Let's Discuss: The Perfectionist

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by travis|1, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. The Perfectionist


    We hear it so often, edit edit edit! before you post , or make a fool
    of yourself in front of the mighty(s). It's not good enough to post
    what you think it's good. They(the pix) have to appeal to a mass
    audience and be within the mighty(S) definition of good composition
    and emotionally engaging...or am I wrong? ok Im wrong.;)

    Imagine a person, starting out fresh in photography, be it in any
    era, experimenting, but so afraid to show his work because he was
    told to edit, edit and edit..before displaying them.

    He then set a standard so high for himself every picture taken by him
    seems insignificant and trashy. He burned rolls and rolls of film to
    get that group of excellent images he was told by the mighty(s) to
    get. Those images however are lost in his mind. He never really
    remembered what those images were, or how he could ever achieve them.
    All because he was torturing himself to over-excel.

    His pictures were actually very good, but he never knew it because he
    never dared to show the public...he was told to edit, remember?

    He wanted to display his works but self-imposed shame prevented the
    world from seeing his master-pieces. A great lost.

    On his death bed, he continued to take pictures, of the ceiling,
    hoping to make a last ditch in creating the perfect picture the mighty
    (s) would be proud of...but he forgot to put in film....click
    click...gone. He left with thousands of prints/frames not exposed to
    the public, like art not seen. He died a lonely man, unaccomplished
    even within himself. He should not have taken up photography. The
    pressure was too great. Perhaps he did himself in, perhaps not.

    Do you know of anyone the same? Do you think setting too high a
    standard for oneself is self destructive? When do you think one
    should stop editing? Do we need to satisfy anyone everytime? SHould
    we be so hard on people who try to put art forward? How can we as the
    mighty(s) help, instead of applying more pressure.

    Why are we so serious? time to let go and have fun.

    PS: no, im not tripping
  2. I get my best pics when I am less serious and just having fun. Listening to much to others about editing is silly. I display my favorite images in my home. Some in cheapo 4x6 frames and some in nice larger displays, some would not like all my pics but I love them because of the people and places they remind me of. No critic can appreciate an image like the artist that creates it because sometimes you just needed to be there. I think its great to ask what people think, but in the end if you like the image and got a winner in your own heart, then nothing can be more perfect.
  3. m_.



    I have gone through that period but I got a pretty thick skin these days, especially on PN. I have enjoyed seeing some of nice photos here but have seen craps as well. Not a complaint at all: I love seeing images, any kind, good and bad. I learn from them both ways, really.

    Now, I am not saying that editing is not important and I do believe it is essential. But editing will not in any way gaurantee your images will be warmly received always. To be honest, the images of mine that have gone through the hardest editing process often turned out to be the most disliked images among PN users. So it is either because my editing skill sucks or people suck.

    One way or the other, edit is a good practice but don't do it for others.
  4. *raises hand in air*

    I do this.
  5. m_.


    And to address the example you made: I think it is pretty common, not just among photographers, but across all art field. Remember Emily Dickenson never published one simgle poem of hers before she died. Lots artists are simply doing what they enjoy doing but never have guts to show their works to anyone else.
  6. time to let go and have fun

    you sure ask a lotta questions for someone whos not serious...
  7. and you sure looks like a misfit(in a gear forum) for someone not interested in gears...too much free time? oh mighty.
  8. what happened to not being serious...? short term memory?
  9. I bet grant has a few gears...
  10. m_.


    one more thing before I am heading to bed: editing to me really is only good for the time being. I took this photo a couple of years ago when I was tarveling in Beijing and never liked it very much until...recently. Don't know why and don't care why. Something in this photo that I like it now. Will I like it tomorrow? We will see. This much for the editing...for me.
  11. The perfect is as much an enemy of the great as the good is.
  12. If you post on a public forum, especially if you post regularly, expect whatever. If the positives don't outweigh the negatives for you, don't post. Simple.
  13. Good for you, good friend Travis.

    To begin with all professionals are "perfectionists" to the extent that they truly want to do the best job possible. Some go to greater lengths to perfect whatever they are doing than others. Tolstoy's wife hand copied War and Peace something like 12 times. Finally the publishers had to take the manuscript away from him. After his dark night of the soul and religious conversion he renounced his major works. He died enroute to a monistary where he would have spent his last days (he was 82) seeking perfection. Well that was Tolstoy, perhaps the greatest novelist who ever lived.

    Travis's story is fiction. It is about the photographer who is good but does not think he is good enough. In real life most perfectionists like this stop creating. They start, they say that it isn't good enough, they throw it away and start over again, in the end producing nothing. I've seen this with writers whose perfectionism led to creative blocks. I suppose the irrationally perfectionist photographer finally ends up selling his or her equipment.

    There are photographs that are more prone to being perfect than others. Still lifes, formal portraits, nudes, any studio work in fact, can achieve perfection (according to the photographer's definitions) more easily than the stuff shot outside, particularly candid photography. There life is in motion and, therefore, out of your control. You can achieve impact but never perfection--not the sort you can achieve in the studio where all is under your control.

    What so often happens is that artists reach a compromise by following a formula that works--namely one that pleases the most people they happen to be dependent upon. This is not always a bad thing. But it is seldom a very good thing. In photography the result more often than not is the technically perfect but soul-less nice photograph that you can safely hang in your living room with bothering anyone--as long as the photograph doesn't clash with the decore. A lot of people make a living churning out cookie cutter photographs that sell like cookies. They have discrovered perfection where it most counts--in their pocketbooks. The more power to them. But let them stay in places like Carmel where the galleries are full of cookie cutter paints of luminous waves at sunset.

    The sad truth about over-perfectionists is that in the end they cannot ever live up to their own high standards and give up. Achievement requires public interaction, which entails using honest criticism to your advantage and tuning out the idiots so that they do not derail you.
  14. travis not serious??? hmmmm?? who is then?? heh?
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Is this the online version of Psychology Today?
  16. Travis, you're an excellent photographer. Nobody can appeal to everyones' tastes 100% of the time. And tastes change over time. A "great" photo can look trite years down the road. A boring photo can later become intriguing, because the world changes too. You do a good job of capturing people and their emotions on film. Keep it up!
  17. Hmmm…post everything, let Jesus sort ‘em out. The shots need to be seen to be commented upon.
    Crits, good or bad and it doesn’t matter ‘who’ * they are coming from are only opinions, take what you need from them and leave the rest.
    (* = paying clients excluded of course).
  18. Ray it's not about posting om a public forum, it's about making images that you'd like to show to others - or not. Is editing just about 'good' vs 'bad'? Or does editing imply an audience? I edit and edit; yes, for posterity; no, good heavens no. For myself, just for the fun of it? In that case i would have more fun and be less critical... easier said than done. It's a long time since i've really thought about this. Thanks travis!
  19. “Nobody can appeal to everyones' tastes 100% of the time.”
    Al, exactly…and if everyone either likes or dislikes someone’s work than something’s wrong.
  20. First, I am very serious about not taking any of this too seriously.

    Having said that. I don't think you can ever aim too high, especially when creating something. You stop editing when you're happy, or when the deadline strikes. Unless someone else is paying you, you don't have to satisfy anyone. And if you're like my Uncle Mel, you'll never be statisfied...but, he died lonely and a shoe salesman.

    Enough of my family. Should we be hard on someone who's trying to be creative? It depends. Are they clueless and prentious? Then, sure. Acutally, "clueless and pretentious" are my agents. BUT, more importantly we should be even harder on anyone who really want's to improve their work with feedback. Honesty is a great tool. Anyone who feels too much pressure from posting on this loud sometimes obnoxious public forum should find kinder surroundings. Perhaps in a class, a workshop or a quiet sanatorium overlooking a glade.

    Art/photography is about communication. Without the desire/ability to show one's creative output then it's a self abusive activity...and that, as everyone on this forum knows, will cause you to go blind.

    Sooo, Travis. Start printing those images. Peel them off your monitor. Perhaps there's a exhibition in your future and you, or someone like you, can stop taking pictures of the ceiling. :>)

    And most importantly, don't be like my uncle Mel.
  21. gib


    "I used to be a perfectionist, but I wasn't very good at it, so I had to give it up." This place sits just next to the main crossroads in my little central Ontario village. Not your usual Victorian brick and gingerbread wood trim house. Not shown is an insul brick covered house which is at the corner and used to be for many years a family run butcher shop. I see this place pretty much every day. The town was a boom town in the 1920s. Lumber. Now it is a tourism summer place, cottagers. I post this because visually it hooks me as a very non-typical Ontario building. I wish I could make a better photograph of it, and I will from time to time keep after it. Oh, by the way, it is opposite a milk/convenience store. A year or so ago, a couple of guys broke into it. The young man who lives opposite came out and confronted them. He is a large guy and had a crow bar in his hands. They fled and were caught. No gun though. Lucky for him. Lucky for them.
  22. I hope my contradictory comments on the Temple Man photo weren't the reason for the introspection that produced The Perfectionist. On the other hand (here we go again...LOL) maybe that was my point exactly. There are no absolutes, not even perfection. Everything must be viewed and evaluated in the context of its surroundings, whether that be other contemporary photographs or the different expectations and mores of another point in time
  23. Al, don't be silly, not about that at all. Anyway, this post is hopefully about editing and how one stops editing. How one values one's work as sufficiently good. And how one progress in that way.

    Personally, i don't edit much. But I can tell from first scan if a piece is worth printing or showing. If I don't like it, I sure hope noone does.;)

    Life of a perfectionist is tough.

    And grant, I can respect your urge to articulate your photographic values and thoughts openly. But don't question why I post and when I post or when I ask. This has nothing to do with you or anyone else. I can return 10x the favour if I'd wanted to.
  24. Travis, remember the thread "crap on your hard disk" a little while back? Turned out to be a pretty nice thread just from what people thought was junk.
    One man's garbage...
  25. Some people apparently can't deal with truthful opinion, for what reason I have no idea. Reasonable questions are mistaken for condemnation. Honest talk is interpreted as personal attack.
  26. Alex The correct spelling is "Monastery". Now it is perfect!! When ever I hear a perfectionist twaddle on, I'm reminded of the comment by that Great American Moral Philosopher Larry Flint: "Opinions are like a**holes- everybody's got one". All seriousness aside, editing can be useful if you are are Art Director, a museum curator, or a pro critic, but I am the only one I have to satisfy as long as I manage to keep my day job. "Shoot first and ask questions at the funeral!!", to steal another bit of American wisdom. Thanks again Travis
  27. Ray, the same can be said for any response. If people can say what they like, so can I, so can you and so can anyone else. I can allow my work or grammar to be judge but ask yourself honestly how many times here have I fired off the first shot just to engage someone without even touching on the question? I did not ask for a personality judgement here, so I expect not to be questioned that way.

    well, as it stands, anything goes I guess. Come straight at me person to person, man to man. Just don't give one liners like you know me...and judge me or make fun of me.
  28. Hmmm, Ray... You mean? :

    "The underwear photo, The grafitti photo, the M.M. photo don't do anything for me. They are mere snap shots that look like something any 13 year old with a cheap PS camera could do. Anyway, you are shooting wide open and aren't taking advantage of your Leica glass's lower f-stops. If you are serious you should go to www.prettypictures.com and learn to take pictures that are real swell and would look good on any suburban bedroom wall. But maybe you ought to sell all your Leicas and buy a lot paint-by-number sets. That'll keep you busy and you won't waste any more silver and bandwidth. This is not meant to be a criticism but only friendly advice."

    There's been a lot of that sort of stuff going around the forum lately. Some people ought to go back to school and learn English compostion and take basic art appriciation so they can at least learn to write acceptable criticism of images. A few ought to take their medication before logging on.

    But seriously Ray, I did like those last three photos you posted in Gallery and gave good ratings. When I have time I'll go back and say something about the photographs. Unlike the drive-by critics who leave unexplained 2s, 3s and 4s in their wake, I like to back up any ratings I give with words.
  29. The excellent is the enemy of the good. I don't know who said that first but it may have been an embittered stone axe maker confronted by a bronze knife <g>.

    I don't believe in perfection, myself, but I do believe that if you wish to communicate you need to learn, and to a large extent use, the prevalent language. If you don't, you simply won't communicate.

    As to being hard on "people who try to put art forward", I'm all in favour of that. History shows that the artists most highly regarded after their deaths are the ones who starved most pitifully in their garrets, except for Picasso, Reubens, Turner, Michealangelo, El Greco....... well, no-one's perfect.

  30. gib


    I'm probably wrong but.... I thought it was "the perfect is the enemy of the good." And my understanding of the phrase worded that way is that while one might spend endless time and energy attempting perfection....all that time and energy might well have produced many good things.
  31. "I thought it was "the perfect is the enemy of the good." You say taw-mate-oh and I say toe-maat-oh.....
  32. might as well put my own 2 cents in ;o)

    my particular way of doing it is to "strive for perfection, knowing that I will never reach it completely"....that helps me a lot. Striving for perfect gets me a lot closer than what most people will attain, yet knowing I aint gonna reach it anyhow, gives me fore knowledge that I might just have to change something if some critic starts to make more sense than usual.

    actually, that is just another version of "you learn by your mistakes"...and that, I think, is the real key to all this.

    It was, is, and always will be...........a learning process. I just try to have fun while I'm learning.......to be perfect ;o)
  33. Yes, sure I do ;-) instead of editing more, I decided to stop shooting at all, since it won't be good anyway.

    In the beginning I took the usual crap of flowers and my home, and was disappointed by the results. Then I read magazines, books, trying to get close to these ideals. I never did, and one day was the last day I pressed a shutter for many years. Not a single photo, no vacation, no birtday party. And I don't have kids.

    The I got a digicam (first megapixal cam, whoa! Could get a 10D for that cash today!) to sell stuff on the web. All of a sudden, I had terrific joy in taking pics again. The image quality and userinterface was disappointing, and i ended up with a leica.

    Yes, i still edit, but I freed myself from the burden to emulate some master's work, or prize-winning pics, or try to imitate pros. I do it for fun. I took an oath regarding the sunset, flower, kid and pet category, however.

    How can we as the mightys help? Easy: give good feedback. Don't be a frustrated wannabe master-photographer blaming innocent folks. Always learn. Lok at photos you like, and lern from them. Look at crap photos, and learn from them.

    Most important: Enjoy it. Have fun. When it is not fun anymore, quit. Life actually IS short.

    Do you know of anyone the same? Do you think setting too high a standard for oneself is self destructive? When do you think one should stop editing? Do we need to satisfy anyone everytime? SHould we be so hard on people who try to put art forward? How can we as the mighty(s) help, instead of applying more pressure.
  34. I take a different approach. I'm not a pro, but I enjoy photog tremendously. My pictures are for me to enjoy and I'm not about to kick myself silly in trying to get the perfect shot because knowingly that is impossible. If I caught a shot I like, I show it to my friends and get some good feedback, and if I shot an entire roll of trash, that's where it eventually goes. Altimately there is no perfection. What is perfection to one, might not even get a "C" from others. Photography is all about perception and capturing a picture is an artificial image of an event or visual presentation and how its interpreted is individual "existentialism".
  35. His pictures were actually very good, but he never knew it because he never dared to show the public...he was told to edit, remember?
    Not exactly a problem on photo.net
    I love hypotheticals. They can be so amusing.
  36. Somebody said: Perfection is the enemy of finished.
  37. Steve Hupp is closer. Voltaire said, "le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" in 1764
  38. Tell me Travis: in your opening dissertation, is the hypothetical person you are referring to... yourself?
  39. Recently I read a thread (here? don't remember) about selecting a cover shot for I think Sports Illustrated out of many thousands of images by dozens of photographers, the selection being made by a room full of editors. My first reaction was to remember back 30 odd years when a friend of mine who used to shoot for AP (Associated Press)first got a motor drive for his Nikon F. He was covering a baseball game, top of the ninth inning, bases loaded, deciding game of the world series! As the batter was sliding to home plate the ball was mid air coming towards the catcher's glove. One shot shows the batter sliding inches from the plate, the ball not quite to the glove. The next shot shows the ball safely in the glove, the batter's feet well past the plate, but he was still in that awkward body leaning mid air at a 30 degree angle to the ground stance that they're in while sliding. Was he safe? Was he out? The photos didn't tell. Bob said that once he hit the shutter release he was locked into the camera's sequence. He would have gotten the decisive shot if he'd had a non-motorized camera. Instead of a dozen Almosts he'd have gotten The Picture! All the editing in the world can't save that situation.

    Now that's a situation where perfection is solely dependent on timing. The background might be cluttered, the lighting bad, the bokeh horrid, the expressions on the players all wrong, and the pitcher slightly out of focus in the distance clearly scratching his balls. But really, if you think about it, ALL people pix are time dependent, even posed studio shots where a flicker of expression, a miniscule change in the facial muscles, can matter.

    With B&W choice of film and developer can be as important as the skill and vision of the printer. Changes in contrast, whether over all or locally, where to dodge, what to burn in, and for some not into Always-Print-The-Full-Negative (with natural black borders, of course!)there's the consideration of how best to crop the image. I've known people who could go through a box of paper trying for the Perfect Print. And I've seen Perfect Prints of many a poorly composed perfectly boring image!

    Each of us has to go through life satisfying ourselves. For most people here this is a hobby, a fun passtime, and we take pride in what we do. Some of us also make money at it, and the reality is that the average published photo is not great art. It records and illustrates an event, nothing more. The snapshots of a two year old with a cute expression are just as meaningful to the grandparents whether shot with the latest APO glass on an M7 or a 25 year old Canonet. Some people might be better at composition and timing while others pick a better background and outfit. Some people are blessed with unusually expressive and gorgeous kids. Here the critics will tear them all to pieces. Grandma, opening the envelope, can't wait to show the pictures to everybody in church come Sunday morning!

    Criticism should be constructive, not a put down. A lot of people come here for advice on improving their photography. Some occasionally shoot something that they're just not sure about, but they think there's something worthwhile to the image. They want feedback. Others just read and look, hopefully learning also, but never saying a thing. Once in awhile we all (hopefully) get that perfect picture, and it would be nice if we could do it more often. I just try not to worry about it. It takes all the fun out of life.

    Travis, keep posting those pictures! I look forwardto seeing them.
  40. He would have gotten the decisive shot if he'd had a non-motorized camera.
    1) You wouldn't believe the size of the fish that got away.
    2) This explains why so few pro sports shooters use motor drives.
  41. Al, I agree with your comment. Many people take photography too seroiusly. And I have seen too many prefect boring images.
    I have got lot of real good photography advice from AZ. Here is one he gave me recently:
    Generally, your posted photos do need touch-up work.
    Anybody who is familiar with my photos would know they are either native jpg files from the digital camera or straight scan from the Minolta SDIII. I wrote a program to add my "trademark" boarders. That is all. I don't want touch-up work because that kills MY fun. I am not a perfectionist trying to "make" perfect image but a hobbyist looking for "perfect" ideas. Since there is no "perfect" ideas, I can only look for most interesting ideas. Even that is too vague to measure scientifically. But nonscientific is the fun of photography, especially for someone whose professonal job is scientific work.
    P.S. I am going to get a Holga tomorrow ;-)
  42. Reality bites! WHy'd you have to go and describe me out here in a public forum... and what do you know about me and my deathbed? Or was that an assumption just because I happen to shoot the ceiling quite often?<p>
    Well said. It's a well known fact that publishers, editors, benefactors, and supporters of the artists HAVE to wrench the work of art away from the artiste at some point before he or she crosses the line of over editing. Edit: yes. But in the awareness that you WILL try to do too much of it. The Tolstoy is a prime example. Da Vinci could also be used, and his drawings were discovered after his "last click at the ceiling".<p>
    But, and it's a big one, you refer to the "mighty", where the location of the debate beckons the term the "majority". Appeal on such a forum of concensus, like many others here on the web is not a hallmark of perfection in an artistic sense. Perhaps in a commercial sense... Were Picasso, or Max Ernst ever concerned about popular appeal? If they had been, I suspect their work would only have adorned the Hallmark cards of the times. Approval on PN does not equate perfectionism or value in a lofty sense. <p>Usually, it takes a select few to recognize the artistic value of a work, not the general opinion. <p>A restauranteur in Venice had the regular visits of Georges Braque while he was a guest of Ms Guggenheim. Monsieur Braque was sufficiently broke that in an attempt to get a decent meal, he offered the restaurant owner a painting in exchange for a dinner... in what the restauranteur's own admission was his worst ever business decision, he declined. <p>
    Edit, yes... but outstanding artistic work has NEVER been concensual.
  43. .[.Z - I thought it was Saint Augustine who said: the best is the enemy of the good. But...

    Travis - what is a "mighty(s)"?
  44. mighty....hmmmm...=.people who ask others to get real all the time?;0
  45. That's possible, Rob. My favorite quote of his, though, is "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet."
  46. Perfectionism is a strange term; in a way it doesnt exist, especially in photography. As a concept to *perfect* or improve and advance your skills; striving for that elusive perfectionism can potentially be a good thing.

    Editing and/or critiquing your own work hard is one way to better your photography skills. This however, can substantially differ for the view Travis proposes. The original presentation of this thread was about an absolute understanding of *perfectionism* against which, this poor soul judged his/her images realising that they werent even close.

    Alternatively, and something Ive witnessed with myself over time, is that an individual goes through phases of photography where they have a conceptulisation in their mind of what a *great* image is and the relative quality difference between this percieved *holy grail* and their own work defines whether a particular image of theirs should be edited or not.

    Who has images they took 5 years ago or more, remembers how great an achievement they believed they had created at the time and now wouldnt hesitate at trashing them... Its just learning and growing; and if you dont edit your work you dont learn to become better. So my belief is that there needs to be some degree of *seriousness* in an individuals' photography just to drive self improvement.

    Craig / Beijing
  47. Nice story Al. Though they can be quite useful, I can see the possibility of a motor drive getting in the way!

    S. Liu, that's the lamest excuse not to spot photos I've ever heard.
  48. <p>
  49. This whole thread reminds me of the old military joke, from a supposed evaluation:

    "Private Bloggins set a low standard for himself and consistently failed to achieve it."

    It's not as if you're either a perfectionist, paralyzed by self-criticism, or you're not. Self-criticism, and the criticism of others, is good for you.
  50. Travis--

    I think some posters recommend the development of strong self-editing skills due to a belief that anyone spending huge money on photo gear (e.g., Leica equipment) is serious about photography. The ability to self-edit, to begin recognizing when your work is succeeding, is valuable to a photographer's development. The conflicts arise because, even though they've spent much money on gear, some posters just aren't very serious about photography as evidenced by their weak technique and an inability to recognize what makes for strong photos.

    For anyone still shooting film, the obsession with cameras and lenses is mainly misplaced until they've mastered exposure, film development, and printing, each of which has vastly more influence on a photo's technical quality than does the choice of camera or lens. But plenty of people seem willing to spend $1,000+ for a lens without even knowing how to get the most out of a $100 lens.
  51. a belief that anyone spending huge money on photo gear (e.g., Leica equipment) is serious about photography
    That reminds me of Hemingway's retort to F. Scott Fitzgerald's comment, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are very different from you and me."
    Hemingway replied, "Yes, they have more money."
  52. That reminds me of Hemingway's retort to F. Scott Fitzgerald's comment, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are very different from you and me."

    Very good, clap, clap. Mind blowing comment! Something to do with stating the obvious, methinks. Actually his most insightful comments, so he said, was when he was passing wind. The simple minded of course would not understand that thought.
  53. Very good hearbreaking story, Al. What did Balzac say? "There goes another novel."

    Speaking of literature, this discussion brings to mind a story you've got to read--Bernard Malamud's "The Magic Barrel." A rabbinical student thinks he needs a wife to help him find a congregation after he graduates. But then he realizes he wants Love and searches for perfection. In the end he chooses a woman who is, we are led to believe, the opposite from perfect but who is perfect in his mind. If you haven't read it I won't spoil it for you by saying more.

    There is a lesson about perfection there, I believe.

    Balzac has a story somewhere about a painter who spends a lifetime trying to paint the perfect painting. The painting turns out to be an utter disaster except for a foot on one of the subjects. It is judged that no one has ever painted a better foot than this painter. Which I think is a lesson on the aesthetic validity of cropping.

    The Che photograph was a crop. Not only that, it was a blow-up.

    The story Al told of the guys tossing stacks of photographic paper sounds familiar. I do something like this when I write stories and essays and I knew that is what I'd do in a darkroom, which is why I used to rely on the kindness of strangers when it came to printing. Now with Photoshop all that is changing (though I am still a PS beginner). With PS I feel as I felt when I could exchange the typewriter for the computer--liberation.

    A final thought. The best cure for obsessive perfectionism is a deadline. Nothing in the world is better than a deadline to get your creative juices flowing and to getting organized and doing it rather than brooding.
  54. I don't think the silly story at the beginning of thread relates in any realistic way with editing or critique.

    My own experience is that people who are really good or who improve quickly are ones that are motivated to do their best because they're passionate about what they do. The role that critique plays in their development is that it helps them understand how and whether they're comminicating effectively through their work. Approval and accolades are nice but relatively unimportant.

    Maybe the question of "Why are we so serious?" should be directed at people who aren't serious about the work itself but only serious about the praise they expect for doing it.
  55. I just don't know what "perfection" is in the context of photography, I really
    don't. It's more a matter of having a feel for what's special about oneself and
    developing that instead of following some misguided notion.

    One thing I learned producing records was that there's a big distinction
    between having talent and having an understanding of the talent one has.
    Certain successful artists are not very talented, really, they just know exactly
    what they have to offer and edit themselves into the absolute best
    presentation possible.

    On the other hand, there are those supernova talents who have the ability to
    just call down the angels, but then their notion of what's good about
    themselves is just tragically off; like, they'd do a performance in the studio that
    would have me and the engineer practically weeping in the control room, and
    then on playback they'd say, "god that sounds like crap." Later, when they'd
    eventually do a take that had none of their usual charm and originality, they'd
    say, "now we're getting somewhere." My job was to keep the earlier version
    and talk the artist into using that instead of their favorite.

    My point is, "editing" and "self-editing" are not the same thing. Some talented
    people really shoot themselves in the foot in terms of how they understand
    their own talent and uniqueness. Those people need someone else to edit

    Travis, I think of you as someone who has more raw talent than awareness of
    what your talent is. You seem to be very proud of pictures that are not your
    best, and then casually toss off a masterpiece without seeming to know it. I
    think at some point you'll find a teacher who inspires you, or an editor that you
    trust, and then the sky's the limit. (I hope you don't take this the wrong way,
    because I really love your stuff.)
  56. Beau, I agree with you that a lot of us are not the best editors of our own work (or others', for that matter). As I've said in the past, we shouldn't be so quick to discard our files of old negatives either. Tastes change, what's in the news changes, and otherwise mundane images take on new importance.
  57. Beau, thanks, you wrote well. It's true, sometimes we really don't know what is good of ourselves. It's through the public eyes that we see where our strong points are..and of course our weaknesses.

    Don't write anyone off just yet.
  58. " It's more a matter of having a feel for what's special about oneself and developing that instead of following some misguided notion..."

    What if there's nothing special?
  59. What if there's nothing special?

    Good point Applebury. With your experience, in a practical sense, maybe you are the best qualified to answer that thought.

    Sorry, could not resist;) Did try!
  60. I was going to ask Rob if his mother never taught him that everyone is special, but I like yours better Allen!
  61. Nothingness is special. Evryone tries to be someoneone but HE tries to be no one.
  62. <img src="http://www.photo.net/bboard/image?bboard_upload_id=17297684">
    The last frame of the first two rolls through Holga, and one of the only 2.5 keepers ;-)
    Digital macro shot of the negative on a light table. Inverted in Photoshop and minor level adjustment. Cropped in iphoto. (I have to retouch this time, unfortunately ;-)
  63. That's a keeper?
  64. This is exactly what I want when I push the shutter, what I envisioned a "perfect" Holga street photo. I edited in my mind, not on contact sheet.

    It is going to be very challenging to make a photo like this with a Rollei or Hassy. It is also a tough job to make the natural blurs and light leaks in your Photoshop CS.

    I do take photography seriously even the camera is a toy. This photo tells lot about an ordinary day in a crowded sideway in Brooklyn. If I can explain it with words, there is no need for the image.

    I don't care if any of you appreciate it or not, that is not my job.
  65. I edited in my mind, not on contact sheet.
    Kind of the photographic analogue of the difference between talking to yourself and talking to other people.
  66. <mutter, mutter>
  67. Mike, editing on the contact sheet is still talking to myself since I don't work for anybody and I don't have any photography homework to hand in either ;-)

    Seriously, there is a difference between being a photographer and an editor. Editing on the contact sheet makes you a better editor but not a better photographer. Editors (and critics like AZ) have seen too many photos that seeing a new photo, they always compare it with other photos and give a grading on the new photo. Usually on the print quality. There is nothing wrong with them but that shouldn't be how photographer works.

    Creative photographers don't work this way because being creative means that what you see is always new. Photographs have seen too many photogenic situations and their job is to decide whether to capture or not and how to capture with the tools they have. A creative photographer makes judgement on the scene, the same way that an editor does to the print.

    Although I have a low standard for technical value but my standard for emotional value of the image is very high. If one day some of my images become publishable, the publisher could find some expert to photoshop them. Until then, I will concentrate on capture.

    Histogram isn't everything.
  68. that shouldn't be how photographer works
  69. AZ, everytime I see your post, I have to run to get a dictionary. Obviously a man of words would be a perfect critic. Fortunately I don't need to understand those graphic words to make photographs.

    A photographer works with eyes, not mouth or fingers (except for tripping the shutter.)

    Since this is a forum not a classroom, we shall expect more than one voice.
    I respect your knowledge on photography but that doesn't mean I have to be your student.
  70. rofl.
  71. S. Liu,

    In general in your photography right now, I don't think you're communicating clearly. Whatever you have in mind isn't really translating to the viewer very well. Unless your work is completely personal, in which case you'd have no reason to post it, criticism is something to pay attention to and take into consideration for the benefit of your own growth. You're involved in a visual language, so you need to know that language first before you try to manipulate it. What seem like clever ideas now maybe won't appear that way once you live with these things awhile.

    With due respect to you, it seems you have the cart before the horse in putting your authorship and copyright on your photos. Of course you have that right, but it shows maybe a little too much ego involvement and not enough love of study at this point.

    Be open to learn and don't be so protective with what you've produced, and you'll do better... We're all learning here.
  72. "Bollocks" sounds like a fair assessment. Defining creative
    photographers as those who don't do post-exposure editing is
    not only arbitrary and unsupported by history, it's more than a
    little silly. Editing is such a fundamental aspect in creating the
    message you want to convey, it's bizzarre to argue that it
    impedes creativity.
  73. ... btw, I've seen a couple decent photos from you, but this isn't one of them.
  74. one man's Leica is another man's ricoh 500g..
  75. Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.

    Eugene Delacroix (1798 - 1863)
  76. Mike,

    I apologize. I shouldn't force everybody to accept my view of photography which ends at the exposure. This is a typical HC-B v.s. AA debate and both sides are right.

    It seems that my view on photography offended many traditionally trained master photographers. That is easy to explain. I started with a digital camera, then downward "upgraded" to manual SLR, fix-lens point and shoot and finally to a Holga ($600 -> $400 -> $80 -> $16). I have never developed a single roll of film, or made a true photographic print, chemical or digital. I simple have no right to judge the technical quality of my photographs because most of them were shown on LCD screen at 72 dpi. In the viewer of experts, people like me shouldn't do photography.

    My experience, or the experience I have chosen determined my view of photography and my style. It usually takes me weeks to finish a roll of film. That is another kind of perfectionism. Although I am a minority on photo.net, I do represent another type of photographers.

    As to my quick answer to AZ's quick comment: STFU (IMQLNR ;-)
  77. It usually takes me weeks to finish a roll of film. That is another kind of perfectionism.
    No it isn't. You need experience shooting. You need to shoot more. You need to shoot to hone compositional skills, make errors you'll learn from, become more comfortable with your gear, and more. Feel free to disagree, but I suspect that virtually no one here will agree with your idea that the best way to learn photography is by shooting a handful of rolls a year.
  78. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It seems that my view on photography offended many traditionally trained master photographers
    Sorry, but this is nonsense. You didn't offend anyone. It's just that virtually everyone who has any, even minimal, amount of real photographic training has a very different viewpoint than you espouse. Mike, me, probably Mr Z, we all have modest amounts of training and probably not in the Ansel Adams school (nice try there, but it doesn't stick), and we're not buying it.
    Post-shooting processing is critical, not something practiced by a certain group, but pretty much by anyone who wants to communicate with photography. Editing, in particular, is what gives style and substance to a body of work. The photo above should never be shown as an example, yet you've put it on two separate threads.
    Your so-called "apology" rings hollow and is so filled with misunderstanding and ignorance, it's obvious you're not going to learn more. Your concept of "perfectionism" is absurd. You should listen to what the photographers around you are saying. Your "inner voice" is taking you in the wrong direction. What you are hearing from people here may sound harsh, but it's from people who have been through the process. Learning can be difficult, it's important to accept that.
  79. Sam, two years ago you wrote here that you were "afraid of ... messing up a perfect scene because of my inferior skill/lighting/timing/equipment."
    Aside from the fact that there are hardly any "perfect scenes" people just trip over, I don't understand how you think your beginner skills will be improved by not shooting more, not considering and editing your photos, and by leaving them without and post- work. It simply does not make sense to people who have gone before you.
    From Art & Fear:Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland:
    The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the 'quantity' group: fifty pound of pots rated an 'A', forty pounds a 'B', and so on. Those being graded on 'quality', however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an 'A'. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the 'quantity' group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the 'quality' group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
  80. When defend our views, we tend to get emotional and arrogant. I don't see any difference between me and Jeff, AZ and other experts (no pun).

    The real difference between us is about post-exposure work and practice.

    1. I am against post-exposure work, that is my philosophy. If you refuse to appreicate photos without photoshop touch-up, be my guest.

    2. As to practice, I constantly practice shooting, with my eyes. I have tried shooting more than one frames for the same scene for a short period in the last couple of years. But exam on the light table almost always shows that the first frame is the best. The more I shoot, the worse it gets. That is just the fact of my shooting. So I stopped that practice. Instead, I started to practice "no shooting". (Trust me, this is not easy when you have a desire of finishing frame #36 so that you can get it developed next day.) Although I have only finished less than a hundred rolls of film and less than 10GB of digital, I have run through much more than that in my mind.

    Being a teacher myself, I know that all students are different. You cannot simply force every one to do the same "quantity learning". (I should not force every one to do "quality learning" either.) The quality learning in photography is different from the one in clay work. In photography, you do look at things, thing about the angle, composition and light. It is not theoretical. I know my camera by not shooting the scene it cannot handle, not by discarding bad shots to the trash can.

    As to the quality of the images, I admit the technical quality of most my posts on PN is not the best. But about the visual quality, I can not speak for sure your guys are right. There is simply no real measure on this. It depends on the viewers and their mood. If Jeff says that "The photo above should never be shown as an example", so let it be because Jeff is the moderator.

    The purpose of the Holga image in this thread is totally different from the one in Street Forum: in this thread I used it to support my point of view in this discussion of "perfectionism". The one on Street Forum supposed to be NW to introduce more interesting medium format street shots. The image was not for critique in either thread. Of course you can judge it and you did. But that is not the point. We all have our views on someone's images, but that should not be mixed with our views about the topic in the discussion. (I never said any judgemental comments on Jeff, and AZ's images in my discussion.)
  81. "As to practice, I constantly practice shooting, with my eyes. "

    "The eyes are not a camera. The retina is not film. A blink is not an exposure." (Zen master Xinbad, presently sailing the seas of cheez.)

    Much has been written about this (characteristically) enigmatic pronouncement by the great Xinbad. Indeed, given the failure even among his disciples to agree on an interpretation, many more cynical commentators have supposed that the great teacher and practitioner was (characteristically) drunk when he said it. Others have remarked that this latter intepretation is simply a sign of non-understanding (utta-sama-maha-samadhi - literally, "failing to inhale the fragrance of the proffered flower"). However, some have found guidance in these words. Then again, some have not.

    As for me, I think it's all bollocks.
  82. It doesn't matter how much you shoot or don't shoot or what your theories are, it's the result that counts. Verbal explanation for mediocre photographs is common, but this is a visual medium, get it? VISUAL. It doesn't matter if you post edited or pre-edited or photoshopped or didn't photoshop or stood on your head, it's what you have to show us as a photograph that counts, and this doesn't get it. It doesn't matter if the photographer was Liu or Spirer or Appleby or God, this is not an effective photo. Move on, try again.
  83. What do you mean, "Appleby _or_ God"?
  84. nuthin. ;)
  85. Ghost of Alfie.
  86. "The eyes are not a camera. The retina is not film. A blink is not an exposure." (Zen master Xinbad
    I thought it was St. Augustine.
  87. Or St. Anselm of Canterbury.
  88. Sam has produced and shown here (photo.net, not necessarily the Leica Forum) some very good photographs in the past, but I have to confess Sam, I think you did your best work when you were using the Nikon Coolpix, and not experimenting with different cameras, formats, and films ;)
  89. Ditto.
  90. Andrew, I think you are right on this.
    Couple of years ago I wrote on my photo.net homepage: "I am not a photographer." And I remember I wrote to you saying that I am not a street shooter. Since I got a real film camera, I started to treat photography too seriously and try to convince myself that I made a good investment. The quality of my photographs started going down since then, and it costed me more money than the investment on Coolpix. And I spent too much time on photo.net to debate with AZ on philosophy of photography. That is just not worth it.
    BTW, the Holga image you see was produced by Coolpix and I am still proud of it. It breaks many rules (such as put the subject at the dead center) but it works from my point of view. I have this 511 pixel image printed on an office laser printer at 8.5x11 and nailed it on the wall. When I look at it from six feet away, it gives a very subtle feeling. Like looking at the world through a hole. It is also interesting that the shape of the man resembles the treet. The edge blur of the car and fruit stand gives a dreamy feeling. The more I look into it, the more surprising it becomes to me.
    I will stop participating photo.net forums from now on, but you might see more holga photos in my portfolio in the future. (With 4/4 from AZ)
  91. I spent too much time on photo.net to debate with AZ on philosophy of photography.
    That was you debating? you might see more holga photos in my portfolio in the future. (With 4/4 from AZ)
    If they're like that one shot, they won't be 4/4.
  92. And if you want to peruse some interesting Holga photos:








  93. Engineer, Artist
    Perfection, Imperfection
    Cindy Crawford's mole

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