What do they do with their thousands of images?!!

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by pjdilip, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. I don't see how or where there's a difference there. Do you suppose, for instance, that it would be possible for anyone not to collaborate with the world and still make something happen?

    I try to make things happen, and sometimes they do as i wanted, and sometimes they do not. When they do not, i don't get what i want. Which i find neither pleasant nor does it come as a surprise.

    I am not in complete control, so yes, the outcome is uncertain. But though that means chance is in play, that's not the same as surprising.

    If a difference, it probably is in how deliberate the process is. Do you try your best to create what you have envisaged, or is there room for spray and pray?
    Or put differently, where and when does the creative part of the process take place, and who or what is the creator?
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
  2. Ownership doesn't matter to me that much.
    Sometimes, yes. But, I don't always envisage. I often simply create on the fly. I'm not often sure what I'm creating or even trying to create in advance of what I create. It can be a conversation among what I want, what I feel I'm being led toward, and what I don't know.
    I don't spray and pray, as I've already said. For me, there's a lot of territory between envisaging and spraying and praying. I can set out with a loose idea that takes shape fluidly as I go, from the time I pack my camera along to the time I finish up my post processing.

    I can't always get what I want, and I don't always know what I want. Discovery.
  3. I'm glad there isn't a burst mode for my 4x5.
    Tony Parsons and pjdilip like this.
  4. I fully agree on all points, Sam. Especially regarding 'the dance' and the different contexts. Thanks for this! Once again, your comments helped me reflect and learn.

    My original post covered the situations in which I can't easily 'dance' (interact) with individual subjects that I want to include in the frame. Usually at large events. In those situations, I spend most of my time as an 'active observer/reporter'' of whatever is going on. I do of course know in advance what's ''scheduled to go on' and I prepare the 'shoot' at home and on location together with organisers and key participants prior to the start of the event. Still, I usually have to adapt during the event.

    Your comment on 'the dance' made me think of it in different ways. I realised that even at large events, I'm always involved in a 'dance' at different levels.
    The participants are there to participate and interact with each other, not to have their photos taken. From time to time, I need to step up closer to speakers and other participants to take the photos I want and (hopefully) they will like. I try not to get too much in the way of (and disrupt) the flow of an activity or interaction and this never been a problem. But I realise that this is a 'dance' too: getting the right balance between stepping up often and long enough to get certain shots while not 'disrupting' the flow and irritating people.

    At events, part of 'the dance', for me, is connecting with individual participants on a personal level. Before, during and after the 'event'. Conversations help a lot. But even just making eye contact and giving someone a grateful/appreciative smile across the room helps in making a 'connection'. I often ask individual people/group/families at events if I can take their photo of them and I've never yet been refused. Even better is when people come up to me and ask me to take a photo of them with family and/or friends and e-mail them a copy.

    'The dance' is more obvious (and enjoyable!) when I take photos of 'ordinary citizens' to support published interviews. Many are very 'hesitant' about having their photo taken and published. Again, the personal connection (genuine interest, safety, trust, curiosity, true collaboration) is the most important thing. Sometimes, I take (with their permission) some spontaneous shots during an interview, that may or may not turn out to be any good or even useful. Again, sensitive not to disrupt - or distract from - the flow of the interview. Part of making the 'connection' is by actively participating in the interview in a secondary role. I love the part of 'the dance' where 'subjects' work together to find locations and/or activities that best support the article. Subjects often come up with great suggestions that otherwise wouldn't have occurred to me. In the best cases, more importantly, they gradually take 'ownership' for the photo.

    On reflection, it is indeed 'the dance' that interests me most in 'people photography'' That, and collaboratively producing results that both the 'subject' and my editing team are enthusiastic about. I always show 'subjects' a sample of the shots I've taken on the screen of my DSLR during and after the shoot. It's wonderful when even 'hesitant' subjects say things like "Oh, these are good but I like these ones best of all!" Or "what do you think about taking some shots there (or doing this) too?" Unsurprisingly, I've found that the photos that subjects like most are almost always the ones I (and my editing team) like most too. :)

  5. The monkey aphorism is a classic example of the value of context to meaning. And its meaning is both relevant to this discussion and sadly hidden by a socially applied veneer of irony and a search for humor that isn’t there.

    The probability that a monkey given a typewriter on which to bang will compose anything readable is (even being charitable to monkeys) very low - but it’s not zero. And it goes up as the number of monkeys and typewriters increases. With an infinite number of each, the probability that one exact copy of the Gettysburg Address will emerge is 100%. This assumes that the numbers of monkeys, typewriters, and eons of waiting are all truly infinite and that they all hit the keys in random order. Skill and talent are not only unnecessary - they invalidate the model.

    It’s purely statistical and nothing is required of the monkeys except random behavior. If for some reason, they like or dislike some keys more than others, the model falls apart. If the typewriters aren’t all fully functional and all keys don’t look and feel the same, the model falls apart. Etc etc.

    Random events affect our pictures in many ways, most of which are not obvious until we compare multiple supposedly identical shots. Many many times, I’ve changed my choice of best from among multiples after discovering that a stray light ray, bird, reflection, etc in my first choice was not in another shot I thought was identical until looking at it critically several times. The tiniest muscle movement can change a face and a shift of one or two degrees along the arc of hand and arm positioning can open up a tiny bit of space between objects.

    Even more important to me has been the discovery of people and objects that were incidental to the image when taken but became important later (sometimes many years later). People die, buildings are demolished or altered, neighborhoods change, and images that show them as they were can become priceless to you in time. I have many wonderful pictures that include subjects I now miss greatly that I took for other reasons (like old girlfriends next to my first cars, or Sterling Moss in his original Sebring Sprite (taken because my friend restored the car). To be clear (in case my wife reads this), it’s my first car that I miss.....

    So I don’t destroy or discard any images that have any visible content. My scanned negatives and prints go back to the early 1960s and I’ve scanned all of our family’s prints back to the 1890s. I’m probably pushing 100,000 digital images by now. I figure that once I reach an infinite number of images and have infinite time to study them, I’ll find one that a monkey will buy for $10 million ;)
    samstevens likes this.
  6. ... probably less probable than the probability that a monkey will be given a computer keyboard, tablet, or phone to bang on. And the probability will then be far greater that the monkey will take a selfie than compose The Gettysburg Address or Hamlet ... or a famous Ben Hecht screenplay!
    otislynch likes this.
  7. OP, can't say about them.

    For me I have 100,000+ photos going back to 2012/ 13 I need to look through. If it was just my own photos, then maybe I'd be caught up some. But my archival work really puts me in a hole. About the only area I am slightly caught up in is my VHS video tape archive. I try to delete crap in-camera. If I didn't do that maybe my unedited hoard would be 140,000 and not 100,000.

    Advertising archive = 65,000+ images to scan.

    Audio archive = a thousands hours of R/R tapes to transcribe.

    LP archive is somewhat better with only 160+ LP's and 45's to transcribe.

    Small gauge film is terrible with nearly a million feet to scan.

    Ephemera archive and old photos is over 100,000 scans behind.

    I used to save the SD cards, but they say they die if not charged after 8 - 10 years. HDD needs to be rewritten every so often or it loses magnetism. Maybe 6 - 10 years?? SDD is said to lose data in short order if not kept charged, maybe a few months or a year. I put the SD cards on Blu-ray disc or M-disc and keep the raw material. I've lost things on the computer before and had to retrieve them from the SD cards. My only regret is not doing that from way back. I got tons of SD cards that need to be transcribed to disc now.

    Placing material with other archives only goes so far. From the beginning of my institutional placements I had that worry, so I always used the 'shotgun approach' placing material around the world versus trusting one repository. I placed some important material with the LOC. They changed curators and she did not like my work and boom my material is no longer to be found on their website. I will have to do some research on that, but it all takes time digging up email from years ago. I'd like to know what the Director of the LOC has to say about it. But people being what they are in 2021, he / she / zir probably won't respond.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  8. Improbable events do happen, Otis, yes. But this monkey thing never will happen. A completed sentence, let alone a completed novel is not even an outcome you could expect. You cannot base your expectation blindly on statistics or what rules probability theory would offer, or say that nothing is required of those monkeys.
    You can speed up the experiment, since nothing would be required of the monkeys, by substituting computers with equal knowledge of words, sentences and meaning. Let a bunch of them (many, many times faster than monkeys and typewriters) run free for a while and see what happens.
    But anyway.

    We cannot keep everything. What's worth (in fact or in potential) to us may never ever seem worthwhile to anyone else. And even if it would, most will not be missed should be decide to discard and destroy what we deem not worth our while. Not a loss.
    What however would be, and is, a burden for geneations to come is the idea that everything associated with someone or something of value must also be preserved. Meanwhile many a creator (author, painter, etc.) would turn in his or her grave and wish they had destroyed it all knowing that people insist on putting value on that which they themselves did not. Many a work now on public display nowadays (be it in a museum, or in a mega-page tome by some scholar or another) would never be allowed to by the maker, because it does not measure up to their standards, because it was not what they intended.
    And that's not a matter of taste, other than that it arguably is a show of bad taste.

    We need to forget.
    Forget about the stuff we do not and never again will think about anyway.
    Forget about the stuff we decided we want to forget the moment we made it.
    And if you think your output is of value to others, you should seriously consider not just forgetting about that which you did not intend to bring into existence, but actually make sure you destroy it.
    pjdilip likes this.
  9. Why so much talk about "we" and "others"?

    Anyway, I'm only speaking for myself. I save things because I come back to them sometimes and discover things in them I didn't see before or because my photography has changed and something that didn't fit in then fits in now. I'm not saving for others or for posterity. I'm saving for myself. Saving things doesn't get in my way, doesn't keep me from moving forward, and doesn't overburden my little hard drives.
  10. Do you remember the case of the guy who started chronicling his every activity in a diary. Ultimately it became such an obsession that he had roomfulls of beautifully bound, matching volumes, all recording his latest activity: 'Now I am writing my latest entry... Now i am writing that I am writing my latest entry... Now I'm writing that...' - You get the idea!:mad::confused::eek::oops:
    PN has a weird collection of faces!
  11. A logical extreme is a useful, though often fallacious, rhetorical device.
  12. If I had more dough I'd buy LTO tape drives. But very pricey. I tried a Sony Disc archive, but was hard to use. The tape drive is not archival, but it provides fast bulk backup with massive capacity.
  13. Fast and tape? Nah... Sequential access, so you will have to wind and search and wind and... slow. Measured in tens of seconds, not milliseconds.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  14. Learn to print.
  15. lol. Which will elicit the question of how best to preserve all those prints! :rolleyes:
  16. That, we do know, Sam. Lots of acid and lignin free boxes. Darkness. Low humidity. Constant temperature. And a lot of space.
    The question then rather would be how to find time and other resources (money, for one) to print those thousands of images.
  17. Which assumes they do anything with their thousands of images.

    I don't use digital technology but I have a pal who does and, yes, he makes thousands of images. The point for him is not to do anything with the images but to enjoy the camera work as an intense interaction with visual subject matter. This process is much more interactive, gratifying, and rewarding than just looking and then moving on.

    And the thousands of images stand as certificates that the heightened seeing experience has been traversed.
  18. Sort of thinking some photos take a life on their own.

    Okay, the dumbo pressing the big button, claims the credit.
  19. It appears time saved inevitably leads to time wasted......

  20. How can anything requiring infinity to emerge, emerge in infinity?
    q.g._de_bakker likes this.

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