For a text written in 1980, this is very far-seeing. It is certainly true that digitization has decimated the stock photography market, since a single picture can be in several places at once and does not get ruined through people standing their coffee cups on it.
As regards news photography, it is not because of computers that we do not see work to rival W. Eugene Smith and Cartier Bresson, but rather because of the cult of celebrity and the fact that for the last 30 or 35 years advertisers in major magazines have more and more refused to buy advertising in magazines that carry "depressing" stories.
From the point of view of artists in general and art photographers in particular, I think the fact that through the Internet virtually everything ever done in any medium is instantly accessible means that it is more important than ever for artists to do some new and never repeat what has been done in the past.
Good quote - thanks for it!
Whoa .... zen moments hidden somewhere ....
Interesting comments. Human nature being what it is, is always able to come up with something new. Tis rather arrogant to assume all the "greats" of the past has done all and there is nothing left to do. If this were the case, we would be a rather boring species. Just look at our expanding base of knowledge, It's expanding at an incredible pace and the pace is increasing each year. It used to be that the sum of all knowledge would expand by doubling every 20 years. Now we are down to less than 5 years ... or maybe even 2 years.
If no new and unique pictures are possible, how is it that our knowledge base is still expanding? Isn't a picture used to convey information or invoke an emotion or help discovery a new truth? Gathering of knowledge is needed to produce a picture. The idea of "all the pictures are all now taken" and then stored carefully for future generations to ooo and ahhh over, in someone else's reality maybe but not mine. I am not content to sit still and meekly accept that I cannot do what Smith did or have his intensity. I can't do what he did but neither do I have a wish to. He had his OWN vision and he followed it. Intensity of the pursuit of the ultimate image? Why can't I have the same intensity? His intensity is in one direction whereas mine maybe be along the same path but it doesn't have to be. Does a different path other than the "master's" invalidate the intensity of my pursuit of my goal?
I teach my students my side of the truths, but I encourage them to seek out their own truths as it fit into their lives. No more different images possible? Unless we are all the same person, I think we still have a chance to create some amazing images, on par with the "greats" of the past. I see it in the picture galleries here.
My rather flip response to that is "well, I haven't photographed it yet", but that betrays a certain amount of arrogance I won't try to deny. The real problem I have with what I tend to call the "cult of novelty" that I have seen before as a student is that it elevates "new" to the status of "good", and correspondingly "old" is identified with "bad".
I don't know what to make of it as a commercial endeavor; my photography is strictly hobby. And as a hobbyist, "I haven't done it yet" is IMHO a perfectly good reason to continue shooting. I don't want to make copies of the old work, of course, but to do something like that in my own style.
I agree with gchpaco. I photograph not because I'm trying to do something never done before, but because I want to. Just because something has been photographed before is no reason not to photograph it again.
By that reasoning there should only be two (bw and colour) landscapes, two portraits, two still lifes, two abstract etc etc photographs in existence.
I photograph on my local beach at least three times a week, each time I get different results from the same materials, the light is different, the sky is different, the wildlife is different... and I still do not tire of trying to find that one shot where I will say 'That's the one.' If I had the mindset of 'I've already photographed there' I would have missed many great photographs. (great to me anyway!)
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
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We are all individuals distinct and to some degree unknowable by others. Although we might stand in line to shoot the same object each of us would have a unique image -- because we are individuals and because time has passed between the succession of exposures.
Finally, why would the similarity of what has come before stop you from doing it today. Why do you take pictures, is it to fill some gap left open by prior photographers. Do you stop breathing, eating, living because it is all so redundant?
I take pictures because I wish to make pictures. If by some chance in hell i make the exact exposure and produce the exact print with crop etc... as someone else and I discover that someone else's image I will be quite surprised, amused or even thrilled.
Originally Posted by fred
I've been through this in my mind a million times, and what it simply comes down to - for me at least - is the fact that nothing gives me the thrill that photography does. That feeling - after nearly 25 years - has never left me. It is only recently that I've come to realize that this is not something to take for granted. When I was younger I did take those kinds of feelings for granted, only to see, over the years, how passions once intense and meaningful do sometimes manage to fade away. For me, the guitar is a perfect example. When I started playing as a teenager back in the early 1980's, learning a familiar song gave me the same kind of thrill as photography did. Now, I pick up one of my guitars and inevitably put it down after five minutes. It means nothing to me; the thrill is gone, as BB King says. Not so with my camera. The heart-pounding adrenaline rush is still there when I'm setting up my equipment in front of what I think will be a great photograph. If this is how you feel, then I say by all means forge ahead regardless of what has gone before. The last thing on my mind when I'm in the field is worry that "this has been done before" - in fact, I probably spend more time wondering if my attitude towards photography makes me a narcissist than I do wondering if I'm being redundant)...
Hope this helps?
Originally Posted by fred
Believe me, not everything has been photographed. And yes, by all means buy a photobook; if you are refereing to a "how to" book, buy many. And I agree you should not be producing more bad images, in fact, why not get out of photography entirely.
"… it takes a lot of courage (or arrogance) for any photographer to go out again and again taking even more pictures to add to the ever-growing abundance of photography."
And even more arrogance to keep writing. All the great themes have been written & re-written countless times. Why doesn't this hack lobby for people to quit writing drivel such as his?
This point of view is certainly tempting to invest in, but I hope you'll abandon it. First of all, people are always taken by what's actually in front of them...a real print in their hand is far more significant than a monitor representation of anybody elses anything. Secondly, we each see in our own unique way. Unless you're planting your tripod in someone else's holes, your view will be unique because it's yours. Thirdly, as has been mentioned above, the cult of the 'original' is, for want of a better word, POOPOOKAKA!! It's probably true that everything's been photographed before, but so what! People themselves, if you think about it that way, are entirely redundant of each other, but there's no way in hell I'm going to check out early just because there are probably untold numbers of people my age, who look like me, earn what I do, have the same number of children, a wife, a house...etc, etc. What nonsense! Enjoy as many books as you please, but use them to inspire and not discourage you. Go make photographs!!!!!!!!!!!
Originally Posted by fred