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Ian Grant
07-24-2010, 09:35 AM
Yes, it is quite a step too.

One of the things that becomes a struggle is that many of the critics around you (mostly other photographers) will be looking at your application of technical skills and rules. Most are studying your craftsmanship/technique, not your art. They will no longer be your audience.

Sharpness, lack of grain, perfect exposure, rule of thirds, blah, blah, blah...

Even in this thread you can see it in Salgado getting picked on for grain and sharpness.

The feedback you get will change markedly when you cross the line and start breaking rules.

Just remember Salgado is a success regardless of what we think of his style or choices.

Interesting points, I'm always looking to keep grain to a minimum, I don't like it in my own work neven when I shoot 35mm.

But I mentioned Salgado because having seen quite a bit of his work, in a Solo exhibition and other major shows, think that he's a photographer who's image making is based on a good use of craft so that despite being 35mm the works well even quite large. I guess I also put the type of work Sagado shoots in context with the work of others working in that sector.

To me Salgado's images hold up well individually but together as a body of work become even stronger (as Bob Carnie says as well).

About 20 years ago I saw a major Exhibition of Don McCullin's work at the RPS Gallery in Bath (UK). 2 photographers were nit-picking very close up about the technique & quality of the images, they didn't care at all that the images were of staving Biafran's or dead and wounded soldiers, they were emotionally dead as humans.

Ian

Peter Schrager
07-24-2010, 09:45 AM
In today's world it is few who take the time to master anything well
The Zen analogy is well taken;chop 500 cords of wood and you may become a master woodchopper...but there are no guarantees of that either
what may be learned is in the actual "doing"; that is what separates the master from the student
At some point there is a realization of coming into your own; it may take days,years or decades but it will happen if one is persistent
if one does not have a firm basis of the rudiments of craft there will be hope of mastering the art; please go and learn from the others who have gone before you by going to the museum or galleries and "seeing" their photographs
Best, Peter

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 09:55 AM
Again, linking art to a complete mastery of craft. Even suggesting that art is in the craft.
I cannot disagree more, i think.

How about (for starters) Ian's emotion?
(Biafra, Ian? Would that not date it quite a bit before 20 years ago?)


P.S.
Oh, what the heck?! I'll throw it out in the open: ;)

While a minimum of craft is required, no amount of mastery of any craft will transform you into a person with a fair grasp of reality and an ability to do and say something interesting.
Anyone who seeks art in the mastery of craft is wasting his or her time. Become a 'well rounded person' (to oversimplify), and you're half way there.

Ian Grant
07-24-2010, 10:13 AM
Again, linking art to a complete mastery of craft. Even suggesting that art is in the craft.
I cannot disagree more, i think.

How about (for starters) Ian's emotion?
(Biafra, Ian? Would that not date it quite a bit before 20 years ago?)


P.S.
Oh, what the heck?! I'll throw it out in the open: ;)

While a minimum of craft is required, no amount of mastery of any craft will transform you into a person with a fair grasp of reality and an ability to do and say something interesting.
Anyone who seeks art in the mastery of craft is wasting his or her time. Become a 'well rounded person' (to oversimplify), and you're half way there.


The McCullin Exhibition was a retrospective, right back to his earliest images through to Somerset landscapes.


There is Craft in Art, but craft itself doesn't make art. Craft is just the means, the mental application of the tools, creativity is something else.

So good craft is what you base creativity on top of, and expand from.

It's just luck otherwise with a far higher failure rate. Good understanding, knowledge and application of craft allows you to get the images regardless of the situation.


As to emotion, art is about putting you self, your soul and emotion into the creative process.


Craft and mastering it shouldn't be obsessive, with fims it's about nailing down personal film speeds, and developing times, knowing how to cope in higher/lower contrast situations, common sense choices of films for different circumstances, it's getting the best out of your materials, and being able to achieve what you want when you press the shutter to make an image - being confident it'll work.

Ian

jnanian
07-24-2010, 10:31 AM
i never understand why people insist that there is a craft to using a camera, processing + printing ... it is technique and skill.
once one understands the technique and modifies it to fit their own needs, and improvises, it becomes "art".

is it a "craft" because it is made by hand ?? sorry for my confusion ...

========

barry, it seems that you are getting close. once you have your technical "stuff"
running in the background and don't think about it, you will be able to "do what you want"

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 10:39 AM
i never understand why people insist that there is a craft to using a camera, processing + printing ... it is technique and skill.
once one understands the technique and modifies it to fit their own needs, and improvises, it becomes "art".

is it a "craft" because it is made by hand ?? sorry for my confusion ...


I think the confusion is not yours. (But you know that.)

It would appear that very many confuse being able to do something well and showing that they mastered a skill (craft) with art.
They are, of course, two entirely different things.

stradibarrius
07-24-2010, 11:03 AM
I think this is an excellent discussion!!!! Many great valid points being made. This what I hoped would happen.

zenrhino
07-24-2010, 11:13 AM
I messed around with cameras and techniques for years and years. Since I've finally decided on a format and method of working, I am finally able to really work on seeing.
juan

I think you hit it right on the head.

lxdude
07-24-2010, 11:32 AM
I actually feel like the simplcity of shooting with my newly aquired Rolleix has helped me walk across the bridge into the more artistic side. I am feeling with a fixed lens high qulality machine that gives me options I need, I no longer make the technical stuff a worry at all when I am shooting. I am just concerned about getting my visions painted onto the film. I will always be interested in the techinal stuff though as is naturally my nature with everything but I am now making art more than ever.

Patrick, my young friend, you have become wiser than some several times your age.:D

2F/2F
07-24-2010, 11:39 AM
I get what you are saying, but the way I see it, the amount of technique one needs to learn in order to get started with expressing concepts with the camera is minimal; much, much, much more minimal than almost any other artistic medium, IMO. The basic techniques take about a day to explain to a group of students (composing, how shutter speeds and apertures affect the picture, exposure, how light meters work and how to use them, focusing, depth of field). Then it is just a little practice, and you can start expressing concepts visually. The great (and terrible) thing about photography is that you can do a whole lot with it if you have just a little bit of very basic information.

So, I think there is an initial technical hurdle that takes just a little bit of understanding and practice, but after that, most of the visual vocabulary is complete, and there are just bits and pieces to learn as you go on practicing.

I believe "artistry" is mainly something that is a characteristic of a person, and has little to do with medium or technique. These things simply hone and focus ones artistry. I don't think that you can become an artist just because you start using a medium that is used for making art.

Bob Carnie
07-24-2010, 11:52 AM
I agree with this completely

I get what you are saying, but the way I see it, the amount of technique one needs to learn in order to get started with expressing concepts with the camera is minimal; much, much, much more minimal than almost any other artistic medium, IMO. The basic techniques take about a day to explain to a group of students (composing, how shutter speeds and apertures affect the picture, exposure, how light meters work and how to use them, focusing, depth of field). Then it is just a little practice, and you can start expressing concepts visually. The great (and terrible) thing about photography is that you can do a whole lot with it if you have just a little bit of very basic information.

So, I think there is an initial technical hurdle that takes just a little bit of understanding and practice, but after that, most of the visual vocabulary is complete, and there are just bits and pieces to learn as you go on practicing.

I believe "artistry" is mainly something that is a characteristic of a person, and has little to do with medium or technique. These things simply hone and focus ones artistry. I don't think that you can become an artist just because you start using a medium that is used for making art.

Ian Leake
07-24-2010, 02:49 PM
I suspect that it's harder to learn what you want to say, than it is to learn the technical skills which will enable you to say it.

Ian David
07-24-2010, 04:36 PM
I too think that 2F has hit the nail on the head. Perfection of craft/technique/skill, the making of 10000 negatives, etc, may certainly aid one's ability to make a certain kind of art or even art generally. But it is clearly possible to produce powerful photographic art with a limited or narrow technical mastery.

Often, I think, an obsession with technical mastery simply helps those of us who are not great artists to bridge the gap slightly, or at least allows us to pretend to ourselves that we are bridging the gap :D

Ian

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 06:28 PM
I too think that 2F has hit the nail on the head. Perfection of craft/technique/skill, the making of 10000 negatives, etc, may certainly aid one's ability to make a certain kind of art or even art generally. But it is clearly possible to produce powerful photographic art with a limited or narrow technical mastery.

Often, I think, an obsession with technical mastery simply helps those of us who are not great artists to bridge the gap slightly, or at least allows us to pretend to ourselves that we are bridging the gap :D

Ian

I'd still say that if you try to bridge the gap (even slightly), or even pretend to do so, by obsessing about technique, you are wasting your time.

Ian Leake
07-24-2010, 06:35 PM
I'd still say that if you try to bridge the gap (even slightly), or even pretend to do so, by obsessing about technique, you are wasting your time.

Well you should still strive to make the highest quality work you can. That way your technical skills will improve; and this will give you more options. But you shouldn't allow the search for technical skills to become the object of your work, which should should remain art making.

Ed Sukach
07-24-2010, 06:38 PM
Interesting discussion!!!

For ME ... I have given up the quest for "mastery" - of anything - a long time ago. I can't define, nor can I come up with any sort of concept of "mastery". After 10,000 images, or 100,000 - or ten - does some deity materialize out of thin air and write "Master of ..." on your forehead? Or do you experience some sort of mystical epiphany where a loud voice speaks the word "Master" to you?

Even if all this does happen - so what? Will you then be transferred into some sort of infallable... (searching here - I don't now of any beings on this earthly plane that are infallable).

I've been at this for a while. I honestly do not consider myself anywhere nearer to "mastery" than when I started ... and (brace yourselves...) I not only do not care, but I think additional effort to that end only saps my energy - energy that can be exerted in finding the areas and circumstances where "seeing" will be effortless and - more or less - automatic.

I remember one of the most informed people I've ever met - the Instructor in Psyche 101 - considered by his peers to be at the top of the pyramid - "I've been studying Psychology for more than thirty years. Recently I've begun to realize how little I know."

I DO photography. Every once in a while, I get a good one. There are enough of the good ones to make the entire effort worthwhile - more than enough.

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 06:40 PM
Well you should still strive to make the highest quality work you can. That way your technical skills will improve; and this will give you more options. But you shouldn't allow the search for technical skills to become the object of your work, which should should remain art making.

It will give you more options, but do nothing to your artistic skills.
Skill in using tools does not lead to artistry. That is drawn from something quite different entirely.

wclark5179
07-24-2010, 06:40 PM
When you are talking, do you have to think about the words you use, from the standpoint of pronouncing them, formulating the words & sentences, getting your point across? Get the picture? I believe you'll find most of us speak, especially in our native language, without thinking about it. Words can flow out of the mouth because we know the underlying way to pronounce them as well as the meaning, getting our point across. Most of us pay attention to other things, like gestures, when talking.

Same for photography. If I can get the basics down with people photography, so well it's a part of me like speaking and I see it just like we annunciate our words, then I can focus on other things, which to me, are more important. It takes a lot of work to get to that point. Are you up for it? It's not easy.

People feel they don't need to learn the basics anymore. I hear them say, "I can do my own thing, I will get the moment and record it!" Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Fix it in PS or the darkroom! Maybe luck will get you a photograph every once in while. I've found the old adage to be true, "the harder I work the luckier I get!" I'm always sharpening, honing my basics and technical skills but I don't do it with a client. Perhaps that's a little kernal of wisdom to take in as to why I'm still very busy.

At any rate, the basics are important, very important. How are you going to break the rules if someone doesn't know them in the first place?

MattKing
07-24-2010, 06:44 PM
Technique, form, equipment - they are all means that permit you to translate what you see and feel into a result. That result may indeed be art.

Even if the result isn't art, it certainly can be of value.

Ian Leake
07-24-2010, 06:46 PM
It will give you more options, but do nothing to your artistic skills.
Skill in using tools does not lead to artistry. That is drawn from something quite different entirely.

I completely agree. Your artistic skills develop from making art; and these are not the same as technical skills.