for the customer....for yourself

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by thomas_sullivan, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. First, photography is a hobby for me...not an occupation. But, as
    the photographer in the family or cirle of friends, I get asked, and
    have done, pics for people.

    So, the topic of discussion is this. I did my daughter's wedding
    last year (2002, I mean)...they love the pics (and believe, my
    daughter would tell me if she didn't think they were good for
    her) for my opinion, they are ok, but definitely not the best
    stuff i've ever done....oh, they're exposed and composed well
    enough, but there is that "pow" missing, that I sometimes get in
    what we'll term "personal work" (for now anyhow). Almost...well,
    actually not the point I didn't really want to turn them
    over to them....but did. This is not a percieved difference...i've
    been struggling with the whole concept for over a year
    now........and i've read enough to believe there are other
    photographers in the same situation.

    So, how do you all handle the philosophical side of this situation.
    Where, in your personal work, you create an image that is for
    yourself, and if some one happens to want to purchase a
    copy...that's fine too...but you are doing it really for yourself.
    And you are merciless in your edditting of all this stuff. And in
    your "for hire" work, you have to provide it all (not that absolute
    garbage...but a whole bunch of stuff that is just so-so, but the
    customer is more than happy...they are actually pleased to death
    with it all).

    Now, some of you are strictly "for hire" and don't go after the
    artistic image.............and some of you are strictly artist and
    don't go after the for hire, no offence, but don't
    reply to this. You just have not experienced both sides of this,
    and that is what I want to know. For those that do "for hire"
    and "personal artistic work", give me some insight. And don't tell
    me there is no difference..............there is a
    least for me there is. I realize it's not as "black and white" as I
    just described it all.......but it is stacked up in two major piles
    of different philosophy of thinking about them.
  2. So, how do you all handle the philosophical side of this situation.
    Keep reminding yourself that one is "art" (whether good or bad) and one is "product." (The two aren't always mutually exclusive, though.) The function of and motivations for creating the two different kinds of work are typically very different. Assess the product in terms of how well it serves its function.
    In some sense, I think it's a matter of setting aside your ego and accepting that, for paid work, the client's needs are more important than your own.
  3. Thomas

    Could you PLEASE try to differentiate your text from text you are quoting. Currently it's impossible to tell and that makes reading anything you write almost impossible to read and understand.
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    If you don't know html, try at least using quote marks. I agree with Bob. I don't bother to read most of your posts because I can't figure out what's going on in them.

    But learning a minimal amount of html, which would allow quoting in italic, would be a whole lot better.
  5. mike dixon........yeah, that "art"/"product" concept was in my list of reasons why I shouldn't concern myself...and seems to be the general answer from other photographers I know, and from reading some "art" photography books when the photographer mentions their "commercial" work as being something to "pay the bill".

    still, its an interesting experience to go thru.
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    To get back to the question, if there is one, and if there is one, my understanding of it...

    Well I just do what I do. Sometimes people buy it and sometimes they don't. I've gotten published always because I've shot stuff people want. The few things I do strictly for the money, well people know what I do so I sell what I would do anyway. That means I won't get the big jobs, but I'd rather just keep doing what I do and not worry about it. I'm still looking for that book contract, though...
  7. Some 'art' creators have the knack to put on canvas what they are seeing in their minds. Education can help, but all the education available at Yale (for example) would not produce a 'new' Rembrandt.

    Some photographers have the 'eye' to create good visual images and do not have a lot of formal education in photography. Some gain 'experience' with education, but that does not give the 'photographic eye' to each student that does the formal courses in photography.

    Photography courses (education) may help some and in other folks, there is no way to help them improve. Not the best answer, but life is that way....
  8. Thomas I went through the same type of experience a few years ago, a couple of times, and it convinced me that although I love photography in general I had no interest in doing it for anyone but myself. I have to give grudging respect to those that can do it for money, but it's not for me.
  9. Thomas:

    I do not understand your question. Try explaining it again.
  10. Try to put as much effort into your work no matter the circumstance. If you don't like the results, but they are required for an assignment, live with it and go on. If your client is happy, you should be satisfied, if not happy. Charge everyone for your work! Tell your daughter that you are giving her 20,000 for her wedding, but 19,000 of it is for your bill! ;)

    You may find that you don't like doing assignment based photography, like Andy. That's totally normal, and your personal work kicks butt anyway, so stop worrying and go take some more pics!
  11. Thomas (Gardner) - sorry, but it's not sufficient.

    Either learn basic HTML - which should take you under 60 seconds - or I will have to delete all posts in which you make undifferentiated quotes. Sorry about that but it's simply too confusing to everyone to leave these posts in the forum.

    Your choice.
  12. For the record, the URL that I posted of Hans Becker's photographs was found by 'googling' his name. He did not send me this URL and we have never had any contact whatsoever.
  13. Andy:

    My mistake. I sent that to the original poster, Thomas Sullivan. My apologies.

    But since the scans there are not up to 'snuff', I did not wish to present them here. I shall when I am ready.
  14. "But since the scans there are not up to 'snuff', I did not wish to present them here. I shall when I am ready."

    I think we'll all look forward to seeing them. It's not often we get to see somebody who is genetically predetermined to take perfect photos :)
  15. I think you may have misunderstood. I was referring to physical ability, just as in an athlete. Too many people think photography is an exercise in 'art'. It is certainly not 'art'. Getting the perfect 'timing' in any sort of photography (not only sports) is a physical skill that some people have more aptitude for than others, just as anything else we do. It is something that cannot be taught, really. I happen to have good timing skills, as well as the ability to compose very quickly and instinctively. I seem to recall having this ability from the earliest stages of my photographic efforts.

    But I certainly do lack other photographic skills. That is why I am not a pro: I cannot stand working with products or doing weddings, portraits, or most of the other kind of work that professional photographers do, (including magazine or newspaper work, though I did a lot of that in the past). So I don't. Do not put me in a studio, please. I am hopeless. But put me in a crowd at some event, and I will come back with some great stuff. I work best amidst chaos. If I have complete control, as in still life or product photography, I am at sea.

    Unless it is something that demands a very quick response, I am lousy at it.
  16. Hans I was responding to your original comment about getting it 'dead on' or something like that. I believe TS said that it does not always happen and you said that it did for you and that you were blessed with the proper genetics for it. I assumed the discussion was about many facets including exposure, that's why I was looking forward to seeing your work because I've never heard a claim that bold before. I think it was my misunderstanding.
  17. Andy:

    Exposure is not a problem for me. When I say I can hit it 'dead on' I mean without great difficulty. See attached.
  18. uhh, u cut off that dudes head....
    nice, um, timing...
  19. Yes, the defender slipped into the frame at the last instant, after I was already waiting for the ball-carrier to reach his peak. The timing, though, is perfect.
  20. Yes it is a nice photo Hans but I'm not sure that's what T Sullivan was talking about.
  21. perfectly bad
  22. Grant:

    Fortunately for me, your opinion is of no importance. You obviously have no experience with using very long lenses and sports.
  23. werent you the one who said somehwere that one should not speak of things they know nothing about...?
    i think so....
  24. LMAO!

    It may only be my humble opinion, but I've seen hundreds of thousands of photographs including hundreds of Grant's. He's one of the very very best there is (in the world.)

    Timing is only a very small part of photography. Thinking is much much more important. I see no thought whatsoever in your photo. To be honest, it just ain't that great.
  25. It is perfect, thank you very much. It is perfectly exposed, perfectly focussed, and shows the perfect peak of action. Have you ever tried to follow a rugby runner with a 400mm lens? I did not think so.

    Sure, the defender's head is cut off, but he was not even in the frame when I started to take the shot. Those things just happen, over which one has no control. The things over which I had conrtol are perfect.
  26. I can not believe this is the most exciting moment in this game. So, is the timing perfect? The guy looks bored to be falling on his face. Is the expression perfect? You are behind the action and the light. Is that perfect? There is a ton of empty space at the bottom, and you cut the dude's head off at the top for goodness sake! Is the composition perfect?

    The photo is far from perfect.
  27. A peak-action sports pic that cuts off one of the participants' heads while including a large swath of grass across the bottom of the frame is not perfect.

    Yes, sometimes a player may enter the frame at the last second and things like this happen. That's what the trash can is for.
  28. :) this thread became one of the funniest threads ever. Thanks, guys, and keep up the good atmosphere!

    By the way - did you not notice that half of it was already deleted? Or you think it's accidental?
  29. Bradley & Andrew:

    Yes, the composition could be a little better, but you must understand how difficult such work is, and how rapidly things are changing from one moment to the next. This was submitted as an example of perfection of technique, which it is. The camera is panning slightly with the ball-carrier (thus the background is slightly blurred), and you can read the finest details in the face and on the ball. The focus is perfect, made with a manual focus 400mm f/6.8 Leitz Telyt. The player was darting in and out behind opponents, and emerged at the last moment from a crowd and just leapt over the goal line. I did not know he was going to leap, and the position of the camera was correct for a continuation of running. I was behind the goal post, mid-way between the sidelines. Since no-one knows where the action is going to occur, and I have no control over it, positioning myself mid-way gives me the best chance of capturing something.

    I have many years of experience in such types of work, and am familiar with how to position myself and what to anticipate.

    I do not know whether either of you have experience shooting such sports as rugby with a long lens. Shall we say there is a considerable degree of difficulty? I have other shots of sideline throw-ins, but even with its minor compositional faults, I am satisfied with the action here, captured to perfection.
  30. Bradley:

    What do you mean by 'thought'? This is an action shot. No 'thinking' is involved. Planning, anticipation, positioning yourself on the field, etc., are involved. Is that what you mean? I was waiting for a score, hoping the team would score at my end. I positioned myself near the goal line. I got a perfect shot of a try (goal).

    I was just driving down the street last October and saw these fellows playing a match. It was actually near the end of the game and I got off only two rolls.
  31. No 'thinking' is involved.
    Speak for yourself. Or maybe you were.
  32. Yes, precisely. You do not 'think': you REACT. Thinking takes too long. You do not think when you drive, do you? When you see brakelights go on in front of you, you have no time to 'think' about stopping: it has become second nature: instinctive. Good photographers do not think. They see and react in the appropriate ways, just as good drivers do.

    Only beginners 'think' and it shows, badly, in their work.
  33. Hans you aren't making much sense. You are saying it's perfect in one place and then giving reasons why others do not find it perfect. You can't just select part of a photo and say it's perfect and ignore other parts that aren't. If you are going to give an example why not pick one that is perfect in all areas. You've been doing this for 40 years so you must have alot to choose from. Perhaps something that's been published etc.

    Also you said that you have a natural, genetically-based talent for this but then you go on to say that it's due to experience and knowledge.

    I've also seen sports photographers and I've never seen them just take one shot. Generally they have a winder and take a series. I'm not knocking your postings and have not done any myself but if you are going to boast at least lead with your best.
  34. Andy:

    You are right, I am saying what may appear at first to be somewhat contradictory things. But bear with me.

    I recently dug through some very old photographs from high school, and found a really nice close-up photo of a basketball player attempting a foul shot, taken with a 300mm f/5.6 lens! The basketball is in his hands, and shows a slight amount of blur as he raises it to shoot. In the background is the scoreboard (the old light-bulb type) in nice out-of-focus circles. His eyes are intent on the rim. This photo was taken in 1967, when I was 17 years old. I had been taking pictures for three years at that time. It shows perfect composition, timing, and focus.

    I do not have it with me today, but I will bring it tomorrow and scan it for you.

    Of course, as you gather more experience, you learn more about where to be and what to look for when photographing something that you have no direct control over, such as occurs in sports photography.

    The first rugby photo I showed is perfect in the things over which I have control. Unfortunately, not everything is predictable or anticipatable. I did not know he was going to lunge. I followed him, with great difficulty (looking through a 400mm lens is not easy when the player is darting around), through a swarm of would-be tacklers, trying to maintain focus. I had the camera prepared for the light and conditions of that side of the field, and shot. He is in perfect focus and the leap is right over the goal line. He is clearly in view, and I am ahead of the play, not behind it as you said. The defender came in at the last instant, as is easily observed by his position. If you think that is a defect because his head is slightly cropped, I say fine. I doubt many reading this could do as well or better.
  35. <img src="">
    heres one from college, about 10 years ago... :D
  36. a few more...just for fun
    <img src=""
    <img src="">
    <img src="">
  37. Grant:

    Very good sports work, except, I think, the first one is a bit too high on the runner.
  38. It would be silly for anyone to object that parts of people are cut off in the basketball shots, or that the heel of the defender is missing on the last footbal shot, because they are not essential to the action. The same applies to the rugby ball-carrier.
  39. long lens, what can you do....
  40. Grant:

    Not show it, I guess.

    Which college were you attending: Iona or Sacred Heart?
  41. What can you do?

    That's easy, just don't make yourself look so dang silly by calling it "perfect." :)

    Someday I might make a perfect photo, but I seriously doubt it.
  42. Here is that basketball shot I mentioned yesterday, from 1967, when I was 17.
  43. The best situation arises when the photographer and subject manage to achieve a common creative goal. For this reason I like to work with creative people, e.g. writers, musicians etc. What is most diffcult, but in its way challenging, is the subject who has no ideas about how he/she wants to be portrayed. In this case the result is entirely the photographer's vision. And when one only has a few minutes to photograph someone it is not possible to build up any sense of that person's essence - it just ends up as a 'likeness'. In this case one gives it one's 'best shot' and hopes.
  44. Grant, they can't be yours, there's no female butt in any of them.
  45. Good shots by the way. I like the last two best.

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