Bad Art & the Untrained Eye
I'm trying to figure out how to put into words what I'm thinking - hopefully this will come out right...
I've been working on a collection of 12 - 16 prints in memory of my late Grandfather. These prints are meant to remain as a whole - not split apart to hang on walls, etc. I decided I would enlist the help of my Grandmother to help me weed out the "lesser" impactive prints before I present them to the rest of the family.
I had in mind the prints I did and did not want included - though I kept this opinion to myself. One by one, I handed the prints to my Grandma, and I was shocked at her reaction to them. The ones I believed to be the best (due to composition, exposure, printing - you know - all the "technical" things) effected little reaction from her. The ones I thought were the worst she just made all over about. Why did I think they were the worst? Lack of definite subject, distractions from the main subject, bad exposure, lack of details, it just wasn't catching, too busy, etc.
It was obvious she wasn't paying attention to any of that. What she brought to the table was a lifetime of memories with her - and that's how she viewed the photographs.
Now I come from a family (parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) that do not have a well defined artistic eye. Neither do I for that matter, but I've read so many books on photography and studied so many prints (like all of you) that I have developed a definition of what I think is a fine print. None of this mattered to my Grandmother. I have a strong feeling the rest of my family will be the same way.
Now I feel I'm stuck between a rock and hard place. I don't know how I'd feel about including pictures I'm not happy with, but at the same time, I don't know how I'd feel NOT including pictures that help her (or others) recall fond memories.
Why am I writing this? Hm. Probably because I need to get this off my chest. I'm also open to any words of wisdom.
Thanks for letting me rant.
will this be a collage to hang on the wall, separate framed pictures? or all on one matt board.
If it's all on one and it's for the family then go with the grandma picks. these are memories not art. Folks want to have happy thoughts and that will go farther then composition and exposure in this situation.
Just my opinion,
When dealing with family photographs that help tell the story of the family, or the history of a family, or just brings back memories of times that have past from out lives, even as a photographer, I feel that we need to let go of our definition of photography and let the emotion of the photograph that has such strong feeling to the family take the lead, I learned this when working in the photography shop, where we did many duplications of very poor pictures by definition, but were the best pictures in the world in the eyes of the family, our training of photography has little impact when dealing with these family mementos..
Good luck on your choices, and may they bring the memories flooding into the hearts of souls of the family they effect so much.
Now you know why Disc, 110, 126 and cheap digi-gizmo cameras were/are so popular: it's not the artistic/technical qualities that people are looking for, but the strong emotional responses and memories the image(s) elicit.
My suggestion - make a scrapbook with the photos in plastic sleeves and include them all. I know it is a lot of work, but you will be satisfying your artist urge and the longing for those wonderful memories your family looks for.
Best of luck.
Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
"I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc
I've done projects somewhat like this. I always find myself wishing at some point that I had chosen the photos entirely myself, but then in the end I usually feel that the input was valuable. Sometimes, the more I ask for input the more I find myself understanding how I feel about the images myself. For example, if there are two photos showing a relatively similar subject, and I can't decide which to include, my family will usually choose one when asked and in looking at it I will then understand all the reasons I knew they would choose it, and the reasons I probably would actually rather they chose the other. If it is more than a passing irritation to learn that I prefer the other, I'll print them both. But for the most part, I have found that the difference is really only there on a few images out of a portfolio of many, and it doesn't hurt me to let somebody else have a bit of influence over the finished product if it is to grace their wall. If it is for mine...different story.
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In pictures of families people don't SEE the photographs, they FEEL them.
In my field of portraiture, I have a built in acceptance factor because people aren't really looking objectively at anything. They are feeling all the emotions that members of a family illicit.
However if you can achieve good composition etc you will probably get respect from both the family as well as someone with no direct emotional attachment.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
Indeed, so true as to be worthy of being engraved in gold.
Originally Posted by blansky
First off - I am not an artist - as I've said before, I couldn't compose a duck on water.
Michael got it right - families "feel" the memories that the photos bring to the front.
Why not make the book a bit bigger? Include at least 1/2 of what your Grandma thinks are important and the rest select yourself to satisfy your own emotions?
just my $0.02
If you are making an album, I'd go strictly with Grandma's selection and call it "Grandpa in Grandma's Eyes" or some other semi-poetic nonsense that includes both of them.
If it is for a collage or multi-windowed mat, then I'd select half of Grandma's and half of yours. IMHO, a unit collection of all technically poor photos looks tacky and uncaring. A collection of 'good' photos mixed with 'loved' photos makes the loved ones stand out as special.
I have to say, I don't know of any 'technically poor' family photos, and after going through the death of my mother and putting together a collage for her memorial, there is no such thing as semi-poetic nonsense when your dealing with family memories...
Originally Posted by bluetexasbonnie
Technically poor refers to someone having training in art photography or some other definition of the photographic field and having the ability to tell the difference between a so called 'Good' photo and a bad photo, I can assure you, to the people that do care about the family memories, it is not tacky and it is certainly not uncaring..
Just my .02