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Thread: Fraud or Art

  1. #11
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    On the other hand, if it were presented as stock photography, we might think it was tacky (like if someone dressed some actors as nuns or orthodox Jews, for instance), but would it be that different from the sorts of photos we see in advertising all the time, where actors or models are dressed in "realistic" situations (well, just like the real world, except all the people are more attractive) in an office, or a kitchen, or catching a taxi, etc.?
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  2. #12

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    I do like the photo, I don't feel cheated, just disappointed. But at least they explain what was done.

  3. #13
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    why did he bother to photograph in Amish country? or did he? in PPA isn't the staging...the formula poses and the accepted lighting what is important?

    Don't know myself I am not a member....

    I might make myself a desert Amish photo.....or does it only work amongst the cows? the do seem overly interested...like "say what the hell is goin on"

  4. #14
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Hey, Dave, do you see the Amish in Vegas much? Maybe during rumspringa.
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  5. #15
    jovo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim
    it all just depedns on cotnext.

    What's the difference between this and Julia Cameron dressing her servants up as figures from Greek mythology or whatever
    .

    I think the difference is that no one suspected that the Ms. Cameron had actually resurrected any mythological Greek characters. This Amish picture purports to be akin to what George Tice might have taken. Tice met the Amish and established a relationship that comes across in his images. This picture suggests something similar, but it's a fabrication.

    I don't think anyone believes advertising imagery is real...or at least I sure hope they don't.
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  6. #16
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    No really, Amish cows aren't really that interested in Amish people...it is a mundane thing.....but these cows, now that is another story....they have all stampeded to the fence to see the strange people in the "Amish" clothes

  7. #17
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    Nope Dave...not many in these parts...I'm about to change that!


    I did however when I was in high school live for 2 weeks in an Amish home in Arthur Illinois.....

  8. #18
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Maybe neither?

    I can't really see the image well in the thumbnail, and I can't read the text either. What I can see, doesn't impress me much.

    I don't know that "Fraud" would be a good label though - if I understand correctly, there is nothing hidden about this being a staged and manipulated image. IMHO there has to be some element of deception for it to be fraudulent.

    It seems to me that a much better question is - is it art?

    The (post-exposure) movement of parts of the image from one location to another in the scene is more cheesy than anything else. It certainly isn't an indication of quality, whether it is done digitally or otherwise.

    It seems to me that photographs which are staged or manipulated involve skills that are particular to the genre. If you like the approach and mind set of staged and manipulated work, then you may like this example, or may not. I have no doubt that the staging and manipulation can either be done well, or be done poorly.

    I think of the photography of Jeff Wall - those huge CIbachromes of staged events - whose appeal is impossible to describe, and hard to appreciate unless you see them in real life, where their scale and their banality, in all its cold detail, have an effect that is both disturbing and fascinating.

    IMHO, with the exception of purely environmental portraiture (i.e. portraiture where the subject is almost unaware of the photographer or the camera) every portrait involves at least some staging. The trick is to make that staging natural and faithful to the subject.

    I choose as an example the portraits I have seen here by Cheryl Jacobs. It is apparent to me that, in a fair amount of her work, what you see in the photograph is her subject's reaction to her and the environment she is working in. Just from looking at her work, I would guess that she has a very strong talent in realizing what environment will bring rise to the necessary reaction, creating that environment, and then capturing the image. That entire process is "staged" in that it is brought about at least in part, if not almost in entirety, by her intervention. The quality of the result comes at least in part from the quality of the staging.

    With respect to the manipulation, if in this instance the photographer had used either analogue or digital tools to remove a distraction like a fire hydrant from the photograph, it wouldn't offend me greatly, provided that the rest of the image was crafted in a professional manner. Moving the people to another location in the image is, however, just a sign of sloppiness at time of exposure.

    My opinion, FWIW, is that this is neither fraud, nor art, but rather just mediocre and uninspiring.

  9. #19

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    I don't care how it was made -- Great Art it ain't. If you like it, that's YOUR problem.

  10. #20
    MikeS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky
    What we have is a photographer who, "didn't want to bother the Amish", dressing people up to look Amish. Then he "did some minor retouching" by moving the fake Amish to the other side of the road because it looked better, and because he obviously didn't think to do it when he shot it.

    Then to top it off, one of the judges gives it high acclaim, in the box at the bottom.

    My problem is, this thing is a fraud from top to bottom, and is acclaimed by the top photographic association for pro portraits types, to be a great work.

    Your opinion?.....
    Actually I like the picture. What is it about the picture that you feel is a fraud? The use of models (something very common I believe) or the digital manipulation?

    As the photographer lives either in Amish country, or very close to it (I can't remember if his town is actually in the Amish country) I'm sure he has some knowledge of their culture, and it was probably easier to get the picture he wanted by dressing up his models to appear Amish, rather than to get actual Amish for it.

    As for the digital manipulation, if you accept that a digital image can be valid art, then you have to accept that the manipulations done to it do require some skills. I could not take a photo I've taken, and moved people across the street as well as was done in that picture. Unless he cut them from an area not in the finished picture, then he did a very good job of covering up where they had been.

    Another thing to consider, lots of professional organizations like to pat each other on the back. When one of their members makes an image like this, they love it, let somebody who's not one of them make the same image, and see how quickly they jump all over it as being trash!

    As always, just my $.02

    -Mike

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