Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
Absolutely - nothing is forbidden in my opinion either - I could not agreemore! While I prefer Ed's approach to not just my own "work", but when experiencing that of others, I can certainly see much room for flexibility. Take for example and image as an illustration, or reflection on, or reaction to another piece of work, be it a piece of music, a poem, a quote - I feel that it is not at all out of place or certainly not unheard of, to read or hear or view something which inspires you, and include that piece as part of the presentation. Lets say you read a poem and it conjures an image in your mind, so off you go, camera in hand, looking to materialize the image in your mind. Or the reverse - you look at an image you made and it feels intimately connected to something you have read or heard or seen.
Another thing to take into account is a collage-like approach. I think there is nothing sacreligious about combining several madia to make your statement: a poem and a photo, a photo and some hand drawn images, or photo displayed in such a way that a piece of music is played while it is on display.
But, I also think that what I just described is different than "explaining", but rather a part of a preconcieved plan or presentation.
For example one could take a photo of me in all my "glory", or just play a recording of howling wind, howling on and on and on and on and on.....
For my own work, I don't see a point in including any kind of story. They would pretty much well all be the same anyways:
"Well, I was walking down this alley and the textures of this wall/collisions of opposing materials/placement of the piece of graffiti grabbed my eye."
I guess it all comes down to the subject matter as to whether or not a story fits. As well, it would be up to the viewer as to whether or not a story is wanted. Personally, I generally don't care what the story is behind the photograph. I want to experience the photograph as it is, unbiased by anything else. If the photo can stand on it's own, without a backstory, that is a quality image. If it needs a story to have a full impact, specifically if the photo is alright, but the story makes it seem great, then I think the photo needs some work.
words/no words = depends on type of photography
I think that whether or not to include a long description or narrative depends on the type of photography used.
Documentary and journalism usually requires a full narrative to give the image context. Without text, an image viewer unfamilliar with the subject has no idea what is going on in the photo. The description must explain why the subject is important. Sometimes this will be a detailed explanation while other images may only need a title or a date and location.
Artistic photography, in my opinion, should not require a description or even a title. It should stand on its own, and should communicate a simple feeling or a more complex idea without need for a description. In fact I think that an image with an interpretive title is more of a gimmik than true art. A title or description may add some context to a peice of art, but it should not be required to make it artistic.
Now, I'm not saying that documentary and journalism cannot be artistic. But I think the distinction must be made between an image that communicates on its own verses an image that has little value without a description or title.
To answer the original question of "why don't many photographer tell their "story" or the "why" behind their images"
i think there are many reasons. Some photographers want the images to communicate on their own. Some may just be lazy. Some may be self-critical of the process what went into taking/making the image. Some may not have an interesting story or 'why'.
I would think the majority falls into the last catagory. A description may look like this:
"I went to take a photo of the golden gate bridge. I planted my tripod at the tourist lookout and set my camera to autoexposure. I framed the bridge and took one image. I knew it was good so I left."
or like this:
"I was on my morning walk and I saw this really cool X, so I took a photo and it turned out great"
I think that most photographers take photos of things they find , rather than pre-planning every detail of the image and artistic intention. And they are just happy to have a nice sharp image (or fuzzy, as the trend seems to be lately) they can show their friends.
Because most of them don't know why.
Originally Posted by darinwc
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On the one hand a statement or story can be a real plus, on the other hand it can really suck and undermine the image. How many people learn photography and writing at an equal rate of proficiency? Maybe some don't want to write and prefer to let the image do the talking, so to speak. Do you look at a painting and say "where is the explaination"? Personally I like a little note about what I am looking at if it is approprate, well thought out and written. Long rambling statements like that don't get to the point, like the one I am writing now, are boring.