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  1. #1
    Rio
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    Explaining a photographs meaning???(help)

    Hello to you all. I have a problem. After six years of college and university doing photography, I still find it difficult to explain my work to others. I know what I mean and what I want to portray but I cannot put it into words. I don't know whether its because I'm shy? or simply because I feel silly talking about particular personal projects. Am I the only one who feels like this? I suppose the question to you all is do you think a photographs meaning needs to be explained by the photographer? Baring in mind that I am supposed to be a photographic "Artist"........??????????? Sometimes I feel that mystery goes a long way-but surely I should have the ability to explain myself!!! Why can't I??? HELP!

  2. #2
    Ole
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    If asked to explain a picture, just say "if I could express this in words, I would have been a poet not a photographer".

    I have problems enough coming up with a title for my pictures, much less an explanation. So that's the answer I give.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3

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    Just tell them why you took the picture. I suppose you could use fancy art terms but that would make you sound like a snob.

    I hate talking about the pictures too, but I noticed, at a street fair a couple of photographers had booths. One had really beautiful BW and the other had inkjet prints. The ink jets were more expensive but he sold more than the other guy, as evidenced by the number of blank spaces. I watched him and he talked a lot about the composition and the reason he took the shots. The BW guy said hello then went back to his reading.

    It made me think.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Producing art and explaining art are two very different skills. Most writers and artists in "explaining" their work are just providing more material for analysis and consideration. What the artist says the work means is only part of the meaning of the work, and often what is most interesting is what the work suggests in spite of the artist's intentions to the contrary. So this is a much larger problem than what you feel you can say about your own work.

    It's probably best to talk about what draws you to a particular subject or to photography in general, and let the work speak for itself.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  5. #5
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole
    If asked to explain a picture, just say "if I could express this in words, I would have been a poet not a photographer".

    I have problems enough coming up with a title for my pictures, much less an explanation. So that's the answer I give.

    ditto
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

    blog
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  6. #6

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    do not explain

    I do not explain my photos to anyone. if I were asked I tell them the photo means whatever they want it to mean. To this point no one has asked. After all you have already given them a thousand words..."a picture is worth a thousand words".

  7. #7
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    I feel like I have the opposite problem. I have read on various forums (and heard in a workshop) how pictures communicate something to some people and I can't figure that out. I just can't see the message. I usually find that I like a picture for what it is or I think, "I would never have thought to take that shot" and it mystifies me. I have no formal training in photography and maybe I've missed something.
    Diane

    Halak 41

  8. #8
    Bill Hahn's Avatar
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    An example....

    There is a photograph in W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh work that I've always
    liked. It shows a full moon thru the trees, with moonlight reflected off the
    river and the city in the background. I liked it, but I couldn't verbalize why.

    On the movie "Brilliant Fever", a short documentary about the Smith's Pittsburgh
    project, they show this picture, with audio of Smith talking about it. And to Smith
    is was a statement about unemployment. Full moon = clear skies = steel mills were
    shut down = unemployment. I never thought about that when I looked at the
    picture, but enjoyed the picture for other reasons.

    So there may be many meanings for a photograph....

    -Bill
    "I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright

  9. #9
    BWGirl's Avatar
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    Actually, I think there may be a single meaning to a photograph, but many, many interpretations of maeaning. We each interpret what we see based on our life experiences.

    I guess what I would do is to turn it around and ask the person what they see in the photo.
    Jeanette
    .................................................. ................
    Isaiah 25:1

  10. #10
    Rio
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    Mark, you hit the nail on the head then. I think that is my problem i feel like a snob when i talk art. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

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