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Author Topic: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra  (Read 36752 times)
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #120 on: August 02, 2006, 10:09:44 AM »
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I suggest you not convert what was stated as a possibility into an accusation. More than that I shall not say, because I would then be disregarding my own advice!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #121 on: August 02, 2006, 10:40:46 AM »
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I'm not a moderator and not trying to be one, but in the interest of voluntarily maintaining our standards, let us all take a deep breath and push the Refresh button - this thread has gotten way OFF TOPIC. Without wanting to be pedantic viz a viz my virtual colleagues, let me remind, this thread started as a discussion of Pete Myers's essay. Then a contributor visiting his website made a comment about 35 thousand bucks for a sixty inch print. From there it meandered into a discussion of pricing, which brought on Alain's issue with JS, which has now meandered into a discussion of anti-French bigotry - hardly the kind of stuff L-L was designed for. I would respectfully suggest to my virtual colleagues that if there is sufficient interest a separate thread be developed on the "ins and outs" of pricing photography, and that if everyone has had their say about Mr. Myers' essay we draw this thread to a voluntary close, or else continue it, but on that topic only. As for bigotry, there's no shortage of it anywhere in the world and we all know this website isn't the place to discuss it.
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Thank you, Mark.

That puts it very well. I agree 100%.

To get back on track, I found Pete's essay interesting but not earth-shattering. The "proprietary" bit was at most a minor annoyance, not worth making a fuss about. I do appreciate very much the approaches of such photographers as Ansel, Michael, and Alain, who have always seemed eager to share every detail of their process with the rest of us. But if someone else wants to keep some techniques secret in order to protect a particular style, that's also fine by me.

Eric
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jashley
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« Reply #122 on: August 02, 2006, 11:29:25 AM »
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I suggest you not convert what was stated as a possibility into an accusation. More than that I shall not say, because I would then be disregarding my own advice!
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I'm sorry but if you're saying that using the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" (in post 107) several times somehow doesn't tar John Smith as a racist predator then you are just quibbling.

As I stated in my last post I have always been a fan of Alain's, and would like to remain that way.  Why that would cause you to imply that I might deserve some kind of accusation from you is beyond me.  Please explain.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #123 on: August 02, 2006, 11:42:16 AM »
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JAshley - I'm not accusing you of anything. I interpret Alain's remarks differently. This is my last post on the matter.

Mark
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« Reply #124 on: August 02, 2006, 01:03:20 PM »
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I'm sorry but if you're saying that using the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" (in post 107) several times somehow doesn't tar John Smith as a racist predator then you are just quibbling.
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I checked post 107 again, and the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" is used precisely once ("racist predators" appears a few more times). "Several" would appear to me to be an exaggeration.

Besides: What does this now have to do with Pete Myers' essay? Can we get back on topic please?

Eric
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jashley
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« Reply #125 on: August 02, 2006, 01:04:59 PM »
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JAshley - I'm not accusing you of anything. I interpret Alain's remarks differently. This is my last post on the matter.

Mark
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I'm guessing that we're never going to see the "more" that Alain referred to
(which dismays me), so this too will be my final post on the matter.  

I can only suggest that if the same situation arises in the future Alain takes a much different course of action.  To me, the best and really only response to Mr. Smith, would have been to just say, "The only way you can see how special my prints are is to view some of them, and I invite you to do that."  If the inquirer really isn't serious that will expose them right away, and if they are, then you've opened the door.  And in neither case will you have needlessly alienated someone.

As I said before, when I sold multi-thousand dollar pieces of custom furniture this approach got me sales from people who initially questioned my pricing.  And I'm certain that if any of those people believed I was insulted by their questioning they would not have wanted to deal with me.
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jashley
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« Reply #126 on: August 02, 2006, 01:08:27 PM »
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I checked post 107 again, and the phrase "John Smith or racist predators" is used precisely once ("racist predators" appears a few more times). "Several" would appear to me to be an exaggeration.

Besides: What does this now have to do with Pete Myers' essay? Can we get back on topic please?

Eric
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All right, I guess I'll have to make one more post.  It's used twice--check again.
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enlightphoto
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« Reply #127 on: August 02, 2006, 01:40:59 PM »
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Before we get back on topic, I'd just like to add the following. I read the John Smith stuff, and I found nothing but legitimate questions. There really are people in this world named John Smith. I found Alains responses unusually defensive to downright insulting.

I say this here for the benefit of some here who may be considering becoming a professional or semi-pro. The job of a professional is to be just that, "Professional", 100% of the time; always. Assume everyone is asking a legitimate question, and ALWAYS give a polite and professional reply. Alain's reply was on track for a while, right up through the third sentence, then he disrailed himself like an out-of-control locomotive. If you're going to be in business, act like a real business person. Reading in to John Smiths questions any implicit racist tones, troll like behaviour, or any other such nonsense is simply unfounded. The result of professionals acting unprofessional can attract unwanted attention to oneself, much like lighting a duraflame log under Delicate Arch.

And to tie this in w/ the Pete Myers aspect; every question John Smith asked of Alain, I could legitimately ask of Pete's work, regardless of any undisclosed "special sauce" receipe.

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« Last Edit: August 02, 2006, 01:45:10 PM by enlightphoto » Logged

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« Reply #128 on: August 02, 2006, 06:33:21 PM »
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While this thread should go back to discussuing Myers - someone please start a new thread based on the John Smith email - I have to jump off topic once more...

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Hold on just a minute... but I am troubled that he has made such a serious accusation on what seems to me (without additional information) scant grounds... and think he and Nathalie deserve the chance to expose whatever else it is they know that would support such an accusation.
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jashley - With all due respect, Alain started off post #107 saying "It is also possible that JS is a racist predator." Key word is possible. Then he discusses what racist predators do, and made a pretty good case that yes, it is possible, that JS is a racist predator. Considering the fact that Alain has had to deal with racial issues directed at him in the past, I think he may be just a little bit qualified to identify, or find suspicious, possible incidents now. No further explanation or proof is needed from Alain or Natalie. Being the victim of a racial attack is hopefully something none of us have to deal with. They have had to before. If Alain and Natalie think it is possible that this is yet again another racial attack then perhaps a little bit more support of them may be in order. It's amazing how easy and common it is to always attack the victim.
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Blind Photographer
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« Reply #129 on: August 03, 2006, 05:01:53 AM »
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double post, see below
« Last Edit: August 03, 2006, 05:48:25 AM by Blind Photographer » Logged
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« Reply #130 on: August 03, 2006, 05:45:18 AM »
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I figure that if people want to talk about the pete myers article then they can, as they have been all this time.  Until someone starts a new JS thread I'll just respond here.  

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Hi, this is Natalie and I am using Alain's account because I do not have one.  I have never written anything on a forum before.    However, I believe that the goal of John Smith and racist predators is to silence Alain and prevent him from using forums and posting his beliefs on forums by belittling him and undermining what he says so that he will stop.  We, and I include myself will lose a lot if Alain stops what he is writing, stops creating the beautiful images that he creates and stops supporting and helping other photographers to succeed.  We must keep in mind that John Smith or racist predators want to make this a personal confrontation between them and Alain and that is why I suggested that Alain writes an open answer to John Smith's email.

 Alain's response has helped many students that he is working with currently and they are also writing about it on their own websites.  It has also helped them think about what makes their photographs unique and worth the money that they are asking.  It has helped them to take pride in the work and understand that the customer does not have the right to bully the artist just because they pretend that they are going to buy something.  Fortunately, with the many years of experience that I have selling Alain's work, I can see through this immediately and dismiss these type of people at shows.  John Smith is a fraud and never had any intention of buying artwork.  John Smith is an alias that someone who knows Alain very well is using to be thorn in his side.

Natalie
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I don't really get the reasoning behind saying that JS is trying to prevent Alain from using these forums.  Why?  Because no one could have predicted that 1) Alain would make such a response.  2)  That he would make it public.  3)  That he would bring up the matter on these forums.  That last part is especially unpredictable and it was Alain who brought it to our attention after all.  I don't see how JS's questions could prevent him making images either.  

I also don't understand the whole racist bit.  I don't see any thing that points to racism in JS's emails.  If there is something that we haven't seen, then I would think showing us would give some credibility.  Otherwise it's just claims that don't seem to be backed up.  In fact it kind of reminds me of the problem have with the Pete Myers article:  something is talked about  but never revealed to the audience.  BTW, I live in Los Angeles which has a pretty good mix of people and I'm considered a minority.  I've had to deal with racism before.  I also have a very diverse mix of friends from many different cultures.

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With all due respect, Alain started off post #107 saying "It is also possible that JS is a racist predator." Key word is possible. Then he discusses what racist predators do, and made a pretty good case that yes, it is possible, that JS is a racist predator. Considering the fact that Alain has had to deal with racial issues directed at him in the past, I think he may be just a little bit qualified to identify, or find suspicious, possible incidents now. No further explanation or proof is needed from Alain or Natalie. Being the victim of a racial attack is hopefully something none of us have to deal with. They have had to before. If Alain and Natalie think it is possible that this is yet again another racial attack then perhaps a little bit more support of them may be in order. It's amazing how easy and common it is to always attack the victim.

Matt, again I don't see much that points to racism.  Yes it's only mentioned as a possibility but why would they even bring it up if they didn't believe it was the motive?  Belittling and all that other junk is extremely common so it's quite hard for me to see why this would lead to the conclusion of racism.  You're all probably friends, but I'm trying to look at this objectively and I don't see enough with what has been presented to support them.  

....................................

I agree with Jashly and enlightenedphoto in that a better response/better handling of the situation would have kept the situation under control.  Like enlightenedphoto said, if you're a professional then one needs to act like it.  Otherwise you give your "enemies" ammo to use against you.  For those who have dealt with people that try to bargain with you the all the questions that JS asked would likely seem pretty generic, and could be handled easily with generic, "canned" answers.  The main point I was originally trying to make was that the response to JS was a very poor example of what to do in such a situation.  It was especially bad because the answer was coming from a well known photographer/businessman that many people look to as an example.  Obviously many people had a problem with the response as well, and I thought it was all settled and over with when Alain made an apology.  But now the whole situation has been given new life with this racist thing which so far just seems to be an attempt to justify the original response or divert the issue.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2006, 05:55:48 AM by Blind Photographer » Logged
jashley
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« Reply #131 on: August 03, 2006, 11:29:53 AM »
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While this thread should go back to discussuing Myers - someone please start a new thread based on the John Smith email - I have to jump off topic once more...
jashley - With all due respect, Alain started off post #107 saying "It is also possible that JS is a racist predator." Key word is possible. Then he discusses what racist predators do, and made a pretty good case that yes, it is possible, that JS is a racist predator. Considering the fact that Alain has had to deal with racial issues directed at him in the past, I think he may be just a little bit qualified to identify, or find suspicious, possible incidents now. No further explanation or proof is needed from Alain or Natalie. Being the victim of a racial attack is hopefully something none of us have to deal with. They have had to before. If Alain and Natalie think it is possible that this is yet again another racial attack then perhaps a little bit more support of them may be in order. It's amazing how easy and common it is to always attack the victim.
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Matt,

When Alain first used the phrase "racist predators", I thought, boy, that seems like a stretch, but I guess he knows something more about JS so I'll stay with him at this point and hope to see further "proof".

But when talked turned to "John Smith or racist predators" who are trying to "silence" Alain, this seemed so unlikely to me that I really had to start wondering about the Briot's credibility.  Not sure where you reside, but in the U.S. even implying that someone is racist is a serious matter and damn well better have some real proof or support behind it (more on that below).  

As to whether someone who has been the victim of a slight (racist or not) is more "qualified" to identify future slights, the obvious counterargument is that it probably makes them more prone to see injustice where none exists, and so they are actually LESS qualified.

In fact, I witnessed just such an incident at a place where I used to work.  A black woman (my boss, actually) accused a white man of making a racial comment, HR got involved, and things got nasty.  It was eventually shown to her satisfaction that his comment had no racial overtones whatsoever.  He suffered because of the accusation, and was clearly the "victim" in this incident, not her.  I was close enough to her to know that she had been the victim of real, 1950's era racism in the South, and there's no doubt in my mind that played a major role in her perceiving his comment as racist, when in fact it was not.

Finally, to whomever made the comment (sorry can't find it now) that asking about equipment shows someone isn't serious, that's just not correct.  Why does almost every photographer's website have an equipment page, usually which has some text to the effect that "people are always asking what equipment I use, so here it is."   So all the people that ask have never bought a photograph?  In my own case, I've been thinking seriously about buying a large print from one of my favorite photgraphers, Joseph Holmes, and if I do then of course I'd love to talk to him about every aspect of how he made the image!  And knowing that Alain is a fan of JH, too, I'll bet there was a time when he would have liked to do the same thing.
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #132 on: August 03, 2006, 03:17:36 PM »
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Finally, to whomever made the comment (sorry can't find it now) that asking about equipment shows someone isn't serious, that's just not correct. 
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FWIW, in my experience after 4 years running a retail gallery, there is an inverse relationship between the amount of 'technical' questions and the likelyhood of making a sale!

Most, not all, but most, people who want to know all about technique are fishing for information to help them take their own lovely images, not to buy mine. One just has to deal with it and make sure you don't make the fundamental mistake of dismissing the customer since they might actually be the exception to the rule. I had a customer once who asked no end of tricky questions, which I patiently and courteously answered, and then they spent $3000 so it was worth the effort.

The vast majority of my customers have already decided to buy the print before they even ask about cameras etc, and in most cases never ask anyway.

I offer this comment as a simple reflection of my real world experience - YMMV.
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« Reply #133 on: August 03, 2006, 04:43:19 PM »
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The job of a professional is to be just that, "Professional", 100% of the time; always.

In my opinion the original letter from 'John Smith' probably was provocative, but I thought the response was unprofessional.  It has almost evolved into a media circus.

I also thought the responses to 'What makes your work so special?' were pretty much irrelevant.  I am still pretty new to photography, but one of the early lessons I learned was that it does not matter what it took to take a photograph.  It does not matter how early I got up, how far I hiked, how hot or cold or wet it was.  The photograph speaks or it does not.

Something is worth what someone else will pay for it.  If 'Mr. Smith' does not want to pay the asking price, it is not worth the asking price to him.  I really do not see the point of trying to rationalise that he is somehow wrong.
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« Reply #134 on: August 04, 2006, 03:14:36 AM »
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While I don't usually reply to forum discussions, this one really is an issue of "special sauce" vs. vision. I don't believe in special sauce because somebody, somewhere is going to figure it out, like Pepsi did with Coke, and the whole idea of having a "proprietary" algorithm from NASA is nonsense. For one thing, most of what NASA has for imaging science capabilities, although sophisticated, is open source code. It's the CIA and NSA that have the propietary oprtics and codes that look at Russian tanks in Siberia. Digital imaging itself was started by NASA at the Jet Propulsion Labratory in 1961 for the Lunar orbiter missions.

For someone to hold back on technique from fellow photographers is simply in very bad taste and there is NO technique that is going to separate one photographer from the next. Only authentic vision can accomplish that, and the picture of the abandoned car windshield with a bullett hole is as clichι as they come. There is no vision here - and no technique.

George DeWolfe
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« Reply #135 on: August 04, 2006, 10:51:58 AM »
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Thank you, George - I tried to say that back on p. 1!
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John Camp
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« Reply #136 on: August 04, 2006, 08:33:09 PM »
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I hestitated to say this, and I still hesitate, because it seems somehow unfair to mention this, and I know it's just a coincidence, and the cars are not the same one, but if you look on P. 57 of the current issue of Focus (fine arts photography magazine) (the August issue) you'll see a black and white photo of an old abandoned car with a big hole in the right side of the windshield and old fashioned controls, with fields and clouds and trees in the distance, lots and lots of DR, very sharp, both near and far...I'm sure nobody's copying anybody and that it's just a coincidence, but the two photos are very, very similar. (Although I think the one in Focus is, perhaps, ah, better.)

In fact, having typed the above, it occurred to me that perhaps Thompson has a website with the photo on-line, and, sure enough:

http://www.colethompsonphotography.com/Old...%20Interior.htm

JC
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #137 on: August 04, 2006, 09:14:14 PM »
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John, thanks for raising that website to our attention. Cole's work is beautiful.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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