Jose, that's great stuff. thanks.
What bowz. said.
Originally Posted by bowzart
heard various ideas regarding the style thing. One idea goes on about how everything has been done before and you cannot really create anything that's new anymore. Another line goes that you develop your own style eventually after the influences of the photographers you admire wear off.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
I think you need to study other peoples work and move from there.
To ignore the work of the greats seems like the wrong line to follow in my estimation. I think your line about doing your own thing is right but I also think you need to study other peoples things!
Last edited by gerryyaum; 09-01-2008 at 08:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I amended that post a bit after some thoughtful suggestions by another member. To be a great artist, of course you have to study art and the great masters. I did not mean to omit that from the above quote.
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I find myself drawn to photographing people -- for a variety of reasons, in a variety of formats, for a variety of reasons.
I never thought if it was documentary or not, I just want to make images that matter, are relevant and aesthetically pleasing. Gerry Yaum's points above strike me as pretty well said -- study what others do, and that plus your own feelings and experiences meld together to create new images.
I have been called all kinds of things. The phrase I'm using now is 'cultural anthropologist'. The art folks call me a photojournalist. The PJ's call me a landscape photographer. To coin a phrase..."I 'yam what I 'yam."
Here's a sample:
John Constable was adamantly opposed to the building of the British Museum, because he believed that students would be in there copying art that was already done, rather than drawing/painting from nature. His conviction was that nature (read surfaces which reflect light) is the real teacher, that to copy is to get it secondhand. Copying paintings in museums was a common practice in Europe (I suppose that in certain academic sectors it still is) but Constable thought that not only is that unnecessary, but that to do it is to cut oneself off from direct and authentic experience. It would be pretty hard to argue that Constable was not a pretty great painter himself and had some definite ideas about how one gets to be one.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
As you may recall from above, I have little use for style and the odd notion that one ought to have one. I think that is pretty strange, and not very productive. I do study artists from the past, look at other people's work, and encourage others to do so as well. However, I do think that there is a very great tendency to emulate. That is not always a "bad" thing to do, but with certain limitations.
The difficulty that I see is that we tend to emulate without knowing we are doing so. Our ideas about what a photograph ought to be are very seldom conscious, but come from the millions of images that we each have seen and continue to see every day. We have internalized these to such an extent that we cannot distinguish them from ourselves. They are conventionalized to the extent that in the ad biz, the creative folks know that it is often effective in getting people's attention to depart from the conventions in fairly aggressive ways while preserving familiar elements. For example, fashion images that cut the model off just above the chin, or some other odd terminations. I'm sure we've each seen stuff like that. Adhering to the conventions verbatim doesn't get noticed - Calendar pix for example. Do you even see them? But how many photographers emulate them unconsciously?
It is NOT a matter of avoiding looking at the work others have done, but it is very important to develop the facility to see these things critically and use our own vision with as much awareness as we can muster. It is imperative to respond to our own vision, whether we look at the work of others or not. I think it is a great advantage to look at and to think about past work; it can inform our work. It is also imperative not to simply reproduce it except as an occasional deliberate exercise. That can be extremely useful.
It is not useful to simplify or generalize these things too much. Not everyone is the same, and we all have different ways in which we might benefit from working.
I'd consider myself a documentarian. Influences: too many to mention, so I won't. Especially as I find when I mention other photographers people start trying to find references to them in my work, which is sort of missing the point. I think anyone will see the influences when they look at the pictures anyway.
The whole definition issue has always been something of a conundrum for me. My work is sometimes clearly journalistic, but I don't consider myself a photojournalist. Which category do I belong in? Fine art? I really don't know what that means. I do sell prints through galleries, so maybe I qualify there.
What the hell - I'll just go on taking pictures and let the cards fall where they may!
I come from a newspaper background of run and gun and make the deadline. Fill The hole.
Make the Editor happy.
Clearly I was a photojournalist.
I think I still am- it is in my blood -
It is a calling - "to tell the story".
As a teenager my hero was Margret Bourke- White.
Currently I am reading Diane Arbus - A Biography.
I think it is important to keep an open mind and study the works and styles of many other artists.
I am in the planning stages of some longer term projects.
Does the fact that I am not meeting a daily deadline classify them as documentary? Probably not-
I concure, they are 2 different animals.
I will probably shoot them with the heart and soul of a pj, but not have to run and gun and make the daily deadline.
Shooting film on these projects, not digital.
Self funded- and a longer time frame to work on them-
does that make them documentary? probably not.
but others would say it does.