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  1. #11

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    Amund my first paragraph was more about the general trend. I did not address Soth's work until the second paragraph. However if one has to view someone's whole body of work in order to "get it" doesn't that mean that each photograph individually does not communicate its meaning?

    The biggest problem I have with the school of mundanity, is that in a time when countless billions of images can be created a day, and when we are bombarded with these images in an ever increasing rate, shouldn't there at least be some desireable standards or attributes? Is merely volume the goal, expediency the means today? Whatever happened to the goal of creating an image that was "special", was that just too hard or too time consuming for so many contemporary photographers? I really want to know, because I struggle with keeping the all out effort I do when I see that the accepted standards seem so far below that.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    ...
    The biggest problem I have with the school of mundanity, is that in a time when countless billions of images can be created a day, and when we are bombarded with these images in an ever increasing rate, shouldn't there at least be some desireable standards or attributes? Is merely volume the goal, expediency the means today? Whatever happened to the goal of creating an image that was "special", was that just too hard or too time consuming for so many contemporary photographers? I really want to know, because I struggle with keeping the all out effort I do when I see that the accepted standards seem so far below that.
    Brian,

    Whose work are you referring to in that paragraph? Could you give us an example?

    Thanks,
    Helen

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I would not criticizes Soth's interest in photography, clearly he is extremely interested if not as obsessed as the rest of us on APUG.
    Good grief man! What makes you think he is any less "obsessed" than anyone here on APUG? Because he doesn't make pretty and "special" pictures like you? Because he doesn't drive thousands of miles and suffer your hardships to get a mere 10 shots a year? Do you think you have the market cornered on effort? Can you elaborate further?

    And I am sure you understand that there are those that would look at the work you or I create and think it is boring and mundane?

    B.

  4. #14

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    Helen, I won't name any particular photographers as I tend to travel in the same social/business circles and also share the same representation as them.

    Bill, I didn't say that Soth is less obsessed as anyone on APUG I said he is AS obsessed. Maybe the way I worded it wasn't clear. I tried to say that he is (at least) "extremely interested" if not just as just as obsessed as APUGgers.

    You want me to elaborate on my comments about what I feel is a declining quality level of some contemporary photography? OK, I feel that the majority of people related or portrait type photography that I see nowadays is not as good as film tests that I saw in my 25 years of advertising photography. I'm sorry but having grown up with the work of Newman, Penn, Karsh, etc I am not impressed with what I have been seeing.

    The majority of still lifes I see are at a level below that of my former assistant's work, or that of my students at SVA in the mid 80's. And this is work appearing in galleries and museums.

    As for people finding my work, or yours, boring and mundane, that's fine with me. I have no intention of pissing on images of Christ, throwing elephant dung on pictures of the Pope, or standing by and photographing people suffering ( in order to show the world just how much compassion I have, by standing there aiming a camera at those in distress instead of actually helping them) in order to get a rise out of people who have been overstimulated and ultimately insensitized by shock photos and and the vast bombardment of imagery.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I didn't say that Soth is less obsessed as anyone on APUG I said he is AS obsessed.
    Sorry Brian, my mistake.
    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    I won't name any particular photographers as I tend to travel in the same social/business circles...
    Yeah... Well you kind of already did.

    I'm interested though. By saying you don't criticize Soth's "interest in photography", it is apparent the same doesn't go for his work. I mean, you kind of equate it with something your assistant could do better. This is much the same as I saw on the other site. Is it just the fact that there aren't elaborate lighting schemes and pretty people in provocative poses? Your statements seem to assume there is some accepted formula of perfection we should all be striving for. Could anything be more mundane and boring than that?

    Bill

  6. #16

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    I want to be clear that the point of my comments is not Alec Soth, all I've seen of his work is one image but it is representative of a type of work I am seeing a lot and do not appreciate.

    Elaborate lighting? No, lighting does not have to be elaborate for it to be good. Something as simple as window light, candle light, dappled light through leaves, etc are about as un-elaborate as you can get. But they're also beautiful, define form, shape and texture, can clue you in to the surrounding environment, can set a mood.

    Pretty people? Where do you think I believe that photos of people require that those people be pretty?

    As for formulas, I don't believe in them. However I do feel that giving thought to content, composition , lighting, texture, timing, etc is a good place to start.

    Personally I'm just tired of seeing photos that seem to have been executed randomly by a robot and then justified with an essay long legal brief justifying their merit.

    If you want to see someone whose work blows me away check out Fan Ho.

    http://www.modernbook.com/fanholp.htm

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser View Post
    Personally I'm just tired of seeing photos that seem to have been executed randomly by a robot and then justified with an essay long legal brief justifying their merit.
    Fair enough Brian. Thanks. Thanks for the link as well.

    Bill

  8. #18

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    also Fan Ho's B&W work, my favorites

    http://www.modernbook.com/fanho.htm

  9. #19

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    Thanks for the Fan Ho links Brian. More great work to study!

  10. #20

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    Time to stand up for our hometown hero.

    I stumbeled upon Alec`s website by chance and looked at his photographs and "got it" almost instantly without reading a word. Were are those lengthy essays?

    I'll tell you where they are NOT. They are not at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts or the Walker Art Center -- his shots hang with your typical 3 sentence artists bio. And those shots do all the explaining you need.

    As to the "banality" of contemporary narrative portraiture, who says that life is always "interesting?" Who says that great shots always have to capture some magical definitive moment? Life doesn't have to be about that one image that makes your soul sing, it can be about the million little mundane moments every day. It's about lunch at the kitchen table instead of Thanksgiving dinner.

    So Alec has the cojones to cut across the grain and show you shots of unattractive people looking perfectly normal in shots that make you think you could be there right next to him. I say damn right. Give me 1 of Alec (who by the way, has taken the time to answer an email or two about his work, speaks at MCAD and MnCP -- and not just to sell his latest work, and goes a long way to not be an "artiste") instead of 1000 HCB or AA clones.

    Don't like his stuff? Perfectly fine. People turned their noses up at Renoir and Monet, too. People thought Picasso was f'n nuts. People thought Ray Charles was blasphemous and thought Hemingway couldn't write his way out of a sack. No accounting for taste.

    If you're doing the counterpoint work to Alec's, rock the F on because every Next Big Thing needs a Next Next Big Thing. I hope you get hung at the MIA and the Walker and the MOMA, Guggenheim, etc right next to his stuff. But if all you're doing is saying "that sucks -- this other stuff rocks!" then what's the point of the commentary?

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