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  1. #21
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    I think talking about composition and design is only a very tiny step past talking about equipment. I think the truly emotional/creative aspects of a person's photography have very little to do with photography. It has a lot more to do with what the photographer values, about who the photographer is as a person.

    The "rules" are guidelines to be learned and then encorporated when and how the photographer chooses. I do think there's much value in knowing the rules, for the same reason that there's value in knowing the other technical aspects of photography: to give the photographer the tools in his toolbelt to use in his own way, as he sees fit.

    A lot of photographers have asked me how they should go about developing their photographic style. I tell them to concentrate on developing as a human being, and photograph that journey.

  2. #22

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    One resource that I found very helpful was the book "Creative Elements" by Eddie Ephraums. Besides the valuable technical info, he explains why he chose one shot over another for the final print. Seeing what a photographer has rejected, and hearing the reasons why, can be as important as seeing final prints. This process has helped me view scenes in a different way; there aren't always hard and fast rules but some general guidelines that are helpful.
    If anyone knows of other books, etc., that they have found helpful in developing that artistic sense, it would be good to hear about them.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargazer
    Wigwam, I think you're mistaken in your concept of what 'rules' are - they are not written in stone, and following rules will not 'willy-nilly' provide an image that will be acceptable to most people. By themselves, they mean very little. I'm not saying they do not have a use, but what you can offer as a photographer or artist is what is important. If you are undertaking a commission for someone, then finding out what they want from you is much more complex than, say, following a set of rules for composition.
    Sorry, I thought I was saying that, essentially.

    And really, in personal work, if you don't aim to 'please yourself' even if it has to be 'please only [your]self' what is the point of doing it? Otherwise we'd all be doing market research to find the formula for success, rather than creating our own work, or finding our own 'style'.
    Cate
    Many of us are gratified when we able to provide enjoyment to others.

    Artists are often (and perhaps with some justification) called the ultimate narcissists. I do not disparage the photographer whose concern is mainly with how their photographs make them feel, but I find many photographers who have some concern with how their photographs make others feel more accessible.

    Put another way - does a storyteller tell stories to make themselves happy? Would they tell stories to themselves, alone at home? Or do they tell stories because of the pleasure they gain by bringing joy to others?

    I would never tell a photographer who wished only to please themselves that they were wrong to do so. I would likewise expect that my desire to please others as my way of making myself happy would be equally acceptable. The 'rules' as such would tend to be more useful to the latter than the former, wouldn't you agree?
    Best,

    Wiggy

    Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote

  4. #24
    Wigwam Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs
    A lot of photographers have asked me how they should go about developing their photographic style. I tell them to concentrate on developing as a human being, and photograph that journey.
    Pardon me for saying so, and I mean no disrespect, but I'd not find that response terribly helpful if I were just starting out.

    If someone asked me how to write a story, I would not advise them to seek their inner being and then write about that journey (not that the resulting story would not possibly be interesting). I might tell them about the elements of a typical story - plot construction, introduction, character development, crisis, resolution, dialog, voice, denouement, and so on. Those are a few of the 'rules' of writing stories.

    Does one have to follow them? Certainly not. Will following the rules blindly lead to a successful and celebrated story? Of course not. But it is a place to begin. It is a framework or a touchstone. And it is a manner in which many people expect stories to be constructed.

    And then, of course, there is Hemingway.

    In the end, one does what one pleases, as it should be. A logical place to begin is with the rules. In photography, I would ask your hypothetical questioner "What is it you wish to say?" I would proceed based on their answer.
    Best,

    Wiggy

    Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote

  5. #25
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wigwam Jones
    Pardon me for saying so, and I mean no disrespect, but I'd not find that response terribly helpful if I were just starting out.

    If someone asked me how to write a story, I would not advise them to seek their inner being and then write about that journey (not that the resulting story would not possibly be interesting). I might tell them about the elements of a typical story - plot construction, introduction, character development, crisis, resolution, dialog, voice, denouement, and so on. Those are a few of the 'rules' of writing stories.

    Does one have to follow them? Certainly not. Will following the rules blindly lead to a successful and celebrated story? Of course not. But it is a place to begin. It is a framework or a touchstone. And it is a manner in which many people expect stories to be constructed.

    And then, of course, there is Hemingway.

    In the end, one does what one pleases, as it should be. A logical place to begin is with the rules. In photography, I would ask your hypothetical questioner "What is it you wish to say?" I would proceed based on their answer.
    LOL. Well, fortunately for me, most of them are my students, and we spend a great deal of time talking about what is meant by that first statement of mine that you quoted. The result? I have seen some amazing shifts in their work because they stopped worrying about trying to have a style, and simply started shooting intuitively.

    Tell me how you would give them precise, step-by-step directions to shooting with depth and emotion. It just isn't that simple. The already know the rules of thumb. They know exposure and basic composition. They know their light. They don't need me to teach them that. It's not what they asked. They asked how to develop personal style... and that cannot be explained in terms of technique.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by roteague
    ... when I setup a shot, I don't necessarily think about the "rules" of composition, but subconciously they are there...
    Exactly! I have internalized many of these concepts to a greater or lesser extent, and when I 'see' photographicaly, I am using those concepts, or rejecting them, in an indirect way rather than a directly applying each and accepting or discarding them.

    - Randy

  7. #27
    reellis67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs
    ...most of them are my students, and we spend a great deal of time talking about what is meant by that first statement of mine that you quoted...
    It is good to see that there are people still investing in their students. I've seen too many good instructors ruined by administrative BS, to the detriment of the students. Too many of the students here (I work at a school) cleave to the work of others and think that to be great they need to emulate the work of those photographers. The constant rotation of over-worked and under-paid adjuncts never exposes them to anyone who could help them get past that point in their development, so they don't, and eventualy get frustrated and often quit, or worse, join the swelling ranks of those that believe their problems are due to not having the best equipment rather than to a lack of ability to see.

    -Randy

  8. #28
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    Randy, yes, it's sad at times, especially when the arts and creative aspects are being taught. I've spoken several times at the Art Institute, and it's depressing just how little of value most of the students are getting. The imposed limitations are hard on the faculty and hard on the students.

    Personally, I teach independent workshops and have avoided sponsorship for just those reasons. I don't want to be bound by a certain agenda or have to work within limitations I don't agree with. Teaching independently allows me to give the students what they need in a way that truly makes them think.

    It's easy enough to help someone figure out how to make a picture say what they want it to say. The tough part is for them to figure out what they want to say! All the technique in the world won't help them there.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wigwam Jones

    If someone asked me how to write a story, I would not advise them to seek their inner being and then write about that journey (not that the resulting story would not possibly be interesting). I might tell them about the elements of a typical story - plot construction, introduction, character development, crisis, resolution, dialog, voice, denouement, and so on. Those are a few of the 'rules' of writing stories.
    No - they are really much more techniques and methods

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs
    It's easy enough to help someone figure out how to make a picture say what they want it to say. The tough part is for them to figure out what they want to say! All the technique in the world won't help them there.
    That's very true - and yet technique can be a part of what you're trying to say, it's not always easy to separate the two, and say which comes first...

    Wigwam - sorry if we were saying the same thing. I find that happens quite often in internet discussions



 

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