How big a deal is it?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by rosmini sukardi, Jun 23, 2007.

  1. How important is an appreciation / understanding of the philosophy of
    photography in the actual making of a photo?

    Specifically, does it enhance your work or provide an extra dimension to the
    photo that you produce?

    Free for all... lets hear it. :)
     
  2. "Specifically, does it enhance your work or provide an extra dimension to the photo that you produce?"

    Absolutely it does. All trades and pursuits require one to have a clue. Even the simple act of watching a football or baseball game requires one to understand what's going on or it won't make any sense.

    Many folks come here saying two things, I'm a noob and I can't seem to do anything original. Gee! Go figure. :)
     
  3. 'Absolutely it does'

    If I may ask, Thomas - in what way?
     
  4. "How important is an appreciation / understanding of the philosophy of photography in the actual making of a photo?"

    What do you mean "in the actual making of a photo"? Do you mean releasing the shutter?
     
  5. "...THE philosophy of photography ..."

    No such animal!
     
  6. "Photography is the only major art in which professional training and years of experience do not confer an insuperable advantage over the untrained and inexperienced - this for many reasons, among them the large role that chance (or luck) plays in the taking of pictures, and the bias toward the spontaneous, the rough, the imperfect."

    Sontag
     
  7. Don: Everything from the time an image is formed in your mind, to the timing of the release of the shutter, to post shoot processing.
     
  8. What is the philosophy of photography?
     
  9. An unexamined life is not worth living.

    The only real sin is ignorance.

    There is no philosophy of photography, only a philosophy of life. Your philosophical and metaphysical assumptions will, however, be obvious in your photography as they will be in every aspect of your life. If you want to have a good life, be a good whatever, or take good photographs, figure out why you are doing what you do. Those reasons are a philosophy.
     
  10. jtk

    jtk

    Larry's comments are fine, but they're only philosophy and are as a result reflective more than sources of guidance.

    Photography is substantially a technical task. If you lack the technical skills you can't do it. Thinking philosophically about photography means one is not doing photography.

    I think it's more important by far to have photographic goals or urges or ideas or technical problems to solve, than to have a philosophy about it.

    Life doesn't require philosophy, philosophy is mostly a concern to life's non-participants. The Nike slogan applies.
     
  11. Why stimulating conversations with people of intelligence about the writings of Descartes,
    Hume, and Kant or a good discussion of ethics isn't participating in life as much as is
    climbing a mountain or, for that matter, spending hours in a darkroom, I can't imagine.
     
  12. "Photography is the only major art in which professional training and years of experience do not confer an insuperable advantage over the untrained and inexperienced - this for many reasons, among them the large role that chance (or luck) plays in the taking of pictures, and the bias toward the spontaneous, the rough, the imperfect."

    Sontag

    It would seem Sontag was unaware of Jackson Pollock and others of his ilk!

    While it's true that mediocrity is more readily attainable with a camera than some other art forms, it's esentially just another means of expression.

    As such, any philosophical musings about photography would seem to be appropriately applied to any form of artistic endeavor. I do agree with the belief that whatever philosophy we may have about our lives and their purpose would be reflected in all aspects of our activities and not especially in our photography.

    Perhaps there is no "Philosophy of Photography."
     
  13. This discussion reminds me of a tale someone told me of a reporter asking a marine sniper what he feels when shooting a terrorist. His reply? "Recoil." I shared this with a buddy of mine in our photo club when he complained to me that our club has headed into too much "touchy-feely" discussion of what we "feel" when taking a photograph. Whenever this discussion comes up in the club now, we just look at each other, smile, and say "Recoil." Certainly there is some tiny bit of "philosophy" there in the back of my mind, most definitely ethics when it comes to going after certain subjects (birds on a nest, for example), but I can't say that I sit there philosophising away when I'm taking a pic of the pretty daisies. All I'm concerned about at the time when I'm hitting the shutter release is exposure/sharpness/composition, I'm not sweating out some philosophical debate in my mind about the image. I just wanna take the purty picture.
     
  14. "Don: Everything from the time an image is formed in your mind, to the timing of the release of the shutter, to post shoot processing." -- Rosmini

    For the purpose of this forum what I'd call my philosophy of photography has its effect through releasing the shutter. After that, things are not so clear to me, or perhaps there are simply more variables and I have not worked through all the issues.

    It is important because it contains the motivation. I'm not a pro so there is no commercial motive, neither is there a spirit of competition, nor the hobbiest's joy in 'fondling' and working cameras and taking pictures -- there is no explicit reason for my photography except as a philosophical activity.
     
  15. It would seem Sontag was unaware of Jackson Pollock and others of his ilk!
    And It would seem that you are unaware of Pollock's formal training and philosophy of Art.
     
  16. Sontag is mediocre. "Years of training, experience etc". Artists have something, a mystery ... that not even philosophy can penetrate.
     
  17. To answer your question directly: that's exactkly what separates the 'great and gifted' photographers from the mediocre. I personally do not know any great photographer who has not spent years studying art, lighting, human interaction, color, textures, etc.

    Doug
     
  18. jtk

    jtk

    A "philosophy" is by definition a verbal theory...which means a philosophy can only be hinted at in images, cannot be contained by images.

    Philosophy, a verbal construct, may provide a framework for one's work, a theme or even verbal explanation of one's work. However, by definition a verbal construct cannot be "equivalent" to something one sees (the word "cloud" is not a cloud) or or to something one does mechanically (releasing a shutter does not state a theory).

    I can imagine a photographic project devoted to Goethe, but the photographs would at best hold allusions, not philosophy.

    A philosophy is inherently a theory. One might see hypothetical proofs for the theory in one's photographs, but the theory itself would only exist apart, likely found via links to one's sources.
     
  19. I think philosophy can inform how you think and will undoubtedly affect how you choose subject matter and how you "perform" with your camera. It's more of an indirect effect IMO. Who you are as a person takes you beyond just technical merits (wow what a beautiful photo) to artistic merits (that artist really has something to say, and wow that's beautiful). It's like the difference between Weston and Burtynsky. Both make beautiful images, but the latter takes you one step further- that the beauty is used to suck you in, then the details tell the story. Every has their reasons for creating how they do. Many people are fine with just creating a beautiful shot, and that is valid, but there are others that want to say something with their work, not just capture light and record memories.
     
  20. "And It would seem that you are unaware of Pollock's formal training and philosophy of Art."

    Thanks, but I am aware of at least the fact that he studied art. An artist friend who was acquainted with him back in the fifties, shortly after his "drip period," felt that behind his facade of sophistication was a mischievous sense of perpetrating a monstrous hoax. As I view his paintings, I can't help but agree, but the millions folks bid for them and similar works by Pollock wannabes seems to suggest I may be missing something in that sort of artistic expression. Throwing paint on a canvas and poking at it with sticks seems tantamount to throwing a camera in the air and letting it "do its thing."
     
  21. Susan Sontag was a critic and writer of novels etc.. To my knowledge she was not a
    photographer. Her ideas and theories about photography were widely accepted by the
    scholars and academics in photography at the time. Susan Sontag has since withdrawn a
    fair amount of her old theories - she's changed her mind as so many of us do. So where
    does that leave us?

    Jackson Pollack is acclaimed for his innovation in art. He was the first artist to work in this
    manner dribbling and dripping paint onto a canvas. Many examples of new innovation or
    daring new ways of expressing art exist. Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, and many many more
    have one thing in common - they did it differently.

    In order for art to be made an artist has to have an idea and work out how that idea will
    best be expressed. Notes, sketches and research will be done by the artist to find out how
    other artists have dealt with the subject before. After many hours, days, or years of
    thought and trying out the ideas the artist may then embark on the work. Changes and
    new ideas are born out of old ideas in a process of developement. In most cases the end
    result is very different from the original idea. This process is often painful and difficult.

    When an artist uses a camera the same development occurs. Some photographic artists
    gather images over many years for a single exhibition or body of work.

    Now to answer Rosmini's question -IMO the more thought, time, planning and
    development put into a photograph the more resolved end result.
     
  22. Ho hum. I used to be a check pilot in large airplanes. How much do you think I cared about my examinee's philosophy of flight. In aviation it wasn't even much of a subject for bar talk. All I wanted to know was if he or she had the skill and judgment to fly professionally. In my philosophy, which IMO Mr. Kelly correctly identified as theory, the more pictures you take and develop the more you will learn about about photography which will lead, just as in flying airplanes, to better results (better pictures and better landings). Both endeavors are judged by tangible results. There is a famous portrait of I believe of a Pakistani woman with a memorable haunting stare on the cover of National Geographic. I don't care what was in the photographers mind that made the picture. I just care about the photo which is one of the most arresting I have ever seen.
     
  23. Al Durer & "Artists have something, a mystery ... that not even philosophy can penetrate."
    I think you'll find its just plain hard work.

    Doug Axford - I totally agree.

    Dick Hilker - Artists are known to do funny things in order to achieve all sorts of funny
    images that they later call art. Its called experimentation, sometimes it works, sometimes
    not.
     
  24. "Specifically, does it enhance your work or provide an extra dimension to the photo that you produce?"

    "Absolutely it does."

    "If I may ask, Thomas - in what way?"

    It's a bit of a long winded story. Trying to keep it simple in my below.

    I'm not a documentary or portrait photographer as I create an image. There's much thought (philosophy) which goes into most, not all images that I create. If I were doing documentary or portrait photography, yes, I'd be inserting my views on life into the image making process as I'm not a mind numbed robot. The more one is aware of themselves, the more consciously it's done.

    I don't go out and just grab shots, hoping something will come of it. On any one outing, I might seek out, two to five subject matters, make a series of three to five images surrounding the singular thought in front of me and after several series of shots, stop. I've gathered all of four to twenty shots, and that's it. There's no point in continuing as the secession is over. Now it's time to process the images.

    I find myself in my head, rattling about, asking what I'm doing; why am I getting this shot, what about the scene in front of me do I find so photographic (interesting) worthy? Is it just a shot of another pretty flower? Or is there a message, a flirtive emotion (visceral) that I'm feeling and capturing and hoping to convey.

    I want my images to be much more than just another image and only by understanding myself, my personal philosophy and injecting this awareness into my images can I create what I'm wanting. So to me, "Absolutely it does."

    "Free for all... lets hear it. :)"

    My feeling (opinion), if one doesn't have a photographic philosophy, they're just pointing the camera, tripping the shutter and "hoping."
     
  25. "I don't go out and just grab shots, hoping something will come of it." -- Thomas

    The approach you describe is similar to mine. What I've found is that the most interesting photograph is the one that stopped the "rattling about" and was not looked for, not searched out, and not carefully considered, or planned for. It is a "grab shot" in that it is of the moment: this perspective, this light and not any other -- and this 'me' at this moment. One's "philosophy' doesn't have to be explicit and conscious in order for it to operate. If anything, it gets in the way, at least it is my experience, comparing the exposures from an outing.
     
  26. Not being argumentative but my style is opposite of what you describe as it's purposeful and well thought out. It's a planned for image where all aspects, including post processing, of the image are considered before the shutter is tripped.

    "If anything, it gets in the way,..."

    Philosophy doesn't get in the way as to me, it's nothing more than part of the overall thought process. The philosophy is as much a part of the process as are the technical aspects. Each of the exampled images were envisioned, before the shutter was tripped as I drove to the location, philosophy in mind, before starting the vehicle, or pulling the camera out.

    "http://d6d2h4gfvy8t8.cloudfront.net/3156192-lg.jpg

    http://d6d2h4gfvy8t8.cloudfront.net/5604283-lg.jpg

    http://d6d2h4gfvy8t8.cloudfront.net/2192146-lg.jpg

    http://d6d2h4gfvy8t8.cloudfront.net/3805361-lg.jpg

    http://d6d2h4gfvy8t8.cloudfront.net/3955716-lg.jpg
     
  27. Yes, I understand. It is different.
     
  28. Don E. I agree with you. I have taken a lot of bad or mediocre pictures to learn about mistakes with composition, focus, exposure, missing good shots etc. I take a lot fewer pictures after having my own photo business because I see bad pictures before I shoot them and consequently don't fire the shutter. So my ratio of keepers is much higher than when I started to seriously take pictures. The point is when I see a good photo I am more likely to take it now. I suppose there is some philosophy behind it but like flying airplanes it becomes rather instinctive and I certainly am not able to articulate it any more than I could sit around a bar and rhapsodize about flying philosophy. I am more likely to tell long winded tales about how I almost killed myself at one time or another after listening to other old pilots telling their unique stories. Some things defy explanation or are inexplicable. When I see what I think is a good picture I take it. Don't ask me why. Like flying it becomes instinctive. Most of my good ones are taken without much of a plan except placing myself in a place where I might find some like Big Cypress swamp for birds. My newspaper experience taught me a lot about grabbing opportunistic shots. I was testing a new body when I did the lighthouse in my gallery. I was not thinking about art. I chanced on friendly light and a cooperating surf. That picture has received a large amount of comment and I will shortly enter in a competition. My philosophy had very little to do with it. I have photographed that light house a hundred times and never got this picture before but when I saw it I knew it might be better than my average picture so I took about twenty pictures and got one good one.
     
  29. my photographic journey has been a pretty short one - less than 3 years, so perhaps i am a 'baby' compared to many on this very forum. i struggled with the technical aspects (actually, i still am...) but at the back of my mind, there is a nagging feeling that there is a lot more to photography than just that. i eventually learnt that i have to overcome these technical side in order to dwelve into anything beyond that.

    in the first 2 years, i took thousands of shots that rarely went beyond the 'literal'. a factual record of a subject, devoid of emotion or intellect. i soon found the need to stray away from these types of photos - to move into the realm of 'something more. and i discovered that one of the ways of getting there is to understand the philosophy behind this artform. certainly there has been many illustrious and gifted people before me (some on this very forum) who have pondered and deliberated on this very same issue to death. so there is certainly a lot to learn from.

    lastly, thank you everyone for your generous contribution. i seek to learn from each of you. :)
     
  30. "Throwing paint on a canvas and poking at it with sticks seems tantamount to throwing a camera in the air and letting it 'do its thing.'" It would seem that this endeavour, in addition to its striking aesthetic, is built upon a compelling philosophical foundation.
     
  31. Thomas, I should have written: it is different than the way I prefer to shoot. Coming back from a hike last March (you may recall the discussion where I posted several different post process images...that hike) I saw a potential "money shot". Yesterday afternoon, I returned to the location to gauge what focal length would work best, and how the light had changed and how long it would last now, since the "good light" would be filtering through the Great Wall in Arches and changing quickly. 300mm, I think, for the composition I want from where the camera would have to be situated. I don't have a decent 300mm, though, and not being pro and having no outlet for the photo, I have no reason to use anything but the superzoom. I don't want it bad enough to spend the bucks. Maybe I'll give the shot to a local pro for the goodwill.

    I just don't enjoy such carefully planned photography as much as I do the more casual sort I described. I don't find the photos (or the photogaphy) as interesting.

    Dick, my practice is to tread lightly and to engage the world by letting the subject/frame materialize, so to speak, before my eyes, rather than imposing a concept on it and constructing a subject/frame.
    I obviously have the intention of taking photos. I'm carrying a camera kit. I am out for that purpose...but just that purpose. I have no specific subject, no photo in mind, mainly because it is likely I have never been there before and have only a sketchy notion of what may be there -- It's original surface Navajo Sandstone, there may be potholes with water, the eroded faces will likely be delaminating... Macros of lichen, Atila Faults, concretions.

    And the real keeper turns out to be the tumbleweeds blown up against a culvert that I snapped as I stepped off the road and into the landscape :cool:
     
  32. "it is different than the way I prefer to shoot."

    Based upon what you wrote above, your photographic philosophy. :)
     
  33. Thomas: Thank you for your explanation. It is in many ways, what I feel but perhaps unable to put in so many words. Cheers. :)
     
  34. Btw, Thomas, referring back to that old discussion, I did buy a roll of Velvia as someone suggested (Carl Root?), but the weather has not cooperated until recently. It is still sitting in the fridge, and I'll likely run the roll through the Pentax on a tripod soon. Then we shall see. :cool:
     
  35. I agree with Anthony Stubbs ...and with Fred Goldsmith, both of whom I respect greatly...and apparently couldn' be further apart on the subject. Some might say I'm straddling the fence... if so, it takes "balance" to do so...and balance is a word that is high on my list of "most important words to live by".
     
  36. "Based upon what you wrote above, your photographic philosophy. :)"

    Something happened to me last autumn. At 62, injuries now run a race with aging and injuries are in the lead. Maybe this time they'll keep it. As it is, I am not able to move as well as I need to be off-trail in the desert. I'm confined close to the roadside or to my neighborhood. This effectively ended the photography I had been doing and mothballed (temporarily, I hope) some projects.

    The question I had to answer was: what do I photograph in a common residential neighborhood in a small town? I had no idea. Had not ever done such a thing. I was still looking for the "interesting" main subject in the "good light". There didn't seemed to be any. Just houses and cars and telephone poles. The ordinary. The commonplace. The place I left when I went out for photography.

    So, I decided to stop myself thinking like that and let the photographs come to me. I began to see it last winter, and began to work with it this spring. Now that I can get out a bit more, this approach goes with me into the desert as well.

    The "philosophy" didn't come first, the experience of it did.
     
  37. Jennifer Durand, Jun 24, 2007; 07:25 p.m.

    Al Durer & "Artists have something, a mystery ... that not even philosophy can penetrate." I think you'll find its just plain hard work.

    Artist don't work ... they play.
     
  38. To Quote Bruce Lee- Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle. In short, enter a mold
    without being caged in it. Obey the principle without being bound by it. LEARN, MASTER AND ACHIEVE!!!

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Photography is a constantly evolving beast, yet it is an art with classical roots.
    The rules of composition goes back to ancient greece. Technique is something that develops over time. The trick is to
    understand the rules and challenge the rules. By understanding how it works means you now truly push beyond the
    limits. This reminds a little about natural talent verses experience and technique debate. What i have tend to find is you
    can the greatest natural eye for shooting, but need the tools of skills or technique to bring those visions to life.
     
  39. Interesting discussion. Seems to be splitting between those who think of themselves as philosophers, and those who don't.

    Everyone is a philosopher. Not everyone is a good philosopher any more than everyone with a camera is a good photographer. To deny you have a philosophical basis for your behavior is just silly. Your denial is part of your philosophy. It may not be rational, or coherent, or practical, or even honest, but it is a philosophy. It's just like closing your eyes, aiming your camera some direction, and taking a shot. The act makes you a photographer, but it doesn't make you a good one. Only careful examination of all aspects of photography will make you a good photographer just like only careful examination of all aspects of flying will make you a good pilot. The flying may become instinctive after such training (that's what practice is all about) but the skill did not arrise from nothing.

    Good photographers, pilots, martial artists, skiers, doctors, carpenters, and philosophers all come from studious examination of principles and lots of practice.

    Someoone once said that you become educated (read that as think about things) for the same reason you allow yourself to fall in love. Life is just better that way.

    Awareness is always better than ignorance, despite Nike's slogan.
     
  40. jtk

    jtk

    Larry, much of what you say makes sense.

    This, however, is just your assertion...nothing more.

    "To deny you have a philosophical basis for your behavior is just silly. Your denial is part of your philosophy. It may not be rational, or coherent, or practical, or even honest, but it is a philosophy."

    Philosophy is a study and a deliberately intellectual way of structuring ones behavior, it's not equivalent to the behavior of people who don't claim to operate with a philosophy any more than the anti-evolution assertion that atheism is eqivalent to a religion.

    Nike's slogan doesn't conflict in any way with awareness, as any highly tuned athlete knows.
     
  41. I don't see Philosophy quite as normatively as you do, John. I think, for many philosophers, it
    is more analytical. You will find many professional and/or published folks who share similar
    philsophies exhibiting very different behavior patterns, even behaviors that belie their own
    philosophies.
     
  42. Larry, I agree that everyone has a philosophy. And my fundamental philosophical and enthical grounding led me to be a professional pilot and aviation executive. It also led me into an active photo business after I retired. I do not, however, think it helped me fly better or to take individual pictures better. Hard work, experience and intellectual curiosity drove me to achieve in aviation and to run my business. I don't spend time thinking about such esoteric subjects and could not impart my philosophies to anyone save my children and grandchildren anyway. It has nothing to do with their taking pictures and is not relavent here. I take pictures for my own satisfaction and that is "my philosphy". In my mind my underlying philosophy is like my navel it is a waste of time at my stage in life to examine it. It's better to go take some pictures and examine them. Maybe it will help me take better pictures. I intuitivly know what I like and what I dislike and I am the only one I have to please(well maybe my wife, also).
     
  43. I'll disagree with the statement that everybody has a philosophy. Also, many of the things I see cited here as "my" philosophy of photography don't sound like philosophy to me. "Philosophy" implicitly is being defined here as almost any type of thought, introspection, or advance planning. Just a grandiose name for people's values, opinions, and aesthetic preferences. Of course those things affect our pictures; that insight is too banal to bother discussing.

    Philosophy to me is a body of scholarly writing and thinking which one must study for years to begin to grasp, let alone have one of one's own. Saying everybody has a philosophy is like saying everybody has a quantum physics. To me the interesting question is whether an understanding of philosophy in this more limited, perhaps elitist sense of extended study and mastery of different philosophical theories of photography contributes to image-making. I agree with Dick that philosophy in this sense does not contribute to flying airplanes, but then flying airplanes is not an art or form of expression (Bob Hoover, Patty Wagstaff et al excepted).
     
  44. Excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary under "Philosophy".

    "4 a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group b : calmness of temper and judgment befitting a philosopher"
    So I guesss it's all right to say "my philosophy is". At least that is what I had in mind when I said that above.

    Bob Hoover got into a bit of a rhubarb with the FAA because their philosophies differed somewhat. All I can say is that flying on occasion in eight thousand hours was an unbelievable form of self-expression(like doing a barrel roll around a cloud). More to me than my photographs most of which were, when I was paid for them, were pretty common place images made to satisfy my customers. Writing some of this stuff is a form of self-expression albeit it gets pretty clumsy and not making much sense when I get into ephemeral subjects like this.
     
  45. "4 a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group"

    So everyone has one. Whether those beliefs are examined, tested, and consciously adopted, or whether they are just accepted in a kind of chauvinistic faith is the question.

    Here's a thought. All the most dangerous ideas of any given time are always contained in that body of ideas that the people of that time call "common sense".

    Common sense is always unexamined philosophical assumptions. At times, if we are lucky, those assumptions may be correct, but that's just luck (like pointing a camera randomly and hoping for good photography). I believe we would be better off not depending on luck in either photography or philosophy.
     
  46. "Philosophy to me is a body of scholarly writing and thinking which one must study for years to begin to grasp,..."

    It's a good thing we have dictionaries so as to make sure comments like the above don't take control of rational thought. :)

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Philosophy

    "1. the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct."

    "4. the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge, esp. with a view to improving or reconstituting them: the philosophy of science."

    From the title page of this forum.

    "What is the Philosophy of Photography? It's more about the "why" of photography then the "how". It encompasses ethical, aesthetic and sociological aspects of the subject."

    You don't even have to be aware in order to have a personal philosophy on life or photography but it does help. :)
     
  47. I'm all for a good philosophical discussion, having spent the last 10 years buried in the works of Hegel and Aristotle etc. However this discussion reminds me of the Monty Python skit with all the philosophers playing a game of football. The point I'm trying to make is, stop thinking so damn much and go out shoot. Leave philosophy to the philosophers if you know what's good for you. Look what happened to Nietsche - drove himself crazy thinking too much.
     
  48. I never have had much conscious thought about philosophy until I got on this forum. I am going to swear it off right now. I am in over my head. I will leave it to the more erudite among us. I think I will go back to taking pictures since I don't fly any more. My advice is to take pictures and develop your own rising standards of excellence and then try to meet them as your capability rises.
     
  49. "The point I'm trying to make is, stop thinking so damn much and go out shoot."

    Forgive me, but that's what this forum is about, BS'ing about photographic philosophy. What this forum isn't about, is taking pictures. :)

    Besides, when did it become a crime to write about the philosophy behind people's photography in a "Philosophy of Photography" forum and why is it now a crime to respond to an OP's philosophical question below in regard to photographic philosophy on same said forum? I want to know what the civil code is that makes this act such a horrific crime that requires purposeful chastisement even with consideration of what kinda forum this is. :)

    ---------------------------

    How important is an appreciation / understanding of the philosophy of photography in the actual making of a photo?

    Specifically, does it enhance your work or provide an extra dimension to the photo that you produce?

    Free for all... lets hear it. :)
     
  50. Forgive my last post. I was trolled and bit on the bait. My apologies.
     
  51. "...asking a marine sniper what he feels when shooting a terrorist. His reply? "Recoil."
    re-coil (r-koil) intr.v. re-coiled, re-coil-ing, re-coils
    1. To spring back, as upon firing.
    2. To shrink back, as in fear or repugnance.
    3. To fall back; return: "Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent" Arthur Conan Doyle.
    I never did like the shooting metaphor for making a photograph and I rarely experience recoil after making a photograph. Rather, I wish to be propelled forward... t
     
  52. The camera is your bow Tom, and your images arrows of truth....propelling you forwards towards the target of understanding....

    (Paddy McGinty, 12th C Irish philosopher)
     
  53. Just watched a Monty Python sketch, the one where the Myna Bird is moving his beak like it's talking and Beethovan (Cleese) says "You can't fool me you stupid bird. I'm not deaf yet" and shoots it.

    That seems to cover shooting, Monty Python, recoil, and trolls.
     
  54. jtk

    jtk

    "I don't see Philosophy quite as normatively as you do, John"
    ...fred goldsmith

    Fred, I don't see it as at all normative...but some do try to use a formal philosophy to manage their lives, which I think puts their potential as individuals at risk, unless they lack personal bearings to begin with. Perhaps life philosophies do provide bearings or foundations for people who have grown up in extreme confusion.
     
  55. Okay, we can all have personal philosophies, meaning -- whoa, oh, oh, feeeelings. And the question desconstructs to, Do your feelings about taking pictures affect how you take pictures? Not surprised we're not seeing a lot of straightforward "no" votes.

    I thought we were discussing whether our (educated, to whatever degree we consider necessary for "rational investigation" or "critical study", thanks Thomas) understanding of (quoting forum title page) "ethical, aesthetic and sociological aspects" of photography affects how we take pictures. Have Sontag and Szarkowski, Plato and Aristotle, Baudrillard and Benjamin affected your picture-taking? Different question perhaps.
     
  56. "Have Sontag and Szarkowski, Plato and Aristotle, Baudrillard and Benjamin affected your picture-taking?" --August

    No. But it has affected how I read them.

    Regards
     
  57. I am on the fence about this one.
    I think that copycat work is fine to help build one's technical skills, and it is not a bad place for someone who is not a natural artist to start.
    But once enough of the skills are in place in order to allow communication through the photo to occur... That is when one's philosophy starts to matter, because it will be reflected in how one communicates and what one communicates.
    Philosophy is also important because it encompasses photographic ethics. This leads us back to the endless discussions about porn vs. art. Also, the discussions about whether it is okay to take photos of people on the street without their permission. And discussions about how much Photoshop is too much, and when manipulation of a photo constitutes dishonesty. A well-defined code of ethics is important for any professional to have, artists not excluded.
     
  58. To ask only how philosphy informs photography misses at least half the point.
     
  59. "Have Sontag and Szarkowski, Plato and Aristotle, Baudrillard and Benjamin affected your picture-taking? Different question perhaps."

    Sontag and Szarkowski, yes. Plato and Aristotle, Baudrillard and Benjamin? Don't know as their efforts silently permeate our psychic.

    Can't say in regard to Benjamin. Now was that Walter or Martin Benjamin. :)
     
  60. Jenny: Great thoughts there. Thank you.
     
  61. Jenny, I believe that photo journalists, war photographers and documentary photographers
    should be as objective as possible but since they are in control of what they put in the
    frame and what they don't that doesn't quite stand up. In camera editing and showing bias
    by avoiding to show something or just not seeing something may appear to be dishonest
    but how can one tell?

    People using Photoshop to manipulate images shouldn't try to pass these images off as
    unmanipulated. There are photographic artists such as Thomas Demand and Edwin
    Zwakman who make elaborate models that when photographed at first sight may look
    real. On further study one notices that detail is missing or shadows don't look authentic.
    Things in real life are not always as they seem and photographs are not either

    Should we be so naive as to believe everything we see in photographs? Should we just
    acknowledge the photograph as a "nice picture" and enjoy it at face value, nothing more.
     
  62. As has been pointed out, the initial question does have specifics that render it sort of absurd. But I will suppose that you want to know if my personal "philosophies" (mores, intellectual beliefs, etc) influence what I choose to photograph and exhibit.<p>I am of the belief that what I think and believe informs and motivates everything I do (possibly even, in a crisis, the autonomous bodily processes, like breathing). <p>I'm not sure I could disconnect photography from my self in the way many here claim they do, as if it were an autonomic function, independent of intellectual, spiritual and emotional influence. What purpose would be served if I did? I do not desire to be a finely tuned copy machine. <p>That said, I did photograph Newt Gingrich and Ralph Reed a few months ago, and it required of me, and inflicted on me, a certain degree of professionally necessary numbness... t
     
  63. jtk

    jtk

    I would deny that anybody has a "self," but we do have accumulated identities and ways of making decisions...consciously or unconsciously.

    If the decision making is a conscious process it may involve what some call "philosophy," but if it's not conscious I don't believe it does.
     
  64. I agree with Tom, where he states "I am of the belief that what I think and believe informs
    and motivates everything I do (possibly even, in a crisis." But not with his statement "the
    autonomous bodily processes, like breathing)." We have no control over our autonomous
    bodily functions, but to a degree we can control breathing.

    I don't agree with John who claims "I would deny that anybody has a "self."
     
  65. Photography is the way to make a photo,
    the philosophy of photography is, which idea or feeling you want to transfer to readers from the photo !
     
  66. Jennifer, if you deny John's claim, who would it be that "has" this self and what is this "self?" If
    I say, "I have a self" and don't mean it to be a tautology, what is the difference between "I"
    and "self."
     
  67. "...and it required of me, and inflicted on me, a certain degree of professionally necessary numbness... t"

    Now there's as fine example of self-aggrandizement if I've ever read one.
     
  68. Refer your question to John Kelly - he made the comment. Perhaps you should read his
    full comment below and keep his comment in context :

    john kelly , Jun 28, 2007; 12:48 a.m.
    I would deny that anybody has a "self," but we do have accumulated identities and ways of
    making decisions...consciously or unconsciously.

    If the decision making is a conscious process it may involve what some call "philosophy,"
    but if it's not conscious I don't believe it does.
     
  69. "...what is the difference between "I" and "self."" Thomas

    Language, with effortless elan, introduces paradoxes, impossibilities, and logical conundrums. If God had wanted us to communicate with each other He would have given us a better sense of smell.
     
  70. Actually, Don, I think language can be enlightening when not utterly confusing and I meant
    the question about "I" and "self" to be a bit provocative. I think there is still a tendency,
    inherited from Descartes's mind-body dualism which Western philosophy is still struggling to
    get past, to think of the "self" as something "residing" inside one's body (the ghost in the
    machine). So that when someone says, "I do have a self," that exhibits a kind of dualistic
    thinking that contemporary philosophers of mind and identity are providing alternatives to.
    The notion that we are a self, particularly the same self throughout our lives, has come under
    question and is the source of great debate and fascination among philosophers like Derek
    Parfit, Bernard Williams, and Lynne Rudder Baker.
     
  71. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, well said. You're far deeper than I.

    I'll fix the critical, faulty punctuation in that sentence...

    from "I would deny that anybody has a "self""

    to "I would deny that anybody "has" a self."

    The focus moves from a non-entity to "not having" ...I'm denying that anybody "has" a homunculus, squirreled away for potential discovery.

    http://www.klab.caltech.edu/~koch/unconscious-homunculus.html

    Francis Crick is a trip. DNA, sexist, egomaniac stuff like that :)

    I think we are who we appear to be, to people we consider peers, and that our photographs are what they appear to be, to comparably experienced viewers.
     
  72. jtk

    jtk

    ...I'd not so far as to deny that someone "IS" a homunculus :)
     
  73. "...to think of the "self" as something "residing" inside one's body (the ghost in the machine). So that when someone says, "I do have a self," that exhibits a kind of dualistic thinking..."

    I don't think that is what is meant -- the residing inside one's body. It resides in the imagination (here we may link to Plato, in another discussion). The self is imagined by the I, and they require each other; together they complete a circuit. This self is hidden unless it is revealed to others by the I.
     
  74. I think really to complete that circuit we'd have to take John's final statement into account. So
    maybe we could add to "This self is hidden unless it is revealed to others by the I" and also
    say " . . . and unless it is revealed by others to the I." Mind you, Plato might scoff at this but
    Sartre sure would like it (N.B. Existentialism is a Humanism).
     
  75. The self is a construct of language. It is not a thing that has a continuous existence in this cone of light. Because it exists in the imagination and is made up of language, others cannot reveal another's self. They can only reveal their own, or what they imagine is the self of another. That they are both constructed of language and can only exist in the imagination does not make them identical. The self is not fixed; it is not a thing. It is an activity and an ongoing one. There is no thing there for the other to know and reveal.
     
  76. I may be misunderstanding something in what you're saying, Don. If the self is a construct of
    language (and I'm not denying that - it is a school of thought not without merit),
    why would it follow that "I" can reveal it to others any more than others could reveal it to
    "me?" I tend to side
    with Wittgenstein in believing that there's no such thing as a "private language" to which only
    "I" am privy. Language is a construct of a community. "Only I can know my own pain" and
    "Only I can know/reveal my self" would be unmeaningful assertions according to Ludwig W
    and I would tend to agree.
     
  77. I never understood what Wittgenstein meant by "private language". The language I mean is the one we think with, usually our native tongue.

    This is an example that is very broad: Walter Mitty, but I mean something much more common or banal than that, not just such far flung fantasy, but things more akin to our real lives only...revised, a "copy" with edits. Our "true" self, our "inner" self. The story about ourselves that we tell ourselves, including revisions where we best the bully, who pounded us, at our next meeting...a meeting we carefully plan, even though the reality is we do everything we can to avoid such a meeting. Then there's the internal dialogue we have with ourselves.

    The I is the decisive and accountable actor in the world of external relations. The self is the actor in a world of internal relations built out of the material provided by the I, and the I is influenced by the self; it adds "color" -- mood, attitude, expression to the I, sometimes seeming to others to be "at odds" with what they see.


    "...why would it follow that "I" can reveal it to others any more than others could reveal it to "me?""

    Because you make it up, and excepting true telepathy, no one can know it unless you reveal it to them. In the same way, no one can know what you talked about in private with someone else, unless either of you reveal it. The I and the self have just such dialogues all the time.
     
  78. I'll just say briefly that I don't think we are the only ones who tell ourselves that story of
    ourselves. We are told a whole lot before we even begin to think in story form and I don't
    think who we are (self or I) is internal. I was more inclined to agree with you when you said
    "the self is not fixed; it is not a thing." Your later statements seem to be fixing the self. I
    think it is not a thing and it is not attached to anything. I think, perhaps, experience falls on
    a continuum (of lives and brain activity) and selves are constantly redefined along that
    continuum.
     
  79. Fred, in your philosophy, if "self" is already spoken for, I have no objection to using another word to label the experience of internal dialogue and internal relations. "Self" and "I" are merely the words used in the comment I replied to, and I made to distinguish them from each other and also to unify them again.

    Of course, if I'm alone, and no one reading this recognizes what I've described...well, then, perhaps the whitecoats will have to take me away.
     
  80. Fred and Don, I wonder if you wouldnt mind hearing a little piece of some lesser known doctrines in Christian theology.

    I am a spirit,

    I have a soul,

    I live it a body.

    The "ongoing activity" that motivates my body (which will perish and decompose some day) is my spirit and will continue forever. My soul is the "personality" that connects me to this world in thoughts and emotions, what makes me unique and identifiable and will continue with my spirit through the process of sanctification although it will be changed throught the filter of death.

    In response to the origional post, philosophy is quite circular and never, ever finds a resting point saying "Eureka! That is the answer. We've arived!" It is never constant and so I imagine the genral philosophy of photography has changed as frequently as the next technological advance or next piece of information rolls along and changes the opinions of the photographer. Maybe it's more important to develop your own personal convictions where creating photographs are concerned and live there. Not to say you cant change and evolve and improve your photography, but I dont believe you have to appreciate philosophy to produce good photographs.
    Couldnt you produce good work by simply being thoughtfull and following your instincts?
     
  81. "Couldnt you produce good work by simply being thoughtfull and following your instincts?"

    Of course you can, but what you're missing, you're instincts, are a compilation of your experiences, your philosophy.

    Dictioary.com -- philosophy

    "1.the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct."

    "5. a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs."

    "Knowledge" being your experiences in life and "practical affairs" being the act of image creation.

    What I'm seeing is a generalized misunderstanding of what a person's personal philosophy is and how this personal philosophy affects their day-to-day existence all aspects of their life.
     
  82. Nicole: Interesting... thank you! :)
     
  83. A spirit that lives in a body? Who was it (Lewis? Sayers? Chesterton?) who added "Like brandy in a bottle". Plato might agree.
     
  84. Philosophy of photography? It's whatever you want it to be.
     
  85. I don't know about anyone else, but "I" talk to "myself" a lot. Sometimes the answers are pretty scary ;)
     
  86. Don, the white coats can have me too. I do it as well. I call it self-reflection or self-
    consciousness. I get the sense in your penultimate post that you were boiling the matter
    down to semantics, and I don't think it's that. I think the way "self" is being used
    (especially in the last several posts of others) is a bigger thing, a greater concept, than
    whatever word we might choose for the internal dialogue of which you speak. What I
    thought you and I were discussing was the referent of the "self" part of "self-reflection" or
    "self-consciousness" and not merely those acts.

    Nicole, of course I don't mind hearing your thoughts. That's just not the way I frame my
    world.
     
  87. One would have to ask: who is it that "has" a soul? Who exactly has a spirit? Who or what is it that has or creates or imagines a self? Who is it that has a consciousness? Who is the you that lives in your body?

    All duality is falsely imagined.
     
  88. Would love and explanation for that, Larry!
     
  89. Nicole, the best explanation for it would not be easy to accomplish in a few short words.
    Some of the best writings on the "myth" of the mind/body duality are by a contemporary
    philosopher/scientist named Daniel Dennett. He's got a great book called Consciousness
    Explained which tries to demystify the notion of consciousness and goes a long way
    toward unraveling long-held Western beliefs about it. His basic assertion is that there is a
    physicalist explanation for consciousness, as well as for feelings, quality of life, emotions,
    etc. He would definitely attempt to dispel any notion that there is an "I" which is inhabited
    by anything. He draws from countless fascinating brain experiments and studies of
    unusual brain diseases to show some pretty remarkable progress that's been made in
    understand what thought and awareness is.
     
  90. Fred, the matter of the 'location' of the self -- internal, in our brain -- is a cultural construct and a recent one historically. The Greeks would have been uncomprehending of our easy use of psychology and internal states, especially in association with the brain, an organ of no sensible experience, unlike the heart which we today still refer to at least as a repository of our "deeper" feelings. Socrates certainly believed, as it was his experience, that an aspect of his self was external -- the daimon (although he would not have thought it was an aspect of his self as we mean it). And we believe, as it is our experience, that Socrates was 'talking to himself'.

    The "I" and the "self" are one, which is something else, neither I nor self nor their sum, but it is split up (duality) because language requires it. Given the appropriate social environment, language happens to us (around age 2 or so), and there is nothing to be done about it. We will converse with others, ourselves -- in our brain, our mind, or in our 'heart' -- or with the daimon or with God.

    Meditation is a good example at this point. The goal is non-attachment to these conundrums of language, to let the internal dialogue, and the attractions of imagination, pass on in its flow, to not engage with ourselves in language, to not even engage the gods, if they should speak to us. And once language stops, the self and the I vanish -- or so it is written.

    What are we then? Maybe Buddha knew, but I don't.
     
  91. Thanks, Don, I will let this part of the discussion rest here, not having anything more I want
    to add at present.
     
  92. It just occured to me that I'm going on about it because we've signed a prospect -- a mature, professional, serious, non-flake-type person -- who converses with angels or an angel. Sees them (it?), too. As long as the checks clear, no problem.
     
  93. Hey, It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite films. I'm really just a softy!
     
  94. "Now there's as fine example of self-aggrandizement if I've ever read one."... well, have you?
    I don't think I said what you think I said, but I can't be sure, because of how you said what you think you read. I was just saying I had to keep my mouth shut, smile and make good (ie: usable and useful) pictures. If you think that's self aggrandizing (and I don't think it is), then I'll let you think it.
    Jennifer, apparently some people have such a strong will to live that they can survive crises that should halt autonomous bodily functions. Also, many yogis have show that they can control heartbeat, blood pressure, peristaltic movement, gag reflex, brainwave activity, suppress pain, etc... t
    00LhTv-37224884.jpg
     
  95. Well, I can wiggle my ears and my pinkie toe all by istelf...
     
  96. "I was just saying I had to keep my mouth shut,..."

    That's how I understood what you wrote. Must have been very taxing of you. :)

    "If you think that's self aggrandizing (and I don't think it is),..."

    That's what I think.

    "then I'll let you think it."

    More aggrandizement as it's nice to know that you're not going "stop" me by stepping into my mind so as to control my thoughts. :)

    You might want to go back and reread what you wrote, in a detached manner, so as to see how the comment came off.

    A hint.... Ex. I felt so disgusted having to make reportage images of Newt and Ralph but I steeled myself and heroically (by numbing myself emotionally) made the captures, not letting my power of my personal politics poison the purpose that I was there for, reportage, not editorial. Dang, I'm good. :)

    The above is strictly the tongue-in-cheek of how the comment came across and is not a personal attack; humor. I took your comment in the serious as in, you've got to be kidding; "...a certain degree of professionally necessary numbness... t"

    Wow! :)
     
  97. "...not letting my power of my personal politics...

    Suppose to be: "...not letting "the" power of my personal politics..."

    Doh! :)
     
  98. "heroically"... that is an odd reading.
    It doesn't read that way, and it wasn't meant that way and it isn't that way. You impose your own inaccurate meaning on it, as is evidenced by the amount of absurd embellishment required to make your point ("disgusted", "heroically" and my personal favorite "power of my personal politics poison the purpose". I do so love alliteration).
    You might try administrating a little numbness occasionally yourself, especially when the stakes are so low, and what I mean by that is... why do you even care?
    And what I mean by that (just to be clear) is: We all have something at stake if Newt and Ralph gain more power than they already have, but I'm not sure why you care about me and if I speak too assertively for you. It's quite entertaining to consider you, of all people, complaining about self aggrandizement. I actually prefer irony to alliteration, and irony is an unfortunate and bitter form.
    Here we waste bandwidth because of some off topic aside by me, meant to offer a humorous and opposing view to my own, on topic, contributions to this good discussion. I am embarrassed by this diversion and apologize to the forum... t
     
  99. "We all have something at stake if Newt and Ralph gain more power than they already have,..."

    You're right, your comment was strictly photographic in nature. What was I thinking? You drag a thread off topic by politicizing it with your little unnecessary "...numbing..." bomb, then claim you didn't, as you continue to pull it blatantly and further off topic with your above. :) There's a difference between "politics" and "philosophy of photography." If photographing the "opposing" party's leaders upsets you so, then stop doing it cause you're not suited for the task.

    Just fess up and get back to the intent of the OP's question as in "Oops!" I'll let you have the last word as in my mind, you're soooooo busted and your quote above, proves it.
     
  100. Tom, I just said my comment was off topic, marginally, but still off. This redundancy is getting repetitive.
    "I am (still) of the belief that what I think and believe informs and motivates everything I do"... thus my photography and the politics of my country collide. I thought the "Philosophy of Photography" forum would be an okay place to let that out. Evidently, you don't. Okay. Fine. Whatever.
    "We all have something at stake if Newt and Ralph gain more power than they already have...". This true if we like their politics, or not. Please note that you add the "opposing" designation, not me. I was just giving an example of a moment when my personal beliefs came in conflict with my profession.
    I still can't figure out what set you off about it. Are you the same guy that said "I want to know what the civil code is that makes this act (expressing a personal philosophy in the context of photography) such a horrific crime that requires purposeful chastisement even with consideration of what kinda forum this is. :)"?
    ... t
     
  101. Busted for what? Thinking out loud?
    "If photographing the "opposing" party's leaders upsets you so, then stop doing it cause you're not suited for the task."
    I posted one photo from that job. It, and others, were adequate to the client's needs. I don't need you to tell me if my work is suitable, or not. But by all means, opine away! :^)... t
     
  102. Busted for what? Thinking out loud?
    Busted in the sense that you've revealed yourself as part of the atheistic pinko liberal Art Establishment that's creating the great disconnect between the unwashed masses and the art world. See page 462 of your "Guide to the Thomas Gardner Universe."
     
  103. "See page 462 of your "Guide to the Thomas Gardner Universe.""

    Are you still reading that old thing? Although factually correct, it's still the old, outdated version. :)

    "How important is an appreciation / understanding of the philosophy of photography in the actual making of a photo?"

    That all depends on if you wish your efforts to be stuck in the past or propelled into the present as you future cast your next image.

    To answer your question, one must ask the question of themselves; "What is my photography all about?" Sans the question, no answer can be given.
     
  104. "We don't make a photograph just with a camera; we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved."

    -- Ansel Adams

    To me, there is this Philosophy of Photography.
     
  105. jtk

    jtk

    Me, I'd welcome an opportunity to photograph a continuing bigtime drug addict with twice as many ex wives as he admits, such as Rushbo, or a repellant harpie, such as Hillary.

    Avedon made great portraits, friendly and frightening, of people he loved and hated. He had strong views but he was stronger as a photographer, so he saw opportunity in Limbaugh-like monsters, such as George Wallace and McCain-like heros such as Eisenhower.
     
  106. Philosophy comes in 2 parts - conscious and intuitive. IMHO interesting photographs depend entirely on the philosophy of the photographer and people who say they just point and shoot are in fact using their intuitive philosophy to guide them, based on a lifetime of developing thier world-view.
    The more complex / sophisticated / sympathetic / original this view is, and the more ambitiously and skillfully it is presented in the image, the better the photograph.
     

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