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  1. #31

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    I'm not a fan of the hipster Instagram thing, but it does seem to argue that there's an audience for aesthetics other than "oversharpened and oversaturated". Like most cultural norms, the oversaturated flowers and sunsets seem to create a certain amount of backlash. So I think there's hope in the broadest aesthetic sense, though how many of those people will come to appreciate the specific characteristics of *film*, as opposed to lo-fi digital capture, is anybody's guess.

    Commercial work distorts our sense of people's aesthetics, I think. Bright colors and flash and bling capture people's attention and sell products, so they're kind of self-reinforcing. There's an exactly analogous problem in music, where mainstream popular music has gotten more and more "compressed" in volume and "scooped" in frequency, both of which are good attention-grabbers on the radio but terrible for longer-term attentive listening. But I'm not sure that either case really represents What People Like, so much as What Works To Move Money Around.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  2. #32
    blansky's Avatar
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    This is what I wrote on another thread:

    The manipulation of an image is the artists vision of the scene when he came upon it. What the potential it had to him when he first saw it.

    To judge an image as over manipulated is strictly in the eye of the viewer. You like it or you don't. The term over manipulated is a value judgement that the viewer makes when he decides to agree or disagree with the intent of the photographer. Neither the photographers nor the viewer's opinion is correct, they are merely judgements of what they like.

    Nobody ever said that photography or paintings for that matter had to be an exact replica of what a scene actually looked like. (except maybe photojournalists)

    As for color saturation, we all see things in nature differently. If we wear sunglasses the scene looks different than if we don't.

    If we shoot during magic hour color saturation is far different.

    If we print darker color saturation is different.

    There is no right or wrong here, only our opinions of what we like. If you get off on being the recorder of a scene that's great, if you're a pictorialist that's great too. If your a surrealists, great too.

    Why is there so much angst about what other people do or like.

    Of course too much HDR or saturation can affect your opinion of a print but too much burning and dodging can too. Or not enough.

    On this site through the years I've seen a lot of prints that bored me simply because they were not contrasty enough, snappy enough or looked like anything more than a scene captured at noon on a cloudy day. They had no impact and drew from me no emotional response.

    But that just me. I like contrast and impact.
    Last edited by blansky; 11-05-2012 at 08:35 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    I'm not a fan of the hipster Instagram thing, but it does seem to argue that there's an audience for aesthetics other than "oversharpened and oversaturated". Like most cultural norms, the oversaturated flowers and sunsets seem to create a certain amount of backlash. So I think there's hope in the broadest aesthetic sense, though how many of those people will come to appreciate the specific characteristics of *film*, as opposed to lo-fi digital capture, is anybody's guess.

    Commercial work distorts our sense of people's aesthetics, I think. Bright colors and flash and bling capture people's attention and sell products, so they're kind of self-reinforcing. There's an exactly analogous problem in music, where mainstream popular music has gotten more and more "compressed" in volume and "scooped" in frequency, both of which are good attention-grabbers on the radio but terrible for longer-term attentive listening. But I'm not sure that either case really represents What People Like, so much as What Works To Move Money Around.

    -NT
    There was an article in the Guardian the other day about realism fad in film, how Nolan's films in particular have created a new trend for a facade of depth. I think our culture is happy enough with the impression of substance. A quote from Will Self in the article - "There are so many potential cultural sources that all levels of brow can be happily accommodated, including those that deceive themselves that they're higher than they really are."

    I think people generally don't have the time of day to invest in deep work, to appreciate aesthetic, and certainly any nuances of craft - unless it's painting, in which technique (or application of paint) has more immediacy. Photographs, more than ever, provide a function - as the OP says, fast food. Rapid 'cultural expansion' and excessive production of work means people want a bit of everything, but don't have the patience to invest in just one thing, especially photography which "has problems" as it is. The article also mentions that "information is the new currency". Instagram happens to be attractive, immediate information. There is potential for real communication of ideas in that fact.

  4. #34
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    I realize that very very few people here are in the business of family portrait photography or studio photography so they have no real understanding of its progression or evolution in today's world.

    I also realize that most here are probably scenic photographers who may or may not sell their work. The fine art crowd here probably think that selling photography is tied up in galleries and in art shows and that is the sphere they inhabit.

    In that world I guess that there is a lot of navel pondering about digital, analog and the changes that are, and have been taking place in photography.

    But if you were to step out of your world and into mine you would see that there are almost zero people involved in analog photography anymore. The clients could not care less. They are buying what it on the paper/canvas and not how it was made. They are buying pictures of their loved ones and the emotional impact is built in. In my little world of hundreds of thousands of photographers, we are putting hundreds of thousands of portraits on the walls of people homes. We have no angst, and we have no major concern for process per se. We want the best we can get and we now have it.

    So when most of you spend your days in deep concern for all things photographic, be aware that all those "portrait types" are happily using the newest tools and newest toys and having fun making images for people who actually buy them. Granted some are a little over done but as all things new that will settle itself out. We also run the gammit of lousy photographers all the way to great photographers, but we never are too concerned about process, we concern ourselves with results.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  5. #35
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    I do understand. You have to create a style and products that will bring you business. The world of art photography is very different. Artist usually do work in their own voice while commercial and portrait photographers have to supply what is in demand. And there are some photographers that work somewhere in the middle.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  6. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    But if you were to step out of your world and into mine you would see that there are almost zero people involved in analog photography anymore. The clients could not care less. They are buying what it on the paper/canvas and not how it was made. They are buying pictures of their loved ones and the emotional impact is built in. In my little world of hundreds of thousands of photographers, we are putting hundreds of thousands of portraits on the walls of people homes. We have no angst, and we have no major concern for process per se. We want the best we can get and we now have it.
    Sure, and I think just about everyone on APUG agrees with all of that, except for quibbling about the definition of "best" in that last sentence. That's a photographic world we aren't talking about here, precisely *because* it's gone almost entirely digital, but I think much of the OP's question would apply there too: Can people appreciate family portraits that have some damn CHARACTER in them, that say something about the people they show, rather than just documenting an image of the person and relying on the viewer to supply the emotional content? I think statistically the answer is "kinda but not very much", and that's not a new thing having to do with any particular medium, it's just that human beings tend to be kind of lazy viewers.

    Let me ask you this: Do you do portraiture out of a profound artistic attachment to portraiture as well as for the paycheck, or is it a "just a job" kind of photography for you?

    I ask because, if you picked door #1, I'd expect that you might feel some frustration about those philistine customers and how they can't tell a good portrait from a mediocre one, as long as it's in focus and of the right person and the skin isn't green. That's not film vs. digital, I don't think it's even a purely relative aesthetic judgement, it's "investigative viewer" vs. "passive viewer". And I think it's quite understandable that in a crowd like APUG, where people are intentionally taking a particular and somewhat challenging route to a final image, many of us wish we could get a world of more investigative viewers, who notice and care about the details that motivate our choices of process.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    I do understand. You have to create a style and products that will bring you business. The world of art photography is very different. Artist usually do work in their own voice while commercial and portrait photographers have to supply what is in demand. And there are some photographers that work somewhere in the middle.
    I think your understanding of portrait photography is pretty limited. Coming up with new and different styles is a constant.

    As for the world of art photography and using your own voice, I see very little that is any different than anyone else's.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    Sure, and I think just about everyone on APUG agrees with all of that, except for quibbling about the definition of "best" in that last sentence. That's a photographic world we aren't talking about here, precisely *because* it's gone almost entirely digital, but I think much of the OP's question would apply there too: Can people appreciate family portraits that have some damn CHARACTER in them, that say something about the people they show, rather than just documenting an image of the person and relying on the viewer to supply the emotional content? I think statistically the answer is "kinda but not very much", and that's not a new thing having to do with any particular medium, it's just that human beings tend to be kind of lazy viewers.

    Let me ask you this: Do you do portraiture out of a profound artistic attachment to portraiture as well as for the paycheck, or is it a "just a job" kind of photography for you?

    I ask because, if you picked door #1, I'd expect that you might feel some frustration about those philistine customers and how they can't tell a good portrait from a mediocre one, as long as it's in focus and of the right person and the skin isn't green. That's not film vs. digital, I don't think it's even a purely relative aesthetic judgement, it's "investigative viewer" vs. "passive viewer". And I think it's quite understandable that in a crowd like APUG, where people are intentionally taking a particular and somewhat challenging route to a final image, many of us wish we could get a world of more investigative viewers, who notice and care about the details that motivate our choices of process.

    -NT
    Do I do photography for a paycheck? No never have. The only process that interests me is the process of working with people. That's the enjoyment. The craftmanship part is also a major part of it. From day one, I loved skin and how to light it and make it glow. Then came expression and how to capture it. Then came how to set up bodies to enhance the beauty and relationships.

    I used analog day in and day out for 30 years. Medium format, develop and print my own work. Retouch negatives and retouch prints. Then came digital and I was one of the last to adopt it, because I wasn't convinced of longevity. The process of what makes that final image on the wall is only a relevant to me in that is has to be a productive process.

    I often get the feeling here that there is so much concern about process because there is so little being sold. So people obsess with trivia and fiddle with instruments.

    99.99% of people don't care what is under the hood of their car. As long as it get the results they want. A lot of people here are like a bunch of mechanics obsessing over the engines and wondering why people don't care. Sorry they don't. They just want their car to do what a car is supposed to do.

    My clients just want what a portrait is supposed to do. How I achieve it is not interesting to them. As for people that can't tell the difference between my work and someone else's, is why we have price lists and why we have carriage trade and we have Sears. It all works out.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    And I think it's quite understandable that in a crowd like APUG, where people are intentionally taking a particular and somewhat challenging route to a final image, many of us wish we could get a world of more investigative viewers, who notice and care about the details that motivate our choices of process.
    This just sounds like seeking the viewers validation to me. Painters don't ask the viewers to have any knowledge of how they mix paints or the brushes they use. This self-consciousness feels like the root of 'the photographic problem' and it's definitely not the viewers fault. If it's there, it's there. It's incidental in the end. Don't burden other people with your fetishes - this is why we have APUG.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    I often get the feeling here that there is so much concern about process because there is so little being sold. So people obsess with trivia and fiddle with instruments.
    I think the causality might go the other way too. Fiddly eccentric activities (which I think we all gotta admit describes much of analog photography) are probably mostly attractive to people who aren't trying to make money at them. I'm not sure how many of the APUG folks would want to shoot film as a day job---I know I wouldn't, because for me it would spoil the fun...

    99.99% of people don't care what is under the hood of their car. As long as it get the results they want. A lot of people here are like a bunch of mechanics obsessing over the engines and wondering why people don't care. Sorry they don't. They just want their car to do what a car is supposed to do.

    My clients just want what a portrait is supposed to do.
    The thing is, I respectfully differ with a lot of people about what a portrait is "supposed" to do, and I think it's possible that you do too. As a dedicated portrait photographer, don't you feel like there's a certain slippery "something" that some portraits have and others don't, that makes them seem inhabited by the character of the subject rather than just being another photo with a person in it?

    But a lot of viewers don't make that distinction, right? They're the ones happily patronizing the low-end "good enough" portrait studios. And more power to them for being happy, I guess, but if you really have the equanimity not to wish there were more people who wanted to really *look* at the portraits, you're doing better at equanimity than I am. To your credit, probably.

    The cars are a good analogy, I think. Most people consider that what a car is "supposed to do" is get you and your stuff from point A to point B. Some people think it should be fun to drive while it's doing it, and they go around wondering why so many people are happy with their Camrys, and starting threads with titles like "Can people appreciate drivability and road feedback in an automatic transmission age?", I suppose.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

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