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  1. #51
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    ...the same thing as putting legs on a snake from where I sit.
    That would be cool.

    (Off to the garage to get a screwdriver)

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KBPhotoRantPhotoPermitAPUG flickr Robot

  2. #52
    MenacingTourist's Avatar
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    This has been an interesting thread.
    Art is a funny thing to nail down. It's like talking about love or what salt tastes like. Photography is sometimes art and sometimes not. Sometimes it's not meant to be and sometimes it just can't help it.

    I think painting is easier to talk about than photography as far as this thread is concerned. I've been painting for years and just lately feel like I'm starting to figure out what's really going on. I don't necessarily feel like my "story" needs to be told to the public but the fact that I am starting to understand IT is what is really important. With photography I'm only at the stage of exploring a medium and becoming familiar with the tools and how they relate to my voice.

    I think when Robert Teague says he's only documenting God's creations he has come to the place where he understands the why of what he's doing and giving substance to his voice. It's a simple statement that may not make him a public icon but at least he has one. His story is enough for him.

    Then there are some photographers who's only motivation is to document. I look at 5 generations of my family history in photographs and I'm very thankful for this type of photographer. They don't really need a story but thier work may have great value at some point.

    I guess my take on this is since there are so many different kinds of photography and photographers, a story may have relevance or it may not even be necessary. Take a look inside yourselves and find out why you do what you do. Then ask yourself what you want to do and where you want to go. Granted there are exceptions at every turn

    Who knows, maybe I'll end up in a couple of years with the knowledge that painting is where I should stay and my photography has gone absolutely no where and really has no value. I'll probably not hear that assesment from any of you (you're all too nice) so I'll try to be honest with myself. I make part of my living as an artist so my photography has to pay off or be abandoned. Until I figure that out, I'll enjoy myself.

  3. #53
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    I think it very much depends on what you are trying to say with your images. For the work I do that is literal, that is landscapes, architecture, etc, the only writing I do for those images is in the title of the piece so that the viewer knows the phyiscal context of the image - ie Livery Stable, Bodie, California, 2005. When I am doing more figurative work, especially when the work is referencing other work that may or may not be easily recognizable, I write more extensively, and prepare a statement about the body of work. I do a lot of work with the human figure, and much of it is in series - a group of images that together illustrate a story. I read extensively about the classics and the Renaissance when I was in school, and classical/Renaissance themes are a strong influence for me. One body of work I shot is "episodes from the life of Hercules". One could certainly look at those images and tell the basic story being shown by the image titles, but MY how and why would be missing. In my Hercules series, I shot the entire series with Asian-American models, to make statements about the perception of Asian-Americans, the perception of race, and the universality of mythology. Without an explanation of that, most people would be left looking at the photos saying, "gorgeous images, but why is Hercules a Vietnamese man?".

    As to why do lots of photographers NOT tell their stories behind their images? I think some of it has to do with the fact that they have chosen a visual medium to communicate with in the first place, and while photography is not inherently or exclusively literal, it is percieved as the most literal of arts, therefore words are not needed. Just as church artwork five hundred years ago was intended to tell a specific story in a universally interpretable way, to make that story accessible to those who could not read, so photography is today. We expect it to tell a literal, universally interpretable truth, without words. We expect it to lack abstraction, to be credible, to be a replacement for language. To borrow a concept from the post-structuralists, we expect it to be both signifier and signified, therefore replacing the need for language. This is of course not true, but it does not stop us from believing it at least subconsciously.

    The cultural myth exists that tells us we can hand a photograph of New York City to a tribesman from Upper Volta who has never seen a city before, and he will be able to properly interpret the photograph as a depiction of reality. If we accept this myth as valid, then why do we need to talk about our work? It is what it is, and should be available and interpretable to anyone with sufficient common frame of reference. The breakdown in this is of coruse the common frame of reference - the tribesman from upper volta may not be able to interpret a picture of a skyscraper at all, or he may have a distorted notion of what one is if all he has to go by is the photograph. If people are unfamiliar with the story of Hercules and Hylas, they will not get the context of the photographs and therefore miss the message.

  4. #54

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    I am reminded of a shorter version of Paul Strand's sentiment quoted early on here. "Everyone has a book in them--and they should keep it there." Pretty cynical but still...

  5. #55

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    This has been interesting but I think a lot of people misunderstood what I meant by story. No matter people's responses were interesting.

    I don't know much about strand as a person but he sure sounds like a real a**ho*e
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  6. #56
    Daniel Lawton's Avatar
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    Well for me, I take a photo because what I see in front of me looks neat and interesting. If the viewer of my photo also thinks that it is neat and interesting, then I have connected with him/her. If not, I don't think I will be able to change this through words. Personally I have never see a photo I disliked, read the background info or description, and then changed my mind. Admittedly, I find some of these written additions to a photo interesting, but in no way does it effect the raw success or failure of an image in my eyes

  7. #57
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    "For the thousandth time, it must be said that pictures speak for themselves, wordlessly, visually, --- or they fail. Walker Evans, 1957

    Like it or not he was probably correct, but, would James Agee agree? Probably. My opinion is simple, I don't wish to have my thoughts infected by pablum; especially from the artist. I don't expect my experience making a photograph bears any relation to the experience viewing one. One would have to be delusional, egomaniacal, and contemptuous to make such a connection. Delusional, egomaniacal, and contemptuous? Sounds like alot of artists I know. :>)
    Chris Saganich
    http://www.imagebrooklyn.com

  8. #58

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    You could also end up like Burtynsky - he's far more interesting to listen to talk about his photographs than are the photographs themselves

  9. #59

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    The story behind most images is only interesting to photographers, not the other 99.9% of the viewers.
    Success comes in cans.............. Failure comes in cant's

  10. #60

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    I am a painter and a photographer and I do not like to "explain" or tell the story of my work. Usually there is not grand hidden deep meaning to them at all. I like people to decide on their own what the story is, or what they feel when they look at it. Many times I will look at a work and then read the blurp next to it on the wall and find myself somewhat let down at the artist "story".

    I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do it, and some do help explain things but for me I prefer not to, and I usually don't read beyond the title of the work.
    Shannon

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