Image quality is secondary

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by c_wyatt, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Just flicking through some news websites and came across a good example of image quality in news photography being secondary to getting the photo at all.
    Tiny crop, horribly out of focus, intense purple fringing - but it's Mullah Omar so it makes the CNN lead story: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/10/pakistan.taliban.omar/index.html . Of course, it would be better if it was a clear, crisp shot. But then I don't think whoever took the photo would still be around. Also, if it was a clear shot it'd probably be on every news website and in every paper. But my point is that an image with clearly terrible IQ can still be the lead photo.
    Does anyone else have examples of similar? I seem to remember some amazing blurry ones from the Mumbai attacks. I really only posted this because I was reading a post (from several years ago now) where someone said Robert Capa's Falling Man wasn't so great because the contrast wasn't quite right. Wonder what they'd say about the D-Day pictures.
     
  2. Just a few hours ago I saw an original Henri Cartier-Bresson photo in a gallery of the man jumping across a puddle. Fuzzy, maybe not in perfect focus but very powerful because of It's fame. Like seeing a celebrity in person.
     
  3. I've always valued content over quality. I recently took in the Robert Frank exhibit at SFMoMA. They also have an Ansel Adams exhibit on display as well, but one has to pay an extra $5.00 to see it. I would regard Franks work as more important then Adams, but I suppose since obviously many more people are familiar with Adams the museum saw a way to cash in on his popularity. I suppose people viewing Franks exhibit without any previous knowledge of his work might wonder why his work is even in a museum along with Adams.
    Adams certainly deserves his place in the photography world, but I'll take a blurry, grainy picture by Frank, HCB, or Klien over an Adams any day.
     
  4. Marc - you can come down to Carmel and see all the AA you want for free. Right now the Center For Photographic Art has an interesting AA exhibit featuring nothing but his photos of people he has taken over the years, a very different and unexpected group of photos from what you usually see from him. The two Monterey museums also have some fine photographic collections, but not usually free.
     
  5. Thanks for the info Sanford. I use to live in San Jose and once visited a gallery in Monterey that had a number of AA prints. This was quite some time ago, long before I even picked up a camera myself. I wasn't too impressed then although that may have a lot to do with why. I also saw a few about year ago at the Gene Autry Museum in the Glendale/Burbank area of LA county. Here I was a little more impressed at the technical side of the prints, but other then that, they just weren't my cup of tea I guess.
     
  6. Lots of memorable iconic journalism and documentary photos are technically flawed. The photos of Anwar Sadat's assassination, while in focus, appear distant and cluttered in a small photo. But it's remarkable any photos were taken at all. Only one PJ had the nerve to stand up and keep taking photos while ambush was in progress.
    The famous photo of Einstein with his tongue wagging is out of focus. Too many other technically flawed but memorable and important photos to list here.
     
  7. As others have mentioned, there are plenty of examples. Content is king - always.
    Here's a relatively recent example, from the assasination of Benazir Bhutto (look at the photos starting at approx 2:23 in the timeline). Audio commentary by photographer John Moore:
    http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/world/20071227_BHUTTO_FEATURE/index.html
    Moore earned two first-place World Press Photo awards for his coverage of the Bhutto assassination and was awarded “Magazine Photographer of the Year” from Pictures of the Year International (POYi) and “Photojournalist of the Year” from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).
    Jarle
     
  8. I think we're talking about two different things. The OP gave an example of news journalism, and Robert Frank wasn't a news photographer. With his work it's more that it's a much different aesthetic from Adams, not so much that it's technically flawed. Should we call Adam's work technically flawed because it doesn't employ motion blur, for instance, or that it fails to include some nice fat grain?
     
  9. Ray is correct; this must be one of the oldest disputes in photography. Adams and Weston used to scrap with Steichen over this. It comes down to personal perspective, and it's about as useful as the film vs digital argument.
     
  10. I think the most well-articulated stance of the Ansel Adams vs Robert Frank argument comes from Elliott Erwitt:
    "Quality doesn't mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That's not quality, that's a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy--the tone range isn't right and things like that--but they're far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he's doing, what his mind is. It's not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It's got to do with intention."
    "Good photography is not about 'Zone Printing' or any other Ansel Adams nonsense. It's just about seeing. You either see, or you don't see. The rest is academic. Photography is simply a function of noticing things. Nothing more."
     
  11. As is so often the case, Elliott Erwitt's quote hits on something significant while also oversimplifying the matter.
    Technique is important to any craft, whether it's painting, sculpture, architecture, or photography.
    It's a matter of seeing technique, content, feeling, and all other elements in relationship and in context.
    Adams's technique combined with his subject matter leaves me somewhat cold much of the time. But much can be learned from his technique.
    I saw the same Frank exhibit and agree with most assessments here, although some of the photos could have been improved with a little more emphasis on technique.
    Technique is often used to express. Expression doesn't take place despite technique, it often takes place with technique.
    When technique is used harmoniously and appropriately with subject matter and feeling, the best photos will result.
    Erwitt is wrong on at least one important count. A photo is not simply a matter of noticing things. All kinds of people notice things all the time. A photo is a matter of noticing something, taking a picture of it with a camera, and then processing what you notice or what you want to express about what you notice. A photo is about how you capture or express what you notice.
    In some cases, we don't care about blown highlights and in others we do. It's got to do with what the photo is about and there are no "rules" of technique that apply to all photos. But it is too easy and too much of a copout to dismiss technique in favor simply of an eye. That would mean that too many bad photos would pass as worthwhile.
    Like a musician has to learn scales, a photographer has to learn technique. Then you decide what to do with it and how to apply it. But if you discard it before you embrace it, you will always be mediocre . . . unless you're very rare or very lucky.
     
  12. "...some of the photos could have been improved with a little more emphasis on technique."
    I trust Robert Frank knows what he's doing with his own work, thank you.
     
  13. I would regard Franks work as more important then Adams
    How could such a comparison be made? They're in completely different genres. Important to what end? Obviously Adams' work touched the hearts of many people and changed the way people feel about nature. Elliot's disinterest in landscapes biases his views and many people feel differently about this matter. Personally I love documentary photography but the portrayal of misery is way overdone in today's society - newspapers and TV feast on it. I would never have one of Frank's books in my shelf.
     
  14. That is a difficult comparison to make. And although personally I think it's landscapes that are far too overdone in photography, I have Ansel Adams' 400 Photographs book and I think it's amazing.
     
  15. Have a look at the Reuters guide to photography on their website...all the rules etc. It is definitely "get the shot, don't mind the quality. We'll fix it in the office"! In fact you are not allowed to do processing in-camera. No sharpening, standard settings everywhere, low enough res to transmit on a sat/mobile phone. A few hundred kb only.
    PJ is all about content and drama, not quality. Thats why so many PJs still use the under-rated but quietly respected by pros, 40D. Nice and light, good enough for PJ, cheap and easy to replace. But no compromise on lenses.
    I was at a protest political rally last weekend, standing next to a veteran press PJ. He just stood there in the crowd with his gear still in his waist bag. . He was about 65...a vet PJ. Even older than me!! I just watched and learned. The protest leader worked his way through the crowd towards the podium...the drama of it. Police in plain clothes. The crowd reaching out to their hero. It took all of 30 seconds. The PJ watched and took his moment...a scant few seconds...out came the battered old 1Ds all taped up, 80-200 all battered and taped as well. All settings fixed under the peeling black tape. No time to fiddle. One press of the shutter button a quick burst of shots, then straight back in the bag. He turned and left. Job done. No one noticed. Gone.
    I stood there thinking...I have so much to learn about what's important. Certainly not about how many pixels my camera's got or how big is my camera's LCD.
    Capture the fleeting moment. So hard to know just when! And to do it all close up but almost unnoticed. Thats the key.
    Oh well!
     
  16. In my opinion, photos such as the examples presented in this thread win awards because for one thing, the PJ who took them wasn’t a disinterested bystander who just happened to be casually strolling by the scene at the time these events occurred. Their photos capture not only the highly emotive, even dangerous situations; they impart a bit of themselves in these photos and drag us emotionally into those situations as well.
    A recent example: Even if you’re not a Michael Jackson fan, the cheesy tabloid closeup photo of him on OK! Magazine’s cover the day he died can’t help but rattle you. Many are outraged by it, calling it tasteless. Like the other examples listed in in this thread, especially the little Napalm Girl, I think it's crucial.
    Ok!'s Jackson photo is the last look the public will ever get of the real Michael Jackson, at his most vulnerable, his final “This Is It” moment. It's the undeniable truth that despite all his millions, possessions, notoriety, popularity, and accompanying power, he was still simply a human being, like the rest of us, and who he was and what he’d amassed would never protect him from the death we will all experience one day. And if he willingly did this to himself - abused drugs -, that makes it all the more significant because millions of ordinary non-celebrities also destroy themselves and their families and friends with their drug abuse every day.
    Man's inhumanity to man - those types of photos matter the most - to me, anyway.
    http://www.inquisitr.com/27969/ok-magazine-michael-jackson-cover/
     
  17. The previous two posts were really interesting. I didn't know the 40D had a photojournalism following, re-enforces my faith in my Pentax K10D. What kind of resolution is a file of only a few hundred kb? Do they then shoot using 4, or 6m MP or so, or still use the maximum camera MPs and re-size the photo?
    I agree that the best photos are taken by people who care about what's going on.
     
  18. I don't have any examples on hand, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Good PJ photos are rare and hard to come by, so that rarity increases the value. Even if they aren't perfect technically it's just about impossible to take a "better" one of that moment, unless someone else is there as well. That's why photos from new conferences are mostly technically good, there's lots of photogs there and they are prepared, and bring their A game cause they have to compete to get the best shots. The good clear shots sell and the imperfect ones don't becuase there are clear ones of the same thing. It's not really right to compare PJ to landscape photography because when doing landscapes there is more time and someone else could go to the same spot and wait for similar light and take a technically better photo, so the technique is important. In order to sell landscapes they have to be near perfect, not necessarily so with PJ. Better IQ is always preferred, but any image is better than nothing. The super purple fringed photo the OP showed was obviously taken with a camera phone, but if you think about it it's really the only way the photog could still be alive. If he was there with a 1D or whatever firing away they would have noticed him and starting firing back (and not with cameras...)
     
  19. If he was from an electronic media group, jpeg low, if he was from a newspaper, maybe jpeg med but I doubt it, as even in a newspaper, the max photo would be 5x7. The file can never be bigger than the one transmitted. Reuters goes into it at length. Its very interesting and if you don't obey the rules then you don't get used. They basically want to retain all the ability to enhance back at the office, starting from a neutral file. They don't trust the photographer and want to see an original true to life image.
    I was talking to another PJ there from a daily newspaper, and he doesn't even bother to download the files from the CF card. He drops the cf cards in to the office in a envelope, all labelled up, and swaps them for blank ones. Then back out in the car. He only uploads if he is out of the city. The other point he made was that for a given event like a doorstop interview or an accident etc, he would only take 20-30 shots. Not hundreds like sports guys do. Apparently the news photo editors get mad if you drop a 2gb card in with hundreds of shots because they have to go through them all and it takes too much time. So a news PJs reputation for fewer quality shots gets known. Logical I suppose.
    Now how all this translates into guidance for fellow street photographers is questionable.
     
  20. I think it's acceptable and possibly expected in photojournalistic photos to have sacraficed IQ to just get the shot in the heat of the moment.
     
  21. I used the Frank/Adams comparison simply because imho they can be seen as polar opposites. Franks most famous works are all about content while Adams is all about technique. Sure Adams brought attention to enviromental concerns. Frank brought attention to social concerns such as segregation and urban alienation during a time when it was unfashionable to do so. I simply feel the work of Frank (and Salgado to name another photographer of the highest caliber) and the way they have shed light onto some of the darker aspects of the human condition to carry a little more weight then the enviromental causes sparked by the work of a photographer like Adams. Your mileage may vary of course.
    Lastly, while Ray is correct in that Frank was not a news photographer, this may be simply because by most accounts he had some difficulty finding work that wasn't fashion oriented when he first arrived in the US. Futhermore, Frank applied to Magnum for membership but was not accepted. One can only wonder what he might have gone on to do had he been accepted.
     
  22. Marc, your comparison has merit, there is no denying that. The trouble is that people will pick that up and start arguments based on personal preferences which quickly clouds any discussion. Fred has got a point though. I've seen the same exhibit some time back. From a purely personal point of view I saw prints there that I myself would have binned without any regret because they were simply way under par technically speaking. However, it's good to remember that some of these are simply there because of the context in which the exhibit is set up. It shows a certain amount of personal stuff of Frank. It could be argued therefore that not many photographers of his stature would be prepared to show working prints even in such a context. Still, the fact that someone famous presents something doesn't make it good as such. Everyone can screw up.
    In PJ it's not so much the content what's paramount but how newsworthy it is. More in general it's a lot more fluid because out of focus, blown-out highlights and darks without any detail (to name but just a few technical criteria) can be used creatively. For me the deciding factor would be if such "flaws" are based on choice or represent merely a lack of skill. I myself don't belief in image quality being secondary as a rule, it's a argument too often misused by those that lack the necessary skills. A good photo needs both just as a house needs a fundament.
     
  23. "Technique is important to any craft, whether it's painting, sculpture, architecture, or photography.
    It's a matter of seeing technique, content, feeling, and all other elements in relationship and in context"
    Exactly
     
  24. My most-viewed photo -- not a PJ shot at all, but still my most-viewed -- is not my best photo, but it tells a good, story. It is substantially out of focus, but it tells a wonderful story that's an eyegrabber.
    I hesitated even to post it, and when I did, I published it in a lesser folder on Photo.net, but was transfixed some days when it would get 1,000 'hits' (actual measured clicks) a day.
    I once was a photo editor in NYC at Associated Press world headquarters at 50 Rockefeller Plaza, and we viewed a lot of negatives taken by local assignment photographers when I was assigned at first to local, NYC Metro work, and a lot negs we tossed out because the photos were 'soft' -- meaning out of focus or with subject blur AND they were not meaningful shots.
    Other shots would have been published even if they were not world class. If a plane crashed at Kennedy and a photographer got a photo of one of two 'black boxes' being carried away, and that was the only one, blurry or not, it would have run on the wire. (that photo was taken and it was clear, however.) Same with photos taken when the FBI arrested Angela Davis. If the image was good enough to publish, and it was the highest image quality obtainable, then that was what got carried over the 'wire' -- blurry or not.
    I recall in a book edited by my former boss, AP photo chief Hal Buell, of past Pulitzers, of one photo taken by I think a NY Daily News photographer of children falling down beside a tenement wall during a fire, apparently having jumped to escape incineration.
    That photo shows much motion blur from the falling kids, to die within seconds from their impact with the ground, and was also cropped from a larger press photographer's negative (probably a graflex of unknown negative size), but it was a great photo - one of those once- in-a-lifetime (no pun intended) photos.
    Of course it got a Pulitzer for 'spot news' or some such, for the year in which it was taken. A lot of Pulitzer photos were not sharp or had other defects that would not be permissible if taken at a wedding . . . .
    My 'most viewed' photo sort of embarrasses me, because I dislike posting 'trivial' photos that are not in sharp enough focus -- I'm not posting a link here, but if you look it involves a pair of mannequins and a peeking guy, but you'll have to look hard. I think Google images had something to do with its popularity.
    Capa's photos of the invasion of Omaha Beach may have begun as wonderful depictions with ultimate sharplness, but they were mostly ruined by a careless or overanxious darkroom technician, and all that were left were a few blurry, barely viewable photos of men wading through deep water to the beach, but for all those photos' deficiencies, they're iconic in a way that supersharp photos might never have been.
    They're almost certainly not what Capa had in mind, but they're still great in their own way and were (and still are) published around the world. Those 10 surreal photos of Easy Red Sector, Omaha Beach took on a life of their own, all because a darkroom tech back in England the same day dried the negs at too high a heat, melting most of the negs but 10 or 11 and those remaining negs mostly were difficult to reproduce except with substantial distortion.
    In PJ, if there's an iconic shot, image rules over image quality when there's only one shot.
    When I was at AP there always were 'airbrush' artists to 'fix' imperfections in photos blown up from negatives or sent in over the 'wire', often to 'wash out' the backgrounds which competed with the subjects, so that the head shots', say, of a celebrity or world figure in a crowd would stand out, or transmission artifacts from a faulty telephone line or other technical glitch could be 'airbrushed away'.
    I still can look at most old newspaper and wirephotos and tell which ones have been airbrushed just by their appearance, no matter how good the airbrush artist, as they taught me their tricks in slow times (but I never did actually airbrush a photo).
    Until the time I went to work there, I often wondered why my photos looked so 'busy' or cluttered in the backgrounds while newspaper photos and wire service photos that went through AP or UPI NYC headquarters were so clear and the backgrounds so untroubled. I learned the 'trick of the trade' --- pre-digital photo enhancement was the rule of the day at the world's large news and newsphoto agencies.
    Also, editors routinely 'flipped' (reversed) the headshots of celebrities, depending on how they wanted them to appear, regardless of the hair part or some facial feature such as a mole, etc. I steadfastly refused to do that, and seldom used 'airbrushing' except where there was a transmission error - I was against enhancement even then. It seemed like cheating; still does. Same with airbrushing, and I am glad to learn of severe restrictions on Photoshopping.
    John (Crosley)
     
  25. Disagree that a good PJ has to have any emotional interest in what they are photographing. Especially if it's a one day assignment. What they do need is and understanding of what's happening and an emotional attachment to and a passion for getting good photos. Documentary, to me, would be a situation where the photographer has more of a real emotional investment to the subject matter to bring through that passion. I would consider that PJ's that go to war zones or other long term committed type of situations, such as Darfur etc. will definately grow to be involved in the events, that's just natural.
     
  26. John - after reading your post I just had to look up your "most viewed" photo. I can see why. Great shot - maybe even better than if it had been completely sharp? (It was very easy to find, btw)
    Jarle
     
  27. Wynton Marsalis arguably has better technique than Miles Davis did. Everything neat, tidy, no sour notes, no mistakes, all the shirt corners tucked in. Who is the greater musician? You tell me.
     
  28. although some of the photos could have been improved with a little more emphasis on technique.​
    I suggest you expand your horizons a little bit, maybe start off by reading up on the history of photography, or maybe art history in general. Frank's work was groundbreaking at its time for several reasons: one was the subject matter, and another was the loose treatment of the subject technique wise, at a time when the "gold standard" for photographic quality was held by guys like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston - big negatives, big prints, perfect exposures, perfect focus.
    It is precisely the imperfections in technique that makes the Frank work so appealing to many. Humans are imperfect, the human condition is imperfect, so why should they be treated with sterility? Not saying that you or anyone else should like it, of course, but you shouldn't be trying to pigeonhole art into your own narrow definition of what art should be. Frank's work would not be improved with "more emphasis on technique," any more than "What a Wonderful World" would be improved had Louis Armstrong cleared his throat before singing.
     
  29. I saw a breathtaking Ansel Adams print a few weeks ago, original and printed by the master himself. The mountain was perfectly sharp but the trees were all blurred. I think the exposure was too long.
     
  30. Why does Adams's name keep coming up in this thread? To my knowledge he did relatively little documentary photography, not much of it particularly memorable, and virtually no street or spontaneous photography. His work and aesthetic seems no more relevant here than Rodin's sculpture.
     
  31. I think the Omar pic fits the story perfectly, it looks like a cloak and dagger snapshot image. A perfect picture portrait would not fit with this story at all.
     
  32. As I mentioned above, there is currently an AA exhibit in town featuring nothing but AA people photographs. He also influenced a whole generation of photographers through his workshops, books, etc. Many of the current big name fine art photographers either worked for him or taught in his workshops and still give their own workshops. And, most important, he turned our little hobby into a genuine art form, equal to painting or sculpture. You may not like his stuff, but one way or another he had an influence on you.
     
  33. sigh... That Adams guy, always grandstanding in every conversation. Don't make me drag Mortensen into this thread. I'll do it, Adams, don't bet me! You've got it coming for bad-mouthing pictorialism.
    Anyway, Sanford, aren't there any photojournalist, street or documentary photographers you can think of who managed to occasionally take a photo that was in focus, well exposed and composed that might be more relevant to this thread? Because the only influence Adams has had on me was to learn to better appreciate William Mortensen's work.
     
  34. I just looked at Steve McCurry's The Unguarded Moment and see that all his photos in that book are superbly executed in terms of composition, light, focusing etc. Although most of his images are portraits, there are also images of action etc. and the images although colored by his selective eye could go into the context of documentary and street photography in my mind. His older books seem to have a higher contrast look with large black areas and deeper shadows whereas in this book in some contexts (pupils in a classroom) he seems to even have used a couple of umbrellas, judging from the quality of light and catchlight. The pictures in my view show the subjects with dignity and they're very interesting to me.
    However, many of Frank's images don't seem sloppy to me either. I tend to prefer photography which presents the subjects in a positive and even optimistic light as I feel this encourages people to respect the subjects and be motivated in their own lives. Like I said above, poverty, illness, poor living conditions and unhappiness are in my opinion overrepresented in news and documentary media today and I'll just look away and prefer to focus my attention on more constructive material.
    On the subject, I don't in any way see that sloppy technique should be forgiven or, worse, encouraged just because the subject of the photograph is interesting. These things happen by accident and a photo which is technically well executed is certainly more valuable than a badly focused or exposed one, for example, as people will generally spend more time eyeing something that looks good than stuff that looks just a bad photo. Therefore, technically high quality photos are more effective in communicating the content of the photograph also. Content is obviously important and the heart of the photo but a poor execution will reduce the communicative effectiveness of the image. In the absence of technically competent images of unusual events, poorly done photos will also see the limelight but that's only when nothing better is available.
     
  35. "Subject: Image quality is secondary" Therefore, genre open to discussion is secondary. So to paraphrase my post, Ansel Adams used a shutter speed that was too slow but still made a great photograph. And that's the whole point - image quality IS secondary to making a great photograph. The only time perfect technique is essential is when making pictures for Ikea posters or calenders.
     
  36. Ilkka--
    Your last paragraph puts it very nicely.
    Hugh J.--
    As a teenager, Louis Armstrong learned technique from music professor Peter Davis, with whom he studied for years. He doesn't wear his technique on his sleeve, but you bet your coronet he uses it. Armstrong, like most other great artists, knew how to express raw emotion with technique that was so second-nature to him that lay people wouldn't even recognize it as technique.
    John Reynolds--
    "Perfect technique" is a red herring. No one is talking about perfect technique. We are talking about the importance of technique as it helps accomplish what a photographer or any other artist wants to express. We are saying that technique doesn't get in the way of emotion, it expresses it. Sometimes, emotion gets expressed despite bad technique. More often, as Ilkka has said, bad technique is either used as an excuse or simply something attached to photos worth ignoring.
     
  37. It's important to study technique but when you're out in the fray taking pictures is best to forget about it and work with what you know.
     
  38. A moment is a moment. Imagine your baby taking his first steps, your son or daughter throwing their cap into the air after graduation, etc. You either capture the moment or you miss it. It's better to capture a "fuzzy" or "poorly composed" shot than no shot at all.
    That said, it would be nice bonus if we could make out lots of detail in that shot of The Big Moment. It would be great if we had enough resolution and sharpness to crop a good composition out of a lousy one, for instance. Image quality is secondary, but it's never unimportant.
     
  39. Perhaps the two are mutually exclusive. Can you get a technically speaking perfect image while still maintaning content? I would image that the better the quality of the content the lesser the technical quality.
    Not always, but often.
    Parhaps the situations (such as war etc) that deliver amazing content do not lend themselves to stunning technical quality.
    Having said that James Nachtwey proves my point to be on shaky ground!
     
  40. I have respect for what Adams did, which to me was mostly inventing the zone system. I find content driven documentary/landscape photographers like Timothy O'Sullivan, Edward S Curtis, and William Henry Jackson to be much more interesting as far as what they produced. Their rougher technique at times lends an authenticity and historical context to the work.
     
  41. A great image that is technically poor is still a great photograph; a great image that is technically great is still a great photograph.
     
  42. I just looked at Steve McCurry's The Unguarded Moment and see that all his photos in that book are superbly executed in terms of composition, light, focusing etc.​
    I don't recall which collection it was in, but a few years ago I was surprised to see a couple of McCurry's photos that were less than perfectly in focus. I would have thought he'd have more than enough samples in perfect focus so I'm assuming those very few slightly flawed photos had some special meaning to him.
    I noticed something similar in one or two of Avedon's portraits from In The American West . The DOF was so shallow only one eye might be in perfect focus. With such shallow DOF if the subject rocked even slightly to and fro it would be out of focus. But this went unnoticed in book reproductions and online JPEGs. I never noticed it until seeing the original prints at the Amon Carter Museum. Didn't detract from the photos.
     
  43. McCurry's recent books (Phaidon) are quite large size: the images are typically 35x24cm or thereabouts. I'm very surprised to see such high reproduction quality from 35mm film. Anyway, in these books the technical quality is very high and certainly I haven't been able to see much to criticise apart from Kodachrome's high contrast which is mostly a matter of taste I guess.
    Jeffrey, of course by definition a great photograph that is technically poor is a great photograph; it is a circular statement. But how likely that a significantly blurry or badly exposed photo gets that status? Not very. In the past (19th century) any photo may have been considered interesting but technology has made it easier to make technically good images in difficult conditions and this rises the bar of what is acceptable or considered good. If you look at competitions e.g. like world press photo, not many of the images are blurry. Like I said before, a good technical execution of a photo usually makes it more powerful.
    Ray, the zone system isn't an "invention"; it's a concept which allows students to be taught something practical about photographic technology (of that time) without going into the details that a person without a natural science higher education probably would never understand. I will bite. What makes this image by Jackson http://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/16649
    superior to Adams' images? If we ignore the time it was taken.
     
  44. How about an excersize. Download McCurry's Afgan girl image and apply a gaussian blur of radius 3 (assuming it's a screen sized image) to make it appear out of focus. Flick back and forth between the in-focus and blurred version. Which is more powerful?
     
  45. I really wonder why you are all making this so complicated. Whether it's painters, musicians or photographers, all that got famous didn't get there because they lacked the necessary technical stills but because they were able to convey something that appealed to people for whatever reason. Every craftsman needs technique. In the case of those photographers almost all were very good at it and/or were able at some point to let masterprinters do it for them.
    Anton Corbijn once said that technique is unimportant. Yeah right, when you are as good at it as he is that's is not only an easy thing to say but also very true. It's no longer an obstacle to overcome but an asset, it's really as simple as that.
    Yes, there are photos that for a variety of reasons have become famous despite being of poor technical quality but does that prove that technique isn't important? No, it doesn't. Denying that simple fact is either naive or uninformed.
     
  46. I think what Anton and I are TRYING to say is that image quality is secondary in making a great photograph. MOST important (by a WIDE margin) is making a great photograph.
     
  47. It's content, content, content.....and if you're any good the rest will follow. It's a nobrainer for me.
     
  48. i am not sure you folks are taking into account how difficult and dangerous it is to be taking a photo like that.
    i have grainy, blurry photo's (digital point and shoot) of the trial of the former head of security during Nigerias military rule. getting caught would have easily lead to very serious problems and waiting for the "decisive moment" wasn't an option.
    i am not disagreeing, just don't forget exactly what it is you are looking at and the risk it took to get it.
     
  49. National Geographic - LOL. Since when have they publishing anything compelling, or anything that can be appreciated by people other than the same masses who think Miley Cyrus is a great musician?
     
  50. >>> I really wonder why you are all making this so complicated.

    I wonder too...
     
  51. Why does Adams's name keep coming up in this thread? To my knowledge he did relatively little documentary photography, not much of it particularly memorable, and virtually no street or spontaneous photography​
    Lex, there are some Adams photos in the Los Angeles Public Library Collection that he shot here in LA, and look a lot like what could be described as "street photography." Some look like snapshots, with blown skies, horizon off, etc.
     
  52. "How about an excersize. Download McCurry's Afgan girl image and apply a gaussian blur of radius 3 (assuming it's a screen sized image) to make it appear out of focus. Flick back and forth between the in-focus and blurred version. Which is more powerful?"

    i have an exercise, search for mullah mohammed omar photos in the ole google and see what you come up with.
     
  53. Yup, I've seen those photos, Damon. Which is why I wonder why Adams keeps popping up in this thread. There was nothing extraordinary about his photos other than his landscapes. The LA series, the internment camps, his photos of fellow artists and photographers... none rose to the level of his landscapes. But it's a familiar name that can be inserted into any conversation about photography, just as the Beatles can be inserted into any conversation about music.
     
  54. Why do so many people respond to this thread as if 'secondary' (i.e. the second most important) means 'irrelevant'?
    Of course a technically perfect image of the same subject and composition is better than a slightly blurred one. And of course a slightly blurred photo of something important or interesting is better than none at all.
    After that, the discussion starts, but I think most would agree that a) a slightly blurred photo of something important or interesting is better than a technically perfect one of a boring subject & b) no photo at all is better than a blurred one of a boring subject (long live the delete button).
     
  55. I've thought about this a bit more and I have a contradictory opinion.
    Back in the 1980's, someone gave me a Kodak Disc Camera as a gift. Despite it's name, this gizmo was not a digital camera. It took pictures on tiny pieces of film that were mounted on a little plastic wheel that rotated inside the camera. Given my lack of knowledge of the photographic process - hey, there was no Google back then - I thought that this gadget was a fun and novel invention, and I used it to capture many precious and unrepeatable family moments for the next few years.
    Here's the problem. The size of each piece of film was no larger than the nail on my little finger. A 35mm negative must have a dozen times the emulsion area. So my precious, irreplaceable family moments were rendered as grainy, detail-starved 4x6 prints. Forget enlargements; not even possible.
    Is image quality really secondary? If you think that it is, why don't you just sell your fancy cameras and lenses and just sketch images on cardboard with a piece of charcoal? After all, it's the moment and the composition that count, right? Who needs sharpness and detail when you can tell a story with smudgy stick figures?
    I'd like to throttle the engineer who came up with this "Disc" monstrosity. I'm afraid that I shall remain dedicated to the pursuit of image quality despite its lack of relative hipness with the grainy-art-is-best contingent. In fact, I postulate that IQ is INSEPARABLE from the art of photography. Just because some classic images succeed despite a lack of clarity does not mean that they would have LESS IMPACT if they were sharper and more detailed. That's just silly. They're grainy or poorly focused because the photographer had to work quickly in challenging light (and possibly in very difficult circumstances) to capture the image with the equipment that he or she had available at the time. If they had shot the same image with a D3 or a 1DsMarkIII with IS and L-glass, it still would have been a great photograph, and we'd be able to see and appreciate a lot more detail as a bonus.
     
  56. 'Is image quality really secondary? If you think that it is, why don't you just sell your fancy cameras and lenses and just sketch images on cardboard with a piece of charcoal?'
    Secondary isn't the same as totally unimportant. As for your example of family photographs - IQ is obviously important. What the discussion started with was news photography. So unless your brother is Mullah Omar...
     
  57. If they had shot the same image with a D3 or a 1DsMarkIII with IS and L-glass, it still would have been a great photograph, and we'd be able to see and appreciate a lot more detail as a bonus.​
    And as soon as a fool frame digital sensor is offered in the same odd but compact (and extremely thin) size as the Kodak Disc camera, that will be a relevant comparison. Which will be... never, unless someone can figure out a way to defy physics.
    Many of the world's most memorable or at least important photographs were taken because only a technically compromised camera was capable of getting the photo. We have photos of Lincoln with blurred eyes at a Civil War encampment because despite the "superiority" of large format, the emulsion was too slow to freeze action. We have technically poor photos and videos of atrocities committed by law enforcement and military forces around the world that were taken with cell phone cameras where no other camera was available to document the moment and help ensure that justice was served.
    As soon as technology allows people of all socio-economic strata to use recording devices the size of contact lenses, equipped with automatic wireless transfer to censorship-proof archives, that can produce billboard sized reproductions that will also withstand pixel peeping, that can automagically distinguish between the needs for perfect focus and the desires for perfect bokeh, that can record from EV -6 to EV 23 without touching a control, that can satisfy the needs of gearheads, cynics, artists, philosophers and forensics experts... then we'll have to find something else to argue about.
     
  58. PRobably someone said already before, but I couldn't read all of the replies:
    THere are two different things at discussion here: it's like comparing (it's an example okay :): a punk band and a piece of classical music. Is one better than the other? There is a difference between saying what you prefer and what is better, because the second term pressupposes a consesnsously approved standard for judging.
    The basis that you take for evaluation, will effect the outcome of your thought - Adams chose his subjects to be taken in regard to what he thought was worth taking - his content is of a different nature than for example the pictures of those that take up street photography. Arguing (yes, I know, we're nt really arguing here - again an illustrative point) which is better is pointless - but discussion about different ways of making a photo that you feel good about - now that's interesting.
    p.s.: But then on a more social note: do you think there is a certain ambiguity in some documentary photography - for example the photographers urge to show someone elses suffering which makes a good photo - and then apreciating it as a good photograph (a craft or an art) vs. looking at it as an image of human suffering and how portraying images of suffering fits into the gears of market economy (i. e. photographer's job of documenting 'fort the sake of the victims' and his own profit) and profit? (Maybe it would also be good for me to read some more of Sontag's books:)
     
  59. Ilkka, I don't disagree with you it's just that I would make a subtle distinction that a great image that is technically good isn't necessarily more powerful than if it wasn't as technically good, but instead less distracting to view. A powerful image is powerful (sort of like pregnant and "less pregnant"), and unless the image is barely discernable, it's still going to remain just as powerful. It's kind of a semantical argument though, and probably subjective anyway.
    I also believe that the improvement in equipment has made it possible to capture images that previously were impossible to capture, more or less increasing the odds of capturing a great image, but not necessarily making great images greater or more powerful, and like anything else, I'm sure there are exceptions. FWIW.
     
  60. This is a false dichotomy.
    Was it Ansel Adams who said something to the effect that there is nothing worse than a sharp photograph of a fuzzy concept? In other words, all the perfect technique in the world can be brought to bear, but if the concept of the picture is lost to the viewer then the picture itself is a waste of time. Conversely, as many have said above, the content can be interesting, intriguing or gripping to the point that you forget about the quality of the picture you are looking at.
    Overall I think it is wrong to say that one is secondary to the other - every photographer strives (or should strive) for the picture to be technically perfect but sometimes circumstances dictate that it just isn't possible (would you have stuck your head above the barricades if you were at Sadat's assassination?!). However, I think we are more forgiving with regards to quality if we appreciate the circumstances in which it was taken.
     
  61. Mike, if the "concept of a picture" is lost then you don't really have a picture, so if you don't have a picture to begin with, how could it ever be a great picture? I think the assumption has to be that you have enough quaility to have a concept and a picture or else the whole discussion becomes absurd, or maybe more absurd.
     
  62. Jeffrey - of course you can have a picture without a concept and that is why they become 'just another snap' and not something that people stop and look at twice. If it isn't a picture what is it? To my mind, that is the sort of langauge that can drive you down into never-ending spirals of philisophical navel-gazing and Joe public will wonder what planet you are on.
    But the phrase 'great picture' was never in the OP, Camus referred to
    a good example of image quality in news photography being secondary to getting the photo at all​
    Firstly, I think a news photograph must illustrate a story - after that it may or may not add its own subtext and emotional impact. The image of Omar Mullah originally referred to illustrates the story (not that I think it adds anything to the story, there is nothing in it that does so) , but the picture of the napalm attack, or the one of the summary execution in the VietNam war have both taken on a life of their own because of the viscreal impact they have and the original context (new story) almost becomes secondary.
    But I agree with you - it is a spectrum of different levels of both aspects and that is why I referred to it being a false dichotomy. But I stand by my last comment
    we are more forgiving with regards to quality if we appreciate the circumstances in which it was taken​
    (emphasis on more forgiving)
     
  63. "we are more forgiving with regards to quality if we appreciate the circumstances in which it was taken"
    in the context of the original post/and image i cannot for the life of me figure out why this above quote is not given a greater audience? an agency france/getty photographer managed somehow? to get close enough to this very, very well guarded bloke and snap a photo via his or her camera phone or hidden camera AND live to share said photo?!?! being caught would surely have resulted in having ones life extinguished.
    "Tiny crop, horribly out of focus, intense purple fringing-but it's Mullah Omar so it makes the CNN lead story"?!?!? no bloody kidding it made the lead story? very, very few photographs of the man even exist.
    i understand the nature of the conversation that followed but seriously, to have this photograph used as the example is demonstrating a clear lack of understanding of what it involved to take said photo.
    the work that come out of vietnam from the like of Adams was without reproach and top notch no doubt about it. the circumstances were TOTALLY different though. dangerous? indeed but totally different. imagine Adams getting close enough to say Truong Chinh to snap a few? totally different circumstances (that of course never happened) and the results would not have surely been on par.
     
  64. Mike, I was referring to a situation where a great picture is in front of you and the concept is there, of course, by necessity, but just that the technical quality is so poor that all is lost, and I wasn't referring to just a snapshot without a concept in which technical quality is largely irrelevant. Anyway, this is becoming too convoluted for me :).
     
  65. The "controverse" is the same as in Romenia lifelike hearing and seeing five gipsies playing their talents by instrument, while, one after one, leaving for a minute or eating pancake. All of the records we have to pay for are mostly fully under "control", the pancake and even the hearts are out of it and the reallity of life has gone.
     
  66. Everyone is worked up over something that has no bearing on their own lives.
     
  67. I once attended a photography seminar with John Shaw, a biologist/landscape photographer, who has done well in stock photography. He commented that if someone captured the return of Elvis at a Shell station at 3:00 am in the morning, with 400 speed film pushed to 3200, the picture would still be worth a million bucks, regardless of the actual technical quality. When all is said and done, especially in the field of photojournalism, the image and capturing it, is the bottom line.
     
  68. "Everyone is worked up over something that has no bearing on their own lives."
    actually this has a very direct and important link to my everyday life.
     
  69. This thread is beginning to sound like the parable of the blind men and the elephant. There is photojournalistic value, which has essentially to do with content and very little to do with quality of form, and which often becomes historic value; economic value, which has nothing to do with anything but what someone is willing to pay for it; content value, in which the subject is everything and the means whereby is insignificant; esthetic value, which has to do essentially with form and something called human regional interest, which overlaps with content; and technical or technological value, in which the process itself is of interest and the subject insignificant. For each practicioner (to avoid saying artist), I suppose one could construct a different Venn diagram and structure different relationships among all these classes.
    We are all entitled to assign value as we see fit, and to squabble about values if we choose. It's pointless to bring up particular practicioners and works except as exemplars of particular values, and equally pointless to evaluate them outside of the context within which they were created.
     
  70. Charles, Shaw's photos don't look like he shot them at 3200 on ISO 400 film. Can you suggest a single Shaw image which was taken in this way and he was able to sell? Sounds like he was merely talking and not following his teachings there. Personally I am willing to take the chances that I will never encounter Elvis so I don't have to be prepared to take his photo. I prefer to focus on the living as I find them easier to photograph.
     
  71. "It's a matter of seeing technique, content, feeling, and all other elements in relationship and in context."
    Yes. Technique is what allows you to express yourself to the fullest. At one's best, it becomes invisible. First we have to learn how to put everything in; then, we learn what to take out.
     
  72. Technique is what allows you to express yourself to the fullest.
    Precisely.
     
  73. Even less than perfect or even poor technical quality can be evocatively expressive, and even necessary.
    Oddly I think of music. Digital recording is so good today that you can pretty much, assuming decent room treatment, create pristine home recordings rivaling pro studios. The lesson I've learned with my own recordings, and not in every instance, is that some songs suffer from being played to a metronome-like click track and using processing to remove imperfections, but it's those very imperfections that bring humanity, blood, and life to song instead of perfect sterility. The flaws, less than perfect technical quality, and slightly less than perfect timing are what bring some songs to life allowing the fullest amount of expression, allowing humanity to come through. This can elevate a song from being computer-driven sterility to the level of the highest art. And it's the same with photography unless maybe your photographing something like products in which the photos are being used in a sales catalogue and other types of pro photography, but what elevates a song or a photograph to greatness is when it becomes art rather just a photograph or a song. And perfect technical quality is not always necessary, or even desirable for the highest form of expression possible.
     
  74. No no no. What what you call "flaws" are intentional characteristics of the music. They're a part of the quality (in a positive sense). Mechanical "music" which has no "play" is not music at all, just sound (IMO). Characteristics which bring the photograph (or music) alive are obviously essential. The imporant thing is that these characteristics must be kept in control (by the artists) so that there is just the right amount of the right type of "play", and not left to chance. If it's by chance it's poor quality. And people who know and understand music will hear it, and those who understand photography will see it.
     
  75. Jon,
    "Tiny crop, horribly out of focus, intense purple fringing-but it's Mullah Omar so it makes the CNN lead story"?!?!? no bloody kidding it made the lead story? very, very few photographs of the man even exist.
    i understand the nature of the conversation that followed but seriously, to have this photograph used as the example is demonstrating a clear lack of understanding of what it involved to take said photo.

    My first post said:
    Tiny crop, horribly out of focus, intense purple fringing - but it's Mullah Omar so it makes the CNN lead story... Of course, it would be better if it was a clear, crisp shot. But then I don't think whoever took the photo would still be around.

    So I'm not sure what you're saying.
     
  76. me only reading far enough to get my panties in a knot!
    ... and failing to read any more apparently. sorry.
    i guess we agree on the point that simply getting the photo was a very serious accomplishment. the conversation that follows fails to keep this in mind.
     
  77. Technique?? Oh my! This is one of those loaded words tossed around like "composition" and "art" that is really an attempt by the left side of our brain to make sense out of a right brained activity. Not only do I have no idea what technique is or composition for that matter, I really don't care. At one point I did. When I first started out with photography and started shooting in the street since that was where I had the most fun, I felt that acquiring some kind of technique was par for the course. Thank God I quickly gave up that idea. I've read many books on photography over the last several years and if there's one thing that many other established well known photographers agree on it's that when it comes to "technique" or "talent" it cannot be taught; one either has it or they don't. This also is not important to me, but it may be so to some of you and that's OK. I just can't imagine spending a day shooting where such concerns are weighing down on my mind.
    I'm reminded of a student several years ago who approached me and offered to work as an assistant to me free of charge. I thanked him but told him I had no need for an assistant. Being the curious sort I am, I asked why he wouldn't want to be compensated for his time. He explained that in tagging along with me, he hoped to learn some things perhaps not covered in class. I then had no choice but to admit the cold harsh truth that in fact I have no idea what I'm doing when I'm taking pictures since I rely on instinct more then anything, therefore learning anything from me would be a crap shoot at best.
    When the heat is on, there is going to be times where making choices about exposure, focus, and so on is a luxury that just isn't going to happen. That is exactly the way it should be and I for one wouldn't have it any other way.
     
  78. Oddly I think of music. Digital recording is so good today that you can pretty much, assuming decent room treatment, create pristine home recordings rivaling pro studios. The lesson I've learned with my own recordings, and not in every instance, is that some songs suffer from being played to a metronome-like click track and using processing to remove imperfections, but it's those very imperfections that bring humanity, blood, and life to song instead of perfect sterility. The flaws, less than perfect technical quality, and slightly less than perfect timing are what bring some songs to life allowing the fullest amount of expression, allowing humanity to come through. This can elevate a song from being computer-driven sterility to the level of the highest art.​
    While this is theoretically true, how many Top 100 hits were actually recorded in someone's spare bedroom? And how many were recorded in the Big Studios in NYC, LA, and Nashville? Even if a home recording does hit the charts, it's usually the pet project of a successful artist who decided to record at his ranch for some odd reason.
    There may be no correlation between were something is recorded and how many copies are sold. Most "hits" today are hits because they have massive marketing budgets behind them, and when a record company puts up tens of thousands of bucks to promote a recording or an artist, they want the project recorded in the finest facilities, not Joe's Garage. Similarly, when The Gap comes out with a new clothing line, they're going to hire fashion photographers with track records and Big Studios to do the shooting. It's a confidence thing.
    I don't necessarily agree that imperfections are the key to a great song or a great photo. "Groove" and technique are not mutually exclusive. Groove is in fact a very precise and repeatable phenomenon. Steve Gadd doesn't have a lot of timing variation from measure to measure, even though his inherent sense of time doesn't quantize to a mathematically rigid grid. Similarly, I'll re-iterate my opinion that a Robert Capa didn't need grainy film to convey his journalistic vision. If he'd had a D3 or a 5D, his photos would be equally powerful, just clearer and more detailed.
     
  79. Technique?? Oh my! This is one of those loaded words tossed around like "composition" and "art" that is really an attempt by the left side of our brain to make sense out of a right brained activity. Not only do I have no idea what technique is or composition for that matter, I really don't care.​
    To not care is your own choice, but your lack of acceptance doesn't mean that technique and composition do not exist. There's a difference between a Beethoven piano sonata and someone banging the ivories with their elbows. That difference can be summed up in two words: technique and composition.
    I'm sure that I could make a fun, Dadaist compilation of images by pointing my unfocused camera in random directions with my eyes closed. And that would indeed be a "technique." However, it would not be a THOUGHTFUL or REPEATABLE technique. It would be a technique of random selection.
    A good example of REAL technique is what it would take to capture the expression on the face of someone the moment that they walk into their own surprise party. Variables such as timing, focus, exposure, shutter speed, and depth of field would all have to match critical tolerances, or the moment would be lost. A good example of composition would be where you opt to put that person in the frame, what(who) you include and exclude, and how you place the guest of honor among other people or objects.
    I've read many books on photography over the last several years and if there's one thing that many other established well known photographers agree on it's that when it comes to "technique" or "talent" it cannot be taught; one either has it or they don't.​
    I have three comments on this passage:
    Comment 1: Technique and talent are two completely different concepts. Technique is something that you learn and develop in order to become better at what you do. Talent is a variable that indicates how hard and for how long a given person will have to work in order to master a technique. Some people will learn faster (talent), but most people can learn to accomplish certain objectives (technique). The amount of time to learn a technique varies from person to person (a factor of each person's level of talent, ambition, dedication, and access to helpful resources).
    Comment 2: Just because "established and well-known" people agree on something does not make it true. Around the world, thousands (perhaps millions) of people learn to sing, act, paint, draw, sculpt, dance, write, and make films every day. If people can learn to improve their skills in these arts, then they can learn photography just as well.
    Comment 3: Gee, I wonder if Scott Kelby and Rick Sammon believe that all of their books and teaching materials are worthless. I wonder if John Shaw laughed himself silly while writing all of those Nature Photography books realizing that no photographer who read them would ever get any better at taking pictures of the natural world. I'm glad that no child who attends ballet classes ever improves enough to actually dance on stage one day. Ballet as we all know is a figment of one's imagination.
     
  80. Dan, I was talking about great music, not top 100 music which is seldom great. And another point is that imperfections/ flaws can be perfectly recorded keeping the humanistic flaws still intact, or Capital Records, for example, can record and homogenize and de-bone fit for mass consumption. The concept of technique and quality is more subtle than equipment.
    If Capa's pictures were grainless the pictures wouldn't be more powerful but possibly less powerful, that's how irrelevant quality can be from the perspective of art.
     
  81. Technique implies a set of parameters to be honed and applied at will. So yes, this can be taught to those who wish to override their cameras auto everything settings and learn hands on about shutterspeeds and fstops. Anyone can learn this at most city colleges in a semester. The line can get blury when someone wants to use the word technique to mean something more then it really is. I guess I'm just cynical but when I see some of these photography schools charging big $$ for narrowly defined courses like street photography I cannot help but wonder what they actually expect the students who sign up to walk away with. Likewise I wonder about the students and what they are looking for and why they think it can be found in a two week course.
    Learing the mechanical side of photography is simple. Learning to use these skills is what takes a lifetime and where people fall into the trap of buying new cameras all the time, or taking courses given by well known photographers or paying big bucks to have their portfolio reviewed by such photographers etc.
     
  82. Learing the mechanical side of photography is simple. Learning to use these skills is what takes a lifetime and where people fall into the trap of buying new cameras all the time, or taking courses given by well known photographers or paying big bucks to have their portfolio reviewed by such photographers etc.​
    Marc, these are excellent points, and you have stated them very well!
     
  83. I agree, everyone needs to know some technique. Everyone has some technique to a degree, even with a point and shoot or a cell phone camera. Photos can be ruined by bad technique. Photos can also lack graphic effect or meaning due to poor composition. Composition to me is just how you place objects or subject within the frame, which includes distances, sizes, shades, colours etc. In my opinion, every photo has a composition, or requires composition by the photographer, but in some cases it's not well thought out or very skilled. Even composition can be taught to some degree. I have Andreas Feiningers book Principles of Composition in Photography which is brilliant. Note it isn't rules of composition.
    Marc,
    ' I then had no choice but to admit the cold harsh truth that in fact I have no idea what I'm doing when I'm taking pictures since I rely on instinct more then anything, therefore learning anything from me would be a crap shoot at best.
    When the heat is on, there is going to be times where making choices about exposure, focus, and so on is a luxury that just isn't going to happen. '
    It seems if you know your technique well enough you can afford to rely on instinct, because (like the previous posts have said) the technical side of photography is the easier part to learn (I think this is especially true with digital cameras), and if you have a well-honed technique you don't have to consciously think about it so much - but rather what you want to capture in the photo. I'm sure there's times when the best photographers screw up their technical settings in the heat of the moment - but it makes it less likely they will get the photo they want. If they know their technique, they will be faster/more responsive to different situations and get more, and better, shots.
    Instinct (and experience) probably plays a big part in what you choose to photograph, and the decision you make, sometimes required very quickly, about how to compose it. Just because instinct matters doesn't mean that technique or composition don't exist.
     
  84. "However, many of Frank's images don't seem sloppy to me either. I tend to prefer photography which presents the subjects in a positive and even optimistic light as I feel this encourages people to respect the subjects and be motivated in their own lives. Like I said above, poverty, illness, poor living conditions and unhappiness are in my opinion overrepresented in news and documentary media today and I'll just look away and prefer to focus my attention on more constructive material."
    That's interesting, because from my understanding, Franks work was somewhat of a critique of the humanist, modernist photographic venture, the "Family of Man", even though he partook in that project. In a way, his was the first post-modern photographic work. But, I didn't see that he didn 't show respect to the subjects of his photos, he just showed them as they were.
     
  85. exactly. That he did.
     

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