Is Photography Dead?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Gerald C Koch, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    We have all read the debates over whether analog photography is dead. But maybe we should be asking whether the whole concept of photography is dead. Whether analog or digital it is the image itself that is important. What are we being told when the same images keep being made. Is it a great photograph when it has been done over a dozen times before. With millions of people each with a camera (of sorts) in their phone have we become so desensitized that we cannot conceive of a good photograph anymore. In this age when children are given trophies, not for winning but for participating, does it mean anything to be really good at something. Everything seems to be a rehash of what was done before.

    I think everyone has seen the "one tree hill" photograph. You know the one, a grassy hill with one, two, or three trees, ominous clouds in the background. Sometimes it is done in IR, sometimes there are a few sheep grazing on the grass. It's all the same image, adding or subtracting a tree or sheep doesn't make it new or award winning.
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Yes.

    Cheer up, Jerry, it gets worse!
     
  3. Monito

    Monito Member

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    No. Not even close.

    There are always cliche subjects. On the model photography sites the cliches are caution tape, hand bras, and railroad tracks. Sometimes in combination. It is no surprise that there are cliches in landscape photography, architectural, wedding, street, product, ....

    By the time of the advent of the Daguerrotype's popularity, say 1857 to pick a date, there were cliche subjects.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    No...it is feeling better. It does not want to get into the cart...
     
  5. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I know that it's an imperfect world, but should cliches be given awards?
     
  6. wildbillbugman

    wildbillbugman Member

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    No
    I don't "do" Trees on hills or mountains or sunsets. I look for beauty in the "ugly". I love to do bugs. But they are beautiful in and of themselves. I think I might start doing "mens roons" in public parks and highway rest stops. Look at my self portrait in Alternative processes in APUG. I will never be on one of those KODAK charts.
    Bill
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    jerry

    i agree 100% a lot of photography can be boring ... and the book of ecclesiastes
    suggested everything is meaningless 2 thousand + years ago ...

    but without the practice of remaking the same grassy hilltop over and over
    and better and better each time how will we ever make something else ?

    usually step off the path ... the well beaten one is too dusty

    too bad you can't view the gallery, there are few grassy hilltop/trees and lots of people who step off the path ...
     
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  8. Monito

    Monito Member

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    Probably not, but depends on the context, of course. There is little harm and usually some good in giving a child an award for a lone tree photo if it is clearly or arguably better than the other entries in a contest.

    It sounds as if some award for a lone tree somewhere irked you. Perhaps if you were specific instead of elliptical we'd be able to ease your pain.
     
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  9. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    This is a joke, right..?
     
  10. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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  11. Monito

    Monito Member

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    "We"?

    That's a different issue from the thread title which relates to the cliche issue.

    The "We" you talk about is not us. That the great millions of unwashed masses think they can make a great photo with their cell phone camera, is a problem. Very rarely they are right, in the case of breaking news. However, the big problem is that they are clueless about what makes a good photo.

    However, the majority of serious photographers have missed an important clue too, though they have many other useful clues at their commend.

    The clue that is the connection between the cell phone masters and the serious photographers who miss the boat is one of the four elements that all good photos have at least three of and great photos have all four. In a way it is the most important element. If it is present, it is enough to make a photo a great photo in the estimation of the general public typified by the cell phone users. And you know what, ... they have a point.

    The four elements that make a great photo are: 1) Composition (including perspective and framing), 2) Lighting, 3) Timing, and 4) Emotional connection to the viewer.

    The fourth element is the one most often neglected by the serious photographer. Hence a surplus of lone trees with or without sheep.
     
  12. Monito

    Monito Member

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    I have no idea which post you are referring to or if you are referring to the title. Perhaps you'd care to take the time to clarify.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    the unwashed with a cellphone is the same as the unwashed with a brownie box, or instamatic or ... its just a different box
    there are plenty of people who are inexperienced and unwashed who take great photographs without the "4 elements"
    and even seasoned pros and artists who make great photographs without the "4 elements" ...

    i think jerry is right to a certain extant, but i don't think photography is completely dead, just playing-possum
     
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  15. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Here's a thought: I'm a mediocrity. 50 years after I pass, no one will know my name, much less what I did on this earth. And that's for the things I am really good at. When it comes to photography, I'm working up to mediocrity.

    That said, there are a number of photographs on my walls that only I could make. Not only that, but I and only a few others will ever see them. They bring me great joy. The process (making photographs and learning) brings me joy. The subjects bring me joy. I'm not trying to be profound or break new ground.

    I just googled these search terms: lone tree ansel adams. There are some nice images there.

    A lone acacia tree on the plain of Africa will always be evocative to me. So will the image of a Joshua tree (having grown up in Southern California and all). Sure, some are better than others. Most are dull. Doesn't detract from the good ones.
     
  16. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    True--you have to understand (a) what makes a good "tree on a hill" and (b) what makes it cliche (or not, as the case may be).

    Then you can move on to breaking new ground.

    It's like a musician practicing scales. You won't perform them, but you need to know them. The best musicians I know never stop doing the basic work.
     
  17. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Gerald,

    perhaps you want to show us (and I ask again) some of your work, so we can all be enlightened and finally have a real clue on how award winning images are created. All talk about developers is quite cheap unless one can back it up with some decent prints. And, don't forget, beauty in photography (and art in general) is, was, and always will be, in the eye of the beholder. What is crap to you, for someone else may be worth thousands, for a number of reasons that most sensible human beings here will be able to discern for themselves.
     
  18. mbsmith

    mbsmith Member

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    The practice of photography is very much alive. Although, I think what you're discsussing would be more, "Is originality dead?" which is a valid question for anything involving creativity.

    I know in my own work (less than 10 years and, I'm sure, full of cliches), I am constantly trying to implement and balance the creative/innovative with the technical side of things. I think it's also important to remember that conventions, rules, theories, etc. are all informed at least a bit by cliches or ideas that aren't necessarily original. Lighting, composition, posing all come to mind here. But that's where subject, context, and treatment come into play, and can make a "one tree hill" photo more original and interesting than it first seemed.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  19. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    "Is Photography Dead?"

    No.
     
  20. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Gosh, I hope not!

    Jeff
     
  21. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Actually, these "Three Trees" on a hill - complete with ominous clouds in the background - did win an award, so somebody must think that photography is not dead...

    Ken
     
  22. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Ken,

    These are indeed the "Three Trees" that ruffled his feathers. At least we're all giving Jon Butler some deserved publicity.
     
  23. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Ahh... pays to keep up then, eh?

    At any rate, Butler's three certainly don't look like any three - or two, or one - that I've seen anywhere in the APUG Galleries. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Such is the counter-intuitiveness of traditional photography. No two photographs, even tripod-hole photographs, ever look exactly the same.

    And thankfully there isn't a "no repeat" database which must be consulted. No one would ever pick up a camera again...

    Thanks,

    Ken
     
  24. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    When photography dies, does it start to smell?
     
  25. wildbillbugman

    wildbillbugman Member

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    Early in my learning how to use a view camera, I was incouraged to try to duplicate a well known print from a well known artrist. I chose Weston\'s peper. Many hours and shots later, I came close, but no cigar. My point is that,skill may be aquired and polished with cliches. Had I been able to produce an exact dupicate(impossible!). It stll would not be (Art).
     
  26. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Mat Carrey, ++

    How will anyone ever get good if they don't first learn to make the cliche?

    I've been a martial artist for 35 years and I still practice, every day, the same stuff we were taught in the first week. And I learn more about it every day.

    My daughter was a gymnast. She competed nationally, but years before that she had to compete with every competitor doing exactly the same, the simplest, most cliched routine and winners got medals.