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markbarendt
07-24-2010, 06:48 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.

http://kottke.org/08/08/photographer-miroslav-tichy

Or not.

Ian Leake
07-24-2010, 06:50 PM
http://kottke.org/08/08/photographer-miroslav-tichy

Or not.

Miroslav Tichy was the exception that proves the rule ;)

Ian Leake
07-24-2010, 07:10 PM
Of course the level of technical skill you need depends on what you're trying to achieve. But if you want an audience then you'd better be good enough to satisfy them. (Tichy wasn't looking for an audience so he's a special case.)

For example, are your technical skills (exposure, development, printing, etc.) good enough to enable you to consistently make satisfying prints? And do they satisfy both you and your potential audience? If not, then you probably need to gain more technical skills. Or are there specific situations in which you'd like to be able to make something but currently can't? If there are, then it's probably worth learning some more technical skills.

But if the making is its own reward, or if both you and your audience are satisfied with what you make, then searching for more technical skills is at best an academic exercise and at worst a distraction.

markbarendt
07-24-2010, 08:34 PM
How have you discerned that Tichy wasn't looking for an audience/market/way to make a living off his art?

markbarendt
07-24-2010, 08:36 PM
...if both you and your audience are satisfied with what you make, then searching for more technical skills is at best an academic exercise and at worst a distraction.

Or a hobby. :)

I do agree with that thought, in a business sense.

Ian Leake
07-24-2010, 08:37 PM
How have you discerned that Tichy wasn't looking for an audience/market/way to make a living off his art?

I went to the Tichy exhibition in Frankfurt a couple of years ago. He was an archetypal loner, he made vast numbers of pictures but they were stored in boxes and never exhibited until very late in the day, he chased a journalist away with an axe.

Afterthought:

Just to clarify, by 'stored in boxes' I mean dumped any old how around his shack: in boxes, on the floor, and anywhere else that they fell.

After-afterthought:

His photos were fascinating and compulsive to look at. Here's what I said at the time:

http://www.apug.org/forums/forum56/48335-miroslav-tich-frankfurt-mmk.html

lxdude
07-24-2010, 08:54 PM
he chased a journalist away with an axe.


He may be a little nutty, but he's got his priorities straight!

phaedrus
07-24-2010, 10:45 PM
As 2F/2F says, there a very limited minimum set of skills needed to work in photography. Artists out of other fields take up photography all the time, often with results humbling the technique-enamoured amateur.
So, once you got the basics down pat, it's just a question about wanting to do art. There are creative techniques, too. Looking, hearing, feeling, experiencing artworks with the expectation of a synesthetic experience is one. Project work is another. This is, sadly, less often taught than technical skills. I suspect it's because no equipment sales come out of it ;)

Ian Grant
07-25-2010, 05:30 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 ...


Craft [Noun] - The skilled practice of a practical occupation

So in our terms John - Craft - is technique and skill (Craft [Verb] is the hand made bit, not really used that way in photography)

However it's still just craft as you learn & improve skills, and understand more, not everyone (any field) with good or even great craft is going to produce art.



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 the nail on the head here, and 2F/2F, Bob Carnie, etc's comments tie in and follow on.


The basic craft isn't difficult and it's quite simple, it's just having the discipline to learn how to get the best from one at the most two films initially, and a developer, and of course the equipment used.

This always starts with the negative because with a good negative you have the possibility of interpreting it in different ways in the darkroom.

There are international renowned artist/photographers who have worked that way for years, and a good example is John Blakemore who shoots only FP4 processed in ID-11 for his early landscapes and later still life work (5x4). He works differently with 35mm using HP5 but again in ID-11. A simple choice but John's honing of technique, choice of exposure & development gives him immense freedom to produce amazing work. (Worth listening to the Audio link on this page http://www.lensculture.com/blakemore.html#)

Salgado was working just as simply usually with one film Tri-X, now also 6x7 as well as 35mm, and I think his work was lab processed to his directions. He now shoots digital.

Two very different ways of working, and in John's case total mastery of the negative stage, which carries on through in his printing skills as well.



As 2F/2F says, there a very limited minimum set of skills needed to work in photography. Artists out of other fields take up photography all the time, often with results humbling the technique-enamoured amateur. So, once you got the basics down pat, it's just a question about wanting to do art. There are creative techniques, too. Looking, hearing, feeling, experiencing artworks with the expectation of a synesthetic experience is one. Project work is another. This is, sadly, less often taught than technical skills. I suspect it's because no equipment sales come out of it

Perhaps artists from other fields understand the importance of honing basic skills quickly, so they can get on with using the medium creatively.

The easiest way to learn to hone the core skills is on a workshop, a good one integrates the craft alongside the art/photography of a leading photographer with a separate course leader. In addition they usually incorporate discussion & examples of the other issues “phaedrus” mentions, like project work, methods of presentation, maybe sequencing, etc, as well as critique sessions of participants work. You can learn far more in 3-5 days on a workshop than possibly a year from books etc in isolation wasting time and materials.

Ian

archer
07-25-2010, 06:45 AM
Lucky accidents happen to unskilled people all the time. It is when you have mastered the craft, that the confidence to produce the "lucky accident", when it is elusive, ie "Moonrise Hernandez New Mexico", that separates the artist from the lucky amature. "Fortune favors the prepared mind."
Denise Libby

perkeleellinen
07-25-2010, 09:07 AM
In moving toward art, I think that technique is fluid and ever changing - not least because new materials are introduced and old ones are discontinued. But I do think it's possible to move from equipment to art and my experience is that once I stopped thinking that new stuff = better photos and rather started concentrating on getting the best out of what I had, I was able to become much more confident and perhaps even relegate technique and focus upon artistic form.

markbarendt
07-25-2010, 10:29 AM
I know it may be considered heresy, but it is important to remember that once we define the art we want to make (the product we expect), the craft of photography becomes nothing more than a means to an end, part of an assembly line, the creation of "lucky accidents" over and over again.

Weston had a style, Adams had a style, Picasso, Rembrandt, etcetera all defined a style then worked within it.

Wedding and portrait photographers do this all the time. In a given situation they do a, b, c and d and it works every time.

Example-
a - backlight your subject against a late afternoon sky
b - have them kiss or spin or whatever or just wait for "the moment"
c - shoot 400 speed C-41 film at 400 and f4
d - send it to the lab

(this a,b,c,d process is essentially Henri Cartier-Bresson's process)

If a wedding shooter has 8 or 10 of these setups, that is all the craft they need to know to reliably produce a very artistic product. There is no need for thought about the craft or process or style or DOF or blur, camera work becomes all about the composition and posing. For most setup's you don't even need a meter.

It doesn't require sticking with or knowing "just one film", Fuji and Kodak become fully interchangeable as does color and B&W, heck consumer films like Superia and Gold will work just fine in a pinch.

stradibarrius
07-25-2010, 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.

I think you are right. It takes less to get "started" of course there is mountains to learn about the equipment.
I have met guitar players that really don't care much about the "gear". They will have a preference, say a Fender over a Gibson but beyond that they just want to play and they will rock you back on your heels. Other players want to know every thing they can, theoretical as well as pratical some care really play and some are just gear guys. I think to your point 2F/2F, the artistry comes from the person obviously and not the gear. When I first started I thought that photography was more about learning to use the camera, lights, film and then you would be good but like everything else artistic, it comes from the inside of the person behind the camera. We can be gear chasers, but still not be a photographer. From another thread here I discovered Ralph Gibson and really like his work. According to what I read he only used a Leica and primes and it seems mostly available light so his gear and set up were not overly complicated but what results!
I am afraid that I have gained a fair amount of technical knowledge but lack the real vision that I want? Is that the way many of you feel as well?

markbarendt
07-25-2010, 04:40 PM
I am afraid that I have gained a fair amount of technical knowledge but lack the real vision that I want?

I don't know If I'd put it that way.

I would say I haven't finished defining my style. ;)

jnanian
07-25-2010, 04:51 PM
thanks ian
that explains a lot ..

john

Ian Leake
07-25-2010, 05:06 PM
I am afraid that I have gained a fair amount of technical knowledge but lack the real vision that I want

You could always try the traditional way: copy pictures. (I don't mean copy and pass off as your own, of course.) Choose a picture, study it for a while (5 or 10 minutes, perhaps more), ask yourself why it works and what it is that appeals to you, then make your own version. Repeat.

At some point you'll find that you prefer your versions to the originals, and you'll find your own style emerging. (Don't be disheartened if you don't reach this place for a while.) When you start to feel that you're exploring something important then repeat the exercise, but using your pictures as the starting point.

Don't limit yourself to photographs as inspiration. Look at some paintings or sculptures. Look at architecture and design. Look at the people around you. Look at clouds (Stieglitz's Equivalents). Do something daring that pushes you right outside your comfort zone. Stop listening to people who say that you're doing it wrong - if it feels right to you then it's right. Keep exploring.

Q.G.
07-25-2010, 05:18 PM
I wouldn't recommend the copy-cat school.

You get, perhaps not quicker, but more direct to where you want to be if you ponder for as long as it takes what it is you want to do using photography. And why photography?
Keep exploring, yes. But explore that, before even thinking about using a camera, i'd say.

Trying to find out what that something important is is much better than waiting for the moment you stumble across it while doing what not you, but other people do/did/have done.

Ian Leake
07-25-2010, 05:42 PM
All art is experiential - i.e. you can only understand it by experiencing it. This is true regardless of whether you are making it or are in the audience. In other words you've got to do it to learn it. And making art is exploratory. When you're exploring then, by definition, you can't know where you're going before you start. The best you can do is work out a plan for exploring efficiently and effectively. Then you have to start your exploration - and that means making pictures.

stradibarrius
07-25-2010, 07:45 PM
The suggestion of selecting others work that appeals to me and try to understand "why" I like seems as though it would help me decide what "my style" is or at least a point from which to start.

Ian Grant
07-26-2010, 01:16 AM
I wouldn't recommend the copy-cat school.

You get, perhaps not quicker, but more direct to where you want to be if you ponder for as long as it takes what it is you want to do using photography. And why photography?
Keep exploring, yes. But explore that, before even thinking about using a camera, i'd say.

Trying to find out what that something important is is much better than waiting for the moment you stumble across it while doing what not you, but other people do/did/have done.

Back in the 80's I went on a workshop with Paul Hill at Duckspool,.

A rather wealthy photographer (heir to the family fortune, had never worked) showed an immaculate portfolio, the pints were fantastic quality & composition except there was nothing of him in the images. He'd done one Ansel Adams style, another Cartier Bresson and so on, he was torn to shteds.

Photography (or any art form) is all about achieving your own personal style.

Ian