View Full Version : Please yourself only?
01-02-2008, 05:55 PM
I retired so I no longer had to work to please someone else. What I photograph is in my style to please me.
When I am taking a class, there are certain parameters that I must meet but the work, the ideas, must be my own. I want to know that when I walk out of the darkroom I have produced the best possible work that I can. I am looking for my WOW factor.
01-02-2008, 07:01 PM
Since Eric Hoffer was quoted earlier in this thread, I thought the following might provide comfort to those among us who have at some point considered ourselves failures:
"The difficult and risky task of meeting and mastering the new—whether it be the settlement of new lands or the initiation of new ways of life—is not undertaken by the vanguard of society but by its rear. It is the misfits, failures, fugitives, outcasts and their like who are among the first to grapple with the new."
01-02-2008, 07:15 PM
If it does not please me first then, I don't care if it pleases somebody else "anyway", and if they want it, they will get it only after it pleases me; and second, as long as I like it, I don't care if anyone else doesn't. :p
It should be clear from that, that I don't make a living from my photography. It must always please me first. ;)
01-02-2008, 08:18 PM
Wow, some great input here, it shows where I have made some (according to the thread) major errors in my photographic decision making. For the record, I have never made photograph that totally pleased me! I have never thought of myself to be an artist, though I have several degrees to proove I have the background, knowledge and skills to be one. I maintain I am not an artist, my work has always been of a documentary nature. For more than fifty years I have photographed (mostly in largemat) what was there. My only job
during this period was making images that pleased other people. Art directors fought me tooth and nail trying to tell me where they wanted the camera to be and where the lights were placed. If they were wrong in my mind I fought just as hard as they did to make my point. Sometimes I won somestimes I lost but I still ended up with an image they all loved. In my mind it was a document of what the client wanted, not an pleasing expression of my own.
I was heavily influenced by A. Adams, even attended a couple of his workshops, learned a lot but did not become an artist from his exposure. There have been many others that have influenced me, but I still remain a picture maker, not an artist. While many of my images/photographs hang on museum walls, others
illustrate magazines and books, I simply documented what I saw, not create art of the subjects.
I think it is amazing that so many spend their time, money etc. to persue becoming an artist to simply please themself. I never could have followed this path, I simply could not afford to attempt it. From my earliest days opportrating a big box, I prostituted myself heart and soul to making pictures that would feed myself and family
put my kids through school. To have a house and a few pleasures to enjoy. However the bottom line is/was
I was making photographs that pleased others, not myself. I have never made a photograph that had all of the elements in their proper position, the best composition possible. I have given it my best effort to do these all of these things, many times I come very close, but in the end it is still a document of what was there, not Art.
PS, I do not wannabe an artist, I am happy whith who I am!
01-02-2008, 09:37 PM
Charlie, I don't think you made any major errors in your photographic decision. You made the decision to produce your best work for your client. You say you are happy with who your are. Be happy and proud of the accomplishments you have made and the life you provided for your family.
01-02-2008, 10:16 PM
[QUOTE=Charles Webb;567527]Wow, some great input here, it shows where I have made some (according to the thread) major errors in my photographic decision making. .
Not at all. In fact I sometimes feel embarrassed when the workingman chimes in. You've been in the trenches, bringing home the bacon. I'm a product of the sixties. Self expression etc. etc. you know, hippies, left over beats. What we've got here is purely generational. The 80's finally, after many many years of art talk by leading historical figures in photography, and of course some inroads, began to take photographs seriously as an art form. Most likely this was due to the likes of Getty out in California picking up collections and people got word of it. Prices started up. Now they're insane. Anyway, long story short, this art bug has really hit. People are taking masters degrees and discussing whether a pile of dust is significant. Some of it is nonsense, some of it is gold. Take for instance Ansel Adams. He had to be usurped by people you might think are demeaning his grand style, but Robert Adams took a look at Denver's sprawl in the 70's and thought the real west was not so grand. This is an art movement of significance. There are alot of them today, and the really interesting thing for you might be how in photography, unlike most arts before it, the line between art and commerce is often non-existent. Everything, even craft and quality are all in question today. And they are all seen as fair game material. Don't let the notion of art, or artist, who is or what is, trip you up. I only bother with it because it's my idea of the bacon even though I don't make a dime from it. Figure that one out.
01-02-2008, 11:39 PM
I don't think prostituted. I'd say you worked damn hard for great reasons. Feeding my kids and putting them through school is hands down the most important thing I'll ever do. Hmm, then again, maybe I'm a happy hooker :)
01-03-2008, 12:57 AM
As to pleasing myself, not in the self gratification way. But definitely in being true to who I am. My wife and friends try to persuade me back into pretty postcard calendar art but my heart isn't there. I won't even do it for folks willing to pay. Too little time on this earth to do what everyone else wants. I figure my chances are about the same as Mike Disfarmer. 50 or 60 years after I'm gone someone will find oak flat drawers of 8X10 negatives and add the bull shit quotient that I never will have, and voila, it'll be art.
01-03-2008, 10:26 AM
Certainly there is a need for commercial art and working to specifications or at the service of an art director and then you should be paid well by the agency that is very pleased with itself for having chosen you. And if the product sells or they get a crush on your receptionist they will use you again. I think it is difficult for a lot of people but I was fortunate to be able to work in a commercial studio for years and keep my own mind and art seperate and know when I was pleasing myself.. other than in the bathroom.
01-04-2008, 06:42 PM
I believe that Cy DeCosse (http://www.johnstevenson-gallery.com/decosse_2007/decosse_2007_tn.html) was in his eighties when he was discovered.
Cy has just celebrated his 78th birthday and has been represented by various galleries for the past 18 years; the past 10 with John Stevenson.
01-04-2008, 10:53 PM
You know, upon thinking things through and read and posting to a thread begun by our new brother, Jamusu, it occurs to oneself that I do not make photographs to please myself. I truly think I make them to discover and to experience myself. Let me explain. I sometimes get shoved down in the daily hustle, not only in my surroundings but also in my own existance. I lose myself to some extent. I become something that I am not. I conform. Emotionally, ideally, to some extent I try to fit in. But when I am creating, photographing et al., I am searching for an emotional self-connection that I have forgotten even exists, let alone how it feels. But when I see that one subject and know, and KNOW beyond knowing that I have truly witnessed something that is beyond me, exhiliration. Plain and pure, unadulterated ecsatasy. The emotion that I feel both thrills my core and slams a hole through my soul in the knowledge that my rapture will be but a fleeting moment that I may never regain for as long as I live. And I remember the emotion, though the circumstances of that emotion may fade, I remember how I felt. Not just the feeling I had but how it felt to be truly me.
02-18-2008, 10:54 AM
I no longer have aspirations for recognition, yet I wonder if I am being remiss if I do not adjust my imagery, somewhat at least, to the march of time. If my work is slated to hang on my walls only, you would think, please yourself only.
Yet I have my doubts. Postmodern works have progressed, whether we like them another matter, and I have to feel that I have fallen into a stodgy corner. I work easily and naturally and have relied on the belief that a deepening would occure in and of itself. But now I'm not so sure that it will. Where's the question here... I suppose it's this, Do we owe it to ourselves to stay up to date and take contempory ideas seriously? Or do we accept the challenge of mining our own territory, albeit influenced by others work of the past? Another good topic would be, how to make something really our own.
For me, your job as a photographer is to record the world as you see it in the time you're here. That's all you can do. Learning how to work the controls takes years but once you've learned, your job is to look and see. Contemporary ideas usually arise when people have forgotten their simple task. Whenever I get in a creative rut it's always because I've been sidetracked by advertising (cameras) or fashions (techniques).
02-18-2008, 10:59 AM
When I create art, I please myself.
I only think of pleasing others during sex.
02-18-2008, 05:22 PM
Go and read Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland-a fantastic book about these and many related photographic issues. Then have a look at Beauty In Photography and Why People Photograph by Robert Adams. And enjoy what you have rather than worrying about what you don't have.
02-18-2008, 10:39 PM
When I create art, I please myself.
I only think of pleasing others during sex.
It's so good to have you back, oh Prince of Pleasure :D
02-19-2008, 04:43 AM
To expand on my point, creating art is like a weird case of masturbation where you actually get pregnant and have a baby yourself. How you are pleasing yourself and how the baby looks like, is all up to you.
So, others need not apply.
(I imagine now some people will immediately cease to create art after this metaphor)
03-09-2008, 04:40 PM
To relate to two of the issues from those above.
1. Is the maker excluded from the pleasure and the meaning of his own creations?
I think that, in many aspects, yes he is excluded. First thing is, that even a success, same as a failure, should probably be a motive to move on. If you celebrate your successes or moan about failures, you lose time. It is one of the reasons why some of my photos I considered "good" some time ago do not make me satisfied/happy/proud anymore; not that I progressed so much that now I see what whas lacking, but I got my share of joy - and they are sort of exploited. Second, as the existence of the whole critical industry shows, there is always infinitely more in an "artwork" than an artist could have thought about - especially if enough critics, for one or another reason, get interested in him.
And there is the Romantic myth of an artist as divinely inspired superhuman individual, messiah of sorts, etc. etc. If you want to flatter yourself, you may think along these lines.
2. About being an artist, or being gifted.
Obviously we are not all gifted, although the very idea of "gift" is a bit suspicious. And it is very easy to understand, and could be hard to live with, in the modern world, where you can instanteously compare yourself to a practically infinite number of other "artists", by browsing the apug for example. What I would consider a gift (being aware of all the traps and cliches of the Romantism as above) is almost always a mania, connected with some kind of suffering (for example, an inability to convey one's fears, thoughts, ideas to others); and always a mixed blessing. Of course, if it is not a gift for producing postcards. But, nevermind how gifted or not one is, in his particular life artistic development (if it is driven by a real passion(?)) does have a place. It is not very important from what level does it start or where it would finally end, as long as it is a part of a project that could be called "personality", one of consciously shaping a person, not a nobody.
03-15-2008, 07:31 PM
" no longer have aspirations for recognition, yet I wonder if I am being remiss if I do not adjust my imagery, somewhat at least, to the march of time. If my work is slated to hang on my walls only, you would think, please yourself only.
Yet I have my doubts. Postmodern works have progressed, whether we like them another matter, and I have to feel that I have fallen into a stodgy corner. I work easily and naturally and have relied on the belief that a deepening would occure in and of itself. But now I'm not so sure that it will. Where's the question here... I suppose it's this, Do we owe it to ourselves to stay up to date and take contempory ideas seriously? Or do we accept the challenge of mining our own territory, albeit influenced by others work of the past? Another good topic would be, how to make something really our own."
So this is my story:
Jack was chief of music band. He came one morning and said to the rest of his band: Willy left us, he want to work for himself only.
After a while, one member said: Mr. Jack I visited yesterday Willy. He compose himself, he is his own boss, he record all his songs himself, and he is the only one that listen it.
It is tempting to use the 'pleasing yourself' metric as the only necessary yardstick. But then you think about other aspects of life that involve pleasing yourself, and you realize that the satisfaction is fleeting and the fulfillment lacking.
03-17-2008, 11:13 AM
I'd like to tell a story here, but it might be a little off topic (bear with me), and ... I'm lazy and my English's not that good ... besides, I don't know if it is of any help. so I'll try to make it short:
From the age of 15 onwards I've been writing. Every day. It was fun, it made me happy, it was my life. I was totally ignorant of the fact, that there were other people who wrote, and that they were people who wrote and whose work was published and people who wrote just to have it published.
But some (sad) day, I realized. And that was where it all started to go wrong ... I think ever since my creativity has been struggling with my lack of confidence.
You may know these thoughts: Why should I write when I don't ever show it to anyone? Why should I take a picture as long as I'm not the next Ansel Adams?
These quesions sound really silly, but when it comes to writing, there's still that thing in my head telling me I shouldn't dare to write anything as long as it isn't eligible for the Nobel prize for literature or something.
For some years, every book I read made me feel bad. Either because I thought it was good I was sure I would never manage to write smth like this or because it was so bad that I was sure I could have done it better but I didn't.
I promised myself this won't happen with photography too ... (thanks for reminding me).
Every self-help book I've read says you shouldn't compare yourself or what you do with others und judge it in terms of some kind of "quality". It's difficult, but I know people who do it.
By the way, my "solution" was to switch to photography :). It's a relief to be able to say: "I'm only a beginner".
But ... I guess you're problem is not very similar to mine. (ok ... so why did I post it? I don't know.)
Oh and, about being gifted: I don't think that something like that exists.
Is it possible that a deepening of your work has in fact occurred and you're too close to see it?
How about picking the best and the worst photo of every year you shot and posting them? :)