Where's your pleasure?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. ..........
    ... in making photos? Yours, wherever you find it (the search? the chase? the interaction? the product? what you learn from it? ...etc.). Where is it?

    I have two very different sources of pleasure when making pictures. They're so different, it's kind of weird. Here they are:

    First, there is shooting for an immediate use. This means for No Words or for Leslie Reid's lovely recent thread, Experiment in Free Association. I get such visceral and delicious satisfaction/pleasure from this kind of shooting, that it's really a treat. And, as I pointed out in the thread, Our Beloved No Words Forum ..., such shooting is also a great learning exercise. I can attest to this; it really sharpens my eye and leads to all kinds of new discoveries.

    The odd thing is, absent a target such as No Words or Leslie's thread, I don't seem to want to do this kind of shoot. A good deal of the pleasure seems to come from the prospect of being able to use (or show off) what I discover in my expeditions. You'd think, given that I learn from the exercises, that would be enough on it's own, but, for me, it's not.

    But the "other side" of such shooting, for me, is that it's ephemeral. I don't value the pictures. I shoot strictly jpgs with my little Canon SL with one lens — a 60mm macro (I love this little, feather-light camera-lens combo); I don't back up the pictures; I don't save the edits except as resized small jpgs. I seem to consume their use in the shoot and the show; I have no interest in them beyond that.


    Second, there are my composites. They are hard. They are slow. They make me miserable during much of their processing. My current project that I'm working on involves layering of about sixty throws of different colored sewing thread over a dirt base. Everything had to be shot separately with three big, mega-pixel cameras that look (and feel) like cinder blocks; colors chosen (including the dirt); everything fiddled with (the dirt had to be screened to be "clean" LOL); etc. It would take me all day just to explain the shoot (three cameras for each thread). In compositing, it takes at least four hours, often more, to extract and layer in one thread to the composite; it takes about four months to do one complete composite.

    They look terrible on the internet (they're huge: 35" x 26" at 240 ppi), so I won't show you anything here. They're meant to be looked at for years, not seconds. I do kind of enjoy the long slooooow process of compositing (masking each thread and laying it in) because the picture develops as it is composited: I have no way of knowing what it will look like except by watching it sediment into what the colors and lines will do as they accrete and congeal. But the pleasure I get is in the long run. And that pleasure is very deep (for me). It does not require any outside motivation or target. I do this, and will continue to do this simply because I love it.


    So, enough about me. I've told you my story. What's yours? Similar to either or both of mine, or different? Where do you find pleasure in making your pictures? Does any of your work make you as miserable as my second kind does — and yet simultaneously give a deep pleasure?
    violaran likes this.
  2. It's about the journey, not the destination. But without a destination there's no real journey...The pendulum swings back and forth: one moment it all seems so futile, the next moment it's the most important thing in the world. The pleasure is in being able to remain creatively thirsty, unfulfilled. To discover and create images that exist within and outside of the real world without ever being it.
  3. Is that a pleasure? That's what drives my "second" kind, above, but I don't find the drive to be particularly "pleasant." It's important, it's valuable, in the same way that "thirsty" is important and valuable — by making me know of a deep need — but I don't find the drive to be pleasurable. And "journey" seems to be a hindsight kind of thing. In the moment, I'm never sure if I'm going forward or backward, never mind having (or wanting) a destination.

    But the first kind ... I'm like a raven or a crow or a packrat. Finding shiny trinkets and loving them ... just because. For example:


    ... look at the little snarly face at the end of this swoopy thing. Makes me laugh. It's a shiny trinket that is pure pleasure to have happened upon it one sunny summer day.

    Or this:


    ... look at those nutty shadow-shapes. There for a few minutes at just the right time on just the right day. Of no use whatsoever to anybody, but shiny trinkets that made me happy on that one day. I still laugh, looking at them.

    That kind of pleasure is worthless and yet in some ways worth everything. Life is short ...

  4. Photography legitimizes my voyeurism. :cool:
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  5. I love doing "documentary portraits," which for me means getting a portrait of someone that was not set up or pre-planned. I find them at parties, back yard barbeques, etc. I like to say: I want "intimacy" for 1/30 sec. For other things, I just capture the stuff that "jumps out" at me. Kind of like Julie's second type.
  6. .........
    Anybody have specific descriptions of really enjoyable recent photo outings?

    Here's mine from yesterday.

    I got to go "tree peeling." I love doing this, but it requires the right conditions: very recent rain, but a few hours to semi-dry out (the moisture brings out the color and textures). Then you can go out and peel the loose bark off of dead, rotten trees and see what's hiding underneath. Most of the time it's stuff I've already seen before, but a fair amount of the time, it's really nutty, cool stuff that's just ... fun to shoot. It's like unwrapping presents, or scratching those "Win something!" gray spots meant to sell products (where you never win ... but you keep scratching LOL).

    Conditions were perfect: very overcast (terrible for a lot of things, but ideal for getting saturated colors), it had rained but was holding off for the moment. I found a bunch of pine trees, dead for about two years and peeling commenced (peeling is really fun all by itself).

    Here (above) is you basic, "nice" pattern picture from dead wood. Yawn

    But look at these colors! They really were that bright. Looks like raw meat. I couldn't really do anything with it compositionally, but I'm trying it out, and just enjoying the surprise of it.

    A total mess, compositionally, but I count six faces (including sidewise ones). I love finding faces. Gotta snap that one.

    What do you think? Should I choose happy or sad?

    Anyway, as you will guess, there are a ton more snaps from this outing. I had a blast, but none of them will be "keepers." And I don't care. This kind of shoot is what it is. I've been doing it for years, and I would probably be flummoxed if I did get a "keeper" out of tree peeling. What to do with it??? I was having so much fun ...

    But and/or on the other side, this kind of shoot competes with my second kind of work. When I'm toiling away at my composites, I'm tempted to grab the little SL and go for a shoot. Vice versa, when out for a relaxed shoot, part of me is wondering if I'm wasting time that could be spent on something that I consider more "useful." The two modes are in tension. That might be a good thing.

    [An aside for Phil, though maybe relevant to the last part of the above, here is de Kooning: "Art never seems to make me peaceful or pure. I always seem to be wrapped up in the melodrama of vulgarity. I do not think of outside or inside — or of art in general — as a situation of comfort. I know there is a terrific idea there somewhere, but whenever I want to get into it, I get a feeling of apathy and want to lie down and go to sleep."]
  7. Then, of course, there are those unexpected pleasures:


    ... such as when the Virgin Mary shows up on my wall (real, not Photoshopped; note the picture frame to the right and the door frame to the lower left). Maybe not as saleable as when she appeared in a piece of toast, years ago ...
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  8. Do puppies count?

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  9. Like this one. A sad looking door that looks kinda funny because it's a door looking sad...

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  10. Oooooooooooooooooooooooooohhh ... !

    Puppies in PoP ... this should be illegal. I can't remember anything but puppieeeeeees. That one is SO cute.

    Yes! You know you can't walk by without taking the picture.

    On the Art21 segment on Robert Adams he says something like:

    "You are just helpless. You simply can't not take the picture." I know exactly what he means.
  11. That last line is very recognizable. Whenever I think I have something - an idea, a jumping off point - it also often feels that I can't possibly be bothered with it. There's a comfort in letting an idea be just that, something to evaporate like a fish that you release back into the deep after you caught it, maybe for it to crystallize into something bigger and stranger for when you catch it again someday.
  12. Especially not when it made this long Chewbacca howl while I was walking by. It's a Chewbacca door.
  13. In the evening, when walking back to the parking lot at work, I like to stop by if I see something striking, and take a picture. There are several shots that came out of nothing, no pre-planning or expectation, and I thoroughly enjoy them. In contrast, I never take photos on my way to the office in the morning, don't feel like. All the thoughts of planning the work day ahead interfere. In the evening, I feel more relaxed. Here are some examples of that exercise.

    Untitled-654.jpg Untitled-656.jpg Untitled-336.jpg Untitled-123.jpg
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  14. Could be a David Lynch painting. Things decomposing and stuff.
  15. Sounds natural that you would feel more relaxed when going home from work. But what if you did take those pictures in the morning that you wouldn't feel like taking, just to find out what the pictures might feel like?
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  16. If I understand your question correctly ... if I took those pictures in the morning when I am not in a mood to take pictures, how would it feel. I think those would be very different shots. The photos that I posted have a sense of intimacy and isolation between the subject and the photographer. In the morning, with a crowded path and everybody looking, I don't think I would feel the same level of intimacy with those subjects. Is that what you wanted to ask? As a footnote, I get easily distracted if I feel I am being noticed.
  17. What I mean is what if you would commit to take the pictures that you wouldn't feel like taking at first (because they would be the pictures that would be taken in the morning when you're going to work and have other things on your mind). Those kind of pictures could also tell and show something, maybe something even more intimate and truthful than the ones that you take after work when you do feel like taking them.

    How we feel during the taking of a picture shouldn't be mistaken for how the picture looks and feels like to us and to the viewer, even though I do think that ones psychic or mental state at the moment of taking a picture can have a real effect on what the picture ends up being. Maybe the pictures taken in the morning would lack the intimacy that you say you feel and see in the pictures taken in the evening when you're going home from work (also because of the light). But that doesn't mean that the ones in the morning would be less authentic. They could be more authentic in terms of what they portray (the crowds going to their work, the day to day routine,...).

    In other words, the pictures that you take in the morning may better or further communicate and elaborate why it is that you like or prefer to take pictures in the evening when you're done with work and ready to go home.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  18. The morning vibe when going to work is a whole other potential field waiting to be harvested...
  19. I think, I wouldn't even notice some of the scenes that I shot, if it was morning. I might take different photos, as you say, of people going to work. (I can even tell what they would be, I will focus on people's shadows, a lot of them from the harsh CA Sun in the morning) BTW, I was referring to the quality of my motivation depending on time of the day. I can fully see some interesting shots in the morning too, provided I am motivated enough to bring out my camera (well my phone ahem!).

    Outside the realm of documentary photos, I am not sure what is considered as authenticity in photography. The crowds going to work is as authentic as any of the above shots I think, irrespective of time of the day.
  20. I agree, provided my motivation is there, I am not seen as sneaky to my coworkers etc. I don't think one set of photos (evening) is superior to another set (morning). I just feel, they are different pictures.

    Also, (this is an important note) the thread started with where the pleasure is. Not all important or promising photos are necessarily associated with pleasure.

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