My reason for "singling" out these processes is because I find it that people who are shooting with ULF and Alt. Process seem to almost brag about their work more and seem to put themselves on a higher pedestal than photographers who shoot in small formats. Is a photo of a tree any better because someone carried a 90lb camera through the woods and then printed it with highly toxic chemicals?
I am with Bill on this one, I have not seen these self proclaimed paragons you are attempting to bring off their lofty process created predestals. In fact I have found these folks to be the most humble when discussing their work. I have yet to find anyone as helpful as the ULF photographers on this site. Please point out, even one instance of which you speak so I, and others, can better understand where you are coming from.
I think it has been established quite well that users of all formats are capable of taking pictures of crap and are able to post those images in one venue or another. SO what? As long as the photgrapher is having fun and doing what they like, not bending to the wishes or whims of those who say we need to be working outside the box, or making "more interesting images", then all the paower to them.
Sure it might be harder to take a large camera into the field, hike with it, set it up, process etc... but I have yet to hear any ULF Alt Process photog make the claim that this effort makes a better image.
I agree with you about Mann's photography, but I think she is only exploring another facet of her photography. What always impressed me about her early work was the portraits in the landscape. In my mind her lanscape work lacks a person. I don't think she is in a process rut though, just working outside her box and exploring something different. Maybe she can combine the two. I'll have to go looking for her new stuff.
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
This is an odd standard. I wouldn't necessarily be proud nor would I aspire to produce much of the work I enjoy or even work that moves me. For my self, I realize I have specific capabilities, desires, and goals and I know that they are not all encompassing nor are they the limit of what attracts me or the measure of what is good.
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
I can't agree with you more about reproduction on the screen vs in person. And I agree with you and others that there is a fair amount of "alt process" work that is uninteresting... to me. I just disagree that it is any more so than with traditional processes and I don't understand generalizing alt process practitioners as is being done in this thread. I'm sure you will agree that conclusions drawn about a specific group based upon overall impressions one might have can cause much more trouble than small disagreements on this board.
As for whom you might see from your position of learning and experience as being unworthy of chasing alternative processes due to their lack of aestetic success, I think it is a case of agreeing to disagree. I have met more than a few people who dabble with alt processes of varying degrees that think nothing more or less of themselves as photographers or artists because of this. It matters not to me that they chase whatever it is that pleases them. In fact several do not even harbour thoughts of doing anything more with their work than putting it in a box. It is the act of creating it that satisfies them. Why simply buy something off the shelf to do what makes them happiest? Perhaps they are obsessive types as you say, but even that is said as if you find these people distasteful. (Are we really taking part in a thread calling others on placing themselves on a pedestal among other things?) The fact that from anyone's elevated position it may be ludicrous that they wish to focus on their technique matters not to them. There really are those I know that do not seem to connect their ego to the work they produce.
A for what constitutes dull, dull, dull we need to look no further than ourselves to find that. Due to this, I have never seen the sense in publicly saying that of another's work, nameless or not.
Enjoy that grappa!
Originally Posted by billschwab
This is an excellent point. I was told something similar recently by a member when I complained about those who shoot rocks, trees and abandoned barns. I wish I would remember these things prior to typing.
My website and current work reflects what I am currently working on right now and plan to for at least the near future. Previous to my color work I was very much into b&w, I had mixed my own chemistry (pyro), used efke films, all that jazz. I have moved to color photography mainly due to personal preference and I feel that I am able to more express "me" than I am with another medium at this time (I am in no way trying to promote that color is better than black & white, by the way). I do, infact, print all of my own color work. I have a lab develop my film, but that is mainly due to the amount of time it takes and the consistancy a lab gives me. I'm not sure I'm understanding your tag of "imagemaker." Basically the only step I am not doing that someone who is working with b&w doesn't do is develop the negative. I put just as much effort, if not more sometimes, into printing a color image as I ever did printing a b&w image. From what you wrote, my understanding is that a "printmaker" is able to do everything an "imagemaker can do, and more. I don't understand what separates me from being a "printmaker." I'm also a little confused as to how you describe "color photography" as a subject in and of itself...
Originally Posted by smieglitz
And, since you asked, some of my favorite Alt. Process photographers at the moment are Lewis Carroll (which, looking at his reasoning on photography, probably seems hypocritical of me), Bellocq, I like some of Jill Enfield's work, Terry Towery (both of the latter are going to be professors of mine in the coming year), and Joel-Peter Witkin.
I am well aware that pretty much anything relating to aestheticism is opinionated- and with this in mind I'm not sure why a lot of people are taking some of my claims personally. Up until this post I have not named any names nor given specific examples. I am merely expressing my opinion towards something and asking for other people's reactions on the matter. Thanks.
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Really?!? It really sure looks like he is implying this by the insistence on posting this same argument twice in this thread. For all I know all photography can be classfied this way, some people dislike photojournalism, some street photography, we all can certainly ask "why do photojournalists take such boring pictures?"
Originally Posted by Grady O
As to the shots which would not have been shot in a smaller format argument, who cares? They shouldnt be, working in a smaller format is not the same!!!
And, since you asked, some of my favorite Alt. Process photographers at the moment are ............and Joel-Peter Witkin.
Well there you go! Is it any wonder that you dislike the subject matter tha is typically is shot by an ULF or LF photgrapher? BTW, Witkin does not do alt process.....
We agree about more than we disagree about, but here we are getting into another area that is worthy of its own thread: the question of showing others your work.
If you (and again, by 'you' I mean I, we, all of us) are genuinely working for yourself, fior your own amusement/edification/interest, then the only reason to show anyone else your work, ever, is for further guidance on technical progress; and then, it behoves you to choose your victims carefully.
But as soon as you put your work in a gallery, to my mind you are inviting aesthetic criticism as well as technical. I agree that we can all find dull, dull, dull work in our own oeuvre -- or at least, I admit it for myself, as I would not dream of presuming thus to judge your work; but if we cannot also judge another's work as dull, dull, dull, why do we ever bother to judge anything? If we do not judge anything, then a minilab print is as worthy as a 12x15 platinum contact print, so he is a fool who makes the 12x15 platinum contact print.
Judgement of our own work, and that of others, is inherent in any aesthetic undertaking. It is irrelevant whether we agree. You may prefer Picasso, I, Poussin; or photographically, Salgado or Fenton. But we have to judge. This is not a matter of ego. It is inherent in art.
Where we must agree to differ, as you say, is in the wisdom or otherwise of trying the difficult (ULF, alternative processes) before mastering the relatively easy: it brings to mind the old exhortation to learn to walk before you try to run.
Here is my position: I have always seen the aesthetic and technical sides of photography as necessarily feeding upon one another in a sort of benevolent spiral. I am therefore equally unimpressed by those who smite their brows and say, "I am an ARTIST! I have no need of vulgar technique!" and by those who concentrate on technique and technicality to the exclusion of art. I have to say, though, that I have seen more successful pictures by those who disdain technique than by those whose sole concern is technique.
Something I would add is that some techniques and processes suit some subjects better than others, so a picture that might fail utterly as a silver gelatine enlargement might work as a salt print, and vice versa. But this still does not preclude aesthetic judgement.
I didn't say I COULD do it, or even that I would want to; merely that if by chance I had produced it, I should be proud of it.
Originally Posted by jd callow
I can't wrote like Shakespeare, either, but if I could, I'd be proud of it.
If it doesn't move me in one way or another, I'd not be proud of producing it.
There's a difference between condemning a specific photographer's work, and condemning an overworked, cliched theme that is tackled without imagination. Even the overworked, cliched theme can, with sufficient genius, be transformed into a good or great picture. It's just that usually, it isn't. By coincidence this was precisely the theme of one of my recent 'Matter of Opinion' columns in Amateur Photographer, where I railed against the ghastly Lone Tree, as much an icon of the last 15 years as the Spanish fisherman mending his nets was in the 1950s.
Originally Posted by jd callow