Why do people show their photographs to other people?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by gr82bart, Feb 28, 2007.

  1. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Serious question.

    I ask this because I find myself in a very unique situation. I have never been comfortable showing my images to other people. I've started to recently, but the vast majority of my 'stuff' has never been seen by anyone else - family, friends, ex, anyone.

    Yes I took photos for the local papers when I was in university, but in reality only the editor saw the pics and after one was chosen, the rest was 'filed'.

    Even today, the images I make with models, pretty much those shown publicly are ones that the models, MUAs or someone else picked out and already placed in the public domain. I have several that were 'used' and others have commented are 'better' but I really have no compelling feeling to 'show' them.

    To me the need to show my image isn't compelling enought to overcome the effort it takes to show my images. Whether at a show or on the web. Am I just lazy? Am I shy? What?

    Why do people show their images to others? What do you get out of it?

    Regards, Art.
     
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  2. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    Good question. I think part of it is the approval thing, just like in kindergarten. Wasn't if Freud that said something like "all human action is based on making oneself feel important"? When I make photographs, I enjoy them tremendously, for the most part. It's my desire to share this enjoyment with others. I want them to feel what I feel I guess.
     
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I think part of it is a need to have other people's approval of what you are doing. With that in mind, you should only ever show people your best work unless it is to get an opinion on what went wrong or how to do better.

    Being shown images which are sub-standard is something that drives my father crazy. Many times he is shown something which is accompanied by a phrase such as "... of course, it would have been better if I had... etc. etc."
    His view is that you either show something you are completely happy with or don't show it at all. I tend to agree with this view.

    Anyway, photographs are made to be looked at. If you keep them hidden away, it is the same as the musician who practices to reach a high standard but never plays outside his own house.

    Obviously, commercial photography for a client is different to personal photography but it is still intended to have an audience.

    Steve.
     
  4. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Art,

    An interesting question, Art. When I take colour transparencies they are almost invariably for showing to others or potential publication, but I have many b/w prints that only I have ever seen. This is not because I'm ashamed of them or am concerned that they might not be well received, it's usually just because I produced them for my own pleasure and have received the required return without anyone else having seen them.

    With exhibiting there's the time issue. As an amateur, I need to show up for my day job five days a week (or they get upset!) and with all the usual domestic commitments, the time just isn't there to do all the things I'd like to, including the odd small exhibition. So many of the amateur photographers I meet are retired and have far more time at their disposal. Retirement soon seems to make people forget just how valuable and scarce leisure time is when you are out of the house from 7.30am to 6pm five days a week. (I also like to eat from time to time!)

    Putting material on the web is something I've considered, but I'm a complete bozo with computer-related things and begrudge the time it would take me to do it. I'd rather spend that time taking, developing and printing more photos, even if only a few people get to see them!

    All said and done, there's no reason why you, I or anyone should feel disadvantaged because we don't show our work as much as others. If we have enjoyed what we have done and learned a few things along the way, what more can we ask?

    Best wishes,

    Steve
     
  5. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    I show my (so called serious) pictures to people because they want to see them, I have no desire to show them to people really. I remember getting gasps from some of my students when I told them that I was showing my own pictures to them to explain certain techniques or technical issues, but NOT to show them what a "good" picture should be. The gasp inducing phrase was, "You don't have to emulate my pictures, you don't even have to like them. I don't give a damn what you think of them, but they are useful in this class..."


    Isaac
     
  6. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    I think photography is a comunication medium. In this case photographer is suppose to be very smart person, an artist, to whose ideas and vision other celebrate, and sometimes pays to have the vision on the wall. Also role of a photograph is to extend your memory, in which case it is not necessary to show to other. But in second case what is a purpose of memory?

    www.Leica-R.com
     
  7. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I decided to setup a small show of my photos in a neighbourhood café, my first show, because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I want to see people react, I want to hear what they think, and I want to exercise the cojones it takes to make a selection of prints I'm confident about.

    To me, showing my prints is not just a question of being proud of what I do and looking for feedback, but it's also a means to teach my lazy self that effort matters and that it is the only way to achieve something.
     
  8. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I know. It's an outrageous expectation!

    Steve.
     
  9. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    This is a very interesting question, indeed.

    I make photographs as channel for creative energy because I feel better when I'm making something. I believe that sharing what I make is a step in the creative process. It's the part that takes courage. Whether I get feedback or simply try to meet some undefined standard for showing a picture, it benefits the process which I think is a loop, not a line.

    Also, I think that it's healthy to have the confidence that photograph that I find interesting to look at, others will too...even if I made it.
     
  10. arigram

    arigram Member

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    it gets me chicks

    No seriously. There are many reasons:

    1. Artwork is meant to be shared, even better when you are still alive and can enjoy the sharing.
    2. If people like them, they might pose for you
    3. Expanding the above, they might even pay you for them!
    4. Expanding the above, you might even charm them and get yourself a new friend or date
    5. They might give you useful pointers on technicallities or share their own knowledge
    6. They might annoy you by pretending to know and adapting a patronising tone thus resulting in you punching them in the eye which could be very satisfying
    7. Your work might inspire others artistically or technically
    8. Your work might make one thing, feel and react, change their life or atleast give them the gift of a significant moment
    9. Your art or subject matter could set something in motion
    10. You share some sort of information as many photographs are also documents, recordings of time, space, matter, etc
    11. You get it off your chest
    12. Their reaction might make you feel, think or react and give you a significant moment
    13. You might make a photographer of a viewer
    14. It can bring you fame, prestige, make you a sex idol, an avatar of perfection to be worshipped
    15. You can scare off someone unwanted
    16. It can spice up your relationship and sex life
    17. You justify (or not) your spending (of time and money)
    18. You connect with others, transfer your energy, become one with the Cosmos!
     
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  11. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    well, there is that...and the fabulous dough
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Umm ... Ari, even by your own admission ... umm ... shouldn't you be showing a LOT more then?

    Runs and hides, Art. :D
     
  13. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    Photography is a form of visual communication. With most forms of communication you need at least two parties.

    We make the effort to go out and make images. Wanting to find our vision within the world but that is only half the process. If no one ever sees your work, your vision, then the process is not complete. You didn't communicate to anyone.

    Or in other words, you are talking only to yourself.

    Be careful where you do that. In some places, people think you crazy for talking to yourself and want to lock you up.
     
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  15. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Naaah, APUG is not a good place to get dates.
    I have even posed half naked for all to see and gotten not even one stinky love message.
    Hmmm... maybe its because of that...
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's why I'm a guitar player!!!

    Steve.
     
  17. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Now this is something interesting. What if, to some, photography is a therapy, like a journal or a diary? Is that crazy too?

    Does it have to be about communication? Why?

    Regards, Art.
     
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  18. catem

    catem Member

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    I used to show photographs in the past because I didn't feel confident in what I was doing and needed to learn - both informally and in a formal educational environmnent.

    Now it's more about communication - for me a photograph is all about communication and it's not easy to know if we succeed in effectively saying what we wish to say, without feedback from others. Sometimes it's enough to know that it works for some people (you wouldn't ever expect it to work for all), other times I am grateful if someone points out to me something I haven't seen that I need to change or think about.

    More and more I trust my own instincts about whether my work is 'successful' (in my terms) or not. Then showing becomes more a sharing. For me there's little point of working in a vacuum. The process of creating the work can be a lonely enough one anyway, and most of us need encouragement and support, or at least an acknowledgement that what we are doing has some worth and meaning for others, as well as ourselves.

    As for exhibitions/shows - I've done the café thing; and that was to give me a goal to work for (I have to set myself goals or I do little) and show off to my friends. I'd think twice about doing it again as it was a huge effort and I only sold two pieces of work. It was a very valuable experience though, in terms of managing the project, meeting deadlines, not cracking up completely etc.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Cate-
    that unfortunately is par for the course when showing your work, especially in the early days of your exhibition career. It is something you have to get through, though. Cafes are a good place to show early on because they give you exposure, and they're often not very picky about whose work they show. The downside is that with few exceptions, most people going to the cafe are not there to buy art, they're there to drink coffee. The art is an incidental bonus for going in. It does take a more serious venue to start making sales. Look out for local art fairs which are non-juried, where you only have to show a few pieces. Also try submitting work to juried competitions, but pick and choose a few that are most appropriate to the kind of work you do.
     
  20. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    That's me, too. At the most basic level, I shoot to communicate later with others where I've done, what I've seen, where I've been. Usually it's things they will never see, so we both get something out of it. I share and get approval and praise, they learn and are entertained.
     
  21. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    This is why I like the print exchanges too. It is because of these exchanges that I have gone back to my photographs I took years ago. Most of the prints I sent out were images taken when I first started photography. All of those have never been seen before by anyone else but the recipients.

    Regards, Art.
     
  22. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    It doesn't HAVE to be about communication. It IS communication, whether you have an audience or not. A diary is a communication from self to self. In other words, it's just an external recipient for meaning, if I may deflate so ingratiously the nature of art...
     
  23. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    George suggests in his post that process is incomplete. Crazy even. Thoughts?

    Regards, Art.
     
  24. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Like some other Amateur Photogs here, I rarely show my pics to anyone else with the exception that for some shared experiences with my wife I show them to her. And I have posted some pics I personally liked to the Gallery here.

    Part of the reason for showing few photos is related to the leisure time problem as a working stiff. Finding time to take the photos and then scan the negs and trannies alone kills an extraordinary amount of time. And when I think about having more time if/when I retire - I shudder to think of how huge the cataloging/organizing task is going to be dealing with all my pic!

    As to self communication - I do see photography for me as a form of a visual diary. I sometimes conjure up a scenario that after I'm dead some descendant relative will happen upon my pics and go through them - thereby learning a bit about who I was. But that's probably just a narcassitic fantasy.
     
  25. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    That's why I was a drummer. :tongue:
     
  26. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Completing the loop is part of *my* process. Id doesn't have to be part of everyone's.

    I have a friend that writes. He writes poems, stories and songs. He writes for himself. It exersizes demons and muscles and such. I've known him for 27 years. I've heard maybe five of his songs and each time it was either under duress or the influence of alcohol or both. All that I've heard was utterly brilliant. I have songwriter friends that I would have to humor with compliments. He's not one of them. He's brilliant, and knowing him...that wouldn't be a surprise anyway. He has no need to share what he does. He does it for himself. Or he's a coward. Or he finds feedback from others an insulting premise unto itself. Who really can say? He creates for reasons that has little or nothing to do with seeking acceptance or the enjoyment of others. I find it both selfish and admirable. It's not me though.