Future Photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by fred, Feb 13, 2005.

  1. fred

    fred Member

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    Herewith a text that I came across when googling on 'Raymond Depardon'...
    A text from 1980... !


    And then you go to the galleries and museums. You look at those fine books on photography and you see what the masters did long before you knew the difference between Tri-X and Ekatachrome. Will you ever shoot a better picture than those Cartier-Bresson street scenes of the 1940s? Will you ever come near the intensity of a Gene Smith reportage? You discover that any imaginable situation has beeen photographed already - the moment of birth and the split second of death, desperation and joy, man on the moon and life in the womb.
    Now they are working on computers that will store every photograph that exists in the world. You want a picture of spear-fishing in Surinam? Push the right buttons and you'll see it in milliseconds. The world on magnetic disks wll be right at our fingertips. Why bother to send a photographer all the way to South America? Why bother to go out into the heat and cold of the real world and take even more pictures, adding to the millions that exist already, stored away in the electronic maze? Will photography eventually make itself obsolete through overproduction?

    … it takes a lot of courage (or arrogance) for any photographer to go out again and again taking even more pictures to add to the ever-growing abundance of photography

    Thomas H–pker, written circa 1980


    Please add your comments.

    Here I have to admit that I prefere to buy a good photobook in stead of producing another bad image... :smile:
    and
    Everything has been photographed already, and better then that I will be able to do so... :smile:

    Fred
     
  2. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    For a text written in 1980, this is very far-seeing. It is certainly true that digitization has decimated the stock photography market, since a single picture can be in several places at once and does not get ruined through people standing their coffee cups on it.
    As regards news photography, it is not because of computers that we do not see work to rival W. Eugene Smith and Cartier Bresson, but rather because of the cult of celebrity and the fact that for the last 30 or 35 years advertisers in major magazines have more and more refused to buy advertising in magazines that carry "depressing" stories.
    From the point of view of artists in general and art photographers in particular, I think the fact that through the Internet virtually everything ever done in any medium is instantly accessible means that it is more important than ever for artists to do some new and never repeat what has been done in the past.

    Good quote - thanks for it!

    Regards,

    David
     
  3. Canuck

    Canuck Member

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    Whoa .... zen moments hidden somewhere .... :D

    Interesting comments. Human nature being what it is, is always able to come up with something new. Tis rather arrogant to assume all the "greats" of the past has done all and there is nothing left to do. If this were the case, we would be a rather boring species. Just look at our expanding base of knowledge, It's expanding at an incredible pace and the pace is increasing each year. It used to be that the sum of all knowledge would expand by doubling every 20 years. Now we are down to less than 5 years ... or maybe even 2 years.

    If no new and unique pictures are possible, how is it that our knowledge base is still expanding? Isn't a picture used to convey information or invoke an emotion or help discovery a new truth? Gathering of knowledge is needed to produce a picture. The idea of "all the pictures are all now taken" and then stored carefully for future generations to ooo and ahhh over, in someone else's reality maybe but not mine. I am not content to sit still and meekly accept that I cannot do what Smith did or have his intensity. I can't do what he did but neither do I have a wish to. He had his OWN vision and he followed it. Intensity of the pursuit of the ultimate image? Why can't I have the same intensity? His intensity is in one direction whereas mine maybe be along the same path but it doesn't have to be. Does a different path other than the "master's" invalidate the intensity of my pursuit of my goal?

    I teach my students my side of the truths, but I encourage them to seek out their own truths as it fit into their lives. No more different images possible? Unless we are all the same person, I think we still have a chance to create some amazing images, on par with the "greats" of the past. I see it in the picture galleries here.
     
  4. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    My rather flip response to that is "well, I haven't photographed it yet", but that betrays a certain amount of arrogance I won't try to deny. The real problem I have with what I tend to call the "cult of novelty" that I have seen before as a student is that it elevates "new" to the status of "good", and correspondingly "old" is identified with "bad".

    I don't know what to make of it as a commercial endeavor; my photography is strictly hobby. And as a hobbyist, "I haven't done it yet" is IMHO a perfectly good reason to continue shooting. I don't want to make copies of the old work, of course, but to do something like that in my own style.
     
  5. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I agree with gchpaco. I photograph not because I'm trying to do something never done before, but because I want to. Just because something has been photographed before is no reason not to photograph it again.
    By that reasoning there should only be two (bw and colour) landscapes, two portraits, two still lifes, two abstract etc etc photographs in existence.
    I photograph on my local beach at least three times a week, each time I get different results from the same materials, the light is different, the sky is different, the wildlife is different... and I still do not tire of trying to find that one shot where I will say 'That's the one.' If I had the mindset of 'I've already photographed there' I would have missed many great photographs. (great to me anyway!)
     
  6. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    We are all individuals distinct and to some degree unknowable by others. Although we might stand in line to shoot the same object each of us would have a unique image -- because we are individuals and because time has passed between the succession of exposures.

    Finally, why would the similarity of what has come before stop you from doing it today. Why do you take pictures, is it to fill some gap left open by prior photographers. Do you stop breathing, eating, living because it is all so redundant?

    I take pictures because I wish to make pictures. If by some chance in hell i make the exact exposure and produce the exact print with crop etc... as someone else and I discover that someone else's image I will be quite surprised, amused or even thrilled.
     
  7. Mark_Minard

    Mark_Minard Member

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    Hi Fred,

    I've been through this in my mind a million times, and what it simply comes down to - for me at least - is the fact that nothing gives me the thrill that photography does. That feeling - after nearly 25 years - has never left me. It is only recently that I've come to realize that this is not something to take for granted. When I was younger I did take those kinds of feelings for granted, only to see, over the years, how passions once intense and meaningful do sometimes manage to fade away. For me, the guitar is a perfect example. When I started playing as a teenager back in the early 1980's, learning a familiar song gave me the same kind of thrill as photography did. Now, I pick up one of my guitars and inevitably put it down after five minutes. It means nothing to me; the thrill is gone, as BB King says. Not so with my camera. The heart-pounding adrenaline rush is still there when I'm setting up my equipment in front of what I think will be a great photograph. If this is how you feel, then I say by all means forge ahead regardless of what has gone before. The last thing on my mind when I'm in the field is worry that "this has been done before" - in fact, I probably spend more time wondering if my attitude towards photography makes me a narcissist than I do wondering if I'm being redundant)... :wink:

    Hope this helps?

    Mark
     
  8. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Fred,

    Believe me, not everything has been photographed. And yes, by all means buy a photobook; if you are refereing to a "how to" book, buy many. And I agree you should not be producing more bad images, in fact, why not get out of photography entirely.
     
  9. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    "… it takes a lot of courage (or arrogance) for any photographer to go out again and again taking even more pictures to add to the ever-growing abundance of photography."

    And even more arrogance to keep writing. All the great themes have been written & re-written countless times. Why doesn't this hack lobby for people to quit writing drivel such as his?
     
  10. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    This point of view is certainly tempting to invest in, but I hope you'll abandon it. First of all, people are always taken by what's actually in front of them...a real print in their hand is far more significant than a monitor representation of anybody elses anything. Secondly, we each see in our own unique way. Unless you're planting your tripod in someone else's holes, your view will be unique because it's yours. Thirdly, as has been mentioned above, the cult of the 'original' is, for want of a better word, POOPOOKAKA!! It's probably true that everything's been photographed before, but so what! People themselves, if you think about it that way, are entirely redundant of each other, but there's no way in hell I'm going to check out early just because there are probably untold numbers of people my age, who look like me, earn what I do, have the same number of children, a wife, a house...etc, etc. What nonsense! Enjoy as many books as you please, but use them to inspire and not discourage you. Go make photographs!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  11. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Right on. He's writing Horsefeathers. Besides, none of the "Greats" ever took the definitive picture of MY dogs!!
     
  12. fred

    fred Member

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    Thanks Guys for your some of them, very interesting comments.
    I was probably not clear enough when I asked for comments: It was comments on the 'quotation' that I meant, not on my irrelevant comment...

    My knowledge of the English language is too limited to go in debat.

    The only thing that I would say, refering to a statement on 'criticisme' of the late Pol Vandepitte, who said:

    "A comment/critique about a photo says more about the guy who gave the comment/critique then about the image itself."

    The same I would say about comments on text:
    A comment/critique about a text says more about the guy who wrote the comment then about the text itself" :smile:
     
  13. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Yes. Therefore I suggest that all who agree with this sentiment immediately cease production and get out of the way.

    Arrogance is an artistic pre-requisite, duh
     
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  15. BradS

    BradS Member

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    RIGHT ON!
     
  16. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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  17. BradS

    BradS Member

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    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "effective communication"....
    The phase, as you have used it, seems to carry with it an implication or assumption of economic viability.

    I hear you saying that since hobbists aren't generally concerned about deriving any sort of economic return from thier photography, it doesn't have to be "effective communication" or, it is at least, irrelavent.

    Can you please elaborate?
     
  18. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I'll try (briefly). It is a fine and noble thing to produce artwork for your own pleasure, and there are many good reasons to do this. By definition, your own pleasure becomes your primary objective. There have been several recent threads on APUG where people have defined their motivation as being to photograph what interests them, if others also like it, good, if not, unimportant. People may well work with material such as trees and rocks.

    If, on the other hand, your PRIMARY concern is to communicate ideas to others (for artistic rather than commercial reasons), the position is very different (although it may not seem so to hobbyists).The communication process is a highly movable feast, and in a world which is saturated with images, an idea or style which is effective today is commonplace tomorrow and a worn-out cliché the day after. (After an indeterminate period of being discarded and forgotten, the said idea or style may well begin the cycle again and be hailed as brilliant and groundbreaking). The communication process essentially involves breaking through people's defense mechanisms, unconscious assumptions and default thought patterns, and requires the communicator (artist) to be highly mobile. Trying to work in this field is not intrinsically better than producing work for your own pleasure and concentrating primarily on high levels of craft skills, but it IS different!
     
  19. BradS

    BradS Member

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    OK. This does make sense but, does it allow for a work of art to be widely accepted as a "timeless masterpiece"?
     
  20. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    Photography makes ME happy; therefore, since I am a reasonable man and not into things that make me sad, I will continue to photograph. AND, IF I EVER GET LUCKY ENOUGH TO GO TO PLACES WHERE GREAT IMAGES HAVE BEEN CAPTURED, YOU CAN BET YOUR SWEET A__ THAT I WILL GIVE IT MY SHOT!!

    The above spoken with 95% enthusiasm and 5% anger/annoyance. Just photograph!
     
  21. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    It HAS NOT happened to me. I have not made the discovery that any imaginable situation has been photogrpahed already. Why? Every imaginable situation has not happened, yet.

    Tomorrow I may, or may not, proceed out of my front door to retrieve the daily newspaper. How could anyone "push a button" and produce an image of that event?
    Tomorrow a trout will rise to a fly on a river in New Zealand ... where can we retrieve that mage?

    Admittedly, we may be able to retrieve/ crate an image approximating the event, but that can only be a very poor substitute for the event itself.

    The only possible chance of that is that one's imagination is so shallow that the incredible, beautiful "chance" happenings are not recognized, and one loses the memory of the myriad surprises encountered constantly, so that we cannot extrapolate the possibilities of the future. I don't know - I can't conceive of a human being without an imagination ... I'm not even sure that survival is possible, imagination-less.

    "I would rather buy a book of good photographs, than produce another bad one" (or something like that).

    What comment can be made of a statement like that? The only logical course of action I can see here would be for him to give up photography altogether and become a book collector.

    Will the next photograph I make be "bad"? - I really have no idea. Maybe. Maybe not. There is the beauty of photography ... It is, above all, to me - an adventure. I am able to "fade out" the `bad ones' and carve the `good ones' indelibly into my memory. On the whole, I am having a GREAT time.

    How incredibly boring it would all be if it was truly predictable!
     
  22. donna-marie

    donna-marie Member

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    This thread is funny.

    If you have a case of the *it's all been done*s then you need a break. Or a few rolls of film. Either way it's not going to make a lick of difference on how I shoot, nor the 1000's of other photographers who see new with every glance.

    Maybe you should take up sport fishing -- wait they have all been caught. How about coins -- nope, all been collected. I know . . . star gazing -- but they have all been seen.

    To worry about what every man has done before you is to remain still. I prefer to move on, and create an impression for the next guy to worry about.
     
  23. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Absolutely. "Timeless masterpieces" are essentially self-defining, if an artwork has a quality which speaks to viewers/audiences today, despite having been made 5, 50 or 500 years ago, then people will continue to respond to and enjoy it.

    In response to the previous thread, I would say worrying would be an inappropriate reaction and a waste of time. What is better is for artists to be aware that they need to move forward through the phase where they are pastiching other workers they admire and towards the point where they are speaking with their own voice. This is the most fun of all!
     
  24. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Now they are working on computers that will store every photograph that exists in the world. You want a picture of spear-fishing in Surinam? Push the right buttons and you'll see it in milliseconds.

    You wished for it? Here it is!

    "Digital Railroad unveils rights-managed photo feeds

    Digital Railroad Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz., USA, demonstrated its rights-managed Photo Feeds at the DEMO@15 conference, providing individual photographers and photo agencies with the technology and distribution power of a major photo wire service. Digital Railroad is an application services company dedicated to solving critical technical problems facing the creators, sellers and buyers of digital imagery worldwide.

    Photo Feeds extend the marketing power of online archives of member photographers and agencies worldwide. Personalized feeds are delivered to photo buyers, alleviating them of the need to search and monitor multiple archives. Photo buyers, consumers and bloggers subscribe to photography via RSS, Atom or Javascript, personalized by subject, keyword and member archive.

    Photographers can automatically deliver timely, rights-managed images to individual buyers and blogs, exponentially promoting their new photos into the global marketplace, says the company. Subscribers receive thumbnails and metadata linked back to high-resolution images in member archives. The Digital Railroad member photo archive directory is available at www.digitalrailroad.net/corpsite/directory.html."
     
  25. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    OK, let's take an obvious (one of many) example: Yosemite. I simply love cameras and photos and do it for myself. I know I'll never be able to exceed the greats (or even equal them). But how, how, I ask, could I go to someplace like Yosemite and NOT take my cameras?

    Oh, well, I'll leave the Zen issues to smarter people ... :wink:

    If anyone truly feels it's all been done, and they are not worthy, please PM me and I'll send you an address so you can send me all of your cameras! :rolleyes:

    Cheers y'all.

    David
     
  26. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I'll revisit something I've written about before...

    At a Coffee House, I entered into a conversation with a student who had enrolled in Photography 101 at a local Community College. His class had been given the assignment, "Photograph Something Never Seen Before", and was wondering what to do.
    I thought of exposing a sheet of paper to ambient light, developing it to max black and claiming it was a photograph of a black hole. Never seen before, not seen now ... but it HAD been photographed. Mean, wise-ass .. but it would make the assignment.

    But then ...Why? The world is filled with images and scenes "never seen before" ... and which will never be seen again. Go outside and take a photograph. It is, for all practical intents and purposes, impossible to record another image exactly the same as the first. The sun will have travelled, changing the shadows, and the lighting balance. Clouds in the sky will have moved... Leaves on the trees will have been moved by the wind ... The film in the camera will not be the same piece of film - on another frame the characteristics are slightly `different'. I had remembered a number of times from the past, when I had photographed something ... a stump, with a flower growing out of it... and after processing and printing, tried to improve what I considered to be "flaws" - the light wasn't quite "right"... the camera angle was "off". Revisiting the site... I couldn't even come close to what I had envisioned in the first photograph ... over the time of a day or two ... "everything" had changed.

    So, go to Yellowstone.. Discover Ansel Adam's tripod holes. Use the same camera he used, the same film, the same aperture and shutter speed, the same filter - whatever. It will NOT be "the same" as Adam's image. Similar, maybe - but certainly not the same.

    Will your image be better? I have *no* idea, and I will submit that no one else will know, either. The (massive) problem here is one of aesthetics -- who decides what is "better"? - by comparison to what set of parameters? - and I'll be even more revolutionary: Why does "being better than ..." matter at all?

    "Every photograph has already been taken?'.. Of course not - no more than every book has already been written; every symphony has already been composed; every chess game has already been played; every thought has already been thought ... need I go on?