How big a role does nostalgia play in your photos?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by landrum_kelly, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. I am deliberately leaving this question totally open-ended. Some may think of nostalgia with respect to the cameras and lenses or other equipment (or mode of processing). Others may think of the subject(s), or the epoch that the photos remind them of in their lives. Others may think of yet something else entirely.
    Post photos inline as the spirit moves you. Please don't be afraid to tell some stories about your photography--or through your photography.
    --Lannie
     
  2. What? No responses? Well, I can always be found on Fakebook.
    --Lannie
     
  3. I would suppose a little bit of nostalgia plays in my photos, but seeing as I'm not all that experience in life I don't have much nostalgia to work with. Most of it involves going to state parks or locations with my family and getting photos of them similar to photos taken 10-16 years ago. It's too bad I don't have any of the photos anymore, they were all left at my parents house [with some finagling I'm sure I can get some]
     
  4. Nostalgia is an illness, that you can die from. I have got rid of it since long, so no, nostalgia does not play a role in my photos. - for others, as viewers of my photos, maybe, for them to say, but not for me. On the contrary, utopia plays a major role: dreams of the future.
     
  5. I expect that my images are a kind of looking-forward nostalgia. I imagine that, in my later years, I will look upon them as mnemonics of special times and places, of experiences I can no longer have. This is not nearly as morose as it may sound. I hope to live a long time, and to share images and stories with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My images, will, I hope, be a catalyst for those conversations. If the images are very good, perhaps they will appeal to a larger audience. If not, then they will always be mine.
     
  6. Souvenir in the French sense -- remembrance of places and things, even some seen for the first time. There are new photos taken of places I have never been before that strike a chord.
    Per Anders, not a place to reside!
     
  7. Photography was made for nostalgia, it is nostalgia ( an advertiser's dream ). Here's that great Mad Men The Carousel scene again.
     
  8. Sandy, remembrance does not play a role in my appreciation of where I reside. I'm totally happy where I am, and it does strike a chord everyday, if not, I would move elsewhere and in no way look back. In photographic terms it inspires me all the time in creative terms. The thing is not to project passed sentiments into present setups - as far as that is possible - , and to be able to live new places with a totally open mind to what is new and exciting - looking for utopia and shooting it.
    But of course, "utopia" for anyone is a construct created on the basis of past experiences and accumulated knowledge.
    Phil, photography "was made for nostalgia" for those that only uses it for that, but since the very start in the 19th century photography was used for creating visual dreams of something beyond the present and the past a dreamy world.
     
  9. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. - Yogi Berra

    I think it's amusing when I see digital images deliberately manipulated to look like the faded, discolored pictures from cheaply processed film of the 70's and 80's. Kids today seem to think we wanted those blurry, crappy pictures and we loved "the look" so much because mom put those pictures on the fridge. Gosh, look at lil' Abner there, you can almost make out the ice cream sandwich he's eating!
    You did say you left the question open-ended on purpose, so kooks like me are free to rant. :)
     
  10. So, Anders your photos never remind you of when you took them (remembrance of times past)? How can you possibly avoid this? Or do you never look at your old photos, which would be a problem as they are old as soon as you take them? Or are you saying there is no nostalgia when you look back? If so there must be a sort of mechanical brain check that just reestablishes that your were indeed "there and took the shot". There is no other feeling at all? What about shots of loved ones or loved places you have not seen again. You are a "hard" man indeed.
     
  11. The faded discolored does have a place however as more of an artistic medium than anything else [I feel]. I think there's no point in editing photos to look like film when you can go shoot it yourself [there's really no comparison to Kodachrome or Velvia for example that I've found yet]
     
  12. "remind you of when you took them"
    Robin, wake up ! It must be clear to anyone who understands the English language (even better understand just a little latin and Greek), that nostalgia has next to nothing to do with reminding me of the past but means to long towards the past.
    Nostalgia: "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past".

    Comes from Greek nostos (return home) and algos (pain)
     
  13. Anders, sorry if I wasn't clear, "Nostalgia" is not a place to reside. Not bad to visit briefly on occasion.
    As to Utopia, many societies have tried, all have failed, or are currently in the process of failing.
    The immutable fact, successful Utopian societies require perfect people. Few, if any, of those have been born.
     
  14. Sandy, this becomes an exercise in semiotics !
    Utopia would normally mean some visionary ideal types of society, which mostly are not to be realized, but dreams of future states of life. Something you long towards (longing f"orward", instead of "backwards", like in the case of nostalgia) a society of no wars, no violence, where we all just love each other and inspire each other to be creative, to benefits of all - for example.
    If it one day should be realized, it would hopefully immediately be replace by a 'real' new utopia to long for so that utopians could survive !
     
  15. Semiotics! A 3 Euro word. Semantics, possibly, but words as symbols?
    Your faith in humanity is charming, and encouraging, especially in light of the widespread resurgence of barbarism we are seeing in the news every day.
    We have diverged from the OP.
    Best! S.
     
  16. Nostalgia, or a yearning for home and the pain related to that? That is hard for me to experience, as I am living near my first home. I rarely feel that yearning on trips or contracts elsewhere, even those of several months, as I simply anticipate with pleasure an eventual return. I do occasionally have a yearning for lost times in the company of my deceased parents and friends that causes some pain, but I mainly prefer to think of what I can affect in relations in the future.
    If we can separate homesickness and pain from nostalgia, or adopt a different term for it, then I do feel a yearning and partly emotional feeling for some lost elements of society including certain values or symbols (identity, architecture) that have disappeared or about to do so, and some of my photography seeks to express that, insofar as I can express through it the immaterial and transcendental qualities of what I photograph. We cannot revisit the past in an active manner, the present is the past every instant that it occurs, consequently the future is my main interest.
     
  17. nostalgia is a flavor I often find in photography. Sometimes blatant but I prefer some subtlety, that fleeting elusive something that you can't quite grab. Much like a good nostalgic wave. And something I find intentionally and unintentionally in my photos. Sometimes as the subject other times through my mood influencing how and what I shoot. Like listening to music as I shoot. Music can easily make me nostalgic and it may be music I have never heard before. Or like the odor that conjures a specific memory or more likely a vague connection to a nearly lost memory.
    I like the feeling and I like creating visual representations. I most often find nostalgia very soothing, pleasant. It is not just 'the past' for me. It is much more, an emotion. Photography is a really good medium for exploring nostalgia.
     
  18. I take a lot of photos just to capture a moment in time to be remembered again later. Is that nostalgia?
     
  19. Nostalgia is longing for a time, a person, or a place in the PAST. Feeling nostalgia about the past is normal. Living in in the past is not.
    On the other hand, those whose options for the future are severely limited by advanced terminal illness or other considerations are more likely to spend more time thinking about the past. I don't see that as pathological. That's about all they have left. They are not interested in forming new memories. They are cherishing important memories of past moments.
    Photographing the past? Well, we can't do that, can we? Even so, every photo made is instantly in the past. When we look at our pictures--even when we are processing them--we are looking back at the past, and often already beginning that process of idealizing "the way things used to be."
    A photo does not necessarily have to be very old to evoke nostalgia or the tendency to idealize the past.

    If your wife left or died yesterday, then last week might be viewed as "the good old days." Then again, maybe not. . .
    --Lannie
     
  20. Does nostalgia inhere in the photo?
    Nostalgia is a longing and thus an emotion. No photo can show nostalgia or any other feeling or emotion, but it can evoke it.
    It sounds like we are getting back around to the last long thread on emotions--not my intention, but hard to avoid once we realize that nostalgia is a certain emotion or category of emotion.
    Fortunately, there are other moods and emotions besides nostalgia.
    I was expecting somewhat more nostalgic allusions to old gear. Some people, after all, really miss shooting with film. I typically do not, but I do miss shooting my first digital camera back in 2002 (and following years). I doubt that that has anything to do with the camera I used as much as it has to do with the time. I thus do get nostalgic about shooting about this time of the year in 2002, but I wouldn't want to go back to the old Olympus E-20 that I was shooting back then. My first outings in 2002 with my first digital cameras give me some great memories.
    I cannot look at shots of an old decrepit house without remembering how great a day it was to be out shooting that day--along with remembering some other things that were happening in my life about that time. Some shots virtually transport me back to the moment that I took them.
    --Lannie
     
  21. Here is an inline version of the one I linked to in the last post just above.
    Seeing this has a great emotional impact on me, more than most old photos of ruins. I can only label that impact "nostalgia."
    Nostalgia to me is a rather bitter-sweet emotion. One misses something, and thus there is pain. Yet, one remembers something that is or was good, and therein lies the sweetness.
    "Bittersweet": It's an interesting concept when one thinks about it. . . . It's about life. I enjoy feeling some sense of continuity with the past. Sometimes events interfere with that sense of continuity.
    Can photography be a therapeutic force in helping to give us a sense of the integrity, the wholeness, of our lives? Without a sense of some continuity in our lives, I am not sure that we are fully human.
    What is true for photography is likely true of other art forms as well--especially music.
    --Lannie
    00dkb3-560840284.jpg
     
  22. So we now where we came back to nostalgia and remembrance lets get some examples.
    Here is a family photo from 1863 of Danish militia (with a forefather at the centre) preparing for the Prussian war, where many of them died and the country lost it's southern regions which only partly came back to the mother land by referendum in 1922. Nostalgia ? I could long back to those days of many reasons, but no, not at all. Yes, they inspire me to shoot photos for future generations.
    I love the boy on the hill side behind, who obviously moved while the photo was shot !
    00dkbe-560842584.jpg
     
  23. Thanks to everybody for getting me thinking. - I found out: Nostalgia doesn't play the role it should deserve (yet). Although I picked some cameras for that reason or occasionally got trigger happy in some nostalgic environments, I should probably push the thing way further.
     
  24. Lannie,
    nostalgia and love for former times can be different things, emotionally at least. In this photo my partner in life is looking at a neighbour's barn that was ill maintained and finally bulldozed to clear the site. Because we enjoyed its worn presence and tried to get help for the farmer to rehabilitate it the photo evokes a little sadness for me.
    In the second image (sorry, I keep forgetting how to upload as links) their is no nostalgia for the often disappeared 1950s-60s chip wagons as this one is still active in 2015 (the modern road sign belies the date of capture) and is a regular meeting place for the mountain village community (The village name, "Les Éboulements", refers to a 1639 landslide here). I would simply refer to it as love for former times.
    The third image is the same, but carries a different yearning. It is current (the house was being demolished to be recycled) and I love the presence of the timber framer's traditional assembly symbols beside his beautifully cut dovetail joints of the former 1850s house. Not sadness but a longing perhaps for a once prominent trade.
    00dkgg-560855484.jpg
     
  25. Noon at the chip wagon
    00dkgi-560855684.jpg
     
  26. And finally, the timber framer's circa 1850s markings are apparent on the wood of this house being demolished and recycled elsewhere.
    Do these strike you as being different?
    00dkgj-560855784.jpg
     
  27. Arthur, I can see that you have given this a lot of thought. There obviously is quite a range of experiences that we lump together as "nostalgia," and I cannot improve on what you have offered above.
    The type of experience that has me in its thrall has to be sufficiently personal that I feel a definite bittersweet sense of loss, something that I typically associate with reminiscences of persons--but perhaps not always so.
    --Lannie
     
  28. Yes, sense of loss is often mostly of importance when we are confronted with visual memories of those we had been close to. I think that such nostalgia is not a bad thing, as the importance of such former connections and the feelings we have about them are not something that can be ignored. Fortunately, the sadness of loss can be overshadowed or accompanied by the feelings of many pleasures and happy and fruitful times with those persons. When I look at photos of my deceased parents or friends I remember some of the values they added to my life and the pictures serve as elements of other meanings and pride.
    My examples of photos that invoke nostalgia or love of former times or situations are of course ones that I can stand off from more easily, and treat with varying or greater detachment. Your old house may have greater significance for someone than simply a place where they may have once lived (with often happy memories rather than particular sad ones), but the real reason may not be evident to all viewers.
     
  29. I can surely see the recalling of the good old days when family members were alive and the sweet and sometimes bitter-sweet memory feeling is part of what some would call : "nostalgia", which then mainly covers our personal life and intimate relationships.
    In such cases, I would believe most of the photos we make of our near family members and friends are photos with some inspiration from what we already have in our drawers made by ourselves or by others, which make us recall our family and personal life roots. So to answer Lannie's question on "how big a role nostalgia plays" for our photography: the role of nostalgia is probably big and overwhelming when it comes to our shooting of our photos of families, friends and personal experiences.
    I think however, that the term "nostalgia" mostly would (should ?) be used, if we do not only experience remembrance by such photos, but also a strong strive literally to be transported back to such past times.

    This type of nostalgia feeling is much more problematic. You can as mentioned actually fall ill or die from it, but it can also be an inspiration for a photographical project : showing the longing back in time. It would show, by the subjects we shoot, or by the way we shoot them, in order to create some kind of idealized presentation of past realities like in the photo below of Paris shot in the seventies (very much like it looked like this morning, by the way!).
    00dkhZ-560856384.jpg
     
  30. You can as mentioned actually fall ill or die from it.​
    Anders, I suppose that one can die of grieving, and I don't know exactly how to define the difference between nostalgia and grieving. Even a good memory of someone who is no longer with one (for whatever reason, for whatever length of time) is probably going to evoke nostalgia with a sense of being bittersweet, but I am hesitant to call it grief in every case.
    This is obviously something that I hadn't thought through when I posted the question--but that is fairly typical of my posts.
    I guess that I don't think of the term "nostalgia" as necessarily implying grief. Just "missing someone" or feeling a bit sad about some time or epoch in the past might not be the same as grieving. I don't think that persons die of nostalgia pure and simple.
    How any of this relates to photography gets even more complicated. If I have been looking at the same old pictures of a departed loved one, I am probably inured to the sense of loss to some degree. On the other hand, if I find another photo that I don't remember having taken or seen, the sudden memory evoked in that case might be very strong. In such cases, I feel a stronger sense of poignancy and loss. Do I thereby also feel more nostalgia? I really do not know.
    --Lannie
     
  31. One can also awake from a sweet dream of someone who is now gone and feel rather good about it. I would still say that a sense of nostalgia might be present in such a case--but not necessarily a sense of grief or loss. In fact, such dreams have the power to make one feel that the departed one has not really departed after all.
    Such dreams have a sense of being real, of course--more real than whatever it is that we feel when we look at a photo of the now departed loved one.
    Who would have imagined the twists that this thread has taken? The topic is more interesting than I thought.
    --Lannie
     
  32. Here is a photo by Bill C. Is it a photo of railroad buffs or nostalgia "buffs"?
    --Lannie
     
  33. I was actually not thinking about "grief" from missing someone who have died or just broken a relationship, when mentioning, that one can die from "nostalgia". No, I was mainly thinking of what happens to someone who lives with a longing towards something, that is not the reality around.
    Nostalgia of the DDR, the old East Germany has a term for itself. It's called "Ostalgia", (nostalgia for the East), which you can find examples of in most of Eastern Europe, or in Russia. You can find it China too, or Italy, Spain and Germany in various forms.
    Such type of nostalgia comes in all forms and normally would strike older people who experience the modern world around them as something hostile and unlivable, and you actually die from such rejection of reality, daydreaming of the good old days, where the sun shined every day and everything was just lovely.
    Such nostalgia can also hit younger generations and turn into political extremism anchored in the past. The strong leader nostalgia, communitarian nostalgia, back to nature nostalgia etc etc. With reference to my first photo above of a Danish militia in the 1860s is actually a strong image for viewers who long towards a time where their country was bigger, stronger, braver standing strong against a hostile world.
    With such nostalgia in mind, the answer to your question is again totally confirming. Yes, nostalgia can be a very strong mover for photographers to shoot images of todays reality around them supporting them in their mindset.
     
  34. What about Nostalgia and the Americans, for a change ? See in today's the Guardian. If American nostalgia has a theatrical side to it, it must have a photographical dimension. No reason to go to Europe, Russia, China, or why not South Africa or Argentina, to find it.
     
  35. Anders, this was so dead-on accurate: "Nostalgia is a disease many white Americans have." Thank you for that. I remember hearing my mother-in-law lamenting (about thirty years ago) that "downtown" Arlington, Virginia just wasn't the way it used to be before all the blacks, Hispanics, and Asians moved in. . . .
    It's sad but almost funny--and it would be funny if it did not have such social horrible social consequences.
    I think if my mother-in-law were to write a book, it would have to be called White Like Me. (Yes, she is still alive. I have this theory that she might live forever.)
    Is homophobia a form of nostalgia?! If racism and homophobia are examples of the nostalgic impulse, then nostalgia has a darker and more dangerous side than I ever imagined.
    Sorry, mods! This was not intended to be a subversive political thread! Heavens.
    ---Lannie
     
  36. Nice set of photos, jd. Signs, symbols, mood, content, americana . . . the literal and non-literal, the tangible and intangible, all working together to show nostalgia/emotion . . . right there in each photo becoming more powerful through the series.
     
  37. +1 What Fred said. . .
     
  38. Nostalgia is slightly often melacholic but grief may be too strong - depends on the remembrance. You can be nostalgic about the past and still recognize that the past was not better than today, so it is not at all necessarily connected with globalization, fascism, communism, racism etc. To me it is largely about remembering good friends, companions, lovers, and your own youth. This is why I am skeptical about Anders professions about not experiencing it, but then I see Anders seems to define nostalgia as being specifically about these world wide themes, and less about personal issues, but I am not sure quite why. It can be, but there is no requirement.
     
  39. Robin, memories (fond or missed) and nostalgia seem to me to have different connotations. Nostalgia implies pain or sadness, also grief, at least in its 18th century initial modern usage and that which also seems to prevail today.
    In the same sense, JD's perceptive images are for me good cultural (American society) or fond memory statements and certainly not nostalgia. Anders, what do you mean by nostalgia being an American thing? My senior third cousins in England that I knew when a student had lived during the second world war or its aftermath and they had nostalgia for a life that was destroyed and lives lost in London at that time. They could not walk the streets without those sad memories being invoked in their conscious. The soldiers I met who would not talk about their war no doubt would be feeling much nostalgia for former times when their attention turned to those images.
     
  40. Perhaps persons sometimes simply feel nostalgic about things that they should not feel nostalgic about.
    Then again, how does one control the nostalgic impulse (if impulse it be)?
    It seems to wander where it will, like imagination. Maybe it is a form of imagination--or at least the emotive component of imagination.
    --Lannie
     
  41. Has anyone ever done a scientific study of nostalgia?
    --Lannie
     
  42. Why has this turned into a discussion on the definition of 'nostalgia' is my question
     
  43. "Anders, what do you mean by nostalgia being an American thing?" (Arthur)

    Arthur, never said such a thing, I believe ! Wouldn't dare. And furthermore, there is nothing especially American about nostalgia. American nostalgie is, as I see it - but what do I know! - is mainly a folklorique passtime for holidays and neighborhood events, if it is not an often violent political extremist hate towards the present state of affairs. In French we would say : "Plus nostalgique que moi, tu meurs !" type of sentiments.
    You could say that nostalgia is especially a Jewish thing. Zionism could be seen as the archetype of a longing toward a land of origin.
    No ! nostalgia you find all over the world, but common to it all, is a longing back to something in time. It is far from my own way of thinking and living, as well as my way of working creatively. I'm longing towards the future, longing forwardly. That's often the Utopian vision of longing.
    After all creativity and arts, including photography has a subversive side to it. Trying to express what life could be if alienation and suppression (in all its forms) of our dreams for a better more just society with different values - whatever that might be for each one of us.
     
  44. I think nostalgia and photos that show it have empathy in common. In feeling nostalgic, I sense I'm standing in my own past shoes or the shoes of the past itself. When I see nostalgia in a photo, I sense it's because the photographer has empathy, allowing him to have his own remembrances and feelings and longings about the past but also to go beyond those in an empathetic gesture that reaches outside himself. Some photos act more like mementos, which exist more on a personal or subjective level of the photographer but seem to stay in what I'll term the "self loop." I was there, I remember, I long. I am in touch with . . . It stays a feeling inside the photographer. That type of photo will just show the person, place, or thing that the photographer has a feeling about and will conjure those feelings in the photographer but often not in the viewer. Actually showing nostalgia in a photo seems to have that additional empathetic, gestural quality, which I think is deeper and allows it to be shared. Nostalgic photos will suggest not just the things in the past, but the actual connection to the past. It will go beyond the noun and have a sense of transport.
     
  45. "Why has this turned into a discussion on the definition of 'nostalgia' is my question" (Spencer)

    Maybe just because we seem to have different connotations related to the term. Always good to agree on what the heck we are talking about, I would believe.
     
  46. Why has this turned into a discussion on the definition of 'nostalgia' is my question --Spencer Lange​
    I am reminded of the classic retort when discussions begin to get complicated or contentious: "Define your terms."
    Spence, I guess that it looked like people were not using the word the same way. I would have defined it at the outset, but I didn't see a problem until we got more deeply into the discussion.
    --Lannie
     
  47. I'm not saying it's a bad thing necessarily, I like the discussion. Just wondering where the idea behind the original post went
     
  48. In line with the original post- I do feel a certain nostalgia towards using instant cameras. My first camera [that wasn't necessarily a 'good' camera] was a regular Colorpack II that ran on plain old AA batteries- none of that Eveready nonsense. Even using a peel apart film Land Camera now reminds me a bit of those days, and is actually leading me to buy a Land Camera in about a month's time
     
  49. This may be on-topic, it may be off-topic, it may have moved the topic gently out of the way so it doesn't get damaged. To me, 'Nostalgia' means a longing for 'The Good Old Days'. I know, looking back, they may not seem so good now, but A) they were good times while we lived them, and B) however bad they appear in hindsight, they're a damned sight better than modern times.
    That said, much of my own photography deliberately harks back to former times, even from before I was born ! My favourite subject matter is wildlife (because a deer from now looks like a deer from a hundred years ago), landscape (with as few modern artefacts visible as I can contrive), 'Vintage' transport (trains, trams, buses, cars, bicycles, horse-drawn wagons), old architecture when, instead of making a 'statement' about the architect, a building's message was 'Here is somewhere that enhances the landscape, and is suited to its purpose'.
    This modern world, with its garish colours, high speed futility and built-in obsolescence has no appeal for me at all - I see none of the beauty I wish to record. Mayhap I see things with a somewhat jaundiced eye, and blue-tinted spectacles would help.
    I end with another quote, this time from Rincewind, the Wizzard in the Terry Pratchett books :
    'I don't want things as good as new - I want them as good as old.'
    Tony
     
  50. For me nostalgia is the art of keeping a memory alive, much like photography. There's both solace and sadness in the experience ( through a photograph for example ) of a memory. The memory can last but what is made concrete in it is always ephemeral, something that only comes through in small bursts.
     
  51. I end with another quote, this time from Rincewind, the Wizzard in the Terry Pratchett books :
    'I don't want things as good as new - I want them as good as old.' --Tony Parsons​
    Thank you for that one, Tony.
    --Lannie
     
  52. For me nostalgia is the art of keeping a memory alive, much like photography. There's both solace and sadness in the experience ( through a photograph for example ) of a memory. The memory can last but what is made concrete in it is always ephemeral, something that only comes through in small bursts. --Phil S.​
    You've given us a lot to chew on there, Phil. I don't think that I have ever heard nostalgia referred to as an art, and yet it is true that some persons do indeed work harder than others at "keeping the memories alive" and even "cherish [these] things in their heart(s)." Such "artists" do not simply react to change negatively. They actively try to remember and even link memories to each other--sometimes relating physical appearance, music, perfumes, and other things that evoke the emotions associated with certain memories.
    I think that true "sentimentalists," which is what I would label these "artists," very often actively try to recreate a sense or feeling of a past epoch, or else create a "fabric" of past memories centering around a lost loved one. Photography can surely be a part of that process, but the art you describe can exist independently of photography. One could argue that such an art is logically and temporally prior to photography--and prior to other expressions of emotion, such as writing music or novels or short stories.
    Even keeping a journal can be a part of such a process, in my opinion--or perhaps doing so is yet one more way of giving public expression to what otherwise would be a private world. The nostalgia, that is, is private (for the most part, at least), but the public expression of it through photography, music, or literature (among other forms of expression) is an act of sharing with the public or some segment of it.
    --Lannie
     
  53. Tony touches at something important concerning how we view and appropriate the manifestation of history and old things around us, including photographies that we still have in drawers, I would include. It can be, as he writes, used to make us aware of "the good old days", nurturing sentimentalism and nostalgia . But it can surely also be "used" as fully belonging to the present world.
    I live in a city where most buildings are from the 19th century (Haussmann !) or older and where city mansions of the 17/18th century are present in the cityscape throughout the centre. A city where many streets were drawn in the middle age. Such cityscapes can be seen as our "the good old days" because they were also present hundred years ago with little change.
    But they can also be seen, as I do, as the present contemporary city. The "good present days city", enriched by a very long history. I look at old photos fo family members in the same way. In such a world sentimentalism of the old days would not be relevant and nostalgia not at all. What we shoot of photos are messages to the future, enriching the present of future generations.
     
  54. Anders, I wondered immediately after referring to "sentimentalists" whether I had possibly made a mistake, given all of the things that "sentimentalism" has come to mean. I cannot endorse anything and everything that falls under the rubric of "sentimentalism" and related terms, whether in philosophy, literature, or common usage.
    Even "nostalgia" has both a positive and negative connotation. I have been using it in more or less what I considered to be a "common sense" interpretation. It is clearly open to other interpretations.
    I am convinced that the power of nostalgia can sometimes be too strong--so strong that we may even suffer from a tendency to exalt and even "treasure" moments, events, or epochs that on balance we should have steered clear of.
    This thread has definitely taken some turns that I did not anticipate and could not have anticipated--much like life itself in that regard.
    --Lannie
    00dkpl-560880584.jpg
     
  55. This thread has definitely taken some turns that I did not anticipate (Lannie)

    That can only be positive and reflect the diversity of those who chose to contribute as long as it does not go off-topic - if I dare ! It must be much more boring for most, when discussions like these always follow the same known tracks, I would believe.
     
  56. Anders, like the photos we come home with compared with those we went out to get, the insights we get from informal discussions often have very little to do with what we originally set out to find--or so I believe.
    I like this forum precisely because it allows for a "brainstorming" style or open invitation for comments. If this were a classroom or a formal discussion, I would no doubt be very frustrated with this modus operandi. I have come to expect less and less every year in the way of disciplined argumentation on the internet, and so I have adopted a rather loose and free-wheeling approach to posting here. I am still rather astonished sometimes at some of the good things that persons nonetheless throw in that could be considered at best tangential to the original posting. They are sometimes the real gems.
    --Lannie
     
  57. I see that the master of nostalgia, Harper Lee, has died. The South that I remember from my earliest years was not very much like that of her most famous novel. I think that her popularity stemmed in part from her nostalgic look at childhood more than any particular portrayal of the South. I don't remember many heroes from my own childhood, whether in South Carolina or Ohio. It is little wonder that many retreat into nostalgia.
    --Lannie
     
  58. Harper Lee might be a very good starting point when discussion life in the past and nostalgia.
    The racism she experience when she was a child in the deep South of America, and which is the basis for her most well known work: "To Kill a Mockingbird" cannot, in my eyes, be read as a case of longing back to the good old days: i.e. a case of "nostalgia". Its' more a rejection of the past and told to present readers (of the sixties) to prevent the past coming back to haunt us. Or I'm wrong !
     
  59. longing back to the good old days: i.e. a case of "nostalgia".​

    Thanks Anders for putting nostalgia in quotation marks. Longing, yearning, or craving for something past seems to be the nature of Lannie's OP. They are best described as a persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or remote. The latter fits well with the past. Nostalgia should be left I think without need for quotation marks and restored its initial and correct definition. Much of the english language (and that is true in other languages as well) has been misappropriated. Rewriting meanings may be fine in poetry, but in common language it would seem important to stick to solid and unobfuscated meanings.

    It appears that the old evil south has to take the rapt for racial injustice again. Hey, look further at the US north or midwest, or France, Canada or Germany (for starters), and many apparently civilised countries of Northern Europe, for good examples of strong racial prejudices and mistreatment, amply photographed. Poor old south....
     
  60. Its' more a rejection of the past. . . .​
    Anders, while To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely a repudiation of racism, it is hardly a repudiation of the past in its totality. It has also been interpreted as a "coming of age" novel for the young girl Scout, with whom the author strongly identifies. It is a complex work where feelings are concerned, and especially where her attitudes toward her brother and other childhood friends are concerned as they grew up in the South. You can feel the nostalgia as you read the novel.
    Southern novelists never seem to reject the past totally. As William Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." That can be taken more than one way, since he could also be interpreted as talking about continuing racism, but, having read a lot of Faulkner, I would say that that is a very narrow interpretation that tells only part of the story.
    If you can find the video for the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, I strongly recommend it. The set is a loving reconstruction of small-town life in the South of the 1930s, and it is designed to evoke the feel of the South during the Jim Crow era. Much of that feeling is akin to what I felt in the early fifties, before my father moved us to Ohio in 1953 when I was eight years old. The good and bad were everywhere mixed up together in the South of that era--and they still are.
    --Lannie
     
  61. There's nostalgia in THIS PHOTO of Scarlett Johansson by Annie Leibovitz. It's in the combination of a lot of things: her bustline and figure, her makeup, the drape of her wrap, the black and white, her glance to the side as the light of the sea draws me into the distance. I think were she not on the beach, with that atmosphere and lighting, it might be somewhat less nostalgic.
     
  62. Arthur, this is clearly an of-topic subject matter, that we should not elaborate further on, but the experiences of racism that Harper Lee writes about did indeed happen in Alabama, the "Deep South" par excellence, and has strictly nothing to do with what you can find in the countries you refer to despite a major refugee crisis in Europe with 1.3 million asylum seekers during the last year, creating social unrest in many cities and communities especially in Germany and Sweden, which have accepted the greatest numbers.
     
  63. I view nostalgia more in context with Romanticism ( and Transcendentalism in the U.S. ). As such it's not a yearning for the "good old days" or for going back to a molded tradition. It's a going back to the source, it's the affirmation of a ( past ) self with its unbridled possibilities. It's precisely not about the negation of the self ( any self ) through limited social structures. It's a wanderlust, not a destination that has already been set.
    ---
    Anders, I like the idea of a photograph being a message to ourself ( and others ) in the future. Nostalgia when experienced through photography has that component to it of living firmly in the present, even when that 'present' is being looked at in retrospect.
     
  64. Always amusing to me when folks who have effectively lived in monocultures care to criticize the USA based on history.
    You who have opened the gates have an "interesting" learning curve in the spirit of the old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times."
    Back to nostalgia and photos, here is a take on that, a poem, brought on / written after scanning decades of slides and negatives.
    Just a Smile
    I came across a photo
    of your smile at me
    captured half a life ago.
    So beautiful and sweet
    It still hurt my heart.
    At the end long past
    harms we did
    each to each
    foreclosed all futures planned.
    Both on our separate ways.
    Ten years spent
    repaying those,
    with just a bit of good
    along the way,
    to others in your stead.
    On my wedding night
    with one last cruelty
    thought I’d finally
    ripped you free.
    Three decades
    And more slipped by
    Your youthful smile
    can hurt me still.
    No true surprise
    Some afflictions / affections
    have no remedy.
     
  65. Sandy, I have yet to see a photo of real nostalgia, as well as your poem does. A photo of a confederate flag can create nostalgia in some, or one of the 1850s beauty of Savannah, conserved but very nearly destroyed in the march of the Union through the south after the war of secession, or the modified bleu-blanc-rouge with star national flag of the Acadians, recalling the unjust deportation of the 1750s, or photos of the flags of military commands in colonial Newfoundland, virtually completely decimated in their allegiance to Britain in the first world war. Pain is a necessary part of nostalgia. Yearning and longing ("nostalgia") can be part of images as well, like some I have posted earlier, and also that image of a popular film star mentioned by Fred.
     
  66. "Always amusing to me when folks who have effectively lived in monocultures care to criticize the USA based on history."
    There is no "critic" (another time, Sandy !) in mentioning the fact that racism has followed America throughout its short history and that Harper Lee is a good starting point to get informed and remembering. Just facts. And as we are taking about photography, nothing is more obvious to shoot.
    The best living photographer I know of on the subject of the "deep South" is Jacob Holdt, who is Danish. He has travelled all over the world for years with his photo-show of "American Pictures", based on photos he shot in the seventies. He has shown his photos to a quarter of a million people in North America alone in the 80's and 90's, but has continued ever since around the world; latest show in Prague. No amusement at all, Sandy, but a lot of reckonings - and bitter memories.
     
  67. "There's nostalgia in THIS PHOTO of Scarlett Johansson by Annie Leibovitz" (Fred)


    For me, this beautiful portrait is not especially nostalgic. It is just anachronical.
     
  68. Anders, where on earth did you get the idea that anyone was praising Southern culture in this thread?
    As for Scarlett Johansson by Annie Leibovitz, it appears that you are blind to the subtle nuances of the word "nostalgia." That picture of Leibovitz was so effective that I had trouble believing that Scarlett Johansson is a contemporary actor of all of thirty-one years--of age.
    --Lannie
     
  69. Lannie to answer your direct question, by this quote: "It appears that the old evil south has to take the rapt for racial injustice again." - unless the irony escaped me.
    Concerning the photo of Ms Johansson, for me there are so many borrowed dimensions of the good old days of black and white portrait photography in this work of Leibovitz, that it becomes anachronic, losing its roots and out of date. It can of course be seen as exercise of style and a very well executed exercise.
     
  70. j.d., I love the snapshot-like photo of the woman in 50s-60s-ish red on the open road. Sophisticated snapshot sensibility, which has more depth than most. The snapshot-road-trip feel itself is the first entré for me into the world of nostalgia, but so is the color palette. Interestingly, though such different types of photos, there's a connection to the Leibovitz photo of Scarlett Johansson. It's the longing involved in just that sense of depth created by the outstretched road in yours and the strongly lit sea and horizon line in the Liebovitz. In both photos, the use of environment, to place the subjects, as compositional emotive tool is transportive.
     
  71. "emotive tool ..." too often overlooked. I hadn't thought of the physical depth in terms of nostalgia but find it very suggestive. It does seem to be a common denominator in these two photos. I had notice the implied depth of the distant gazes (even with the eyes closed). A tool that in the context of nostalgia works well..... transportive
     
  72. Very fine photo, J.D. of the woman in the car with the open space and road behind. Could you give some information on when this was shot and whether there was a nostalgia type of intentions behind it or it was a snapshot that simply ended up like that.
     
  73. Anders - scan - 1987 polaroid spectra - Nevada - ex wife.
    It was a snapshot, very personal. it was also intended as more than a memory for a viewer. I had a camera hanging on my shoulder day and night. And I thought often about things like nostalgia, emotions, viewers eye movement, influence of music, expression, tools
    ... the dead spider counter was an intentional expression of aging - it use to sit with my bronzed baby shoes with the number of seconds I had lived on the counter - then it began to collect spiders then they died then i photographed it as a take on nostalgia
     
  74. Thanks j.d.
    When it comes to your photo, which has a strong intimidate tale to tell for you and you probably have all the span of emotions and feeling related to what you see in the photo. Such emotional reactions to photos would for me only be a case of nostalgia if you daydream and wish, that you were back there in those days. The photo itself, a polaroid from the 80s, notwithstanding the subject, with the special colors, that we all know from older photos, carry no gimmicks trying to evoke any emotions, that could be called nostalgia when viewing the photo today.
    Leibovitz's project, when shooting Scarlett Johansson, was very different. I see overdone gimmicky, but that's just me. What is obvious, is that special efforts have been made by the photographer to carry the viewer back in time and surely, as everything Leibovitz touches, it is very well done.
     
  75. In my opinion, nostalgia is only a good thing when there is -- to use an awful buzz-phrase -- 'cognitive dissonance': something does not mean now what it meant then. What was trivial is now dear; what was dear is now trivial. Therefore, all previous logic makes no sense, or makes different sense, which gnaws at one's foundations.
    Nostalgia, without dissonance, is, to me, just gooey, saccharine dreck. Present-phobia.
     
  76. When I view a photo that expresses sadness I do not necessarily feel sad. Likewise with nostalgia. I don't need to be transported to the same place and time as the photo or long to go back. Or have the same experience as the photographer.
    [​IMG]
     
  77. When I view a photo that expresses sadness I do not necessarily feel sad. Likewise with nostalgia. I don't need to be transported to the same place and time as the photo or long to go back. Or have the same experience as the photographer.​
    Agreed, j.d. Nor does one have to feel sad or nostalgic to make a shot that has the power to evoke a sense of sadness or nostalgia in others.
    I have really enjoyed your posted photos.
    --Lannie
     
  78. 'Good nostalgia and cognitive dissonance' (Julie)
    Julie, you are throwing a big stone into the pond !
    If you were right to the extreme, the commonness of nostalgia among older people, longing to go back to the good old days to join the bygones, they are just all subject to "bad" nostalgia. Let's not go to the extreme, but as I earlier did mention above, you can actually die from nostalgia, and many do.
    You are right, that "good nostalgia" do exist, and your 'cognitive dissonance' (one of those terms that can turn off most on a Sunday morning !) is at the centre of such "good" going back in time. It is the daily bread of most historians, trying to give meaning to what comes to us from past times in history in the forms of texts, artifacts and images, and among those, from more recent times, photographs.
    Yes, most meanings are lost when time goes past; They don't mean the same : they do not mean now what it meant then - and mostly they don't mean here what they mean there to add a geographical dimension to i. You are right, that when you experience nostalgia when reading old texts or when looking at old pictures it can be turned into a very positive experience if you admit to be challenged in your certainties and you start questioning the meanings of what you see - and the meaning of your longing back. It becomes a great experience that involves learning and enrichment of your present life. All "good" nostalgia.
    But how do we use such acknowledgement of what nostalgia can be, not only in our reading of old photos (needs in-depth study of the times when photos were shot), but in our photography of today: "the role of nostalgia in your photos" - in your No Words picture of "group dynamics" for example ? It cannot, as far as I see it, just be a question of making new photos look old, I would suggest.
     
  79. Anders I'm talking about the personal/private, not the political/public. The madeleine cake dipped in tea that suddenly floods your mind with memories of your mother's goodnight kiss.
     
  80. ... or "Rosebud."
     
  81. Julie, I know, or rather I expected it to be the case, but after all personal/private/political/public are not different worlds, but different dimensions of the same present and past.
    If one is stuck in the personal/private one loses social reality and therefore the "historicity" of pictures, old or new - if I dare use a term like that. Good nostalgia demands it all whether it interest you ar not.
     
  82. Anders, you make a good point. Thinking of how unconscious body language affects diplomacy and how inter-ethnic community flows are flavored by unnoticed accents or use of some trivial phrase or gesture, or ways of eating. But I'm not sure how often that gets 'felt' as nostalgia as opposed to just being noticed as significant to outcomes. The pieces on a chess board are not nostalgic.
     
  83. Personal confession of nostalgia: I never really liked darkroom work itself, the mechanics of the wet and dry work of processing; though I truly loved the magical-ness of what it did; the revelation out of darkness, and all that stuff.
    Nevertheless, though I left the darkroom for Photoshop and have never looked back, I bought, enjoy and ... feel nostalgic when looking at, the book, Developer Trays -- which is nothing more than exactly what its title would lead you to expect -- lots of pictures of developer trays of famous photographers. I still have my equally stained developer tray -- which for so many years I dreaded.
     
  84. Personally, I never seriously worked in a darkroom. I had one in my teens, with an old Agfa photo enlarger, and loved the smell and the magic of black and white images coming to life in the developer basin, and hanging drying, and smell of glossy bank heater.
    After that I send photos to the developer and print shops for years until the scanning, digital photos and Photoshop made the rebirth of all the magic come back to life - without the smells. No nostalgia involved, just memories.
     
  85. Anders, I think you're getting to the tricky part of nostalgia being shown in pictures -- it's almost by definition deeply personal, a feeling of peculiar familiarity. That can be done in literature and movies by tracking back in search of a source, but in stills, it's hard to fill in the underground rhizomatic connections.
    That is also why, to my eye, while I very much like j.d. wood's pictures in this thread, they don't strike me as nostalgic. To me, they seem very de Cherico-ish, i.e. surreal and/or strangely alien -- which is precisely not the 'peculiarly familiar' of nostalgia.
     
  86. No nostalgia involved, just memories.​
    Anders, when we can remember the past without longing for it, perhaps we are over it. The simple passage of time does not necessarily suffice, though. Some of my greatest yearnings for the past are for something that happened fifty years ago, but sometimes I long for something that was a few months ago.
    I bought a very inexpensive D5200 back in July and put a Sigma lens on it. I then went shooting around town. It was the cheapest Nikon rig in my arsenal, but somehow the pictures I took with it last July and August became very special, not because they were great pictures, but because of the time they represented. Little did I realize that in some curious way they had come to represent the end of an era in my personal life. That little camera and lens are sitting on top of a glass-enclosed case fifteen feet from where I am sitting, as if looking at me reproachfully for neglecting them.
    A life based on nostalgia may well be a life of illusion, but sometimes in the realm of emotions I cannot distinguish reality from illusion. Perhaps emotion is the ultimate reality, the ultimate experience of life. Nostalgia? Is it a longing for a specific thing or person in the past, or for what we felt in the past when those persons or things were in our lives?
    Perhaps nostalgia is a remembered emotion, that is, the remembrance of an emotion. It surely pales beside the real emotion that we felt at the time of actually experiencing things or person in our lives.
    I'm just thinking out loud here, trying to understand the psychology of nostalgia. Perhaps if I could understand nostalgia better, I would make it my servant, rather than be its slave myself. If it were my slave, perhaps I could summon the old emotion at will, the real emotion, the real thing. Perhaps my camera could gain certain powers to help in the summoning of emotions from the past--or, if not summon the actual emotion of the time, evoke a stronger and more authentic memory of it. Could that carry over to power over the emotions of the viewer of the photo? I really don't know.
    Just trying to manage the past here. . . . It seems to have a life of its own. As Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead, It isn't even past." It lives. Nostalgia is. . . what exactly? What exactly does it have to do with the past that was actually lived?
    --Lannie
     
  87. When we feel nostalgia when viewing a picture made by someone else of past events in their lives, what precisely are we feeling? Dare we think that our feeling has any points of congruence with those of the photographer? It is absolutely certain that they (our feelings and those of the photographer) are not strict equivalents. Our experiences and emotions are ours. Surely no one else can access them. Nor can we access theirs.
    What precisely is happening when we feel nostalgic over a picture made by someone else? Does that picture simply evoke a memory of something that is presumed to have been similar in our own lives?

    --Lannie
     
  88. Anders - scan - 1987 polaroid spectra - Nevada - ex wife.
    It was a snapshot, very personal. it was also intended as more than a memory for a viewer. I had a camera hanging on my shoulder day and night. And I thought often about things like nostalgia, emotions, viewers eye movement, influence of music, expression, tools (j d.wood , Feb 19, 2016; 08:54 p.m.)​
    Play it again, j.d.
    If you can't play it again in our minds, then at least post the picture again. Give us another shot at feeling what you felt.
    Nah. . . We know that that's not possible. Right?
    Yet, yet, as I said in the preceding post, "Does that picture simply evoke a memory of something that is presumed to have been similar in our own lives?"
    --Lannie
     
  89. Lannie, I you might have noticed I often come back to information and reflections, which grow out of photos, that go beyond the individualized (we are all different and after all we don't know what others do, feel or think etc) and psychological explanations to viewing photos. They are surely relevant, but should not be permitted to become exclusive. This is maybe even more important when discussing nostalgia.
    Nostalgia is surely a feeling, or emotion if you wish, and therefore anchored in the individual:
    "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past".
    But at the moment we discuss how nostalgia can play a role in photos, we need to come to grip with the social, cultural, physical dimensions, that can provoke sentimental longing, if we are not only referring to our personal history. Which are these cultural, social, environmental elements that communicate to the viewer a moment in time, a culture and its its history, an epoch, that the viewer can identify and relate to ?

    I think your timber wall above, as well as j.d.'s wonderful beach playing ground are good examples. My lotus plants below could be too.
    00dl2h-560920884.jpg
     
  90. "Does that picture simply evoke a memory of something that is presumed to have been similar in our own lives?"
    It may or may not. It can evoke an artistic response, which is fairly complex, more than a memory and more than an emotion. The photo creates a nostalgic space for me (while, of course, also doing more than that). It doesn't matter to me whether I think I'm having j.d.'s experience or I'm having my own similar experience. What matters to me is that it shows nostalgia and then I feel whatever I feel. Showing is more than remembering and more than feeling.
    Aristotle had a lot of good things to say about art. Among them is the following. Note the absence of words like memory and emotion.
    The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.​
    Inward significance. Think of all that means. So much more than simply emotions in kind or similar memories.
    Whatever nostalgia is, it's very different from what it means for a photo to show nostalgia.
     
  91. "Whatever nostalgia is, it's very different from what it means for a photo to show nostalgia"
    Totally agree Fred. The question is however when a photo "shows" nostalgia, and when a photo evokes nostalgia in the viewer. That's the question !
     
  92. If I were to publish a collection of photos (never just one) around nostalgia this would be my cover.... an academic start. An elderly lady viewing her own past from just a few moments ago - with an sx70. academic. It would be silly to expect a viewer (let alone all) to feel nostalgic[​IMG]
    Like quotes, I view single photographs as a starting point. They set my mind in motion, at best provoke and encourage/ stimulate me to create a thought or work of my own. I think to even attempt to express nostalgia, the emotion, to any real depth (like mockingbird, kane) would require many many photos. and for most would still require words. Even so I did not feel nostalgic reading To kill a mockingbird or watching Citizen Kane. Another day another mood maybe I would have. Yet I did recognize it as a subject and some of the tools used to establish and express it. Nolstalgia is more complex than a single image or single one liner.
    posted before reading Fred & Anders - like talking at the same time
     
  93. j.d., I think your picture and Kane and Proust are all about nostalgia but don't get me to feel nostalgia. Agree with you on that. What makes me feel nostalgic seems to be necessarily deeply idiosyncratic -- purely personal. Which is a problem if I want to do anything other than describe it in a clinical (not felt) way.
    I have two more or less random comments: there is a phrase that photography writers sometimes use that applies to all photographs -- "the presence of absence." Nostalgia seems to me to be a particularly aggressive kind of such in that it does funny things to those two words and it is more of the flesh than the mind.
    Which makes me disagree with Anders definition: ""a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past." I think nostalgia is actually a little bit insidious, a little bit viral in the way it infects ones feelings.
     
  94. For me, there's a difference between being about something and showing something. A photo's being about nostalgia suggests a kind of distance. A photo's showing nostalgia suggests an intimacy. Regardless of whether or not one feels nostalgia when viewing a photo, the difference between its being about and showing can also be felt. The about-ness part of j.d.'s photo is, as he described it, the academic part. The woman is looking at a polaroid of herself. That's what it's about. But what it shows involves her expression upon looking, involves the strong sunny lighting with the simplicity of the flowers she seems to have been tending to for years, is in the hunched-over stance inherited from time, and is in the simultaneous utilization and picturing of a polaroid and how the polaroid-ness is both part of the content and relates to the content of the photos.
     
  95. A photo's showing nostalgia suggests an intimacy." Fred
    I would rather suggest that a photo showing nostalgia demands an intimacy with the subject. Intimacy to the language of signs and symbols, which are employed in the image. That's why I chose to show a picture of lotus plants in a specific stage of their life circles. The surface value of that image is of course the has-been dimension, but one does only have to master the most simple elements of Far East culture to understand the behind the scene symbolism of the image. It is both an image of nostalgia, "showing something", and a picture evoking nostalgia among those with a minimum of intimate knowledge and experience about this something.
     
  96. "j.d., I think your picture and Kane and Proust are all about nostalgia but don't get me to feel nostalgia." Julie
    I would not try to make you feel love or sadness or any number of emotions. Not my job as I see it.
    OTH I might attempt to make you feel upbeat or laid back. I also might hope to make you think about nostalgia or love ... or simply feel something, anything (viewers choice) for how I think about it, does it feel genuine does it feel personal. but no I am not trying to get you to feel nostalgic. Maybe later when you are thinking about what does make you nostalgic.
     
  97. I would not try to make you feel love or sadness or any number of emotions. Not my job as I see it. . .
    I might attempt to make you feel upbeat or laid back. I also might hope to make you think about nostalgia or love ... or simply feel something, anything --j.d. wood​
    Why, j.d., would you see any of that as your job? Why have you drawn the line where you have as to what your "job" is as photographer? I confess that, in spite of all my allusions to a photograph's "evoking" this or that emotion (or whatever) in the viewer, I don't think one bit about the viewer when I am either shooting or processing. More precisely, if I should find myself thinking along those lines, I would have to push all that out of consciousness as a potential distraction in the photographic process. Thinking about what other people might think of what I am doing would definitely compromise my concentration and possibly my artistic integrity--or whatever it is that is truly fulfilling about photography in the first place.
    I don't even think of any of it as "my job." I just take pictures. I enjoy it and thus I keep doing it. I post a few of them (after I have taken and processed them) to show others what I have seen, but that comes after the photography is over. I think that that is what the perfect paradigm of amateur photography is about: doing something for absolutely no other reason than that one loves doing it.
    I don't think that photography in and of itself is even about sharing or not sharing, evoking or not evoking, pleasing others or not pleasing others--unless one is doing it for hire, or for some other motive extraneous to photography itself. Then one has to think about what the prospective buyer or other viewer might think about the finished product.
    I have stated the dilemma and the distinction between amateur and professional photography in extremely stark terms, even as "ideal types." I am aware that the reality is often less clear-cut (especially for professional photographers who do love their work), but I do think that the distinction as I have drawn it, overdrawn though it might or might not be, is conceptually useful.
    For all I know, professional photographers might also be indifferent to what emotions are or are not evoked in the viewer by the photograph.
    Perhaps the question of whether nostalgia is an emotion needs to be reviewed further as well.
    --Lannie
     
  98. You are a collector.
     
  99. Very well, but a collector of what?
    Collectors don't give them away.
    --Lannie
     
  100. You give away a copy.
     
  101. ... and one must ask, why do you give them away?
     
  102. Why do any of us post here?
    Why do you post photos here, Julie?
    I think that it all began with simple looking, long before photography. We looked in order to see for ourselves. After we saw, our social instinct impelled us to say, "Hey, come look at this!"
    When photography came along, we were able to save what we saw when we looked. We are still saying, "Hey, come look at this!"
    Perhaps there is some primal need to communicate, and perhaps that is what the sharing of photos is all about. Taking photos is most fundamentally about saving or remembering the moment (or at least trying to). Sharing photos is still about communicating. We cannot be social creatures and not try to communicate what we have seen.
    We do the same things with words. We "see" things. (We have insights.) We conceptualize what we have seen. We write it down. We send it to others.
    --Lannie
     
  103. When we send an old photo to a friend or loved one, we are saying, "Do you remember this?" It is the opening of a conversation.
    I do not see how photography can be divorced from nostalgia. Usually, when we send someone an old photo, we are saying (implicitly), "Here is a shot from the good old days."
    The present almost always tends to pale by comparison, it seems. The patina of age affects everything, but most of all memory.
    The same is true for music. "What happened to the music? They don't write songs the way they used to."
    The same is true for respect for authority: "What's the matter with kids today?"
    The nostalgic impulse runs deep. One wonders if there might be a "nostalgic instinct." If so, perhaps it derives from a need for continuity, as a survival mechanism to counter the horror and paralysis that can come from the shocks and dislocations of life. We have to keep going, so we start talking, or we take a picture. Or we write a song, or a story, a poem, or a novel. If we cannot tie it all up, perhaps we can tie it all together, to create a coherence in our lives that we cannot find or discover.
    We do not spin a narrative, as if it were a single thread. We weave it, out of many threads. It becomes the fabric of our lives.
    --Lannie
     
  104. Memory is not nostalgia. Remembering is not nostalgia. Sentimentality is not nostalgia.
     
  105. What is nostalgia, Julie?
    --Lannie
     
  106. Here is the etymology, but etymology does not always correspond to current usage.
    Perhaps the word originated as a medical term to describe a pathology, but I am not at all sure that most persons today would interpret it as always having pathological connotations.
    --Lannie
     
  107. It's unreasonable, pushy, rich, vast; it takes you over.
    You don't 'have' nostalgia; you are nostalgic.
     
  108. I think I have a touch of it in the chill of late February. Maybe it's carried by mosquitoes. (I was bitten last summer.) Like malaria, it keeps coming back. You are never cured of it once and for all.
    --Lannie
     
  109. Perhaps it is sometimes redemptive rather than pathological.
    "I don't like this war, sir. I want to go home."
    "You're not well, soldier. You're quite mad. We need to get you well so you can get back to the front."
    No, war is quite mad. Longing to go home is quite sane, healthy. Nostalgia was coined by military doctors to try to discredit and humiliate those who found military "service" quite sick and degrading. It was invented by the same people who gave us campaign ribbons and other pretty trinkets so that we would fight some more--so that new recruits could also be found to keep the institution of war going, forever and ever. Amen.
    This thread is like trying to hit a big dumpling with a tennis racket. Serve me up some more, Julie.
    --Lannie
     
  110. By [the] 1830s the word was used of any intense homesickness: that of sailors, convicts, African slaves.​
    What do you mean you don't like slavery?! Get back in those chains!
    "It was a military medical diagnosis principally, and was considered a serious medical problem by the North in the American Civil War."​
    Yes, never mind that slavery in Brazil was abolished by a decree rather than a war, or that the British also abolished it without a war. Americans found a better way: hyper-militarization, on the German model.
    I like nostalgia. Nostalgia is my friend. I recommend it over war and slavery, but, hey, that's just me.
    --Lannie
    [LINK]
     
  111. The link immediately above is for the etymology, the origin, of the word "nostalgia."
    Here is a link to modern definitions.
    --Lannie
     
  112. "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." [Anonymous]​
    --Lannie
     
  113. Lannie and Julie !
    When you come out from your private room there, tell us all what you agreed on, so that, eventually, we can contribute. Just in case.
     
  114. Anders, the exchange led me to the link where you must have found the literal characterization of "nostalgia" as a sickness that could lead to death. I had been wondering where you got that. When I found it (on the link relating to the etymology of the term above), I was quite surprised to see how the medical terminology had been woven into what I can only characterize as "government propaganda"--not to say that homesickness cannot be pretty debilitating.
    Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, however, the connotations of the term have changed massively in popular English usage during the twentieth century and continuing to the present.
    --Lannie
     
  115. HERE is what I found during lunch hour last Thursday (five days ago). I suppose that it fits the modern definition and can thus be considered "nostalgic."
    What did I feel? I felt some anxiety at the prospect of being arrested for trespassing. I also felt a bit of frustration at having to work within the limits of what my cell phone camera could do, especially in the harsh light of early afternoon. I also had some concerns that I was supposed to be back at work at 1:30, very close to the time these were taken.
    Other than that, I felt. . . nothing. I have shot so many old houses through the years. It was actually a bit of a chore.
    --Lannie
    00dlDK-560951584.jpg
     
  116. I personally think that no one has ever captured the essence of nostalgia quite like Kurt Weill did in his "September Song" (lyrics by Maxwell Anderson), sung here by Weill's old love, Lotte Lenya.
    Lotte Lenya's work in general shows, I believe, how nostalgia has been woven into the Romantic tradition.
    As for Weill's original creation (the song), it has been woven into cinema as well, including this 1950s resurrection of it for a second go-around well after it was sung in a late 1930's movie. Here are Joseph Cotten and Joan Fontaine in September Affair, made in 1950.
    Here is Walter Huston's original screen version of it in Knickerbocker Holiday from 1938. Weill and Anderson did a rush job to get this song together to go into the movie.
    Billie Holiday's version of it is quite noteworthy as well.
    --Lannie
     
  117. Your house is only obviously fairly old and definitely in need of a paint brush. Nostalgia ?
    While you and Julie were twittering, I finally found a picture of "Nostalgia" - it is closed, because they returned back home !
    Any country of emigrants must know a thing or two about nostalgia. Here is an article from New York Times on homesickness in the American population.
    Just a short quote:
    In the 19th century, Americans of all stripes — pioneers, prospectors, soldiers and the millions of immigrants who streamed into the nation — admitted that mobility was emotionally taxing. Medical journals explored the condition, often referring to it by its clinical name: nostalgia.​
    By the way, where did you get the "government propaganda" thing from ? I only made a reference to the fact that : homesickness can be pretty debilitating, like you.
     
  118. "While you and Julie were twittering. . ." --Anders Hingel​
    Your word choice brought a chuckle to me.
    Alas, Anders, Julie only twitters with her birds, not with me. (See her portfolio.)
    --Lannie
     
  119. By the way, where did you get the "government propaganda" thing from?​
    My point is blatantly personal, ethical, and political, Anders: Governments only care about nostalgia, it seems, when it seems to affect the morale of fighting men. It is hard to get men to fight and kill, after all, when their hearts are back home with Mama and lovely Susannah.
    I do understand that nostalgia can be debilitating. My larger point is that one cannot understand the modern usage of the word in English if one sees it only in the context of a "medical condition."
    It is a nuanced term, Anders. We do well to understand its etymological origins. We cannot understand its application to art, however, if we remain stuck back there with the original usage. The word has moved on in its range of meanings. That fact may not be obvious to a non-native speaker of the English language. I really don't know.
    Yes, my "old farmhouse" can be considered nostalgic to the extent that it might appeal back to the rural South which is rapidly disappearing--and that process of disappearing is happening in many parts of this country, not just in the South. It afflicted my father much more than it did me, since he grew up on a farm. In 1951-52, he rented an old farmhouse to try to regain the past. He even bought three acres across the road from the rented farmhouse and planted wheat there. I remember it all so well, though I was only six or seven, but I can only imagine what memories that year evoked in my father, who lived (and lost three siblings) during the Great Depression.
    --Lannie
     
  120. Anders, my reason for posting "September Song" is partly to express my belief that there is no nostalgia quite like that for a lost love, or for a lost epoch involving such a love.
    I do believe, that is, that persons can literally "die of a broken heart." But on this I am admittedly committing the logical fallacy of universalizing from my own personal experience.
    I do believe that nostalgia is such a personal phenomenon that one often cannot see why something else might evoke strong longing for the past. Everyone has his or her own past, and what tugs at my heartstrings might not tug at yours, and vice versa. There are nonetheless some remarkably recurring themes: homesickness, longing for one's love, etc.
    Some people get truly nostalgic about film cameras. For others, it might be a knick-knack on an antique rolltop desk. The list is potentially endless.
    From whence comes this pull of the Past?
    As I sit here writing these words, this is playing on Youtube--at this very moment:
    ["I'll See You in My Dreams" by Cliff Edwards (1930)]

    Some nostalgic themes are enduring and recurring. Love would be at the top of my list.If I were an emigré or a soldier, I would no doubt see things differently.
    In the same way, different photographic subjects or processing treatments affect persons differently.
    By the way, Youtube has now moved on to this:
    [PLAYING RIGHT NOW ON YOUTUBE ON MY LAPTOP]

    --Lannie
     
  121. But as you might have noticed, my inclination is always to leave the area of comfort of personalizing all relationships to the world around us by talking about ourselves.
    Nostalgia is for me much more interesting in its manifestations as social, cultural and political fact.
    Its relationship to migration (longing back home), political and societal movements (longing back to empires, strong leaders, national greatness, better material times (richer!) for example) and the significants of nostalgia for reading and understanding visual signs around us: architecture, arts, tags, cloths and dresses, social relationships in general like family life patterns, appreciation of other cultures etc etc All of it are potential photographical projects.
     
  122. All of it are potential photographical projects.​
    Absolutely, Anders, absolutely. Photographic projects are, after all, the point of relevance of all these words to this site. We range far and wide in our discussions, but we keep coming back to "nostalgia" as it relates above all, I think, to our subjects.
    By the way, I love the picture of "nostalgia" that you posted above.
    I confess that I am rather taken by your propensity to extend this discussion to the realm of larger social forces and issues. The "Theme from Exodus" was playing moments ago on Youtube. It did occur to me to try to grasp the larger pull of the entire concept of "Israel," even "Zion." The latter term itself would mean something very different to an evangelical Protestant. For a Jew, it was not always about returning home. It could be about FINDING a home, a homeland.
    NOSTALGIA COULD, THAT IS, BE A YEARNING FOR A FUTURE, NOT ONLY FOR THE PAST.
    Nostalgia is closely linked to the process of romanticizing. What do we tend to romanticize? Perhaps that defines us and explains us about as much as anything possibly could. I would offer this lemma (or perhaps it is a corollary) to any more general thesis or conclusion about nostalgia and the romantic impulse: Show me what a man or woman romanticizes or feels nostalgic about, and I will explain that person's actions and behaviors. Very well, I cannot actually do that, but I presume that you get the idea.
    --Lannie
     
  123. Yes, Zion is surely the first, that comes to many minds as the archetype of nostalgia in history. When time goes Palestine and Kurdistan might become too.
     
  124. The main message I wanted to convey, is not to satisfy ourselves with the very simplistic wording: nostalgia is a feeling, it's an emotion ! ("Feeling" mentioned 30 times up till now in this thread, "emotion" :42 !). Yes surely it is a "feeling", it's an emotion and not a smell (a feeling about a smell. .) but what is of importance is that such feelings and emotions are translate by humans into social, cultural actions, decisions, convictions, positions etc : Homo sapiens, the "Wise Man", and that's where a photographical project starts with both feelings and emotions intact.
     
  125. Fred, what a shot! I know nothing about the setting or how long ago it was made, but it has a highly evocative style and a mood that I can certainly characterize as "nostalgic."
    --Lannie
     
  126. Or just a photo hinting at dark old interiors.
    I would however never, ever, use the formulation Fred often fall back on: "Whatever !" which I read as an insult.
    I like the photo, but : nostalgia ?
     
  127. Or just a photo hinting at dark old interiors. --Anders Hingel, speaking of Fred's photo
    Your house is only obviously fairly old and definitely in need of a paint brush. Nostalgia? --Anders Hingel, speaking of my photo of an old farmhouse (posted above this morning at 5:26 a.m.)​
    Anders, I suppose that nostalgia is a personal thing, and that different persons feel it in different situations or see it in different types of images.
    Why don't you post an example of one of your own photos that evokes a sense of nostalgia in you? If you want to include a "back story" to help explain why it has that effect, that would be nice, too.
    --Lannie
     
  128. The question is not about nostalgia playing a role in my photography, but about
    photography playing a role in my nostalgia. It's not even a question, both are a
    certainty and are essentially one and the same thing. Nostalgia is me paying homage to past moments that once were and are no longer but can be further realized through
    an image that's fixed in the ever present. It's equally paying homage to all of the yet
    unrealized moments that lay in wait and which - when I put them in a photograph-
    perhaps one day I'd like to be nostalgic about. Photographic Nostalgia is the
    simultaneous recollection and anticipation of an experience at its zenith. It's a point blank.
     
  129. A photo causes one to be nostalgic because it's of a person sitting, rendered in B&W, and blurry?
     
  130. to quote Fred " For me, there's a difference between being about something and showing something. A photo's being about nostalgia suggests a kind of distance. A photo's showing nostalgia suggests an intimacy. Regardless of whether or not one feels nostalgia when viewing a photo, the difference between its being about and showing can also be felt."
    Being about something or showing something or causing something are all very different things.
    I think Fred's photo in this context is about nostalgia and shows nostalgia it personifies nostalgia imo. and as I said before It would be silly to expect a viewer (let alone all) to feel [cause] nostalgia.
     
  131. FACT 1: Old photos of loved ones (or beloved places or things) can make me feel nostalgic.
    FACT 2: Photos of persons and places I have never seen can show me something that I recognize as "nostalgia" or "nostalgic," even though I do not personally feel the nostalgia. (Such photos do not have to be old.)
    In my opinion, any viable theory about nostalgia (and about nostalgia in photography) must account for both of these indisputable facts.
    --Lannie
     
  132. Lannie I will as you invite me to do show photos that in one way of another could be about or showing nostalgia a, that can make me feel nostalgic or show me something that I recognize as nostalgic - all in the same time.
    00dlKm-560972184.jpg
     
  133. But of course I could also show you a collage which I made with nostalgia in mind, below, and again it is about or showing nostalgia, that can make me feel nostalgic or show me something that I recognize as nostalgic - all in the same time.
    PS someone among you could maybe help me out by correcting my pigeon latin.
    00dlKp-560972284.jpg
     
  134. Brad wrote: "A photo causes one to be nostalgic because it's of a person sitting, rendered in B&W, and blurry?"
    In a way, yes. Nostalgia is for the filler, the glue -- the stuff that is not an event, not a drama, but rather all, and all, and all of that slow, faintly colored/flavored/humming nothingness which fills in, supports, sustains; which was always there for us. Stuff, the details of which, we didn't pay particular attention to until it was gone or going; which we didn't 'see' because it was 'just' filler.'
    'Blurry,' 'B&W' (no particular color), 'sitting' (between/resting/waiting), are all that kind of thing. I'd add 'darkness' as kind of the ultimate non-event filler.
    'Now' is action, it's busy-ness, it's getting things done. Later, we notice what we missed.
     
  135. Ah! sorry, Lannie, you asked for back stories concerning the photos above. A long story for each of the photos, which I would not launch myself in order not to overburden the thread with personal small talk. And furthermore I'm fiercely against using internet for spreading intimate knowledge about myself (difficult, impossible, I know), but anyway some back stories below
    Top-left: photo from the seventies of a fortified village in Montenegro, which were in the war zone during the Nato bombings of 1999, but also part of the bombings of neighboring Dubrovnik. Fight for autonomy, role of royal family, could symbolise the strong role of nostalgia in our world of nation states.
    Top centre : Photo from the seventies, again, but could be shot today. Nothing has changed. The Tullerie gardens in Paris created in 1564 and open to the public since 1667. The castle of the Tullerie of the same name was burned down and destroyed during the uprising of the Paris in 1871: the Commune. The park is maybe a symbol of Parisian bourgeois life-style. Nostalgia of old days - and then there is even a statue of the Julius Cesar who brought Roman Empire as far as to Britain illustrating imperialistic nostalgia for the extreme !
    Top-right: Just a door knobs from a flat in a very old house in Paris (with cellars dating back to the middle ages) where I lived 4-5 years, years ago. The knobs are not older than begin of last century I would believe. Personal nostalgia !
    Bottom-left: View from a house in Ireland. Childhood and memories, Looking out, day-dreaming. Nostalgia ?
    Bottom-centre : Old people reading in a Parc de Bagatelle, in the Boulogne park in Paris. Bagatelle was created as a private park in 1775 by Count of Artois (and Queen Marie-Antoinette - LouisXVI). Back to nature, English country side park layout. Today, the place to make a promenade together with present days affluent Parisian bourgeoisie feeling nostalgia as just "normal".

    Bottom-right: Another private park that dates back to the beginning of the 19th century (1830s), now open for the public since not so many years (1972): The Solway Domaine with it's large park and a castle in the middle just outside Brussels in Belgium. A view towards a "folly", a star with references to the Versailles Palace. An image of nostalgia in garden layouts - day-dreaming .
    Concerning my "Urbs Nostalgia" it is a collage of one single photo of Paris seen towards the Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hills of Montmartre, at the far, trying to create a uniform unhistorical vision of the city. Pure nostalgia !
     
  136. "A photo causes one to be nostalgic because it's of a person sitting, rendered in B&W, and blurry? "Brad.
    I think many folk are getting nostalgia confused with the atmosphere/feel of the photograph. I really fall to understand Fred's photograph... an out of focus subject and a dark image why has it anything to do with nostalgia....sorry Fred. Just looking at the photo a sharp image of the subject would have done a lot more for it.
    Julie,"the ultimate non-event filler". Love the phrase...I want one a "ultimate non-event filler". Putting it in my book of words along with a " ultimate event filler".
    A photo's being about nostalgia suggests a kind of distance. A photo's showing nostalgia suggests an intimacy. Regardless of whether or not one feels nostalgia when viewing a photo, the difference between its being about and showing can also be felt." JD Wood
    'A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past. Nostalgia. The above JD post can relate to any photograph.....
     
  137. The above JD post can relate to any photograph.....​
    But that's the point. Nostalgia doesn't have any color or flavor of its own. It takes on the colors and flavors of the things being recalled and relived through memory, which can be anything. The potential flavor of a nostalgia isn't necessarily the flavor of 'the past'. It's what's being recollected from the past, not the past itself.
     
  138. Oxford English Dictionary def. Nostalgia "A sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past". No one is nostalgic about bad times, unless they profited or were in charge, or unless the present is worse. I prefer to keep images in my head and files of people when they were well and times that were happy. Just a romantic, I guess.
     
  139. "No one is nostalgic about bad times" (Sandy)
    Sandy, people can be nostalgic of certain aspects of life in bad times too.
    If you talk to people that have lived through times of wars (Second World War) or dictatorships (Franco) you will often hear about stories on greater feeling of solidarity and togetherness among people, the joy of simple things and basic food. Many older people talk of longing back to those times despite the horror of war and prosecutions. "Good times" is a very complex issue - "longing back" too. You have former prisoners "longing back" to prison too of some reason or another.
     
  140. Lannie, your mom does not need introduction, but the other two you uploaded do, I think. You wanted "stories behind", the least you can do is to follow it up yourself.
     
  141. Sandy Vongries wrote: "No one is nostalgic about bad times, unless they profited or were in charge, or unless the present is worse."
    That last is a BIG loophole. But it doesn't account for why the picture of Jackie trying to jump out of the car with her husband's (the President's) brains splattered all over her makes me feel nostalgic. I don't even see the fact's of the picture anymore. (And I don't think the present is worse.)
    Also, see my previous post:
    Julie H [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Feb 21, 2016; 06:27 a.m.
    Personal confession of nostalgia: I never really liked darkroom work itself, the mechanics of the wet and dry work of processing; though I truly loved the magical-ness of what it did; the revelation out of darkness, and all that stuff.
    Nevertheless, though I left the darkroom for Photoshop and have never looked back, I bought, enjoy and ... feel nostalgic when looking at, the book, Developer Trays -- which is nothing more than exactly what its title would lead you to expect -- lots of pictures of developer trays of famous photographers. I still have my equally stained developer tray -- which for so many years I dreaded.
     
  142. Sandy is right, we have a sentimental longing for a previous period, one which we are no longer a part of but which influenced our way of thinking, our emotions, or was a period we simply greatly enjoyed. Bad times are more easily forgotten, unless they contributed something to our development that was positive in the long run.
    Developer trays of Julie may be in the last category and something she had to do (as a learning process or because nothing else was possible then) before discovering better photographic techniques for her. Julie, that was not so long ago, so I need not be severely admonished for reflecting on age. Darkroom practice was and is part of my own "feuille de route". But the chemicals of today and the smell are much reduced in potency and the magic is allowed to trump the discomfort by at least a hair. I admit it is much easier to fashion an image today with a digital eyed device and later in Photoshop, with its considerable efficiency and artistic potential, and harder to push myself into the darkroom, but it remains on occasion one of the most relaxing and rewarding things I can do in photography. Like the friendship of an old friend, I cannot desert it.
    At best, it is not with nostalgia that I look back at my more active printing days but instead with mild senses of guilt and procrastination for not doing it more often today. Nostalgia is still a future option in that case. We can also I think easily predict our future nostalgias. I am discouraged by much local verrnacular architecture that is going down the drain here, but there still remains a lot to be saved and enjoyed where that is practicable, and so I can only predict some future nostalgia that will be felt following its disappearance (and hopefully I will not be in that chronological position), although architecture will still exist to be that human made wall linking the outside with the inside.
     
  143. Arthur, "learning process" strikes a chord ... I think you're onto something because I am, surely, proud of skills/craft that was gained in the doing and only in the doing.
    Also, re darkrooms, there is something that I didn't really appreciate at the time (due to my misery ... ), about being in an exquisitely private, secret, secluded place (assuming a private darkroom). Mine has double doors, so I not only can't see the outside world, I can't hear anything except the humming of the exhaust fan and the radio (which, being in a remote area, only received one channel from a tiny town nearby, which inevitably played the local obituaries when I was doing 8x10 negatives -- especially fraught times for me because I *always* seemed to scratch one, no matter how careful I was, and because it was total darkness and no option to pause ... and ... I'm feeling less nostalgic by the second as I write this ... ).
     
  144. No doubt, nostalgia will be different things to different people, and though there will be differences there will be overlap as well. I'm not saying nostalgia can be anything or everything, I'm just saying that there's a range of things that we each might consider nostalgic. That's why dictionary definitions and even agreement on exact definitions can be much less important than the ways in which they manifest for each of us in a photo. Telling someone else what's wrong with the way they think about nostalgia is like telling someone else what's wrong with the way they think about love or sadness or happiness.
    What challenges me here is not how each of us defines nostalgia but how each of us sees it. To that end, looking at others' photos, the photos they've chosen as showing or being about or evoking nostalgia, is not something to argue with but rather something to try to empathize with or at least glean something from.
    We can debate any photo's showing of any emotion until the cow's come home and supposedly prove to ourselves and each other that this is all merely subjective. Or, we can see our photos as an opportunity for each of us to share our visions of these various emotions with each other and only hope that fellow photographers have some desire and ability to open themselves up to the potential of another's realities and possibilities.
    Just as what a photo looks like is in many ways more important than whatever we might assume it represents, what each of our chosen photos tells about our vision of nostalgia is much more important, to me, than whatever nostalgia supposedly "really" is.
     
  145. Fred, you are inventing ! Shadow-boxing !
    No-one, I believe, has told anyone in this thread, that there is something "wrong" in how they understand the term nostalgia. On the contrary most, in fact, have discussed the great variations of ways of thinking about nostalgia.
    I certainly agree with Fred, that the photos, which have been uploaded should be the best source for sharing what nostalgia means to each of us. But I have also noticed the limited number of comments on the photos. Most of them could have been introduced in the No-Words forum to better effect.
     
  146. But I have also noticed the limited number of comments on the photos.
    Most of them could have been introduced in the No-Words forum to better effect​
    A+ Anders. Thanks for the chance for a good chuckle. Yes, we are active photographers, but these columns seem to be mainly adapted to discussing the nature of the OP or one's take on it or the specific wording (which is OK I think, as long as it doesn't become too obsessional and unique) and less on the visual. I admit to occasionally obsessing in that regard and forgetting the pleasure of commenting a collegue's work. We probably should remind ourselves from time to time of that, as you mentioned, and that credits/critiques could be gained from the photographs as much as thoughtful essays.
     
  147. Arthur, I think this OP is indeed a special case, where it is anything but clear what each one of us are talking about, unless we make the effort of formulating it in words, beside sharing photos. By not writing about what we show and see, incomprehensive takes over.
     
  148. Lannie, your mom does not need introduction, but the other two you uploaded do, I think. You wanted "stories behind", the least you can do is to follow it up yourself.​
    Anders, how much of a back story does one need? One is a picture of a pond. The other is a picture of an old caboose--of a type not seen very much anymore.
    As for the photo I posted of a pond, I was reminded of the techniques used by the Impressionists such as Monet and others. I couldn't help but wonder whether that style does not lend itself to a sense of nostalgia, perhaps because of its dreamlike quality.
    That in turn led to yet another question: What do nostalgic photos and paintings have in common with dreams or dream states? This goes along with the idea that one function of nostalgia can be to alleviate the pain of memories of the past--sort of like having a comforting dream of a now-departed loved one.
    --Lannie
     
  149. This quote is from one of the links I posted above. I like Barthes' comments very much:
    As Roland Barthes put it in “Camera Lucida,” his graceful and disarmingly poignant meditation on the nature of the art, the photograph always says the same thing: “That has happened.” Which means that every photograph is equivalent even as each one is distinct, and that they all capture a precise present and register its conversion into an irretrievable past. Photography is the definitively modern, technologically relentless engine for the mass production of nostalgia. [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  150. Excellent links, Lannie -- except for this one which was kind of 'gag-me-with-a-spoon.'
    I only skimmed them (am heading out to zip over a few (small) mountains outside my back door). Will look closer, later. They look juicy.
     
  151. Yes, Julie, I realized the perils of posting that one. There were many that were much worse: some were all baby pictures, for example (in color at that ).
    Enjoy the mountains. I have to drive a good ways to get to some decent mountains. I'm going to try to work my way over to Linville Gorge this weekend. If I had time I would go on over to Roan Highlands.

    I have a lot of old memories of the latter. Perhaps I can create some new memories of the former.
    --Lannie
     
  152. Lannie, you were the one who asked for back stories, so you are nearest to answer the question on "how much of a back story does one need". Your photo of your mother is a good example. We all got mothers and some of them are without doubt worthy of our nostalgia, others surely not. But again I do not expect, or even want to read about your relations with your mother here on Photonet (privacy and intimacy).
    Concerning your question on dreams, I was waiting for it !
    Now I will look at your links.
     
  153. Anders, you might want to be careful about that word "relations" in English, especially where mothers are concerned.
    There is also this classic bit of Americana about which absolutely no one waxes nostalgic.
    --Lannie
     
  154. Julie, you must have missed this one.
    --Lannie
     
  155. Why I should be careful about using the word "relations" goes beyond my head when referring to your, or they must have been very special indeed (I don't want to know). Have a look at Webster.
     
  156. Nostalgia is an associative and non linear process. It speaks in hidden meanings of love and loss, fate and faith, change and chains,...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  157. Phil, here is what I get from your pictures:
    For me, they are not nostalgic. Rather they are metaphors for nostalgia -- very good metaphors for nostalgia (they really are good), but, for me, not nostalgic. I can intellectually think "that's the kind of thing/place/time that would be nostalgic for somebody, somewhere." It's the kind of thing (a metaphor for, a pointer to) what is meant, but, FOR ME, it's not, itself, "nostalgic."
    BUT, but, but -- don't get mad at me just yet -- I find that the metaphor is actually more interesting, in fact, much more interesting, much larger, much ... richer, than "nostalgia." I think, for me, nostalgia is a local, personal, idiosyncratic, place that isn't really something that's going anywhere for me. It's a little bit stagnant. But, if used as a motivator or initiator for the kind of metaphoric explosion/exploration that you are getting out of it in the pictures you've posted; from it, or because of it, then that's what is interesting. In other words, "nostalgia," for me, is of interest not as end but as means to, or access to something much more creative and ... better (I'm all out of words).
     
  158. I don't see my pictures as a metaphor or a symbol for nostalgia, or as necessarily nostalgic. If nostalgia plays a part in them ( which I definitely think it does, by the very nature of the medium used ), then they're a metaphor for all the conscious and unconscious aspects of my experiences ( past and present ) that may trigger feelings of nostalgia in me.
     
  159. The related concepts of the Japanese Mono no aware and the German Sehnsucht are useful to get to a deeper meaning of nostalgia ( beyond the 'longing for the good old days' meaning ).
     
  160. In other words, "nostalgia," for me, is of interest not as end but as means to, or access to something much more creative​
    Yes. It's not memory itself but the thing remembered that gives the spark.
     
  161. I do see a single photograph posted that depicts nostalgia. Why, because it is a personal thing and what might be nostalgia for you does not mean that it will be nostalgia for me.
    We can play with semantics and add extra meanings to words and portray them as a mystical wonderland...but that is all we are doing playing with a words and redefining their meanings to suit our argument....
    Regardless of my thoughts, I enjoyed the posted photographs, which are often forgotten and lost as a third cousin to the flower of prose.
    A pleasant change.
     
  162. " If nostalgia plays a part in them ( which I definitely think it does, by the very nature of the medium used ), then they're a metaphor for all the conscious and unconscious aspects of my experiences ( past and present ) that may trigger feelings of nostalgia in me" Phil.
    Just out of interest why by the" very nature used" would other mediums be less worthy?
     
  163. For instance...
    I see an old abandoned dwelling which in someway is supposed to give me feelings of nostalgia...I just see a dwelling that unfortunate folk could live in and be given a grant to improve it. If they could not be bothered well goodbye go somewhere else.
     
  164. Nostalgia is like the wind. A photographer can only depict the effects of it, not the actual thing. The effect that nostalgia has on my inner world and that I put in a photograph in turn affects the way I feel when looking at the photograph. And it's that feeling that I'm mining and cultivate towards the next photograph, and the next,...
    It's never about any single photograph. That's like expecting a poet to express something complex with only one word. The single photograph doesn't interest me any more than that the single word interests the poet.
     
  165. For instance...
    I see an old abandoned dwelling which in someway is supposed to give me feelings of nostalgia...​
    Is it? Are you really sure that that's what the photograph and the way in which it relates to the one next to it is supposed to do for you the viewer? A photograph isn't an answer or a 'proof' of anything. It's more of a question. An inexactness.
     
  166. "It's not memory itself but the thing remembered that gives the spark." (Phil)

    Phil, you provide a twist to answering Lanni's question on "whether nostalgia plays a role in our photos".
    Yes surely, nostalgia, the nostalgia of the photographer can make this spark that provokes inspiration and creativity. I don't think the flat memory is enough. A strong feeling of longing, and maybe even longing "back", might make the miracle. And you seem to have forgotten the important role of the viewer,and chosen to concentrate on your good old self. Why show them to us, then ? We are not especially interested in the photographer. We are interested in his photos and what they show for us.

    And furthermore, nostalgia can be what viewers see and feel and act on when looking at a photography. So we are still in the core of the discussion throughout this OP : photographs that are about or showing nostalgia, and that can make me feel nostalgic or show me something that I recognize as nostalgic, and maybe all in the same time.

    I would however not dismiss "the single photograph" and your reference to the single word poem.

    Have you aver heard of the word: "lighght" and the American poet: Aram Saroyan. Well he made the poem of the single word and express something complex with only one word and he became known for and by it. I will not bother you about single photographs photographers. Sometimes, indeed it's about a single photographs.
    And furthermore, although you open the discussion on
     
  167. "... images begin to ooze like confessions." — caption in the film La jetée
    "This film ... would like to offer itself as a fish tank for the future fisherman casting his nets into the past." — Chris Marker, talking about La Jetée
    "My home country just always seemed to me to be a part of my being. Living away from it has given me a perspective I don't think I would have had if I stayed there. It's not nostalgia: I'm not interested in that. You can wallow in nostalgia, you know — just immerse yourself and flop around in it. That won't get you anywhere. But strong sentiment, though, I think is different. ... What is interesting is how time, the elements, and people — how all these things change. A line written by Emily Dickinson expresses what I feel about change and how we remember it, or not remember it. 'Memory is a strange bell, jubilee and knell.' "— William Christenberry in Working from Memory
    "I think that oftentimes art can make an outsider look back on something he has never been part of, and make him feel like he has always been part of it." — William Cristenberry, in Working from Memory
    Lannie, I think you would like Christenberry's work. He's a southern photographer. Also, enjoyable, is that he has worked all his life with a box Brownie (among other cameras).
     
  168. "I think that oftentimes art can make an outsider look back on something he has never been part of, and make him feel like he has always been part of it." — William Cristenberry, in Working from Memory​
    That's a great quote, Julie. I think that there is a great insight here.
    As for Christenberry, I'm sure that I would enjoy his book. As for the South, I really feel like an outsider looking in on a horror show at times.
    --Lannie
     
  169. "And furthermore..."
    Sorry, I did not do the "furthermore". Already too long :)
     
  170. And you seem to have forgotten the important role of the viewer,and chosen to concentrate on your good old self. Why show them to us, then ? We are not especially interested in the photographer. We are interested in his photos and what they show for us.​
    YES to my good old SELF. I'm a KING.
     
  171. At the end of the day, be you artist or craftsman, a measure of your success is that as you satisfied yourself with your achievement of the tangible realization of your vision, photos, paintings, sculpture, furniture, whatever, but that you pleased / delighted your "customers".
     
  172. "I'm a KING", sure Phil, and you live in an air castle in Spain. Totally in tune with the subject we are desperately trying to discuss.
    The Royalist.
     
  173. For Phil/Anders -- on the conundrum of being a photographer. This is Guy Tillim:
    ... In Guyana, I photographed a dog in the middle of the road [through a dusty windshield, Phil]. The image made me begin to think of a collection of images -- a sort of diary in retrospect. I was struck by its seemingly arbitrary and loose composition and distant subjects. It was an ordinary scene -- two cars passing on a road, but the dog caught in the traffic (he escaped) created the worthy moment. The fire on the horizon and the piece of white added an undefined menace. The image is a thing of beauty to my mind, has stayed with me for years. It always will. But the scene itself, in reality, was not. It was an instant in an uncomfortable journey, unmemorable except for this scene, which, if I had not captured it on film, would too have passed into oblivion.
    These moments are elusive, alluring for being so. My brand if idealism that had its roots in the time I started photographing in South Africa, during the apartheid years of the 1980s, has dimmed. There was right and wrong; it seemed clear to me on which side I stood. One would forego what I might now call subtlety, for the sake of making a statement about injustice. The world's press set the tone and timbre of the reportage it would receive, and I for one was bought by it. Perhaps that is why I now look for ways to glimpse other worlds, which I attempt to enter for a while. But one cannot live them all, and usually I am left with a keen sense of my own dislocation.
    Of course, there is always this: to change what is ugly and brutal into something sublime and redemptive. So I have photographs I like for reasons I have come to distrust.
    I learned my trade as a photojournalist, but feelings of impotence in the face of others' despair led me to look away, as if catching only obliquely their reflected light. These are photographs of disparate locations, but their justification for ending up in one collection, their basis for comparison, is of another nature: disquiet, introspection, wonder.​
     
  174. "I have photographs I like for reasons I have come to distrust." - worth thinking about further...

    Great writing, Julie. Thanks.

    Luckily for for humanity, there is more to arts then introspection, although, that is where most arts make roots. If we can enjoy and learn from works of arts, it is only because they were cut loose from the claustrophobic closets of their creators.
     
  175. Except, of course, when we "learn" that we have, in common, "claustrophobic closets."
     
  176. "claustrophobic closets"
    If that is the only thing you see as common between us, your are in deep trouble. Open the windows, talk to your neighbors, get informed....
     
  177. All so clear. So easy. Why do we need art when we have moralisateur?
     
  178. "Moralisateurs" are always around, better live with them. We have those guys in common, maybe.
    Art is liberating, gets us out of the closets, into society, changing society, changing ourselves with it, so that we do not go back into the comfort zones of only talking about our personal closets, shooting it.
     
  179. A 'personal closet' is the *only* thing that we all have in common. That's the paradox that you have to deal with.
     
  180. Well, if that is how you feel about, Julie.
    I would personally maybe add a few other things we have in common: society of fellow humans, the blue sky in clear weather, and the Northern Star if we share hemisphere - if not the Southern Star if you are lucky to be able to see it. Who knows !
     
  181. Who is this "we"? Closet-less, I presume?
     
  182. If we can enjoy and learn from works of arts, it is only because they were cut loose from the claustrophobic closets of their creators.​
    Anders, this is downright poetic. Did you create this or did you lift it from somebody else's writings?
    --Lannie
     
  183. A 'personal closet' is the *only* thing that we all have in common. That's the paradox that you have to deal with.​
    That would be our own reality (or "realities"), I presume. If you and I were to go out shooting together, Julie, would we see the same mountain? Would our photos of it look the same?
    I doubt that there is very much, if anything, that is objective in art.
    --Lannie
     
  184. That's why it's a paradox.
     
  185. No one can feel my pain. Does this mean that no one can feel my nostalgia?
    I realize, of course, that I cannot photograph my nostalgia, but my nostalgia can infuse my own perception. Can anyone seeing the same image sense that same nostalgia? To any degree?
    Can I communicate my nostalgia? If you say that you feel the same thing, how I know that what you feel is what I feel?
    --Lannie
     
  186. No lifting. I would always put in quotation marks when I do liftings.
    Concerning the "we" it was, if you permit, you and I, but it could also be the "we", like in "we the people".
    You might have noticed that I have no intention of arguing for a closet-less-ness. We all have our closets. Some of them are probably lived as mainly claustrophobic by their inhabitants, but others are fertile grounds of creativity.
    What I'm arguing for is that even for photographers there in a world outside the closet, where their photos will live the majority of the lifetime being seen and provided with a meaning by viewers - or ignored. Discussing photography from the perspective of closets only is like looking at archaeological artifacts and insisting on only considering the soil they were extracted from.
     
  187. You are more profound than I knew, Anders. Forgive me for underestimating you.
    --Lannie
     
  188. Never noticed, Lannie, I'm not that susceptible.
     
  189. That there is a viewer is self evident. No need to remind ourselves of that when describing our own creative process and neither does introspection suggest a forgetting of the outside world.
    The World Within
     
  190. Phil, yes, that all seemed obvious to me also. The I/We and the Photographer/Viewer and the Self/Other dichotomies which seem to yield closets and inabilities to feel each others' pain reminds me of a quote of Hegel. Hegel's talking about love, but it can be applied to art, and life, as well.
    “...this is love. I have my self-consciousness not in myself but in the other. I am satisfied and have peace with myself only in this other and I AM only because I have peace with myself; if I did not have it then I would be a contradiction that falls to pieces. This other, because it likewise exists outside itself, has its self-consciousness only in me; and both the other and I are only this consciousness of being-outside-ourselves and of our identity; we are only this intuition, feeling, and knowledge of our unity. This is love, and without knowing that love is both a distinguishing and the sublation of this distinction, one speaks emptily of it.” —Hegel​
     
  191. Phil, with all respect, if your not forgetting the outside world is all about your feelings about the outside world you are definitely staying in the closet.
    Yes I had expected someone coming up with Jung at this point, but I don't think Jung will bring you outside the closet: "Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes"

    But all this does not help us to come back to nostalgia which was the subject. We risk to end up in a cul-de-sac discussion in the Philo-forum.
     
  192. Actually, all this talk of closets brings me right back to nostalgia, as I remember those days well, and not all without fondness.
    NSFW LINK
     
  193. Anders,

    The "closet" you keep referring to is one of your own creation. I don't think of the creative process and of making photographs in that way. The Hegel quote that Fred posted sums it up well.
    Here is the part in which Jung talks about the world 'within' being just as much a fact of and an influence to the world that's 'outside'. Which is why an understanding and knowledge of the within is so important.
    But all this does not help us to come back to nostalgia which was the subject​
    The subject is the role of nostalgia in our photos. So that's what I was talking about and showing, my personal creative process, which naturally, involves the outside world.
     
  194. Phil, the question is not whether or not your photos are of the "outside world" or of your very own personal closet. I have not seen any photos of any closets, what so ever up till now !
    The "closets" allusion emerge however at the very same moment we solely look at such images considering our feelings, dreams, emotions - the interiors of our so-called closets, which can represent a longing for something back in time (nostalgia).
    I would have expected that when we discuss nostalgia we would also, and maybe mainly, be looking at photos showing nostalgia. Never mind those who try to convince us that nostalgia cannot be represented in an image. Of course it can! Our real world is filled with such views because it is an inherent part of out societies and history (more or less of course, depending on society and specific history in question).
    Looking back at the images up-loaded up till now you will find a series of such photos of nostalgia and not just photos that make us feel nostalgic. If you don't think you can find them, I'm sure others can or we can upload others.
     
  195. You seem to be talking about illustrating the concept of nostalgia in a photograph ( for example a person looking at old photographs in a photo album could be an illustration of nostalgia, or looking at some of the examples posted here, I guess photographs of old things ). That isn't nearly as interesting to me as nostalgia being one of the inner driving forces behind the making of photographs ( and which isn't at all akin to your "closet" allusion ).
     
  196. Phil, yes. And I think when nostalgia is one of the inner driving forces and the photographer is adept at what he's doing, the photo will show rather than just illustrate nostalgia. Like I said, showing involves a kind of intimacy not just with how one is feeling but with what one is doing photographically. When one shows nostalgia, one doesn't merely illustrate, one shows the sense of connection involved. That's done through gesture, mood, and many intangibles that get put into more profound and evocative photos.
     
  197. No one can feel my pain. Does this mean that no one can feel my nostalgia?
    Can I communicate my nostalgia? If you say that you feel the same thing, how I know that what you feel is what I feel?​
    How do you know the depths of what you feel? That's the question. The psyche speaks to us through images. Instead of trying to communicate this or that feeling in an image, we must first ask ourselves what our images are communicating to us. This part of a talk on Jung's The Red Book is also relevant in context of understanding / communicating our collective and personal emotions.
     
  198. Like I said, showing involves a kind of intimacy not just with how one is feeling but with what one is doing photographically.​
    Intimacy is a good description, sensibility too. When I look at the raw material of my picture taking it can seem foreign and distant to me, as if the collection of all these images of 'the world' weren't taken by me but by someone else, which I then have to give a meaning to. At first it's just stuff without meaning. The job is then to get intimate with the raw material and to let the images speak to me, to find the hidden meanings and connections that are always there, more so than attempting to force them into a template of a feeling.
     
  199. No, Phil I'm not talking about people looking at an old photographies.
    I'm talking about the fact, that we are surrounded by human manifestations of a collective societal longing back to "better" times.
    We fill cities up with symbols of the old times like statues, flags, memorials, city layouts, old English or French style parks, post-modernist architecture, costume events etc etc, which in some cases are just banal remembering event, but in many cases are us trying to make believe, that the old days actually have not left us, or that we can build our present life into something remote in time.
    Nostalgia and manifestations of nostalgia is all around us ready to be shot by those who can detect it. But it demands of course the eye of someone mastering the knowledge needed to see it and shoot what is out of time and designed to bring you elsewhere in time, whether you agree or not.
    PS "No one can feel my pain.". Sorry to come back to it, but reading a sentence like that, you are definitely stuck in your closet and the camera will not help you out.
     
  200. "Collective longing" ?
    You seem to believe in nostalgia that is outside of the individual. How can that be possible? Where or in what does such nostalgia itself (not its prompts or symptoms) 'happening,' or exist?
    Anders wrote: "Nostalgia ... is all around us ready to be shot by those who can detect it." Really? Again, where is it, this 'nostalgia'? Shall we measure its dimensions, take its temperature, record its wavelength?
    ['Pain' is the standard philosophical marker for that which is purely ... oh, never mind. ]
     
  201. PS: "No one can feel my pain.". Sorry to come back to it, but reading a sentence like that, you are definitely stuck in your closet and the camera will not help you out.​
    Anders, in "No one can feel my pain," I was referring to physical pain, such as the pain I felt in my left knee yesterday while hiking. Did you feel that? Could you?
    When I continued with a question, I was extending the question from the physical sensation of pain to the realm of the emotions: "Does this mean that no one can feel my nostalgia?" I actually think that I am more likely to be able to evoke the same or similar kind of emotional pain vis-a-vis nostalgia than I could ever hope to do with physical pain.
    Here is a nostalgic shot (for me) that I took yesterday. I love the mountains in winter, and so this one evokes a lot of past memories. Even those who have not seen this view might be able to feel something of what I felt if they have had similar pleasant experiences of traveling in the mountains under similar circumstances.
    --Lannie
    00dlmN-561045784.jpg
     
  202. Our feelings of longing, pain, etc are not unique to us, everyone will and has gone through them. What's unique and personal is in the way one chooses to approach their pain. Delving into it or sealing it off in a...closet.
    Nostalgia and manifestations of nostalgia is all around us ready to be shot by those who can detect it. But it demands of course the eye of someone mastering the knowledge needed to see it and shoot what is out of time and designed to bring you elsewhere in time, whether you agree or not.​
    Which is no different than how photographs can be a manifestation of nostalgia, if nostalgia is a part in the driving force behind the making of the photographs. One is public the other is private. My photographs are my 'monuments' but they aren't nostalgia itself, I'm not specifically interested in communicating or literally showing or illustrating nostalgia, or any other type of feeling for that matter. The monument or social symbol isn't nostalgia itself either but the manifestation of it and often have more to do with tradition than that they are a collectively felt expression of nostalgia.

    The nostalgia that humans collectively feel and share the most is perhaps a return to a primordial state of nature, a breaking away from such symbolic social structures and thin veneers.


    [​IMG]
     
  203. PS: "No one can feel my pain.". Sorry to come back to it, but reading a sentence like that, you are definitely stuck in your closet and the camera will not help you out.​
    Lannie already mentioned that that was him writing. And being "stuck" in a creative and emotional block is just another type of inspiration for me...
     
  204. Lannie, looking at your mountain picture (nice ridge-line), I've been thinking about why it doesn't quite get to nostalgia -- even seems to resist my attempts to force it into that kind of mode.
    Oddly, if I imagine damaging the picture in some way -- scratching it, fading it, but also flaring it, blurring it, making it too dark or too light (bleached), or otherwise faulting it technically (see Phil's pictures) in addition to (fake) aging, the picture does open up to reminiscence.
    What's going on? I think, for me, just now trying it on, it seems to be, oddly, to do with surfacing the object-ness of the picture. Of turning it into a thing. Is this a kind of fetishization, or somesuch? Damaging, or otherwise puncturing the image-space seems to do something to the way I (am able) to connect to it. I'm not there yet as to what that is, but I'm interested. Thanks for the prompting picture.
     
  205. Julie, I think what you're saying has to do with what Fred also mentioned earlier, that it's not just with how one is feeling but with what one is doing photographically.

    I find myself going back and forth at times to how far I can 'stretch' the photographic image without the stretching being too much of something that's put unto the image in a superficial surface kind of way.Too much doing of what you mention and one ends up all the way back to Pictorialism.
    Most of the pictures that I've shown are actually conceived in the more objective style and tradition ( like this or this ) and not in a deliberate technical faulting. Only this one is a clear example of the latter, and it has always kind of bothered me from the moment I made it like that ( too obvious ) but I'm sticking to it. This one too ( powder in the shower / dust on the windshield ).
     
  206. But it's not about what's in the picture; it happens regardless of what's in the picture. It's about an awareness of some person in another place or time 'handling' the physical object.
     
  207. "You seem to believe in nostalgia that is outside of the individual." (Julie)

    Julie, as you know I'm not native English speaker, but , really ? - is it conceivable, that you can "believe" in a social phenomenon ?
    You can believe in God, I'm told. You can also believe to have seen traces of nostalgia as a social movement or socially shared phenomenon between a number of people. You can believe to have seen it yesterday and you can even believe, that you will see it tomorrow again. You can, as I, believe to have seen and read a sufficient number of serious scientific evidence in the form of published empirical studies, of nostalgia being shared among a social group, that you believe to have evidence of the existence of such a social phenomenon. Believe or not, Julie !

    Examples of such "collective nostalgia", you find for example among the migrant populations of people of Irish, Italian or Asian origin longing back to their countries of origin. Mostly it does not manifest itself by people going back, apart from during vacations, but by sharing, among themselves, language of origins, cultural origins, kinships. All aspects of social life that can be observed - and photographed.
    You also find such "collective nostalgia" for example in the form of political movements. You just have to follow the the daily news in your country, to see manifestations of nostalgia for longing back the days where Americans were "real Americans" and America was the country of "our dreams". Look at Trump's rhetorics, again as example, and those reproduced during the campaigns and carried by supporters.
    But as mentioned so-called "collective nostalgia" you find manifestations of in towns too, all over the place, in the form of architecture, statues, parks and events. Again for all of us to see and shoot.
     
  208. "Anders, in "No one can feel my pain," I was referring to physical pain, such as the pain I felt in my left knee yesterday while hiking. Did you feel that? Could you?" (Lannie)

    Well, actually, with my tongue in the cheek, yesterday, or was it the day before, I also felt a pain in my knee while hiking, but it was in the right knee. Whether it was your pain I felt, I don't know, but it hurt ! Maybe it is just age !

    So what ? As photographers, I would expect to look for visible signs of people having a pain in their knees, if it interests me (it doesn't) - like people limping, which, for some, might be a creative subject to photograph.
     
  209. I don't think undifferentiated blobs -- "migrant populations," "political movements" -- have nostalgia. If you look closely, respect the integrity of the individuals found within those groups, you will find nostalgia and each will be wonderfully private and idiosyncratic.
     
  210. Personal and collective nostalgia. Personal and collective identity. These are often closely related. Identity is possibly the emotion or the thought that triggers either of these nostalgia responses when looking at a particular photo. I am rather deeply involved in both these days, in preparing a small exhibition on "Spirit (or sense) of place." Not easy, and while I have lived and sweated in that place for 34 years I can only pretend to know or feel all it represents.
    Do the present candidates for election to their parties use photography to establish their particular nostalgias (Here, Mr. Trudeau uses selfies as a collective embracing and inclusion)? Does Mr. T in the USA depict free enterprise and neoliberal examples via other images? Does Mr. S use images of social equality and values to represent his more leftwards cause which seems to activate the young and yearning? How important is nostalgia in politics, and how do photographic images used in those cases relate to the future, or can they, in a dynamic world the parameters and boundaries of which exceed those of any single country and thereby embrace differing cultural nostalgias?
     
  211. A one size fits all societal and political photographic record of nostalgia is dull and stagnant. There must be a personal involvement and trigger to make it vibrant ( like Robert Frank's The Americans ).
     
  212. At Tikal by William Bronk


    Mountains they knew, and jungle, the sun, the stars --
    these seemed to be there. But even after they slashed
    the jungle and burned it and planted the comforting corn,
    they were discontent. They wanted the shape of things.
    They imagined a world and it was as if it were there
    -- a world with stars in their places and rain that came
    when they called. It closed them in. Stone by stone,
    as they built this city, these temples, they built this world.
    They believed it. This was the world, and they,
    of course, were the people. Now trees make up
    assemblies and crowd in the wide plazas. Trees
    climb the stupendous steps and rubble them.
    In the jungle, the temples are little mountains again.
    It is always hard like this, not having a world,
    to imagine one, to go to the far edge
    apart and imagine, to wall whether in
    or out, to build a kind of cage for the sake
    of feeling the bars around us, to give shape to a world.
    And oh, it is always a world and not the world.​
     
  213. The photos I'm talking about show feeling and not just things.
     
  214. The showing of a feeling in a photograph is not enough for the photograph to have the presence of a feeling. A photograph can show feelings but be otherwise devoid of feeling.
     
  215. "I don't think" (Julie)
    And yet, you might be very wrong.
    From the wonderful privacy of Irish emigrants in America and the role of homesickness, you might be interesting in reading, for a start, just a few pages of the book "Ireland and Irish America: Culture, Class and Transatlantic Migration", Kerby A. Miller, Page, 340ff, read here.
     
  216. So, for example, on the surface, j.d.'s photo of the RV above may be nostalgic because some of us recognize it as a symbol of an era gone by. We see the thing and associate to our own experiences of such a thing. The thing represents something to us. Digging a little deeper to what I say are the feelings of the photo is everything that is not the RV, its tilt, the long view of it, the atmospheric lighting, the depth of the photo, my eye being led to the horizon, the gate leaning against it, the soft, quiet photographic tones, the negative space, how the RV occupies its space off to the side in the overall composition.
    Phil, above is what I meant by what one is doing photographically, as opposed to Pictorial interventionism, though I think Pictorial approaches can be wonderful and could be used effectively to show nostalgia.
     
  217. "A one size fits all societal and political photographic record of nostalgia is dull and stagnant" (Phil)
    I would like to see anyone, that would not agree with you on that one ! "One size fits" - good grief !
     
  218. The showing of a feeling in a photograph is not enough for the photograph to have the presence of a feeling.​
    However you want to put it, Phil, is fine with me. "Have the presence of a feeling" works.
     
  219. Well Anders, your anthropological perspective kinda requires a one size fits all approach.
     
  220. I wonder where you got that wild idea from ? Don't tell me, please.
     
  221. Fred yes. The denotation and the connotation of the photograph, two 'readings' which can happen simultaneously. The Pictorial intervention I would include as being one of these things that can be done photographically. Referring back to Barthes in the analysis of the photographic message he includes 6 processes that can influence the connotation: trickery, the pose, the object, the photogenic, the esthetic, and the syntax. Pictorial interventions or the kind of things Julie mentioned ( as well as things like the soft quiet tones you describe ) fall under the photogenic process that can steer the denotation ( all the things that are there and shown and that the camera was pointed at ) towards its secondary meaning of connotation. The esthetic is the artful use of composition. The object is the RV and without which the image would have a different meaning. For example the RV as a symbol for freedom and wanderlust.
     
  222. In the image that I posted of the cemetery and the cross with the building crane in the background, it's the building crane that's the object without which the image wouldn't have the same connotation ( the relationship between past and present symbolized in both the cemetery cross / the classical pillar in the foreground, and the building crane ).
     
  223. It's funny, Phil, I was just going to write something about those three photos taken together and the way the crane echoes the cross . . . industrialized icon against religious one. The pillar in the left foreground adds another layer to that and what I particularly notice is that you've used, within that photo and within that series of three, relationships to infuse your photos with feeling. To that end, that pillar not only relates to the other two objects (cross and crane) in the photo but it acts as a framing device, and right next to that photo is a picture of a picture frame, empty except for the shadow. Now, that's a pretty literal reading of that relationship and the felt part of it is less easy to describe and I won't. But those three photos bounce off each other nicely.
     
  224. The syntax ( creating different meanings, associations and disassociations through the arrangement of photos ) and the effectiveness of evoking a feeling through it is often forgotten in discussions like these, where the goal seems to be to say it all in one single image. The desolated empty playground image that j.d. posted works well with and strengthens the mood of the RV photo, and the RV photo in turn strengthens the mood of the playground image / photo. That's not to say that both images can't stand on their own, they perfectly can but it's the potential space and presence created between the two that I find more interesting.
    The picture frame with shadow I'm not sure I can describe. It's mute. Of course the void of the darkness can symbolize death, given the picture next to it. Depending one ones perspective, I see the frame either being swallowed up by the dark and shadow, or the dark is being pushed back by the entering light. I also see it as a metaphor for creativity / creation and the history of art ( symbolized by the ornamental painting frame, that was displayed in a framing shop window ).
     
  225. On the other hand, sometimes you're using a very long train to deliver a tiny payload -- just because you love trains. (I love trains, too.)
     
  226. I love the questions ( what does it mean? ) more than any answers or payloads. I'm not trying to figure out an answer through photography. The photographs don't prove anything.
    "From his photographs [the photographer] learned that the appearance of the world was richer and less simple than his mind would have guessed. He discovered that his pictures could reveal not only the clarity but the obscurity of these things, and that these mysterious and evasive images could also, in their own terms, seem ordered and meaningful." - John Szarkowski

     
  227. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    How big a role does nostalgia play in your photos?​
    No role at all.
     
  228. Jeff wrote: "No role at all."
    But you admire the work of Luis González Palma.
     
  229. If photography is a part of ones life, I find it hard to believe that nostalgia doesn't play a part or role in ones photography. Even if it's a denial of nostalgia.
     
  230. Thanks. I do love soundtracks.. PS, Good choice Paterlini in this context. the music often carries me to a place similar to what I feel from nostalgia.
    [​IMG]
     
  231. Great picture j.d. ( from Italy? ) and yes one can't argue with the music of Paterlini, and neither with the sentiment expressed in this Kerouac quote from On the Road:
    "What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies"

    That's what nostalgia mostly encapsulates in me, the leaning forward.
    [​IMG]
     
  232. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    But you admire the work of Luis González Palma.​

    I don't find his work nostalgic. I find it surrealistic, dreamy, lost in space. But the question wasn't what I thought about anyone else's work. Unless I have lost my grasp of the English language, "your photos" doesn't refer to anyone's but mine. I tend to follow Patti Smith - "I don't f-word much with the past but I f-word plenty with the future."
     
  233. A pure back to the future maverick. How does that influence Jeff's photos ? I just wonder.
     
  234. A pure back to the future maverick. How does that influence Jeff's photos ? I just wonder. --Anders Hingel​
    It means that Jeff feels nostalgic about the future, a future that he is going to change with his photography. He longs for that future. It's a sickness.
    --Lannie
     
  235. 'Patti Smith' *is* nostalgia.
     
  236. Not that simple Lannie.
    I agree with Julie. Longing back to the future of Pattie Smith of the seventies, is indeed nostalgie and it does seem to influence Jeff's photography.
    Yes, I know, he wrote the opposite.
     
  237. On the other hand (leaving Patti Smith behind), if you agree with V. Nabokov:
    I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip.​
    To love the consequent confusion created by the fold ["a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love"... ] is to refute nostalgia with something hybrid, something strange, something new. Nabokov's definition, its un-timely force and trajectory, seems to me to be a much better fit for both Phil and j.d.'s work posted to this thread.
     
  238. (leaving Patti Smith behind) cute, lol

    I do not read the quoted Nabokov as his refutation of nostalgia and yet I do not disagree with your take and use.
    How do I explain this in words not images...? I do experience my nostalgia as timeless. I searched the quote and read these words that followed from Nabokov...
    "And the highest enjoyment of timelessness-in a landscape selected at random-is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone." These words I could use in an attempt to describe how I experience nostalgia. .
    The stand out for me is "...behind the ecstasy is something else" "...a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love". and " sense of oneness"

    Julie, "Nabokov's definition, its un-timely force and trajectory, seems to me to be a much better fit for both Phil and j.d.'s work posted to this thread." is a good fit imo but better than what, nostalgia? depends, the context and use of the quote is flexible i think. As to Nabokov mindset, may be misapropriated I surely don't know, mildly curious. but it is evocative.
     
  239. [chuckling]
    j.d., I'm glad you dug up the full quote. I didn't quite have the nerve to put "ecstasy" twice in this forum ... but I love it and am happy to have it added (i.e. I am a chicken, but a happy chicken).
    My reason for saying it can't cover nostalgia, is that, to my mind, nostalgia is in love with time; it leaves its subjects supine, willingly supine, to its lovingly cherished nick-nacky details. Nabokov ... to the contrary, ravishes his memories.
     
  240. why? is ecstasy a four letter word hereabouts .
    ravishes his memories ... again I would borrow these words for my agenda which is that my experience with nostalgia is much more interesting and satisfying than specific memories or cherished nick-nacky details of the past.
    [​IMG]
     
  241. Klexos and Dès Vu
    I find it surrealistic, dreamy, lost in space.​
    Kinda what memory often feels like too...

    [​IMG]

    - Past, Present, Future
     
  242. nostalgia is in love with time; it leaves its subjects supine, willingly supine, to its lovingly cherished nick-nacky details. Nabokov ... to the contrary, ravishes his memories.​

    He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the winged life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity's sun rise.

    - Eternity, William Blake
    It's a paradox...
     
  243. For anyone who have read Nabokov, it is very difficult to reconcile his work and an imaginative loss of nostalgia.
    He did indeed say "The nostalgia I have been cherishing all these years is a hypertrophied sense of lost childhood".
    Nabokov's nostalgia is a "hopelessly ossified nostalgia", which can be found recurrently throughout his writings. Nabokov is probably the main author one would think of when looking for the expression of nostalgia of the exiled.
    So I certainly see the question of time-less-ness as one way out of our problem with getting to grips with the role of "time" and nostalgia in our photography, but that just change the subject and does nothing to the main question of Lannie.
    And yet I love the photos of Phil and j.d. above.
     
  244. The tricycle is a classic j.d. I wonder if you were thinking about the one from
    Eggleston when you framed it that way. If time is an arrow, then your tricycle points
    to the future and Eggleston's points to the past, though Eggleston's tricycle could
    be the still new version of the one in your picture...
     
  245. "...the painful intensity of my sensations, even when they're happy ones; the blissful intensity of my sensations, even when they're sad."

    - Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
     
  246. the story of my trike photo/scan is large for me. born with the past but as you suggest pointing to the future when I took it. and now for me back to the past when I view and remember it.
    I took this when I was 30 with one of my favorite polaroids. It was taken on 665 pos/neg film. A beautiful film, special. I was aware of Eggleston and had Eggleston's Guide but I don't remember a direct suggestion being part of my intention. The photo, time and The motivation I remember very well. It was a seminal moment in my life that brought me to the rooftop in SF with this trike to photograph. I was 30 and I had found my birth family that I had not seen since I was 5 years old. Many of my photos have that scent.
    It now is a bit nostalgic for me in the common way of nostalgia. But not for the obvious reasons. I see this and remember a time when my spirit and passion for taking a trike to the roof was so engaged, exciting, right and rewarding in very different manner than I experience now. Now it musters a bitter sweet, comforting deja vu like memory. I can't quite define it with words. Nostalgia, I like the feeling and like to use it.
    PS nice quote.
     
  247. Thanks j.d. for the story to the photo. I was looking at the background trying to figure
    out the setting / place it was taken in and now hearing your story I came to the right
    conclusion that it was taken on a rooftop. This gives the image - a trycicle on a
    rooftop - even something more of that dreamy quality...
     
  248. Nostalgia encompasses both the universal and the personal. I think the trycicle picture
    and your story about it is a good example of this. It's the private experience within
    its symbolic meaning.
     
  249. One keeps the archive of "some thing" (of someone as some thing) which took place once and is lost, that one keeps as such, as the unkept, in short a sort of cenotaph: an empty tomb. But are there any tombs that are not cenotaphs? And is there anything photographic [de la photographie] without kenosis? — J. Derrida
    [kenosis: the 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive]
    For me, the relative presence/absence of kenosis, is indicative of how much nostalgia is still present, and how much has been consumed into an assertive, creative exploitation of memory.
     
  250. I'm not up to Derrida this morning, but here's Willie Nelson:
    Old worn-out saddles, and 'old worn-out memories,
    With no one and no place to stay.​
    --Lannie
     
  251. Nostalgia doesn't ever feel worn out and old. Somehow it always feels anew.
    Nostalgia is that part of memory which always finds a way to replenish itself.

    Julie, we're still talking about trains, the thing that gets us to the destination, but it's
    all about the moving landscape. Close your eyes and listen to the Paterlini music...
     
  252. If the Paterlini music makes me feel nostalgic, it's the Paterlini music that makes me feel nostalgic. That tells me nothing about photographs. If the sepia toned, blurry, dark pictures make me feel nostalgic, it's probably the sepia toned, blurry, dark qualities that are doing the work, not subject of the photograph.
    In her PBS Art 21 segment, Sally Mann is seen making pictures of her dogs' rawhide chew toys using her large-format wet plate collodion process and those pictures look nostalgic [frame from the video of her in the darkroom, seen here]. I suspect that is in spite of and not because of what's in the pictures (rawhide dogs' chew bones). Unless you are a dog.
     
  253. Derrida and "kenosis" - the "last jew", as he like to call himself. Julie it is too passive and time consuming for me and much too religious.
    Come on, Julie, give us some Kirkegaard : "Life can only be understood backwards" for example, if that can be linked to our problem with nostalgia, or is "understanding" still a four letter word here on Photonet ?
     
  254. "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards" is the
    Kierkegaard quote.
     
  255. Julie, how do you know that it's the Paterlini music that makes you feel nostalgic
    and that it's not something about the music that opens up the things that you feel
    nostalgic about, and is there a difference between these two anyway.

    And about photography, all the things that are NOT photography ( like music for
    example, which often has a photographic and cinematic quality in the way it can evoke images in the mind ) can inform me just as much about my photography, if not more so than
    photography itself. Or do you only want to make photographs that are about
    photography?
     
  256. The Tree of Life and To the Wonder by Terrence Malick I find great examples of
    films that express feelings of nostalgia, or feelings that run parallel with nostalgia.
     
  257. "Or do you only want to make photographs that are about photography?"​
    I guess I have one that qualifies. Be very careful, though. Photo.net has declared that this one is a nude:
    [LINK]

    --Lannie
     
  258. Sexy body Lannie...

    Something that has been on my mind since this thread is also Meatyard's The
    Family Album of Lucybelle Crater:

    http://www.americansuburbx.com/2011/11/ralph-eugene-meatyard-the-family-
    albums-of-ralph-eugene-meatyard-2006-2.html
     
  259. I can imagine how these sessions must have unfolded, with a lot of humor and love
    too, the way his family and friends were willing to go along with the request to pose
    for him while putting on these masks ( C'mon Gene, don't you have your picture yet,
    how much longer? Wait, just one more... ). There's that, and then there's the reality
    that are and have become the photographs.
     
  260. "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards" is the Kierkegaard quote (Phil), or in the original Danish version: Livet forstås baglæns, men må leves forlæns.


    Right Phil, if you wish it all. Nostalgia and photography is probably related to the part I quoted and not the part you added.
     
  261. Antipoetic is the thing
    flowers mostly in the spring
    and when it dies it lives again
    first the egg and then the hen
    Or is this merely an unreason
    flowerless the which we beg
    antipoetic mocks the season
    first the hen and then the egg
    William Carlos Williams
     
  262. Sandy, people can be nostalgic of certain aspects of life in bad times too.
    If you talk to people that have lived through times of wars (Second World War) or dictatorships (Franco) you will often hear about stories on greater feeling of solidarity and togetherness among people, the joy of simple things and basic food. Many older people talk of longing back to those times despite the horror of war and prosecutions. "Good times" is a very complex issue - "longing back" too. You have former prisoners "longing back" to prison too of some reason or another.​
    Really good point Anders. Let me ask this, is it nostalgic if one uses nostalgia in a photograph as a critique of present times? Also, when thinking of a utopian future, how is that different than looking for a utopian past? If I understand nostalgia it means editing out and basically denying all the crap in some past time, and only focusing on that which one sees as ideal. Is it really that much different than looking at the future in which you present the ideal only?
     
  263. I don't think it's about any particular idea of utopia so much as it is a despair at the absence of utopia.
    Life is an immobile, locked,
    Three-handed struggle between
    Your wants, the world's for you, and (worse)
    The unbeatable slow machine
    That brings what you'll get. Blocked,
    They strain round a hollow stasis
    Of havings-to, fear, faces.
    Days sift down it constantly. Years.
    Philip Larkin
     
  264. I agree, Barry, that the longing back very often concerns special event and partial elements of a specific period and by doing that one can hope and dream of, and eventually work for, a future in that image. Photography can here play a central role of nurturing that future visually. I think we all do that in one way or another, consciously or by reflex, by shooting what our eyes sees as worthwhile among the infinite possible frames around us. We create a visual world of our attraction, with build in nostalgia, ruptures and harmonies and dreams of future change and continuity.
     

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