Beginner's Mind... The Incredible Lightness of Seeing

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ann_m, May 7, 2003.

  1. Late last night I thought I had actually made a photograph that
    revealed the essence of what I have been seeking to capture with my
    work..... This morning it looks more like 'porn for geologists'... I
    am having great difficulty with the conceptual gap between what I
    think I am envisioning in the field and what is manifest in my prints.

    I have been diligent in learning the zone system and various darkroom
    practices. My negs are finally.... beautiful.... It's all there! The
    swings and tilts are becoming second nature and I can stretch a
    common house cat into a weasel if I desire. I inspect every micron of
    the ground glass before I release the shutter. However.......

    Recently Edward Weston has been the pebble in my shoe... I have
    binders of contact prints of the worst Weston knock offs on the
    planet..... The horror of this is that I am not doing this
    consciously.... I actually believe I am 'seeing' what I am attempting
    to photograph. At first I thought it was the intrinsic nature of the
    landscape... I have my own Lil' Lobos going here... rock cliffs,
    windswept trees, the sculpted sandstone shore... miles and miles of
    it... there are many lifetimes of images to be made here. Now I know
    I have hit a wall and metaphorically I am trapped inside a distorted
    version of another's vision.

    I was wondering if others have suffered from this and that I may
    benefit from their advice and experience.... Cheers Annie.

    PS Is it just me or does Gene McSweeney's new lens look disturbingly
    like a reincarnation of Buster Keaton.
     
  2. ann, i woudldn't worry to much, one must replicate before we can find
    our own way of speaking.

    think of when we were 12 years old, how hard we tried to be like
    teenagers or other "role models" by the time we were 16 or 17 we were
    not a lot like the 12 year old we once were. we found our own friends,
    our own music, our own style, etc. look at photography being the same
    way.

    or think of the parallels of the other greats in any field, miles
    davis sounded a lot like dizzy gillespie on those early
    recordings...he was finding himself and he first learned jazz from
    dizzy. when he grew, he changed and he sounded like miles.

    westons early work, looked a lot different than the work we all see,
    he was originally shooting like others in his day, soft, dreamy, etc.

    one day you'll be looking at your work and realize that it is WHAT you
    want. it may be next year, it may in 2025, but it will get there.

    i am still on the same journey, and probably will be until I die.
    hopefully someone will be able to piece it all together and like it!!!

    thanks jdjdjdjdjdjdjdjdjdjdjdjdjdj
     
  3. Ann, you are at an unavoidable place for the artist to be .
    You are forcing yourself to explore your individuality, that is a
    good thing . For some is not easy .
    Weston is Weston , Ann is Ann.
    How to approach this ? Have the courage of shooting by instinct
    , go off the perimeter , and start do develop you own vision .
    Do not censor yourself , listen to that feable voice and shoot and
    you'll see in time that voice will get stronger .
    We have way too many A.A. and E.W. ( one of each was all that
    was needed ) , what we need now is Ann 's work .
    Do you have a crazy idea for a shot or a portfolio? Do it !
    We only contribute to the world of art if we show our unique
    vision .
    Good luck .
     
  4. I think we all have suffered your experience. I have my own knock-off of Adams "White House Ruin" that was a knock-off of Jackson's
    "White House Ruin". We tend to emulate our favorite photographers and in doing so will develop our own style over time. By the way, you are getting there....you saw Buster Keaton in Gene's new lens first. I had to look at it again after you mentioned it. Good light and happy shooting, Pat.
     
  5. It frequently amazes me that when people take a standard tool or method and apply the standard procedures that they are surprized to find out they've produced the standard result :) (I would argue that Weston and Adams and a few others do represent the "standard result" of LF). Uusally the unique (or at least, novel) derives from the application of the non-standard (or sub-standard, LOL!)to the standard process. So, now you know you can produce the standard result. Now it appears you need to look at your vision. I've always like the way you write. Maybe its time to write about what you see in order to force some depth or expansion into your vision. Sounds like now's the time to start metaphorically working on the story in the picture!
     
  6. Photograph your own environment, your own familiar surroundings. Show the world what it is like to be Ann M !
     
  7. Ann,

    Your self-doubt strikes me as quite healthy. You are able to be dissatisfied with your present work because you are able to envision (or, at least, sense) who you really are as an artist. It would be disastrous for you to be completely satisfied--right? Just continue. Keep the faith. You might try different subject matter in order to reach deeper aesthetic ground. And/or give yourself enough time and effort to make the landscape your own. Surely your relationship with your landscape is different than Weston's, if only because of generation, let alone gender, education, personal background, etc. You should remember that it took Weston a while to find his own artistic way.
     
  8. a book titled "Art and Fear" may provide some help. i can't think of
    the author at the moment, but he (they?) talks about why
    moments like you're having happen and how to get beyond
    them. you might find it helpful. or you might not.

    -m
     
  9. Hi Ann. I make portraits of my family and friends, or....snapshots. Of course I had deluded myself into believing that was not the case, after all I was shooting B&W with a MF and then LF camera, doing all of my processing and printing with the finest materials available, to archival standards and agonizing over every detail of my "work". This is what artists do, is it not? Whenever the subject of photography comes up with new acquaintances, they inevitably ask "what kind of photography do you do?", to which I reply that I mostly photograph my family and friends. "Oh, me too!" they often respond, and proced to produce envelopes filled with glossy color 4x6 prints of their kids at birthday parties and soccer games etc. At first I was amused that they would compare their twinpix with my fiber based, contact printed jewels, but eventually it began to dawn on me that the differences in our photos were largely technical and superficial . Our intentions are the same; to record our loved ones for posterity. My ego was deflated, and I began to see my efforts for what they are; precious to me, and of little interest to anyone else. After coming to grips with the possibility that I may never be posthumously celebrated, I began to relax. I stopped looking at my photos from outside, the way I imagined a collector might, and was able to accept imperfections of composition in favor of a subtle, but meaningful difference in expression. And possibly more importantly, I stopped showing my work. I've not added any new work to my portfolio here, I don't ask for critiques, I've declined offers from local coffee houses to hang my work and I'm a new person for it. I now work fearlessly and with impunity. I've recaptured the innocence and enthusiasm that led me to learn the process, but suffer none of the egotism that thwarted my efforts to express myself. I guess what I'm trying to say is that at some point, I believe that one has to stop asking for advice and encouragement, and look inward. Only you can answer the tough questions that must be asked. Are you ready to leave the student behind and become the master?
     
  10. Ann,

    I don't usually contribute to these sort of threads since they normally just degenerate into "artspeak" and post-modernist drivel.

    That said, your post is intriguing and this is a subject I have given no small amount of thought to (therefore, I should be able to keep my answer short, shouldn't I!). So, here are a few thoughts/comments:

    First, I believe that "individuality" or "originality" is highly overrated. Some prize it above quailty, craftsmanship (craftspersonship??) and artistic content. I believe that we, as artists, build on the foundation, and stand on the shoulders, of those that have gone before us, even if we are reacting against a certain trend or school of thought. Knowing the history, the ideas and the aesthetics of the past is indispensible and can only guide us to our own clearer and more incisive vision.

    Mozart learned the musical language of his time and excelled at it. The fact that he is remembered and only few of his contemporaries has little to do with his striving for originality, but his genius. The unstoppable force of such genius cannot help but be original and individual, if for no other reason than that it is simply "better". Mozart, however, was less concerned with being "original" than making a living and pleasing his audience and patrons. He had mastered all the techniques of the day and was constantly striving to refine and expand his tools and techniques. He was interested in making music from the inside out, not worried about deing "different".

    Perhaps you could turn your focus away from worrying about "copying" Weston, or whether or not your work is derivative to mastering the history, ideas, concepts, possibilities and directions of your chosen artistic medium. Use your reactions to these things (and everything else you can connect) to guide your expression and vision. Whose shoulders do you want to stand on? Whose work do you think is a sham? Where do you belong? Who is your audience? What do YOU like?...

    Secondly (and this is of necessity an oversimplification), there are two poles of artistic expression: The conservative and the revolutionary. Many, many excellent and wonderful artists fall into the first category, i.e. those that strove to maintain, work within and add to the status quo: J.S. Bach, Shakespeare, Brahms, David, Michelangelo, Ansel Adams, etc, etc.

    Even the artists who we consider as "revolutionary" were, for the overwhelming majority, well-trained and educated in the history and artistic trends of their profession in addition to their craft. They had a clear idea of what they were opposing and rebelling against. They were aware of their contemporary society and how it related to the art they were making. They wanted to express things that they believed were unable to be expressed in the older, more accepted media. Therefore, they began searching for new directions. This search was a result of a burning and well-founded desire to express something in a new way, not just a "wanting to be different" (or worrying about copying). There is a tendency today to put the cart before the horse and try to be different for its own sake without any clear vision or aesthetic reason for so being.

    Don't try to change shoes until you have worn out or outgrown the old ones. Ask yourself where you fall in the spectrum. Do you know enough to have an opinion and place yourself accurately (for your own direction and development of course)?

    Another point: Genius is highly underestimated (misunderestimated??). Those who have the drive, talent, experience, clarity and inspriration will have the best chance at becoming successful contributors to the best of what humanity has to offer. Do I have these qualities? Do you?.. I think it is best not to worry about it, but just to go about one's work in a self-fulfilling way. If we are driven to create, then we create. We make art for ourselves and those we want to communicate with. If we happen to be geniuses, our work could end up in a famous museum (usually after we are dead). If we can make a living doing what we love, we are lucky. Worrying about whether or not one is being original is such a great inhibiting factor that it can stifle the genius within us. Focus on the art and the communication and let your abilites flow into those efforts. Forget about "finding your voice" or "your personal style"; you can't help but have one, and if you are one of those thoughtful, educated, insightful people, then your efforts will automatically be superior and fresh. If you are one of the geniuses...

    Additionally, there seems to me to be some disparate viewpoints regarding the importance of craft. Some strive for technical perfection believing it to be the doorway to profundity. Others discard technique as "workmanlike", believing that true "Art" (with a capital "A") is a function of the psyche and not intellect or skill (this attitude seems most prevalent among visual artists. No musician of any accomplishment would disdain technique or "chops".)

    Let me take a different tack: I believe that technique must be adequete to your vision. You don't need to learn to mix colors that you don't like or won't use. That said, exploring the medium and its associated techniques is one way to expand our vision. So, learn how to do what you need to do to say what you need to say, and explore the vocabulary of the medium to learn how to say it more powerfully.

    Lastly, a word of encouragement and support: We live in a time of "dumbing down". I call it "The cult of mediocrity". The greatest achievents of humanity have always been appreciated by the smallest audience. The majority simply cannot grasp the deepest and loftiest efforts of the greatest artists, scientists and philosophers. However, there have been times when there were more well-educated people who were able to understand, value and admire such work. There seems to be a dearth of these people nowadays. It can be discouraging.

    Sometimes, however, you just have to keep casting your pearls before swine in the hope that among them is someone who grasps and treasures what you are trying to do. Since the medium we have chosen to work in appeals to only a minority from the start, it is important that we keep searching for our "audience", the people we are trying to communicate with and with whom we have a shared vision and philosophy.

    Keep working on you and your art. This is the only road.

    (This wasn't so short after all, but shorter than the book I should be writing!)..

    Regards,
     
  11. I'm very much in agreement with the posts above, such as those of Per Volquartz and Jay DeFehr, that suggest that you photograph what you know--your surroundings, your family and friends, things that are interesting to you, things and people that you know.
    That's what Weston and Adams did, really, and they produced something unique because their subjects were familiar, and yet their work really isn't similar. Weston's landscapes and the objects around his house are all sensual and even erotic, while Adams's landscapes are majestic and heroic. Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs look hopelessly sentimental when considered as allegorical settings, as they were perhaps intended, but they become an interesting personal statement when regarded as portraits of her children, friends, and friends' children.
    My favorite photograph of late is a photograph of a paper grocery bag by Abelardo Morell. Like Weston, he was just photographing stuff around the house, but because it was the stuff around _his_ house that was interesting to _his_ eye, it is a unique image, stylistically nothing like a Weston. http://www.uwrf.edu/history/prints/hisp/abelardo-morell.html.
     
  12. Ann, I suffer from that same malady all the time it seems. I'll do all the same things you are doing only to find that its junk in the "morning after". We had a couple good discussions last week in the "Cloudless Sky" and "Pre-conceived" threads. As a fellow sufferer, you have my empathy and support. Listen to the good advice given by our more experienced collgues. I'm still struggling too.
     
  13. Great perception. Some souls, I believe, can just make the intuitive translation
    between the real world and the abstraction that is the photograph. Ansel Adam's
    well-known landscapes, etc. are highly abstract art works. Beyond that, I think the key
    is this: at first, we need to learn how to "put everything in." Then, we must learn what
    to leave out to achieve the expression we are after. You are way ahead of the crowd
    by being dissatisfied. Drawing, in particular, is valuable in learning this lesson. GOOD
    LUCK......
     
  14. "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Bruce Barnbaum gave copies to everyone attending his workshop several years ago. Well worth reading.
     
  15. I am always humbled by the quality of responses... Thank you. (much to consider)

    Just a few additional thoughts ....I am not so worried about being different I am concerned about being 'true'. The landscape I describe is what I know... it is the landscape of my childhood to which I have recently returned... it has many layerings of memory as well.

    The present 'curse' is that in many areas it looks very much like Point Lobos and this is the source of my battle with the images of EW.... I know that for many the photographs are primarily about art & compositional space and the photograph as object... I operate from a more emotional place..... remember that moment when you were looking at someone and you first realized you loved them... you are looking right at them and then suddenly 'click' ....there is this shift.... you know that they will never look to you as they did the moment before ...it is both emotional and visual...you can never 'see' them again as they were... their visual aspect is imbued with your emotion... That click happened to me when I returned to this place and it is that personal visual shift that I am trying to capture as I observe this landscape but it has escaped the content of my images.

    Anyway, that is one of the interesting things about catapulting through time on a tiny planet..... sometimes you get to see how things turn out..... I will keep on photographing and see what unfolds.

    Thank you again for your considered answers. I will order the book. Cheers Annie.
     
  16. I've read everything with a lot of interest.

    Personally, what Ann said about the change that happens in oneself resonates a lot with me. Photographs as records of places seem to become pale echoes of bigger things. But the notion of photographs as records of how a place or thing changed the photographer is something I find quite fascinating.

    I wouldn't worry too much about whether 'so-and-so' shows up in your work. That is bound to happen. If that influence touches a deep part of your core, it will stay, change, transform and reveal itself in unexpected ways in your pictures, maybe much later. If it doesn't, you will discard it, maybe slowly but surely. I personally find the other side to this much more troubling - where one sets out to make a Weston or Adams or Callahan etc. That seems to be driven more by the need for possession of the image rather than the change that it creates in you as a person. But recognizing an influence after the fact seems an inevitable part of being part of a tradition and trying to see further than we have so far.

    I'm also convinced that like grief or happiness (or other powerful emotions), there is no way around this, only through it. So, the unsatisfactory (even to me) answer seems to be - keep on plugging, and keep on thinking and feeling.

    And if one is worried about time, as Robinson Jeffers said,

    We are safe to finish what we have to finish;
    And it will sound rather like music
    When the patient daemon behind the screen of sea-rock and sky
    Thumps his staff, and calls thrice: "Come, Jeffers."

    Just my rambling thoughts. Cheers, DJ
     
  17. You might want to read a couple of articles I wrote: "Letter to a
    Yomg Photographer" and "On Teaching Photography." Both are
    under "writings" at www.michaelandpaula.com. in these articles,
    I deal with your questions, both directly and indirectly.

    Everyone here says more or less the same things. And they are
    all correct.

    Just photograph. Don't worry about your work looking like
    Weston's. It couldn't if you tried. And if it really did, after awhile
    you would get bored with it and visually move on. I could write
    about this for a long time, but will keep this short and end it
    here. Almost. One quote:

    Picasso, one of the most original artists of our (or any) time
    (whether you like his work or not) said, " The artist who tries to be
    original deceives him/herself. If they achieve anything at all, it will
    only be an imitation of what they like."
     
  18. ..."I operate from a more emotional place... That click happened to me when I returned to this place and it is that personal visual shift that I am trying to capture as I observe this landscape but it has escaped the content of my images..."
    I'm going to stretch a bit here and suggest that the personal visual shift, hasn't escaped - it wasn't there in the first place, at least not in the ordinary sense of content of the photograph. What you are describing, of course, is your emotional reactions to the physical place as they evoke memories, sensations, feelings. They're not in the physical landscape because they're your reaction to the landscape. Your camera is pointed the wrong way, maybe metaphorically, maybe actually. Perhaps you need to be in the picture, literally, or at least, some tangible evidence of you or your relationship to the place. Your unease may simply mean that this is really about you spiritually, not where you are physically. While there are what are now cliches, the child's doll, a wagon, some other artifact of the past, a device is necessary to link your emotion to a scene for which the viewer may well have their own emotion. You may be (probably are) letting the technical quest for the picture obscure the emotional quest (as you are as much saying). Some time might be spent clarifying visual analogies for your emotions that you can incorporate into your images, or, even be your images.
     
  19. DJ.... Thank you for your insightful 'rambling thoughts' Michael... Ouch, nice wake up call!

    Paul... I found your last post very intriguing... Often when I am out photographing I feel that in effect I am 'editing' the chaos of the natural world... subtracting slices that are metaphors for my 'feelings'... The windswept trees of the cliffs expressing beauty through adversity. The harmonious rolling of the cobble dunes compels me in certain moods. Other times I choose the towering crucibles of an evolving sea storm and its veils of rain to intertwine with my feelings. I know this moves me in the direction of anthropocentrism but that is what happens whenever I look into the ground glass. (And it does ever so (in the teeniest tiniest way of course!) look like EW... & I'm not even trying...you have to trust me on this!:))
    Your idea of linking my emotions to a scene interests me..... I had been assuming that just by the selection of what appeared in the GG there was a metaphorical simpatico occurring.... What I choose defining me...I will think about this... Regards....A.
     
  20. If you shoot what you love, your work will be true. Sincerity strikes a powerful chord with most people and it will bleed through your work. Perhaps you value some of the same things as EW. That's not a bad thing. The worst thing you can do is over-analyze your work and let that analysis lead you to stray from subjects or viewpoints that resonate for you. Just follow your heart and shoot away.
     
  21. If you want to exorcise the demon of having your work feel like the ghost of Weston is in every image, consider going on a spree where you attempt to do this with purpose rather than avoid it. You may hear the sound of you own visual "voice" soon enough.

    When young Picasso was in art school, he visited all the great galleries and meticulously copied the works of masters in order to learn. If you are mindful enough to ask the question that is the heart of this thread, Ann, then I suspect such an excercise will free you rather than turn you into a Weston clone. With this feeling of "being trapped in a distorted version of another's vision" lingering in your psyche, the more you avoid it then the more it is likely to be present in most of your work until you genuinely move beyond.
     
  22. Been there. Everyone has. He who hasn't isn't on the way to finding his own vision. That said, you might want to read a couple Aperture published books by Robert Adams: Why People Photograph and Beauty in Photography. They're both a wee bit "flowery," but it seems to me as if you're trying to make the jump from the technical to the artistic, which is no easy feat. It just happens. (Here I am describing something that I only catch a rare glimpse of every once in a while.)
     
  23. Hello D ... Perhaps that is a strategy for me... I admire Picasso, as I do Weston.... Of course Michael is correct, my work couldn't look like Weston's if I tried..... I am not Weston.... But I am burdened by the images of others and have yet to see my own.... hence the title of my post, I desire 'the incredible lightness of seeing'..... Chad... I know individual vision is a common struggle, I am just not particularly good at it.....Anyway, it is the middle of the night here I think I will finish my brooding and whip up something to eat.... I hope the omelette doesn't look like the Half Dome when I flip it to the plate...... Cheers to all and thank you.
     
  24. Perhaps you should look more emotionally and a bit less visually. I.e. what feelings does your being there again bring up and how would you visualize those.

    Another thing to consider is putting a new technical approach. I.e. try a shallow depth of field to isolate certain fetures. Shoot low to the ground. Allow things to be a bit out of focus. I really like Lee Friedlander's desert photos -- parts are out of focus, his shadow is sometimes in the frame, and compositions are wild. But, it feels to me like the desert I grew up in more than Ansel Adams' work.
     
  25. Hi Ann,
    I commend your sincerity and committment to your own vision.
    I also went through a similair process. For a long time I knew that my work was derivative of other photographers, and I could tell you which photos came from which photographers. I just kept working and after some time I started to see things in my photo's that I knew were just from me. It was a kind of organic process that unfolded from the committment to ongoing work. It is not something that I forced or even tried too hard to change, I just kept working.
    As I continued to work surprises started to appear in my work and I started to recognize my own vision. So keep working!!!!! Perhaps you could post a few of your EW prints and see if others agree with your assessment.
    Best regards
    Art
     
  26. Ann, don't run away from anthropocentrism if you want emotion in your pictures! Its the only route any of of us have to that vision. A photograph of a landscape is a record of a time and place. An evocative photograph includes an anthropocentric trigger of some type, and evocative photos only occur in one of two ways: by serendipity or contrivance. The challenge for the artist is to find the "contrivance" that conveys to the audience the emotion intended. The first part of the challenge is to figure out who the audience is.
    I'm not sure that your goal is attainable by photography alone, at least at the level of the landscape, because people tend to overlay their own emotional world and sensitivities to what they view. The world is full of coffee table books of fine landscape shots that evoke a range of personal emotions in people without conveying any particular vision, and this includes AA, Weston and all the rest. You have demonstrated an ability to write visually - maybe your real talent ultimately lies in a finely crafted amalgam of visual word and image.
     
  27. When photographing, we bring our total life experiences to the
    process. Ideally, these experiences include (or should include) a
    thorough knowledge of what has gone before in the medium.
    The broader your historical base, the broader a base you have to
    spring off from. If you come across a photographer's work that
    touches you deeply (Weston's in this case), it is only natural that
    you would make some photographs that might look like his,
    especially if you are photographing in similar terrain. There is
    nothing wrong with that. With continued work over time you will
    come across other influences--in photography, in other
    mediums, from books, from other people (non-photographers),
    and just from living and observing. These influences will change
    your photographs. If your original influence is truly right for you it
    will remain always, although merged with all the other new
    influences and direct new life experiences that have gone into
    your work. If this original influence is not meant for you, it will
    disappear from your work. This is a natural function. It is nothing
    to strive for or worry about. Everyone is unique. With continued
    work over time one's uniqueness will emerge. Or it will not.
    There are few original artists in any age. If you get pleasure in
    the process of making photographs, that is enough. The rest will
    come of its own accord when it is ready.

    The worst thing you can do is intellectually "try to be original" or to
    "show your uniqueness." Someone suggested perhaps placing
    personal objects or yourself in the landscape, and someone
    else suggested doing something different technically (changing
    depth of field). These are ideas. Doing something like that,
    unless you are impelled to do so, is like picking a "different way
    of looking at something" off of the shelf. Because it would not be
    coming from the organic process and development of your life,
    working from such an idea or concept would likely prove a dead
    end in many ways. Those who work from ideas like that in an
    attempt to be "original" are more often than not, merely following
    other influences--and one's not even suited for them.

    This happens all to frequently with students. There are
    commanded to "do their own thing." And so they pick something
    off of the shelf. Because this "something" is not part of the
    organic process of their lives, but something picked off of the
    great shelf of all possibilities, at best they get something clever
    and "different." But because there is no depth to it (it couldn't
    possibly have depth, not coming from what I call "the organic
    process of their lives," the work is ultimately boring (even to
    them). So they go on, and in an attempt to be different, they pick
    the next thing off of the shelf. But each of these "different" things
    more or less quickly burns out and not long after school is
    finished, they stop photographing altogether. I have seen this
    hundreds, no, thousands, of times.

    Besides the articles I mentioned earlier, you might want to get,
    and read, my book. "Michael A. Smith: A Visual
    Journey--Photographs from Twenty-Five Years." It was published
    in 1992 on the occasion of my 25-year retrospective exhibition at
    the Eastman House. The essay traces the development of my
    vision (the visual journey) and mentions the various influences
    that went into that development. For you, or for anyone else
    reading this thread who wants the book, which is available
    directly from me, I'll take $10 off of the price (normally $85--there
    are 176 reproductions) and throw in the shipping (a $7 savings).

    This did not start out to be a plug for my book, but that book truly
    is relevant here and I believe that few contributors to this forum
    have read it and many do not even know of it. If you or anyone
    gets a copy but decides they do not like it, I'll offer a full refund if
    the book is returned in pristine condition (less $7 shipping,
    which I would then have to charge).
     
  28. This may turn out to be an interesting slug-fest :) With considerable deference to Michael Smith and with immense respect, forget the book, and the references to other books mentioned in this thread. The last thing you need in your mind right now is the clutter of other perspectives on how to find a vision. You have your vision. Its abundantly clear from your writing what your vision is. What your dilemma is, is how to get that vision across in a photograph, and the solution to that can only come from your own explorations. My comment about placing objects in the picture wasn't about "placing objects in the picture", it is about recognising and incorporating what constitutes a visual link to your emotions that can convey those emotions in the picture. I truly suspect you will discover that photography alone will not convey what you want to convey because your vision contains more elements than photography can describe. A picture isn't always worth a thousand words; sometimes, it isn't even worth one word.
     
  29. This is a great question and a wonderful thread of ideas. I'd like to add only a couple similar ideas: Don't think too much! Be fearless, by not worrying about your photos looking like someone else's. My own biggest fear is mediocrity, and making images that are common and postcard like. I still fearlessly go ahead and take any image I like, regardless. I can always edit later and bury the "postcards" in a file cabinet. I still learn from the experience.

    Just getting out there and setting up, framing, focusing, developing and printing makes you better and better each time. Its very much like learning to play a musical instrument. Most jazz greats developed their originality only after years of playing, developing their "chops." Develop your "chops." And have fun!
     
  30. Paul.... I know what you meant.... no slugfests.... Michael thank you for the generous offering of your thoughts and your book..... ...sorry about all this 'thanking' but I must respond to people's kind efforts.... I think it might be a Canadian 'thing'.... I will now thank any new posters in advance, so as not to be too 'chatty' (I know that bothers some).... Must fly..... there is a lenticular cloud forming over the point that is suspiciously evocative of Diego Rivera's hat.... (hoping to find my chops)...... Annie
     
  31. Interesting thread....Last night I looked at it briefly and was thinking that it was really just self indulgent grade school...trash-head- music. Admittedly I was a bit depressed and that probably colored my perceptions. Today it seems better in a sense...I guess...I would really like to ask... what really matters? What is important to you? On the other hand I could ask...who is really behind the camera when the shutter goes off? Is it the one who wants money and fame? The one who seeks photographic enlightenment? The one who worships others and imitates them? The technical one? The one that wants to be special and different? Just who is clicking the shutter? Or is it something more affiliated with you? A question I asked myself this morning.... What would you photograph if you were the last person alive on earth? No one to see what you photograph. No one to criticize your photos. No one to buy them.Just you and the photo...till the end of your time.Just what would you photograph?Would you continue to photograph? Or would "SEEING" just be enough?
     
  32. Ann, 'Art and Fear' is a good ' keep on keeping on' sort of book, but you may be interested in the findings by a new book by John Tusa
    'On Creativity: Interviews Exploring the Process'
    available soon from Amazon (UK and prob. . com as well)
    This was the result of a series of interviews with composers, artists and photographers. In the radio review I heard, amongst the common values/trends were these:


    Never use language such as creativity and origionality - too high powered words.

    Their art was a product of an accumulation of work, (and therefore experience), amassed over years of work. Some artists had many projects they were working on at the same time. Working on the one which they felt able to do that day.

    The element of craft was important in their work.

    They would rather be making work than doing almost anything else.

    These are all I can remember!, but Ive ordered the book. The synopsis is below:

    Synopsis In this series of interviews drawn from his BBC Radio 3 series, John Tusa talks to some of the leading creative minds of our times - Howard Hodgkin, Antony Caro, Elliot Carter, Eve Arnold, David Sylvester, Edward Bond, Nicholas Grimshaw, Gyorgy Ligeti, Milos Forman, Paula Rego, Harrison Birtwistle, Frank Auerbach, Tony Harrison and Muriel Spark. Two essays by John Tusa on creativity and on interviewing are also included. With three painters, three composers, a sculptor, a photographer, a playwright, a critic, an architect, a film director, a novelist and a poet, this book offers a guide to our contemporary art and artists.

    Finally, it only will tell you what you and I already know, only making pictures can tell you how to make pictures and eventually we will arrive at pictures which are truly ours and come from no one else.

    good luck

    Robin
     
  33. I raised this thread again as an addenda to Robin's post... The transcripts of many of Tusa's interviews of creative masters is on line at...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/playlists/johntusa.shtml

    Enjoy.... A.
     
  34. kind of late in the thread, but hey, I would still like to add:

    It sounds like you know what you feel (you're a good writer I find)
    It sounds like you know what you want to convey, show in the photo.

    the question you maybe should be asking is: how am I going to convey this with a photograph?
    You could start the thinking way: lower angel, ad something, bla bla.
    Or you could just try and find out by shooting.

    Either way, maybe it will help you to considder: this is what I want to show, how am I going to show it?

    good luck and thanks for starting a very interesting thread.
     
  35. Your "literal" knock-off interpretations of Weston are perhaps the result of your own fluent and ebullient "literacy", made abundantly clear in your post: 'porn for geologists' and 'stretch(ing) a common housecat into a weasel' these are phrases coined by an original and humorous mind adept at expressing itself. The expression of a lenticular cloud evocative of Diego Rivera's hat has enough subtle humor to satisfy S. J. Perelman in his prime, so I wouldn't worry one whit further about your own originality. I would offer this bit of advice, though: The 'morning after' reaction is often misleading. Do not throw this work away in frustration. I often go through contact prints and negatives a year -or five, or ten years old - and discover what I thought was dreadfully mediocre was actually damned good. Click.
     

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