Do you keep dirty little secrets?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by MurrayMinchin, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council

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    I prefer to let viewers of my work fill in the blanks for themselves, instead of spoon feeding them my intentions. I won't even correct them when they say, "Oh, I love the mist in the trees", when it was actually smoke from a nearby clear cut that was being slash burned, or when they say, "Oh, I love the fog in the trees", when it was snowing like crazy and the exposure was 1 minute, 30 seconds. There's even more examples when it comes to dodging and burning, like the darkly menacing storm clouds on the fine print which are light grey on the contact print.

    Do you keep your slight-of-hand to yourself, or do you pull the curtain aside and reveal the Great Wizard of Oz's secrets?

    Murray
     
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  2. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    I like to "correct" people in a light-hearted way to open them to the many new visual possibilities that are out there. Often enough, when people realize they are "wrong," they enjoy the photo even more because of the surprise element. FWIW. :smile:
     
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The large version of the little picture to the left of a tree lined path beyond a gate looks like it was taken on a misty morning. It was actually taken at noon on a very hot, hazy day.
    I don't usually bother to correct people who think it is mist.

    Steve.
     
  4. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

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    I find myself constantly correcting/defending my work from people who say "How nice.Did you photoshop in those clouds/trees/etc."
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    It depends, greatly on the situation. A title, or even the lack of it, CAN pres-set the "experiencer" to a certain "channel of awareness".

    In general I prefer and rely on their INTUITION (there is that word again) to receive the emotional message (hmm... Freudian Slip: "massage") I send.

    I'm dancing on eggs here, trying to be concise.

    Explanations MAY follow, and usually do, if there is an interest in a particular aspect of the work.
     
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  6. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I try not to talk about the techinical issues whenever possible at a viewing.
     
  7. UKJohn

    UKJohn Subscriber

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    I like to let the viewer have an intimate relationship with the image, and in doing so I feel it is important not to cloud their judgement as to whether they like or dislike the photgraph with technical issues. If some one likes my work, and that piece of work contains a punctum that connects them to the image then that is cool with me.

    Of course, if someone should ask a question about how I achieved this or that then it would be inpolite not to answer them truthfully.

    My biggest downfall was, and I have learnt to keep quiet about these now, the highlighting if imperfections in the final print. I'd say "Yeah it's a nice print but..." I keep quiet and hope that to the untrained eye such minor defects go unseen so I guess this maybe my little dirty secret...

    Cheers

    John
     
  8. haris

    haris Guest

    Depend of situation. But, I have one rule: I don't show again any of my prints to someone who ask "who is she" (model) and not pay attention on any aspect of photograph itself...
     
  9. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Thats when I would, instead of slapping them, turn and walk away in disgust after asking them what they are doing there in the first place.
     
  10. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I'd probably go wide-eyed, slap my forehead and say "I coulda done that with Photoshop...you're right...damn...that woulda been a lot easier." And then walked away, sulking.
     
  11. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council

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    I've sometimes toyed with the idea of showing a sequence of prints from proof print, through the many dodging, burning, and/or masking steps it takes to come to a fine print. By giving up the secrets of one image it may open the eyes of viewers to how much of myself is in each image, rather than them thinking, "If I was there with my camera I could've grabbed a snapshot of that".

    Murray
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    The OP query reminds me of Bismark's comment regarding the making of laws and sausage! :D
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    it really depends what kind of photography i am showing to people.
    if they get it wrong, i will tell them what/ who it is
    but if it is an abstraction or something else i will let them decide what it might be.

    it really doesn't matter to me if what i photographed (the latter) is what they say it is,
    or if it is something else to them. often times people see differently, depending on their life experience/s.

    half of photography is educating the viewer ...
    if that means letting them know
    i didn't use a digital camera, or the photograph was of a escutcheon or transom lift, or egg and dart moulding,
    or a pressed tin ceiling, or someone who slaughters animals,
    or digs graves or ...

    it is all the same thing.
     
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  15. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I only divulge the "dirty little secrets" about what I see as the shortcomings when I am talking to someone whose photographic expertise I respect. I will talk about the tricks I used to accomplish something in the darkroom that I'm particularly proud of when conversing with a more casual stranger, if I sense they have an interest in such things.
     
  16. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    Similarly to TheFlyingCamera, I have no reservations about discussing the "finer points" (or deficiencies) with the "photographically sophisticated". As for everyone else, it depends on a perception of whether their enjoyment would be enhanced or reduced by knowing what dirty little secrets are behind the image. If their misconceptions are essential to their enjoyment, so be it; life is short. But for some, being "in" on the whole story gives them considerable pleasure, and this is one of the places that "photographic sophistication" comes from.
     
  17. Doyle Thomas

    Doyle Thomas Member

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    If you can help to educate your audience, IMHO you should.
     
  18. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Interesting thread. I find that most people don't really pay any attention to the "man behind the curtain" anyway. (I think that's what made the joke in the movie.)

    I agree, but I have reservations.

    Tomorrow, five of us apuggers are meeting to select images for a show we are mounting next month. For this exhibition, I have no doubt that we'll do a lot of explaining, but about content, not about technique. I'm thinking it will be the historical subject matter that will command everyone's attention. If that is not true, we may have failed in taking the photographs.

    The reason that (IMHO) most people don't pay attention to the technical ("behind the curtain") is that it is of no consequence to them. It may be because they don't understand all the technical things, but it is just as likely that they don't care.

    If a photograph is to stand on it's own, it does not require the viewer to know the exposure or all the darkroom manipulation; any more than a painter has to detail their brushstrokes when one is viewing the painting. As a musician, I cannot imagine playing a Bach chorale prelude and then having to tell the listener that the only way I pulled it off was with a lot of finger substitution. Technique is a means to an end. The picture is the end.

    Having said all of this, however, there may be an exception in our case. Our exhibition is going up in a university gallery, and will be viewed (hopefully) by some art and photography students. If these students want to know why we used film and black and white, and how we did it, we'll be glad to educate them! :smile:
     
  19. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Imagine an early painter looking at a fellow painters work and saying; "those reds are really special how did you mix the paint?", the painter thinking "should I tell him I used goats blood? No I'll keep it a secret". "Oh well I'll tell him" "I used goats blood" The other guy says what kind of goat?" "an old goat" "a fat old goat?" "no just an average old goat". "I wish I had not told him about the goat, now he is only interested in how I mixed the paint and not the painting."
     
  20. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    I rarely ever show or explain to people any of my manipulations. It's like a magician showing you how the trick is done, it loses some of it's magic. I will explain natural phenomena such as mist or fog, a good example being "Alkali Dust Cloud". People viewing that image find the fact that the dust cloud is 2000' high to be of great interest.

    People do like to hear the story behind the image though, especially if I did something dumb and almost got myself hurt. I find that at a show opening
    people will very often buy a piece that I have a story about, I think it personalizes the image for them.
     
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  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i agree ...
    explaining technique is a bit different than explaining subject matter.

    -john
     
  22. eddym

    eddym Member

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    This is the photo that I am most often asked to "explain."
    [​IMG]
     
  23. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    Got it, Eddy! Great photograph!! :smile:
     
  24. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    sans clue here
     
  25. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Dirty Little Secrets

    I'm wearing the same socks I wore yesterday!!!!

    (this is fun!)
     
  26. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    I think it depends somewhat on who the 'audience' is. Some monographs (John Sexton's for instance) include at least one or two photographs with explanations of the techniques used to make them. In fact, Rolf Horn has a rather extensive explanation of his techniques (some of which completely surprised me, like extensive print retouching... as much as 2 to 3 hours per print) on his website as do others. Clearly, they assume that a fair number of viewers are also photographers who are both curious and interested. Maybe, by doing so, one may be spared the 'did you do that in Photoshop?' query.

    I think being open and personable about your work is a good thing. As Brian stated it's even good business to tell a 'story', if there is one, at an opening. But beyond that, if there's 'magic'.....just smile and let your eyes twinkle!