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Alden
12-31-2007, 07:41 PM
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.

Ole
12-31-2007, 07:51 PM
I work only to please myself - photographically, at least.

But my "acid test" is whether my pictures also please my wife! If they do, they are ready for a wider audience - like the APUG galleries and print exchanges. Thinking about styles, influences and so on will only lead to "cramped" pictures. I do the best work when I only work from the "hm - that looks nice" principle.

In a way it's similar to my other form of artistic expression: I'm a singer. I don't sing rock, and rarely jazz. Am I any less (or more) of a singer because I'm classically trained and sing classical music?

Alden
12-31-2007, 09:06 PM
Yet I'm not sure my instincts," hmm, that looks nice," have not calcified.

As for singing, it would be hard to consider hip hop as a progression, yet it is. As a classical singer, you are probably skilled, and this craft is most likely prized by your listeners, but it cannot be considered a living language. Of course you are not less of a singer, but neither are you advancing the song form.

I apologize. This seems a bit coarse to use your example. My own concern is that without new ideas, I may be imitating a broken record. We can really only answer this question for ourselves, but while its cold outside and I'm in a forum sort of way, I thought I'd fish the internet seas for thoughts.

Thanks for yours.

rorye
12-31-2007, 09:39 PM
Great questions. Although it's important to me to keep up with current ideas and techniques I seem to inevitably fall back to my own style when I set about shooting. It's ingrained. Of course, like most of us it is heavily influenced by many artists. I couldn't take a contemporary photograph for my own pleasure even if I tried. I'm quite happy mining my own territory while very much enjoying the work of other more contemporary artists.
Is it possible that a deepening of your work has in fact occurred and you're too close to see it? I think sometimes we progress as time goes on and don't necessarily recognize it.
It also seems that we can take a lot of beautiful yet similar photographs, then something from a particular image will just jump out and make it a bit more special. I guess that's what keeps us going?
Incidentally, I'm only referring to my personal work here. At work I shoot whatever I'm asked to, however they want it to look :)
Best,
Rory

Alden
12-31-2007, 10:11 PM
Is it possible that a deepening of your work has in fact occurred and you're too close to see it? I think sometimes we progress as time goes on and don't necessarily recognize it.


I certainly hope something more than print quality has evolved, but the fact that I don't know points to my older way of thinking. Intuition. The contemporary bent has the conceptual agenda. You think of an idea, project, choose the appropriate materials, execute, then evaluate. Much like a commercial assignment. This is the art school influence, the Duchamp stamp of approval that looms large over my foggy feelings. I suppose I'm just worried that I'm making cliches. The avalance of new works, and I look at alot of it, has left me feeling a bit fuddy....duddy.

JJC
12-31-2007, 11:00 PM
Rorye makes a good point about personal work. I am pulled, twisted and turned in so many other facets in life that the opportunity to please myself only and keep a permanent record of it has come to play a role in soothing my emotional well-being. Not a stodgy corner, but a sanctum of sorts. I don't mean this to sound like discouragement or exclusion of branching out and exploring, but I see nothing wrong with finding a place or activity where you can be true to your own preferences, at least when you are doing your own work.
If you do not seek the recognition of others, and you are not being paid to create according to someone elses wishes, go ahead and please yourself! You don't owe anyone the right to bend your style or concept of beauty under those circumstances.

Shawn Dougherty
12-31-2007, 11:30 PM
I please myself FIRST, and hope that everything else falls into place. If so, people will respond. If not, at least I'm satisfied. I get so much out of the work... for me it's about exploring - visual relationships, locations, details, feelings, ideas, the medium itself. If you're not excited about what you're doing how can you expect others to be moved by what you produce? Yes, please yourself and hopefully that doesn't mean ONLY yourself.

MurrayMinchin
01-01-2008, 02:35 AM
Yet I'm not sure my instincts," hmm, that looks nice," have not calcified.


Ahhh, Alden ... just asking that question means you haven't ossified!!! Any artist, at any level of development who doesn't question themselves and everything they do with their art, is truly dead in the water.

Even if you haven't pushed your photographic self expression boundaries in several decades, being willing to question the very foundation stones of what and who you are as as an image maker can only open new doors of discovery. Eegad, but I've had a bit too much wine tonight :) :) :)

Oh, and just because nobody else has exploited the subject matter you photograph the most doesn't mean what you do is meaningless. I know this for a fact as nobody with a name has ever photographed on the north coast of BC, and I'm pretty sure there's more than a few "keepers" out there ;)

HAPPY NEW YEAR.......hic!

Murray

Vaughn
01-01-2008, 03:17 AM
Please oneself first -- and that can mean keeping one's eyes and ears open to what is going on in the photographic/art world, too. But then I work at a university, taking care of the teaching darkroom...I am surrounded by the stuff. It all seems normal to me, but most of it is just interesting and not something I immeadiately feel I need to incorperate into my own work...for the lack of a better description, I am just another tall bearded West Coast photographer. I am learning and enjoying my experience.

Vaughn

PS...Murray I work mostly in the Redwoods...Ansel, Weston, Bullock have wandered thru in their time and have photographed under these trees. But somehow it is different living here and working under them for so many years. What an opportunity to explore the northern coast of BC you have! Must be wonderful!

cahayapemburu
01-01-2008, 03:50 AM
We photographers often speak of our work, and when we do, we reference this photograph or that, but I think the work of any artist is internal, and lies in wrenching his ego and prying his want of recognition and approval free from that part of his character that is unique to himself, and in finding the courage to express it, and the willingness to fail, over and over, and to find inspiration and redemption in those failures that are ours alone. What we call our work might better be termed the manifestations of our work, and a record of our progress along that difficult path towards an earnest expression of our truest selves. If we give in to that ever present temptation to express only that part of ourselves illuminated by our virtue and decency, we have accepted defeat, and embraced mediocrity. We'll know this defeat by the admiration of our offerings by a wide audience, and our successes by an intense emotional and intellectual discomfort. As photographers, we should be acutely aware that pure light is formless, and given meaning by a palette of shadow and darkness. Don't be afraid of the dark.

doughowk
01-01-2008, 05:17 AM
My photographs are a reflection of what I respond to in both life and others' artistic creations. I may try to be open to new ways of thinking & viewing; but I don't force myself to appreciate what others find as valuable. If it doesn't grab me, it doesn't influence me.

eddym
01-01-2008, 06:13 AM
We photographers often speak of our work, and when we do, we reference this photograph or that, but I think the work of any artist is internal, and lies in wrenching his ego and prying his want of recognition and approval free from that part of his character that is unique to himself, and in finding the courage to express it, and the willingness to fail, over and over, and to find inspiration and redemption in those failures that are ours alone. What we call our work might better be termed the manifestations of our work, and a record of our progress along that difficult path towards an earnest expression of our truest selves. If we give in to that ever present temptation to express only that part of ourselves illuminated by our virtue and decency, we have accepted defeat, and embraced mediocrity. We'll know this defeat by the admiration of our offerings by a wide audience, and our successes by an intense emotional and intellectual discomfort. As photographers, we should be acutely aware that pure light is formless, and given meaning by a palette of shadow and darkness. Don't be afraid of the dark.
Wow. You have summed up what I believe about art better than I ever have. I would like to take the liberty of saving your comments for future inspiration.

eddym
01-01-2008, 06:15 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.
An article by David Gates in this week's "Newsweek" addresses this issue, and I found his comments quite interesting:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/81583

SuzanneR
01-01-2008, 06:26 AM
Working to "please myself" isn't quite what I am after. Rather, I try to stay true to myself. Pleasing myself can be too hard... I'm often discouraged by my work, and not pleased with it.

But I can't seem to stop making photographs, despite those frustrations. And having gone through those painful moments of doubt, I think my work has improved over the last year. Of course, I don't want to jinx myself, as I am sure I will go through a bout of doubt and frustration again. And I often look at more contemporary work when I am feeling that way. It offers me questions and ideas to push through those doubts.

With any luck it will lead to work that satisfies, and rings true to me. And hopefully,the work will resonate with viewers, too.

Ian Leake
01-01-2008, 06:34 AM
I make photos to primarily please myself, although of course I hope other people will like my work and Iím thrilled when they do. Undoubtedly this influences me, as does the artistic environment around me, but I think itís rather shallow to consciously chase fads and fashion.

jnanian
01-01-2008, 06:36 AM
i please myself first and if others like
what i do, it is a bonus.

and sometimes i have to please my clients ....

catem
01-01-2008, 07:00 AM
Good questions, Alden.

I do take pictures primarily to please or satisfy myself - that's what motivates me. But also in taking pictures I hope to communicate, so some sort of feeling of recognition from other people feels vital too, by which I mean a 'connection' rather than public recognition or 'success' - very much in inverted commas here - but I 'm not saying either that I'm totally disinterested in wider recognition - just that I don't seek it very much, or haven't done yet, so it's obviously not THAT important to me. Ultimately I can't be bothered expending the energy on that side of things, and would always prefer to be getting on with it... I'm someone who needs an agent, or an assistant, in that regard! (I've always been like this, possibly it's a failing... But I hope to at least finish a fuller website in the near future). Public recognition is in any case a fickle beast - and not something I trust, or value unduly.

As for feeling a little out of the current.....I know that feeling, and I guess anyone who works in this day and age in film and in black and white will tend to feel that way. But... it's what I want to do at the moment, and so I'm sticking with it, though I never would say 'for ever' for anything, and will I hope ALWAYS be prepared to move on and change artistically if I feel drawn to do so. I think you have to do what you feel comfortable with, forcing rarely works or is worth it, UNLESS you do really feel stuck and dissatisfied with what you are doing you have to make yourself try something new, and strike out of your comfort zone. But feeling maybe you 'ought' to change, because of outside forces, without really wishing it within yourself, is something that I think should be ignored.

As for the conceptual emphasis of modern art and photography - I am interested in it, but a lot of it has become fashionable and vacuous. I think there are ideas present in my photos, but I would say it all comes from the heart, and it's only after or in the midst of taking photos that I realise what I've been doing, and where it comes from. Then I can pull it together a bit. My 'personal work' IS very personal, and this may not work so much for a more distanced approach.

I don't think you can separate concepts and intuition, or certainly not in my case.

If there's enough of 'you' in what you do, whatever it is and whatever approach you take, it will work, and is worth doing.

Alden
01-01-2008, 09:41 AM
Thanks to all of you for these wise words. I'm very gratified to find this forum where the interior tumult is not shunned. I have in the past brought up conflicting thoughts to other more materials oriented sites and the hatred of going near doubt set them off like a flock of ducks.

To be honest I am in the regretful fifities now, and have seen alot of oppourtunity pass me by. I indulged my inner whims ( and outer party animal ) maybe a little too much, so what you have here now is whats known as overcompensation. I still feel that I " coulda been a contenda " instead of a bum.... "

We're not all called, not all aggressively competitive, not all filled with a mission to show others our critical cause. Myself, I just love photography, and I'm still struggling to understand that thats enough. I admire too much the work of others, then use it to bash my head in. Tragically stupid, but the result of having blown an education, and a thousand chances in NY, LA, Seattle, and everywhere in between. Pardon me if this is tooooo sad, but
I really need to get to the next level and accept where I am. I appreciate your thoughts very much.

catem
01-01-2008, 10:13 AM
To be honest I am in the regretful fifities now, and have seen alot of oppourtunity pass me by. I indulged my inner whims ( and outer party animal ) maybe a little too much, so what you have here now is whats known as overcompensation. I still feel that I " coulda been a contenda " instead of a bum.... "

We're not all called, not all aggressively competitive, not all filled with a mission to show others our critical cause. Myself, I just love photography, and I'm still struggling to understand that thats enough. I admire too much the work of others, then use it to bash my head in. Tragically stupid, but the result of having blown an education, and a thousand chances in NY, LA, Seattle, and everywhere in between. Pardon me if this is tooooo sad, but
I really need to get to the next level and accept where I am. I appreciate your thoughts very much.

Julia Margaret Cameron took her first photograph at age 47...

You are only in your fifties? Surely there's room and time for anything you want - so it's a matter of deciding what that is, but not feeling it's 'too late' for anything? No time like the present...

Ian Leake
01-01-2008, 10:32 AM
I believe that Cy DeCosse (http://www.johnstevenson-gallery.com/decosse_2007/decosse_2007_tn.html) was in his eighties when he was discovered.