View Poll Results: which photographer are you?
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maybe we start of wanting to take pictues, go techy real quick and as knowledge builds, revert back to concentrating on the pictures, since the techy bit is all happening in the background anyway.
I think the best and most enduring photographers probably came at it from an emotional level first. They had a concept or emotion they wanted to convey. Once they found they couldn't get what they wanted they found they must master the craft. Thus becoming technicians. As MAS said above technical considerations become minimal, especiallyl once they are mastered, and who is to argue he hasn't mastered his craft. Once they are mastered then the photographer can concentrate on his artistic journey.
If the artist wants to do something new and requires a different set of skills then he/she must then again emerse themselves in the technical aspects again until they get what they want.
The problem is when people get so caught up in the technical aspects that it becomes an end in itself. What results are technically perfect, boring photographs that say nothing and only evoke feelings in the photographer themselves. If this is all that interests them, then all the power to them. Nothing wrong with that. But if they truely want to communicate something to a non-photographer, then they should probably spend as much time studying master painters as they do studying Dmax curves and developer formulas.
Their is a place for technical efficiency When a commercial client sais: I need this to do this or that within whatever perameters they specify, then it's our job to technically satisfy their needs. within that is creativity of a technical sort to satsfy the goal of someone else's idea. Course I am in a trance when I get to deposit the check! When we go it on our own above above someone else's demands and create solutions to our own problems and images based on our own demands is when every thing gets blocked out during the process which can be seen as "trance" My assistant calls it ANAL.
Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!
I think there's a type missing here: The Experimentalist.
That's what I seem to be, most of the time...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
As long as I can remember I've looked at the effect of light falling on objects, landscape, in fact anything. Seeing my first Rhembrandt original painting had a startling effect on me in that I wanted to create light as he does. My abilities with a pencil and paint brushes at school were dreadful so I turned to a camera to capture the light and mananged to produce some pretty awful negatives. The next step was to learn technique to enable me to put the light I saw on to the paper, so I set about teaching myself.
I'm driven by the vision but cannot describe it as a trance like state, I think Michael's description of "heightened attention" sums it up although I do consider technique. As I'm working to set up the photograph and use the light I'm also thinking of the best techniques to help me express the feelings of the moment. We all work in a very personal way to achieve the result we are after.
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I'd consider myself "Holistic". It is possible to separte the "Technical" photographer from the "Trance" ... possible, but why?
Originally Posted by Aggie
I view photography as I would any other ... I don't think "skill" is the right word ... "Conditioned-reflex supported, Mystically Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts" activity. That could apply to Flycasting, Target Shooting, Bowling, Origami, Gymnastics, Oil Painting, Music, Acting...
One starts by learing "basics"... the elements that are the foundation of the activity... whether it may be how tightly to grip the Fly Rod, or where the shutter release is located ... or how to select a new paint brush from the display stand in the Arts Supply Store. There is a LOT of learning, at various levels of educational efficiency, and that phase is *never* completed, only continued and advanced.
As we apply and repeat those "learned" elements we *will* internalize them ... they will become "conditioned reflexes" - we do them automatically, without conscious thought. In gymnastics it is often alled "muscle memory" ... the performing muscles seem to have a life of their own - a memory of what to do properly - of their own.
That can be *very* complex. A friend of mine was an active Captain for the Massachsetts Steamship Authority ... the operating organization for the Ferry Service between Woods Hole, Hyannis, and Martha's Vineyard - Nantucket. The most amazing part of that ferry trip came in docking. There are two massive "eyes" - they look like large metal lollipops with holes through their centers, both fore and aft on the Ferry. These fit in corresponding "sockets" at the dock.
Using whatever maneuvering devices are avalable - bow thrusters and the like - the Captain will place the eyes on that massive ship - 202 feet (55 meters?) long (50 or 60 vehicles, a couple of hundred passengers) into the dock sockets within a centimeter or two, so that attendants can *drop* anchoring rods into place. That requies "fantastic* accuracy.
I asked my friend, "How on earth do you do that?". His answer, "If I had to *think* about it, I wouldn't be able to do it."
It has been said that we are competent in what we do when we no longer have to think about doing it ... and we know we have mastered it when we no longer can remember how we learned to do it in the first place.
So... I do a lot of my photographic activity without conscious thought - there isn't TIME to think - a LOT of it; but not ALL of it... there is always something new to consider.
If "without conscious thought" translates to "Trance"... yes, I do that ... but I'm not a Zombie... I think about it, too, sometimes ... especially if I'm trying something new.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
I agree with Michael's assessment. In the first place I don't think photographers are artists. I think that is an ego driven term. Ocassionally we may turn our art but I believe we are craftsmen.
We all started out by being attracted by someone's work and we tried to learn to copy it. Along the way we learn technique and skills that eventually help us to shoot to our occasional satisfaction. To create a successful photograph we must be in a mode that I think "heightened awareness" describes very well. The word trance I don't really like.
I think there are many technical photographers who are in fact technicians who probably turn out perfect, wonderful negatives. However since we don't sell negatives, who cares. I think the joy in photography is in turning out wonderful prints and that must include a photograph that has "impact" and a fresh look.
Since most on this forum are landscape photographers I would suggest try being a technician and photograph a six year old. You may get a great negative but will probably get a lousy print
Photographing people requires a constant rapport and intimacy. If you spend your time thinking and messing with your equipment you will miss the magic every time.
I will use the analogy of playing hockey, my other passion. You play at a heightened state of awareness because of the speed, flow and also the possibility of injury. Very little is scripted, so it is all very creative and improvisational. The plays you execute are done at a high speed so there is no time for thinking. It is all muscle memory, and instinctive because of years of practice. The skates, stick, puck and the ice are all just tools that allow you can arrive at this place in your head that gives you this feeling.
I treat photography the same way. The photographic equipment is a tool. Our knowledge is a tool. Once I get behind the camera I treat them as tools that allow me to arrive in this place in my head, my creative side, to hopefully make great photographs.
Just an opinion,
I disagree with the statement that "photgraphers are not Artists" Craftsmen do become artists once they cross over from simply putting a puzzle together together To creating their own puzzle and succeeding assemblig it. Magic Johnson was an artist the way he lead a fast break, A person who designs and builds furniture that exceeds normal standards in the use of or sculpted styling of their materials should be allowed the self confidence of being called an ARTIST. Painters use light, medium and dark values to tell their story on canvas. How is it that a Photo artist who actually harnesses light, then creates within the value range to tell their story is any different than a painter. Everything has a technical beginning, It's how far you push the technique and evolve it to a point of absolute comfort that allows you the freedom to create. Is that not what we expect from an artist?
Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!
Photography has as valid a claim to being "art" as any other medium does. However - I don't think the medium itself is much of a deciding factor when it comes to applying labels. Is "painting" art? What about a house painter - is he an "artist?". Anything else I can think of -- dance, poetry, music, sculpture... may or may not be "art" ... and their practioners may or may not be "artists".
It is not very difficult to think of photographers who were easily as creative as anyone else ... think of Phillipe Halsman's "Flying Wet Cats", or Man Ray's ... anything.
Photography as "art"? Sure... why not?
Ed Sukach, FFP.
It is not the medium that makes something art. Artists make art. Of course there are a lot of folks who call themselves artists (in all media) whose work is not very good or accomplished, but they are simply artists who are not very good. There is good art and bad art, just as there is good and bad of everything else.
So othe question of whether or not photography is or can be art is the wrong question.
Michael A. Smith