Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith
I think that as I view Edward Weston's, Brett Weston's, Paula's, and your photographs that the universal (which to me carries a spiritual connotation) is what is addressed but by virtue of what is not seen. In your work that is represented by space. Your language is expressing a relationship between the particular and the universal.
In the images of Edward Weston this seems to be expressed in the relationship between light and shadow, in the images of Brett Weston we are even more graphically involved with form as light and shadow.
I think that the result is the same in each of these examples. I, the viewer, of the image am allowed the experience of contemplation of the "unseen" but nevertheless "ever present". This may not occur for all at a conscious level but the opportunity is there for all nevertheless.
It is interesting to me that as I examine eastern philosophies/spiritual disciplines, there is clear language that addresses this same dichotomy. However the comparison is most usually expressed in the terms of "form and void". This correlates very closely to me of your observance of "particular and universal" and also your comparison of "thing and space".
In the ancient language of the Tao De Ching I find an interesting passage. "Ever desiring one sees the manifestations, ever desireless one observes the mystery".
In Brett and Edward's work, they use light very differently than I do, but what is at the heart of it is space. Always space--the interplay of deep and shallow space, the flatness of the picture plane against the three dimensionality of the real world--and the relationship of each thing in the picture to each other--in space. This is true no matter what the light, what the subject, how abstract looking or how realistic.
"Ever desiring one sees the manifestations, ever desireless one observes the mystery". Interesting quote, Don. I do not know Eastern thought well, but this goes along with what I have been saying about the print being a bonus--the key thing is the experience. In other words, just go photographing with the idea that you will have a deep experience, not that you have to come back with a "winner." The winners will be there. Don't have worry about that at all.
I find myself in full agreement with Cheryl and also Sean on this topic.
When viewing the gallery I am always drawn towards the portraits that Cheryl composes and presents. There seems to be an element that lures a person into the composition when a portrait is taken. I do not have the words to explain this but I feel it and seem to dwell on the expression or character being depicted.
I guess the most interesting part of this thread is that it is quite obvious we each have a different outlook. Our tastes and appreciations are our own which are neither better nor worse than anyone else...just different.
I guess that is what makes photography such a wonderful adventure.
Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.
Ahhh, and this is a KEY point.
Originally Posted by GreyWolf
Now, go to one of the other BIG photo websites and see how the "Top Winners" all sort of look the same - and that the same group of photogs seems to always be in that top bunch - and anyone else mimics what they do - because that's the winning formula that gets you up in that Top Weener club. (What was it that John Lennon sang about Instant Karma?)
I guess that's one thing that drew me to the large format community. Differences are still valued as they here in the APUG community.
I certainly don't contend that the choices that I proposed were the only ingredient that produces an enduring and expressive photograph. Taking Cheryl's images, which I also like, what is that ingredient? Is it the fact that she connects with her subject? Is it the fact that she cares about her subject? Is it that her interest in her subject is genuine?
Originally Posted by GreyWolf
I am asking these questions because I also recognize this quality...what is the ingredient that separates her images from a portrait at Sears or Walmart?
I recognize that photographs of "things" whether that is a person, a still life or a static landscape is not where it is at. I don't care how well they are lit, how well the scene was previsualized, or how well it was printed. It is still an empty and meaningless "thing". What takes an image out of that arena? What is it that transmits the "nature of the thing"?
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every work of art is a concrete thing. In its appearance and in its expression. Whether it tells a story or asks a question has nothing to do with its "value", although it might have different impact on different individuals. Art in general is rather abstract and cannot be explained or explored by 2 or even 200 samples. IMO, it is a synonym for "having a (higher) concept". And the concepts of the world are countless.
Is there an echo in here? Seems like I've been babbling on about the differences (beautiful differences) in our work for a while now.
Originally Posted by dnmilikan
What makes us become "drawn" to the work?
I think those of the Wisdom of the Ancients gave up on this one. They copped out by creating the concept of "Aesthetics" (sometimes spelled "Esthetics") - which linearly translated - means "Existing as a product of perception - and not explainable by rational argument."
Hey, if the Ancient Greek Philosophers couldn't figure it out, I don't feel too badly about my inability to explain it, either.
In the meantime - I wander about in wonder - wander and wonder - and I'll be grateful for the (unexplainable) beauty in the world.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
The photo, like Dharma, is within you. After the process and equipment become part of you, stop seeking and let the image come.
I like Juan's answer. Years ago, I got all bound up in all the rules and theories etc, and a sort of paralysis set in. Instead of just doing it, I kept looking for that "perfect" scene with that "perfect" light and perfect framing, so on and so on. Of course, perfection never happened. I took some time away from shooting. Then when I came back to it, it was fun again. Sometimes we think TOO much, and we just get in our own way. I'm not saying we should ignore the craft, the rules and techniques - just that we should be aware of them and use them as a guide. I gave up looking for absolute perfection (based on someone else's ideas), and started doing things my way. It's not some conscious artsy thing, I am not an artist or artiste. I am not trying to invent some pesonal style, since those that do always look forced anyway. But, since I stopped worrying about it, I enjoy it more, and actually have a higher percentage of keepers. The funny thing is, my photos do end up following the famous basic rules, I just don't have to agonize over it anymore. As far as liking someone else's work, either i like it or I don't. If pressed for reasons, I can explain why, and relate it to all the "rules" such as balance, overall distribution, contrast, chiarascuro, all the big words. But, I do not consciously think about that when I form the initial opinion. Good is good, even if we don't know exactly why. I am also finally learning that good can be good, even if it isn't my personal cup of tea.