content/ context

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by chris_autio, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. Steve,

    The OP's statement was not that he "did not want the content to become more important than intent", but that he wants to presents photos "without its content being or becoming most important when my intent is to create a composition".

    There is no philosophical discussion intended about what intent might mean, or "how content can overcome intent". It is spelled out in the 1st post. He does not want viewers to see factories (substance), but the shapes and how he aranged such inside a frame (form).
    Simple enough.

    Re explaining substance v form to you. Really? If you need that, why, do you think, would it be a good idea for you to try your hand at a philosophical discussion? It starts with you not reading poperly what the OP said. And what we read above, between you and Sam, demonstrates that it was not a good idea.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  2. You're the one that made the statement, "Intent is what you want and content is what you get..." I don't know what you meant because I refuse to read anything more into the words than what you've stated. That's one of the problems in this type of communication format. So, I asked the question and you've provided an expanded response beyond your first statement.

    Perhaps then, content is the information contained in an image regardless of how it got there. In some photography, the content and intent may be totally controlled. In other types of photography, serendipity and chance play a role. However, I would also say it is up to the photographer to be sensitive to the random possibilities, recognize them, and choose to incorporate or exclude them from the final image as they may reinforce or detract from the photographer's intent.

    Since randomness is part of some types of photography, let's call that "found image" photography - then the idea of content becoming more important than intent (the original poster's question) is difficult to control as you cannot regulate the flow of time and events leading up to the moment the exposure is made. You can be sensitive to the flow of events and choose the moment that best fits your intention for making the image - and the closer the content will match the intent.

    Some photographers have waited hours or returned to a location multiple times to find the right moment to realize a photograph that best illustrates their intent. Other photographers set up a situation to photograph controlling all aspects of the content. Two completely different approaches to communicating intent through the final image.

    Then the question becomes when are you satisfied that the content matches your intent? For some people that's anytime they release the shutter and they decide through editing what best meets their intent. For other photographers, the image is visualized before making an exposure, and the shutter is not released until the perceived moment illustrates their intent. One method is not better than another, only different and as the photographer, it's up to you to decide which method is most effective for you.

    However, none of that answers the original question of content becoming more important than intent, does it? I don't think that's possible, and I think the original question is poorly stated or not thoroughly thought out. It is unfortunate that the original poster is not participating in this discussion as it would be interesting to find out how in his mind, content can become more important than intent.

    I don't think content can become more important than intent if you have a clear idea (intent) that you work to communicate through the content you choose to include in an image.
  3. But you did read more into it. It was you who added the exclusivity, when none was there. The word and doesn't mean intent and content should be read as excluding each other. Nothing about my statement suggested that content is never dependent on intent. That was your addition and misreading.

    But, it's good that you now are able to separate content from intent.


    The viewer shares in the reading of the content of the photo, therefore in determining what that content is. A photographer may be very pleased that he's satisfied his intent. And, yet, a viewer may see the content of the photo very differently from what the photographer intended. While a good photographer may project varying interpretations his photo may garner, no photographer can or should account for all the possible readings of the content, or form, of his photos. That's the beauty of photography. While some photos clearly reflect the intent of the photographers, others don't, at least to many viewers. Photos aren't this or that. They live. Some of their life is in the hearts and minds of viewers, regardless of what the photographer may think about the photo or may have intended. As a photographer, I think of that stuff as inspiring. I work hard to express what I want, but I also let go to a certain extent. That counterpoint of feelings is exhilarating.

    Photographers can be naive as well. Many photos up for critique here are assumed or intended by the photographer to convey one thing or another, yet the critiques often overwhelmingly suggest that what was intended to be conveyed has not been. It takes skill and artistry to convey what one wants, and even then even the most skilled photographer can never completely control what others will make of the photo.
  4. You've brought up a very interesting point and one that I wrote about some 10+ years ago. In responding to a person on, I wrote: "I want the viewer to become involved in the image. To do that you cannot "finish" the image - the viewer must participate in the image to find their own individual interpretation and closure."

    When you realize that the viewer brings their own interpretation because of their unique life experiences then you have to accept the idea that your intent in making the photograph may not be what the viewer perceives in the image.

    An interesting conundrum within the original thought of content becoming more important than intent.

    Is there some sort of Philosophy Forum prerequisite test you have to take to participate? Like some kind of undergraduate forum where if you get a passing grade you're allowed to participate in the real big-guy discussions?

    Why do I think I'd like to "try my hand at a philosophical discussion"? Because I've been participating in this website since 1995 and don't need your permission to make a post?

    I'm 72 years old and have been taking photos for 60+ years? I have a degree in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and a degree in design from the Univerisity of Michigan School of Architecture and Design. I've been in the Master Pinter Program at Tamarind Institute printing fine art lithographs professionally. While at the University of New Mexico I took courses in 19th and 20th century history of photography from Beaumont Newhall. I have at least 32 hours of work in other history of art courses.

    I think that gives me enough background to be able to post in this forum. How about you and your ego just give it a rest...
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
    samstevens likes this.
  5. Good for you, Steve.
    Doesn't change the fact that you manage to misread the OPost and base assumptions and discussions on that. And that you ask to have a most basic thing explained to you.
    "Enough background to be able to post", sure. No guarantee, obviously, that your posts make sense of what was under discussion.
  6. I don't question the meaning of the op but it is easy enough to understand what Steve was asking and why. Chris even expressed hesitancy in his phrasing of the question.
    I don't know... it may be that Steve's questioning and sam's responses could provide Chris some insight, clarity.
    samstevens likes this.
  7. Hopefully so. That's when these forums work well.
    I like to see content and intent as a counterpoint rather than one being more important than the other.

    As a viewer, I allow myself initially to respond personally to a photo, kind of at the gut level. As a savvy viewer and perhaps influenced by being a photographer myself, I will then take the next step of thinking about the photographer's intent, because it's important to me that I participate in the photographer's journey to the extent I can.

    There are those viewers who prefer not to think much about the photographer's intent and think viewing photography is almost solely subjective. I don't, though I certainly allow myself subjective responses. But I want not just to experience my own response. I want to experience what I glean to be coming from the photographer. That often is accomplished by considering a body of work, which I think gives me more access to the bigger picture and the intent of the photographer. I know and appreciate that I could always be wrong. That's part of the magic.
  8. "I like to see content and intent as a counterpoint rather than one being more important than the other"

    Well, when I make a new year resolution, it is full of intentions, often or not, but seldom kept.

    The reality is its all about content, and whether it works or not. Folk spend small fortunes on high end gear hoping the content, will be somewhat magical. They have the best intent, to achieve that magical content; unfortunately, the best of intent, does not lead to the best of content.

    I bought a very cheap lens, for a reason I cannot fathom, and was trying it out....but then a photograph l took, I really liked: no intent there.

    luis triguez likes this.
  9. Photography is not like making New Years resolutions. I can often tell photographers whose photos lack intent. Their work more often than not doesn't do much for me. Additionally, some photographers are simply not able to get in touch with or admit to their intentions, but they have them despite what they say.

    Thankfully, the reality (that it's all about content), in this case, is not a reality but just an opinion. Opinions vary, they can't be self-elevated by false claims of their being the reality.
  10. "Photography is not like making New Years resolutions" Sam

    A simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two different things, Sam.

    "I can often tell photographers whose photos lack intent"

    Really, methinks you must have magical third eye, Sam. I look at the photo, the content, that's what works for me. Not really looking for the photographs/photographers intent unless I ask them I suppose.

    "Opinions vary, they can't be self-elevated by false claims of their being the reality" Sam.

    Whos talking about reality of a photograph? not me. Methinks you have wandered of in the forest somewhere.

    Good to chat with you, Sam.

  11. "how content can overcome intent". It is spelled out in the 1st post. He does not want viewers to see factories (substance), but the shapes and how he arranged such inside a frame (form).
    Simple enough" Q

    The intent is to photograph the buildings simple enough. But the poster ,is far more interested in the content, and whether it works. .The content of a photograph, is what's its all about. I might intend to be a master photographer, the reality and the content ,is a totally different matter.

    Anyway, a discussion, no need for any folks to fall out.

    Last edited: May 1, 2021
  12. And if you all would read and understand the OP's post, you'd know that your discussion has no relevance for the question.
    He wants to show compositions of shapes. Not photos of factories, even though the shapes involved are those of factories.
    The intent as well as the content are clear and neither needs discussion, philosophical interpretation or such. The question is how to keep viewers from seeing factories.

    Simple enough.
    Not one single word of your would-be philosophical musings comes close to understanding, let alone answering the OP's question, clear though that was.
    Last edited: May 1, 2021
  13. "And if you all would read and understand the OP's post, you'd know that your discussion has no relevance for the question"Q

    Actually, I was discussing Sam's thoughts, content and intent, if you bothered to read those thoughts. Often, these posts will meander away from the original post, but still have relevance to the discussion. Simple enough for you to understand.

    "Curators looked over my submission and said that they would like to exhibit the industrial landscapes.". How do I photograph industrial stuff without its content being or becoming most important when my intent is to create a composition? Chris.

    First of all they have asked the poster to exhibit industrial landscapes . And the poster wants to to create his own take on the photographs, composition being the emphasis rather than subject matter From his example, he likes a oil painting look, which he feels emphasizes the composition rather than the subject matter. His seeking new ideas on composition opposed to just subject matter. My thoughts are it all about the individual imagination, and that's where his thoughts should come from.

    Q, we are not machine codes or bots which to be honest...are you? Perhaps, with your great knowledge of everything, you can add your thoughts to his question? what do you think?
    Last edited: May 1, 2021
  14. de_bakker.282122/

    The avatar of Phylo/Phil.

    Actually, how about contributing some photos ,or, positive thoughts?.

    Methinks, I should point folks to your website.

    Shiver your timbers;)
    Last edited: May 2, 2021

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