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  1. #1
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Why process matters. How to get better?

    So, below is a link to a really interesting talk about work and motivation, the specific corollary to photography that got my attention starts at about 12:50, for those that want to go directly to the thought.

    http://www.ted.com/playlists/133/dan...playlist_image

    The two thoughts that stand out for me in the next few minutes of the video are 1- that added effort adds value for us, 2- that of our own work, we are not necessarily great judges of how they fit in the world. That doesn't always matter, for example I can be very happy with a print because I had some minor success or leap forward in my craftwork, but my wife may be (read that as "is regularly") unimpressed when I show it off to her.

    When I work on my own I regularly do the typical "photographer thing" and judge it on the details of the craftwork.

    When I show others, people who will be straight with me or don't know they are mine, my work gets judged almost exclusively on content.

    It may seem obvious, but it is a tough lesson to apply when we have a lot of work in something.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  2. #2

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    Interesting video. Self assessment is always difficult. I've seen someone state here or on some other forum that they wait 6 months before printing a negative. Perhaps this is to give some time and therefore emotional distance from the labor involved in creating the negative. Perhaps this allows them be a harsher critic of their own work. I fall into the trap of seeing scenes as I want them to be, not as they really are. It is only later after evaluating the negative that I realize I saw the scene through some mental filter and not as it was. Working with film has slowed me down, allowing me to take that pause to assess the scene before pressing the shutter release. I've also learned to listen to my heart more.
    My flickr stream

  3. #3

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    Yes, the work SHOULD be judged on content. It's about the image after all. I hear too many photographers moan how a print isn't tack sharp in the corners....big deal! It really isn't about that or focus or development. Those are just to help the image along, but a perfectly developed and in focus shot of two people's back of their heads on a smoke break is not worth much. Only the photographer can judge whether a shot works or not. The rest is just other people's opinions.

  4. #4
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by momus View Post
    Only the photographer can judge whether a shot works or not. The rest is just other people's opinions.
    While I agree that the photographer should be the final arbiter of what photos they show, I also believe that photography is at its root a mode of communication, if we intend to be relevant, our audience has to be considered.

    We need to know if our audience gets it or is even interested in looking.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by momus View Post
    Yes, the work SHOULD be judged on content. It's about the image after all. ...
    It's also possible to mount a case that the physical structure of a photograph, not just the content, carries significant meaning. If the medium is discounted all the connotations that the medium bears about its relationship to subject matter are lost. And all the connections to the physical art process go too.

    These non-content signs; tone, surface, colour, processing marks, etc are readable by aware people who use them to enrich their viewing experience. In effect they enhance picture-looking by mentally retracing the creative and effortful journey of the original picture-maker.

    But yes, casual picture viewing by people without this deeper knowledge, or with different priorities, usually boils down to merely identifying content: a picture is just a picture is just a picture.
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
    casual picture viewing by people without this deeper knowledge, or with different priorities, usually boils down to merely identifying content: a picture is just a picture is just a picture.
    Appreciation does not require knowledge of production.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
    a picture is just a picture is just a picture.
    Others have had that thought too.

    All I care about these days is painting - photography has never been more than a way into painting, a sort of instant drawing. - Henri Cartier-Bresson, A Propos De Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson , ISBN: 0821224964 , Page: 12-13
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    Others have had that thought too

    All I care about these days is painting - photography has never been more than a way into painting, a sort of instant drawing. - Henri Cartier-Bresson, A Propos De Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson , ISBN: 0821224964 , Page: 12-13.
    Sounds like a man trying to escape his past, like Robert Frank (who disliked fame and once sent a friend a stack of prints with a nail driven through them) being forever chained to The Americans. A great photographer for sure, but Bresson sounds a little hollow: 'Thanks for the dollars Photography, bye!' Painting loves to piss on Photography. It's like that poor cousin who drops by unexpectedly, parking his rusty Plymouth Voyager next to the BMWs in your gated community.

    Process does matter, but if you judge your work against anything other than what your heart is after (even if it hasn't yet told you what that is) you'll be doomed to making images someone else is too lazy to make for themselves. Maybe that's what you want; each of us have to answer that.
    I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
    - Garry Winogrand

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    The number one thing for me is how much impact the content of the photograph has, not the craft. The arrival at a fine print is really only possible for me if the image rocks, I have no desire to print any image that falls short of this.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by PKM-25 View Post
    The number one thing for me is how much impact the content of the photograph has, not the craft. The arrival at a fine print is really only possible for me if the image rocks, I have no desire to print any image that falls short of this.
    How do you figure out if the image rocks?
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

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