Robert Adams: Why People Photograph

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Curt, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I bought an Aperture book "Why People Photograph" by Robert Adams. If you have read this book, maybe you can share your reaction to it. For me it was the break that I needed. Sometime in the early hours I discovered that I am among the few people living that has a clear and unique insight into life, its trials, successes and failures, its exclusive and coherent manifestation of connectivity to art and nature that no man can possibly imagine. In a flash I have seen and simplified the lives of the top photographers of our time and distilled their lives into a grain of truth never before known.

    All that I need to write my new book is a short bio. of each photographer and I will clarify their existence to the mass audience for all time. If you feel you have such a talent let us know about it.
     
  2. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hi Curt, would you care to explain a little further.
     
  3. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Curt,
    I first read this book about three months ago and have just started to read it again, this time making a few notes as I go. I thoroughly enjoyed the lucid and poetic writing and have adopted a few of his conclusions for myself e.g. people (I) photograph to "keep intact an affection for life". What a lovely, succinct way to put it. I found his homage to the disappearing "real" American West was in parts a little too sentimental but heartfelt and persuasive nonetheless.

    I would say compulsory reading for anyone serious about photography.
     
  4. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Read this one years ago, and just started re-reading it again along with Beauty in Photography. Like Tony, these are two books that I would say should be compulsory reading for the serious photographer. Not a big fan of his photography (after White Churches of the Plains), but the guy writes really well.
     
  5. Shawn Rahman

    Shawn Rahman Subscriber

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    Thank you. You are truly a gift to humanity.

    Now what exactly did you mean by all of this? And what does this have to do with Adams' superb book?
     
  6. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    "A part of what brought Strand to make the New England pictures as presumably psychological." "Those to whom I talked who knew him describe him as difficult-which suggests, as do his three marriages, that like most artists he was driven by inner and idiosyncratic burdens." "But of these we can know little in the absence of a major biography."

    So let me speculate, assume and draw conclusions about people with little biographical or first hand contact with the individuals but from second hand comments and assumptions. This book is filled with speculation, assumptions and judgments.
     
  7. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I think it means Curt did not like the book and he saw this dislike as an opportunity to sharpen his satirical wit.

    As a book discussing art and the reasons people make it, I find it quite acceptable to have the pages filled with speculations, assumptions and judgments. I certainly do not expect statistics, controlled experiments and exact measurements on the subject of art. The book needs to be judged by the quality of thought (and the quality of the writing) behind the speculations, assumptions and judgments. And Adams has done a fine job. One may not agree with all his speculations, assumptions and judgments, but to only read books one agrees 100% with sounds a bit boring.

    Vaughn
     
  8. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    I agree with Adams in that, lacking writings by the photographer himself on his images, we can use those images to speculate on his motivations. Adams background in literature would make such a leap of insight obvious.
     
  9. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    When I become famous, just remember that my motivation in photography as a whole, and in any particular image, is simply because I like it.
    juan
     
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    But that will leave future generations wondering why you liked it.:wink:

    Vaughn
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Why worry about posterity? What has it ever done for us?
     
  12. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    About as much as the Romans...:smile::smile::smile:
     
  13. mark

    mark Member

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    And the Chinese

    The Moors
     
  14. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    But did the "ancients" when they were "current" worry about posterity?

    I doubt it.

    I think the average Greek, Chinese, Moor, Roman, Egyptian, Jew etc. just went about life not planning on leaving anything for posterity.

    It's just that they did; as will we....
     
  15. rhphoto

    rhphoto Member

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    Personally I think Robert Adams is one of our great contemporary landscape photographers. I've been up close to many of his prints and they are technically flawless and in the aggregate, a profound body of work. Anyone with his dedication to the medium and depth of experience I would at least give a listen to. Adams doesn't seem to wax sentimental in his photography, even if he might in his writing.
     
  16. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    When having dinner, I like to sit on my posterity...or is that posterior?

    Vaughn
     
  17. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    It's not the average people you have to worry about.

     
  18. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Ah, but we know as much, perhaps more, about the ancient peoples from the objects and handicrafts that they left behind than from the writings of their most learned classes.

    Consider that the fire at the Library of Alexandria destroyed vast quantities of ancient knowledge. As a result, many of those who focused on recording their knowledge for posterity actually contributed less to it than a common artisan who molded a simple amphora that survived to the present day.
     
  19. mammolo

    mammolo Member

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    Gosh, I do not feel I am up to the task of judging Robert Adams' writings. What I do know is that they have made me become a better photographer.

    This cannot be said - and it is not an abrasive remark, but rather a plain statement of what happened to me - of the many essays that I have read over the years on photography, its aesthetic, composition, etc written by critics. I may enjoy reading them but they really did not help me better as a photographer.

    If I have to list what helped me improve as a photographer I have to say (a) studying classical contemporary music, (b) looking at other photographers' work, and (c) a few crucial readings with those of Robert Adams' at the very top.

    Personally I cannot think of a better sign of appreciation.

    Cheers!
     
  20. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    Those ancients that did in writing, many times, glossed and modified much that was true because they liked telling a good story (deception) - we can wonder about what was real. The Craftsmen didn't tell their secrets.

    A news reporter tells his stories daily, and gives his perspective (analysis). What is that worth?

    It's the uncertainty that makes life interesting.
     
  21. eddym

    eddym Member

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    That settles it!

    I'm going to take a class in amphora-making!! :smile: