Why don't photographers include photo details in books?
I'm not sure if this is in the right section, mods, please move this if it's not.
I'm constantly surprised and frustrated when I'm looking through a book of photographs by a famous photographer, and almost never is there any indication of what film it is or what developer was used.
I don't expect to see all the details Aperture, shutter, light measurements, etc., but I at least expect to see what type of film it is and what developer was used to develop it if it's black-and-white.
It's always sort of bothered me but never really came as a question until I happen to pick up Annie Leibowitz book "A Photographers Life". i've seen the book a few times before on the shelves, but with that he used bookstore and was able to pick it up at a reasonable price. The front cover has a bunch of different pieces of film on it all taken on Kodak TXP 6049 presumably taken on a Hassleblad considering it's medium format film in 6x6 format. (Or possibly Mamiya RB/RZ67 with 6x6 back? I only say that because later on in the book I found some Polaroid test shots that appeared to be with the 6 x 6 back that has the edgings that look like the Mamiya and not the Hassleblad but I don't have any kind of research to tell me what Annie's preference in cameras were over time when she wished shooting in studio, I know that her 35mm work was with a specific camera, but I don't know about her studio me and format stuff).
So now I know that Annie at some point really like shooting with Tri-X Pan Professional. But only for those photographs, the rest of them though a lot of them seem to show the edgings of the film rather than them be cut out perfectly, but don't show the full edge markings so I can't tell what they are. Especially since many of the photographs in this particular book our large full-page images, not those crappy little tiny ones in some photo books which as an aside those really bother me, someone publishes a very large book, charges a lot of money for it, and then you open it up and there's tiny little squares inside a giant white page, but that's just personal preference for me.
Anyway many of the photographs show very beautiful green and especially this early work of hers that she showing, and I wonder what type of film it is some of it a shot in very low light situations but seemingly have a wide DOF so I'm wondering if it was pushed, or if it was some kind of fast exposure film like Royal X Pan or something else. But I have no way of finding out it's very frustrating.
I suppose since I'm confused about cameras it would also be nice to know what kind of camera they shot with as well as the film, not that it really matters but at least it would kind of gives some insight into the kinds of shooter they are something that I think people might be interested in.
Does anyone know why this is such a failure in photographic books to not include something as simple as the type of film it is?
i think the reason photographers who publish books never include anything
about camera, film technque, lighting, paper, developers &c is because
well, most people don't really care about the details. the general public
who buys books with photographs in them only really care about the imagery
they couldn't care less about anything else. ( do books on painting list materials or paper ? )
photographers or aspiring photographers on the other hand, that is mainly what they care about
how an image was made, the film, paper, chemistry "chi" technique, light placement, gobox, modifiers and lights
and everything else ....
just like looking at images at a museum or gallery ... photographers ( film photographers ? ) put their nose as close to the glass as possible
to look at the details &c and have no concept of viewing distance .. it is kind of embarrassing ...
personally, i don't really care about what kind of film, paper, lights and all the technical "stuff"
because to me the "chi" is the image, now all the crap used to make it...
I think it's probably going to be along the lines of 'it doesn't matter, only the content of the photos matter'. I guess that is either true or pretentious, depending on your point of view.
I don't think it's pretentious at all, I just think that I guess my perspective is wow this image is beautiful but so grainy and I'd love to know how it was made and what it was made with. Even just out of curiosity not because I want to mimic it.
Originally Posted by thegman
It doesn't matter but it kind of does matter in that if the image that looks so beautiful grainy were ultra sharp and digital looking then maybe wouldn't be such an interesting photograph because the textures would've changed.
There is a lot of Mamiya promotional literature that talks about Annie Leibowitz's use of a Mamiya RZ67.
With the exception of books that focus on technical issues, and promotional materials put together for film companies, I cannot see any reason for including information about film choice in books.
Unless of course the film manufacturer paid to ensure inclusion.
The process involved in reproducing images in a book has far more influence on the appearance of the results than film choice ever could.
If you expect reproductions in books to look like photographers' prints, you are going to find yourself disappointed, more often than not.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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The best photographers are more concerned about the project than the technical details, I think. The technique is just a tool to convey an idea or tell a story, and it's better that the technique be invisible by the time a viewer is looking at the photograph as a print or in a book.
...in addition to it being mostly pointless, and highly subjective (ie. Tri-X and D76 can be very smooth, or very, very grainy when treated differently)...
I would hazard that most photographers don't remember or care.
I don't record what developer I use, and the film choice is generally unrelated to the overall look of the print...I have prints from FP4+ that make Delta 3200 look like TMax 100, and I have prints from Tri-X that have no right to print at 16x20" as smoothly as they do, but yet there they are...
I think it's because, even with the same film, developer, and paper, you wouldn't get identical results. There are too many other variables which would make the information useless.
I'd say it's the difference between going to a cinema to see a movie, compared to watching one of those "behind-the-scenes" or "making-of" documentaries. The "general public" only want to see the final product, and sometimes the artist doesn't want their techniques known.
It's us nerds, geeks, students, gearheads, whatever, who want to know the process, the camera, lens, film, developer, paper, whatever. Sometimes so we can directly replicate the results, sometimes so we can learn a new technique, sometimes just out of GAS-based curiosity.
Maybe convince your favourite photographers to do a "making of" or "behind the scenes" book of their favourite / most well known photos? I don't think it would sell as well as their portfolio books, a small few of us would be interested but the general public just won't care enough to make it very profitable, unfortunately...
An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
f/64 and be there.