How do you find your groove?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by markbarendt, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, so jnanian's thread http://www.apug.org/forums/forum50/131388-when-you-rut-what-do-you-do.html got me thinking. Good thoughts over there so didn't want to side track that.

    But:

    It occurred to me that many of the photographers we (as a population) revere or admire, did their level best to find, make, and follow a rut; their "groove".

    Ansel Adams and f64 are almost quintessential in this, actually codifying their groove. http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Group_f/64 It is a groove that many endeavor to follow.

    In certain cases a rut or groove can get so deep that a photographer's name can become a verb; think about being "Karshed". That's quite a "rut" to be in.

    When I say Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Hurrel, what styles do you think of?

    It seems to me that most commercially successful photographers have done their level best to find a groove or rut to follow.

    So, How do we find our own grooves?

    And how do we keep those grooves fun and productive?
     
  2. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,151
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Rut, groove, fetish: sometimes they blur together. Diane Arbus certain had a rut, so did Ansel Adams.

    I don't think you "find" your groove. Everyone has things they like, are fascinated by, yet only a handful decide to fully traverse the path nature has laid out before them. You have to be brave enough (or simply insane enough) to pursue what you really want to shoot.

    Take me, for instance. I like to shoot naked ladies. I also want to stay married, so I shoot only ONE naked lady. :smile:
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,710
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You first, please... how do YOU find YOUR groove?

    But Wolfeye has it right, those terms all blur together and are only differentiated by the implications of success and failure. For me finding success (a "groove" I suppose) is a simple as doing wht I know works. Finding a future vision (a "new groove"???) is as simple as just doing something different. If it works it can establish a future vision. If it doesn't work, it may have been a fun experiement.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2014
  4. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

    Messages:
    450
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Location:
    Huntsville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I spent years looking for my "groove" or "rut". For me, it was a good bit of soul-searching and a massive amount of experimenting with different things until I found what I was looking for. Now I'm working on a project that I hope to finish shooting in the next six months or so.

    A while back (before the end of 2013), I became fascinated with cityscapes at night. I'm not sure why, really. The main factor, if I was to be honest, is I'm not a very social person, and I wanted to photograph without dealing with too many people asking me about my cameras, what I'm shooting and why, etc. And I've come to find that the lack of people, the loneliness, in a city full of people can make a really great photograph. Making more photographs like this seems to be my groove right now, and I hope it's a groove I stay in until I make enough photographs to show this project publicly.

    Some people seem to find this groove faster than others. There were a few students I went to school with that seemed to have found something that worked for them before graduating. I had to graduate, figure myself out, and survive my Saturn's return, before I finally got my crap together, photographically and in other areas of my life as well.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,101
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi mark

    i think sometimes your groove finds you.
    you find something you have fun with
    and play it out as long as you can ...
    i've ridden on the same bus for years
    sometimes the driver gets stuck or makes a wrong turn
    or you give your seat up and stand
    but i just enjoy the ride.
     
  6. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

    Messages:
    635
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    Location:
    Corona CA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would think there are a variety of ruts or grooves we follow over time. Some positive, some negative, and some by demand.

    For me I started out doing wildlife photography. This was a positive. I had all the necessary tools at the time, but always lived hundreds of miles from the "real" wildlife I wanted to photograph. This became a real negative. So, the demand became an item I brought on myself and shifted to landscape which was not out of my reach in locales. It was a large paradigm shift in technique and hardware overall for me.

    However, once in that groove I've never looked back. To keep out of the negative rut I do a lot of changes & experimenting with my routine. It seems to work very well for me to date.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2014
  7. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,782
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    +1 Stay on the bus.

    http://www.fotocommunity.com/info/Helsinki_Bus_Station_Theory
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  9. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I pull my pants down, turn around, look in the mirror… I find my groove is still in me. :tongue:
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,646
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How do you find your groove?

    Wow, talk about really personal questions!
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, one example to start.

    I try to shoot what's exciting/interesting for me, people, typically gatherings/events/portraits. For me a big part of shooting is the people and trying to make them happy with a print.

    One of the things I'm working on is how to get people comfortable and thinking that something special will come of a formal, or semi-formal, portrait in a less than formal setting, for example when out camping. Here the camera can play an interesting roll, the camera can be a prop. Forget all the technical mumbo-jumbo, there is a real difference in how the sitter acts if I pull out an RB67 or Toyo 45A or Holga or F5 or an iPhone. I view it as my job to be able to wrest a good shot from my subject. Not always the camera that's the star either. A little FP100C for the sitter goes a long way toward working with a stranger.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes it does take guts and sacrifice.

    Some nudes are interesting, personally though, not my photographic interest. When the clothes get stripped away, most of the questions get stripped away too. Questions are fun.
     
  13. Iluvmycam

    Iluvmycam Member

    Messages:
    382
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2013
    Location:
    NE USA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Groove = a recognizable style. It can also be a project one is known for. Yes, if we can be known for a style it can be a good thing for a career. It is hard to do though. I'm still working on it so I don't have the magic bullet. Photography is the easiest art to get into, but the hardest art to distinguish oneself in.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,523
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's an interesting - stimulating - question to have asked. Some unstructured thoughts occur to me:

    I think it can be discouraging to feel (or think) one must have a groove (or a "vision" or style) in which photography is conducted.

    Unlike iluvmycam, I don't think photography is the hardest art in which to distinguish oneself. I see photographs as one medium for art - and it's the art bit that's difficult, whether one's medium is paint, stone, silver gelatine prints or indeed words.

    And some people (the vast majority, perhaps) simply don't have the ability to make really good art, to develop a style and a vision of their own that is distinctive and outstanding. This isn't to denigrate all those people (hardly, I am one myself) but just to acknowledge that some are gifted and most are not.

    I don't believe any old person can become Edward Weston (or Chagall or Barbara Hepworth or Mantegna or whoever) just by dint of studying hard for 15 minutes every day before breakfast for a year (or 10000 hours or whatever the latest fad is) ... or, you might be able to if you have "the gift" latent within you

    Again, to emphasise, this is not to denigrate anyone: I do believe anyone can produce something "artistic", sometimes with guidance, sometimes spontaneously, the question for me is about doing so consistently.

    The professional artists I know who produce consistent excellent work don't just wander about waiting for inspiration to strike, they already have a very clear idea of what they want and how they are going to go about getting it ... the amount of time, thought, experimentation, tests and intellectualising that can go into a painting, for instance, came as a shock to me when I first really looked into painters' processes a few years ago. Naive of me, of course.

    There's also the element of selection too ... I've often seen it said (here and elsewhere) that we don't see the (master photographers') mistakes, we only see the best work. But a recognisable "style" might also result from careful selection.

    Thus someone with a good eye might make a selection of my better photographs (out of my thousands of mediocre and dull ones), and it might then appear I have a particular vision or style (or indeed ability) which bears no relation to the reality of how and what I shoot day-to-day.

    Anyhoo, my answer I suppose to your original question as to how I find my groove, is that I don't believe I have a groove to find. I wish I had, I love photography, and it would be a marvel to be able to do nothing else. But really, for me, the fact is that I don't have that extra thing that artists have, and so it doesn't matter about the medium, if you ain't got it, you ain't got it. And I ain't :smile:
     
  16. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think being fascinated by a subject is an important part of the equation. I think it is also rooted in showing our work publicly.

    Ansel Adams was amazed by Yosemite and wanted to share what he saw, what you describe is different only in subject matter.
     
  17. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been pondering whether that is true or not for a while.

    Like you I believe that it can happen, but I also think it is the exception rather than the rule. For most of us it seems that the world around us does a pretty good job of pushing us around into the grooves it needs.

    I'm not saying "our" grooves don't find us, I'm saying that the grooves we end up in aren't necessarily our own and this is the root of a lot of angst and frustration, which can be good subject matter.

    Come to think of it maybe this is part of the tortured/insanity/borderline behavior of a fair number of artists. The tension between their passion and where the world is pushing them.
     
  18. dorff

    dorff Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Location:
    South Africa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For some photographers it is about making beautiful or striking photographs, for others it is about showing beautiful, impressive or important things to others, or to record them for history. I think Adams might have mostly fallen into the latter category, but not entirely and not all the time. Both are valid, in my view. The first "makes" a photograph, the second "takes" a photograph. The line in between is not particularly clear, especially if one considers the use of filters and darkroom techniques etc. that bend reality a bit. Many have argued that the mere act of selection, in terms of subject matter, composition and timing, is to some extent manipulative of reality and forms part of artistic creativity. Not even to speak of chance, serendipity, whatever you call it.

    Back to Adams, I agree with your point about him. I love the natural world and like to show it to others. I also love my friends and family, and enjoy taking their portraits and giving them prints. While one is at it, one might as well do it properly and with originality, else why bother? And just like a good story, a photograph that conveys the essence of the truth but successfully spices it up is just that much more fun to look at. I think this is where a groove could come in, as the spice the photographer adds to make mundane things interesting.
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Great thought.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,101
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    maybe the groove is just being happy with what you are able to do ?
    hearing voices through all the static helps ... ( and there is a lot of static )
     
  21. dorff

    dorff Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Location:
    South Africa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sometimes great thoughts find me! :cool:
     
  22. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Zen is good, we're not discussing physics here.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,101
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    but mark, sometimes it IS physics :smile:
    we all put up barriers ( physical or otherwise )
    and it is those barriers that often times stop us from finding our groove.
    ( or at least finding peace or happiness with our skillsets understandings &c )

    we have fears, worries and voices in our heads telling us NOT TO do stuff
    sometimes it is taking down those structures that push us back, and not listening to the static
    that will allow us to go ahead. for me, at a certain point i gave up
    trying to please anyone but myself or trying to impress anyone
    because i realized it was a waste of effort, sometimes toxic and those
    efforts could be used to just keep riding the bus and looking out the window.
    don't get me wrong, i have clients i work for, and they are happy with the stuff i give them
    but that stuff ( portraits, architectural-stuff &c ) is almost the same at this point as the other-stuff
    (if i squint my eyes a little, they are the same :smile: )

    i don't mind letting my mind drift/wander/daydreaming/staring at the clouds
    just being-present, which i realized when i was busy trying to listen to all the static
    had all the barriers up &c i couldn't do for a variety of reasons.

    i agree with pdeeh not everyone is picasso,
    we can all still have a good time knowing we aren't picasso
    and still make some artwork we can say we made, and not give a cr@@p if
    someone "doesn't get it" ... :smile:
     
  24. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,604
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    John: You're obviously giving this stuff a lot of thought, as are others. I have to say you've presented it a lot better than I did a while back ... :whistling:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum50/128994-artistic-crisis-mid-life-crisis-am-i-just-bored.html

    I really am trying to stop making "pretty pictures". It's not that I don't want my photographs to be attractive (at some level), but they only need to be attractive to me when it comes right down to it. We have a local group that gets together sporadically to view prints. At the last one, the reaction I got to one was "Wow. that must have been hard to print." It was, actually, but that is SO not the point! Here's an excerpt from the draft of a future blog post:

    I will continue to strive to make the camera work for me; to do what I can within the strengths and the limitations of the medium. I want to make pictures so that people don’t ask: “where is that?”, or even: “what is that?” And certainly not: “that’s a good print”.

    What I would prefer them to ask, if anything, is: “Why?” Isn’t that one of the purposes of art? To make people ask why? Or, to think? Or, just to wonder? Wonder at the shapes, the light, the texture. Just look at the print as they would a piece of nature. Just accept it for what it is, not as a representation of something else.

    This is the way the camera (and the photographer) saw this - regardless of what “this” was.

    Recently, a friend and photographer I really admire lamented that perhaps we were doing most of our work for other photographers. If that is true, then it’s too bad. However, it may well be true. It’s no secret that the laity probably doesn’t get much of our work. They definitely do not care what camera/lens/film/developer/paper we used! They just want to see the pictures.

    No answers from me, just observations. :wink:
     
  25. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,782
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    :smile:
     
  26. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The barriers may be physical but the root or foundation of that physical manifestation is typically mental.