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  1. #1
    Alden's Avatar
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    Please yourself only?

    I no longer have aspirations for recognition, yet I wonder if I am being remiss if I do not adjust my imagery, somewhat at least, to the march of time. If my work is slated to hang on my walls only, you would think, please yourself only.
    Yet I have my doubts. Postmodern works have progressed, whether we like them another matter, and I have to feel that I have fallen into a stodgy corner. I work easily and naturally and have relied on the belief that a deepening would occure in and of itself. But now I'm not so sure that it will. Where's the question here... I suppose it's this, Do we owe it to ourselves to stay up to date and take contempory ideas seriously? Or do we accept the challenge of mining our own territory, albeit influenced by others work of the past? Another good topic would be, how to make something really our own.

  2. #2
    Ole
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    I work only to please myself - photographically, at least.

    But my "acid test" is whether my pictures also please my wife! If they do, they are ready for a wider audience - like the APUG galleries and print exchanges. Thinking about styles, influences and so on will only lead to "cramped" pictures. I do the best work when I only work from the "hm - that looks nice" principle.

    In a way it's similar to my other form of artistic expression: I'm a singer. I don't sing rock, and rarely jazz. Am I any less (or more) of a singer because I'm classically trained and sing classical music?
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3
    Alden's Avatar
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    Yet I'm not sure my instincts," hmm, that looks nice," have not calcified.

    As for singing, it would be hard to consider hip hop as a progression, yet it is. As a classical singer, you are probably skilled, and this craft is most likely prized by your listeners, but it cannot be considered a living language. Of course you are not less of a singer, but neither are you advancing the song form.

    I apologize. This seems a bit coarse to use your example. My own concern is that without new ideas, I may be imitating a broken record. We can really only answer this question for ourselves, but while its cold outside and I'm in a forum sort of way, I thought I'd fish the internet seas for thoughts.

    Thanks for yours.

  4. #4

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    Great questions. Although it's important to me to keep up with current ideas and techniques I seem to inevitably fall back to my own style when I set about shooting. It's ingrained. Of course, like most of us it is heavily influenced by many artists. I couldn't take a contemporary photograph for my own pleasure even if I tried. I'm quite happy mining my own territory while very much enjoying the work of other more contemporary artists.
    Is it possible that a deepening of your work has in fact occurred and you're too close to see it? I think sometimes we progress as time goes on and don't necessarily recognize it.
    It also seems that we can take a lot of beautiful yet similar photographs, then something from a particular image will just jump out and make it a bit more special. I guess that's what keeps us going?
    Incidentally, I'm only referring to my personal work here. At work I shoot whatever I'm asked to, however they want it to look
    Best,
    Rory

  5. #5
    Alden's Avatar
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    Is it possible that a deepening of your work has in fact occurred and you're too close to see it? I think sometimes we progress as time goes on and don't necessarily recognize it.


    I certainly hope something more than print quality has evolved, but the fact that I don't know points to my older way of thinking. Intuition. The contemporary bent has the conceptual agenda. You think of an idea, project, choose the appropriate materials, execute, then evaluate. Much like a commercial assignment. This is the art school influence, the Duchamp stamp of approval that looms large over my foggy feelings. I suppose I'm just worried that I'm making cliches. The avalance of new works, and I look at alot of it, has left me feeling a bit fuddy....duddy.

  6. #6
    JJC
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    Rorye makes a good point about personal work. I am pulled, twisted and turned in so many other facets in life that the opportunity to please myself only and keep a permanent record of it has come to play a role in soothing my emotional well-being. Not a stodgy corner, but a sanctum of sorts. I don't mean this to sound like discouragement or exclusion of branching out and exploring, but I see nothing wrong with finding a place or activity where you can be true to your own preferences, at least when you are doing your own work.
    If you do not seek the recognition of others, and you are not being paid to create according to someone elses wishes, go ahead and please yourself! You don't owe anyone the right to bend your style or concept of beauty under those circumstances.
    "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Jim Horning

  7. #7
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    I please myself FIRST, and hope that everything else falls into place. If so, people will respond. If not, at least I'm satisfied. I get so much out of the work... for me it's about exploring - visual relationships, locations, details, feelings, ideas, the medium itself. If you're not excited about what you're doing how can you expect others to be moved by what you produce? Yes, please yourself and hopefully that doesn't mean ONLY yourself.

  8. #8
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alden View Post
    Yet I'm not sure my instincts," hmm, that looks nice," have not calcified.
    Ahhh, Alden ... just asking that question means you haven't ossified!!! Any artist, at any level of development who doesn't question themselves and everything they do with their art, is truly dead in the water.

    Even if you haven't pushed your photographic self expression boundaries in several decades, being willing to question the very foundation stones of what and who you are as as an image maker can only open new doors of discovery. Eegad, but I've had a bit too much wine tonight

    Oh, and just because nobody else has exploited the subject matter you photograph the most doesn't mean what you do is meaningless. I know this for a fact as nobody with a name has ever photographed on the north coast of BC, and I'm pretty sure there's more than a few "keepers" out there

    HAPPY NEW YEAR.......hic!

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  9. #9
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    Please oneself first -- and that can mean keeping one's eyes and ears open to what is going on in the photographic/art world, too. But then I work at a university, taking care of the teaching darkroom...I am surrounded by the stuff. It all seems normal to me, but most of it is just interesting and not something I immeadiately feel I need to incorperate into my own work...for the lack of a better description, I am just another tall bearded West Coast photographer. I am learning and enjoying my experience.

    Vaughn

    PS...Murray I work mostly in the Redwoods...Ansel, Weston, Bullock have wandered thru in their time and have photographed under these trees. But somehow it is different living here and working under them for so many years. What an opportunity to explore the northern coast of BC you have! Must be wonderful!
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  10. #10

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    We photographers often speak of our work, and when we do, we reference this photograph or that, but I think the work of any artist is internal, and lies in wrenching his ego and prying his want of recognition and approval free from that part of his character that is unique to himself, and in finding the courage to express it, and the willingness to fail, over and over, and to find inspiration and redemption in those failures that are ours alone. What we call our work might better be termed the manifestations of our work, and a record of our progress along that difficult path towards an earnest expression of our truest selves. If we give in to that ever present temptation to express only that part of ourselves illuminated by our virtue and decency, we have accepted defeat, and embraced mediocrity. We'll know this defeat by the admiration of our offerings by a wide audience, and our successes by an intense emotional and intellectual discomfort. As photographers, we should be acutely aware that pure light is formless, and given meaning by a palette of shadow and darkness. Don't be afraid of the dark.

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