Thump, ah Thump, ah Thump, Thump, Thump

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Claire Senft, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Courious title?
    This thread is about photographic style.

    Many newer photographers worry and are concerned about developing their own style. This is in my opinion a waste of energy and intellect. Rather, I think that you should concentrate on the following:

    Viewing well made photos:
    There is nothing better suited to showing you what photography is capable of than to view original well made prints. If you are near a gallery, art exhibit or art museum pay them a visit and look at the prints. You will over time see what the medium is capable of doing.

    What kind of personality do you have:
    If you are a slow, methodical worker whose interest is in photographing few items but doing so in the most meticulous manner possible then that will come thru in your photography as you practice, If your interest is in candid or street photography and shoot a lot of film then that will come thru in developing a "style".

    So what interests you:
    Do you love viewing the enviroment,, for example city that you live in or are visiting ?

    Do you love flowers?

    Do you love children at play?

    Where are your interests?

    How are these photographs to be displayed or used:
    If your aim is to make prints to display in your living space what is the proper sized prints for that enviroment. If you have a large home with a lot of wall space then you can display a large prints effectively. If you live in a small flat with little wall space then it will be difficult for views to appreciate 16x20 prints for example mounted on 20x24 boards. What are the viewing conditions,,IE how much light is available?

    Equipping yourself:
    If you like photographing street scenes in a candid manner a 11x14 camera may be a poor choice. If you are going to make 20x24 prints and want the ultimate in gradation and clarity then a Minox may be a poor choice. It is only after making these choices, listed above, that one can do a reasonable job in choosing equipment

    Get off your ass and take photos:
    No one, in my opinion, is going to reach even a mediocre level of competence without working at it. Would you expect that you could be a good marathon runner if you spend all your time either working at a desk or being a couch potato? David Vestal wrote in a Photo Techiniques article about students taking a pottery class: One half of the class was to be graded on quality without any concern with how many pieces were produced. The other half of the class was to be graded on quantity without regard to how good the pottery was. In the end the half of the class that was producing quantity without regard for quality made the better quality pieces because they were doing a sufficient amount of work to learn how to do it well. They class members doing "quality" pieces were not doing enough work to learn their craft. You must work at photography and learn your skills in photographing what interests you and printing it to the best of your ability, as dictated by your personality. You must keep doing this over a long period of time.

    As you do this your style has arrived without givin it any thought at all.

    OH, that business about the title. That is the beat that I march to.
     
  2. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Interesting thoughts, Claire. I agree with most of what you said. Up to the point of "style" happening on its own as a result of the other choices, that is. Many photographers, even those who are constantly off their asses making pictures, work for years without ever developing a style.

    To me, style is more than just the choice of subject matter, film format, etc. I think it is the result of a philosophical state of mind - something that permeates a person's work regardless of subject matter or equipment used. While chosen equipment and technique plays a roll, I think style is more about how a photographer sees the world and what they have to say about what they see. It's a consistency of statement that will be seen in both a commercial image of a product, and an intimate, touching image of a tsunami victim. It's more about who the photographer is, translated to film.

    As to that drum beat, is that a rhumba, samba or a cha-cha you're doing? :wink:
     
  3. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hmmm...almost as if you subconciously have no choice, but rather your style chooses you because of the person that you are?

    I can understand that...
     
  4. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I think it (having "style") can take place either way, John. It can just sort of "happen" (alá the bumper sticker), or it can be the result of consciously understanding who you are and consciously deciding to have a consistent philosophical message in your images, whatever the subject matter might be.

    For example, I'm not sure whether I have a style or not, but I make a conscious effort to examine and portray the "beauty" of things. That might be a flower, a differential gear, a landscape, or a nude woman. My objective in thinking about what image I want to create of the subject is almost always the same - to find, respect, and depict its beauty. I'd take the same approach if photographing a homeless person in an alley. There, however, I'd need to engage the person in conversation enough that the sparkle would return to their eyes, so I could photograph the nobility of their human spirit (albeit scruffy), treating them with respect.
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    lullabye

    It is a lullaby. I take boring pics.
     
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I hold the opinion that "style" is something that develops at the pre-conscious level. It is a product of the soul./ psyche/ self/ aesthetics ...

    To me the idea of trying to "shape" your - properly labeled "preconscious" is futile and can only result in confusion. To try to integrate the style of another, as helpful as they are trying to be, also clouds that which is so intimately yours.

    I think all of us have a "style". Our choices in art serve as a description of ourselves - they define our "soul" - and they are the source of our style - and everyone that makes choices automatically chooses their style.

    This came up yesterday, in a discussion with a "new" (to me, and - wonderful model); the connection between the one- and two-minute poses in Life Class and the preconscious. The boundaries of a short time do not allow the artist to "think" consciously. If one agonizes about the quality and appropriateness of one's work... the pose will have gone... one will be left with an agonized drawing of a single finger - instead of an entire figure.
    So - one works - MUST work without thinking - and so, invariably produce their best work .. and in their true "style".

    I've heard that "One must work for years to develop a "Style". I think that is not only false, but incredibly debilitating. How many of us have "chosen" a particular "style" - and been able to achieve the style of our choice?
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Claire

    My style would be one of what is going on Now 2005, I have started to actively take photographs over the last few years. My photographs reflect me now, I have chosen to be quite active over the next few years with cameras and expose enough images that satisfy my curiosity on any given subject that I have chosen.
    I stopped taking photographs early 80"s after college and for 20 years I have looked at photos, printed photos , and did shows for others.
    My burning desire now is to take 4-8 photographic subjects that I like and make images and prints that satisfy me, and me alone.
    The stlye I have chosen is different for each subject that interests me. The only connecting factor is that when the prints are done they rival anything hanging on gallery walls technically. Whether I have any unigue style or artistic merit it is not for me to say.
    I think that a style will emerge that some will recognize as mine ( I hope) .
    Being consistant in the quality expectations of the different subject matter will show through that will define my style.

    Picking topics, staying with them , and fully exploring the possibilities, will in the end define a photographers paticular style.
     
  8. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    The above comments are right on. Achieving one's own style is something that emerges as a function of working. It is nothing you "try" to get. Picasso, an original artist if ever there was one, said, "The artist who tries to be original deceives himself. If he achieves anything at all it will only be an imitation of what he likes."
     
  9. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Yes - very much YES!! This is how I feel about all the things that I do to sooth my spirit and make myself happy in my life. Whether it is old radios or photography, I do it to please me alone and no one else. That doesn't mean that I don't care about technical quality though, and I do listen when criticism is offered.

    I'm not sure that this answers Claires question though.

    I take photographs when the subject appeals to me or when I wish to experiment technically and for no other reasons.

    I don't have a "style" yet. It would be pretty presumptuous to think I did after such a short time in this hobby. I hope that when I do realise that a style has gripped me, that it is something that pleases not only me, but others as well.

    cheers
     
  10. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Seems to me there are two ideas here: style and expression. I think style is more a subscription to a school of thought or a point of view. Successfully expressive work, IMHO, is work in which you're able to use the various technical and creative tools you've acquired to convey the image within, like a good turn of phrase or just the right combination of brushstrokes.

    I wholeheartedly agree about the value in volume. Embarassingly, one of the biggest kickstarts to my creative life was when I got a digital SLR and could shoot large numbers of pictures, trying out a great many things, seeing the result right away, and trying something else in reaction to the results. Eventually, though, I traded in the digital training wheels for film and a darkroom.

    I actually didn't mean for that to sound as pretentious as it sounded -- I realize that digital is a solid medium for lots of folks... I"m just not drawn that way.

    -KwM-
     
  11. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    ...
     
  12. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I couldn't agree more. In fact, my wife and I were discussing this earlier today in terms of another photographer whose work we both know well. As my wife is an artist who was obliged to critique scores if not hundreds of artworks as a part of her art training, her observations about an artists body of work are focused and illuminating. ALL ARTISTS see in unique and personal ways. It's simply not possible to respond honestly to a subject and not be uniquely yourself. It's when one seeks to emulate or artificially contrive to create a style that one derails and becomes confused and perplexed.

    As a musician, I know that my composer friends are always amazed at what theorists uncover in their work. Most of the time (and visual artists are not significantly different) they haven't a clue that they've done what another's analysis attests to they're having done.

    So...the more one produces, the more likely it is that you can look at a body of work reflectively and see (or be aided in seeing by a colleague or teacher) what's consistantly there. Make no mistake. The ignorance of gallery owners looking for chimeral 'originality' must not dampen the certainty that, whether they see it or not, each of us has a distinct style given that we've done honest work.
     
  13. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    The heck you do! Your pictures are definitely not boring! :smile:

    I have no clue what my style is...I guess I'd have to say erratic. :D I think I'll go develop some film now! :wink:
     
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  15. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Claire - although you have nothing in your gallery at the moment, I seem to recall your images being well-balanced (not surprising, considering your background), but definitely not boring. So, fess up - aren't you a "samba girl" at heart? :wink:
     
  16. André Ferreira

    André Ferreira Member

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    Are you really discussing samba? Want some help? Claire, I did not see your pictures to the moment, gonna search them...

    André Ferreira.
     
  17. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Confession for RHbarker

    Well, if you have seen any of my photos it surprises me. I have not posted any whatsoever. I own not a scanner. I do not wish to own a scanner. I have never exhibited my work. So, are you sure my work is not boring?

    BTW given my testicular condition..I never need worry about ovarian cancer..I do not dance. Therefore, I am definitely not a samba girl. I am certain that my granddaughter Cassie would be surprised to find out that grandpa is a samba girl.

    Nicole the brevity and astuteness of your contribution to this thread has been studied, noted and is acknowledged to to be very wise.
     
  18. André Ferreira

    André Ferreira Member

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    Did I miss something?

    André Ferreira.
     
  19. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    I don't believe in striving for a style-in anything. Just doing and doing will allow one to emerge.

    I played my best golf when I was sick, emotionally retarded, or similar, as it would inhibit my natural enemy-thought- from getting in the way of what my body knew how to do. First time I ever broke par... I even tried to make myself sick one other time. Didn't work. Oh I felt like shee-it, but I played like it too.

    Point is, we already have it. Just shoot, don't think.
    Unless you're a cop...
     
  20. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Claire - sorry for my confusion about having seen your work previously, and for the mistaken gender assumption based on your name. I'm just happy my foot was clean. :wink:
     
  21. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hmm, well pointed out Claire although I was mearly trying to subscribe to the thread and bump it up for more input by other APUG'ers and so I could respond at a later date should I think of something intelligent and worthwhile to contribute to such a thought provoking thread.... (breath in)

    The title killed the cat. :smile:

    Kind regards, Nicole
     
  22. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Ah Ralph.... :wink:. I have been fortunate enough to have met Claire in person and see his prints. They are wonderful....snow on a black iron fence....trails of lights on a darkened road. Cafe tables in downtown Milwaukee... the harbor...I tried to talk him into getting a scanner...but alas! :sad:
    Claire taught me everything I know about loading 120 film onto a metal reel! :D
     
  23. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Well so far in my experience with internet photogtraphers, I have been completely mistaken at first about the gender of (from another site) Cleeo W. Wright, and Leslie Hancock. And now Claire. All guys. Hmmmmm....I think we all need photo IDs ;-)
     
  24. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I think we need to learn the lauguage before we can spout sonnets.

    I think "style" evolves like we do.

    I think a lack of training or study is not a "style".

    I think the evolution of "style" is in direct correlation to the evolution of the soul.

    I think your "style" can be a rut.


    Michael
     
  25. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    I'm in a near-constant state of being impressed and pleased with the variety and quality of my fellow APUG characters.

    The mechanics of doing so would probably make it not possible, but wouldn't it be grand if each contiguous land mass which contains significant APUG people could host something like "APUG Road Trip 2005" where members could drive from city to city stopping at home cities of APUG members, meeting with them, going on photo excursions to the places only the locals know about, then after either staying at an old 1950's motel or camping out in someone's back yard, moving on to the next APUG location down the road.

    Hell -- if it was a miniseries on The Travel Channel, I'd watch/tape it. Each "city of focus" could illustrate different shooting approaches, types of cameras, analog workflows and shooting venues.

    Maybe I'm describing an APUG AAA. (*shrug*)

    -KwM-
     
  26. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Maybe that's why so many of us have beards?

    :tongue: