Surely the basic bias in the question that began this thread needs to be revealed -- the notion that there is some fairly-objective "there" to which all photos aspire?
This is of course silly. The goals, methods, and purposes of a Weston seaside tree photo, or an Avedon fashion layout, are miles away from, say, the portraits of Salgado, the news photos of Natchwey, or adverts by LaChappelle. The "there" for each of these different forms diverges widely (and "personal vision" doesn't cut it either, as any news shooter will be quick to remind you. f/8 and be there!).
Photography is still new, and we tend to lump it all together so thoughtlessly. Compare to music -- would we mistake Beethoven for Eddie Van Halen or Ludakris?
I get stuck in ruts--I bottomed out pretty much a couple of years ago. Got to the point from doing the same types of shots at work that when presented with an opportunity outside I came up with all sorts of excuses why it wouldn't work. It was all from the limited perspective of the types of assignments I do --which have to fit a narrow definition. There's not alot of artistic interpetation for historians or researchers, They want to see the piece clearly or accurately reproduced even if that means estethically it's not very pleasing.
I just had to force myself to create personal assignments and one way I did was to burn film with impunity. Shoot anything and everything regardless of what my brain was telling me otherwise. I just tried to forget all the stuff that I had learned worked...even if it meant I didn't really get anything out of the excercise. sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I don't get too worked up about it...
I've done some shots at work that for whatever reason, events seemed to conspire against me and I was stuck with having to do a salvage job and use it anyways. Those are the kinds of images that will haunt you for a long time. Everytime you see it in print, or hanging on a wall--you see all your mistakes right there plain as day.
I once had to shoot an interior "in-situ" shot of a chair used in a gas chamber inside a prison. oh joy. That was one of the worst mixed lighting, uncomfortable rooms I've ever had to shoot in for a variety of reasons beyond the technical end. I knew looking at it as I went into the room that it would be tough--I knew I didn't have the time or the gear with me to do it, but had no option otherwise. Had to make do. No reshoots...no going back....the scene changed anyways, it's part of history now. The piece sits in a temp controlled storage vault crated up, the film sits in a filing cabinet. Someday someone will use those photos and my hope is they understand I tried--even though it might not look that way.
Earlier this summer we had to shoot one of the first Carrier AC's in the southeast. It was a bus sized behemoth sitting in the mechanical room of a an office building. Lit by a mix of dingy fluorescents and some 60 watt type bulbs. There was water on the floor everywhere and the floor itself was vibrating from the other HVACs down there in this room. The museum actually acquired parts of this beast and had planned on making a 1:1 repro of it *perspectively* corrected. Talk about a nightmare. We had to shoot it on 35mm and light it with 8 vivitar 283s and shoot 400 speed film. There was so much water on the floor, we didn't feel safe using the strobes and the vibration was too much to drag the shutter....to shoot on 4x5, our 90mm wasn't wide enough, but we would have had to do it in one-pop, which meant probably 4800 watts or more of juice down there. Guess what--2 days after we shot this, they ripped out that unit. It's gone--history. I don't even want to think about this thing when it gets made....
Everyone I've ever met who has been a working photographer has a long list of horror stories or ones-that-got-away type stories. Happens to everyone. I still haven't gotten out of my slump yet, but have loosened up quite a bit and just decided to shoot as much as I can while the materials I like are still being made. I'd hate to think I missed the opportunity sitting around analyzing every little detail.
My opinions only/not my employers.
There was a part in the movie, "Immortal Beloved" where it showed the boy, Beethoven being brutalized by an alcoholic father, who would hit the boy repeatedly in the ear until it bleed. Such an injury would indicate a broken ear drum and deafness. The movie indicated he went deaf very early in his life not even being able to hear his own piano playing. When he tried to conduct an orchestra, it was chaos because he could not hear the instruments.
The point being, that great creative genius has the ability to hear, see in their minds completely what they want to say, compose, paint, etc, before they even begin the creative process. For them, the creative process is more to benefit the auidience, to share what is in their minds, more of a formality.
For the photographer, it is the previsualization of the finished print in your minds eye, what the illuminated subject before him will become. The creative process is just the means to that end.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
The movie exaggerated to make the story more dramatic (being a half-deaf musician myself, I know the whole Beethoven thing) but I get your point, and I agree with it.
I have the opposite problem sometimes - I take a photo that I think will be great, and then when printed it's crap
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Steve, you might try my "raspberry" editing method.
When I see a negative that obviously didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped I reflexively blow a raspberry. The saliva droplets that land on the negative then effectively kill any notion I might've had to go ahead and try a print anyway.
I have lots of raspberries in my files and only a few cherries.
Three degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.
I like that raspberry method. Too often, I tried to "save" a picture that was just not worth all the paper that was burned (except as a learning experience". But then, if I said every shot was good, you all would know I was lying. Let's just say I have a high "rejection rate". It's like fishing... difficult enough to be a challenge, but with enough keepers to keep me going.
One thing is irritating ... the topics "Photography: Art or Craft"; When do you know a photo is there"; and MAP ... What do we photograph?" are so closely related that it is difficult to choose just one place to reply. I'm placing this here - and risking "bridging" the other two -- or more.
The world has *very* few instances where a "black *OR* white" answer is close to the truth. Certainly "Art or Craft" is one that lies solidly in "Black, shades of grey, and white ... and a myriad of CMYK colors".
I don't think it is possible to have any work of art completly devoid of all craftsmanship; nor is it possible to have any craft work devoid of ALL artistry. Dipping the paint brush into the oils on the pallete to create an abstract work of art requires "craftsmanship" or something closely similar. Deciding to build a purely functional, simple table requires a decision from our inner being ... clearly a prerequsite to all "art".
Where the lines of demarcation are ... I'm not sure.
I do not, and will not, pretend to know waht art is ... I simply DON'T. The more I study and ponder the question, the further away I seem to be from THE answer. The *BEST* I've been able to come up with is the "Encrypted window into the "being" of the artist"... and what is most important here is the ARTIST, not the "window".
I can make a few observations on the effect of art ... something akin to vapor trails in cloud chambers. I have seen people ("experiencers") moved to altered emotional states: enraptured, elated, saddened, shocked, outraged, "blissed-out"; uh ... "hornied"... nearly everything in the emotional lexicon. One reaction I have can identify the "successful" works of art that *I* produce: As inured as I am after many moons of doing photography, occasionaslly it will happen - I'll rush upstairs (my darkroom is in my cellar) with a dripping wet print, and my wife will hear, "Look at this!! I *nailed* one!!"
In truth, that is my indication that I've made what is to me, a work of art. Others may not agree ... but ... I've GOT to please myself.
That "process" applies to other's work as well... "Look at that! You've nailed --- made an exceptionally good - one!" That happens a LOT in cruising the galleries here on APUG.
Art, again, is an intensely personal, individual expression. It *must* come from the "being" (a.k.a. "Soul", spirit, innards) of the one creating it to be really effective... and that should, *MUST*, never be corrupted by the value judgements of another. We may, in a critique, SUGGEST another point of view - our point of view - but we are bound to invariably respect and encourage the other guy to "speak as s/he he will.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Why does every piece of film that is exposed have to be perfect and a keeper? Most painters, sculpters, architects, etc go through a fairly extensive series of sketches, drawings, models, and maybe several versions of the same subject with only one usually recognized as superior.
How many canvasas, or sketches do you think Mark Rothko, Georgia O'Keefe or Hopper did in their lifetimes not counting the work that is actually in existence today. Thousands!! I believe O'Keefe has about 2000 works catalogued that are known to exist today. In 70 years of creating do you think she sat down and made a masterpiece everytime, or even had it in her mind that this one is going to be hanging at the National Institute someday? NO she studied, experimented, painted and then if it did'nt work she painted another canvas.
Phtographers are constantly trying to say their work is equivalent to all the other visual media, and try to play down the mechanical, and chemical aspect of the craft. Yet at one time or another we feel that the camera, or the particular lens or developer or paper should allow us to create perfection.
Instead of approaching poor quality images as a waste, we should use the opportunity to think of them as sketches and experiments. Learn from them, and try to figure out what they are telling you about how you work.
One final question. How long would you continue with photography if every time you released the shutter, your pre-visualization was perfect, every idea and concept spot on? Wouldn't that get boring over time?
I would get very bored and would quit. If it was that easy, what would be the point?
Originally Posted by Jim68134