no point in keeping gigabytes of 'nearly made its' - you'll never look at them again, and it's even less likely that anyone else will.

    Be Disciplined
    File / Archive / key word them rigorously. Make the very best of them you can in post processing. If you have 5,000 shots a month it's a huge and boring task. If you have 50 good shots it's a real pleasure!

    Be Coherent
    If you want others to look at your photographs for more than a momentary 'Oooh - you must have a good camera' then you need to be coherent. I don't mean obvious, I mean coherent. Photographs need to fall into understandable categories, be it landscape, black and white amphibians or street life in the Seychelles.

    If you want to be 'known' - then you better have as few categories as possible. Think of a photographer you know and revere, 9 out of 10 they have one style, one direction.

    Oops! I seem to have gone on a bit! If you got this far, then I really hope it was worth it

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: What's the point?

    Firstly, why I do it:

    1. The chance to spend some serious alone time.

    For me, there is nothing quite like 2 or 3 hours spent in the countryside without any other people. The camera provides the excuse/reason/activity that makes this work.

    I find it a lot easier to do photography without the distraction of companions (somehow allow one to enter the right focused state of mind - intense, yet relaxed). I also find it difficult to do photography in the presence of strangers - I find it inhbitory, like I was sneaking around nefariously or something akin.

    The downsides of this are that I have no (physical!) photographically minded friends for those occasions when I do want to share and I can't bear the idea of joining a club. And sadly, these days the opportunities for a dedicated photo trip are almost zero because of family committments. Even next summer's planned Iceland trip will be mainly a familly holiday.

    2. The thrill of looking at and making photos that are spot on to my taste.

    Having looked at thousands of photos I've worked out what I like and what I want to create (doing it is another matter) - and much like my music taste, I have gradually eliminated what I don't like to the point I like nothing... fortunately not quite that extreme!

    I now have a pretty good idea of what I enjoy looking at and making and for me this is a big step forward: the difficulty with photography was never thinking of things to photograph and styles to adopt; rather it was always what not to waste time with.


    On the wider questions raised by others; I'm especially troubled by the sheer volume of imagery around. To me, it does dilute the impact of photography.

    Wading through pbase or that big critique site can be depressing. Even if every posted photo was to a high standard (and a lot are), one still becomes quickly overwhelmed. I feel the reason is that after a while one only wants to see that 1 in 10,000 shot which absolutely hits the mark and looking at the near and not so near misses grinds down the artistic spirit...

    Everyone is different, but Jono's 5000 shots a month make the blood blanch from my face.

    I've just come back from 4 days in the beautiful city of Prague. Beautiful, but I would rather look at 10 pictures than 10,000. I shot 350 pictures in the City and thought it all a bit intense for me - 100 or shots a day is probably about 2x or 3x times the rate I'm comfortable with and can deal with processing wise. And looking at the images, I don't believe I got any more long term keepers at a 100 a day than I would have with 20 more carefully though through shots.

    Digital does seem to lead to frantic machine gun shooting and the comtemplative mode gets lost a little.

    However, I know everyone has their own way of doing and appreciating things and photography is a big enough space to accommodate everyone.

    Cheers

    Dave

  37. #37
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Or, put briefly, Maslow's self-actualisation.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by davemillier View Post
    Everyone is different, but Jono's 5000 shots a month make the blood blanch from my face.

    I've just come back from 4 days in the beautiful city of Prague. Beautiful, but I would rather look at 10 pictures than 10,000. I shot 350 pictures in the City and thought it all a bit intense for me - 100 or shots a day is probably about 2x or 3x times the rate I'm comfortable with and can deal with processing wise. And looking at the images, I don't believe I got any more long term keepers at a 100 a day than I would have with 20 more carefully though through shots.

    Digital does seem to lead to frantic machine gun shooting and the comtemplative mode gets lost a little.

    However, I know everyone has their own way of doing and appreciating things and photography is a big enough space to accommodate everyone.

    Cheers

    Dave
    Hi Dave
    First of all, great to see you here - and for everyone who may not have come across Dave, he's a stalwart guy with lots to contribute.

    Good Post

    As for the 5000 shots . . . . I've probably only done that many once (2 weddings and a 2 week holiday). 1000 is much more typical, and as I usually go out every day it only really amounts to a film a day.
    I've just been to France for a week, and there were 300 shots.
    So, not machinegunning at all, the point really is that if you shoot regularly they very quickly build up to a very high level, even if you are thinking about them, and that even if they are ALL good, nobody is going to look at them with any kind of contemplation.

    My aim is to end up with more like 10 shots a month (but it's a hard ask!)

    It brings to mind an Elvis Costello Album title

    All this Useless Beauty.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Or, put briefly, Maslow's self-actualisation.
    Hi Bertie
    I think you should explain the connection properly in a post of not less than 25,000 words

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: What's the point? - and what to do about it.

    My interested in photography has mainly been motivated by the enjoyment I get from documenting the lives of family, friends, and to an extent, colleagues. It really began for me with the birth of my first child 5 years ago.

    I also enjoy documentary/situational and portrait photography of people I don't know, but that's more of a challenge for me. When I look at photography from decades ago, it motivates me to document some of what I'm seeing today, if only for my kids to see it someday. I'm thinking of doing a project on downtown East Baltimore, because I feel as though I take in a lot of interesting sights and situations on the way to and from work in a typical day. That idea is counterbalanced by a desire not to get shot.

    My kids too have taken an interest in photography. For the little one, Philip, it's all about the fun of taking the photos. He doesn't even want to see the product. My older son Oliver likes the process and the results. Part of my enjoyment now is that photography is something I can do with the boys.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Be Ruthless
    Most painters would be overjoyed if they could produce 50 decent works a year . . . . and most viewers don't want to look at any more.
    If they aren't really good, get rid of them
    ...

    There is no point in keeping gigabytes of 'nearly made its' - you'll never look at them again, and it's even less likely that anyone else will.
    I appreciated your entire post, Jono, and have a few comments about the bit quoted above as I can relate to it. The bulk of my photographs are simple family pictures. Many of them are prints that I enjoy viewing. A fraction of those are enjoyable to family and friends. Probably very few communicate something of value to acquaintances and strangers. One of my early projects for 2009 is going to be to try to select photos from that last category and set up a website for them.

  41. #41
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Bertie
    I think you should explain the connection properly in a post of not less than 25,000 words
    OK, no problem, but do you promise to read it?
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    OK, no problem, but do you promise to read it?
    Hmmm, first of all, did you read my long boring post?

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: What's the point? - and what to do about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amin View Post


    I appreciated your entire post, Jono, and have a few comments about the bit quoted above as I can relate to it. The bulk of my photographs are simple family pictures. Many of them are prints that I enjoy viewing. A fraction of those are enjoyable to family and friends. Probably very few communicate something of value to acquaintances and strangers. One of my early projects for 2009 is going to be to try to select photos from that last category and set up a website for them.
    Thank you Amin
    Having binned thousands of my fathers photos (many of which would, I'm sure have been wonderful and interesting), I've learned my lesson about 'keepers'. I'm not planning on going anywhere, but I do realise that the only time to organise is actually when you shoot them (leaving it until later makes the task almost impossible).

    I have actually been scanning lots of my old pictures, I started off carefully scanning photo by photo at high resolution with a Nikon 5000 (?) scanner . . . Now I use a decent epson flatbad and scan jpg's 24 at a time to A4 size, and I usually only keep 2 or 3 per film, but they ARE properly archived, so it would be easy to find a film if someone really wanted to.

    Nowadays the boys have them on their iphones, which is quite a success, and the website does get looked at (2.9 million page hits last year). But still, it needs refining and streamlining.

    Just this guy you know

  44. #44
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hmmm, first of all, did you read my long boring post?
    Yes, but it was interesting, not boring.

    Your potential change of career reminded me of -- I think it was A Adams -- the quotation about selling shoes, while the creativity continued -- which I think is what you have done.

    If you are a nihilist, the point is the old Persian Carpet in Somerset Maugham's story The Razor's Edge [?] -- there is no meaning to it, it's all for nothing -- but them Maugham was getting on a bit then, rather soured.

    Otherwise, the point is a form of creativity, and at the peak of Maslow's pyramid. It doesn't have to be justified. Doing it purely for commercial gain comes lower on his pyramid -- it's work, like any other -- you may well enjoy it and there may be creativity in your work, but it's for someone else's benefit; getting people to rise up the pyramid is a well-known managerial tactic -- for employees. [From the general tenor of posts on this forum, it seems to me that people here are either amateurs doing it as a 'hobby' or self-employed pros -- but not people employed to take pix.] For pros -- in the sense of commercial photogs -- creativity will be limited by the clients requirements and demands, and I guess the room for manoever is limited. Very few artistic photographers shoot exactly what they want and make a living from it -- it's not impossible, but uncommon. And not all commercial photogs have photography as a hobby.

    So, I see it as artistic creativity; it's an expression of self-actualisation. Justification is neither necessary nor required.

    [How much more, Jono?]
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Yes, but it was interesting, not boring.

    Your potential change of career reminded me of -- I think it was A Adams -- the quotation about selling shoes, while the creativity continued -- which I think is what you have done.

    If you are a nihilist, the point is the old Persian Carpet in Somerset Maugham's story The Razor's Edge [?] -- there is no meaning to it, it's all for nothing -- but them Maugham was getting on a bit then, rather soured.

    Otherwise, the point is a form of creativity, and at the peak of Maslow's pyramid. It doesn't have to be justified. Doing it purely for commercial gain comes lower on his pyramid -- it's work, like any other -- you may well enjoy it and there may be creativity in your work, but it's for someone else's benefit; getting people to rise up the pyramid is a well-known managerial tactic -- for employees. [From the general tenor of posts on this forum, it seems to me that people here are either amateurs doing it as a 'hobby' or self-employed pros -- but not people employed to take pix.] For pros -- in the sense of commercial photogs -- creativity will be limited by the clients requirements and demands, and I guess the room for manoever is limited. Very few artistic photographers shoot exactly what they want and make a living from it -- it's not impossible, but uncommon. And not all commercial photogs have photography as a hobby.

    So, I see it as artistic creativity; it's an expression of self-actualisation. Justification is neither necessary nor required.

    [How much more, Jono?]
    That's quite enough thank you! However, I get the point quite clearly, and I do agree.
    Although I wasn't aware of it, I'm certainly trying to get our new employee to rise up the pyramid (and he is). Interesting stuff.

    As I'm sure you understood, my thesis was that if you want to shoot 'communicative' photos, then you need discipline, and clicking away and then passing the responsibility to the viewer to search you out AND to bother to look through thousands of disorganised photos at once is a little fanciful!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    That's quite enough thank you! However, I get the point quite clearly, and I do agree.
    Although I wasn't aware of it, I'm certainly trying to get our new employee to rise up the pyramid (and he is). Interesting stuff.
    Once he's up the pyramid, get him onto Hertzberg -- money is hygiene, not motivation, see how he reacts!
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    As I'm sure you understood, my thesis was that if you want to shoot 'communicative' photos, then you need discipline, and clicking away and then passing the responsibility to the viewer to search you out AND to bother to look through thousands of disorganised photos at once is a little fanciful!
    Agreed. Keywording isn't so interesting, harder still is getting the organisation and structure of the keywords right at the beginning -- and I only do it for fun

    I have also gone through my trannies, and thrown about 90% out as being OOF/faded/junk. I scanned the remainder at low res, but only as an archive so I can find them again. There are a few that I will scan 'properly' and try to make prints thereof.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Once he's up the pyramid, get him onto Hertzberg -- money is hygiene, not motivation, see how he reacts!
    I've just emailed a link for him . . I should be careful though, he's young, and has a good degree in philosophy, which, basically means that he is quite sure that he's right and really good at arguing, (respectively) !

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    Re: What's the point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Agreed. Keywording isn't so interesting, harder still is getting the organisation and structure of the keywords right at the beginning -- and I only do it for fun
    Absolutely, but my feeling is that unless you do this reasonably well you end up with a 'sea of images' . . . and the answer to the original 'What's the Point' is . . . None!

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    Re: What's the point?

    This thread makes me ever more mindful of what a simple example of Homo sapiens I am.

    Images to me, whether mine or others, are simply a means of freezing actuality so that detailed examination can be carried out to whatever depth the viewer wishes. If that examination triggers high order feelings and appreciation...fine. Otherwise, move to the next image.

    Though born three years after Adams, Weston, Van Dyke, Cunningham and others organized Group f/64 in 1932, I certainly consider myself in league with them and their Manifesto.
    Roger
    Leica M6, M8.2 & assorted Leica glass

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