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thanos
07-26-2010, 02:49 AM
Photography (or any art form) is all about achieving your own personal style.


Nothing more true than that. In my Photoshop class I see every year people trying to imitate the style they see on the ads. It's a great shock for them when later in the year they realize that ironed images and flawless smooth skin is not art on itself. From that point on they sort of "reboot" themselves to a new brain. Then they start to "destroy" and reconstruct their images to something new, until they realize that other people have done this and even better. Then they "reboot" to a new version of themselfs and so goes the circle on and on until they "mature" but several years after they have finished the class.

thanos
07-26-2010, 03:12 AM
Like so many things that are a combination of skills, you initially struggle with the technical aspect of the art form.
...
I hope that I am about to make that next step in my effort to create photographs that I truly like...the step where I am able to concentrate on the end results and not my gear.


Since art cannot exist in a vacuum I believe the proponent and even the mature artist should carefully consider the critique of peers and people he respects. I'm not talking about mentors here as I believe the OP started the discussion refering to a level beyond formal education, even though mature artists do consider other artists as mentors, too.
Someone in this thread mentioned the "Equivalents" of Steiglitz. This series was Steiglitz's reaction to a critique that he was capable of producing strong "people" photos only. So for the next several years he was the first to introduce abastract art in the photography domain by means of photographing clouds. But, he did not just turn his camera to the sky and started clicking. He was worried that the orthochromatic emulsions he used didn't reproduce exactly his vision (that's the technical part) and also that he wanted the poetic nature of the pictures to come through so that Bloch would exclaim "This is music!" (that's the artistic part).

So, I believe personal progress except tools mastery is also a product of the artist's reaction to sincere critique of his/her work. And by this I do not mean the comments below photos that show up on popular photo sites.
One should pick his critics as carefully as his photographs.

Ian Leake
07-26-2010, 03:36 AM
Photography (or any art form) is all about achieving your own personal style.


I'd say it's more about communicating with others, but your personal style is fundamental to this so I'm splitting hairs ;)


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.


I think we're talking about slightly different things here. Robotically copying a style is not the same thing as learning through copying (at least in my mind it isn't). With the former you're consciously (or sub-consciously) trying to see through the eyes of a master (How would Ansel compose this picture?). With the latter you're using another picture as a starting point for exploration.

As you explore, if you keep asking yourself what works for me and what doesn't (the "for me" is really important), and if you apply the results of that questioning to your next pictures, then you will find that the pictures you make will soon start to diverge from the master's and your style will emerge.

We worship originality to such an extent that we sometimes seem to expect new artists to appear on the scene perfectly formed, already with sparkling originality. (IMO, this has led us directly to the shallow rubbish that the art schools churn out.) But this is an entirely unreasonable expectation.

Take Edward Weston, for example. He didn't arrive like some revolutionary leader, already perfectly formed. Neither did he have an epiphany moment and transform himself overnight. He started out as a pictorialist - making pictures in the accepted style of the day. But he continually questioned what he was making and what he saw around him, and thus re-shaped his work into something new and revolutionary. In my opinion, his genius was in his continual questioning, his willingness to explore, and his obsession, rather than in his undoubted technical skills.

sun of sand
07-28-2010, 05:09 PM
the gear should never factor into it if you truly care about creating photographs till youre already doing so

lots of people say you should start out with the be

phooey
garbage
nonsense

markbarendt
07-29-2010, 06:33 AM
Since art cannot exist in a vacuum I believe the proponent and even the mature artist should carefully consider the critique of peers and people he respects.

I've heard this over and over and over, and I don't buy it.

I do many artistic things that are banal, transitory, and meant just for me.

Some are as simple as dishing up dinner, taking a picture of my wife, or building a sand castle. Where "I" am the whole audience, no other opinions matter.

I know some people might suggest that that dishing up dinner isn't art.

I'd also bet that any great chef would give you an earful if you disparaged the art of meal presentation as simply throwing food on the plate.

What can't happen in a vacuum is earning a living off art.

It is only when we expect to profit from our art and fit into "the market" that external opinions begins to matter.

It could be easily argued that personal art, made in a vacuum, is actually more pure, special, and important.

If that personal work happens to find a market, that's just gravy.

thanos
07-29-2010, 09:55 AM
What can't happen in a vacuum is earning a living off art.



Well, I like to relate art and the way of self expression with self improvement, not money. In that sense I always believed that a carefully selected critic(s) will improve and inspire an artist instead of make his/her product more marketable.
Often I see an external critique from a person I trust as a yardstick for my personal improvement as an artist.
If I ever add money to the equation then perhaps I'll choose a different critic.

markbarendt
07-29-2010, 09:35 PM
Often I see an external critique from a person I trust as a yardstick for my personal improvement as an artist.
If I ever add money to the equation then perhaps I'll choose a different critic.

Let me use an example to illustrate my point.

Right now I have an idea that I'm working on for a series of themed painted works.

The idea is fully formed, I know exactly what I want to end up with.

I don't need help with my vision for the project, I am the audience.

What I don't know is how to do it. I need to learn Impasto techniques. I need help and practice to learn how to mix oil paints and move the paint around to get what I want.

The only criticism I need or want is on how I use the tools and materiels. I flat don't care if anybody else likes the style at this point. I want a teacher for the craft.

If they turn out special I may ask some friends what they think. The only reasons I'd be asking is to either 1-get my ego stroked or 2-determine if they have any commercial possibilities. I just don't see any other reason to bother getting critiqued.

clayne
07-29-2010, 09:49 PM
I just don't see any other reason to bother getting critiqued.

Seriously you can't see any beneficial reason to having someone of more experience critique your work? Work that you are effectively a novice in and may want to learn how to improve on?

markbarendt
07-30-2010, 06:28 AM
Seriously you can't see any beneficial reason to having someone of more experience critique your work? Work that you are effectively a novice in and may want to learn how to improve on?

Yes seriously.

Why in the world would I (or you) want to modify my (or your) artistic vision?

All I can think of is money or ego.

Now the technique and craft I need to accomplish this sure I want help with, but I don't care one whit what about what my teachers think of the idea.

I don't want to be an apprentice or mimic or be tainted by others artistic visions.

Ian Leake
07-30-2010, 06:54 AM
Yes seriously.
Why in the world would I (or you) want to modify my (or your) artistic vision?


All artists evolve over time as they discover new things, and as they absorb new influences.

One way of allowing yourself to grow as an artist is to listen to constructive critique from people who've followed the path before you.

Of course each artist's path is different, but constructive critique can help you clarify your choices - either by accepting or rejecting it.

Critique starting with the word, "why," can also help you to understand your motives and your path.

stradibarrius
07-30-2010, 07:15 AM
Being involved in the music business I see this conflict a lot. Musicians want to write and perform certain types of music and the public wants to hear something different. Some work is to please your artistic sensibilities and other work has to please the public IF there is a financial interest. If you want to make a living at your artistic work you may have to do both. If money is not a factor then you can do exactly as YOU please.

keithwms
07-30-2010, 07:20 AM
Yes seriously.

Why in the world would I (or you) want to modify my (or your) artistic vision?

All I can think of is money or ego.

I don't think it's a matter of modifying your artistic vision. Those with artistic vision will simply refine it over time. And those without artistic vision won't gain it by following some critic or formula.

To me, at its core, photography is a communicative act. I wouldn't do it otherwise.

Ian Grant
07-30-2010, 09:35 AM
It's more about tightening up and honing that vision with the feedback you get with a critique session, maybe expanding it as well. A good workshop critique session should also be a two way thing, with the photographer sharing his thoughts and possible areas concern etc.

Ian

Mainecoonmaniac
07-30-2010, 10:04 AM
It's almost like an aspiring writer trying to master grammar and poetic structure then masters both. But the toughest part is to fine one's own voice and offering something to the world that is completely original and one's own. What I've learned so far is do work just for the joy of it, not for money nor fame. Also, don't let critics derail you from your path of self discovery through one's art. I also find reading about artist's lives and looking and their work to find that thread sheds some light on the process. As an artist I don't think this path will ever end, but enjoy the journey.

wclark5179
07-30-2010, 10:14 AM
"one's own voice and offering something to the world that is completely original and one's own."

What if people, most of the time, don't listen to you?

Should art be a mirror to what is happening in the world?

Suggest viewing the movie, "Smash His Camera!" It shows different opinions from people who think they know art. Do they know art? Is his photography "snaps"? Or is there more to the photographs?

Here is a page where you can view articles on the movie:

http://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Smash+His+Camera&p1=%5bNewsVertical+Category%3d%22rt_Entertainment% 22%5d&FORM=EWRE&qpvt=Smash+His+Camera

Does art become more arty after the artist dies?

Interesting, don't you think?

Mainecoonmaniac
07-30-2010, 10:31 AM
"one's own voice and offering something to the world that is completely original and one's own."

What if people, most of the time, don't listen to you?

Should art be a mirror to what is happening in the world?

Suggest viewing the movie, "Smash His Camera!" It shows different opinions from people who think they know art. Do they know art? Is his photography "snaps"? Or is there more to the photographs?

Here is a page where you can view articles on the movie:

http://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Smash+His+Camera&p1=%5bNewsVertical+Category%3d%22rt_Entertainment% 22%5d&FORM=EWRE&qpvt=Smash+His+Camera

Does art become more arty after the artist dies?

Interesting, don't you think?

Nobody listened Vincent Van Gough when he was a live. He never sold a painting nor his brother the art dealer, Theo. How his Van Gough's art is now revered all over the world.

As for art mirroring the world, do you mean make one's art as everybody sees the world? I'd rather see art of other worlds. The internal worlds of artist. The most interesting art to me portrays a reality not apparent to ordinary conciseness. Do you want to be feed a diet of art that is created by and for people the psychopathology of the ordinary?

wclark5179
07-30-2010, 12:58 PM
"do you mean make one's art as everybody sees the world?"

Sorry, no I don't mean that. I make art as I see the world. However, in my case, I need to make photographs, perhaps it isn't art to some but it is to those that hire me. They see how I view the world is how they want their story told be it an individual portrait, family or event photographs like a wedding. Not everyone sees the world as I do but some do and some of those choose my services.

Another article to check out is written by a Mr. Fritz Liedkte in the LensWork Issue #89, the July August edition, pages 48-51.

Have a wonderful weekend.

markbarendt
08-03-2010, 06:09 AM
All artists evolve over time as they discover new things, and as they absorb new influences.

My point isn't about evolving or not, we all change over time, it's simply about having a bit of focus on expressing a specific thought for a specific audience.

If I am the audience I am free to do what ever I like, if I add other people to the audience my motivations for the work changes.

markbarendt
08-03-2010, 06:19 AM
To me, at its core, photography is a communicative act. I wouldn't do it otherwise.

Absolutely.

The question for me is "to what audience?"

What I'm trying to say here is that what I want to tell (express to) "myself", "my wife", "my friends", my community" or "the world" are each different.

My relationship to the audience defines what I want to do.

Steve Smith
08-03-2010, 06:24 AM
This is an interesting topic as unlike any other art form, photography is really just making a representation of something which already exists. i.e. the subject in front of the lens.

Whilst this is also often the case of painting, sculpture, etc, it doesn't have to be. It could just be in the mind of the artist. With photography there has to be a subject which has to actually exist.


Steve.