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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by jovo View Post
    It would be interesting to hear some of you who sell your work offer some observations about the kind of work you do that actually does sell. I was looking at a NYC photographer's photoblog today in which he observed that only 5% of the work he was able to sell had people in it...that must be a helluva disappointment to street photogs.. almost no one was interested enough to pay for it. Likewise, the observation made earlier here that many look at photographs and elect not to buy them because either they themselves, or someone they're with has told them they could do just as well. Perhaps they say that because they're not seeing photographs that offer anything they haven't already seen...a lot!! I was also looking at some alt process sites today that displayed incredibly mediocre images printed with virtuoso skill in such processes. I hardly wanted to even look at them all let alone buy any.

    Without meaning to exclude others here, Brian and Bill make photographs that I am absolutely certain the average viewer does NOT assume he could make himself. They're clearly and unequivically made with both technical AND unique artistic vision by professionals. I think that makes a HUGE difference!

    You bring up alot of good things here that are worthy of dicussion. First off, the question of what sells and what does not. That really depends on who your trying to market your images too. Clearly the guy that is mostly sellings his images with people in them is selling them for commercial use and not fine art. Personally, I tend to sell more of the "pretty pictures" and nudes over the abstracts, however I've had several fantastic abstracts that have been fantastic sellers. I'm selling my work as strickly fine art.

    When you mentioned an alt process site that just had mediocre images, I feel that is because the photographer gets to caught up in the technical process over creating the actual image. I admire alot of the processes that some photographers use, but a processes is just a technique that one learns, where creating the image actually take an artist vision. I see tons of photographers on APUG that do very interesting processes, but their images are boring and lack any sense of creative vision. Your artist vision must come first, the technique afterwards to emphasis that vision.

  2. #52

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    I think both John and Ryan make excellent points.

    John, makes reference to people perhaps not wanting to buy certain photographs because they look like they could do them just as well. I think there's a lot of truth in that. What's the joke? How many photographers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Answer: 50, 1 to screw in the bulb and 49 to say,"I could have done that".

    With this understanding I attempt ( I hope I succeed) to make images that are special, that is images that may be of a special, or more uncommon moment. I think there are far too many landscapes shot in the tripod holes of those who came before, although it's getting harder to find places that have not been shot before. But I don't consider that to be a sin, what I consider a sin is that if you're going to shoot an overshot scene do something new with it, and not just print it on exotic watercolor paper using iridium. Be there when the light and atmospherics are extraordinary, that means waiting out the shot, going back there at the peak times of the day, day after day after day until you really get something. Do not roll out of the tour bus with 49 other daytrippers and expect that stunning image of Tunnel View at 1 pm. So much of the photography flooding the internet seems to be done this way.

    After much cajoling from galleries I have started to produce much larger prints, prints 40" and up. I have done this for many reasons, mostly because the way my style is developing larger works better and many of my new images need the size to show certain details. But other reasons for the size are marketing. Larger prints are very competitive with paintings and many buyers want large art. Another factor is that your typical photographer or gallery shopper will see a big print, done with a larger camera than they use, printed better than they could print, and just plain huge. They know they can't do that.

    Ryan mentions photographers that get too caught up in the technical process at the expense of the image itself. I see this all the time, impeccably alt printed images of the most boring subject matter.

    I don't want to denigrate those that shoot with huge banquet cameras, but most of the work that I have seen done using a gigantic camera tends to be very static and have average lighting at best. Granted the technical image quality is astounding, but I think you go out to shoot with one foot in a bucket when you work ULF. How much film and film holders can you carry? How dead calm does the wind need to be when the camera uses a mainsail for a bellows? How far can you hike with a camera that requires a Class IV trailer hitch to tow? Now to each their own, and I understand that for many it's the process of photography that is the enjoyment. But I am speaking here from a results POV. I have found it critically important to wait out scenes because conditions always change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. That is why I have chosen to shoot panoramic MF. When I come to a scene and it looks pretty good, I'll shoot a few frames, and then I'll wait. If it gets better I'll shoot some more and then wait still. I'll keep doing this until it looks like there's no chance of getting anything better. I think that greatly improves the odds that I'll get that rainbow or God Light or whatever it is that makes a scene more unique. ULF with it's film quantity limitations you have to commit when you think the light is it's best, and that is very unpredictable. I think that the image quality of a 20x24" camera produced contact print is just startling, and that may lend itself to the " I couldn't do that" quality that helps sell a photograph, but if the image itself is not great the photograph itself becomes more a novelty than a means of expression.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I haven't found this to be a problem and I think my training and background has been a distinct advantage.
    Not to be Mr. Contrary, but I have found the exact opposite. Whereas my commercial experience has helped a great deal with the business aspects of being a "fine art" photographer, my credentials meant nothing as was pointed out by Private Dealer. In fact I was told early on by one of the better-known dealers out there that I should hide the fact that I was a commercial photographer and not use it to try to impress galleries. One went so far as to tell me I could not do both and expect to get anywhere. I argued tooth and nail over this but here 20 years later, I cannot agree more. Brian brings up several of the greats that easily made the crossover, however that is not the usual case. Those names were huge and not simply your average editorial or ad shooter. In today's world commercial shooters are a dime a dozen and very often looked upon by the "art" world with disdain.

    Bill

  4. #54
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    If a picture is simply meant to show you what you could not have done, then to me the picture is about that, but nothing else. It is just as uninteresting as making a 20x24 pt/pd print with that size camera just for the sake of it. They are both saying to me, very loudly in fact, that "you cannot do this, but I can" . It is a power thing to me. At the point, I am moving onto a next image hoping that I will come across an unexpected surprise.

    I am more interested in seeing and, hopefully, making images that give me an interesting and unique "visual experience." To me that is the most important factor. Not "visual information" of where and how it was taken and how it was processed.

    A good photograph does not make me think of all the "technicalities" of how the image came about when I see one. Whether it is about the subject matter, the equipment, shooting condition, size of film, how it was printed, and its presentation. What I find is a simple joy of looking at it.

    I do think it is a two completely different terrain of thought to think you have to go to the most uncharted part of the world in order to make a good image. You can make just as good images in your backyard in my opinion (speaking of the unseen and unique). I think Harry Callahan demonstrated that very well. He took very mundane and ordinary sceneries of Michigan. Why? He liked them and knew them very well. The personal connection to his subject matters meant a lot more to him than going to a place like, Yosemite. I always find the interaction between him and Ansel Adams quite amusing...
    Last edited by Shinnya; 12-26-2006 at 10:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  5. #55
    billschwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I think there are far too many landscapes shot in the tripod holes of those who came before, although it's getting harder to find places that have not been shot before.
    This is one of those things that amuses me in landscape photographers. The fact they feel they need to travel the globe in search of landscapes that have not been made. While I love to travel and shoot, my best images are made in my own backyard and it is these that sell the most. I mean no disrespect to the Michael Kennas, Rolfe Horns or Josef Hoflehners out there as their work is quite beautiful, but I think photographers like this have also become a dime a dozen group and I have a hard time getting excited about any of it anymore. So do collectors if sales are any indication. It has become painfully obvious. There are too many shooters looking at the Michael Kenna business model and thinking they too can do it. They aren't looking to make great work, they're looking to make a living... to be famous. To me that is all bull&%$#. I think people need to look inward rather than outward to make their images great.

    As for listening to galleries about what to make at what sizes, this I have found to be useless as well. It's like making a painting to match a couch IMO. It is no longer your art when you listen to other's marketing desires. Hell... I know photographers that will get a "wish list" from their poster reps and actually go out in the world, spend tons of money and time to go to these places and shoot! This in my mind is commercial assignment photography, not art. More art light. Just as bad as being caught up in the technical process is getting caught up in the current landscape race. Learn to consistently pull great images in your own backyard and then you'll have something. Not that going to China, Japan (2 current hotspots I attribute to Kenna wannabes) OR Iceland, etc are not fun and rewarding places to make photographs, but they certainly are not going to make you good photographers.
    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I don't want to denigrate those that shoot with huge banquet cameras, but most of the work that I have seen done using a gigantic camera tends to be very static and have average lighting at best...
    Sorry, but this is a petty, blanket statement IMO and I am sick of this argument no matter who brings it up. Just as much... even more crap is made with smaller cameras.

    My advice to people is not to worry about what sells. Look inside... find yourself as a photographer and THEN worry about what sells. I have been at this a long time and my experience is like that baseball flick... "If you build it, they will come."

    Bill

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shinnya View Post
    ...think you have to go to the most uncharted part of the world in order to make a good image. You can make just as good images in your backyard in my opinion...
    Took the words from my mouth as I was writing them!

    Bill

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by billschwab View Post
    Sure you work hard, travel 5 months a year, sleep in cheap hotels, etc, etc, etc.... you've said so many times here. No one could possibly accuse you of not working hard. We all do. But the way I see it, anytime someone can do what it is they love to do, it is a gift. As I said, there are a great number of photographers out there that are equally deserving. The fact you and I are where we are and they are where they are has as much to do with luck and a gainfully emplyed spouse as it does hard work. Take that away and we are in the back of B&W buying ads to self-promote with all the other want to be's.

    Bill

    Hey... I'm in the back of B&W......

  8. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by billschwab View Post
    Not to be Mr. Contrary, but I have found the exact opposite. Whereas my commercial experience has helped a great deal with the business aspects of being a "fine art" photographer, my credentials meant nothing as was pointed out by Private Dealer. In fact I was told early on by one of the better-known dealers out there that I should hide the fact that I was a commercial photographer and not use it to try to impress galleries. One went so far as to tell me I could not do both and expect to get anywhere. I argued tooth and nail over this but here 20 years later, I cannot agree more. Brian brings up several of the greats that easily made the crossover, however that is not the usual case. Those names were huge and not simply your average editorial or ad shooter. In today's world commercial shooters are a dime a dozen and very often looked upon by the "art" world with disdain.

    Bill
    I don't use my background as ad/editorial photographer as a selling point for my work, I let my work do that. I do agree with Bill when he says that you can't do both and expect to succeed because they both require a huge commitment, this is why I closed my studio 4 years ago and only focus on my personal work.

    I can't speak for others but my background as a commercial photographer has given me experience, technique and methodology far beyond just business skills. There is a professional attitude that comes with that background. When you shoot for art directors who also worked with Penn, Avedon, etc, photographers whom you may have also assisted in your youth, you do get instilled with a certain commitment to quality. Also working with top notch art directors, creative directors and graphic designers is also a great way to further your own knowledge of design, color theory and composition. Granted you don't have to have that kind of experience to do high quality work, but it sure helps.

  9. #59

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    Originally Posted by Early Riser:
    I don't want to denigrate those that shoot with huge banquet cameras, but most of the work that I have seen done using a gigantic camera tends to be very static and have average lighting at best...

    Posted by Bill:
    Sorry, but this is a petty, blanket statement IMO and I am sick of this argument no matter who brings it up. Just as much... even more crap is made with smaller cameras.

    Bill I agree that more crap is made by people with smaller cameras. There must be 10,000 people shooting 35mm, MF, or smaller LF for each person shooting ULF. However it is my opinion that the majority of work that i have seen with ULF is static and has at best average lighting. I'm not trying to be petty, that's just my opinion. I think that a huge, easily wind and precipitation affected, slow to set up, far less portable camera, using less available, less portable, vastly more expensive film is going to affect how one works. It's going to influence people into shooting in a more static way. How many ULF cameras do you see at sporting events or in the hands of photojournalists? Obviously the type of gear you choose will impact on your work. Why would my opinion of that be petty? With your logic then I could say that anyone who doesn't like my work is just being petty.

    I do agree with you wholeheartedly when you tell people not to think about what sells and to do the work you want to do.

    As for travel, I like to travel, I like seeing what's around the next corner. I haven't modeled by work philosophy after Michael Kenna or anyone, and I think my own methods are more unique to me. I am pissed though that Kenna went to China because my wife is from there and we were planning to go to Guilan, and to the village that her folks came from, now if I go there and shoot some might say that I was following Kenna. Then again when I first went to Iceland in early 2001, few went there. A year later it seems like everyone started going there. I don't think I started some trend, but the reality is that some places really lend themselves to photography and it is natural that photographers would go there as they have a higher probability of getting better images.

  10. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    Originally Posted by Early Riser:
    I don't want to denigrate those that shoot with huge banquet cameras, but most of the work that I have seen done using a gigantic camera tends to be very static and have average lighting at best...

    Posted by Bill:
    Sorry, but this is a petty, blanket statement IMO and I am sick of this argument no matter who brings it up. Just as much... even more crap is made with smaller cameras.

    Bill I agree that more crap is made by people with smaller cameras. There must be 10,000 people shooting 35mm, MF, or smaller LF for each person shooting ULF. However it is my opinion that the majority of work that i have seen with ULF is static and has at best average lighting. I'm not trying to be petty, that's just my opinion. I think that a huge, easily wind and precipitation affected, slow to set up, far less portable camera, using less available, less portable, vastly more expensive film is going to affect how one works. It's going to influence people into shooting in a more static way. How many ULF cameras do you see at sporting events or in the hands of photojournalists? Obviously the type of gear you choose will impact on your work. Why would my opinion of that be petty? With your logic then I could say that anyone who doesn't like my work is just being petty.

    I do agree with you wholeheartedly when you tell people not to think about what sells and to do the work you want to do.

    As for travel, I like to travel, I like seeing what's around the next corner. I haven't modeled by work philosophy after Michael Kenna or anyone, and I think my own methods are more unique to me. I am pissed though that Kenna went to China because my wife is from there and we were planning to go to Guilan, and to the village that her folks came from, now if I go there and shoot some might say that I was following Kenna. Then again when I first went to Iceland in early 2001, few went there. A year later it seems like everyone started going there. I don't think I started some trend, but the reality is that some places really lend themselves to photography and it is natural that photographers would go there as they have a higher probability of getting better images.
    I feel you are correct about the ULF camera statement. Many photographers always end up shooting images with ULF cameras that are from the standing average height human level. I think that what makes a photograph interesting is how the photographer is viewing the subject matter. If that is from the exact same standpoint that everyone else views it from, I think that makes it less interesting. It's not really the camera that makes the images static, but the photographer who cannot handle that size of camera to really move it around and try something new with it. I was shooting 11x14 for awhile, and although I felt that I made some good images, they were not exciting me as much as the images done with the 8x10.

    When looking at your work, I do notice some influence from Kenna, but thats okay. Nothing wrong with that. You are consistant with your image making and I get a sense of your style in your work. There is still tons of unique images to be made in Yosemite that could not be compared to Adams, so just because Kenna did work in China, does not mean you have to do the same thing. The hardest thing for you, will not to be looking for such subject matter that you may have seen in Kenna's images.



 

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