Re: The Intellectualization of Craft

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Norma Desmond, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. The (unfortunate?) nature of philosophy is to intellectualize. I've been happily at it for years. I can go all sensual over well-considered ideas and elegantly-constructed arguments. I also allow my philosophical approach to the great questions to influence my photographing.
    I have and many others have used intellectualizing as a way of avoiding the craft of making photographs. It seems easier to talk abstractly about emotional and conceptual aspects of work and much easier to talk about them in general than it is to talk specifically about photographic elements and how we use them. It's easier to talk about what and how we know than about what and how we see.
    We talk about our insides, our thoughts, our mental and emotional processes. Rarely do we talk about how we make and what we put into photographs. Sure, we debate whether we live in the moment, whether we intend to do something or simply allow it to happen, whether we think more or feel more. That does not a good photograph make. Much more rarely do we talk about why we might use blur here or there or when a certain perspective might add dimension to a scene.
    I've come to recognize the wisdom in some of John Kelly's consternation at the abuse of the word "art." Don't get me wrong. I don't mind aspiring to art and I don't mind others who do. I don't belittle the concept. As a matter of fact, I want to take back the word as much as I've been happy to take back the word "queer" in recent years. But it's hard.
    You've got forums and pages full of people here on PN and elsewhere using art as an excuse. In the name of art, they get away with a lack of craft. Our intellectualizing often outshines our photographs. The photographs talked about in artistic terms often don't measure up to the glow of the words about feelings, emotions, thinking outside the box, etc. We wax on about the deep inner recesses of the creative spirit but does any of that actually show up in our work? If it does, can we describe it in photographic rather than poetic terms . . . do we bother to describe it? What does it look like? Or do we just take for granted that if we talk about it enough it will be there in the photographs? Not even close!
    For months now, I've been wanting to stop talking abstractly about the concepts we think make us artists or make us artistically inclined and talk about the nuts and bolts ways that we make, construct, present, display, craft photographs . . . with an eye toward those nuts and bolts, the means of construction, yielding something of value, something worth philosophizing about. It usually meanders back to the same old intellectualizing crap. Very little specificity, very little reference to one's own work except in distanced and generic terms. I'm as guilty as the next one. It's an easy out.
    Last night I spent a couple of hours writing something very specific about the photographic elements and aspects I think go toward expression in two of my photos. It got virtually no response in a thread that purported to be about expression in photos. Though I gained a lot by doing it for myself, I felt like some sort of foreigner in a room that suddenly languished. Yes, yes, I understand that forums are not here for me to guide and that a lack of interest in what I say may have more to do with me than with the rest of the room or maybe nothing should be read into it. Perhaps some read it with interest and simply didn't respond. Why avoid the dialogue? Why avoid doing something similar yourself? (I noticed Arthur being as frustrated as me.) So I do find it telling. And, I find it alarmingly evasive of the meat and potatoes of the issue.
    We're not going to become photographers (or better photographers) by osmosis of thought, by philosophizing about abstract concepts and by framing everything we do in the form of a debate, this vs. that, or in the form of an abstract intellectual endeavor? We often talk AROUND rather than ABOUT photographs. It will take some digesting of our own photographs . . . what we're doing wrong and what we're doing right . . . what this element or quality accomplishes BOTH visually and philosophically in a photo . . . how the parts yield some sort of whole, and on and on.
    Can we combine philosophy and craft?
     
  2. I'm not sure I agree. I've read plenty of books and listened to many lectures on specific techniques to create a particular "look" or evoke an emotion. That seems to be the core of much (most?) of the academic discussion about composition. A simple example is the "golden ratio", but there are almost countless other "rules" that one can use. It's common to talk about these rules as the "vocabulary" of composition.
     
  3. "Can we combine philosophy and craft?"
    Fred, I read your preamble above that is in relation to this important question, and also your very insightful discussion of your images in a former OT. It inspired me to leave a comment on another very very good image in your portfolio. I think the short answer to your last sentence is "no" at worst and "with great difficultly" at best.
    Why so? For the reasons you have stated, I think. I hate to turn the clock back, but several months ago, possibly more than a year ago, I too faced this question and suggested then that the philosophy of photography forum be kept, but would also be given a practical bedfellow with a name something akin to "(Personal) approaches to the craft and art of photography", wherein the discussion you desire might be better "housed" and catalysed or promoted.
    The responses were quite negative to my initiative and mainly of the type "If it ain't broken, why fix it". I agree that we need an enlarging of the discussion and in the same direction that you suggest. Whereas intellectualisation of the discussion does not defeat the discussion of approaches in our craft, per se, it does seem to promote the talking "around" rather than "about" that you mention.
    I think always that what you would like to see would be best achieved if our moderators decide that the two subjects might be best treated separately, and thus create a new forum or sub-forum, similar to the type I once (naively?) suggested and complementary to the P of P forum.
     
  4. Arthur, though I respect and appreciate your desire for a separate forum, I think it's more a matter of the approach taken by we who regularly and irregularly contribute to this one. There are not so many threads started here that a more hands-on approach can't be accepted in this very forum for those who so desire it. I managed to do it last night in Lannie's thread, so it can be done right here. It just takes the doing, not the moderating. In any case, we were told a separate forum is not going to happen, so I don't think it would be terribly practical to discuss that further. I worry that that would distract us from brainstorming on how to talk philosophically, photographically, and specifically about our craft.
     
  5. FG - "I have and many others have used intellectualizing as a way of avoiding the craft of making photographs."
    But not all who post here. I don't talk here about the death of my mother, for example but it is not an act of avoidance. I simply do not wish to, though I do in other places and with other people. For you, maybe it is avoidance, but it is wrong to assume it is for everyone. There are things in this universe that you and I do not, and may never, understand.
    FG - "It seems easier to talk abstractly about emotional and conceptual aspects of work and much easier to talk about them in general than it is to talk specifically about photographic elements and how we use them. It's easier to talk about what and how we know than about what and how we see."
    For you, and many others, perhaps, but again, these are not universal motivations. A lot of us, contrary to what you may think, are not taking the road of least resistance here.
    FG - "We talk about our insides, our thoughts, our mental and emotional processes. Rarely do we talk about how we make and what we put into photographs."
    There's nothing stopping you and anyone else from doing this. PN has devoted a huge majority of the site to precisely this kind of thing.
    FG - "I've come to recognize the wisdom in some of John Kelly's consternation at the abuse of the word "art."
    I am so sorry. :)
    FG - "You've got forums and pages full of people here on PN and elsewhere using art as an excuse. In the name of art, they get away with a lack of craft."
    ....and if we're to be honest, we also have to say that this is a commutative thought:
    We've got pages full of people here on PN (specially the galleries) using craft as an excuse. In the name of craft, they get away with a lack of art. We wax eloquently about process, print quality, Zeiss lenses, meghapixels, FF vs Dx, noise, etc. and remain clueless about the creative spirit that often, if not consistently, eludes the work.
    And thanks to Phil G. and the present crew, we are free to describe it in photographic, poetic, or any other terms we choose.
    FG - "Our intellectualizing often outshines our photographs."
    Artists have been notorious for this for a very long time. Nothing new there. Those who intellectualize about their work the most, have the hardest acts to follow. :)
    FG - ""For months now, I've been wanting to stop talking abstractly about the concepts we think make us artists or make us artistically inclined and talk about the nuts and bolts ways that we make, construct, present, display, craft photographs . . . with an eye toward those nuts and bolts, the means of construction, yielding something of value, something worth philosophizing about."
    What's stopping you? Do it. Those who think it a good idea and feel like following your lead will follow. Whether it belongs to the PoP forum is up to the Mods. There's certainly no shortage of forums on the site for doing that, if not here.
    FG - "It usually meanders back to the same old intellectualizing crap. Very little specificity, very little reference to one's own work except in distanced and generic terms. I'm as guilty as the next one. It's an easy out."
    Maybe for you. There's no need whatsoever to denigrate what normally goes on here in order to push the craft angle. It's all legitimate and to the good -- including your craft idea. You don't need a cattle prod, remember, your frustration is not our furstration. If it has legs, it will walk on its own.
    It's normally not good to *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* in your own backyard, and certainly not in ours, thank you. SOme of us don't need a crisis or drama of any kind in order to expand the discourse.
    FG - "It got virtually no response in a thread that purported to be about expression in photos."
    It eventually happens to all of us, Fred, even to you, and yes, I also feel conceptually like a foreigner (and I do know what a foreigner, not a tourist, feels like) in this forum. Normally, when it happens to me, I assume my idea wasn't interesting enough to evoke responses from others, not that there is something wrong with the forum and everyone in it except for me.
    Where do you get the persistent idea of avoidance? That there is a kind of pathology when people do not see things your way?
    Why? I certainly don't think of my ideas/opinions/etc as a benchmark for mental health.



    FG - "We're not going to become photographers (or better photographers) by osmosis of thought, by philosophizing about abstract concepts and by framing everything we do in the form of a debate, this vs. that, or in the form of an abstract intellectual endeavor? We often talk AROUND rather than ABOUT photographs. It will take some digesting of our own photographs . . . what we're doing wrong and what we're doing right . . . what this element or quality accomplishes BOTH visually and philosophically in a photo . . . how the parts yield some sort of whole, and on and on."
    You're attempting, like John, to direct the course of this forum. Please don't tell us what to do, or think, or how. All of us are on our own path, and for some, it's not your path (or mine). Maybe instead of telling us what we should be doing, or how wrong we are, you can take your idea, and lead by example, and see what happens?
    FG - "Can we combine philosophy and craft?"
    Show us, go for it, bring it on! At the very least, as always, I will be reading your every word.
     
  6. Luis, I obviously do have the need to denigrate the way this forum is often being approached, and I acted on that need by speaking up. I acknowledge that you think I'm wrong for doing that. Despite your protestations, I will always challenge what I think is worth challenging, even if it ruffles a bunch of feathers and especially if I think it can substantially improve a forum I care so much about. I stand by everything I said and the way I said it.
     
  7. "In any case, we were told a separate forum is not going to happen"
    Fred, who told us that? In my three or four years here, I have not seen such a pronouncement.
    That Photo.Net exists is because its members contribute. It could hardly exist without that in mind and if it ignores certain basic aspects of photography it may well lose those interested in personal craft and personal artistic approaches (art need not unequivocably be high art, but can seek a lesser degree of creation). On a more nuts and bolts question, if some group of the adherents of Photo.Net or its subscribing members (those that pay a subscription) wish to add a Sony or a Voigtlander-Cosina forum to complement that of Leica, Nikon and Canon, I believe that the owners of photo.Net would need to take heed.
    The divergence of opinions and needs on philosophy of photography and on what constitutes personal approaches to photography is here, and continues to create some dissatisfaction. I see that one clear and easy way to accomodate both gracefully and honestly is to allow two forums or two sub-forums to treat the two activity descriptions - philosophising - and - personal approaches (which can include the philosophy as well as the practice of the craft). Many of us would remain fully active in the philosophy sub-forum or forum. But to say that the P of P forum is capable of handling both well is to fly in the face of the challenges to that and to the difficulties already experienced several times in recent years.
    One starts a personal approach discussion and it quickly changes into a philosophical discussion, often competely removed from the original intent. If it worked well, we wouldn't again be having the discussion as you have created in your OT.
    By trying to accomplisjh both under the same umbrella, neither will end up with sufficient space and focus to accomplish its mission. It's been tried, but has seldom produced sustained results.
    What is more inherent in photography than the personal approach of the practitioners. It seems bizarre that a forum dealing with personal approaches to art and photography are not discussed in a forum to that end. It is a missed opportunity for the edification of, the sharing of ideas, and the expansion of thought processes of the practitioners of our craft.
     
  8. jtk

    jtk

    "We wax on about the deep inner recesses of the creative spirit but does any of that actually show up in our work?"

    We owe each other (honor among thieves) emphasis on the visual work itself.
    I print. I photograph with my own printing in mind. I have little use for unprinted files, just as I did with film. I'm a mediocre digital technician. I'm not anxious about that mediocrity, almost never call attention to it in others (did re a cropped image on another thread).
    I think we should expect reasonably good technical work from each other just as we should expect reasonably well-thought out, reasonably concise Internet-appropriate writing (with some slack cut for marginal English-speakers).
    Here's where my head's at: Matt Lauer and Fred Goldsmith are examples of photographers whose work clearly transcends verbal expression. And they're the most honest photographic writers here, by far. They demonstrate photographic values. And they share their work, which is their measure here...click on their names.
     
  9. John, I know the print aspect of things is important to you and am beginning to experience its subtleties and differences for myself. I am still a newbie at printing, the stuff I'm working on has already been shot and worked up to my satisfaction for the screen. I am finding with most of them that I will have to start back at the RAW file to process for a good print. I am discovering the differences between getting a file ready for the screen and getting one that will print with substantial expressive power. They are two different mediums and require different preparatory techniques.
    The strictly philosophical question would be something like: Does (or How does) presentation medium (screen or print, etc.) impact expression? We could talk about the differences between how a print and how a screen image each makes us feel. The more specific Philosophy of Photography question from the standpoint of craft is: What are the photographic considerations we give to print making and screen image making? How do we execute expressive impact differently for the screen and the monitor?
    Another philosophically relevant factor about making a print is that you've opened my eyes to a sequential matter. I have tended to think of the print as the final step. A good philosophical question about craft might be: For those of us digital-era folks who haven't had much experience beyond the monitor, what does it mean to shoot for the print and how would that differ, in photographic terms, from shooting an "image"?
    Good stuff, John, at a good time. Thanks.
     
  10. FG - " Despite your protestations, I will always challenge what I think is worth challenging, even if it ruffles a bunch of feathers and especially if I think it can substantially improve a forum I care so much about. I stand by everything I said and the way I said it."
    Geez....very lofty/eloquent/noble/melodramatic sounding, Fred...reminds me of Scarlett talking to herself in Gone With the Wind, or Mr. Smith admonishing the US Senate.
    I don't think you're wrong per se, nor was I censoring you. I was simply responding to your post, including my observations. Please keep in mind that unlike a lot of posters here, I do not think myself infallible.
    And I think we all care about this forum, not just you.
    I ended up encouraging your idea, even if I disagree with some aspects of your way of challenging the forum.
    Just in case I did not make myself clear, I'm all for your craft-o-sophy idea, and am looking forward to seeing where it goes.
    ______________________________________________
     
  11. Interesting.
    The post reflects some thoughts of my own.
    Intellectualize to avoid the craft of photographing.
    Honestly, the posts are often going astray here. It happens that I loose the thread, also due to my language capabilities. For me the main impact of reasoning here is to know people, to gain insight into their minds, ways of reasoning, approaches to the construction of visual communication.
    But I got to know Fred, Josh, Arthur, John Kelly, Lanny Kelly, Julie, Don, Phylo and all the others a bit better. Reasoning gives an insight into what they think and what they are. Combining this with their portfolios helps me knowing them a bit better photographically.
    Recently I was thinking that I needed a break from photographic websites, both from their visual and conceptual content. Simply because I found myself straying around without a real reason, maybe wasting my time.
    This post gives me a motive to think about it. I believe that in the end the effect is positive, because dwelling here is about creating and developing human relationships - even if mediated through a PC screen - on an activity we all love, which is photography.
    Despite a thread by Lannie K some time ago, photography is not only a solitary activity.
    I personally need others to understand the casual and non intentional elements of my photography. I need their points of view to better understand and I need to know the background from which these points of view stem. I need others to have a detached opinion on what I photograph.
    It might sound complex, but the intellectualisation which happens here is extremely necessary for this indirect purpose. And therefore it helps my photography.
    This is the combination of philosophy (reasoning in a broad sense) and craft, and at least for me the relationship is extremely clear.
    I have and many others have used intellectualizing as a way of avoiding the craft of making photographs. It seems easier to talk abstractly about emotional and conceptual aspects of work and much easier to talk about them in general than it is to talk specifically about photographic elements and how we use them. It's easier to talk about what and how we know than about what and how we see. (Fred, OP).​
    Photographing is not easy. Once you have stepped ahead the merely toying aspect of photography (reasoning about cameras, lenses, etc.), I believe it's a very tough activity. Creating is tough, seeing is tough, innovating ones visual messages is tough, producing work which communicates without repeating the same boring stuff again and again is tough.
    I believe one cannot be always at the top of creativity.
    Reasoning here helps, and it helps to create relationships with other people who can help me considering photography better and so making better photographs.
    I am more or less on vacation now. A good time to dedicate - also - to photography. But the surroundings, though marvellous (a valley in the Dolomite mountains), don't speak to me photographically. To do what I plan to do I ought to be somewhere else. So I stay here, carry around my camera, look around and decide not to press the shutter most of the times.
    To return to Fred's post: philosophizing is useful to (my) photography. It is important to learn to balance the effort between reasoning and photographing.
    Photographing is much to complex conceptually to avoid reasoning about it.
     
  12. Luis, beautifully, amazingly well said responses. And Luca, too. I agree with you both very much.
    I wish we could all focus on the positive/creative rather than the negative/destructive; rather than pissing and moaning about what other people don't or aren't or won't do to our satisfaction. In a perfect world (or forum) we could talk about the ideas (which include craft) and leave out the personal vendettas.
     
  13. My photographs are crafted on the subliminal level and I don't want to consciously discuss and analyze its every little step as a whole or as individual pictures. Don't need and don't want to, "test-chart" it, for the same reason I don't like test-charts, I guess.
    I mostly photograph about my photographs, less talk about it. I can appreciate when other's talk about theirs. But the species photographer ( or philosopher for that matter ) is not one generic type, there's a human attached to it, which comes in many types.
     
  14. "Creating is tough, seeing is tough, innovating ones visual messages is tough, producing work which communicates without repeating the same boring stuff again and again is tough."
    "Reasoning here helps, and it helps to create relationships with other people who can help me considering photography better and so making better photographs."
    (Luca)
    Anyone who has read Luca's bio comments will recognize his passion for photography. What he, Fred, myself and others need is an active site of discussion of those elements and aspects of craft and approach that will help us to evolve. This may well be within the current forum, which in regard to its philosophical objectves is most valuable, or elsewhere, where the intent is perhaps better focussed, but it should certainly find a place that not only welcomes such discussion, but which encourages and enhances it.
     
  15. Arthur, just as PN seems to compartmentalize to not to allow the gallery/critique system to be diluted by allowing critiques in other forums, I can see where forums like the two B&W, the Digital Darkroom etc could be diluted by craftosophical discussions in this forum.
    I understand the difference between what Fred proposed and the other forums, but there would be plenty of overlap -- and it could be discussed in those forums and partially folded into critiques, perhaps much better than here. It seems a lot easier dragging a little philosophy into an existing forum already dedicated to craft than creating a brand new forum with a tightly controlled, specialized discourse -- and the deliberate exclusion of members in concordance with PN's TOUs. It seems like a lot, if not all of this can be addressed in existing forums.
     
  16. "Can we combine philosophy and craft?"​
    I sure hope so, Fred. If not, this is being defined as a general philosophy forum that is more or less restricted to aesthetic theory. While a number of persons are capable of addressing such theoretical concerns (yourself included, of course), my own vision for this thread is summed up in the Greek concept of praxis, which implies a combination of both theory and practice.
    The downside of such a combination is that it might involve a lot of tangents into general photographic skills that might require constant moderation and even frequent excisions, deletions, and other editorial actions by moderators.
    On the other hand, if we do not allow discussions of craft here, I think that we will continue to be considered irrelevant by the larger part of the Photo.net community.
    I don't know a better place on Photo.net to discuss craft than right here, where such discussions can be integrated into discussions of aesthetics and other theoretical concerns in a positive and constructive way.
    --Lannie
     
  17. Luis,
    Not every photographer wants to use the ratings/gallery/critique system, for various reasons. I do read and use the two B&W and digital darkroom forums, but they are mainly in regard to downstream approaches and techniques. What I have in mind, and possibly Fred too, is to have a "place" where the approach prior to and at the time of capture is discussed, and the questions, problems and mental aspects of that are addressed on a personal level. This is quite different I believe from what is generally discussed in the forums you mention.
     
  18. Lannie, it's not for us to allow or disallow craftosophy here. It hasn't been up to now, so if your if-then was true, the PoP would be considered irrelevant already. Since you began posting more new threads, the traffic and number of new or rarely seen posters and posts in general has escalated noticeably.
    Can philosophy and craft be combined? Of course. Should it happen in the Philosophy forum or the Digital Darkroom forum? That's a different, nuts and bolts question. Maybe we should invite some of the folks there over, or go over there and ask/ see what they think?
     
  19. "I sure hope so, Fred. If not, this is being defined as a general philosophy forum that is more or less restricted to aesthetic theory. While a number of persons are capable of addressing such theoretical concerns (yourself included, of course), my own vision for this thread is summed up in the Greek concept of praxis, which implies a combination of both theory and practice." --Lannie
    I appreciate that, Lannie, but I'm going to challenge you directly here. When I was "crafting" the opening post to this thread, among other recent threads I had your last one in mind, the one about Expression. Part of my observation was that you began by combining the theoretical idea of expression with a practical question about how to achieve it. Now, a few responses came in first, whereby your very question was challenged. You were told several ways in which you couldn't accomplish what you wanted to or shouldn't want to accomplish what you wanted to in a photograph. OK, that's one approach to someone's inquiry about how to craft photographs. But then there were some more hands-on discussions about specific photographic ways to accomplish expression. I will tell you that, up front, you didn't help yourself any by responding to yourself (your first post under your OP) by immediately going into "Why did I ask this question?" That sets a much more theoretical tone than practical one. Not a bad question in a Philosophy class, and even here, but not a great way to establish a more practical path whereby we talk about actual photographs instead of questions themselves. Now, I'm not telling you that you can't do such a thing in this forum. But I'm happy to give you my opinion on why it may have sabotaged your desire to get practical and specific photographic advice.
    It was later on in the thread that you really disappointed. After you had suggested, and Arthur and I picked up on your suggestions, to take specific photos and discuss expressive elements in them, you completely bailed, on that particular front. Your next post went off on a major swing about meaning, intended meaning, and other matters. To be honest, I was thinking of you as one culprit who became evasive when the nuts and bolts started to fly. You gave a simple nod to my long post about a specific photo and the expressive elements without getting into it at all, and simply moved on. Perhaps you absorbed a lot from that post, but you certainly didn't show it. Now, I'm not here to play teacher. I, too, am a student. So I wasn't just looking to give you a lesson. I was hoping that maybe you'd address some of the issues and see things a different way from the way I described them and tell me so. I have my own troubles sometimes wondering whether I've expressed what I intend to express.
    Lannie, I do appreciate your sympathetic ear here and hope you'll continue to ask the kinds of questions you asked in that thread, which could have, but didn't, lead to the kind of discussion you're seeming to want. We can all be our own worst enemies at times. I hope I'm picking up on your own stated desires and challenging you to stay focused on them, not only for your own sake, but so I can learn something with you as well. I also trust you know this is not about personality but about method.
     
  20. Arthur - "What I have in mind, and possibly Fred too, is to have a "place" where the approach prior to and at the time of capture is discussed, and the questions, problems and mental aspects of that are addressed on a personal level. This is quite different I believe from what is generally discussed in the forums you mention."
    I understand what you have in mind, and it seems a little different from what Fred has in mind, as far as I can see. Can it be discussed here? I think so as long as Josh & The Mods allow it. Personally, I don't understand why either you or Fred haven't started yet.
    Should it get its own forum? Not for me to say, though if it did, with a specialized charter and Fred and you moderating, you can control the discourse as you wish.
    I'm with Julie on this: "I wish we could all focus on the positive/creative rather than the negative/destructive; rather than pissing and moaning about what other people don't or aren't or won't do to our satisfaction. In a perfect world (or forum) we could talk about the ideas (which include craft) and leave out the personal vendettas."
     
  21. Lannie, as these threads are fluid and ongoing, I want to acknowledge that I see you've been doing some posting of images and discussing them on the one I mentioned, so I'll have a close look now at what's transpired.
     
  22. Phylo Dayrin, Aug 03, 2010; 06:05 a.m.
    My photographs are crafted on the subliminal level and I don't want to consciously discuss and analyze its every little step as a whole or as individual pictures. Don't need and don't want to, "test-chart" it, for the same reason I don't like test-charts, I guess.
    I mostly photograph about my photographs, less talk about it. I can appreciate when other's talk about theirs. But the species photographer ( or philosopher for that matter ) is not one generic type, there's a human attached to it, which comes in many types.​
    I don't think my (our) issue is about dissecting a photo. It's not a linear process, it's not a scientific-analytical method. I would rather say that it's a way to learn to talk about the visual message of a photo, starting from subjective perceptions and working out collective perception - if possible.
     
  23. To be honest, I was thinking of you as one culprit who became evasive when the nuts and bolts started to fly. You gave a simple nod to my long post about a specific photo and the expressive elements without getting into it at all, and simply moved on.​
    It's nothing personal, Fred. I never try to be evasive--and I mean never. I try to slip in a few comments when I can, along with everything else I have to do--just like everyone else does. These threads get very, very long, and I cannot try to optimize in terms of even my own contributions in every case. I simply do the best that I can. In addition, sometimes I come up dry and have nothing in particular to say about what someone else is talking about. I see these threads as really several parallel threads that converge and diverge as they evolve. We are not sitting around a seminar table, after all. We come to the site as we can, and, if a comment resonates, then we also respond. All of that presumes that we have the time to give every post what it deserves, and I almost never do that, consistent with my own publishing agenda in other venues.
    I am sorry that you also feel that my opening remarks took the discussion off in too theoretical a direction. That is my tendency. I am a theorist. I had a professor in grad school in the seventies tell my wife in the library, "I am sorry your husband is a theorist." Well, it is not easy being a theorist, but I keep trying. It is sometimes a thankless calling. (I was a theoretical inorganic chemist when studying chemistry as well.) That is just the way I am--most of the time. Sometimes I retire from that to a chatty mood. Psychological survival is my goal in trying to allocate my time between so many tasks. I was hoping that you could relate to that and be a bit more tolerant. I do not try to create a work of art when I start a thread. I try to stoke it at first, and, after it is going pretty well, I leave but get back to it as I can.
    In a more practical vein, I did return to that thread this morning in an attempt to do what you are discussing here, but you can decide if I succeeded:
    http://www.photo.net/philosophy-of-photography-forum/00WymP?start=70
    I think that we do well to let persons respond in their own way. They know better what they have to offer, and what they do not.
    --Lannie
     
  24. Lannie, my experience of learning is different. Several of my friends, academic peers, teachers, mentors, and the local photographers I shoot with and talk to often challenge not only my responses but the way in which I respond. It's not always easy to hear, but it's helped me enormously and helped my photography a lot. I put a lot of my personality into my photographs and so, when personal things I do (like the way I respond) get challenged, it affects and usually helps my photography. I may at first tighten up but that's often followed by a loosening up. I also put the energy I might otherwise put into stewing about a personal comment someone may have made right into my next shoot. It's why I don't mind getting personal here, though I understand that others do. It is personal for me. I want it to be. I wouldn't have risked starting this thread if I didn't want it to be personal and wasn't willing to hear the things I've heard.
     
  25. You obsess, Fred. Let others be who they are. They are going to be anyway.
    Not everyone finds the same issues interesting, in any case. No slight is intended if I ignore or briefly comment on your comments.
    Let it flow, Fred. Let it flow. Don't try to dictate. Take what is offered freely as a gift. No one is obligated to respond at all. That is their call. Let them make it.
    Above all, try not to make a conversation with you into an endurance contest.
    One last point is that, if someone is particularly contentious, I just move on. This is Photo.net, not an on-line journal. I don't need the constant intensity. I reserve that for my serious writing. This is supposed to be fun, a break from my real work.
    --Lannie
     
  26. Lannie, for me this is serious and I do crave an amount of intensity. As you yourself have suggested, this is not "supposed" to be anything, right? It's for each of us what it is. You are right, I do tend to obsess.
     
  27. Well, I do, too, Fred. It is simply that I am obsessing about other things right now, including what I am trying to write before classes start--not to mention my French project for the summer (just trying to get a bit better).
    I come here on breaks. I can't burn myself out here, or I have no intensity left for the other.
    --Lannie
     
  28. jtk

    jtk

    "You are right, I do tend to obsess." ... Fred G.
    It's paying off.
    1) Your writing, about which I've grumbled in the past, has become more fluid and more coherent. You're onto something and now you're writing directly about it.
    2) Your photography, challenging and beautiful as long as I've known it, is becoming more nuaced and expressive, less a statement. Does that ring true? True-ish?
    I'm obsessive too. Obsession demonstrably isn't magic, but it's been characteristic of some of the photographers I've admired. If wishes were horses my obsessions would be as rewarding as yours must be.
     
  29. There are numerous instances in the past year where Fred, myself and a few others have discussed our personal approaches and even given examples for others to comment upon. Sometimes these have been within the context of philosophical questions or premises. It's not that it hasn't already started, it has (and may have well existed before) and it's more a question of consolidating that aspect of a discussion of photographic approaches and the problems and challenges it presents, from philosophical, craft (personal aproaches) and even technical levels. It does not relate only to the darkroom or the digital lightroom, but to the contemplation of approaches before image-maing and the subsequent visualisation of an image, and the questioning of issues related to the same. Some of these issues may well raise philosophical points, others more a question of approach (mental or craft-related).
    Fred probably does not believe in a parallel forum to the P of P forum. While I would say both of us enjoy and desire a philosophical discussion of art and photography, I for one am disappointed in the way personal photographic approaches have been received on the P of P forum. One lays one thoughts out and one's issues before others in a sincere, transparent and open manner, but then few take the time to reflect on the approaches of the poster and often steer the discussion into other esoteric or historical philosophical discussions, often unrelated to the OP's purpose.
    There you are. My wish is not to moderate a forum and to impose restrictions. It is to talk with like minded photographers interested in exchanging thoughts on approaches and in improving their craft or art, outside of the mainly technical sphere (although ultimately nuts and bolts unavoidably do enter somewhat into the equation).
    If one does not want this sort of intellectual and practical discussion, and remain simply in the sphere of college philosophy and historical photography, so be it.
    Phylo doesn't need it (I do nonetheless share his liking for the subliminal and semi-conscious approach, although not always), and, if there should not be a critical mass of Photo.Net members who want it, and who would like to positively make a go of it, then neither do I. As they say in these corners, "J'en ai d'autres chattes à fouetter" (or less colorfully than the French Quebeckers, "I have other things to do").
     
  30. Arthur - "My wish is not to moderate a forum and to impose restrictions. It is to talk with like minded photographers interested in exchanging thoughts on approaches and in improving their craft or art, outside of the mainly technical sphere (although ultimately nuts and bolts do enter somewhat into the equation)."
    Arthur, you may not believe this, but the part about "like-minded photographers" is a restriction. As far as I know, everyone who is a member here and abides by the TOUs, rules & regs, can participate in any discussion, even if they do not think like you, Fred, or the way you wish they would.
    I'm for diversity of expression in this forum, including the craft thing. I agree with Lannie's sage advice when he typed:
    "Let others be who they are. They are going to be anyway.
    Not everyone finds the same issues interesting, in any case. No slight is intended if I ignore or briefly comment on your comments.
    <snip> Let it flow. Don't try to dictate. Take what is offered freely as a gift. No one is obligated to respond at all. That is their call. Let them make it."
    Amen. Before this degenerates into the usual PoP ad hominem vendetta and name-calling, maybe Arthur and/or Fred could begin a craft thread? Please show us.
    (For the 3th time) I'm open to the idea of philocraftosophy. Nothing I can see is holding you back.
     
  31. I think Fred should take more pictures and talk less. After all, 4000+ forum posts and 7000+ photo comments has simply got to take an enormous amount of time to write. I know saying that might seem a little too strong, but I'm hoping to shock Fred out of his malaise.
    There is simply no substitute for training education and experience --to varying degrees and and in whatever order you prefer.
    In particular, experience will give you the capability to anticipate --to see what's coming and process your way through the mechanical steps necessary to capture whatever subject in a way that is accurate in terms of light and shadow (exposure), visually pleasing as a composition and accurately conveys the mood or emotion. You have to be able to do it quickly because the moment will get away.
    I uploaded four photos this morning that address this subject directly. They're in my gallery in the folder "Kids." The first one that matters is "Resting" and it matters because, if you've ever had kids, you know that moment is, firstly, rare and secondly, it won't last. The one titled "Slide" falls into the same category --that moment won't last and you have just one chance to get it right. The "Baby Pile" is less time sensitive, but the expression on the baby's face is priceless, at least to me, not because she's my granddaughter (which is reason enough by itself), but because you wouldn't think being in that position would result in the peaceful expression on her face. The Last one is the "Grimace" and it goes to show that you never know what a kid will do next and you have to be ready. I was taken by the harsh ligh on her face. There are four pictures in this series, two at one exposure setting and two at another. As I was taking the first three, her expression never changed, and then she did that...
    You won't get there over night. I've been doing it since '74 and I'm just starting to get comfortable with my work product.
    But, perhaps most importantly, I know I could do the same thing again, and again, and again.
    Try not to worry so much about the philosophy and concentrate on being able to consistently produce and reproduce, at a moments notice, a memorable photograph.
     
  32. John, I hadn't thought of it that way but there is a ring of truth to it. More expressive because I've thought more, learned more, talked more about how to be expressive, been more intentional about it while also letting go more. And I practice. Less of a statement now perhaps because I'm taking more chances and experimenting a little more loosely these days. I never consciously made statements (well, I probably did, and a couple of times I did so self-consciously) but I think I wound up making them out of either habit or comfort level. It was easy to fall back on "statement" when I was at the edge of the diving board. I'm a little more prone to dive in now. THIS PHOTO seems like a statement. It's one that recently went into a HIDDEN folder, though I still like it as part of an aspect of my body of work. It was taken quite a while ago. THIS MORE RECENT PHOTO has more nuance, though it's not dissimilar in some ways (still a middle-aged man). It's not as literal yet I still allowed myself to direct it. I also allowed myself a little more confusion and a lot more confidence, less need to speak. Maybe more innuendo than statement, to continue the metaphor.
    Though I've resisted your comments on my writing over the years, I will say that I appreciate the connection you've made between my writing and my photographs. I do think they go hand in hand. I wonder if, at the beginning, the way I wrote actually influenced the way I photographed and now the way I've been photographing has started influencing the way I write. In any case, it feels good to have had the confidence to have written what I did here and it feels better to have that connected to what I'm doing photographically.
     
  33. Luca, I appreciate your post here, and so many of your other posts, a great deal. It struck me how what you said seemed to agree with much of my sentiments and also disagree with some of them. It also always strikes me how you stay focused on what's in front of you. You tend to address substance. Though you disagreed with some of what I was saying (maybe not disagreed so much as put things in very different terms) you stayed away from comments about the fact that I wrote what I wrote. I appreciate that. It felt personal from you and even personal to me without it becoming about my personal style. Thanks.
     
  34. Luis, there are ample discussions of craft going on in this thread, from John's earlier post on printing to our most recent conversation about making statements and being nuanced with photographs.
    I've noticed that you quote me and attack me personally sentence by sentence, then several times have ended by telling me how sympathetic and supportive you are of my desires here. Kind of like having it both ways. Makes it easy, I guess.
     
  35. Fred - "I've noticed that you quote me and attack me personally sentence by sentence, then several times have ended by telling me how sympathetic and supportive you are of my desires here. Kind of like having it both ways. Makes it easy, I guess."
    I understand that it seems that way to you, but I did not attack you, Fred. I am sympathetic and supportive of the topic of craft, in or out of this forum, but not all "your desires here", and not your negative and somewhat base, in my opinion, methods of "challenging". Frankly, I did and do not see a need to round up support. It's an idea worth trying out, and I am willing to help in my own way.
    These are not mutually exclusive.
    It may come as a shock to you that I genuinely like you and read every word you write (which is high praise). Sometimes you present exquisitely worded arguments, others, you resort to rhetoric worthy of an Absurdaijan guerrilla recruitment poster. The melodrama and cirque are tougher to stomach, but I'm far from perfect myself. You're wrong, the opposing viewpoints do not "make it easy". Quite the opposite.
    I don't always agree with you, and have fought back when I feel you've attacked me. Sometimes your POV gets old, and/ or on my nerves, as I am sure mine must to you, Arthur, and needless to say, John, though I think I've detected some genuine conciliatory tendrils from that corner. But I read every word, and when I agree with you, I'll say so, as I will when I don't. Isn't that how you learn? The day I don't give a ****, you'll know it by my silence.
    So, yes, I simultaneously disagree with some things and agree with and support others, even some I'm not in agreement with, because I have faith in you, and believe the forum and its members may benefit from the diversity. On the craft thing, you have my support.
     
  36. I have no problem whatsoever discussing philosophical topics on this forum and indeed benefit from it as much as others may do. Personal disagreements are not bothersome to me at all, except those that are made disingenuously or without regard for accuracy or balance in the intepretation of mine or another's comments. Ideas are the most important and not why we are all very different creatures and with different "baggage" and personalities. I try to sift through the personal snipes, and extract core comments where possible.
    Although the number of persons involved in this present discussion is small and doesn't necessarily represent an overall member opinion, I think that until I sense more involvement of like minded persons (which means simply those who also wish to have a forum or sub-forum for the discussion of the personal approaches to, and craft of, photography), I will forget about the possibility of obtaining serious discussion on that subject in this forum, and will simply use the forum with full knowledge of its present limitations.
     
  37. Lance, a good shock is welcome. Anything that will get my juices flowing and impact my photograph making is welcome. Unfortunately, I'm not shocked by someone coming into a Philosophy forum and telling me to go out and shoot. It's fairly common practice. Happens here all the time that people think those of us who talk in this forum are not shooting enough.
    The more compelling parts of your post, for me, are the photographic ones. I don't necessarily seek visually pleasing compositions. As we've been discussing, I'm more prone to expressive compositions which I often find are not terribly pleasing . . . and viewers sometimes react negatively or at least quizzically, which can please me at times.
    Now the statement that came most closely to shocking me was "I know I could do the same thing again, and again and again." The first response that came to mind was "Why would you want to?" Not because I don't like your pictures. Not at all. But because I know I want to keep exploring new avenues, to keep NOT doing the same thing again, and again, and again.
    But, then I thought more. And there is something significant to what you say. I've talked about practice. You may have missed that. Because it sounds like you work hard and practice too, just like I do, but you seem to think we're much more different than that. So, yes, it's important for me -- and many others have said this -- to be fluent and fluid enough in what I do, to be able to do it again, even if I never do, in fact, do it again. Familiarity with tools is a key here, which you already know.
     
  38. Lance typed - "I think Fred should take more pictures and talk less. After all, 4000+ forum posts and 7000+ photo comments has simply got to take an enormous amount of time to write. I know saying that might seem a little too strong, but I'm hoping to shock Fred out of his malaise."
    Lance, this is the forum where people feel free to tell others what to do, sometimes how and how often, too. Also what to say. Make yourself at home.
    Wow, I had no idea of the numbing numbers. I think of myself as fairly wordy, but I only write .14/diem what Fred does. John Kelly, who is always complaining about language & words posts almost 5X/diem what I do. No, it's not a contest, and is mostly meaningless, but it adds a new, strange perspective. Thanks, Lance. I would have never thought of it.
    It's bizarre to see myself suddenly as the soul of brevity. LMAO....and yes, we should all take more, and particularly better pictures.
     
  39. As you say, Lance, a good shock is welcome. Anything that will get my juices flowing and impact my photograph making is welcome.​
    Fred, I found this thread by going to Lance's page. He might be onto something. Maybe a slight "shift in focus" might be in order:
    http://www.photo.net/portraits-and-fashion-photography-forum/00Wt4c
    If that doesn't do it, there's always this one:
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/user?user_id=6148109
    You're a fine photographer, Fred, but you've got to guard against being too cautious.
    --Lannie
     
  40. Lannie, I'm afraid I don't get your point. Care to spell it out for this dummy?
     
  41. It's a joke, Fred! I'm not sure where the heck Lance is coming from.
    Sure, you intellectualize. Thank goodness for that--but you also shoot, and you shoot with boldness and feeling, with nary a baby or flower pic to show us. Thank you for that.
    The internet surely is a treacherous place to try to communicate.
    --Lannie
     
  42. jtk

    jtk

    Impressive statistics from Luis! I'm honored that he cares.
    Can't deny his numbers...don't recall making that sort of study. I'm into photography itself, process and content, so although many of my posts are here, others are places like Digital Darkroom... I check that Forum regularly as I've learned a lot about post-processing, scanning, printmaking etc etc....stuff that's at least as important to me as "philosophy."
     
  43. JK - "Impressive statistics from Luis! I'm honored that he cares."
    Not really, John. Don't you think it is obvious how much you and Fred post?
    And Fred's are huge posts, too. And there's nothing wrong with it. Nothing.
    It's the heart and soul of PN, its product.
    Unlike you, Fred, Arthur and others, I don't have any interest in controlling what you do (except for the constant shiv-in-the-ribs, every chance you get, as Lannie so perfectly put it), or say, or how you say it. My voice does not require a chorus or clique to be audible.
    To think here I was overestimating JK to be making conciliatory gestures and looking forward to decreased hostilities/toxicity. My bad.
    [I also read the Digital Darkroom forum, among others, btw.]
    You must have blinked or blacked out when it came to this line:
    L - "No, it's not a contest, and is mostly meaningless, but it adds a new, strange perspective."
    and...
    L - "It's bizarre to see myself suddenly as the soul of brevity. LMAO....and yes, we should all take more, and particularly better pictures."
    Newsflash: LMAO = Laughing My Ass Off. I was mocking myself there, FYI.
    and...
    L - "Lance, this is the forum where people feel free to tell others what to do, sometimes how and how often, too. Also what to say. Make yourself at home."
    It's called h-u-m-o-r and sarcasm.
    You guys took Lance's "shock therapy" much too seriously. Fred's life is....Fred's, and none of Lance's business.
     
  44. Below is a heavily abridged (by me) "Outline of the Photographic Course -- California School of Fine Arts Recommendations for Courses in the Art Department for Photography Students, submitted by Minor White, May 1950." (Note that this was before he moved back east; before Aperture/Rochester and got into his Zen/I Ching thing.) It can either be taken as descriptive of the variety of kinds of craftsmanship required for good photography ... or as a description of the kind of intelletualization that the OP finds undesirable.
    I'm going to skim the General Aims. They are 1. technical craftsmanship, 2. craftsmanship of feeling, 3. craftsmanship of communication, 4. the scope of photography, current and historical, 5. theory behind the scientific aspect of the medium, 6. aesthetic theory, 7. develop the student's love of the medium and sense of responsibility for his own pictures, 8. professionalism [roughly, using all of the preceding steps for his own independent production], 9. To help and/or encourage students to make art of and/or in spite of their psychological conflicts.
    Then White proceeds to outline "Implementation of the Aims" listed above. Again, I'm skipping 1. which is technical craftsmanship (with paragraphs on view camera, natural light, artificial light, miniature camera and color transparencies). I'm interested in 2. and 3., which I will give in full:
    2. Craftsmanship of feeling includes:
    A. Five approaches to subject matter;
    1. Mechanical recording. (Accurate rendition of substance throughout, and the utmost respect for the identity of each object.)
    2. Objective Interpretation. (Respect for identity of object plus the same for the essence of spirit. Faithfulness to original appearance altered if necessary to state truth of the meaning. The personality of the artist is injected sparingly and preferably not at all.)
    3. Impressionistic. (Recording the effect of the subject on the artist without regard for spirit or identity of subject.)
    4. "Equivalent." (Conscious use of subject matter to illustrate states of mind or ideas of the artist which are not related to the original subject. Design and/or subject becomes equivalent to a mood.)
    5. Subjective or "Free Photographing." (Uncritical seeing at the time of exposure -- or instinctive seeing -- that reveals the personality of the artist. The results sometimes prove psychological signposts instead of works of art.)
    B. It also includes the practical aspects of reaching a sensitive state of mind through association with equipment and through act of making photographs. Reaching a "creative" state of mind through positive action is considered preferable to waiting for "inspiration."
    3. Craftsmanship of Communication is Implemented by:
    A. Analysis of two and three dimensional design for its own sake, and for its effect on spectator.
    B. Analysis of style. (An exhaustive tool for contemplation of prints is used, called "Space Analysis" in the jargon of the department. It is a formal analysis of visible effects always related to the possible impression of the beholder.)
    C. Analysis of subject matter and its effect on audience.
    D. Criticism. The intentions of the artist, his degree of achievement in specific instances, the validity of the intentions. Search for the central vitality (creativeness) of a work of art is considered the keynote of criticism, not subject matter, nor style.
    E. Symbolism. (The current symbolism of psychology is touched on. The dual dangers of symbolism are pointed out -- too little and too much.)​
    Some of the entries under section 4. are interesting (scope of photography) but this post is already too long, so I'll stop.
     
  45. "the kind of intelletualization"
    You struck on one of the keys here, Julie. Sorry, I mean Minor White did.
     
  46. In a way, I lament having read the replies. Not because they aren't invaluable, but because they mess up the answer I thought I had. So, yeah, the answers are good :) At least some of them. Luca's first post is a gem, to me.

    Despite that minor set-back, I'm going to try to get back to my original answer.
    Can we combine philosophy and craft?​
    I fail to see why not. In fact, the second I go out and have my go at the craft, I typicallly sink into more contemplative moods. The world behind my viewfinder is a little hide-out where my world is mine alone. Where any thought and idea has its place, and can be played. It's both emptying the mind and filling it up. How can I try to capture a vision when I do not understand it?
    But honestly, I feel it's not the real question being asked. To me, it seems like it's time for the regular posters to leave the safe harbour of theories, ideas and concepts. And fair enough. Unless I am reading it all wrong, do all the discussions here actually help our photography, or not? Or is it like 2 seperate activities?
    Despite possible misreading the topic start all the way, I'll answer for myself. Yes, it does help. Not all threads here, obviously, but quite some have made me aware of things happening in that viewfinder, behind the viewfinder and the connection between me and the result. It has made me a more aware photographer. Whether that's a better one, not mine to judge. I like the outcome more, because it is closer to what I envisioned; the creative process is something that has become more deliberate and thoughtful. Many of the ideas and thoughts discussed here helped establish that.
    (the points on steering threads too much, which is raised as a side-discussion, I'll let go for now. I wanted to keep this answer as pure as possible, so to speak. And if I missed the point completely, well, hope it will make us all think on what we actually discuss in this forum in relation to your own needs, developments and new insights nonetheless)
     
  47. jtk

    jtk

    Thanks Julie! Well done.
     
  48. I second John's affirmation. Julie, you always do your homework, as anyone who visits your blog knows--and then you add your own insights. it doesn't get any better than that.
    In a way, I lament having read the replies. Not because they aren't invaluable, but because they mess up the answer I thought I had.​
    Then this is not all in vain, Wouter, although I think that you are correct to remain skeptical about the extent to which our philosophizing does indeed affect our photography. I rather doubt, however, that our rational analysis (intellectualizing) is wholly divorced from either our emotional response or our photographic technique.
    I cannot see how that would be possible.
    --Lannie
     
  49. Lannie, not sure whether my answer expressed my ideas very unclear on the point, or whether you misread me. I am not skeptical about the extent of which the trains of thought in this forum (and in our heads) can affect photography. I know for me, it does; it has helped adding depth to my hobby and as a result, made me take it more serious and more ambitious as a photographer. More committed to making photos really work.
    Nor do I claim a disconnection between the intellectualisation here and the actual time behind the camera; in fact, totally the opposite.
    If skeptical about one thing, it's the way the thought exchanges are done recently. It's the subject I left in my previous post. I see an increased amount of personal defensive answers, an increased amount of asking a question with the answer firmly in mind. Whether these threads are steered, maybe, maybe not. It doesn't matter. To me, they do not seem genuine exchanges of thoughts, but more a list of statements. Philosophy should aspire to more than that, and I know a few months back "we" were in a better shape than this.
     
  50. Intellectualizing about intellectualization ✓
     
  51. Phylo, next thing you know you'll be telling us to get out there and shoot -- LOL!
     
  52. Lannie, not sure whether my answer expressed my ideas very unclear on the point, or whether you misread me. I am not skeptical about the extent of which the trains of thought in this forum (and in our heads) can affect photography. I know for me, it does; it has helped adding depth to my hobby and as a result, made me take it more serious and more ambitious as a photographer.​
    Well said, Wouter. I think that we all (well, most of us on this forum, at least) believe along the same lines. Otherwise, I guess that we would just take Lance's advice and get out there and shoot all day, process and post all night.
    I wonder if it is possible to shoot and not think. Could that be what Lance was recommending?
    --Lannie
     
  53. Wouter, I just want to acknowledge your perceptive comments here and always stimulating, to me, thoughts. I can't add much to them other than to say "I hear you." And I'm sorry for the lapse, with those three words, into my past!
    As a good friend pointed out to me last night, and John Kelly suggested the connection already, I used to think of my philosophy as affecting my photographs and I am thinking more and more that my photographing is affecting my philosophy. Hey, maybe a new thread in there. Now, I would probably fall prey to your observation, Wouter, that I would pose the question with the answer I just gave for myself already in mind. It wouldn't necessarily be asked in order to change my mind or because I didn't already have an answer. It would be asked because I didn't have a complete answer and wanted to hear, if I could get over myself long enough to listen, what others had to say. That way, my own answer might become more nuanced and a little more carefully considered. You are right, we often argue where we might benefit more by building on each other's thoughts. It's all not so easy. Or maybe it is easy and we make it hard.
     
  54. Lannie, not sure whether my answer expressed my ideas very unclear on the point, or whether you misread me. I am not skeptical about the extent of which the trains of thought in this forum (and in our heads) can affect photography. I know for me, it does; it has helped adding depth to my hobby and as a result, made me take it more serious and more ambitious as a photographer.​
    Well said, Wouter. I think that we all (well, most of us on this forum, at least) believe along the same lines. Otherwise, I guess that we would just take Lance's advice and get out there and shoot all day, process and post all night.
    I wonder if it is possible to shoot and not think. Could that be what Lance was recommending?
    Of course, he did seem to give a passing thought or two to nude self-portraiture, although, to be fair to him, both threads were by women (which is not necessarily to say for women).
    --Lannie
     
  55. Sorry for the double-posting there. I thought that I was still in the editing phase. I must have had two windows open.
    I am thinking more and more that my photographing is affecting my philosophy.​
    Fred, that very same thought crossed my mind this morning. I'm not sure that I could summon up much more to say, however, although I am open to the idea of such a thread. I wonder how many persons could post photos that have affected their own philosophy.
    Seeing other persons' photos has had more of an influence on my thinking than seeing or making my own, I think.
    --Lannie
     
  56. I'm out of synch with the conversation of the moment but I wanted to say thanks to John K (the book is The Moment of Seeing: Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts by Stephanie Comer & Deborah Klochko) and to Lannie for appreciating the Minor White post.
    Also, and most of all I wanted to say (and am sorry it took so long for me to say) that I was totally blown away, this morning, when I read Luis G's post that was made at 6:03 p.m yesterday. For a minute I thought I was in the perfect forum in a perfect world ... Exemplary. [Whether or not it reaches its intended target, there are many of us "listening" who learn from your example.]
     
  57. Lannie, already posted!
     
  58. Luis, what did you mean when you said "My voice does not require a chorus or clique to be audible"?
     
  59. I'm no hunter, Fred, so no need to feel a prey in my question! The keyword was 'firmly'; what you describe is having an idea, but not one cast in stone, nothing fixed. Willing to move if a compelling argument is made to move. That, to me, is the key point in that part of the discussion: none of us come in as a blank page, we can't. But are we willing to move, and are we willing to let others be where they are? I guess I am saying the same as Luis now.... a call to stay open minded. Also mental note to self: stay open minded.
    As for the mutual influence of my philosophy versus and with my photography. I thought about that a lot lately (which was the main reason to be relatively silent here for a while). All I can find is that they're one and the same. They are me, what drives me, what I see and don't see, what I perceive and how. One sharpens the others. I need a certain lucidity to make the photos I deem good; I need the same mood to really be perceptive to ideas. Then again, I count both as creative processes - they tap into the same brain activity.
    Julie, forgot to mention earlier. The quote from Minor White is most useful. It is good, at times, to take such theories home and watch the rerun of myself. I am quite sure that it will reveal new things in what I've been doing so far. Ecco: this is why I love this forum!
     
  60. Julie, thank you for the White post. In the unpublished copy of his notes I have, one can see many of these points in earlier stages of development, and abbreviated, because the focus was on the workshops back then.
    ___________________________
    Phylo - "Intellectualizing about intellectualization ✓"
    Indeed, and now with a fundamentalist turn to boot. As above, so below.
    ____________________________
    Lance becomes the kickball du jour. Philosophy is a many-splendored thing.
    Disclosure: I also responded to that nude self-portraiture thread, trying to be earnestly helpful, with a technical suggestion regarding making it possible for the model to view her pose from camera angle (and cheaply). Whatever is said of Lance for having responded to that thread can be said about me.
    _____________________________
    My mind is not a neatly compartmentalized california closet. It's faceted, but integrated. Philosophy and Photography and everything else affect each other.
    ________________________________
    Apparently many members here mistake someone's response(s) as a kind of immutable manifesto when in reality they're nothing but a statement of where one happens to be on that topic at the moment, nothing more.
    _________________________________
    Wouter, there's never a defensive statement without a perception of an offense. You're right, this forum has become ensnared in a history and ongoing personal comments/attacks/vendettas. It can easily be solved, but is unlikely to be.
    What's happened here has driven off the best photographers and artists (including all to whom I've recommended PN/PoP) here towards more civil pastures or clean off forums altogether. I still manage to glean the ocassional useful bit, but they're rarely coming from the dominant personalities here. They do catalyze exchanges from the others.
    A special note of thanks to Julie, Phylo, Lannie, Arthur, Luca, Wouter and others.
    _______________________________________
    Lannie - "I guess that we would just take Lance's advice and get out there and shoot all day, process and post all night."
    I know Lance said it, so it must be ridiculized, but it's not as crazy as it sounds. It's what every MFA candidate (soldier, Dr., etc) is put through (with lots of reading and writing added) and apparently it works (leaving aside the pseudo Khmer Rouge/Taliban anti-academics). It worked for me to be working many 60 hr weeks commercially for years.
    _______________________________________________
     
  61. Nope. Rather move on. Sorry to those of you who received an email version of this post.
     
  62. Julie, thank you.
    ________________________________
    Fred - "Luis, what did you mean when you said "My voice does not require a chorus or clique to be audible"?"
    It referred to an earlier post by Arthur in which he said something about his idea of a separate forum and "like-minded people".
    I don't need to be among like-minded people, and frankly, prefer to be among people who are smarter than and disagree with me (probably the #2 reason I am here). My voice doesn't require (external) visible/consensual means of support. Homogeneity does not make for good exchanges a lot of the time.
    ____________________________________________________
     
  63. Lannie - "I guess that we would just take Lance's advice and get out there and shoot all day, process and post all night."

    I know Lance said it, so it must be ridiculized, but it's not as crazy as it sounds. It's what every MFA candidate (soldier, Dr., etc) is put through (with lots of reading and writing added) and apparently it works (leaving aside the pseudo Khmer Rouge/Taliban anti-academics). It worked for me to be working many 60 hr weeks commercially for years.​
    Luis, in fairness to Lance, what he actually recommended was to "talk less and shoot more," or words to that effect--good advice for all of us, no doubt. Again I engaged in a bit of hyperbole, and at Lance's expense. I'm sorry, Lance, if you are around.
    As for kicking Lance around, it was the presumptive tone that was off-putting, not the recommendation. Fred does, after all, post quite a bit, and I am sure that he shoots a lot more than he posts, if he is like me.
    As for the threads I tried to humorously reference, I wasn't trying to be brutal, but perhaps it came off that way. I didn't do much reading on those particular threads. I went straight to the bios and then started looking at pictures.
    I yam what I yam.
    "Ridiculized." Luis, why the neologism? Will not "ridiculed" work well enough?
    --Lannie
     
  64. I actually find neologisms very expressive, visual (like photographs almost). I think "ridiculized" helped emphasize something significant while also kind of painting a picture for me. Neologisms like Luis's often carry with them personality, just like some photographs.
     
  65. I'm still reading the posts from yesterday's discussion and thinking about them... It's unsettling in a way.
    Lannie - It is, as Julie's post implied, proficiency in the craft is more likely to result in a satisfactory result. It's not that you, or anyone else, should shoot all day and process/post all night or shoot without thinking. I'm suggesting we become more proficient by experimenting and we produce a better result when we can think and see the result we want and the craft happens without thinking about it --it should be instinctive/automatic. I'm not sure what the references to the other posts I've done are about, the fact that I made them where I did or what I actually said in them which is essentially what I've said here --learn how to get it right the first time, first and by doing so, produce a more satisfactory result, whatever that might be to the person taking the photograph.
    In Julie's post about Minor White's course, which all seems very reasonable in terms of craft, I'm more wary of the criticism and to whom we look for guidance. Anything from the 1950/60s is immediately suspect as far as I'm concerned because I seem to have a love/hate relationship with authority. I think PN is a much better forum because it's a collection of photographers doing the criticism (sometimes weak I'll admit) while doing the craft (also sometimes weak). I think the opportunity is in shrinking the learning curve for people who do want to learn.
     
  66. By the way, now that we're seeing our photos and the photos of others at the bottoms of these thread pages, I'm seeing stuff in HIDDEN folders I haven't really looked at in a while. It's fun and at the same time weird. Stuff I wouldn't necessarily want to represent me now but that tells a story of my progression.
     
  67. I'm still reading the posts from yesterday's discussion and thinking about them... It's unsettling in a way.​
    Thanks for returning and commenting further, Lance. Yes, we jumped you, and I am sorry for that, not just for the hyperbole.
    I am reminded of Nietzsche's saying: "Madness in individuals is the exception. In groups it is the rule." In defending one person, groups can go to the opposite extreme and demonize the critic or the mere dissident. It has happened to me as well (in the world, not necessarily here on PN). It is a kind of bullying, and it is painful to be on the receiving end of it.
    Again, I am sorry.
    --Lannie
     
  68. I gotta stop hitting that button.
    [Sorry, Lannie, edited out my post before you reposted. I had questioned Lannie's use of the word "we".]
    [Boy, one sure can do a lot in ten little minutes ;)))]
     
  69. "We did?"​
    I didn't say everyone did, Fred.
    I see that you modified your post while I was responding.
    --Lannie
     
  70. Try not to worry so much about the philosophy and concentrate on being able to consistently produce and reproduce, at a moments notice, a memorable photograph.​
    Lance, I am going back to your original post here. I don't photograph for money, but I teach a bit of political philosophy, ethics, etc., on a regular basis--along with some mainstream political science courses. I think that, if some persons on this forum or in the larger society think too much, most persons think far too little--and not just about photography.
    Human rationality is different from that of other animals (or at least most other animals) in that we are reflexive in our rationality. That is, we are self-conscious. Our rationality allows us to see ourselves as if we were in a mirror. I do personally believe that our production-oriented culture puts a premium on action but not reflection. We are urged to be productive, to work hard, etc. We are also often led to believe that scholarly "leisure" is laziness. I happen to think that we do need to be self-consciously reflective about darned near everything. With regard to our lives, we need to be constantly re-evaluating where we are going and why, not to mention which means we are prepared to use to get there. Examining where we have been--watching our personal history unfold--is likewise very useful. It makes life more meaningful as well as better, I believe.
    Likewise, in our work, I am quite sure that the reflective, self-conscious photographer is going to be better at his craft for studying his or her own work, as well as that of others--not to mention the critics and the theorists. I believe that it is a hard call to make as to when someone is thinking too much, or analyzing too much, as opposed to producing too much.
    I am not saying any of this to try to refute you so much as to offer my own feeble thoughts on the subject.
    Getting the proper balance is the key, I think. In any case, let me reaffirm that most persons that I know think and read and write not too much, but too little.
    --Lannie
     
  71. Lannie, like you said to me and like I responded to you, I am often obsessive. I feel less and less balanced and that's OK. Paperwork and dishes are piling up in my house like never in my life. Time is being spent at the computer, both writing feverishly here and often in the middle of the night working on sorting through, processing, and refining new photos. I am looking for and finding new and old faces, bodies, and their environments to photograph. It's more than a little unsettling and that's a good thing.
    I don't think our priorities for our activities and the blends of those activities and passion with which we pursue them are generally understood terribly well by others. I don't often understand my friends' proclivities nor they mine. I will say, though, that those who know me have been excited for me and very encouraging (although my dad's really worried about my livelihood!). I'd be embarrassed, today, to have someone walk into my house and see that several days' dinner dishes are on my coffee table and that my kitchen's a holy mess, but I'd get over it. Because I'm doing other things I love and I'll get to the dishes before the ants get here . . . I hope.
    My own reflections have always felt somehow active. Sometimes they get photographed. (Even if others won't ever know or see it, they're there having some kind of effect . . . maybe nebulous, maybe more overt.) I've never found philosophy to be a passive activity and I doubt you do. Thought is productive and producing requires thought.
     
  72. I agree that balance is the key.
    As for the idea: "...it is a hard call to make as to when someone is thinking too much, or analyzing too much, as opposed to producing too much."
    I don't think it's all that hard, at least not in my opinion. I think it's obvious --but the difficulty is, as always, communicating that to the student honestly and directly.
     
  73. But who is the student and who is the teacher (a question I ask myself almost daily)?
    --Lannie
     
  74. Lance,
    Saying somebody may overanalyse and think too much is not necessarily a teacher-student environment. Friends told me I do, and often enough, they are right. However, it isn't obvious. You need to know somebody. You need to understand what is genuine thought, what is expressing insecurity, what is misunderstanding and miscommunication, what is just grey noise, what is analysis and what is mesmerising and dreaming. And even when you nail that, and communicate clear and honest, the receiving end may still feel otherwise. One person's overanalysing is the other person's appetiser for a good meal of thoughts.
    The same goes for producing too much.
    There is no human standard here, only individual ones. Each need to find his/her balance.
     
  75. One of the great attractions of Photo Net for me is that I can and should be both at the same time. I don't see photography as a one way street. I truely wonder at some of the photos/illustrations/paintings I see here on a daily basis. If I can save someone a minute, hour, day, month, year in their own development simply by providing a relevent example, shouldn't I?
    Even if I am dismayed by the subject, verb, object --shocked or amazed I try to understand the reason for the effort.
     
  76. "If I can save someone a minute, hour, day, month, year in their own development simply by providing a relevent example, shouldn't I?"
    "You won't get there over night. I've been doing it since '74 and I'm just starting to get comfortable with my work product."

    As you noticed, I spend a lot of time answering people's requests for critique. Since they've asked, they seem almost universally appreciative of my efforts in that regard. (You didn't mention if you read any of those critiques or just looked at the numbers.)
    In 1974, I was in college studying Philosophy. I started photographing seriously 5 years ago. I consider us to be peers.
     
  77. Lance - "If I can save someone a minute, hour, day, month, year in their own development simply by providing a relevent example, shouldn't I?
    Not always. The student/teacher relationship has its formal aspects. In a classroom setting, it is well-understood that the institution has vetted the teacher, her qualifications, etc. and in most cases, the student's as well. The financial arrangements affirm all this. It is clear that the students in that situation want to learn, and from this professor.
    That is just one scenario. With many others, specially informal ones, assuming the role of teacher and assigning to someone else the role of student is inappropriate, if not rude. Lance must have realized this at some level because he acknowledged it was a "shock". I do not recall Fred asking Lance or anyone else for guidance regarding how he should be conducting his life and spending his creative energies. Lance may have meant well, but on an internet forum, coming in and telling someone what to do, how to do it, how often, etc. is trespassing on someone else's boundaries.
    Ask first, or better yet, wait until they ask you. Fred's not issuing a cry for help and seems to be on his own path, not acting like a lost sheep in search of a Shepherd, and doing well (not that if he wasn't that I would take it upon myself to assume this is a teachable moment calling out for me). Looking at the number of posts and taking it upon yourself to declare that a misuse of Fred's creative energies is absurd.
    [And yes, I am deliberately leaving out the entire idea of simultaneously being teacher and student]
    I do not concern myself with whether someone is a peer, above or below me. I always assume they know and have experienced things in their lives, and paid the price, that I haven't and do not know, and would benefit greatly from knowing.
     
  78. Lance, it seems yours was an affront to the room as well as to me. I hadn't originally considered that and appreciate the kind of moral support I'm getting. At the same time, it would seem more light-handed were the response to you left up to me, since your comments were directed at me, which I feel I adequately conveyed in my own way. But, as I've been told, I can't and shouldn't try to control anyone else's behavior. Though I understand others' desire to respond as well, I just want to say I've become a little self-conscious that each time I've said something in response to you a bit more has gotten added. I'm sorry if that comes on a bit strong. I hope you'll continue to post and share your photographic and philosophical ideas here.
    I hesitated to write this for fear of continuing on an uncomfortable path here, so I'd like to quickly bring it back to photography and craft. I was, in fact, serious, when I addressed your "do it again, and again, and again" statement and would like to hear more about what you meant by that or how others perceive or utilize repetition and practice and how it affects the work and photographic abilities.
    And, if we don't get into that, I'd love for John and others to continue talking about shooting for the print and the role of the print in their overall approach to photographs.
     
  79. Firstly, for Luis G. The whole student/teacher thing was a give and take between Landrum Kelly and I and I think it and should be read in that context, not as an affront to Fred or anyone else because it wasn't intended that way. I'm still and ever will be a student and I don't have any misgivings about being a student and trying to learn or being identified that way. I still get it wrong and in particular, a challenge just I gave myseft to take an idea Fred mentioned and execute it mostly failed, probably because I spend so much time on the computer and not behind the camera --oh, the delicious irony, I know.
    Much of Fred's first post was about not taking pictures, I merely suggested he do more of the nuts and bolts than writing about it --he opened that door. I'm not controlling or trying to control anyone's behavior, nor would I suggest it. I'm guilty of not taking enough pictures too, perhaps only to a lesser degree.
    For Fred, I will post my response to the "do it again, and again, and again" idea in a separate post. While I'm doing that, will you take a picture for me? I'm posting in my gallery a picture I just did (the one I alluded to above) in the experiments directory with the commentary on how I did it, the real nuts and bolts. I failed to get what I wanted but I think you will appreciate the idea. I wanted to use this example, not to poke fun or belittle, or any other malicious intent, but because, specifically in this case, I liked the idea of trying to put into a photograph, the problem we face --I have dishes in my sink too. If you're so inclined, please upload your take on the idea --with or without looking at mine first. If not, that's O.K. too.
    I happen to agree with you completely when you said "The photographs talked about in artistic terms often don't measure up to the glow of the words about feelings, emotions, thinking outside the box, etc. We wax on about the deep inner recesses of the creative spirit but does any of that actually show up in our work? If it does, can we describe it in photographic rather than poetic terms . . . do we bother to describe it? What does it look like? Or do we just take for granted that if we talk about it enough it will be there in the photographs?" But I agree even more with the idea that: "We're not going to become photographers (or better photographers) by osmosis of thought, by philosophizing about abstract concepts and by framing everything we do in the form of a debate, this vs. that, or in the form of an abstract intellectual endeavor?" Amen brother.
     
  80. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, you asked:
    I shoot for the print because that's the path I've been on since I was 8. It's not a "philosophic" matter.
    My mother's print of a dirt road in hills over Palo Alto, cc 1939, hangs matted and framed in my workspace. Kodak Bantam Special http://www.cameraquest.com/superban.htm , Elwood enlarger. Along with her prints of sheep in Golden Gate Park, it brought her some Bay Area recognition when she was 19, well before I was a glimmer.
    In the early 70s I worked on some gigantic multi-projector (like 32 Ektagraphic plus a few 16mm loop) commercial shows...but gravitated to food photography (loved fussing around with seafood, wine etc...good $$). For several years I've imagined working a'la www.soundslides.com, which has led to some initial exploration of audio. One obstacle is that I've not been a photographic essayist.
     
  81. "Much of Fred's first post was about not taking pictures, I merely suggested he do more of the nuts and bolts than writing about it --he opened that door."
    Lance, this is, again, offensive, and I have no passes left to give. So, until you change your approach to me . . .
     
  82. Got it, John.
     
  83. Fred, In another forum thread, some of our friends in the PN community were taking about "keepers." You know, the photographs that really hit the mark, both in terms of intent and execution. I don't want to be obsessed with numbers in terms of photographs that are sellable, I'd rather take steps that I know will allow repeatable satisfactory results again, again, and again. I think it's like the scientific method, it's one thing to create a wonderful photograph but, it's something else entirely to be able to create two nearly-identical photographs of the same subject at two different times --not that you would want to as you said, but it's the capability and the comfort, if you will, with the method that is important. And it's important because it allows me spend time creating, or capturing good photographs instead of flipping switches because as I said in my original post, those great moments will get away.
     
  84. Lance, I don't let great moments get away because I prefer to make them happen. We do seem to be on the same page about experience, practice, and being prepared.
     
  85. jtk

    jtk

    As so often in the past, I suggest we click on the names of participants in this thread to evaluate (ie legitimately arrive at our own valuations) the literal worth of posts. This isn't an "eye of beholder" game...if you think it's pleasing, it damned well is. If you think it's stressful and strange and you don't know if you "like it", the valuation is also yours.
    Some of us are more oriented to pretty images...well and good...others struggle with more ephemeral issues, often missing their own marks. Click and arrive at your own entirely appropriate evaluations.
    Some hold that proper focus, exposure. white balance, and "composition" add up to godliness, others say that Icarus was right to try to fly.
    Again, click on the names.
     
  86. Rarely do we talk about how we make and what we put into photographs.​
    I'm still developing my approach to making photographs. I'm not sure that I'm ready or even capable of talking about it yet. Further, if you'll forgive me, I think I'd like to keep some of my cards close to the vest for a while. Meet me back here in five or ten years? ;-)
    You've got forums and pages full of people here on PN and elsewhere using art as an excuse.​
    I would argue that we have forums full of people using GEAR as an excuse. That seems to be a more prevalent problem (as it most likely always has been).
    In the name of art, they get away with a lack of craft.​
    I'm not sure that anyone ever "gets away" with a lack of craft. Karma spins a very patient web.
    Our intellectualizing often outshines our photographs.​
    Don't feel bad. Lots of people who apparently think that they know what they're doing fall into this trap. Compare their blogs to their galleries. Truth comes through clearly at all shutter speeds.
     
  87. The idea of praxis keeps coming back to me, the idea, that is, of a combination of theory and practice.
    I wish that our posts to threads here kept that idea in mind, so that we could philosophize but keep it close to the central enterprise of how to become better photographers.
    I am not trying to be imperially prescriptive in so saying, since I love the philosophical tangents and other forays into this or that topic of literary and esthetic (and even ethical) theory. I yet think that the practical value of all of them lies in how they affect our next work. In fact, I believe that there is ultimately nothing more practical than theory. When the vision has died and the reflection has ceased, we start stamping them out, shooting and printing by the numbers. That would be a sterile and moribund approach to photography, in my opinion. It might be a commercially viable approach, but it would be soul-killing for me.
    At some point I would also like to see a thread on the workflow--but I do not mean that in the narrow technical sense so much as in the sense of the flow from idea to shooting to printing, etc. I do believe that the best and most memorable photographs, apart from certain street (and kiddie and pet) shots that no one could have anticipated in advance, are often those that show some continuity of vision throughout the entire creative process, from inception to completion.
    --Lannie
     
  88. Some reflections:
    1. Photography is a craft and it isn't. Nobody cares if a craftsman/woman produces the same works. A photographer producing always "the same" pictures (note the quotation marks) is boring, at least to me. Photography is a craft in the sense that uses processes (in the highest sense of the term): the process of learning to use the tools, the process to compose, to capture motion or to stop it, to capture certain forms of light, to develop (in case of film), to proof (again), to edit and select (sorting out the good ones from the bad ones), the process of elaborating images (I'm not so fond of it, but it's a common practice, and has been), printing, framing, publishing (eventually).
    2. Photography requires much more creativity than any craft (this does not mean that craft doesn't, only that visual communication through photography requires a much higher degree of creativity).
    3. Photography requires conceptualisation: the elements of a photograph are virtually unlimited. Some can be controlled, some are beyond control. The limit is extremely fuzzy. This make photographs very complex from their visual communication. The understanding of the whole wealth of elements of a photo, which determine their visual message, requires conceptualisation (philosophical discussion?). Photography can't do without philosophy, which has the purpose to try to define the conceptual categories to understand it. The understanding of photography - an ex-post activity - has a very important bearing on the activity of creating photographs, which is placed ex-ante.
    4. There is an issue with the quantity of photographic production, which makes me disagree with the exhortation from Lance to Fred:
    • photography requires selection, which is not only indispensable after the main photographic process has been completed (when the picture is on the desk/screen). The selection has to happen also before pressing the shutter. I have to decide when not to press the shutter. Not pressing the shutter is one of the key elements of photographic composition (in my view). Philosophy of photography and the concepts derived from it are absolutely necessary for the ex-ante and the ex-post selection process, which necessarily limits the amount of photos worth showing.
    • "going out to shoot" and "doing more of the nuts and bolts" will not necessarily do good to photography if there is no related reasoning and conceptualisation process going along. Otherwise we would act like monkeys with a camera, who might leave the entire visual message of an image to mere chance.
     
  89. Luca, I understand what you were getting at with this: "Otherwise we would act like monkeys with a camera, who might leave the entire visual message of an image to mere chance."
    In reality, if you look at people's pictures, those who do not philosophize or care much about process, you will find non-random threads and consistency within the work. I'm not saying masterpieces or anything like that, of course, but they really aren't camera-transporting bots, either. They're people, just like us. Ok, maybe not as crazy as we are. :)
     
  90. Lannie,
    While a fascinating idea, it would also for sure be the thread with the longest answers ever. Try catching your own creative process in words... and then write it in humanly readable language. I'm sure I can't, at least not sufficiently clear and concise.
    Luca, much agree with your reflections, with Luis' addendum as well.
     
  91. Luca, your exhortation to know when NOT to shoot is a great creative counterpoint here.
    Reminds me of an old joke:
    How many Zen Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb? Two . . . one to screw in the light bulb and one not to screw in the light bulb.
     
  92. Luca,
    Once again, thanks for your very perceptive comments. I agree with their essence and will surely read them again as inspiration. What is very important and which you have previously mentioned, is that good photography is TOUGH. It requires a lot of thought, inspiration and much sweat. It is perhaps the paradox of photography as an art that it is one of the easiest of media to use initially, but one of the hardest to master well, requiring intellectual, craft, creative and personal concentrations that are not easily applied and combined.
     
  93. Luca, I hear you saying (among other things) that truly great photography requires a great deal of thought and not just technical expertise (which is also absolutely necessary, of course--it simply is not sufficient). I could not agree more. I have not yet achieved that kind of excellence, of course.
    Great post, as usual.
    --Lannie
     
  94. There is such variety in the photographic experience... on the one hand we have Lance's often and lots idea, Lannie's praxis, and many others.
    There have been renowned photographers, who like Luca, also knew when not to photograph (keywords: Wei wu wei). Some did not photograph between assignments, apparently remaining idle for long periods of time, others make a relatively small number of exposures -- and print nearly everything (and no, they're not using LF). The most successful (note I did not say best) landscape photographer of our time prints in very small print sizes. Others do not work in "projects" or "series".
    I mention this not to undermine anything that is said by anyone, but only to point out that there are many paths to this medium, all valid.
     
  95. Luis,
    In reality, if you look at people's pictures, those who do not philosophize or care much about process, you will find non-random threads and consistency within the work. I'm not saying masterpieces or anything like that, of course, but they really aren't camera-transporting bots, either.​
    Absolutely true. But these are rare.
    However, the "monkey" rhetoric was an hyperbolic one. Every photograph, even if not "thought" contains the human characters of the photographer. It was just to stress the concept.
    Arthur,
    It is perhaps the paradox of photography as an art that it is one of the easiest of media to use initially, but one of the hardest to master well, requiring intellectual, craft, creative and personal concentrations that are not easily applied and combined.​
    Agree 100%.
    Luis,
    There have been renowned photographers, who like Luca, also knew when not to photograph​
    actually I was thinking of "pressing the shutter", meaning that after spotting a scene, framing it, looking at it from different angles, I decide not to take the picture, because it's not worth. Not rather "stopping photographing". :)
    Fred,
    do we come to terms with our own internal contradictions? :))
     
  96. Luca, I appreciate hyperbole more than most.
     
  97. Can we combine philosophy and craft?
    I'll avoid talking around this =) and simply state "yes." (in my most humbled opinion).
    I think that one concept that I'd like to interject is "experience". Now that I'm a little bit older, I realize that what many people think is junk (or lacking the essence of art), is "junk" because it is either unappreciated, and at other times, because they fail to realize that it's the product of a beginning/blooming/budding artist who has yet to collect enough experience to output visions that others will regard as "art".
    Philosophy, I believe, warrant's it's weight also. While it may not make a whole lot of sense to someone in the very elementary stages of artistic development, I feel that it is important because it requires hindsight - AND - because actively engaging in the philosophy of art, can be very stimulating for creative and inspirational purposes.
    I'll also add that certain types of art, inspire philosophic thought!
    Thinking is good! And perhaps not all the time.
     
  98. "because they fail to realize that it's the product of a beginning/blooming/budding artist who has yet to collect enough experience to output visions that others will regard as 'art'."
    Matt, I just looked at your bio and you haven't said much on PN but what you've said here is really important, insightful, and likely worth an entire thread in itself.
    Potential. Unrefined or inexperienced, there can still be "budding" skill and vision. It does take a lot of experience to recognize that in others and in beginners. It means sometimes setting aside our own tastes and prejudices. It also takes willingness.
    Thanks!
     
  99. Hi Fred! Many thanks for the kind words. I have been familiar with PN for quite some time. I haven't had the time until recently to spend time interacting on message boards, and I discovered this lovely site while searching for techniques and reviews a few years back.
    Your post really hit home with me, because it is a concept that I frequently questioned within my photography and music. All to often, I realized that my judgement of others extended to myself as well.
    Today, I always try to view myself in "the third person", and try to reveal what elements of my own creative process are "new and budding". In the past, I have suppressed many of my own concepts and ideas because I felt they didn't conform with once learned standards.
    Tonight, for example - I am throwing away everything I've learned about lighting. I'm in the process of creating a speed light accessory that serves as a "beauty dish". Brass colored spray paint ($2/Kmart/ten years ago), dollar store plastic containers ($2), a few bolts (garage), and a razor-blade (toolbox). More often than not, I've found myself awe-struck by the creations of my photographic-peers. If I saw how they obtained their results (prior to seeing the image), I would swear to them they had it all wrong =)
     
  100. Very good points, Matt. Especially the bit, "it's the product of a beginning/blooming/budding." That reminds me of an analogy that philosopher Gilles Deleuze likes to make (though not quite in this context). He's talking about how embryonic development can only be observed, not experienced by the adult:
    "In themselves, they are lived by the individual-embryo in its field of individuation. Furthermore [... ] they can only be lived, and lived only by the individual-embryo: there are 'things' that only an embryo can do, movements that it alone can undertake or even whithstand (for example, the anterior member of the tortoise undergoes a relative displacement of 180 degrees, while the neck involves the forward slippage of a variable number of proto-vertebrae). The destiny and achievement of the embryo is to live the unliveable, to sustain forced movements of a scope which would break any skeleton or tear ligaments."​
    While that is true for the physical, it need not be true for the intellectual. One can choose -- deliberately, intentionally -- to keep growing, keep developing even if it entails, metaphorically, "forced movements of a scope which would break any skeleton or tear ligaments." Creative destruction.
     
  101. Hi Julie! i do believe you post just inspired my "ah-ha!" moment of the day, and perhaps a message that will find itself in one of my document frames from the dollar store, with the "cliff notes" cover graphics painted around the frame =)
    Learning how to harness multiple perpetual cycles of growth is one of my embryonic developments, because it truly leaves me with a feeling that I associate with "achievements" (or perhaps stages) of development in my youth. Feelings? Inspiration, joy, happiness, and hope. I value these feelings because I've hit dormant periods. My failure to perpetuate conceptual thought resulted in a blurred creative vision.
    Now enter, the subliminal mind! I hit a dormant period recently for approximately two years. Life was out of focus. Lots of change. Transitional periods within my life. (excuses, I know) ... Then something broke. Somewhere along the line, I had developed a mindset that wasn't creatively conductive. A blockage. That traffic jam of a mindset finally burst, and what amazes me is; I never really stopped growing creatively or personally. I was growing and transforming during that dormant period, however, I didn't realize this growth because I didn't understand the importance of cultivation =)
    My "reawakening" began when a friend had asked me to teach him photography. Stemming from my teenage years, one of my fundamental values is to pass on gained knowledge to others. Very similar to being groomed for a promotion within a company, with the requirement that peers and subordinates are cultivated to fill the position of which you are passing on.
    Matthew
     
  102. I have also faced this question in my own life and work.. I recently acquired a Mamiya Pro TL and several lenses/backs/etc. and added this to my already well stocked kit of TLR's, RB67, Digital and film EOS bodies/lenses and the like. I took a number of rolls of 120 slide - trying to be methodical - trying to 'slow down and pre-visualize - only to lose my notes taken in loose leaf regarding exposure, f-stop, etc. I was overly disappointed in the results - and have now set out a bound-book (Moleskine - their "cartoon panel" art/sketch book) and have attempted to 'pre-draw' what I want to capture and then print the final 'achieved' image - but due to weather etc - that will be for next spring in the gardens. I agree that the philosophy of photography be kept - and I also concur that it is best left to each individual - after all - if beauty is in the eye of the beholder - then one man's floral macro masterpiece is another man's weeds
    I guess (in the final analysis) that the way to become a photgrapher (or a better one perhaps) is the same advice that the music student was given upon asking "How do I get to Carnegie Hall? - Practice, Practice, Practice!"
    My $0.02
    Derek
     

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