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  1. #41

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    (in response to my desire for viewers "who notice and care about the details that motivate our choices of process")

    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    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.
    I'm not sure I get your point. I'm talking about the details of the result that *motivate* us to use film, not the self-conscious fact of using film. I don't care if a viewer knows or cares that the way I got the grain to look like that involved Tri-X and Diafine, or whatever, but I'd like them to see and appreciate the sense of grittiness that showed up in the image at the end of the day.

    Which I suppose is "seeking the viewer's validation", in the sense that wishing people would see and like one's work is *always* seeking validation. Is it really desirable to be a photographer (resp. painter, writer, musician, whatever) who really doesn't care one little bit if they manage to communicate to anyone?

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
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    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
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  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    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...



    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
    For me personally, my life would be far less fun without being a professional photographer. I get literally high from a sitting.

    One thing I didn't mention in my last post was for me the best and most creative photographers are usually commercial/product photographers. A lot of prep time, a lot of brainstorming and pretty big budgets results in a lot of unleashed creativity.

    As for the whole "portrait" genre and the problem with language and definitions. What I do, is family portraiture. This is not the same as what say some of the greats did for life magazine which was still called a portrait. They often were hired by someone to do a portrait ( or a portrayal) of an individual. The end result was usually a pretty intriguing capture of a part of the subjects personality or what other people believed was his personality. The subject usually did not pay for the portrait and he/she may or may not have even liked it. It was turned over to editors.

    What my "types" do is a picture of family members that flatters the subjects and gives a representative impression of their life or lifestyle. Actually much like the commissioned portrait painters of old. We don't delve too deeply into the pimples of the various relationships or the fact that mom is a drunk and dads a philanderer. That is someone else's job.

    I guess much like a scenic photographer coming upon a scene and photographs it to look beautiful, majestic, pastoral etc but rarely is it in his psyche to try to make it ugly or even too unbeautiful. We are usually all optimists. That doesn't mean however that while he's out there and witnesses a plane crash that he would not document it and show it as the tragedy that it is. He just does not search out that kind of uglyness or reality.

    Personally I try to photograph beauty and even enhance it. I'm not looking for blemishes. The beauty of the mother as she ages to middle age, the beauty and innocence of children etc etc. So I guess I have an optimistic view of a family in the way I portray them. Eisenstadt, maybe not so much. Karsh was much like my aesthetic, beautify and try to show character. But Karsh was a studio portrait photographer in the same mode as me, but would venture out to make the occasional "celebrity" portrait as well from time to time, and it's these that he is actually know for outside of Ottawa, but for which he was often unpaid and could not earn a living from. Book sales came far later.

    And as for "portraying" someone and the so called definitive portrait. That is merely a myth. We are all multifaceted. We all have moods. We all have depressions, anxieties, loves and joys. We all have good days and bad days and can show both love and meanness. So a so called definitive portrait may just be in the eye of the beholder and the "capturing of someone's essence" is usually just a reflection of the viewer. I just choose to capture the good side, usually. Not always but usually.
    Last edited by blansky; 11-06-2012 at 01:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  3. #43
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    That's why I'm a subscriber of APUG!

    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    I think your understanding of portrait photography is pretty limited. Coming up with new and different styles is a constant.
    My knowledge of photography is limited. That's why I like to partake in the knowledge of APUGers.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    (in response to my desire for viewers "who notice and care about the details that motivate our choices of process")



    I'm not sure I get your point. I'm talking about the details of the result that *motivate* us to use film, not the self-conscious fact of using film. I don't care if a viewer knows or cares that the way I got the grain to look like that involved Tri-X and Diafine, or whatever, but I'd like them to see and appreciate the sense of grittiness that showed up in the image at the end of the day.

    Which I suppose is "seeking the viewer's validation", in the sense that wishing people would see and like one's work is *always* seeking validation. Is it really desirable to be a photographer (resp. painter, writer, musician, whatever) who really doesn't care one little bit if they manage to communicate to anyone?

    -NT
    Being motivated to shoot film for me is purely about presentation, a sense of future proofing my work. But I'm motivated to *make photographs* for other reasons.

    We're ultimately talking about presentation here, in regard to nuance, which is incidental when it comes to the insight required to make photographs. In crusading for film and trying to win people over for its gritty characteristics, it should be emphasised that it only has value in the context of art making, which is quite an involved undertaking; emotionally, intellectually and only last, technically. And we are talking about art photography by the way (or fine art to some ) since when non artistically inclined people make 'gritty' pictures, they usually come here for technical advice - "Why are my pix grainy at 6400!?". I agree that gritty (grainy) pictures might have more of a visual pull (texture) but they should pull people in for a reason. In short, viewers won't appreciate the grittiness alone, because they can get an efficient emulation with Instagram. What's really lacking on Instagram is strong pictures.

    Just imagine, if there was a television advert or billboards for Kodak film, the grain structure probably wouldn't be mentioned or illustrated once. There would be lots of pretty pictures shown though (if conventional) and it would get more people shooting the stuff than any emphasis APUG users put on nuance, tonality, etc.

    This is ultimately another discussion that misses the 'bigger picture'.
    Last edited by batwister; 11-06-2012 at 02:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #45
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    I find this intervention of Blansky about his "market" very interesting.

    I think the question of the OP could be slightly twisted in saying he asked whether the average user understands subtleties, cares for details, looks with a "choosy" attitude at photographic works, or whether he's only satisfied with the first impression, good enough. High saturation - fake skin etc. usually satisfy the viewer at first glance, but gives him after a short while an aftertaste of fake and unnatural.

    I think this question could have applied to both film and to digital but, ultimately, the thread shifted toward the old same and beloved "analogue vs digital" debate, under this assumption: oversaturated = digital, subtle nuances and quality work = analogue.

    Blansky reconducted this I think to a more interesting ground: clients do look for quality, and subtle nuances, but they don't care about the process, just like - I would say - the average woman wouldn't care about the engine under the hood.

    The average man, though, does care about the engine under the hood!
    An aspect of appreciations of objects is in the mind. A nice article about a luxury watch I read once talked about how a rich watch collector one day opened a certain woman watch (there is people who actually opens them to look at them with a loupe, just like we do with slides, and observe the accurate craftsmanship of each cod etc.).
    Well, the man found that the quartz movement was kept, inside the case, by a horribile dictu plastic support. When he reassembled the watch, and since that moment on, even if the plastic was not visible inside the case (no sapphire back), the mind knew the plastic was inside there and that made that watch somehow ugly. Every time he looked at the watch he saw the plastic with his mind.

    I understand him. Most of us do not stop at what we see because we cannot ignore what the mind knows. The most perfectly imitated synthetic pearl will not have breathed on the sea bed. The most perfectly imitated synthetic diamond will not have been forged into perfection by unimaginable heat, pressure and time. We simply cannot afford to ignore our mind.

    This goes back to Blansky observation: 99.99% of people don't care about film or digital. I understand that.

    But I think that is also because their mind doesn't see the difference. For some people, rightly or wrongly, analogue means "handmade" and digital means "machine forged" in a sense. Our question is: why the people who would appreciate "handmade" in let's say marble work would not care about it in a family portrait?

    I don't have an answer.

    Maybe really there is no difference to see and all the "handmade" thinking can be reduced to mental masturbation by a few Luddites who have a bad relationship with death (us).

    But on the other hand maybe our culture is beginning just now to discover "handmade" qualities in photography, just like what happened in watchmaking during the Quartz revolution: for a few years quartz movements completely obliterated mechanical ones, and it took several years before the mind of people would begin again being attracted by the tiny cogs dancing in a metal case.

    Quartz watches are more precise. But most of those portrait buyers would learn to love a mechanical watch if they were somehow introduced to its magic. "Under the hood" counts a lot to some people.

    Possibly, those same portrait buyers would learn to love and understand "the process", and not just the result, if they were somehow introduced to the world of analogue photography and its "magic", "craftmanship", "handmade" flair. Maybe one day somebody will make a TV documentary showing enlarging in the dark and suddenly portrait photographers will begin having to use film again

    I have an anecdote. The wife of a friend of my sister is a professional photographer, IIRC a portraitist. He told me that around 10% (IIRC) of her clients ask them specifically for analogue work. That was in Paris last year.

    Europe, more than the US, is "tied" to analogue photography, and probably to analogue watches as well. And I imagine that in Europe, broadly speaking, what "the mind" sees is probably culturally more important than in the US. That might explain the 99.99% vs 90.00% of digital portrait in the two cases (not that I think this can be defined a statistically significant sample).

    * by the way, watchmaking has its hybrids, the electro-mechanical movements.
    Last edited by Diapositivo; 11-06-2012 at 04:23 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
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  6. #46
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    I am always surprised by advertising in photography periodicals for software, and overnight services, that retouch portraits, including not just blemish removal, but something more akin to a Botox after a major plastic surgery. What surprises me in those ads is that a pretty and a kind face, usually a handsome lady, is always turned by the advertised product into a soulless plastic doll, rather than just a subtly improved face.

    I suppose people want this.
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  7. #47
    blansky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diapositivo View Post
    I find this intervention of Blansky about his "market" very interesting.

    I think the question of the OP could be slightly twisted in saying he asked whether the average user understands subtleties, cares for details, looks with a "choosy" attitude at photographic works, or whether he's only satisfied with the first impression, good enough. High saturation - fake skin etc. usually satisfy the viewer at first glance, but gives him after a short while an aftertaste of fake and unnatural.

    I think this question could have applied to both film and to digital but, ultimately, the thread shifted toward the old same and beloved "analogue vs digital" debate, under this assumption: oversaturated = digital, subtle nuances and quality work = analogue.

    Blansky reconducted this I think to a more interesting ground: clients do look for quality, and subtle nuances, but they don't care about the process, just like - I would say - the average woman wouldn't care about the engine under the hood.

    The average man, though, does care about the engine under the hood!
    An aspect of appreciations of objects is in the mind. A nice article about a luxury watch I read once talked about how a rich watch collector one day opened a certain woman watch (there is people who actually opens them to look at them with a loupe, just like we do with slides, and observe the accurate craftsmanship of each cod etc.).
    Well, the man found that the quartz movement was kept, inside the case, by a horribile dictu plastic support. When he reassembled the watch, and since that moment on, even if the plastic was not visible inside the case (no sapphire back), the mind knew the plastic was inside there and that made that watch somehow ugly. Every time he looked at the watch he saw the plastic with his mind.

    I understand him. Most of us do not stop at what we see because we cannot ignore what the mind knows. The most perfectly imitated synthetic pearl will not have breathed on the sea bed. The most perfectly imitated synthetic diamond will not have been forged into perfection by unimaginable heat, pressure and time. We simply cannot afford to ignore our mind.

    This goes back to Blansky observation: 99.99% of people don't care about film or digital. I understand that.

    But I think that is also because their mind doesn't see the difference. For some people, rightly or wrongly, analogue means "handmade" and digital means "machine forged" in a sense. Our question is: why the people who would appreciate "handmade" in let's say marble work would not care about it in a family portrait?

    I don't have an answer.

    Maybe really there is no difference to see and all the "handmade" thinking can be reduced to mental masturbation by a few Luddites who have a bad relationship with death (us).

    But on the other hand maybe our culture is beginning just now to discover "handmade" qualities in photography, just like what happened in watchmaking during the Quartz revolution: for a few years quartz movements completely obliterated mechanical ones, and it took several years before the mind of people would begin again being attracted by the tiny cogs dancing in a metal case.

    Quartz watches are more precise. But most of those portrait buyers would learn to love a mechanical watch if they were somehow introduced to its magic. "Under the hood" counts a lot to some people.

    Possibly, those same portrait buyers would learn to love and understand "the process", and not just the result, if they were somehow introduced to the world of analogue photography and its "magic", "craftmanship", "handmade" flair. Maybe one day somebody will make a TV documentary showing enlarging in the dark and suddenly portrait photographers will begin having to use film again

    I have an anecdote. The wife of a friend of my sister is a professional photographer, IIRC a portraitist. He told me that around 10% (IIRC) of her clients ask them specifically for analogue work. That was in Paris last year.

    Europe, more than the US, is "tied" to analogue photography, and probably to analogue watches as well. And I imagine that in Europe, broadly speaking, what "the mind" sees is probably culturally more important than in the US. That might explain the 99.99% vs 90.00% of digital portrait in the two cases (not that I think this can be defined a statistically significant sample).

    * by the way, watchmaking has its hybrids, the electro-mechanical movements.
    As usual I agree with most of what you say. And I too am a collector of mechanical watches and appreciate the tiny internal engines that power them. However, the fact that some people own and love them is still probably less than 10 percent of the buying male public. Don't forget that a large percentage of buyers of mechanical watches buy because of the cachet and name like Patek Philippe, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Ulysse Nardin etc and on down the line to Rolex and are just a status symbol to them. The actual number of real watch lovers is a very very small part of the public.

    As for men and cars, granted men probably appreciate engines more than women but these days most men couldn't even find the dipstick. (not sure what it's called in Italy) but both men and women car enthusiasts DO appreciate a gutsy sounding engine even if they know nothing why it sounds that way.

    I agree that if educated that a larger proportion of the public would appreciate "hand made" if they knew or understood the process but I have a feeling that that percentage would still be very small and much like the lover of horology (fine watchmakinig), a status symbol more than anything.

    The age of the connoisseur probably left us the same time as the gilded age died and masses of new money entered the equation. A lot of people want things for reasons they don't really know but since rich people have them, they want them too. Look at the massive buying of mechanical watches going on in China.

    I would also agree that Europe is far more of an advanced culture and appreciator of things for the right reasons than in the US.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    We don't delve too deeply into the pimples of the various relationships or the fact that mom is a drunk and dads a philanderer. That is someone else's job.
    Now if Dad's a drunk and Mom's a philanderer...
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

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