Grand and majestic OR small and intimate?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by photo_galleries, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Keith, I actually see my photo as a rather flashy street shot but i am pleased you and maybe others see it differently.
  2. ............
    I disagree completely. They're not on a continuum: they're different ways of looking and seeing.

    "Grand and majestic" comes from symbolic meaning. If you choose not to see symbolic meaning in a given picture, you won't see "grand and majestic." It's up to the viewer. Some people just aren't into symbolism.

    For example, a woman and child can is small and intimate, until you see her as the Madonna, where she is grand and majestic. These feet of an Ethiopian soldier are small and intimate if seen as body parts, but they are grand and majestic if seen as "War."
  3. Knowing it's the Madonna doesn't stop Michelangelo's Pieta from being intimate.

    Knowing what the cross symbolizes doesn't undo the intimacy of Serrano's photo Piss Christ.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  4. In Pieta, I choose to see the intimacy of a mother holding the body of her dead son after he was crucified and the grief she must have felt. Sure, there is obviously the larger symbolism associated with Christian dogma but I think that's secondary to the mother's grief and the unwavering faith and acceptance that her son had to die.

    The larger symbolism that "He suffered, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with scripture" goes well beyond what I see in this sculpture

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  5. I have been photographing for almost 50 years now, gasp (I don’t feel that old!). If you know my work, you will see that virtually all of my portraits strive for a sense of connection or intimacy. In my shots of landscape I’ve tried to avoid blatant cliché, and instead try for interesting geometrical forms, textures, etc. I get satisfaction from both types of photography when I am successful in achieving these goals.

    I was just perusing through my copy of Jim Marshall’s book “Not Fade Away.” On his philosophy, he says: “Let the photograph be one you remember—not for its technique but for its soul. Let it become a part of your life--- a part of your past to help shape your future. But most of all, let the music and the photograph be something you love and will always enjoy. . .Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong once said that there are two kinds of music: good and bad. That applies to photography too.”
  6. Probably personally I tend more towards small/intimate photos, but mostly because I am hardly ever really satisfied with what should be grand and majestic. Somehow my photos never really manage to capture that grand-ness, and I don't know a lot of photos that for me work on this level. What does work, for me, is picking out a detail that exemplifies the vastness, grandness and majesty. Taking the example of Ansel Adams: this photo (link) works better for me to show grand and majestic than something like the famous Snake River image (it might be a grander vista, but it's too tranquil to really stir me).
    I would disagree with Salgado being an example of one that searches for the grand and majestic. I think his photos cover all of the spectrum between grand vistas and small details too much to box him in with Adams.

    While this is the PoP forum, I think it would be wrong to close our eyes for a number of technical aspects that can help create intimacy, or avoid it: depth of field, and choice of focal lengths (differences in near-far relationship, where wide angles easily create a sense of vastness, but not one that "connects" because items seem to be far away). As a lot of people seem convinced a landscape requires a wide angle and infinite depth of field, I think a lot of these photos end up missing that bit of intimacy and connection, because it creates distances, vastness and no particular point of interest (and that can be OK if that's the intention, of course).
  7. Ruminating on the title of that book: Not Fade Away.

    Some pictures (intimate) are my active fishing out of time into the light, things that are 'out there' that I want to keep, for myself and for others; that would surely 'fade away' minus my effort to prevent it doing so. Other things, grand and majestic, are always there and present themselves to my awareness, outside of time. They don't "need" me; they can't fade away, but they can go unnoticed. The fading that might have happened is in me, not 'out there.' (Note that I'm one of those who find mathematics and geometry to be grand and majestic.)

    (I have no moral of the story, just thinking about the different kinds of 'fade away' that I might want to Not by my photography.)
  8. I try to use good quality paper and inks and archival quality mats so my photos do not fade away and I also keep the prints out of direct sunlight. Other than important family snaps, I don't worry too much about photos standing in for memories or keeping memories or experiences from fading away. I actually prefer the imprecision-over-time of my memory to a more fixed photo in terms of my relationship to my past. Photos, for me, are usually about something else. I think more in terms of impression/expression than preservation. To me, a good photo (other than a family or vacation snap) may keep or fix something but that's usually less important than its ability to grow and change over time, finding new meanings and inspiring fresh feelings with the passage of time. It stays relevant even if not the same.
  9. Before passing this comment by to get into Phil's comment, I'd ask, is nobody else going to respond to Wouter? If I say I agree with him, he'll be VERY unhappy, so, Wouter, don't look at the next paragraph:

    I agree with Wouter in the sense that technical aspects are a mind set, and how you see and/or what you see is likewise a mind set. In both cases, whether you've tried to find "your" technique or just fallen into it, springs from the same motives or lack thereof as knowing or not knowing your way of seeing.
  10. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i think AA's lanscapes are an idealized, rather aloof, reminder of how pristine areas like Yosemite were. i don't think they have any relevance to the 'American West' and all its horrors.
  11. Well..... I don't really care whether people agree or disagree with me, I care about open-minded discussion where good arguments are considered, even if they don't fit the consensus. In that sense, yes, maybe I do prefer it when people disagree, because I learn more from it. Either way, my happiness doesn't depend on it ;-)
  12. I agree completely with every word of that. PLEASE note that by agreeing, I am disagreeing with Wouter's preference for disagreement, and thereby my agreement constitutes disagreement, even though or because or and/or both at the same time, I agree with every word of what he wrote. Therefore, ipso facto, his happiness, for which my disagreement his does not depend upon, is ... where was I?


    [I ran across the above on Amazon and for some reason, it reminded me of this forum. We love PoP.]
  13. Phil, I disagree (see Wouter's post above: you are making us happy!).

    For me, Ansel Adams's pictures are about his passionately held feelings about the relationship of man — each man, one man, this man — to the earth. This is what he feels in his heart about the earth. I admire, I greatly admire him for having the courage to unabashedly demonstrate his own personal, deeply felt loves in a public way. Nowadays, people are eager to demonstrate their passionately held hates, but aren't often willing to risk the jeers of loves that are anything beyond or other than what is already socially approved.

    Robert Adams is at least as passionately romantic about nature and the earth as Ansel — possibly even more so, if that's possible (he advocates tree-hugging in video I've seen) — but he chooses to show us the relationship between Man — all men, but especially other men, not Robert — and the earth. His pictures are about society, about mankind and nature, not about his own personal feelings about it. Note, however, that all of his works rest on the premise that all of his viewers know what his pictures are not, and what they are not is Ansel Adams pictures. In other words, Robert Adams work rests on Ansel's; it assumes Ansels.'

    I would add that Robert Adams' later work, especially his most recent work, has moved ever more to the personal expression of what he feels and, to my own preference, it is better work. Probably much less revolutionary for photography (he's regressing, in a way) but I think it's more enduring art, than the one-time gut-punch of his earlier stuff, which is already feeling dated, to me.
  14. He didn't "edit out" the tourism. It's simply not there in his feelings for the earth. When you listen to Leonard Cohen, do you "edit out" everything else, or is it simply not there when you're truly into the music?
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  15. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    C'mon Phil, take it on the chin. Julie's post was far more revealing than yours.
  16. I think the beauty of Adams's work shows passion about photographic technique and THE PRINT. I think he used Yosemite to achieve this. I don't doubt he was inspired by Yosemite, but what his photos reveal* is his passion for what could be done with photography rather than passion for or about Yosemite itself.

    *He may, indeed, have felt passion for Yosemite. I don't think his photos do a good job of showing that passion.
  17. ..........
    That's a separate issue from what both of the Adams are doing, as I suspect you are well aware. It's turning the mental camera around, turning it back on the audience rather than on the subject. It's considering the conditions needed for doing what the Ansel has done. It's looking at the same thing as Annie Dillard writes about in the following (she's talking about her faith, but it can apply to our discussion as well):

    You do not have to do these things; not at all. God does not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things — unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on him.

    You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.​

    I think Struth is looking at just those conditions that are required for you to see or know. But the mountains and the earth don't "give a hoot," they neither require or demand it. Absent the needed "darkness," many people, therefore, don't see or know the "stars."
  18. I think it's just the opposite. What his photos show me is that their subject is photographic technique and the beauty of a print, and Yosemite is a glorious vehicle for that.
  19. Grand and majestic, if we grasp the similarities, they walk a similiar path.

    A scenic view or a moment of humanity...both can be grand and majestic.

    On Ansell

    Ansel Adams was a friend of the director who ran the Manzanar camp, one of 10 Japanese internment camps.

    "Kirschner said that Adams' photos appear to sugarcoat the indignities of life in an internment camp".

    Just a thought as we elevate our heroes to a place among the stars.

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