Break Through Moments in Your Photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by nhemann, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. nhemann

    nhemann Member

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    Hi Everybody,

    Today while driving into work and approaching the Holland Tunnel I just happened to notice the shot below with whatever tower that is in Jersey City/Hoboken and the Empire State building. Fortunately I had trusty phone cam with me and was at least able to get a shot off to record it. Digital I know - lol - but the point stands.

    It was not a lucky nor fleeting moment, those two buildings have been there over 50 years - I have no idea how many times I have made that exact same drive and never, until this day, seen the connection between the two, nor will I ever not notice it again when I drive by. As somebody that really enjoys photography, I know I spend a lot of time trying to "see," or even notice, things in unique way. But in the following moments, as I sat stuck in the traffic I had that break through moment of realizing just how important it is to be present in our surroundings. New things and new perspectives are everywhere - developmentally this might have been the most important picture I have taken in a very long time.

    My question to you all is this. Can you share a moment in your photographic life when you made a major revelation in your thinking about the art or process?

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2012
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    The most profound moment I had was realizing that I am in the driver's seat of the process.

    I realized that I only need one film, one developer, two papers, and one print developer. I change the results more than any product can, and by sticking to the same materials I learn a lot more about them, which enables me to push my boundaries a lot farther than I could have ever dreamed of. That's where I am today, and I feel a lot more confident in my ability, knowledge, and proficiency than I ever have.
    This has led me to finally be able to shake, as a good friend calls it, "the photographer's disease" - the problem of constantly swapping materials looking for the next big thing to happen. Magic in photography does not come from materials. It comes from practice, hard work, emotion, and the brain. I don't exactly feel like a rock star with my photography, but I do feel free to just DO. And that is a major milestone for me.
     
  3. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Amen, my dear friend!
     
  4. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    An important place in my photography was when I began to feel that I was finding my own voice, that I was making the pictures that I was meant to make. It was not a "moment" as the OP suggested, or some kind of sudden epiphany. For me, it was more of an understanding that occurred over a period of time. In fact, I don't think it is over yet. I think that my way of seeing the world is still developing and being refined within me.
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would second this statement. Keep it simple and practice, practice, practice and practice again. Also you will see much more when you walk than you will in a car.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i don't know if it was a breakthrough, or an a-ha moment or anything like that,
    but when i realized that when i am using a camera i am outside myself.
     
  7. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    I think it's when I realised that 'break-through' moments only come if you keep going forward making small steps consistently rather than giant leaps now and again.

    cheers, Tony
     
  8. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    I had a dawning within the last year or so related to how I "see" photographically. I stopped trying to show what I saw, and instead I shifted dramatically to showing my impression of what I saw. That includes how I felt, the general energy of the place, etc. In essence, I don't feel chained to a faithful reproduction of a scene. There's a good deal more of "me" in the photos. It's exciting to have a whole new world of possibilities open up all of the sudden!
     
  9. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    +1. I could not possibly have stated it more accurately or more succinctly. My journey, too, continues onward...
     
  10. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Mine is rather basic compared to many of you longtimers, but mine was just going back to film, was digi for a bit, then came back in 2011. What I have learned is to slow down and think end to end more, like I photograph more with the end result (print) in mind than just holding down the shutter button to fill my mem card then "edit"....

    Which at the end of the day is kind of what you (OP) are saying, be present! I am more "present" of my actions or shd I say actuations....

    I try and live that way too by being present, personally, professionally....
     
  11. HowardDvorin

    HowardDvorin Member

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    I had breakthrough many years go when I started to look at the effects of different lighting on my subject.At that ime, I decided to photograph the outside world. cityscapes,landscapes and seascapes. I always refer to the MAGIC of Light!

    HowardDvorin
     
  12. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    Great inspiring post so far!

    I am thinking that I might be on the verge of something - maybe finding what I like to do - or how to do it best. Not quite sure, but I am making progress and that's all that matters to me. Moving forward!
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Despite having begun processing & printing in the early 1960's and working professionally in phototoraphy from the early 1970's it was a realisation in 1986 that I wasn't happy with my own personal work.

    I'd made some great images in North Wales but realised something was missing - Tonality - and that 35mm was too grainy !

    I went from printing with maximum contrast to the opposite printing with maximum tonality, while I'd been using LF for commercial work I'd never used it for my own images. I switched to shooting LF for my own projects in 1986 a move I've never regretted, I continued shooting 35mm but switched to an M series Leica but it became a diary camera.

    Ian
     
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  15. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    I'm not certain if this counts, but think I recently had the opposite of an "ah-ha" moment. More of a realization actually. Looking back at my last several rolls of film with many frames that are out of focus, or show camera movement, or non-flattering expressions on faces, and just bad timing, I think I should go back to shooting subjects that don't move. In fact, I was thinking about starting a thread with the title "Anyone else shoot pictures that suck?"

    Dave
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Isn't it funny how different we can be? I went the other way, because I felt like I didn't have enough grain. Ditched 4x5 and only use the Hasselblad occasionally, in favor of 35mm.
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I don't know if I would call them breakthroughs, but my little "aha" moments keep happening pretty much every time I pick up a camera. I wouldn't do it otherwise.
     
  18. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    My break-through moment was one day when I was out shooting in 110 degree heat, broad daylight, not a cloud in the sky and I started shooting anyhow. The sterility of the images were great.

    The moment? Learning that I don't want to be Ansel Adams.
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Maybe not so different because I do (or rather mainly did) still shoot 35mm but not for personal work because I've been shooting Rock concerts since the early 1970's and that didn't change when I switched to LF for personal work. Unfortunately that side had to move from being just film for financial and logistical reasons about 10 years ago.

    The freality though is you choose your own parameters, there's not really a right or wrong, but it is about getting the best you can from yopur own choices.

    Ian
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Agree fully, Ian, about choice and preference.

    Except, and this is personal, I like the print quality I get from 35mm better than any other format.
    I'm quite simply happier with those prints than I am with prints from medium format or 4x5. Either way, to me that's merely a small part of the full picture, and I could go on being very happy shooting nothing but a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad. The camera is the least of my concerns.

    - Thomas
     
  21. rudolf

    rudolf Member

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    I have break-throughs quite often - I don't know is it good or not.
    Once I realized that "wow factor" on photographs matters mainly on the Internet;
    Another time, that human being is almost always most important in photographs I appreciate;
    Once that I can frame only in square, some time after that, that my alter ego sees the world mostly in panoramas;
    Not long time ago I also realized that I don't want to share my thoughts on photography anymore (after doing that for almost 5 years on popular site in my country).
    And I'm pretty sure I'll find other break-throughs soon. Every time I do, it changes something, and frankly speaking, I don't mind.
     
  22. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Breakthrough: the excited, enthusiastic public reception (read: "WOW!" factor) to my production of ultra-high quality Ilfochromes from 35mm transparencies (1994-2010) after a decidedly lukewarm reception to RA-4 prints;
    Breakdown: The end of Ilfochrome and the shift of the public's /art world's divergent interest to digital / abstract art and "roll your own masterpieces". Analog production just got so much more challenging, but ultimately personally satisfying.
     
  23. jscott

    jscott Member

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    Light is the key. Avoid burning film in bad light. Shoot in good light and you may or may not get something.
     
  24. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I had been a casual snapshooter of family and such and had my film developed and printed at a local camera shop. There was a particular negative that was printed rather poorly even to my then un-trained eyes. Shortly afterward while on vacation in California my wife and I accidentally happened on to an exhibition of 100 vintage prints by Edward Weston. Not knowing and never had heard of him I commented to my wife "look how good his pictures are compared to mine I bet he has his own darkroom".* As soon as we came home I bought my first enlarger and trays, etc. The salesman asked what paper and chemistry I wanted. I said whatever you recommend I'll figure out how to do this. Through the past forty years the passion for photography (and my wife who has put up with it) is still there.
    *his are still better than mine

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  25. Craig Griffiths

    Craig Griffiths Member

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    I think mine came in the last few weeks. I guess I was stuck in a rut both with photography and with life in general (a pretty hard time mentally for me that needed counselling). My psychologist set me a goal to do something positive every day for a week and I didnt know where to start, so she suggested that I get the camera out and take 4 shots per day and to bring them back the following week. It was hard the first day to even choose a camera. But I perservered. I tried each format I owned and realised that I see the world as a panorama and that 8x20 is the format for me.

    So for me it was limiting myself to a single camera, a single lens, a single film and developer and the same with paper (although I havent printed any of the photos as yet). I still have the other cameras but if I am honest with myself I will probably cut them back to just the 8x20 and an 8x10. I realised it wasnt about the gear anymore, but about how I see the world.

    I think that one task set by the psychologist was the trigger to me finding out what was important to me both in photography and life. And the 4 shots a day are still continuing not because I have to, but because it makes me feel alive again.
     
  26. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I've had a few (and hope to have more).

    The first was in 1979. I was taking a workshop in France. As I was walking around a small village, I came upon a scene which I wanted to photograph. I thought... I framed... I metered... I shot... That night, I processed the film, and printed the next morning. For the first time, what I saw in my head ended up on the paper exactly as I had planned.

    Another occurred around 1983. I was on Cape Cod, where I had shot an image the year before, in color. On this trip, I wanted to duplicate the image in B/W, for hand-coloring. I had lugged the camera about a mile, it was over 100 degrees, and my eyes were stinging under the dark cloth. I got the shot, and packed up the camera, hoping to get back to the house for a cold one. As I turned, I saw a shot I thought would be nice but, being a puddle of sweat, initially thought about skipping it. A voice in my head said, "you'll regret it". I pulled the camera back out, set up the shot, and got it. To this day, I think of that moment every time I want to get to a cold one...