What to shoot? Shoot banal, ordinary subjects now. . . .

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by landrum_kelly, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. Phil S. posted this somewhere recently:
    [LINK]
    Moral of the story: Shoot banal, ordinary subjects now. The photos of the banal will be revered as high art in twenty to thirty (or more) years. Such is the human fascination with the past.
    Okay, so that's not quite true. It's not totally false, either. The patina of the past is special somehow, and it does seem to elevate the ordinary into something not quite so. . . ordinary.
    --Lannie
     
  2. I really do enjoy shooting ordinary things, things that I typically see very often, sometimes nearly every day. Why? One reason is that such ordinary subjects are easy to find.
    Perhaps a better reason is that they are so darned real--real in the sense of "authentic." They are totally lacking in pretense, and in any overt claim to art. I could get high-flown here and say that they remind us (when we share them) of our common humanity, but to say that sounds as if I were running for office.
    On the other hand, once in a while one sees something like Eggleston's tricycle, an ordinary thing shot from a different angle. How did a different angle wind up giving us an extraordinary photograph? (Is the color right on that link?)
    There's something about getting the right angle. . . . I think that academic huff'npuffs would prefer to call it "perspective," as in "a novel perspective." I'm happy with "Good angle!"
    --Lannie
     
  3. Speaking of gas stations. . .
    There are gas stations, and then there are gas stations.

    I wonder why my gas stations don't look like Eggleston's. This is a great mystery to me. It's a darned gas station, for crying out loud. What's all the fuss about?!
    I wonder why Eggleston's colors are better (more interesting) than my colors. I don't think that it is only about the film he used. If I were to put a girl in a green dress out by the roadside and call the shot "Untitled, Mississippi, c.1970," people would just say that the colors clashed. I wonder why it is that green can clash with green.
    --Lannie
     
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Windows to the past -- when I scanned and posted photos I took in High School, profound differences from the present day. Societal / technological differences amazing. Art, not, but a certain fascination. Of course the added dimension is that those photos are a part of the life I lived. Others' photos, I suppose, curiosity, resonances, and nostalgia.
    As to colors, there is a very good photographer on this site who posted shots of a model / athlete dressed in shades of black that didn't work together. Greens are much easier -- yellow green and blue green, done.
     
  5. It isn't what you photograph, it is how you photograph them, and that "how" doesn't refe to techical things r even
    technique really, but the "how" that comes from you being you.
     
  6. I like ordinary subjects myself if they have something to do with my family or friends. Just a couple weeks ago we went up to a lake above Sonora Calif (Pinecrest Lake) and hiked around it and then the next morning we went to Jamestown for breakfast and to ride the No. 3 movie star train. Just ordinary places and I took some photos of all of it including the breakfast place. Photos are in my album with little notes on the back in pencil of what's up with the Photos. The train itself was a roll of Arista 100 all in itself as I have a steam train thing. I have taken photos of it before.
    Speaking of trains my dream is to get a chance to take some photos of the Daylight Express 4449 which used to run from San Francisco to LA as a passenger train. I believe it's stationed in Portland and you can go look at it. Riding it is possible but it's not easy to find out when you could do that. I am an RN and one of the Hospital Volunteers was the Conductor on that train and he used to tell me about that train, the No 3 and others. He let me hold his Railroad watch and showed me the engravings on the inside which proved his watch was calibrated according to railroad policy. His father was also a Train Man and he let me hold his railroad watch also. It was larger in size and the one thing that I admired about those watches is they both appeared to be in dead mint condition. They really took care of those watches as they were important and a soure of pride. He gave me 2 gifts during our years together at the Hospital. One was a Santa Fe Coffee cup that was given to him as recognition of giving good service for 6 months. Every 6 months they would get a small token of appreciation for good service. The cup is about 40 years old and has never held a drop of coffee. The other gift was a box car key that will open every boxcar on the rail. It's a skeleton key made of brass. I gave him a large print of the No 3 that I had taken a while back and before it went in for a 1.5 million dollar restoration. Sorry for the ramble but I like ordinary photos of things but I am interested in things that are part of my life. I do not care about photos of random things, strangers of no consequence or whatever.
     
  7. It isn't what you photograph, it is how you photograph them, and that "how" doesn't refe to techical things r even technique really, but the "how" that comes from you being you.​
    Okay, Ellis, but don't let my tongue-in-cheek treatment fool you: what is there in the photos that makes them so special? Obviously they are special. Even I can see that, even as I cannot do the same quality work. (I never have, at least.)
    --Lannie
     
  8. I find myself drifting away from street shots with people to street shots without people and I'm having great fun in doing so. I've always taken such shots but I normally didn't print them and these days when I process my film I'm seeing more frames w/o people then with people so I'm starting to print them and re-evaluate my approach. I'm going to ride it out and see where it takes me. Will my pictures be considered "art" in the future? I certainly don't know and quite honestly I don't care.
    00e46e-564523884.jpg
     
  9. Okay, Ellis, but don't let my tongue-in-cheek treatment fool you: what is there in the photos that makes them so special? Obviously they are special. Even I can see that, even as I cannot do the same quality work. (I never have, at least.)
    --Lannie​
    Those were shot at a time when B&W dominated fine art photography so color was a bit revolutionary. One critic back then penned that his work was "perfectly boring".
    What is there in those photos that makes them so special is that they're filled with so much contrast in its various visual and emotional forms not just in color & tone but of the placement of light and dark shapes breaking up the frame. Contrasts in POV's and focal length as you noted about the odd angle of the tricycle is an example, a small object for small children made to look bigger than life (contrast!).
    Glorification of the banal viewed in rich color is an internalized form of contrast where the photographer displays the ordinary and boring in beautiful vivid colors (Contrast!). If Eggleston pounded the viewer over the head showing fashion models in vivid color fashion dresses it would be too much and place too much emphasis and confuse the viewer on whether they were being sold on the look of the dress as if it's an advertisement.
    I don't think Eggleston planned or was mindful of communicating these variations of contrast in his work. He just developed a sense of it being sensitive to it. Kind of like people who like to make out shapes of objects in cloud formations.
    I don't know if most folks see and define the world photographically this way which is why most aren't successful fine art photographers even when shooting banal scenes.
     
  10. Phil, no argument from me on that :).
     

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