Draw or photograph

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, May 26, 2012.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I once heard the expression "if you are not prepared to draw it don't photograph it". I think this statement sometimes holds some good advice for photographers, although I don't always adhere to this myself.
     
  2. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

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    Whoever said that hadn't seen my drawings!
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    About all I can draw is blood.

    Actually, I can draw manmade objects with reasonable averageness, but not people or nature. I think the effort of doing something by hand makes you consider each part of the image and how you want to show it. Something we sometimes forget while taking a photo and reminded of when we print or view what we forgot.
     
  4. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    The ability to draw or paint is not a natural gift, but a skill gained from practice just like photography.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i am terrible at drawing, it is what kept me from being trained as an architect ...
    but i have forced myself over the years to do it ..
    now whenever i go on a job i do a rendering when i walk around the site
    and i use it as a "map" where i write my descriptions of views taken .. it comes out OK

    usually my perspective wanders but with practice i keep it kind of where it is supposed to be ..
     
  6. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Drawing and photography are radically different ways of making pictures and the pictures that result are not equivalent or interchangeable. The short explanation is mildly abstract. Please forgive.

    Drawing belongs to a class of picture production methods in which a mark-making "device" is directed by a set of coded instructions to lay down a bunch of marks on a substrate. The bunch of marks is the picture. Practically speaking, the mark-making device is, of course, the artist's hand with a pencil in it and the set of instructions reside in the artist's brain. If the artist has paint and brushes in hand the result is a painting. And if the artist's brain is replaced by an electronic brain and his hand is replaced by an ink-jet printer then the result is a digital picture. Yes, digital picture-making is just a fancy robotic version of good old drawing and painting.

    There is another class of imaging methods which do not use mark-making devices or coded instructions filed away in one brain or another. These methods depend on direct physical contact or direct physical sampling between subject and image. Examples include footprints, wax impressions, life casts, death masks, brass rubbings, silicone rubber moulds, coal peels, and photographs.

    Drawings and photographs have a fundamentally different relationship to subject matter and offer a different experience to the perceptive viewer. To the non-perceptive viewer "looks like" means "same as" and no mildly abstract thoughts need be entertained.
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Dumb expression.
     
  8. kevs

    kevs Member

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    Oh dear, have you been reading Sontag again? Poor thing. :whistling:

    Cheers.
    kevs
     
  9. Vincent Brady

    Vincent Brady Subscriber

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    I took up photography because my drawing ability was not up to much, I had the concepts but was unable to maintain the correct scale.
     
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Never heard of this statement before. Its kinda strange in fact, as photography was an aide to drawing, with roots going back to tracings made with camera obscuras and camera lucidas which helped artists get down perspectives and proportions accurately, and then on to using the actual photographs as an aide when making etchings for mass printing.

    I'm not a very good drawer, I was never trained or taught how to and never practiced myself. Photography helps me put things down onto a paper or whatever medium so I dont have to draw it.
     
  11. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I think each of the two can complement the other, but I'm not very convinced the original statement is true.

    (And my opinion plus $3.50 will get you a latte at the local coffee shop.)
     
  12. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    I think it means don't take a cheap shot just because it's relatively easy so "why not". If it isn't worth the effort to spend hours drawing it, regardless of drawing abilities, then it's probably not worth photographing either. Take a longer look and ask "why" instead of "why not". I think the expression has merit.
     
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  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I'm not very good at drawing, but good at photography.

    Jeff
     
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  15. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I don't know WTH it means. I suppose it could refer to investment of time in making the picture, something like that.

    But immediacy is a characteristic of a lot of photography. Who would spend time in the thick of battle to make drawings of it?
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I only make drawings of bedroom furniture and theater wardrobe managers.



    Yep, a dresser drawer.
     
  17. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    And what would that advice be?
     
  18. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Don't waste time on so-so images. Move on and find something really worth your efforts and expenses. IMO, that doesn't infer "grand imagery" it means "good imagery".
     
  19. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The whole problem with it is it's kind of elitist bullshit. And probably has to do with seeing.

    It's also elitist in that it refers to photography of objects and not people. Because expression is fleeting. In fact very few can even draw expression very well and even if they could someone cannot hold an expression that is real long enough for someone to draw.

    I know someone is gonna say "yeah well what about the Mona Lisa" which is to some some sort of a revelation. It's not. It's portrait 101.

    Moving on...
     
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  20. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Yes, I think I would agree with this.
     
  21. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    To attain impact, photograph the most common thing in the most uncommon manner.
     
  22. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    I don't take it as elitist at all. I understand it as simply meaning to be more selective with our picture-taking. Otherwise we're just wasting film, chemistry and time on images we'll either never print or will never be very happy with. We might burn film on things we never intend to print in order to hone our skills but at least that has purpose. Shooting something just because it's there and is an "okay image" is largely counter-productive, IMHO.

    Yes, this primarily pertains to still imagery... not portraits, sports or other fleeting-moment imagery... though this can be applied to those genres as well.
     
  23. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Agree. It might be better understood perhaps as paring down.

    If we can't even draw a dog lying on the lawn, maybe the tendency when picking up a camera is to overcompensate with complex and confusing images. The ultimate of course would be to concentrate on the chaos and vast description of the wider landscape. It comes back to the subtraction of photography and additive nature of painting/drawing, in which case the most successful and memorable photographs might be the most minimal and I tend to agree. Minimal shouldn't be read as the extreme of Callahan's white reeds on black water, but having a few key elements, which might well be complex in texture and form. When we do this we are relying on the descriptive strength of the camera, and the the expression of the photographer, in the strongest possible way.
     
  24. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    batwister... That's an interesting perspective and it brings back memories. Way back when I was photographing quite a bit I used to perform an odd visual exercise all the time even without a camera in hand. I'd look at a thing or scene as a possible image and mentally eliminate things down to the kernal/center of interest to the point that either not enough story was been told (shown) and/or the image became boring and then mentally move or back off just enough to find the right balance/angle. I often did this in-camera while photographing and, oftentimes, just walked away having never found the right balance or angle.
     
  25. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    My drawing ability is limited, but whatever your ability I think to draw once in a while helps your photography. It gives you time to contemplate tone, texture, composition etc.
     
  26. batwister

    batwister Member

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    It is strange how the photographer's habit is to walk around with his eye to the viewfinder. Doing this we're concentrating on sterile form, balance of elements, over our emotional connection - which surely has to be arrived at through the senses alone, without a machine to your face. Framing the image is a methodical process and I would say mostly left brain, which would account for calculated results if this was our primary concern. Ansel Adams did say photography is about knowing where to stand. From that I take that we are compelled to stop and stand when something has affected us, then we get the camera out. His quote for me is about intuition, not composition.

    It's about being objective after we've chosen the scene, rather than walking around like robots looking for the perfect composition. I think we constantly have it in our head that composition is the key to the art of photography, when in fact it is the solution to the problem of reliance on subject matter. Composition in photography, for many, can be a stimulus to photograph. This only results in a composed image, less a compelling photograph.

    Composition isn't a stimulus to draw, we only begin drawing when we have been moved to do so and the composition is arrived at.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2012