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  1. #1
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Elliot Erwitt on Robert Frank

    This definitely is something to think about. I found this on the page Wikipedia has on Robert Frank:

    "Quality doesn't mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That's not quality, that's a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy - the tone range isn't right and things like that - but they're far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he's doing, what his mind is. It's not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It's got to do with intention."
    (Elliot Erwitt)

    To me that rang very true of how I appreciate photography. There is a lot of talk about perfect negatives and perfect tonal scale prints, and I am certainly guilty of indulging in some of that too. But what really matters to me, in the end, is to make photographs that feel important. As nice as it would be to get on posters or in picture frames at IKEA, I don't feel like I'm doing the art of photography any favors unless I am true to myself and photograph what I find important and of value.

    With that said, I still think it's important to try to make the best print one can make, tonally, for visual impact. But it's a much smaller piece to me than what the picture represents subject matter wise.
    I am, frankly, pretty tired of all the technical stuff surrounding photography, and I've come to realize that I need to have a very clear focus on what I actually wish to accomplish with my work and to start focusing on it.

    Good riddance, photographers. What's your agenda with all of this?
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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    I agree.
    Too much focus on "look at how perfect i am".
    Too little on "look at me because i have a reason for being other than just being pretty".

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    Other than whatever floats your boat, I think one should master the technique that best expresses his/her vision so that it is second nature. Then concentrate on the content of the image. I know it is popular to have a "body of work" but a number of varying views of the same subject can at times be boring.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

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    I think this comment reveals more about Erwitt's biases than about the value of either Adams's or Frank's art. Adams persued technical perfection and Frank didn't. It's true--you can't substitute technical quality for a lack of vision. Is Erwitt suggesting that this is what Adams did? I don't buy that. If Adams's photos were merely demonstrations of technical prowess, they would have disappeared decades ago.

  5. #5
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreyg View Post
    Other than whatever floats your boat, I think one should master the technique that best expresses his/her vision so that it is second nature. Then concentrate on the content of the image. I know it is popular to have a "body of work" but a number of varying views of the same subject can at times be boring.
    I agree about mastering technique so that it's second nature, and I think the same of the materials we choose. The less of an obstruction technique is, the better off we are to see what's in front of the camera and understanding what needs to get done to incorporate the essence of it in print.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  6. #6

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    Just an excuse for sloppy work
    Mark
    Mark Layne
    Nova Scotia
    and Barbados

  7. #7
    jimrohrer's Avatar
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    You can't seriously compare Robert Frank to Ansel Adams... It's like comparing John Coltrane to Isaac Stern. It's a different kind of beauty made in a different style with different instruments.
    Last edited by jimrohrer; 09-29-2010 at 11:18 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: spelling

  8. #8
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Some writers have perfect grammar and structure, but it's all useless if the writer has nothing to say. Some musicians play on key and have perfect notes, but they might not be playing music. The craft should serve the art. The Impressionist were consider sloppy painters, but now they're revered. I agree with Jim Roher. You can't compare Adams with Frank. There are a lot of photographers that are slaves to technique and materials instead of serving art.

  9. #9
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moopheus View Post
    I think this comment reveals more about Erwitt's biases than about the value of either Adams's or Frank's art. Adams persued technical perfection and Frank didn't. It's true--you can't substitute technical quality for a lack of vision. Is Erwitt suggesting that this is what Adams did? I don't buy that. If Adams's photos were merely demonstrations of technical prowess, they would have disappeared decades ago.
    I'm inclined to agree, though I have to say, my bias and personal preference for Robert Frank's work over Ansel Adams is pretty clear to me. And, I'm not entirely convinced that Frank was as sloppy as Erwitt describes. I thought that about Frank for a long time, but seeing the show that was mounted last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there were some stunning prints.

    I do think, however, that it's important to get your technique... your craft to match your vision to a place where it's second nature. Then... you can start to really make pictures with intention... with a strong point of view. (Even if that technique remains somewhat sloppy!)

  10. #10
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moopheus View Post
    I think this comment reveals more about Erwitt's biases than about the value of either Adams's or Frank's art. Adams persued technical perfection and Frank didn't. It's true--you can't substitute technical quality for a lack of vision. Is Erwitt suggesting that this is what Adams did? I don't buy that. If Adams's photos were merely demonstrations of technical prowess, they would have disappeared decades ago.
    Nobody knows exactly what Erwitt was thinking. But his comment on Frank's work made me think of my own approach, without really dismissing the work of Adams.
    It's all personal, isn't it? Doesn't matter who speaks, it's just their opinion when discussing art anyway.
    For me, personally, I look at Adams' work and admire his skill and the beauty of the landscape. In conjunction with what went on at the time, with establishing national parks, etc, the pictures are important, regardless of Adams' personal agenda. So I certainly don't dismiss it.

    All I wanted from posting the quote, was to make people think about what they do. To think critically about what they do. Perhaps even to justify their approach, to themselves. It's a good thing to do, and it might help us photographers to focus harder on what we want to achieve with our hard work and endless hours of developing film and printing.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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