What's your place in history?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by MurrayMinchin, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,196
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Sorry folks - I had to grab your attention with a catchy title...this is what I really meant to ask;

    What impact do you think your photographs will have in the future?

    I'm 47 and in that mid-life phase where one looks to the future wondering what footprints I'll leave in the sand after I'm gone. Will my photographs mean anything? Will yours?

    If you grab your camera right now and fire off a snap-shot of the street where you live, it'll have historical significance because in 100 years it'll show how your street once was, in the year 2007. What of our personal photographs? Will the images we make for ourselves have a life after we've gone?

    I take images of things in nature that amaze me. There's no attempt to take photographs which sell because I have a great day job, and I have a need to be close to my wife and daughter that's stronger than the urge to be famous. My photography is a purely personal expression. What then of my photographs?

    In my case, I think my images will gain in importance as time passes. I've taken many photographs of deep forest scenes that are now clear cuts, and somebody will want to compare what once was with what has grown since the old growth was logged. They'll also be able to catalogue what plant species were here when my photographs of still standing forests were taken, and see what plant species have since moved in. That'll be my legacy.

    Have you given this any thought?

    Murray
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2007
  2. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

    Messages:
    401
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    Yes, I have thought about this quite a bit. A few years ago I looked through contact sheets from the 60's or so. I was surprised about how I felt about some of the pictures that I did not even care enough about to print at that time. At that time everything was "normal" and not interesting, so why print them. Now that many relatives have been dead for many years and the old farm is gone etc. these images have sure gained in importance.

    I also found some casual shots that showed the environment that I grew up in: cars, buildings, streets, houses, all the things that change slow enough that we don't realize it at the time, have become very interesting.

    Yes, images do become more important as time passes and if I had a brain in my head I would have taken many, many more rolls of film of everyday life.

    Jim
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,584
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My impact? I cannot image which way it could go.

    I have four movies to my credit that you have all seen. I designed the experiments and programmed the computers that controlled the aiming and imaging. The movies are digital. Voyager 1's and Voyager 2's Jupiter rotation movies and Jupiter's Red Spot movies.

    Steve
     
  4. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

    Messages:
    509
    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    several of my associates and I discovered that a three spined stickleback's fast start response does not actually correlate to the number of caudal vertebrae it has.....someone tell me how this is useful in the real world....
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,584
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can never tell. The good thing about pure research is that you cannot predict where it will go. The bad thing about pure research is that if it is not done, nothing develops.

    Steve
     
  6. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

    Messages:
    509
    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    shhhh. the secret is we didn't believe our professor when she told us that the number of vertebrae were directly correlated, instead believing size had more to do with it, and set out to prove her wrong.
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The ugly truth is that most of the output of most photographers will be unceremoniously dumped on their deaths - the proportion rises to almost 100% in the case of non-pro enthusiasts. If this bothers you, be sure to talk ahead of your demise to the archivists of any organizations which might be interested in your work and present to them any of it in which they are interested. For myself, it is almost certain that the handful of pictures I took of David Bowie in my youth (example in APUG gallery) will eclipse and outlast anything else I have done or am likely to do - I find this slightly annoying, but I can't do anything about it. I continue to take pictures for a variety of reasons, not really caring what posterity will think, since I shall be dead when posterity makes its view clear!
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,824
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I like to think that it is what I do in my life that determines what my place in history will be. If that includes the effect my photography has on others, and my environment, than that is wonderful.

    If the results are limited to the effects I have on my family, my friends, my neighbours, my more distant relatives, my clients, the law (in a small way), the not for profit organizations I have worked with or my community in general, than that is fine as well.

    As far as I am concerned, my photography improves the quality of my life, and the quality of what I am able to contribute to the lives of others.

    In that way, the contribution of photography is priceless.

    David Bebbington (above) refers to photographer's output being "unceremoniously dumped" (a truly evocative phrase). While I would agree that this is a great tragedy, the fact that the photography is initially created and shared has a value all it's own. David's David Bowie photographs may be kept, but the impact of the rest of his photography will last, as well.

    Matt
     
  9. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

    Messages:
    1,723
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Colorfull, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What impact do you think your photographs will have in the future.

    Absolutely none!

    My decision on the subject has already begun to take place. All of my life's work will be totally destroyed by burning or what ever is necessary. I want nothing what so ever to indicate to any one in the future that I ever was here. I have heard all the arguments possible over the years to try to change my mind. I am not going to! My work is mine, no one else has the right to tell me what I should or should not do with it now or ever. I have bleached (Clorox) literly thousands of my negatives and prints to clear acetate. I have and will continue burn all of my exhibition 24x30's, 16x20's, 11x14's and 8x10's color and b&w prints. More than 50 years of work. I will continue to do so until they are all gone. Some have called me selfish and worse, but I made the negatives and prints, Watercolors, oils, etc. with no intention of having an impact on anyone now or in the future. They were made by me for me, no one else!

    Since I also received zero support from anyone else in financing my work, I am doing exactly what I want to do with it.

    My wife is quite aware of my wishes and supports me in my actions. I will say no more here on the subject. Also I will not respond to anyones comments, ideas or remarks pro or con concerning my decisions.

    Have a great day!
    Charlie.......................
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,560
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It seems for a few that if you want your photographs to last then put them in a
     
  11. firecracker

    firecracker Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    Shooter:
    35mm
  12. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

    Messages:
    1,148
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Near Tavisto
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's a good question, Murray, and one I've often pondered. Without wanting to be morbid, I'm the same age as you, but increasingly aware that the years are passing by - now more behind me than there are ahead of me - and that I shouldn't hang about if I'm to leave anything worthwhile on the planet after I've gone up a chimney in a cloud of smoke. I've made arrangements for a local museum to take possession of my collection of 4,000 Westcountry mining slides from the early 70s onwards. As regards the (allegedly!) creative material, I hope that the relatively small number of my favourite prints that I've mounted and framed might make it as far as the local auction house even if all the rest is skipped.
    Perhaps the only work that is guaranteed to survive is that which I have had published, because somebody somewhere will always have a copy of it (even if it's only the publisher!)

    One other point for anyone who hopes their work will outlast them - don't just remember to record on it who you are/were and when and where a shot was taken, make sure that the information stays put. A friend of mine recently bought a framed b/w print of a heavy horse at work on a farm at a local auction. It was obviously shot, framed and mounted many years ago and will grace his lounge but sadly there is just a square outline on the back where a gummed sticky label bearing all the details presumably once was.

    Best wishes,

    Steve
     
  13. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,630
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think that because some people consider my work to have some value and because there's a fair number of people who already own or collect my work I may leave some footprints behind. The biggest footprint will be that I photograph scenes and places that will not be so natural or pristine in 20 or 50 years. You can still go out west and find Carleton Watkins like scenes , in 50 years the spread of "development" will mean condos, malls and parking lots are everywhere. The only places of true nature left will be the National Parks. If I leave anything behind me it is at least a recording of what we have all lost.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2007
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. eddym

    eddym Member

    Messages:
    1,927
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I believe my legacy will be my dance work. Ballets de San Juan already has an archive of 20+ years of my work; when they had their 50th anniversary a couple of years ago, I mounted an exhibition of my work as part of their celebration.
    But I'm even more excited by the dancers who have saved my work in their personal albums. I really like the thought that some day 40-50 years from now their grand-daughters will look through these albums and be amazed at how beautiful their grannys were back when they were young dancers! I'm proud that I will have helped make that possible.
     
  16. firecracker

    firecracker Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Japan
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Contrary to what my previous post that has a link to the work by an anthroplogist who studied the photographs of an ordinary person implies, in most cases, I assume, people don't accidentally discover things that were left behind.

    I kind of think that it depends on the interest of the future generation also. Quite frankly when we the current look back the past, what do we have in our minds? So, if your streets are curently interesting enough with interesting enough histories to talk about, maybe the record-keeping works you do now will have the future. That means you may have to some kind of platform pass on to the future generation. And do you want to be credited as who you are? If you're not someone in your life time, you'll probably be known as a "unknown" photographer.
     
  17. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Location:
    Mississauga,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Murray
    Will the images we make for ourselves have a life after we've gone?

    David B.
    The ugly truth is that most of the output of most photographers will be unceremoniously dumped on their deaths - the proportion rises to almost 100% in the case of non-pro enthusiasts.

    David, it is nice answer to Murray, and very likely to happen. People today, at least in the West, just lost interest for anything, thanks to internet and TV. Why anyone will preserve anything when he can download it for free. However people change with time, and I see very slim chance to change toward “better”. And for photographs: can we see how many people are at all interested in photography (even among photographers), how many convenience sake just got digital camera shooting with two cameras at once, art is nearly dead, all people care for is that it is cheap (just lack of interest). When you are gone your room will be simple cleaned up.
     
  18. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

    Messages:
    4,090
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    NYC or Copak
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I too imagine that my photos, negatives and slides are likely to be "unceremoniously dumped" upon my demise. But there is one group of 'chromes that I hope I can manage to pass on to a relative as yet unborn.

    I got my first "serious camera", a Nikon Nikkormat FT-2 in 1977. I had recently finished grad school and was working in Lower Manhattan. One, sunny/16 weekend day I went downtown and shot a lot of pics of certain landmark from various different locations. It was easy to do, as the landmark was the then recently completed World Trade Center towers that loomed all over Lower Manhattan.

    On that day, I'm almost certain I mused that these towers would long outlast me. I hope I can pass these slides along to someone who, having been born well after 9/11/01, will look in awe at what a massive complex the WTC was and yet how ephemeral it proved to be.
     
  19. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Location:
    Mississauga,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    there is also one big problem more. Digital images are associated with manipulation and essential change automatically, regardless change degree. It is on the way to get name photography. If so all photographs will come into category "do not beleive in it". It is not difficult to me to beleive that also all our history based on photo documentations will be lost, all books with "photographs" will also be in trouble to survive.
    Simple when one say "a photograph" it means automatically something cold emotions, and do not beleive, that is no value. I think that people heading to day when only internet and TV will be to "beleve in".
     
  20. wfe

    wfe Member

    Messages:
    1,284
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    Location:
    Coatesville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't really think about a place in history for me or my photography. I'm a few years older than you and I do think about the remaining years being fewer and fewer so I do my best to enjoy my life now. If something of any value is left behind great, if not that's ok to. I don't do it to leave a legacy I do it to live now.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  21. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I practice photography but do not consider myself to be an artist.

    I believe there is a strong tendency for aging artists to impart an exaggerated importance to their later work - if only because they are short of time to continue producing it.

    I'm only 34 years old but I fully expect that if any of my work will prove of value to those who outlive me - it will be produced sooner rather than later.

    That simply seems to be the way of things.

    But I have no expectations that anything I produce will receive any attention when I'm gone. My photography is for my own satisfaction and for no other purpose.
     
  22. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Perhaps, but let us not forget that the manipulation of analog photographs through retouching and similar techniques extends back more than 100 years.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,584
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, I went to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles last weekend and saw The Old Order and the New: P. H. Emerson and Photography, 1885-1895. I was sorely disappointed that Emerson, who prided himself as wanting to preserve the rural countryside realistically, regularly removed dogs tails, trees, people, boats and anything else from his photographs. He also showed a predilection to inserting any object or person in to his photographs. When he made rotogravures, he would draw in faces or any other detail that was lost in the shadows [he had not captured the shadow detail to begin with*]. When he was criticized for doing these things, he dismissed the criticisms and said that he had done nothing wrong and that his photos were real and true!

    Steve

    * He did not follow AA's ZS!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2007
  24. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

    Messages:
    4,090
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    NYC or Copak
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Perhaps only original negatives, slides or digital RAW files are the only "images" that can be considered "true"?
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,991
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi murray --

    don't know if i will have a place in history, but just the same ...
    some of my documentary photographs are in the library of congress as well as libraries
    around boston. i hope someone someday is able to learn from them,
    the way i learned from photographic images i looked at in the 1973 world book encyclopedia
    and guinness book of world records, my favorite books to read over and over again (cover to cover) when i was small.
     
  26. bruce terry

    bruce terry Member

    Messages:
    190
    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Location:
    Cape Fear NC
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I, like many others here, make negatives and prints casually, only for myself. Over a longish life, six 8x10 platinum-palladium contact prints and five 35mm silver prints truly satisfy me ... thats it.

    So, to save the family a little time and guilt, all my unsatisfactory fluff-stuff (save a billion family snaps) is long-gone to the trash – the eleven images my only crumbs along my tiny photographic trail.

    Please excuse me while I go look for another crumb someone might eventually remember me by.