Your personal statement about your photography...

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by jtk, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. jtk


    ...or your background in it, or your background outside it, or what you care
    about as much or more than photography.

    Here's mine, in response to a puzzling comment on the "purist" thread by Allen

    Allen apparently thinks I'm a "purist," "stuck in the mud" etc.

    He jumped to a mistaken conclusion.

    1) The images in my P.N gallery are simply images that make me happy. Several
    are simply friends and extended family. I don't advocate images like them to
    others, and I don't advocate their techniques. My Minor White touch is
    significant to me and a few others, but someone else's more contemporary
    connections are more important to them, an perhaps to photography going forward.

    2) I like most of the work in Allen's P.N portfolio.

    3) I'm a good scanner and inkjet printer...I enjoy CS2 and Lightroom. I do
    almost no digital photography, mainly because I've not yet done what I want to
    do with film. Maybe "stuck in the mud" does apply, I'm late to the party, but I
    certainly appreciate digital photography's merits and potential. Photographing
    for money, I'd only shoot digital.

    4) Photoshop manipulations can add value to images, or even create them, but I
    think the tendency (eg. as seen on P.N) is to be trivial, little more than
    painting by numbers. That's not a "purist" view, it's an elitist view.

    Call me elitist or judgmental, not "purist." Some things are good, others bad.
    Up, down. Black, white. Dull, exciting. Magical, dud. Significant, trivial.

    That's not to say there aren't grey areas. I, for example, hope to be a mediocre
    photographer. I shoot film and have a narrow range of interests, as well as
    limited skills.

    My work is the ultimate free-lance weirdness...I'm a headhunter. My dozen year
    photo career was big-city traditional and graphics-oriented. My best stuff was
    classic large format food photography for large advertising agencies. I made a
    good living at that, quit on the way up because I was unsuited to the social
    complexities of dealing with art directors.

    This means I'm a 64-year-old hobbiest. I left a photography career long ago. In
    recent years, when offered money for work, I have done what I chose and for free
    if at all. It's a gratifying exploration: I'm merely a fairly intense amateur.
  2. It is an ideal I aspire to, but don't always attain -- to see with the photograph what I do not see without it.
  3. F8 and be there. Oh wait that one has been used huh? OK then let me say If your pictures aren't good enough you aren't close enough. Oops my bad that one is taken also. Uh...I guess then I don't have one and that's probably a good thing for me since it would just be another standard I couldn't possibly live up to.
  4. One of the biggest surprises to me at age 57 is that I have not become what I imagined I
    would be at 57 when I was 27. I am not settled creatively. I continue to be creatively
    restless, trying to find the universal in the specific through my photographs. When I was
    27 I imagined that I would have one day discovered "the answer," and would coast into old
    age with some wisdom I've never achieved.
    <p>I want to produce images that have form even without content, images that still have
    meaning once the context and emotion of the moment are removed by time and distance.
    Images that when viewed out of context 100 years from now still have some meaning,
    even if not the original meaning, to the viewer.
    <p>But I'm not interested in the abstract. In fact, I've always been drawn to images of
    people, even though I'm a loner by nature. And to find the universal in images of specific
    people is difficult, without completely isolating them from the context of their time and
    place. To rip them from their surroundings seems too violent, so I struggle with the
    <p>The optimism in this is that I realize at 57 that I still struggle toward that destination,
    even though I could not imagine still wanting to do so at 57 when I was 27.
  5. Not sure that any of these statements, which sound like self-evaluations by contestants in a beauty pagent, have anyhing to do with philiosohy. It would be a lot more effective, and certainly more interesting, if people posted pictures showing their apprach to photography:
  6. How does presenting a photo here without a caption or explanation of any kind expound on the subject? A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it could just be gibberish or filibustering. I took this shot two days ago: but it retains only a small part of its strength viewed online. I am debating if it is worth printing or not as that will cost me a fair amount to have a 16x52 print and the frame will cost even more. It is rich in detail though and the sky is grand. For me the grandeur of that sky was more than I could take in standing there, but seeing it all at once made it more relevant to me than it had been. At the other end of the spectrum (but not all the way to microscopic), I am partial to this image which does lend itself somewhat more to the limited format provided by this website:
  7. Well, I posted a personal statement about my photography because that is what the OP asked
    for. He didn't say, "show me a personal photo illustrating your personal philosopy."
  8. In conversation, the stereotyping of IT people cropped up.<br>
    I remarked that my office neighbour is a painter, has a BA, and sells occasionally, and there's me, the photographer. There's a painter on our support desk as well, another BA, she does a sideline in pet portraits, but our colleagues do tend to be musicians rather than visuaL artists. <BR>My old friend looked stunned and asked why we're all doing IT work. <BR>Well, theres a demand for it. IT work pays money.<br>
    We'd just been to a small country pub. Its run by an accomplished cellist who has not played for years. Her husband, the guitarist, runs their pub restaurant. Some of my pictures hang in the restaurant<BR>
    Perhaps that fills in some of the background.<P>
    Years past, when I needed an indoors desk job, I chose computing deliberately, it combined fascination with gadgetry and some elements of creativity, and it looked like expanding with a good job market.<br>
    Computing has changed a lot, but still is a kind of gadgetry which we use for creativity, and perhaps that is what pulled me into photography as well, gadgetry used for creativity. That, and photography involves interaction with ones surroundings, and sharing with other people, and can be done outdoors or indoors.<P>
    Lately I'm reading more widely about photography and other arts, so I feel photography, which can be equipment oriented, can also be a very mind expanding occupation.<BR>
    My choice in gear now is a canon DSLR with a small mix of Canon, Contax, and russian lenses. Sometimes an antique lens as well. My computer and camera kit is good enough now, I don't think I need to chase the latest upgrade.<BR>
    If I had to choose kit for a cheap and absorbing photographic hobby, it probably would be large format. There is a deal of pleasure, mechanical and aesthetic, in cleaning and refurbing cheap old cameras and lenses, whilst they and chemicals are not expensive. No darkroom is really needed, and my largest expense really is gold chloride for toning POP. I do digital mainly for practicality.<BR>
    And when I clear the space and time for it, real photography is an absorbing escape from the modern electronic world.<p>

    One other thought, to be square about it, when I was younger and fitter, I was doing things more than photographing things, photography has simply expanded to fill the time and money available as I had to ease back on other things. But if I had got into it properly earlier, I think I'd have got a lot out of it.
  9. Well, my personal statement...
    I like taking photographs for myself, and to show other people what I'm thinking. I like taking photographs for other people too. Basically self-taught (ha, does it shows? :)) ), and a camera has accompanied me most of the time for the past 30 years (almost).

    I love the outdoors - walking, cycling, mucking about with the kids and the dogs, skiing and so on - photography, I find, is an ideal interest that can be so well combined with other interests. I love music too - actually, I guess I'm pretty obsessed with music! I find it much nicer taking photographs when out and about, rather than doing video. For me, video intrudes too much on quality time. Photography I can take a picture and move on.

    I enjoy experimenting. I try to take pictures that are a bit different. Lots of my photographs I'm very pleased with. But sometimes I see someone else's work and wish it was mine!

    I like film - playing around with my old Zenit E and Pentax Auto 110. I like digital. I like colour. I like BW. The only thing I don't like really is too much photoshopping. For me, a crop if necessary, and levels adjustments is as far as post processing goes. Everything else - too much hassle. If someone's got spots, they've got spots - I can't stand all that "makeover to make someone look like they someone else instead of themselves" rubbish.

    My dream really is to exhibit some photos somewhere - even in an old empty building and get people to come along for free drinks and look at what I've done. It would be nice if someone even thought I had a picture that was worth buying - maybe I'll one day be god enough. In the meantime I'll carry on dreaming :)
  10. Photography has made money for me. It satisfies me, sometimes. Other times it frustrates me. I now work to satisfy myself not an audience or no longer clients. My sources of satisfaction are my finished pictures not the boring navel gazing about the zen of phography nor the endless technical quibbling you see on this site. I guess, however, that this post may be mild navel gazing although not of type that tries to explain the "art" of photography. I like to have good but not the best tools so my pictures come out in decent color and resolution. I don't get a big kick out of showing or winning awards: although I have shown and won awards. When I had a darkroom my greatest satisfaction came when I hung a wet finished print. I printed B&W, RA-4 and Ilfochrome. Watching one come out of a computer doesn't quite do as much for me although I feel deep satisfaction when I print one I really like. But, as my wife says, you have to "kiss a lot frogs to find a handsome prince" and I am not that enamored with a lot of what I have done and what I now do. At 75 I take satisfaction in my family, my photography and believe it or not I am training to swim the Butterfly competitively in masters meets. As I have had my own photo business, I think my photography is competent and I am knowledgable enough to do professional work so my product is technically good but my art suffers most of the time. It is, in the long run, good for my psyche. By the way, I give away some of my prints to friends and family and it pleases me when they like and hang what I have done. That gives my much more satisfaction than selling something.
  11. I've been taking photographs for 30 years now and have spent many of those years trying to decide what kind of photographs I wanted to take, and what kind of a photographer I was.

    In my early years I dreamed of a cover on Voque. I was employed doing dept store cataloque work that I felt was just a stepping stone to the Italian catwalks.

    Then I became a photographer of 'art nudes'. Spent many years photographing nudes in what I thought was a meaningful 'schtick' was to tell my subjects that I just wanted to help them portray who they felt they were. I had numerous gallery exhibits, am a standing member in a local prestigous art collective and then one day it hit me...bang...all of this was drivel. That little of it had any merit other than it being fun to shoot and the people involved (often local actors and such) had fun and maybe added something to their portfolio's.

    But the photos I was making of my kids, my extended family and the people in the area I live in (I often give prints of this type away) were the photos that would be stored away in albums...the pictures people would pull out to show their grandkids...the photos that actually have historical context and importance.

    It's funny...some of my friends think I've abandoned photography. I've given up my bags of SLR's and shoot with one rangefinder (film) body with 35mm for B&W and a Canon G7 for colour...yet I feel that I'm doing the best and most important photography of my 'photo career'.
  12. I supply "statements' only when asked, and try not to use the words "I", "me", or "mine". I try either to talk about the work, or if I can get away with it, provide a haiku or short poem.<p>I wrote this as a statement about an exhibition of portraits:<p>_______________________________________<p>Portraits are a delicate pursuit, a balance of interior and external forces with the pressures of an uncertain future. <p>Immediate and historical influences provide both motivation and inhibition for gesture and expression. The accouterments and styling affected by the subject create a surface that can be a window, a mirror or a wall. The photographer, the society, the immediate family and personal associations are all collaborators in that image of an individual that is recorded in every exposure and presented in any print. <p>This interplay of forces creates an important dynamic that is central and essential to a successful portrait. A photograph of one person is a recording of multitudes.<p>... t
  13. and here's an example... t
  14. vfg


    Early 1969 I was just starting my second tour soldiering in Vietnam when I acquired my first real SLR. I took my first roll of kodachrome and went right out to shoot some snaps of my buddies, stuck the film in a mailer and away it went. By the time I got my slides back, we?d lost two of our friends, our only record outside of our memories were my slides. I?ve always viewed these photos as a slice of a good moment in time, preserving forever what feelings we shared at that particular moment. Somewhere in the back of my mind I?m reminded every time I push a shutter release that I?m capturing a moment, stopping time, yet hoping to capture the energy of that space and that exact point in time. Being unsuccessful never deters me because the rare successes provide a lifetime of inspiration.
  15. In 1857 i took my first photograph with a dauerroetype. It was a photo of my old Gran ,taking a leather belt to my brothers arse, for buying Gorgonzola cheese instead of Stilton. It was a somewhat blurred photo due to an 8 second exposure, and my brother jumping around a lot. As my brother was a lot bigger and older than me, and pushed me around a lot, i sort of enjoyed taking that photo...i still get pleasure from looking at that old photo.

    Moving forward to more recent times, i suppose it's about the interaction with what my eyes can see, and what my mind can decipher.
  16. you know, the ability to edit is under rated. Allen, you should work on your timing. That was a really asinine segue... t
  17. vfg


    "Moving forward to more recent times, i suppose it's about the interaction with what my eyes can see, and what my mind can decipher".........good luck with that
  18. jtk


    I've enjoyed reading these statements.

    Interesting, the overlaps and disconnects with my own life with photography.

    Interesting, too, that some express themselves openly and and freely, others evidently unnerved. To do with differing maturity trajectories, I'd guess.

    Vaughan just rang my bell twice with these thoughts:

    "I'm capturing a moment, stopping time, yet hoping to capture the energy of that space and that exact point in time. Being unsuccessful never deters me because the rare successes provide a lifetime of inspiration."
  19. you know, the ability to edit is under rated. Allen, you should work on your timing. That was a really asinine segue... t

    Really, why.? Just a bit of humour. Just that, nothing Machiavellian .

    Why be so uptight.
  20. many of us live to own things. whether cars, houses, people, or even scenes, we want to have as much as possible. why? because we are insecure with what we already have. amatuer photographer's like me are no different: we want to capture scenes--to appropriate them. and this is very unoriginal. rarely do we attempt something honest, true. rather, we spend more time trying to recreate the familiar; we then post a cliche photo on and hope others identify it praise us for our ability to (re)create. Like babies fitting objects thru their respective templates, we seek gratitude when we create that which has already been done. we recreate what we are familiar with in order to identify with others. ultimately, it is a reaction to insecurity and immaturity.
  21. Thoughtful post, Peter. So true.
  22. I remember how I started to take the photographs. I had an old Beirette (east German, 50 bucks camer) of my dad. So, I went to Vienna and I had a problem with focusing, because Beiretta doesn't have any distance measuring and light metering. It was difficult for me because I had to guess.
    I like to use Olympus OM1, Zuiko 50mm, Tamron 28mm lenses, more then digital camera. I'm taking pictures of architecture, parks in which I want to express the notion of english masters of landscapes from 18 century. My inspiration is music and physics. I'm trying to find emotional language during the act of photographing. Faces, people, its all becoming very interesting and challenging for me. Maybe because they are unpredictable in their manner and behaveur. I like to observe, watch before photographing. This is my method. I found great understanding in Escher's graphics, in that philosophy of deeper meaning of life. The masters of north Europe, like Vermeer, also influence on my work, then Durer, etc.
    The biggest challenge for me is to catch perfect relationship between the light and shadow, between form and content.

    My work is categorized thematically. I enjoy giving the names and titles. Through that, it gives me a complete meaning. Well, I can't have a picture without the title, in short.
    Being creative in nature, passing through meteorological dynamics, seeing the composition and all those parameters that I mentioned above, is more then photography.
  23. jtk


    Peter Rzazewski: I don't feel that your use of "we" is entirely honest.

    One clue is that you're not talking about yourself, you're talking about a group that you think you are part of. If you were entirely honest, and I'm not claiming that I am, I think you'd talk about your own photography rather than about this alleged group's.

    While it's true that most seem repetitive and unoriginal, in P.N galleries we also see some amazing new-seeming images, as often by very dedicated amateurs as by professionals. IMO. My own statement is above, I hope that's honest :)
  24. John, I think Peter is making a general philosophical statement. With respect, yours is more of a nit picking statement with little bearing on what he has written. Your basic premise is that he making an attack on a group he belongs to, and an attack on the photos posted on PN.

    I think his brush is painting a bigger picture. I suggest you read it in a more thoughtful way my friend.
  25. Photography is infinite. It has managed to stimulate my mind and emotions since I first looked through my grandfather's viewfinder. There are no two photos alike. And there are millions of techniques and ways of approaching a single shot. This power with creativity that photography has allows me to connect with the soul. Whether film, digital, or whatever comes next...A connection is made. A connection between you and the world which you exist in. A connection with yourself and your beliefs. And..if you understand just might be able to connect someone else with your consciousness.

    Photographs are the fossils of my evolution.

    There is also a connection with science. Understanding depth within patterns and light (times of day, absorbance, reflections...), and being able to apply that knowledge to obtain an image...never fails to amaze me. Never.

    There are images in my head. Stories that are not to be told by words or sounds. Once they are printed...a vision of my own...a creation due soley to my mind...its like watching the birth of a child, a rocket being propelled into orbit...etc. etc. etc...

    And that is the way I SEE IT.

    (PS...sometimes too...I see a photograph that makes me jealous and I get mad...but hey...what are you going to do...
  26. I thought I found a dead-thread. Thanks David for bringing it back to life so that I may
    express a paradigm shift in my life outlook since last night.

    I watched a History Channel 4-hour show on the birth of the universe and our planet. It
    included The Big Bang Theory where a satellite showed what the universe looked like at
    130,000 years old. It all started with the entire universe smaller than one atom in size --
    then bang --

    It is not an infinite universe.

    Then we get to Earth. 4.5 Billion years of history in that show. Complete with extinction of
    life a few times.

    Then 10,000 years ago -- ICE AGE. A blink ago. I somehow had missed the context of the
    ice age in the big picture. Then the coming NEXT Ice Age between now and 15,000 years
    from now. More extinction, including ours.

    Extinction is part of this planet's history. We live in the space of time when we can live.
    Then all will be gone again. Until last night I thought of photography and art as something
    important for future generations. I never put a ceiling on how long into the future. I
    thought about saving endangered species for the future. I thought about healing our
    planet through photographically expressing the wounds. I thought about the invasion of
    the wilderness by development and profiteering. I thought about making a difference with
    my art, my life.

    As this is all still a shock to my system, and I am in deep thought, I am reading the
    "meaning of photography" threads here now. And I am allowing my reason for creating
    fine art photography to alter.

    It HAD something to do with affecting change in the world. But, now that all is lost -- and
    sooner than I thought -- my art is now for me. Capturing pictures of beauty so that I may
    enjoy them, and relive the experience of my encounters. Trees, landscape, animals,
    abandoned buildings, irony, et al. Things I love, things I now want to bring into my living
    room for me to enjoy in this short lifetime.

    If my art survives, so be it. If it doesn't, if only myself, some friends, and my kids enjoy it,
    then so be it too.

    I love looking at the photograpy of others, and experiencing what they might have felt at
    being there. And sometimes I really LOVE the experience thay had. Now I will focus on
    creating images that take me back to that special time and place, the nostalgia of my own

    And David -- when I see a photo as in your PS, I don't get mad. In fact, tears well up -- a
    longing to be there where that guy was.

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