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  1. #141

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    Horse feathers.

    Surely there are things to be learned about the craft involved and ways to do business but there is absolutely no requirement to know history or follow tradition to make good art/photos.

    I would actually suggest that tradition hinders art.
    I'd be interested if you could suggest to me a single great artist who didn't learn from those that came before him. How could you even do something new if you didn't know what was old?

    Picasso did something new. Did you know he was actually excellent at traditional styles of painting?

    Ansel Adams did something basically new, but of course he was very familiar with the art that came before him. A lot of the popular art before him he didn't like, and that informed how he proceeded, what he tried to change and do differently in his own art.

    Tradition is one of the the greatest things we have, especially for art. It means that everytime we try to do something new, we don't have to start at the very beginning. It means that when we want to invent tomato soup, we already know not to eat the leaves - tradition taught that. Tradition is the wisdom that allows you to set out in a new direction in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    You've got to know the rules and conventions before you can break them successfully - otherwise you're just floundering around.
    Scott hit the nail on the head.
    Last edited by horacekenneth; 03-15-2013 at 10:02 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: formatting issues & scott's quote

  2. #142

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    Not having read the whole thread, I'm wondering who these kids today know as fine artists? Do they know Annie Leibovitz?
    W.A. Crider

  3. #143

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    You've got to know the rules and conventions before you can break them successfully - otherwise you're just floundering around.
    Yeah, but in the case of photography I think those rules and conventions have more to do with composition, line and light, and the like, as opposed to technique per se. The fine-art photography tradition certainly isn't the only place to get those things---the same principles apply in painting, of course, but also in photography that's well outside the fine-art mainstream. I think Weegee, for instance, is likely better known among the photo-student demographic than his Place In History(TM) might suggest, and you can learn a whole lot about composition from his work even though it clearly was never born for the gallery wall.

    Sure, students of anything are going to need to learn about their predecessors, but I'm pretty sure it's true in all times and all fields that they (1) think their instructors are hidebound fuddy-duddies for their obsession with the past, and (2) gradually grow into hidebound fuddy-duddies of their own in the natural course of events.

    If students raised in the online-social-media dialectic are less responsive than their predecessors to the f/64-fine-art stream of history, maybe that doesn't represent philistinism so much as a movement that has run its course and been assimilated into the Establishment...and who ever approached their education by saying "I want to grow up and be part of the Establishment!"?

    -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_

  4. #144
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    Horse feathers.

    Surely there are things to be learned about the craft involved and ways to do business but there is absolutely no requirement to know history or follow tradition to make good art/photos.

    I would actually suggest that tradition hinders art.
    A slavish adherence to tradition can hinder the progress of art. Of course, that doesn't excuse someone from doing sloppy work. I have seen a rather large number of prints on office walls from "professional artists" showing extremely sloppy printing technique.

    As for knowing the work of previous photographers, there was a post on PetaPixel.com recently about riding buses. Imagine you're at a central bus depot, and buses to many destinations are going in and out of the central depot. Some of them share a common route for a while, and then they diverge to their individual endpoints. An artist gets on a bus, and starts riding it. The bus is the artist's journey. The artist takes their artwork to an art dealer, and the dealer says, "Oh, but that's like Adams." And so the artist jumps off that bus, takes a taxi back to the bus depot, and jumps on another bus, and rides that bus for a while. And the dealer says, "Oh, but that's like Arbus." And the artist does the same thing again, hopping on another bus.

    What the artist needs to do is stay on the bus and see where it goes. The bus will diverge from the other routes, and go somewhere unique. The photographer needs to figure out what they want to photograph, and stick with it.

    While Adams is known for dramatic 0.8 ratio pictures of nature, that's not the only thing he photographed, or the only type of camera he used. I saw a YouTube video where he packed a lot of cameras into his truck, and among them was a panoramic camera. I have never seen any prints from that! So how does Adams break from his own tradition?

    That's another thing that drives me nuts, is that everybody has to find something to be "known for." You have to have a rut. You may not move out of that rut. And what is a rut? A very long grave.

  5. #145

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian C. Miller View Post
    What the artist needs to do is stay on the bus and see where it goes. The bus will diverge from the other routes, and go somewhere unique. The photographer needs to figure out what they want to photograph, and stick with it.
    Well put, absolutely right.
    Jeff Glass

    Photo Blog
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  6. #146

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    Anyone who tries to be different just to be different is an airhead. I don't care if you're a wannabee
    "artiste" or a guru/curator type. You only live once. Go with your heart. Maybe you'll get your fifteen
    minutes of fame, maybe you won't. Believe me, it's no big deal. What counts is the experience - living
    your own shots and prints. If you photograph to please others, you haven't lived photographically. Maybe you gotta do it just to make a living (even Weston had his detested portrait studio), but then
    there is still your own time. And don't listen to anyone who says, you can't shoot rocks or trees cause
    Ansel did that. Bullshit! Dauguerre photographed people almost two hundred years ago - so does that
    makes human irrelevant subject matter today? Worrying about trends if for featherweights. Maybe successful crooks prioritize that kind of thing, but they haven't lived either. Actual seeing, perceiving,
    and being able to eloquently put that perception into a print, that's what counts! But seeing how other
    accomplished people did this in the past is part of the learning curve. Someone who has never read a
    great novel is not likely to write one themself! And the kid down the street with a tuba is not likely
    to ever get welcomed to a symphony without some serious coaching!

  7. #147
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Anyone who tries to be different just to be different is an airhead.
    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    If you photograph to please others, you haven't lived photographically.
    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Worrying about trends is for featherweights.
    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

    (Especially that first observation.)

    Ken
    "Hate is an adolescent term used to stop discussion with people you disagree with. You can do better than that."
    —'blanksy', December 13, 2013

  8. #148
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    Yeah, but in the case of photography I think those rules and conventions have more to do with composition, line and light, and the like, as opposed to technique per se. The fine-art photography tradition certainly isn't the only place to get those things---the same principles apply in painting, of course, but also in photography that's well outside the fine-art mainstream. I think Weegee, for instance, is likely better known among the photo-student demographic than his Place In History(TM) might suggest, and you can learn a whole lot about composition from his work even though it clearly was never born for the gallery wall.

    Sure, students of anything are going to need to learn about their predecessors, but I'm pretty sure it's true in all times and all fields that they (1) think their instructors are hidebound fuddy-duddies for their obsession with the past, and (2) gradually grow into hidebound fuddy-duddies of their own in the natural course of events.

    If students raised in the online-social-media dialectic are less responsive than their predecessors to the f/64-fine-art stream of history, maybe that doesn't represent philistinism so much as a movement that has run its course and been assimilated into the Establishment...and who ever approached their education by saying "I want to grow up and be part of the Establishment!"?

    -NT
    I don't disagree, except as much as you have 21st century photographers trying to achieve certain looks, and that look has already been defined and formulated, yet they want to re-invent the wheel to get there. It's a bit of a chicken/egg problem made worse by the speed at which trends cycle. You have people today doing a lot of things to imitate things done in the past, and while they may be arriving at the same destination via a different route, they're claiming superiority and innovation when in fact it is equivalence and mimicry. I'm not saying don't get out there and play with your tools, don't make mistakes, don't experiment - I'm just saying if you want to experiment, know WHY the old thing you're trying to deviate from was done in the first place. Today's wet plate work is a great example. A lot of folks are using it and producing intentionally sloppy pours of collodion and streaky, blotchy development as a counterpoint to the clinical exactitude of the digital inkjet print and to a lesser extent the silver-gelatin enlargement. They're doing it in contrast to that precision as a way to point out the uniqueness and organic quality of the images they're making, and in contrast to the traditional way of making wet-plate images where the photographers from the 1860s to the 1920s making ambrotypes and tintypes would go for as clean and flawless a pour and development as possible, and then mask the edges of their plates where things were less than perfect.

    All very fine and good - you know what you're doing and why you're doing it. But trying to imitate that with some other technique for the sake of doing it with the other technique be it chemical or digital does become a case of making a violin sound like a tuba because you can. You're not doing it to make a statement - you're just trying to latch on to a trend. I think it's very hard to establish what "breaking the rules" with digital media consists of right now because they're still in their infancy and the rules are not yet established. So we're seeing a lot of folks doing things that break the old rules but don't have a good explanation for why they're breaking the old rule, and why the old rule should be broken. That's certainly true for things like print presentation - the old rule is still "bring me 20+ matted prints in pristine mats with well-cut windows, large margins, properly exposed/printed, etc". No reason why I can think of that that rule should be thrown out yet. But you can certainly try to make a case for an individual rejection of it - "my work is mounted on driftwood because I want to make a comment on the transient and impermanent nature of existence" or "I'm rejecting the clinical aesthetic of presenting work in mats and frames because they serve to erect an elitist barrier between the audience and the artwork". But don't just show up with a box of loose prints that says you don't give a shit about your own presentation.

  9. #149

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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Anyone who tries to be different just to be different is an airhead. I don't care if you're a wannabee
    "artiste" or a guru/curator type. You only live once. Go with your heart. Maybe you'll get your fifteen
    minutes of fame, maybe you won't. Believe me, it's no big deal. What counts is the experience - living
    your own shots and prints. If you photograph to please others, you haven't lived photographically. Maybe you gotta do it just to make a living (even Weston had his detested portrait studio), but then
    there is still your own time. And don't listen to anyone who says, you can't shoot rocks or trees cause
    Ansel did that. Bullshit! Dauguerre photographed people almost two hundred years ago - so does that
    makes human irrelevant subject matter today? Worrying about trends if for featherweights. Maybe successful crooks prioritize that kind of thing, but they haven't lived either. Actual seeing, perceiving,
    and being able to eloquently put that perception into a print, that's what counts! But seeing how other
    accomplished people did this in the past is part of the learning curve. Someone who has never read a
    great novel is not likely to write one themself! And the kid down the street with a tuba is not likely
    to ever get welcomed to a symphony without some serious coaching!
    I think you started out really strong here but I don't think you finished. Being different just be different is worthless but it doesn't end with so just be. I don't think that's helpful.

    C.S. Lewis said that if you try to be original you will end up copying everything that happened before you, but if you try to tell the truth you will end up being original.

    That's helpful. Don't try to be different. Try to tell the truth.

  10. #150

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    OK. That's a nice clarification. It reminds me how back in the sixties all the hippies tried so hard to look different and individual, that they all ended up looking the same! Or now, everyone want a tatoo,
    with the same result. Lemming mentality. But it takes some track record before one realizes what they
    really want. And sometimes one does need an outside catalyst to get things to gel.



 

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