I don't think you were kicked out. But so far, I have to agree with Michael as to your statement of " the really *SIGNIFICANT* work is done by mavericks". I too, would like the names of the Mavericks that have done *Significant* work since you have not provided them yet.
The old saw that those that don't know the history of (name something here) are doomed to make the same mistakes again certainly apply here.
"Really? - They "have it down "cold?." - Nothing left to learn?" I don't think this the meaning that Michael meant. He talked about Robert Frank not printing like Ansel Adams but he knew what he had to know to make the images and prints that reflected his vision. That is how he had it down cold. That is all he meant (I think).
Julia Margaret Cameron? Acclaimed by her contemporaries as totally clueless about the science of photography?
Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith
Eadweard Muybridge - who FELT clueless, and so built his own technique which we still benefit from today (he needed shorter exposures for his motion studies)
Jan Sudek - a one-armed man with a plate camera...
- Ed, welcome to "Them". Since it's Them against Us, and they are "Us", we'll be the "Them"!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Ole, J M Cameron had an entire darkroom BUILDING on her property. In those days all photo chemistry was hand-made by the photographer. While no chemist, she had a large learning curve technically.
Muybridge - same deal.
Sudek - a messy housekeeper, but quite skilled.
What all you examples shared, morever, was an ample number of intelligent influences -- Cameron's family connections put her in the company of many of England's best and brightest in the worlds of both Arts & Letters, as did Muybridge's friendship with Leland Stanford. Sudek also was part of a long-lived circle of artist/dealer friends.
To hold these people up as "outside the mainstream" is iffy. To say they were "without standard influences" is clearly wrong.
Well, Cameron and Muybridge were both active at a time when science was still driving photography along, and there wasn't really any "mainstream".
I'm not saying anything about JMC's chemistry skills (after all she had exellent tuition from her friend Sir john Herschel), but referring to what her contemporaries said about her basic technical skills: Things like focussing, sufficient exposure, keeping wet plates out of the dust and off the ground; things like that. Her artistic inspiration was clearly from painting, not from contemporary or earlier photographers.
Muybridge - just the opposite: He started out as a "normal" photographer, but drifted over to the scientific side. Long before he met Leland Stanford he had made significant advances in high-speed photography, creating the possibilty of the snapshot. Most of his output was intended as technical, not artistic. Yet he created a new way of photography.
Sudek started photography only after losing his arm. He had no previous training, and lived off his war disability pension while he figured things out. He didn't become "part of a long-lived circle of artist/dealer friends" until he had already established himself as an artist.
The biggest single influence on his photography was something that happened as late as 1940: He saw an 18th-century contact print. After that, he never enlarged again...
Caveat: I'm at work, 400km away from my books. I write this as best I remember it, and could be completely and utterly wrong.
I'd mention the cut-and-paste Swede (Swedish-American?) as well, if I could only remember his name.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Comparing Cameron's photos to her contemporaries like Lewis Carrol, or painters of the period like Alam-Tadema & Leighton, she sure seems pretty mainstream to me. In fact many of her subjects appear to be the same people one sees in Pre-Rafaelite imagery.
I'm not sure what your inclusion of Muybridge is meant to be -- if he was already trained as a photographer before starting on his later departures, then he fits exactly into the mold of "trained and therefore knowledgeable of both the medium's strengths and limitations."
As for Sudek, I seem to recall that e was also very keen on Atget. Have to admit that the one Sudek book I've had came from the library.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
I of the "sloppy phrases" have been contemplating whether "having something [ down cold ] means "ultimate facility with ..." (a.k.a. "mastery - or more crudely, "nothing more to learn") or "Sufficient familiarity with to get by" ...
I have loaded film into Hasselblad magazines xxx times ... do I think I have achieved "mastery" over film loading? No ... I still have to be careful ... and occasionally (rarely) I still won't do it right. Oh, well... moving on...
The innovators of their times are the ones most remembered ... The ones that broke unfamiliar ground ... One can post an extensive list . Stieglitz -- see "Alfred Stieglitz - A Biography", by Richard Whelen - for an extensive description of his "working outside of the box" and all the flak he took for it ...and so many of his contemporary photographers ... Paul Strand, Weston ...so many others ... Bill Brandt was "trained" if you will, by working with someone I think had tried something new every day - and therefore had NOT "mastered" the craft - unless mastery can be achieved in a single session - Man Ray.
In any event - enough. I have NOT mastered photography. Every new "batch" of photographs that I take holds LOTS of "surprises" for me. Every time I do this thing, there are -- and I hope that there continues to be -- many examples of random "new ground" broken. Insecurity? Certainly - a necessary element of excitement. Disappointing? Oh yeah, at times ... but more than compensated for by the brilliant flashes of the ones that 'entrance" me.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
I had an experience last night that was inspiring, and illustrates the "connection" between the "heart" and the performance.
I attended a High School concert ... "Large Ensemble Winter Concert" ... more or less a "command attendance" - my Granddaughter plays cello "ahead of herself" - with the High School Orchestra.
This was compartmentalized ... different pieces performed by individual organizations; Choir, "Band", Orchestra, with three different conductors.
The first two conductors - and their charges, were working hard to present finely crafted "work". I think they played all the notes correctly. Quite possibly, anyway. These were typical "High School" performances.
The third... was *MUSIC*!! The performers were "into" the music, the conductor was infused with ... the phrase that fits... is "joie de vivre"!! That music had LIFE to it!!! ... I heard later that there were "mistakes" made ... If there were any I didn't notice them ... and frankly, they didn't matter.
Everyone on that stage had a BALL!! Thoroughly enjoyed the heck out of every moment! - and that "joie" was infectious .. it quickly spread to the audience - and me.
There is, to me, a direct parallel. One can put a lot of effort into making a "perfect" print. I have really "worked" at it ... correcting every minor flaw... dodging, burning, tilting easels, pre-flashing .., agonizing.... there must be thousands of "tricks" that I have done -- some I can't even remember. And ... if not all of those times, then many .... I had been ignoring the *MOST* important element -- the "joie de vivre"!!!
I know not what course others may take ... but as for me ... Give me the qualities that make *music* in my work!!
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Now I'm really confused, Ed. Weston, Stieglitz, Strand, etc. were trained as photographers. If anyone had the technical side down, they did. Did they work "out of the box"? Sure they did. But in your earlier posting you were referring to untrained photographers who worked "out of the box."
Lee understood my meaning exactly regarding "having it down cold."
Sorry, Ed, I cannot overlook your fuzzy language. Fuzzy language equals fuzzy thinking. Fuzzy thinking equals fuzzy ideas. Sorry, but it does. Impossible, therefore, to hearken to the ideas and to ignore the language.
Of course the"life" in the work is what counts. You keep setting up this red herring or whatever the debaters call that kind of thing--you introduce a concept--in this case, technical proficiency is not needed, and then when that is answered you respond by saying it is the life of the work that counts. You respond as if by my saying that technical proficiency indeed counts I am implying that that is all there is and that I am not concerned with the "life" in the work. I cannot possibly imagine ahead of time the inferences you make and then the responses you make based on those inferences--responses that imply, in this case, to me (though to others as well), that all I care about is the technical stuff.
I took the word "great" from your posting.You may have been quoting me. Let's substitute "highly regarded." (There it is again, by the way--introducing a concept into this discussion that is supremely irrelevant--that no highly regarded photographer ever refers to themselves as "great." As if I said they did. Another red herring. Of course no great anybody in any field refers to themselves as "great." Most accomplished people, however, certainly do know their own worth. It is for others to call them great. I'll happily call quite a few photgraphers "great."
So, we are still waiting for the names of highly regarded photographers--who produced a consistently highly regarded body of work over time--who were "untrained" and who did not have their act together technically and, historically (knowing the medium). Since Ed raised this point, that there were such people, I believe it is incumbent on him to name them. Not for others to help him out here.
There is more, but I have been traveling for 22 hours and this is all the energy I can give to this right now.
Every generation wants to think they are the rebels - that they act outside the box of conformity, eg., only they know the true joy of sex. Technical skills and the works of those that have gone before are shunned as somehow limiting on their artistic expression. These are fallacies that it seems every generation repeats, unfortunately for themselves. But maybe its a necessary fallacy for otherwise the ego would be overwhelmed to the point that most of us would be viewers/listeners/readers. The truly great are those who appreciate the skills necessary for an artistic medium and can learn from past masters while stil maintaining a creative spark.
[quote="Michael A. Smith"]Now I'm really confused, Ed. [quote]
I think I have located the source of confusion. You have assumed that I was referiring to the idea that *NO* familiarity with the technical side was necessary, at ALL. Not true. I stated that the "techiniques" were SECONDARY ... not as IMPORTANT, as the intangibles ... the human involvement -- the "life" or "soul".
And getting back to the original point ... I DON"T think that involvement CAN be taught, per se -at least, not by traditional means.
"So, we are still waiting ...."
Oh, WE are, are we..?
Don't hold your breath. I won't confuse you any more with my "fuzzy" thinking ... and I won't endanger your crystal clear mastery of the craft, by voicing any kind of alternate OPINON.
Ed Sukach, FFP.