“Inner process” for taking photographs

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by sjmurray, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. I’m just curious about this. I find many of the discussions on this forum interesting, but it seems there are many people who are thinking a lot about what they want to photograph, and why, or are they in touch with what they are doing, etc. I just find myself out of the loop in this type of discussion. This is because my “inner process” can be described as one in which I am always inundated with image-compositions literally “coming at me” all the time. I can either pay attention to this “stream,” as I do when I have a camera in my hands, and literally everything else gets tuned out, or I can turn it down quite a bit to concentrate on other things. With scenes and objects its more of a geometric thing; my mind is always framing interesting/stimulating combinations of textures and forms. With people it really gets interesting; I watch, fascinated, as the amazing micro-expressions come and go on people’s faces moment to moment. With people I am drawn to the facial communication with its emotion and energy. If I had a camera in my head I would fill volumes with impromptu portraits. When I pick up a camera, what I have to do is quickly photograph what I can from the stream of image-compositions presenting themselves to me. Some are better than others, so I usually have to do some quick mental editing. Some of that has to do with noticing lighting and other factors that affect the overall image. Ultimately, the photos of mine I like the best are often ones I quickly “picked” out from the flow of possible compositions. I miss a lot of great images just because I don’t have a camera with me all the time, and even with a camera the image-compositions come and go so quickly I don’t always get the ones I want. Questions like how, or why, or to what end are not so much part of this process, which seems to be totally visual/emotional for me (different area of brain processing from intellect). If you peruse through my folders here you will see that the uniting theme is that they are all the images are literally from my daily life. So, I’m wondering how many other people experience this like I do? I have a suspicion there is a range, typical of most phenomena; a bell curve with me probably at one end, and others falling out all over the spectrum. And I’m certainly not implying that my own inner processes result in “better” photographs than someone who’s inner process is more “thought out” or methodical. The proof of the pudding is the photos that get printed and seen, and I have no doubt all the great photographs of the world have been created by individuals with all sorts of different inner processes.
     
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I primarily just point and shoot. I carry thousands of images around in my head, and when I see them in front of me, I shoot. If I don't see it, I create it, so that's a slight difference. For commercial work, it's a lot more directorial. I do make my own light for 90% of what I shoot, i.e., I don't use natural light, but I shoot at night most of the time anyway, due to being a vampire.
    I don't worry about the ones that get away. If I don't have a camera, I don't have to stop looking. If I see something interesting, I catalogue it for the future. Either I see it again or I will make it happen if it's good enough.

    I don't carry a camera with me most of the time. I only carry a camera for specific events/locations/times I want to shoot. Mostly at night, to repeat myself.
     
  3. Steve, THIS PHOTO was taken as you describe, pretty much spur of the moment. It came at me, as you say. I was touring the Paramount Theater, liked this lounge, the usher happened to sit down for a break, and I snapped the photo.
    THIS PHOTO also came at me, no plan, but I put a lot of thought and deliberateness into the post processing. I did not pre-visualize this type of result when I snapped the shutter, but I did when I started to work on the processing.
    THIS PHOTO wasn't planned per se. I arrived at this old mansion for a shoot with some people. This guy was not part of that and was just on his way out. He had the oranges already and was dressed as is. I asked if I could take a picture of him. I told him where to stand and asked him to put one orange on the pedestal in the background. Didn't put much thought into it but it obviously fit well into one of the bodies of work I pursue.
    THIS PHOTO and THIS PHOTO and the photo of Mark just above are parts of what I consider sub-bodies of work. The first falls within my work with aging gay men. The second is part of the work I do at a special needs farming community in New England. I put a lot of thought into what I may want to communicate/accomplish/express with these loose sorts of series and different degrees of thought go into the photos themselves. Most of my thinking about the work is done in the shower and in bed at night.
    Generally, I tend not to map out individual photos in advance. With both of these, I knew I was shooting toward the particular series or body of work but each photo came about pretty spontaneously. The first was posed, the second was not. But they were both taken with the guiding thoughts of a series at play, though not terribly consciously at the moment of the snap.
    So, I probably appear in different places on your bell curve depending on the photo and the situation. I imagine many photographers do, and aren't limited to one particular way of approaching their photos. But, yes, overall, I probably fall on the more deliberate end, less letting photos come to me and more making them happen, more directing, more involvement and influence, wanting to put myself into them in many cases.
     
  4. Not really sure what you're trying to say. I don't have an inner process. I just shoot what interests me; at
    the moment it's street portraits in a particular SF neighborhood. It's not very complicated...
     
  5. Steve, you confuse me! You say you feel out of the loop with the discussions on being in touch with photos, and in your description of your inner process, it seems to me rather clear you know just as well up front which kind of photos you want, except you just "go with the flow" of what the world presents to you that day, and then take your pick. In the stream of available images, you already have a lot lined up in your head too (of images you prefer, images you do not want etc.). So, what you describe here is what often comes up in the discussions you feel out of the loop, in my view....
    That said, yes, there is a difference of walking around a street with a camera, or a 'studio-work-like' interaction with people for portraits. And in that sense, the bell curve idea makes a lot of sense. For the record, I'm somewhere on your end.
    Does this place on the bell curve really change the inner process? I wonder.
    Even if you shoot just what interests you, like Brad, there is something going on in your head. The second you raise your camera and frame, you are looking for a composition that does the best justice to the scene before you. Can be a "process" of hours, can be a split second. But we include and exclude from the frame, we try to place objects in the places we think are best, and bring in focus and out of focus along the line we try to convey the way we experienced the moment. On the Steve/Brad/Wouter side of the bell curve, this process is often very short, but it happens. It's also what makes me *not* do click.
    No, it's not complicated. But it's there, and it all has to do with the photographer being that particular person, with that background, beliefs, cultural conventions and so on. Emotional responses. And it also has to do with training, experience and learning to compose better. Which is partially certainly an intellectual process too. Not that I am a very accomplished photographer, but in a split second now, I am much mor sure framing and understanding the composition I want (rather than franctically point, shoot, and hope). This is result of an intellectual process.
    Which is a long response to:
    which seems to be totally visual/emotional for me (different area of brain processing from intellect)​
    Clearly, I only partially agree to this quote. The emotional, visual are not the same, and not disconnected from the intellect. They all play together. And, when all is done, the intellect can still brainstorm about what the visual and emotional responses of people are.
     
  6. Questions like how, or why, or to what end are not so much part of this process​
    A brief clarification. Steve, you are talking about the moments of shooting ("When I pick up a camera") when you say this. What I sense is that hearing other people talk about their thoughts, questions, complexities of their visual repertoire and desires perhaps suggests to you that these are somehow interfering or at least simultaneous with the process of shooting. Those of us who talk about more complex thoughts about our work aren't always doing that kind of thinking when we're out shooting, though some types of shooting require more thought and deliberation than others. Very often the thinking takes place when reviewing the photos and when thinking about the next day's shooting. And, yes, sometimes the shooting itself is accompanied by a lot of thought, not waiting for something to present itself but, as I said above, making something happen and making it happen in such a way that it communicates or expresses something significant and very intentional. Spontaneity, surprise, and accident can still be allowed into that method of shooting.
    Often, people mistakenly think of thinking as a substitute for something else rather than as an adjunct to a lot of other mental, physical, sensual, and psychical processes.
    ____________________________________
    P.S. Great points, Wouter, in your first two paragraphs. One can certainly be in touch with a stream of consciousness method and one can intend that to be their method. But there are differences to that method, often visible in the resulting work and especially visible in a body of work.
     
  7. jtk

    jtk

    Insurance actuaries talk about the profound behavioral difference between people they designate as "quantitative" and "non-quantitative." Among salespeople, "quants" are known to be easily sold: their lack of complex emotional or intellectual distractions results in their affinity for linear sales-pitches (eg the old "Ben Franklin Close"). Engineers are push-overs, though they believe they're tough sells :)
    I think (personally) that yes, the obvious difference is biologically hard-wired, but that it has to do more with linear thinking than with numbers. When sorting ideas, do we frame them in words? I do only when I don't see forest for trees...and then I write because it's hard to hang on to the visualized complexity otherwise.
    Alan Watts shook me up as a teen when, on his remarkable KQED (San Francisco) public television program (many are easily found on Youtube), he said the general goal of Taoism, Zen and a variety of other "eastern" ways of looking at things, was to free obsessives, neurotics (and in a book he later mentioned teen agers) from the tyranny of thinking in words. That simple observation about word-driven thinking freed me immediately from a distracting collage of teen angst, which let me more peacefully enjoy a more focused set of angsts :)
     
  8. Thanks for all your responses guys. Wouter, Fred, many great observations (and photos Fred). Brad, you are arguably farther out the bell curve than I am, heh heh. I agree Wouter with your statement:
    it all has to do with the photographer being that particular person, with that background, beliefs, cultural conventions and so on. Emotional responses. And it also has to do with training, experience and learning to compose better. Which is partially certainly an intellectual process too.​
    The intellectual process which you describe runs in the background for me. I click the shutter when it "feels" right somehow, which I cannot describe because it precedes intellectual decision making, more like a reflex. I can reflect intellectually afterwards in post processing. When I decide to take a photo, my concentration intensifies, and it feels much like a trance state, and I'm sure it is a trance state (I'm experienced in doing hypnosis therapeutically) where almost all other inner processes are turned off and I wait for things to fall into place--that "feeling right" moment. I'm sure others have this experience too, some more than others. Have you ever been listening to music so intently that you don't hear someone talking to you? It's that level of concentration I am talking about.
    Fred, you said:
    What I sense is that hearing other people talk about their thoughts, questions, complexities of their visual repertoire and desires perhaps suggests to you that these are somehow interfering or at least simultaneous with the process of shooting.​
    Actually, no, not interfering with. I have gotten the impression that other people use their "thoughts, questions, complexities of visual repertoire and desires" in order to take a photograph, so yes, simultaneous with. I guess that's where I feel different. When I pick up a camera it certainly intensifies, but generally I am seeing compositions all the time, and this happens spontaneously, without any (conscious) thought.
    John--yeah man, "thinking without words." We can perceive visually which can set off reflexes that precede rational thought. If you practice mindfulness you can learn to sit back and "watch" the whole process, although that is not what I am doing. I think for me it is more reflexive.
     
  9. so yes, simultaneous with​
    Sometimes that's true. But just as often (different for different people and for different photographs, of course) the thinking part, as I said above, takes place in bed, in the shower, when writing posts for PN. That conceptualization then acts as a guide (helps give voice to "the Muse") when it comes time to photograph. In these cases, it's not simultaneous. By the time we are shooting, many of these thoughts, concepts, goals have already been internalized well enough that they become like our knowledge of exposure and focus . . . second nature.
     
  10. Steve, I can completely relate to the description of your reply; sounds much like the way it works for me. The aware-intellect part happens more when sorting and/or post-processing the photos.
     
  11. There's always an inner process whether we're aware of it or not. You are making decisions based upon your tastes and upon what has worked and not worked for you in the past.
    If we examine our inner process and become more aware of the details of its decision-making logic, this affords us the opportunity to make adjustments to it. Not to change or improve it necessarily, although that might be possible as well, but rather to explore new possibilities that we would not have tried if we had remained on "automatic pilot." No matter how good the auto-pilot is, it always has the capacity to learn and grow.
     
  12. Dan, I agree partly. For me the auto-pilot process is highly creative itself. That's the fun part: you "get out of the way" so to speak, and as Milton Erickson said; " trust your unconscious." Auto pilot will get you places you couldn't imagine without letting it take you there.
    Yeah, Fred, I do the thinking part in post production, working with the raw material. Then, for me, the more conscious processing takes place.
    Brad said he didn't have an internal process. I think I would have said that 40 years ago. One thing that comes with years of practice is more awareness of one's inner process. As Dan says: "there's always an inner process." I think a lot of people are just not accustomed to tuning into it, which is fine, because the work is still being done.
     
  13. Reading the thread's title, I don't have an inner process for taking photographs. I do have an inner process through which I also happen to take photographs in, among other things, like taking photographs for inner process.
    ---
    In The Nature of Photographs, the inner process is also described, as the 'mental level'.
    "The mental level's genesis is in the photographer's mental organisation of the photograph. When photographers take pictures, they hold mental models in their minds; models that are the result of the proddings of insight, conditioning, and comprehension of the world.
    At one extreme, the model is rigid and ossified, bound by an accumulation of its conditioning: a photographer recognizes only subjects that fit the model, or structures pictures only in accordance with the model. .... At the other extreme, the model is supple and fluid, readily accommodating and adjusting to new perceptions.
    For most photographers, the model operates unconsciously, But, by making the model conscious, the photographer brings it and the mental level of the photograph under his or her control.
    ....
    When I make a photograph, my perceptions feed into my mental model. My model adjusts to accommodate my perceptions (leading me to change my photographic decisions). This modelling adjustment alters, in turn, my perceptions. And so on. It is a dynamic, self-modifying process. It is what an engineer would call a feedback loop.
    It is a complex, ongoing, spontaneous interaction of observation, understanding, imagination, and intention."
    - The Nature of Photographs, Stephen Shore​
     
  14. I also go through dual interleaving channels of process. When I'm not in the act of photographing, before and after, there's more thought, conscious ideation, sometimes planning, even sketching and drawing ideas or writing about a series, shaping it, etc. But when I am photographing, I rarely think of the technical, and the preceding mode subsides and I go into wizard/trance witness mode.
    When doing illustrations for an article (I also do the writing), it is very different, and the balance between the two modes remains a lot closer to even.
    These modalities are part and parcel of our human potential. One doesn't have to use both, but they're at our disposal. I also believe the responses in this thread are linked to being in touch with one's work.
     
  15. A few questions come to mind. I'll pose them as either/or questions knowing that the answers are a matter of balance/tension and not one way or the other. But the thread has led me here and I think there's a little more finessing that can be done.
    How do we go into our trances or get into a zone when shooting? Is it a shutting out (I don't hear distracting voices or noises) or a way of paying attention? Is the background noise to be ignored or can it be incorporated, synthesized? Will our trances be affected by environment? If so, how does that work? If not, do we risk not being "in touch" with what we're shooting? Is some of what we're shooting the peripheral sounds, sights, and textures?
    I consider it a matter of awareness. Background music, background noise, passersby conversing on a street where I may be shooting a portrait or a candid street scene can either be distractions or they can be synthesized into my experience and add to the overall orchestration of the moment. I see this as a matter of choice, though I don't always consciously make the choice. But when I am in the zone, really in the zone for myself, I am not ignoring all these things, I am so aware of them as to allow them to open doors for me, one after the other. For me, shutting them out would be to struggle against something. For me, it's a matter of allowing them to be what they will and even responding to their influence, as Steve Gubin talked about in another thread regarding music he listens to while processing.
    Is the trance one of complete lack of self awareness? Can I still challenge myself while I'm in the zone? Why not? There are trances of complacency and there are more active or productive trances. (And, importantly, most trances have aspects of each.) Thinking and conceptualizing can simply be part of the flow. That doesn't imply thinking about thinking and conceptualizing. It just implies doing it.
     
  16. Steve,
    I found that having a more precise idea what I want to photograph helps my in my personal work. I used to just go out with my camera looking for photographs - I was ending up with disjointed, amorphic and unrelated body of work giving me little satisfaction. I am still open to unexpected, but I photograph with a purpose and try not to get distracted by flowers, babies and beatiful women.
     
  17. Thomas, interestingly, I haven't "gone out and looked for photographs" in decades. Photographs "present themselves to me" continuously all the time. Out of these I choose with purpose.
    Fred, interesting your bringing up awareness. Awareness during the making of a photograph for me is mostly an acute visual intensity, a trance. I don't know if sounds and general ambiance are a part of it because I'm not focusing on those things consciously, but that doesn't mean they are not incorporated by my unconsciousness, which I am allowing to direct me to a large degree, but not totally. I simply trust my unconscious will take into consideration what it needs. Maybe for you "challenging myself" while in the zone of concentration is parallel to my own experience of letting my unconscious guide me (or maybe I'm way off here!). We go about it somewhat differently, and describe the experience differently, but the same thing seems to be happening, ie. we are taking a photograph with a combination of directed awareness (based on our experience) and allowing creative process to occur as well, which seems to me the ideal situation.
    Phylo, Stephen Shore's description you quoted seems to paint the unconscious pejoratively, but I think that is an oversimplification. I can make it more complicated by stating that one can consciously make room for the unconscious to provide fresh insight or material, if you will, to the mix. Creativity for me comes from "somewhere else." You do have to have the skills "chops" and tools, and experience, etc. and the openness to allow it to flow through you. I compare it to improvising such as playing a solo in a jazz piece. It sounds like some of us like to have a lot of control over this, and some of us enjoy the element of surprise. Maybe that's where we are wired differently. Like I said before the proof of the pudding is in the photographs that get printed and seen, and I am still sure that great photos are made using a whole range of "inner processes."
    Luis, I agree with your observations:
    These modalities are part and parcel of our human potential. One doesn't have to use both, but they're at our disposal. I also believe the responses in this thread are linked to being in touch with one's work.​
    I do really appreciate all your responses. This is a subject that is very close to me and I'm glad a few others have jumped in to provide some interesting things to think about. I've often wondered how other people go about taking a photograph, what goes in in their minds as "inner process." My own perceptions about this subject are fairly strong now that I've been doing this for a long time, so I hope I'm not coming off as closed-minded.
     
  18. jtk

    jtk

    "Inner processes" is a refuge Vs. external evidence. The opposite of "performance."
     
  19. Steve,
    I’m just curious about this. I find many of the discussions on this forum interesting, but it seems there are many people who are thinking a lot about what they want to photograph, and why, or are they in touch with what they are doing, etc. I just find myself out of the loop in this type of discussion.​
    It depends.
    We should consider that this forum is about philosophy of photography, which in itself is not exactly coincident with photography, even if it is closely related to it.
    Philosophy often goes beyond concreteness, it may seek general categories and models which could be weakly related to the actual "act of photographing".
    But in general I would say that there is always a relationship with the concrete photographic experience, even if not immediately perceivable.
    Discussing the topics here has greatly helped me to understand what I want to photograph and how. It also helps tuning the technique.
     
  20. I don't think I have an inner process - if I think of process in its normal meaning. I have a few different kinds of motivation that are coupled with some obviously external procedures - (maybe processes.)
    My typical motivation is a loop. I first imagine some photograph inspired by something I already have, or something new that I see. I think about some ways I might get that on film, then go out and try. I come back and study those results, rinse and repeat until I think I have it. I certainly don't think that is unique.
    My second motivation is to allow discovery in any means possible including accidents, luck, and mistakes. To borrow an old business management phrase, "I photograph by walking around." Since I didn't live my life as much of a walker (e.g. drove everywhere) walking is itself a new discovery for me in the past few years.
    Sometimes I don't know which is more important to me, the walk or the possible resulting photographs. But walking is the creative motivation. Walk and look and stop and look, and walk some more. Again, nothing unique about that. If I meet someone on the street I have a portrait opportunity suddenly. If I pass an odd stairway I have an architectural opportunity, and so on. I don't prejudge, I just look and allow. Most of the time these photos are the beginning of a new idea which has to be refined over many subsequent sessions. Sometimes because I have the wrong lens, or because the light is wrong, or the sky is wrong, or any number of reasons. I am learning to be a patient refiner. The idea of going back for a photo 3 or 4 or 6 times is new to me. I never did that before. Never had the time in the pre-retirement era.
    I am new enough to the more serious practices of photography that I am still constantly amazed - stupified really - by the difference between human vision and camera vision. The difference between a scene you experience through eyeballs, and the one printed as a two-dimensional piece of paper with specific edges. So, if there is any inner process at work at all for me, it is the process of supposing how on earth I can reverse engineer the image I want on the piece of paper back into some reality that I must first capture with the camera.
     
  21. I was photographing a musician friend of mine yesterday as he was saying something to me about why music "works." He pointed out that one reason music pleases the brain is that there is a constant process of dissonance and off-beats resolving into harmony and rhythm - structure forming out of apparent choas and/or silence is the "payoff" in music. Some musicians like to keep the audience in choas longer than others, but it is always the resolution of it that is the real genius. I think photography is like that - we have this whole world out there of concepts, unlimited numbers of paths to follow conceptually, and then on top of that we have myriad compositions we can form out of what is visual mess most of the time - for me I'd have to say that's my process - always trying to move towards visual and conceptual resolution and harmony.
     
  22. I like M's idea of a loop . . . a reciprocal relationship. Refinement over time strikes a chord. I don't often return to the same spots (though I have) or even necessarily to the same people, but I do return to the same concepts, in hopes of refining them and pushing those visions along. For me, the going back rarely has to do with equipment, since I don't have much (!), so tends to be about finessing and nuancing my visual approach, working with pose, gesture, expression, the idea of the photo as well as the look of it. Recently, I've been considering skew a lot (especially for it's uncanny expressive value), so there's a few ways in which I will revisit that but in very different situations and likely with different subjects.
    Matthew, in my eyes, you may be selling yourself short. I see much of your work (I checked out your web site) as more a matter of intrigue, leaving questions unanswered, and even discord as opposed to seeming to move toward visual and conceptual resolution and harmony. A lot of music does end in resolution, though certainly tension is often an important factor. Photographs, to me, while they have many similarities to music, are often more likely to be open-ended, precisely because there is no real end to the time constraints on viewing a photo, whereas a piece of music usually literally ends. A photo really can leave things hanging, depending on the information provided within the frame, which may well suggest things outside the frame. I don't look at your photos, in particular, as compositions that get formed. Stories being told, descriptions of what you see, vague moments in some cases. THIS PHOTO, as a matter of fact, seems the antithesis of what you're saying. I look at it and see neither composition nor resolution. That's what moves me about it.
     
  23. Fred - just had to say thanks for looking so closely at my photographs - I often read this forum because I find a good many people here (you included!) have an ability to think and express things about photography with a clarity and intelligence that I don't seem to possess, but that I find very helpful and inspiring. This philosophy forum in particular has a wonderful way of staying off of the gear/tech digressions typical of every other photo forum that I've perused; setting the stage for real investigation and stimulating debate. All this is to say (to get back on point) on second thought I guess I tend to work fairly intuitively, and I can see the truth in how you say I shoot my work - amazing that I can't see it myself... thanks again.
     
  24. Steve, my gut reaction to your OP and to your example of a multitude of images going through your mind is rather like the parallel dilemna many of us come across in picking one's 5 best images from among several hundrded.
    5 best what? Therein I think lies one possible answer. Being more concentrated on choice of subject, approach and purpose. I also see many very interesting images and could shoot them all, but why? They might all be interesting to some degree, but what would my inner voice be telling me, other than to jiggle a kaleidoscope (you will excuse I hope my directness and symbolism, which is not meant to describe anyone's approach in particular, but simply to etch the point I'm trying to convey)?
    The only workshop I have ever attended was one by nature photographer and friend Michel Boulianne at Ile Verte an isle some 300 Km down the ever widening St. Lawrence River. During the whole weekend, I shot only 39 images, partly because I am not all that attracted to nature, per se, but mainly I think because my choice and purpose was quite focussed. I purposely limited the rush of images to those I was intent on making (some abstract, some architectural details, some people shots in infra-red light), ignoring many others, even after composing them in my mind and viewfinder. A lady photographer shot something like 1500 images. She was quite confused about her choices at the end, when we were asked by Michael to display some of our images and explain our raison d'etre for each. She may have been listening to many inner voices at once.
    I like your reference to the inner voice. I don't think it is for me something automatic/indigenous/(or entirely) born with, but rather it has to be developed or trained in a somewhat iterative way as I make my way through the process iof photographing, of critically self-evaluating my approach and results, reformulating my purpose or aesthetic, and trying repeatedly to come closer to what I want to say/show/question in my images. Then that inner voice can be more relied upon to target what I feel to be intriguing, important or of beauty or fantasy, elements that I personally find quite related to my own quest.
     
  25. Go somewhere with a fellow photographer - a park, a beach town, a business district or public square. Spend 15-30 minutes shooting
    there, but make an agreement that you'll always remain within a hundred yards of each other. This way you'll always
    be more or less in the same place at the same time.


    Review the photos. Whenever I've done this with a friend I've found the differences to be startling. They get lots of
    shots that I never "saw" even though they were literally right in front of me.


    There's always an inner process, and no two photographers have the same process. When you review those photos
    you'll see the differences between your process and your friend's process. If you look with an open mind,
    maybe you'll catch a glimpse of your photographic reflection.
     
  26. m stephens said:
    So, if there is any inner process at work at all for me, it is the process of supposing how on earth I can reverse engineer the image I want on the piece of paper back into some reality that I must first capture with the camera.​
    I love that insight! I don't have that exact experience, but I appreciate your candor. I'm quite the opposite: I've always been able too look into a viewfinder or the back of a view camera (image upside down too!) and "see" the framed two dimensional print in my mind. but I'm not surprised we all have somewhat different experiences. As Dan said: "no two photographers have the same process." Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson here after all.
    Matthew, I love your statement:
    for me I'd have to say that's my process - always trying to move towards visual and conceptual resolution and harmony.​
    My quick personal interpretation of that would be "to show in two dimensions something familiar, yet in a way that is stimulating enough to stir emotion."
     
  27. m stephens said:
    So, if there is any inner process at work at all for me, it is the process of supposing how on earth I can reverse engineer the image I want on the piece of paper back into some reality that I must first capture with the camera.​
    I love that insight! I don't have that exact experience, but I appreciate your candor. I'm quite the opposite: I've always been able too look into a viewfinder or the back of a view camera (image upside down too!) and "see" the framed two dimensional print in my mind. but I'm not surprised we all have somewhat different experiences. As Dan said: "no two photographers have the same process." Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson here after all.
    Matthew, I love your statement:
    for me I'd have to say that's my process - always trying to move towards visual and conceptual resolution and harmony.​
    My quick personal interpretation of that would be "to show in two dimensions something familiar, yet in a way that is stimulating enough to stir emotion."

     
  28. Steve J Murray, you seem to be repeatedly claiming that you can/do effortlessly get first impressions that are suitable to a photograph (for example, above "I've always been able too look into a viewfinder or the back of a view camera (image upside down too!) and "see" the framed two dimensional print in my mind.")
    Two things come to my mind in response (to the progress of the thread overall): why do you consider such visual promiscuity an asset? In photography, as in sexual matters, I think it's often a fault rather than a virtue.
    Second, I see almost all the other posters to the thread describing how they move from first impressions to second, third, fourth, seventeenth, thirty-fourth, etc. -- impressions that are different but not necessarily better -- and how they struggle or deal with that developing process. Most of all how they know when/how to stop (is fifty seven impressions enough? eighty three?); how they know which one is the one they want in their picture. In your responses, I simply find you repeating your claim to have wonderful first impressions (or at least to gliding effortlessly to impression number fourteen which you "instinctively" know is the one, which is to say, effectively, that it IS your first impression).
    If you have no awareness of variant or developing impressions beyond your effortless first impression, how do you know that you actually have any impressions beyond your first one?
     
  29. Steve:
    I simply trust my unconscious will take into consideration what it needs.​
    You may be allowing "it" to take to much control of "you".
     
  30. jtk

    jtk

    Looking at Steve Murray's work online here (click name), the last thing I'd say is that he's "promiscuous" (per Julie Heyward).
    Steve is obviously after something distinctive...or, if not after it he is clearly achieving it, either through photography and post-processing or editing of his photography.
    Thomas K's observation about letting "it" take control of "you" seems to assume that the work (the photography) and one's identity are two different phenomena, simply because Webster-like someone has applied two different labels. This Forum routenely confuses ideas with words, sentences with points of view, labels with identity. If Steve was a musician, maybe his rapture would be noticed...he might be praised for letting the music itself take control. How about that angle?
     
  31. jtk

    jtk

    Rather than "promiscuous" (ridiculous assertion) or "letting "it" take control," I'd say (from his photos) that Steve seems so at home with the work, his work, that he's free to explore and produce what occurs to him.
    As well, for people who must have labels, he might even be called a "constructivist." Unassuming, unintrusive, observing, simple, non-verbal. The image is the photograph and the photographer is an animal, so some hypothetical inner process (pop psych) is going on with him, but that would include digestion and heartbeat.
    That he respects his subjects seems obvious from his photos. The photos are not the subjects. Again, the photos are not the subjects and may not even be "of" the subjects though the subjects may have performed for the photograph (an Avedon concept).
    Steve makes photographs, he doesn't seem to be collecting locations, street people, grafitti, ducks, flowers... his photos seem to stand on their own representing themselves (not necessarily the subjects, maybe not even memories of the subjects) and, presumably the photographer.
     
  32. This may be straying OT, I am not sure. I can't say I have ever trusted this idea of a connection between photograph and photographer as far as the viewer is concerned. It may well be that an artist works out his psychological drama though his art - and probably that is just as true for plumbers as artists. But, really - does this affect the viewer?
    You could tell me any wild story you want about any photographer whose work I am examining, and I can't see it changing my desire to continue or not continue viewing the image. This idea that having the image is the same as having the maker just doesn't add up to me. Just as my acceptance of quantum mechanics is not depended on my understanding of the life (or worse yet, the psychology) of Max Planck.
    However, the converse might be quite true. If I wanted to have some intimate relationship of some kind with a person who was an artist, appraising their art might give some valuable insight into the person and artist.
    Photographs have intrinsic appeal as dots on paper. Puzzles for the mind. Patterning to uncover. Rhythms to see. Story optional, right? S'pose I had a new computer which could make up photographs from various algorithms I feed to it. I don't mean abstract fuzz, I mean real photographs, like the ones I am staring at below this post from Fred G. and A. Plumpton. S'pose it could do that? Photographs of people and trees and bridges which don't exist anywhere outside the simulation. I bet they would find the same appreciation as the real photos find. Why wouldn't they?
    I imagine that as artists we want to THINK we are placing our soul into the photograph for someone else to grab. But, I think that is a playful (harmless) illusion, isn't it?
     
  33. I imagine that as artists we want to THINK we are placing our soul into the photograph for someone else to grab. But, I think that is a playful (harmless) illusion, isn't it? --M​
    Your description is not how I see it happening. I think we place something significant of ourselves into the photograph (soul is fine, if you like). It is NOT for someone else to grab THAT. It is so someone else grabs something of significance. What we do affects the viewer but is certainly not a direct translation of ourselves to or for the viewer. It's a complex sort of empathy. There is luscious ambiguity.
    I understood this thread to be mostly about our being in touch with our own process, not speculating on whether the viewer will be in touch with our process, which happens to varying extents. As a viewer, being in touch with a photographer's process or performance likely will not make me like it better or judge it to be of more value. It is just part of my sensual experience of the work. I'm talking about the process and performance that can be seen or felt in the work itself, not the process that may be conveyed to me by a biography or museum curator's statement.
     
  34. John Kelly:
    Thomas K's observation about letting "it" take control of "you" seems to assume that the work (the photography) and one's identity are two different phenomena,...​
    I was opposing "it" versus "you" - as "unconscious" versus "conscious". These two are two different phenomena.
     
  35. There is a difference in "conscious" and "unconscious" approach to sex in modern western society - does this difference applies to photography and other arts?
     
  36. M,
    I imagine that as artists we want to THINK we are placing our soul into the photograph for someone else to grab. But, I think that is a playful (harmless) illusion, isn't it?​
    Playful, maybe. Harmless, sure. Illusion? No.
    I do not think I put my soul in there. I think/hope I put some of my vision or view in there. That view is product of a lot of assets that make up 'being specifically me', so it's not just illusion to say the artist is represented in his work (though, I do not regard myself an artist actually, but that's another discussion).
    Thomas,
    does this difference applies to photography and other arts?​
    Well, you brought up there can be too much unconscious in Steve's approach. So, sounds to me you actually have an idea already. Does this difference apply to photography?
    For me, conscious versus the unconscious is no versus, no difference. Different shades of the same colour, on a gradient scale. The person is one, not some collection of loose bits and pieces.
    Fred,
    sorry, jumping back 2 pages: How do we go into our trances or get into a zone when shooting?
    I'd wish I knew. It's not happening for quite a while now. It's a bit all you describe there, one step at a time. Walking around with a rather heightened awareness (paying attention, to quote), and once I see something that looks like it would make a decent image, shut out the world and focus only on the frame. No distractions and just me and the camera. I am quite self aware at those moment, maybe in some silly shy way (a city full of tourists with cameras may think I am structurally aiming my lens in the wrong direction...). I think I can shut out at that moment, because I already know the image, I just need to actually take it.
     
  37. [This was posted while Wouter was posting. It does not take what Wouter said into account.]
    For me, "auto-pilot" is a red flag. I try to avoid it. I want to constantly engage myself, consider my goals, a variety of styles and approaches I might adopt. I want to evolve and I want to change things up. The kind of photographer I want to be is one who uses all my faculties, in a variety of mixtures, in order to keep challenging myself and to keep my vision fluid and alive. Of course I want to be intuitive, even promiscuous (I don't see that necessarily as a pejorative unless it becomes harmfully addictive), but I want to combine that with intention, deliberation, thoughtfulness, caring, values, curiosity, and compromise.
    Often, the result of being on auto-pilot, for me, is a kind of complacency, a lack of significant objectivity about my own work, and falling into a comfort zone where my work keeps looking the same. I imagine others may employ it differently. Regarding my own work, when I put myself on autopilot too regularly without a balance to it of contemplation, it often results in similar perspectives, color palettes, and expressions in my photos. It becomes monotonous for me.
    The flip side of this is developing some sort of voice for oneself or even one's own recognizable style or coherent body of work which can, of course, be significant. Here, there will be threads running through someone's work, but I think they are different kinds of strands from those that can become habitual from running on auto-pilot.
     
  38. Kind folks - -
    I apologize. I lost my train of thought on that last post, and didn't succeed in connecting it back to the OP. My error. Senior moment? ha ha.
     
  39. No need to apologize, M. Sometimes our minds wander, stimulated by what we read or what we happen to be thinking about at the time. Your post did seem to relate to the topic and suggested other avenues, which is a good thing.
     
  40. Fred G.
    "The kind of photographer I want to be is one who uses all my faculties, in a variety of mixtures, in order to keep challenging myself and to keep my vision fluid and alive."​
    That whole post was uplifting. Thanks. I like the comment above in particular.
     
  41. jtk

    jtk

    m. thomas, I think that pop psych notions about identity vs conscious and unconscious are old fashioned attempts to divert attention from the way we perceive the work itself. We don't need to invent identities for ourselves ("portrait photographer," "art photographer," "snapshooter") or to postulate conscious Vs unconscious (especially since we'd add "preconscious" if we knew what those terms were supposed to mean).
    I think an honest response to a photograph entails descriptions of what we notice, what we think it's for or "about" if we need that kind of interpretation, whether we are stimulated positively or perhaps negatively, whether or not we think the image is strong or well executed.
    Resort to discussion of purported "inner processes" is a way of dodging responsibility for our responses to images, it avoids response in favor of pop psychology. It's interesting to me that virtually nobody here addresses psychological issues in terms as understood by actual psychologists.
     
  42. The discussion is to a great extent about our process as photographers. It is only tangentially about whether we can see that process as viewers. Considering and maybe discussing our own process might help us grow and evolve. Unwillingness to conceive of and address our own processes likely leads to stagnation and photos that don't realize their potential. One doesn't need to invent an identity in order to genuinely reflect on what one is doing, especially as it relates to what one is producing . . . for oneself, not for the viewer.
    When it's convenient, portrait photographer is an invented identity. When it's convenient, photographer is an invented identity. But when it's useful, it's used. When it's convenient, relating performance to photography is an invented label. It's a non-standard, esoteric, distracting use of the word. When it's discovered to have been approved, however, by Twyla Tharp and Richard Avedon, it's acceptable. What's discovered in the imagination, for some, is not nearly as salient as what's discovered in a book. Talk about dodging responsibility!
    An honest response to a photograph is an honest response to a photograph. No one legislates what that is.
     
  43. Julie--sorry if I came across as someone who effortlessly goes with the first impression, etc. I am trying to describe my experience the best I can using language that doesn't well fit to the actual experience. When I pick up a camera I usually concentrate my focus to begin sorting through the myriad of image/compositions I am seeing until I see something strong enough to take a picture. I think others are doing much the same thing and describing or experiencing it slightly differently. I don't mean to come off as bragging, or in your words, having some sort of visual promiscuity. I'm just very visual. As for people who disparage the idea of being on "auto-pilot," it may be again a lack of consensus on meaning of words that is in our way. I loosely using the term to imply an allowance of creative action to occur so that novel and not always pre-fomulated image selections can be appreciated and photographed. Fred, to me auto pilot is the exact opposite of falling into a comfort zone--it is the freedom to let unconscious influences guide the creative process. Again, perhaos language and concensus meaning of words can be an impediment in communication here.
     
  44. jtk

    jtk

    Twyla Tharp is a performer and director. I admit that I mentioned her.
    She knows something about Richard Avedon's work from a unique perspective. She's written an interesting book about "creativity" so I thought she might be of interest. The book is practical, not space-cadet. She uses words properly and writes clearly. Bad voice, and the interviewer is a bit too worshipful and pompous. IMO.
    I don't understand how anyone would find the work and thoughts of Tharp or Avedon related to "approval." My mention of them led to upset. They have their own distinct views and write about them simply and and (for me) usefully.
    Fred's right: some do need or prefer to talk about "inner processes" and make "statements" about their work. Me, I enjoy multiple angles, ideas in process, and well written argument. I prefer doubt and uncertainty to resolution. Yang/yin is a dynamic, not a dot.
     
  45. Tharp and Avedon's work is not related to approval. Some read and comprehend as poorly as they claim others write. What I said was that some here needed to hear "performance" spoken by a hero in order to consider it. Before hearing that approval, some had to reject the notion out of hand, because of an inability to think for themselves and a complete and utter lack of imagination and liberation from totally closeted thinking.
     
  46. After reading all the responses so far a thesis is forming in my mind. This is mainly in response to Fred and Julie H who seem to have the strongest reactions to my own description of my “inner process” when taking photographs. Fred, you have made it clear you like to be intellectually in touch with your production of photographs. You enjoy looking at photos that make you think, and you want to develop meaningful themes in your own work. Julie, you are an artist passionately involved in your work, which must entail a lot of thinking, planning, experimenting, etc. Both of you are somewhat aghast at my own approach of “being guided” by the inner muse, going into a trance, etc. I will describe myself as most being drawn to photos all my life that were highly graphic, visually stimulating but not necessarily invoking deep thinking. My own photographic mission, not surprisingly, is simply to make photographs of familiar things that are visually/graphically interesting and stimulating emotionally or just visually. I don’t want to educate or make anyone think about any particular theme or topic. I see it as more graphic illustration.
    Now, my thesis is that we are different perhaps because we “see” differently from the start. We emulate what we like to look at in the first place. I simply see the world very graphically, and visualize easily different compositions in my head and in the ground glass. I have a very strong inner visual compass that automatically steers me towards strong compositions. I'm not surprisingly not as involved in many of the intellectual discussions about photography in this forum. I am guessing people like Fred and Julie like to “think” more about what they are looking at and of course when making photos themselves are motivated towards making photos that require some intellectual processing. We seem to be at opposite poles in this dimension. Neither is better or worse, but it seems to me to be typical of the type of human variation seen across a lot of what we call “traits.” I called it a bell curve earlier in the thread. We all fall on different points along the curve, and it roughly predicts how we see, what we are drawn to and what we produce in our art.
     
  47. Steve,
    there might be a relationship between what all of us "are" and what we like to photograph.
    Our being as humans is multifaceted and involves our background, our culture, our experience.
    For example,I started making snapshots of my vacations at about 12. If I hadn't gone on vacation and if I was not handed a camera, I wouldn't have started. I had the opportunity to take a darkroom course at school and go around photographing when I was about 14. Another opportunity. I was lent a Leica by my father. Another opportunity.
    My photography was mainly driven by instinct back then, and instinctively I photographed human beings. My strongest interest are people and this is reflected by my photography: I photograph mainly people. I did not know consciously then, now I know.
    The consciousness was mainly ex-post. Often my technique was quite bad, but most of the subjects were quite interesting. Only very recently the whole process became conscious, and therefore much more difficult.
    So I started pre-visualising situations and images, I studied the things I like in my photos and the things I don't like and started reasoning both on subjects and on the technique. I found the film types I like best and worked on my composition and exposure.
    Back to your question:
    What I am and what interests me determined and determines my inner process of photographing. It was instinctive initially, it now still is, but there i. I plan - and take notes on my plans - not so much situations, but rather places where I think these situations can happen.
    In my early years I did not, it was all instinctive.
    It is not that the instinct is ruled out by rationality: it's the instinct which brings up the attention first. But then the rationality of the process steps in and hopefully guides me to produce the photos I really want to make.
    As a conclusion: I think we all have our "internal process" which is determined by what we are and a variable mix of emotions (instinct) and rationality.
    Our individuality is the key factor influencing this process.
     
  48. Steve (Murray), a strong "Yes!" to this from your last post: "... it seems to me to be typical of the type of human variation ... "
    I hope that you don't take such "variation" as discouragement to our exchange here or in the future. If I can abuse Wittgenstein to make a point, of his own writings he said:
    "My propositions are elucidatory in this way; he who understands me finally recognises them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)"​
    Which is to say, that we, or at least I learn by "climbing" through each others ideas, even as, or even because I (may) later discard them.
     
  49. John Kelly:
    "...are old fashioned attempts to divert attention from the way we perceive the work itself."​
    I think we are talking here in this tread not about photographs, but about "inner process" - process of thought or lack of it leading to creation of final image which we present to others to look at. Diversity of aproaches presented in this discussion is fascinating and has nothing to do with perception of the work itself.
    "We don't need to invent identities for ourselves..."​
    But we do! In many aspects of our lives, among artists even more! Salvador Dali comes to mind as a prime example.
     
  50. jtk

    jtk

    Thomas, you're right about Dali (Picasso too). They found it useful to operate theatric personae, the tactic paid off in sales. They had a lot of fans who had limited familiarity with their actual work (but who hung their posters in dormatory rooms). On the other hand, the work stands on its own without their personae. That's my understanding. I knew their work before I knew anything about the identities they marketed.
    You are partially correct about this, of course: many of us evidently do "need" identities. It's an alternative to being and exploring, more comfortable than entertaining doubts.
    While you may only be interested in "inner processes," this thread's topic involves a purported relationship between that notion and photography. I question that notion, regard it as dissembling.
    Assertion of inner processes is often intended to pretend depth. We all know that some "artists" like to talk about their souls, muses, inner processes...naming them in "statements". Others are more concerned with their work.
     
  51. We all know that some "artists" like to talk about their souls, muses, inner processes...naming them in "statements". Others are more concerned with their work.​
    False dichotomy.
    This is the way many people look at, mold, and help their own work evolve. Instead of obsessing over books they've read about other photographers and THEIR processes, they consider their own as an individual. Those who refuse to look at how their OWN process affects their work are pretty much destined to keep doing the same tired stuff and completely lack objectivity in relating to their own work. I often see it resulting in missed opportunities and stagnating potential. Photographing is not all magic. One doesn't just produce work in a vacuum. When one hopes for the best or simply "trusts" their so-called Muse, in a feigned manner of no self consciousness (feigned because it's impossible, a mythology or the way some THINK artists SHOULD work) one easily gets lousy, repetitive, unmoving photos, but may "feel" very gratified.
    John is right that concern for one's work can be significant. It is by working (and nuancing one's working) that one achieves that work.
     
  52. Assertion of inner processes is often intended to pretend depth.​
    After saying it's dodging responsibility, this too? Really?
    John, all you seem to do is hide behind the ideas of others. It's never ever about you, your photography, your ideas, your thoughts. In all your postings, you do not really exist except as a vehicle for words of others.
    So, make me understand in your own words (no references, no youtube, no quotes): why are we dodging responsibility and pretending to have depth when we consider and think about the moment that happens while making a photo?
    And, for your consideration: what we share, at least they're our own thought and ideas. That's taking responsibility for what we think, what we try and what we do. There is no pretending in it, but trying to describe what we are doing. Trying to learn from the experiences of others. What is so wrong about that? Why do you feel this need to judge it and talk it down? Does it make you feel better? (there, the pop psychology you talked about).
    Back to the regular show now.
    Steve,
    Now, my thesis is that we are different perhaps because we “see” differently from the start.​
    Yes and no. It's a bit too static, to my taste. People are not as they are because they are like that. People evolve, learn to see differently, gain skills. What is making you you and me me, is not the same today as it will be tomorrow.
    One can learn to see strong compositions, learn to see the graphical, learn to see a scene in black and white. It's a train-able skill, not a fixed given part of our "character". Otherwise, I think we already agreed...
     
  53. jtk

    jtk

    Diminishing people who do not verbalize their work is not an argument, it's an authoritarian expression of fear (IMO).
    I can verbalize with anybody but it's not always a good idea. Verbalizing a creative process may be be an attempt to freeze it. Risk is like oregano: I need it, but if I settle on it everything I cook will taste the same.
    Judging ideas as "false" or "not false," and insistance that people relate to their own work in narrowly defined verbal ways are mere pronouncements. That game is Authority.
    Minor White, who influenced me one-step-removed via a group of his students at a formative time, struggled with a religious upbringing and authoritarian personality. Some students worshipped him, others (notably wives of students who had their own art careers) grew to hate him. He eventually ascribed to an authoritarian philosophy (Gurdjieff-Ouspensky...akin to Taliban). I find the struggles, failures and successes of photography closer to various unspoken truths than the conclusions upon which Fred insists or those White began to embrace.
    I think highly of the online hints of Fred's work (though I'm not satisfied by online images). They do not qualify him to disparage other approaches to photography: When he posts on a thread there are always others who are similarly strong. Like them (and hopefully like all of us) he has not "achieved," he is "achieving." That's a good thing.
    "objectivity" is a non-phenomenon. Evoking "objectivity" tells a story.
     
  54. John, stop pretending. You have diminished most others in this forum, from your use of the word "prissy" to describe others' reactions to Zoe Strauss's work to referring to others as obsessive and neurotic by quoting Alan Watts, thereby trying to extricate yourself from taking responsibility for using those words against people in this forum. Your games are transparent. And a couple of us have had enough. We are not just diminishing you. We are responding to you in kind in hopes that you'll stop doing it to all of us.
    No one has demanded that you use words. But this is a forum where words are used. If you want to feel and experience at a gut level, no one is stopping you. But why would you come into a philosophy forum consistently to insist that words are b.s.? There's something more telling in a person who does not want to talk about photographs who can't stay away from a place where people come to talk about photographs. What is it you need or want here?
     
  55. John, I was going to quote all the authoritarian statements you've made in the last week alone but I won't spend the time and waste everyone else's. What I will say is that you are right that I made authoritarian pronouncements at you. It was to give you a taste of your own medicine in hopes that you would recognize how ridiculous it is. I hope you know I don't want to dictate what you do or how you work or how you view pictures. But I don't want you dictating to me. I don't want you belittling or psychoanalyzing me for seeing my own work as a performance. And I don't appreciate the way you put down others who self reflect and talk about their work and process. Now, at this point, you come back and feign outrage that someone (me) has been authoritarian. It's laughable. You're using a transparent rhetorical method as old as the books, projecting what you yourself do onto somebody else as a defensive maneuver. Plato exposed this kind of rhetoric over two millennia ago when he saw through the sophists for what they were. It's especially funny coming from a guy who claims not to want to rely on words.
     
  56. Pfffffff.............
    Verbalizing a creative process may be be an attempt to freeze it.​
    Maybe for you, others may be more flexible; you do not have to decide what applies to others, please.
    Mental note to self: why did I know up front Minor White would come up in the response? No references to others: scored minus one. As expected.
     
  57. "Diminishing people who do not verbalize their work is not an argument"
    A good photo does not need to be verbalized it stands on its own. Perhaps a not so good photo needs some words spoken over it to help lift it to a higher place.

    Of course we like to verbalise it is part of being us. Nothing wrong with that either.
     
  58. Allen, many of us don't intend what we say in this forum to be an accompaniment to our work, as an artist statement of sorts. That's a common misunderstanding about the things we say here. Some of us think of this as sort of a round table discussion of peers, a conversation ABOUT our work or our working. It's incorrect and seems purposely misleading to claim that what we do here is "verbalizing their work." (I know you only quoted someone else on that and it may not be the way you would have put it.) I am verbalizing about my work, not to a purported audience or set of viewers, but to colleagues. Those who think we are trying to substitute words for work are wrong. Many of us can do both. We photograph when we photograph. We process our photos when we process them. And we talk about stuff in this forum, which is why it's provided. I see it as a kind of behind-the-scenes sharing. What I say here is not meant to substitute for my work or augment or accompany it. It is meant to discuss things, share thoughts and ideas about it and about my process and gain insights from fellow photographers about their own visions and processes. I realize this forum is not suitable for everyone. Many choose not to participate because they don't like to discuss these things. I respect that.
     
  59. jtk

    jtk

    Insistence upon one particular kind of expression (interminable, convoluted and circular) seems like a way to hamstring discussion of photographs and the act of photography.
    We saw a comparable insistence in the obsession about Strauss's obscenity by people who hadn't even thought about her work, and in previous attacks on Bruce Davidson for his "attitude."
    It's poignant that some insist this is a typewriter kind of phenomenon, even though it's designed specifically to deliver audio and video and images from all sorts of other sources.
    Most here are secure enough in their photography to talk about the work of other photographers. A few continually refer instead to their own images, evidently not interested in the work of others. Other forums are intended to solicit responses to our individual work.
    \
     
  60. You mistake insistence upon John Kelly not belittling the words and ideas of others for insistence upon one particular kind of expression. Again, one's reading comprehension can be as poor as the writing one often critiques. It could be that that writing is fine, and the reading comprehension is SO poor. It could also be that the ideas expressed are so threatening to one's comfort zone and to what one has heard from their heroes, that they simply can't accept another's more individual approach.
    You said as much in the other thread. Listen to yourself:
    When I'm photographing someone the subject is their performance, I can't see into their skulls and I don't think about myself. I think that was Avedon's approach...and I don't think it's an uncommon approach, just uncommonly direct.​
    You are buying into favoring the common at the same time as you have already rejected out of hand the uncommon (photographer as performer). Your doing that so openly surprises even me.
     
  61. And the point here is that you absolutely should reject thinking about yourself if you want to. And you should reject seeing yourself as a performer if you want to. But some of us won't tolerate your belittling of others for doing and thinking the way they do without occasionally responding to you, and doing so in kind.
     
  62. Most here are secure enough in their photography to talk about the work of other photographers. A few continually refer instead to their own images,...​
    Yes, I rather refer to my own images when discussing things. Yes, I am not expressing an established self-secured attitude as photographer. Probably that makes me super-annoying for you. Or not? Since, in more threads than I care to remember, John, you insist people back up their statements with actual images. Which I do and can do (your portofolio here is miniscule, but we probably have to see prints, since in your world that's the only real photo format).
    So when we're talking about our own images, then it's suddenly wrong and a sign of insecurity, and when we don't, we're talking empty air? Damned if we do, damned if we don't?
    Apparently you are so secure about your photography that you only talk about others. And by the same token, you must be equally secure about your thoughts and ideas since you only talk about others there too.... which begs again the question what you are expecting here. Philosophy is about asking questions. Questions require doubts. Getting to answers require listening and reading, and being open to ideas other than your own. The attitude I perceive of you here comes short in all 3. You just blurb out statements.
    I'm done with it. This thread was very nice, a genuine open question to share experiences and gain insight in how people do the actual work of photography. If you don't want to share, then by all means, don't react. Instead, you choose to derail something others were in fact enjoying. For no apparent reason at all. It's a shame, and the way you avoid taking responsibility for it is making matters only worse. </sign off>
     
  63. jtk

    jtk

    Homogeneity can be a vice (it is here). Insistance that one line of thought is proper and others are out of place is an anti-intellectual problem in some small communities, as underlined here in direct personal attacks.
    For perspective, if anybody wants it: I regularly comment very positively on one participant's work. I agree with most of the values he's expressed over the years, find many of his theories over-the-top. Many of us could use an editor. Few share anything comparable to his work in P.N portfolios, but some do write at length. Those that actually do share photos in P.N portfolios often share promiscuously. Again, an editor would help.
    Obviously, I don't post many images. I don't find it rewarding (personally) to "capture" or share images that are for me inconsequential. Beauty surrounds me, I'm often overwhelmed by it, don't want to simulate it photographically.
    I edit my work for specific reasons. I'm not showing excellence, I'm showing things that interest me enough to print.
    Maybe this makes my point: I came back from Paris to make only the handful of prints I cared about (they involved two suburbs, have been posted here). I was afraid to explore the banlieues that seemed more compelling because I have little French and no Arabic...too many excuses). And I've yet to photograph la tour Eiffel :)
     
  64. one participant's work​
    We know who you mean. Not saying the name doesn't mean we don't know who one is talking about.
    Many of us could use an editor.​
    Using the royal plural doesn't mean we don't understand the personal nature of what one is saying.
     
  65. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, your laborious and anxious interpretations of what you take to be my perspectives clearly tells some kind of story for you, but I don't understand.
    You're right that I have photo heros and I mention them. As well, I was influenced fairly directly by two very strong photo philosophies (Weston's and White's). That seems to be a problem for you. Maybe it is for me, too but instead I feel that it has provided me with frames of reference that I can use or refuse according to my pleasure. I don't think a Minor White student would fail to see influences, but I think s/he would as likely puzzle about what the hell I was doing.
    I don't ape my influences but there's evidence of them in my work. I mention them because I feel that responsibility. I've been led to influences by others, think it's proper to continue that sort of thing.
    Your work looks a lot like the decades-ago Vogue work of of Sarah Moon, which I admired tremendously (a more recent version of her work reminds me even more of this thread's frequent and gifted female contributor). Are you aware of personal influences? You don't seem to admit any. I doubt you know Moon, but you're old enough to have absorbed the influence.
    Is it a mistake to recognize influences if a photographer is aware of them? I've specified a half dozen of mine. Oddly, I don't own dozens of photo books and I've mostly avoided photo magazines, despite having been fairly active photographically for a long time. But I have, after the fact, acquired a few books by some of my influences. I see lineage.
     
  66. Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
    That I may see my shadow as I pass.
     

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