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Ulrich Drolshagen
04-09-2008, 01:45 PM
Ari,

I'd much like to be in a state of having your problem. I am still doing the 101 stuff right now. Nevertheless may I dare to suggest you finding other visual artist (or may be even performing artists) who are *not* photographers to talk about your pictures and your goals of expression?
In my opinion photographers are too near to each other in their means of expression to be of real help to each other on your advanced level.
Photographers, especially amateurs, seem to tend to be somewhat technically biased in their visual perception. The best they can offer is something you already know. In the worst case they lead you to some standardization in style instead of helping you establishing and enhancing your own.

Ulrich

Postscriptum:

I once saw a movie about the life of George Gershwin. There was a scene with Maurice Ravel. Gershwin wanted Ravel to teach him composition. Ravel rejected him as a student with the question: "Why do you want to become a 2nd grade Ravel instead of being a 1st class Gershwin?"

Ed Sukach
04-09-2008, 01:57 PM
Postscriptum:

I once saw a movie about the life of George Gershwin. There was a scene with Maurice Ravel. Gershwin wanted Ravel to teach him composition. Ravel rejected him as a student with the question: "Why do you want to become a 2nd grade Ravel instead of being a 1st class Gershwin?"

Yeah! Like that!!

keithwms
04-09-2008, 03:05 PM
I once saw a movie about the life of George Gershwin. There was a scene with Maurice Ravel. Gershwin wanted Ravel to teach him composition. Ravel rejected him as a student with the question: "Why do you want to become a 2nd grade Ravel instead of being a 1st class Gershwin?"

There is a variation on this story involving Schoenberg. Gershwin asked Schoenberg to take him as a student and Schoenberg said something like "I'd only make you a second-rate Schoenberg, but you are a good Gershwin already."

I don't know why Gershwin would have asked Ravel for help, the contrary is more likely. Ravel's final piano concerto was written heavily under the influence of Gershwin. Gershwin pulled a number of people through into jazzy/bluesy American influenced post-classical music, including even Rachmaninoff.

middy
04-09-2008, 03:20 PM
Ari, compositionally and aesthetically I quite like your photos. Most of them don't move me much beyond that.

Perhaps you should be more concerned with what you want to say than how to say it.

arigram
04-09-2008, 03:34 PM
Ari, compositionally and aesthetically I quite like your photos. Most of them don't move me much beyond that.

Perhaps you should be more concerned with what you want to say than how to say it.

That's something serious to think about, even though I am not sure what you really mean as I rarely have to say anything beyond the photograph itself.

Ed Sukach
04-09-2008, 03:51 PM
Ari, compositionally and aesthetically I quite like your photos. Most of them don't move me much beyond that.
Perhaps you should be more concerned with what you want to say than how to say it.
Naturally, we all must be concerned with *everything* moving middy.

Brings to mind the line from Rickie Nelson's "Garden Party":

"You can't please everyone - So you've got to please yourself."

Ulrich Drolshagen
04-09-2008, 03:54 PM
There is a variation on this story involving Schoenberg. Gershwin asked Schoenberg to take him as a student and Schoenberg said something like "I'd only make you a second-rate Schoenberg, but you are a good Gershwin already."

I don't know why Gershwin would have asked Ravel for help, the contrary is more likely. Ravel's final piano concerto was written heavily under the influence of Gershwin. Gershwin pulled a number of people through into jazzy/bluesy American influenced post-classical music, including even Rachmaninoff.

I do not remember who made that film. May be the script writer thought, most of the audience will know who Ravel is but who is Schoenberg?

Ulrich

middy
04-09-2008, 04:40 PM
That's something serious to think about, even though I am not sure what you really mean as I rarely have to say anything beyond the photograph itself.

That's OK. I'm not really sure what I mean either. :D

keithwms
04-09-2008, 05:41 PM
...I rarely have to say anything beyond the photograph itself.

But you are already saying some thing(s) with your photographs. Even if you attempt to be a passive, purely observational photographer. Right?

Let me try to be more concrete.

In your photographs Venice I and II, I see a thematic emphasis on an architectural bow(?) structure that to me quite strongly evokes the Viking ships, and that adventurous spirit. Those bows present a scythe-like fierceness/bravery to the sea, which even now in Venice is sometimes a thing to be feared.

We could ask what other 'takes" on those boats you could have done. You could have explored the relationship of people to the boats; you could have focused on the passengers or the oarsman/punter(?); you could have focused on the waterways or the waves or..... But instead you focused on this rather architectural detail on the bow. By targeting that aspect in your composition, you do say something about what you felt important in the scene.

Two lovely and evocative photographs, I'd say. You are saying something with them. Do you recognize what it is?

glbeas
04-09-2008, 05:56 PM
My first piece of advice is to look beyond the photography and take some art classes or get some good books to read on lighting and the effects of light on the subject. If you have ever studied the great masters of painting you will have seen some of what I'm referring to. After all the image is light and shadow mixed with the cultural and emotional responses to the subject. If you know what you want to shoot you need to know how to bring out the image in a meaningful way.
I found a book at the local library once called something like "Twice Reflected Light" or something along those lines and it was a revelation in how the light and it's environment affects each other. I haven't been able to find it again, I'd love to have a copy as a permanent addition to my library.
Once you know the light you may find you are getting what you want or will know more of what you want to do with your photography.
Good Luck!

arigram
04-09-2008, 06:05 PM
In your photographs Venice I and II, I see a thematic emphasis on an architectural bow(?) structure that to me quite strongly evokes the Viking ships, and that adventurous spirit. Those bows present a scythe-like fierceness/bravery to the sea, which even now in Venice is sometimes a thing to be feared.

There is always a reason why I go for a specific composition, perspective, subject, printing, etc but it is usually visual. I try not to intellectualize my photography as it would lose its value. Words are words and photographs are photographs. Even when the subject is photoreportage, the weight is always on the visual side, not the wordy side, otherwise its not a photograph, its an uninteresting visual accompaniment to the text. Very few of my photographs are preplanned and when they are, the visual conversation with what I see on the finder often changes the original idea.
Since you mentioned Venice, the city has a special significance for me, being from Crete. The island of Crete was under venetian rule for four and half centuries (1200 to mid 1600) and there many monuments of their power left in cretan cities; the Venetian Lion of the Serenissima is everywhere. Yet, when I visited, I let that go. I let the city with its shapes and forms to dictate my photography. The ferro of the gondola is just an icon symbol which when I came upon it, I had to investigate many approaches to find ones that pleased me visually. So, it was more of a visual shape to me than really a historical or geographical reference.

arigram
04-09-2008, 06:16 PM
My first piece of advice is to look beyond the photography and take some art classes or get some good books to read on lighting and the effects of light on the subject. If you have ever studied the great masters of painting you will have seen some of what I'm referring to. After all the image is light and shadow mixed with the cultural and emotional responses to the subject. If you know what you want to shoot you need to know how to bring out the image in a meaningful way.
I found a book at the local library once called something like "Twice Reflected Light" or something along those lines and it was a revelation in how the light and it's environment affects each other. I haven't been able to find it again, I'd love to have a copy as a permanent addition to my library.
Once you know the light you may find you are getting what you want or will know more of what you want to do with your photography.
Good Luck!

I have studied art (if you look at my biography in the website), both western and eastern and even though they made a deep impression upon the way I see the world (especially eastern), I find that their influence upon my photography is minimal.
Drawing is another form of expression I use and one that predates my photography by decades and so I usually see photographs as drawings and that's why I have chosen black and white.
At the same time, the creation of a photograph is a completely different affair than that of a drawing and has some important characteristics that I try never to forget:
1) A photograph is made in an instant. A drawing, even a quick one, needs more time
2) A photograph needs physical objects, a drawing can be completely made up
3) You can't redo a photograph (neither can you a drawing really, but its more complex).

The reason I asked in this thread for a Teacher, someone to spend some time with me, understand my place and help me grow from there, is that I am not interested in general advice and tips, but something more tailored to my struggles.
I hope it doesn't sound pretentious or ungrateful, but I feel there is too much confusion and I can't get no relief...

glbeas
04-09-2008, 06:21 PM
Good reply, an idea of your background is essential to be able to know what a person can help you with. Sounds like a good one too but I don't know if you are sucessfully crossing your learning into the photographic vision. Is that the kind of thing you are wanting a mentor for, not the technical side?

arigram
04-09-2008, 06:23 PM
Good reply, an idea of your background is essential to be able to know what a person can help you with. Sounds like a good one too but I don't know if you are sucessfully crossing your learning into the photographic vision. Is that the kind of thing you are wanting a mentor for, not the technical side?

Anything I can get.
Honestly, I just need to grow from where I am
and both technical and aesthetics need work.

Thomas Bertilsson
04-09-2008, 07:35 PM
A couple of thoughts:

A. I find Suzanne's suggestion to 'organize' the photography you make appealing. I am currently in the process of developing portfolios (a never ending project it seems), but it causes me to photograph 'purposely' certain subjects and that is helping me tremendously to develop my vision! The organizational part helps me explain better to myself what it is that I am doing. I find that after doing it for a while, I know exactly what I want when I get a chance to make photographs. Pick a theme if you don't already have one, make one up. Mine are: transportation, abstraction, solitude, and a couple of others. The themes are either emotional or about the subject matter entirely.

2. It has helped me a lot to seek out photographers who's work I admire. I will not mention their names here because it would be to promise on their behalf to help out, and I cannot do that. But it is indeed amazing how many of them are willing and interested to help! I am getting honest feedback that is completely objective. It was as simple as visiting their web sites, finding their contact info and sending them an email. It has been incredibly educational and rewarding. Now all that remains is to take all that advice and turn it into great photographs... :)

There is hope, Obi-Wan.

- Thomas

jmcd
04-09-2008, 07:35 PM
Something I have found helpful: try to see as much excellent photography as you can, first actual prints when possible. Second, high quality books that have excellent photographs, such as those by Harry Callahan, from a broad range of the spectrum.

Keep working at the same time. Your work will grow in context.

I studied and then assisted with a retired photography professor. Over the years he had traded and collected a considerable vault of images. One thing we did, at his instruction, was sit around for hours looking at photographs. Of course he had a story for every one. This is something like Zen and the Art of Photography. Maybe a print exchange would be part of this course.

For me—spend more time working and looking at prints than thinking and organizing.

glbeas
04-09-2008, 07:47 PM
One thing I've heard of and tried is to shoot outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes even finding the limits of your comfort zone can be telling.
Tell us about your comfort zone, if you know it well. I've got to take off to eat, wife is starving and on the way home.

Struan Gray
04-10-2008, 03:20 AM
Honestly, I just need to grow from where I am

I think you know where you are. The problem is to define 'grow'.

To me, your work says that you are a competent photographer, taking photographs that look like other photographs. For some, 'grow' would mean to start making work that more closely reflects your personal circumstances. For others, 'grow' would mean to lose the inhibitions of the all-in-focus, single-main-subject school and develop a looser, more expressionist style. For others still, 'grow' would mean to polish and refine what you have to the point where it can compete and win in international salons.

So, in five years time, where would you like your photography to be? Hanging in people's homes? On the cover of Newsweek? Vogue? Or on the walls of the Getty and the Met?

There are no rules. There is no hierarchy. The only person you should allow to decide is yourself.

arigram
04-10-2008, 05:10 AM
One thing I've heard of and tried is to shoot outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes even finding the limits of your comfort zone can be telling.
Tell us about your comfort zone, if you know it well. I've got to take off to eat, wife is starving and on the way home.

Comfort Zone? I am not sure if I have any.
I have a bit of an apprehension approaching people on the street for photographs, especially ones that they would mind (beggars, junkies, etc) and sometimes my shyness gets the better of me, but like I've written before it is my focus and personal struggle and fighting with it since I first picked up a camera.
Subject matter, I don't do landscapes, because I find them not interesting to me, but I try once in a while to find something unique.
Cameras? I usually carry my Hasselblad everywhere and in places people would afraid to have such a camera, but I've shot with everything, from the cheapest compact I could get, Holga, 35mm SLR and now I am learning a pinhole. I have also ordered a Rolleiflex to help me with the street photos.
I like the square, but I've shot a lot with the 35mm rectangle and I would love an extreme panoramic camera if I had the money for it and the enlarger.
I don't mind out of focus, blurring, cut off details, lost highlights and shadow detail, weird compositions, etc. Not only I don't mind, but often I specifically go for those, even more lately.
I also like experiments in the darkroom with blurring filters, dodging and burning, lith, polarization, toning, anything really.
I don't do montages, because I can draw, so they are useless to my "vision".

If I have a style of photography I love more than anything else, that would be of Magnum photographers, which as style is varied, but it has that gutsy, photoreportage I love.

arigram
04-10-2008, 10:11 AM
Anyway, I have put all my photographic projects on hold at the moment.
I am kinda of a mess lately and need to clean up a bit before I move on.