I think it's worse than that, those many you speak of seem to be making that product without an artistic starting point.
Originally Posted by benjiboy
One of the best critisisms I ever got was when I was showing a print of an old truck in front of a old building in a local tourist town to the group at a seminar.
I had gone to that town for a very specific shot then afterwords went wandering looking for grab shots. The shot in question was one of the grab shots. It was well exposed, decently printed, fairly well composed.
The critique came as a question. Paraphrased here, "what were you trying to express here?"
I couldn't answer the question.
That probably comes under the heading of "taking a photograph" or "making a photograph".
Originally Posted by markbarendt
It's probably related to the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.
And it comes down to the "intent" of the photographer. Were they just out snapping or were they out trying to say something with their photography.
Probably even the best photographer, on occasion, will "take" a photograph just because it's a pretty picture.
The difference between them, and a snapshooter, is that they know the craft of photography and have the ability to "make" a photography when they want to.
Yes, intent is what I'm getting at Blansky.
A craft, like photography or painting or sculpture or hairdressing, simply looks to me to be a tool to express an idea, have some fun, or make a buck. My use of the word "simply" is not meant to imply anything derogatory.
In the example I provided above I applied my craft well and it was an enjoyable morning and the result was pretty, but it wasn't an inspired expression, it wasn't art.
For me inspiration is what makes something artistic; regardless of the medium, and regardless of who does the work as craftsperson.
The inspiration, the intent to "make" something, can be assigned to us by a client (their artistic vision) or we can express our own ideas or it can be a collaboration (maybe our inspired style or well practiced specialty and their application).
'When was this written?' pretty much sums it up.
You have to wonder what Steichen would have thought of someone like Nadav Kander, who is unlike any photographer of his own time and on the cutting edge of ours. Kander's images use the medium of photography to say things like no other medium can, simply put. His photographs play to the established strengths of the medium - to document (as the main mode of communication) and with the visual sense and reference of somebody who has studied the visual arts in general, to provide a rich aesthetic and symbolic experience for the viewer. This is a new kind of photography and much matured from Steichen's time. Photographers now have more of an awareness and have embraced the broader arts, which those concerned with the craft can be blind to - not understanding the visual references or devices, only the technique. Photography is no longer an incestual art form, fastidiously concerned with materials and craft, ignorant to the art world. As craft becomes almost obsolete, focus has shifted 100% to the visual language of photography, which is maturing incredibly fast as a result. I think this is the sole reason traditional craft oriented photographers have such a hard time 'getting it' and end up further regressing.
I think Steichen is talking about the art of photography being bound to the medium, which is a hang up of his time, but I believe the artistry/messages of a photograph can transcend the medium and we've been seeing it happen for the last few years. Like the classic painters, the masterful brush techniques and pleasing compositions were often a lure for the viewer - what makes the work transcendental is the symbolism, from which we derive meaning. Photography is only just about maturing into a similar state, slowly developing a more articulate visual language, using pictorialism as a surface glaze for deeper meaning. Since the New Topographics I think photographers have developed a sense of responsibility to speak for the world, not just other photographers.
It's unfortunate that many seem to be stifled and confined by the medium itself and tend to levitate more towards outdated practice and thinking for this reason. I respect lots of historical literature, but only in its historical context.
Has Nadav Kander made the switch from highly successful commercial photographer to lets say for argument sakes fine art photographer?
I was an avid fan of his early work.
Others like Albert Watson, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon come to my mind, when I think of photographers who have made the switch, Lillian Bass and probably a fantastic
list of photographers whose work just is damm good and received as great photography.
Ed Burtynsky does not immediately strike me as following a commercial then fine art route., as he always has followed a very structured path , starting in Mass with the quarry work. I consider his work damm good as well , just a different path than Nadav Kander for example.
In Steichen's time, photographers were very concerned with how they fit in with the broader arts. He wrote in "A Life in Photography" about the old German painter, Richard Lorence who volunteered to criticise their work. The best he would say of a photograph was ""Well that's a good one. It would make a fine painting."
Originally Posted by batwister
Now I see much narcissism and ignorance of all art in digital photography and the social networking framework that it feeds.
But I am glad you bring up people like Nadav Kander to remind me there is good work being done.
I am sure Steichen would have appreciated and exhibited his work in the Museum of Modern Art.
Does it really matter what someone chooses to call him/her self?
I'm more concerned with what I call myself. Which makes me narcissistic and I just condemned that...
Originally Posted by eddie
Exactly my point. :)
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
this is a great thread, thanks bill !
i think steichens' time is pretty much like now.
photography has always struggled to make a niche for itself.
after the 1890s when anyone and everyone could have a camera and
make photographs ( or take photographs ) and send them off to a lab or whatever ...
photography became a mass-culture sort of thing.
there have always been photographers, artists, fine artists, fine art photographers ( or whatever youwant to call them )
who take their time and work with the medium to make something fantastic, and there have always
been blowhards who just blab on and on about who they are and what they make like a sales pitch
and when you see what it is they make it makes you wonder ...
its the same as now ... plenty of people with cameras ( digital or film )
plenty of people struggling to make images that they want to make and show ...
i don't think an indepth understanding of the chemistry or art of background or craft is needed to make
fantastic images, i don't really know what it takes, to be honest.
latrigue made his picnic images and race car images when he was a kid,
and i don't really think he had an indepth knowledge of much more than most of the people who
use a cellphone or a lomo or holga these days ...