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Photography, Art and a Different Way Of Thinking

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by gryphon1911, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I've had some discussions in the past with some other photographers about a bit of a different subject. It centered around these particular images.

    9541645613_5bfa23fc24_h.


    9437378664_03d7b116ab_h.

    These images have been popular ones for me, and while that is all well and good, I don't post images on the internet to get accolades or to see how many people favorite them, +1 them or anything like that. I love photography. It is one of the creative outlets that I have that I feel I have had any success in. I share the images in the hopes that they will reach someone, make them feel something - or at the very least see if they can share in what I saw at the time. Given back and helping others learn is something I feel I need to do.

    I have to admit that early on, we as photographers often fall prey to many a pitfall. We get suckered into thinking we have to buy the biggest, best gear because of the marketing hype, when we really should evaluate and buy the gear we need to help make getting the images we want easier. We get caught up in pixel peeping and thinking that if a certain lens doesn't look tack sharp at 100% magnification then the resulting images from it will all be crap. Not true. Photographers from the past have captured iconic images with lesser gear and without auto focus. It's about the captured moment in time and does it have the capability of expressing the situation to your viewer without you even including a description in writing to go with it.

    Along those lines, let us think about the hat image above. For me, I was going for "did I transport you back in time" to a place where clothing was custom made and not "off the rack". Is that what you saw? Did you appreciate the image for the story it told, the mood it set? Or did you look at the exposure, the shadow and highlight detail, the post processing and the sharpness? Did you wonder if that was straight out of camera with a bit filter applied to give it the Ambrotype look?

    While all those different ways of looking at the picture are valid ways of looking at it, if the first thing you did was look at the technical and think shutter speed, f stop, ISO - I invite you to stop doing that and start looking at the image as a story. Look at it as if you know nothing at all about the process of creating a photograph and view it as art. See it as a means to convey a story or emotion....do you "feel" anything from it?

    Only then can you truly appreciate the image. All the technical stuff is easy and mostly trivial. If you understand the basics of photography, it is pretty easy to dissect the images technical merits.

    Bottom line is - when looking at your images or someone else's for that matter, it is all too easy as a photographer to get caught up in the technicalities of the image creation and then you lose sight of the feeling, meaning, depth of the story it is trying to tell you.

    My other point I'd like to make is this:

    Your photography is your art, make it however you want it to be.

    I've often got flack from people regarding some of my post processing techniques. Mind you, I do experiment quite heavily in camera and in post processing for my personal projects. As an artist, we should have that freedom to do so. What we consider cliche'd, overdone, garrish, and over baked may be the trend of the future. An artistic process from the past may come back in vogue. You just never know.

    We all have our right to our opinion. If you see something and you don't like it - that is OK....just like it is OK for someone else TO like. Both sides need to respect their counterparts opinion. Be respectful, voice your objection constructively - but refrain from personally attacking the creator of the work because they chose a different way of thinking.

    Again, using the example image above - I've had 1 or 2 people nitpick, criticize and personally attack me about the processing methods used on this image. Go figure.....some people have nothing better to do with their time. I don't let that get to me, and don't let it get to you either if you find yourself in that same situation. If you choose to engage in a discussion with those kinds of people, I recommend the following approach:

    1) Be respectful and argue your case. Stick with the facts and don't get personal, even if they do. If someone gets personal in their debate, 99% of the time its because they really have no good argument or defense so they try and pull you into a mud slinging match. Its not worth it to go there.

    2) Know when to bow out. If you've made your case and no more need be said, don't endlessly engage in back and forth just for the sake of it. Be the bigger person and walk away. That might also be something you consider before even engaging in #1 above.
     
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  2. VinVin

    VinVin Mu-43 Veteran

    255
    Jun 7, 2010
    GTA, Canada
    Kevin
    For me perhaps the biggest problem is that I don't think in technicalities. It's not that I don't understand them but never have I looked at a photo and thought f-stop, SS, ISO. The reason why I first started this little dance with light was because I wanted to tell stories, or perhaps show the world how I see it.

    Thank you for your insightful post! Keep shooting and as I see it, we all have different preferences in our art, that alone is the reason why art is beautiful. So let the haters hate, let the critical criticize, it matters not because art is not created for anyone but yourself.

    edit: love the first picture by the way!
     
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  3. tonyturley

    tonyturley Mu-43 Veteran

    374
    Nov 19, 2014
    Great photos, Andrew, and great post. Our art is indeed subjective. One comment I see a lot on the Web is "your photo is soft". While tack sharp can indeed be nice, and is sometimes desirable, I think this comment is often used as a way to point out the "flaws" in someone else's work. There seem to be a lot of people who have to make it their mission in life to invoke their own superiority - I call it elitism. My own personal philosophy is if I see work I don't like, I stay silent and move on.

    Tony
     
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  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I agree with you and I think a lot of people might start out that way. I think there are phases 99% of people go through and being tech obsessed is one of them. I'm glad to hear that you've been able to stay away from that pitfall. I fell into it hard, especially with buying gear. For a while I would buy stuff cause I thought it was cool or I convinced myself I needed it.

    Thankfully I got over that and have now turned to only buying what I need to solve a specific problem.
     
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I agree. I just did an article on my blog and posted it here too about dragging the shutter. Tack sharp did not really enter my mind because I wanted to show a sense of movement. The subject and message of the image should be the dictate of the output. I didn't want to completely freeze the dancers, I wanted to show and convey motion. Tack sharp would not have done that as well.
     
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  6. VinVin

    VinVin Mu-43 Veteran

    255
    Jun 7, 2010
    GTA, Canada
    Kevin
    To be honest I think it's something that will always plague anything that has to do with technology. When I first started out in photography I was constantly looking for the latest and newest, I was never satisfied with the gear that I had not because it wasn't great gear but because there was always something deemed better, but I had an amazing professor in the photography classes I took in University who ultimately showed me that sometimes taking pictures isn't about the gear but what you portray in your pictures. Photography is "an art, not a science" as he put it.

    As I went through the process of film photography, from pressing the shutter to the dark room, my appreciation for Photography as an art as opposed to a science really took over. Now, I'm not saying I'm a very good photographer by any means, I will forever be a student in this, but I believe myself to have a certain aptitude in my art, and it is largely due to my taking photos by feel as opposed to by calculation. Of course the science of photography is not something to be disregarded, it is still important to know what you are doing with your tools, but perhaps it's become so natural for me now that I my focus is on the story and not on the specs.

    I'll admit however that I still get strong bouts of GAS and sometimes it doesn't necessarily solve a problem but I'm not as impulsive anymore. We make do with what we have in the end. I mean yeah, a great photographer may take photos that are stunning with hundreds of thousands of dollars of premium gear, heck they may take the perfect photo... but perfection is over rated. There is a certain beauty in the imperfect, and I find this to be especially true for me in photography.
     
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  7. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I hear you. I much appreciate your humbleness to the art and toward your own skill. I'm sure you are much better than you perceive yourself.

    I also agree with the "beauty of the imperfect". I learned that long ago when I was photographing images of Orchids at a local arboretum. I've seen probably thousands of images of perfectly shaped, lit orchids. I started noticing there were some orchids, just as beautiful, but had deformed petals or portions eaten away by insects. It was in that moment that I realized that most things in nature are not perfect, but they carry on anyway and they are just as beautiful as those that have yet to be touched by other forces.
     
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