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Author Topic: Another Interesting Site  (Read 12092 times)
Neil Hunt
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« on: February 17, 2008, 06:19:50 AM »
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Just out of curiosity I Googled 'landscape photography' this came up ranked number 1, in the UK at least - http://www.mikemcfarlane.co.uk

Interesting site actually, beacuse reading through the background Mike McFarlane only started out as a photographer in 2002. He has a nice light commercial style and works in beautiful areas of the UK. Probably a text book example of how to make a business out of photography. Also I'm not exactly a web guru, but I do like his site its optimised for people and search engines, a trick not too many achieve.
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2008, 12:07:51 PM »
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Thanks Neil color=gray (!) - one to add to my list of things to peruse at leisure. I'm always interested to read of people who have a connection to a place, as that's why I photograph 90% of the time.
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Neil Hunt
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2008, 05:40:25 PM »
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Thanks Neil color=gray (!) - one to add to my list of things to peruse at leisure. I'm always interested to read of people who have a connection to a place, as that's why I photograph 90% of the time.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=177281\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

No idea where that color = gray bit came from, must have pasted in a bit of code by mistake somehow. You've shamed me into updating it!
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2008, 03:32:54 AM »
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Had a look at the recommended site and it puts me in a quandry: I have seen that style put to equally good use by Image Bank and FPG-as-was and it makes me wonder about the whole concept of colour photographic printing as decoration, the reason I would think behind most decisions to purchase.

This is by no means any disrespect to the photographer, who has done his work well, even using small stops which are quite against all the tenets of the new digital gurus. What this really is, however, is a question about the whole aesthetic of colour photography as wall decoration.

It seems to me, as a semi-retired pro, that photography like this fails to find a true niche of its own other than as advertising or commercial illustration, unlike black and white photography, which has an artistic aesthetic entirely of its own and, thereby, a legitimacy lacking in the colour.

I would wish that I did not feel this to be so, particularly as I am currently spending (I hope not wasting) quite a lot of diminishing resources on producing A3+ work on Hahnemuehle paper at exhorbitant cost, in the hope that something might come of it all. But, with the best will in the world, I can think of very few colour prints, from any photographer, that I would buy. Yes, there have been some from Sarah Moon and one from Herb Ritts that I would like in my sitting room, but not a landscape from anywhere. This doesn´t mean I don´t enjoy the beauty of nature - far from it - what I do not enjoy or, possibly, cannot grasp is the notion that a colour photograph of landscape can compete with a painting as decoration within a domestic setting. In offices or hospitals they work just fine, but in homes?

Before we are drawn into the obvious  argument about the two being different, of course they are, no question; the point for me remains that the painting has an intrinsic value forever missing in the photograph. I also take this from the stance of both representations being of highly competent craftsmanship.

Black and white is by no means perfect either, as it seldom seems to sit comfortably alongside colour, such as found in a painting, making it quite difficult to hang in the normal scheme of things. But, on a wall devoted to itself or other black and white pictures, it can do very well indeed. Even then, it seems to me that it is best to hang like with like - don´t mix landscape with figure because the figure will always take the number one spot away from anything else, again assuming equal quality of workmanship in the different images.

Perhaps this could be seen as touching on the old ´ís photography art?´ thorn; I find that the question is perhaps not as resolved as some of us might have thought or even hoped - if it comes to haunt me, who started into this photographic life as a wannabe painter - how must it seem to others lacking my double-sided love with images on paper?

Ciao - Rob C
« Last Edit: February 27, 2008, 11:49:38 AM by Rob C » Logged

Neil Hunt
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« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2008, 03:42:35 PM »
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Rob,

I sort of agree, in that its not a style of photography I'd pay money for prints for, but I can see why a lot of landscape and countryside lovers (not neccessarily photographers) would do. Also being 90% about colour myself I don't really see that its an inferior medium in any way. Even after 40+ years of being a real practical alternative to B&W, colour photography is still trying to find its voice in some way.

The really interesting point about this site is that it ranks so well on Google, 'Landscape Photography' presumably is a much sought after search term?

Anyway good luck in your business venture, and if its back to superb black and white you want have a look at this guy!

http://www.davidfokos.net/

Neil.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2008, 05:30:35 PM »
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[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=177659\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Interesting take on things; I'm inclined to agree with you regarding a lot of color landscapes, which have a certain decorative attractiveness without ever quite reaching the level of 'art'. I also see an awful lot of digital work which seems to involve cranking the saturation slider far to the right without ever engaging a brain in the process. But I think there are some landscape photographers who have genuine artistic insight and skill in the interpretive use of color. Christopher Burkett comes to mind; he does immaculate Ilfochrome prints which are remarkably deft & subtle, far beyond standard 'poster pretty'. Or some of Robert Glenn Ketchum's earlier work, especially his Hudson river images.
Hmmm, these were also Cibachrome/Ilfochromes. Maybe there's a pattern there. Ciba printing from transparencies required explicit attention to contrast with custom masking and color filtration to get good results. Perhaps a real understanding of what's going on with color in the image is a prerequisite for any pretension to 'art'.
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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2008, 06:16:16 AM »
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Rob,

I sort of agree, in that its not a style of photography I'd pay money for prints for, but I can see why a lot of landscape and countryside lovers (not neccessarily photographers) would do. Also being 90% about colour myself I don't really see that its an inferior medium in any way. Even after 40+ years of being a real practical alternative to B&W, colour photography is still trying to find its voice in some way.

The really interesting point about this site is that it ranks so well on Google, 'Landscape Photography' presumably is a much sought after search term?

Anyway good luck in your business venture, and if its back to superb black and white you want have a look at this guy!

http://www.davidfokos.net/

Neil.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178311\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Many thanks for the link, Neil, the site is now in ´favourites´for further perusal but as an initial impression, I´m delighted to see that he has a nice take on pricing. I believe that one has to think positively about those things: the world is awash with people charging peanuts and, consequently, those doing so are facing huge competition, whereas those slightly further up the scale face those with deeper pockets, a much better place to be.

For what it´s worth, I think pricing reflects one´s own rating of one´s work and to put it on sale at basement levels says quite a lot... Frankly, I´d rather not sell anything, or simply give it away, than sell it for next to zilch! Of course, were it to be a sole source of income then perhaps different criteria might apply, but in the end, time is our most precious commodity and it takes a few health frights to make that plain!

Thanks again for the link.

Rob C
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Thomas Krüger
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2008, 01:58:38 PM »
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The website of Mike McFarlane runs with the CMS ExpressionEngine from www.Ellislabs.com, that should be secret behind the ranking in Google.
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MikeMac
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2008, 01:49:27 PM »
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Hi all

Amazing how small the web is!

It is always interesting to read or hear honest discussions about my work, but I have a few points that I would like to make, both about my photography, and my site.

The main point is this. I make landscape photographs primarily for myself. From a very early age, I have had a deep love and respect for the light, land, sea and sky, and was never at ease working in an office as an engineer. Photography gives me a chance to be creative, maybe even artistic, but that is merely semantics and I care nothing for it. The photographs are mine, and the experience of making them whilst part of the landscape is the most important thing, some days I don't even get my camera out, I just sit and watch and think. Being bathed in the light, stood up to my waist in the surf, watching otters walk right past me with tears streaming down my cheeks at the beauty of it all can only ever be a personal thing. However, nobody is more surprised than me that my work is popular, and if I can make a living doing this, being outside doing something I love, rather than sitting in an office popping anti depressants then I'm going to explore that opportunity and see where it leads. If people want to buy my work, then I am fine with that, if not, I'm still happy doing it for myself.

But yes, I am aware that this is decoration for some, not for all though. Many is the time I have been asked "Do you have anything in 'some colour' it will match my living room furniture?"  Does that bother me? No. Any sale, for whatever reason is more fuel in the car to take me to another place, and as off last month a proportion of my web sales go to environmentally concerned charities, this year it is the John Muir Trust, so I think that is a win for everyone.

And people buy for many reasons. So long as my photography gives people pleasure at some level then why not. And I'm trolling here, but I think a lot of art is just decoration for walls/foyers/dining rooms etc. And personally, given the choice between making/looking at a lot of contemporary art, then I'll stay with what I'm doing thank you.

Personally I would disagree about Christopher Burkett being subtle. I've spent the last two years trying to track down one of his books and found Resplendent Light the other day. It was like an acid trip colour wise. I'm not saying this is good or bad, it is certainly interpretive, but it is not subtle in the use of colour. I've never seen any of his prints, but I would think that he has the attention to detail that would make him want to ensure his books are good quality reproductions. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean by subtle. Maybe you mean his compositions and appreciation for nature?

> Perhaps a real understanding of what's going on with color in the image is a prerequisite for any pretension to 'art'.
Maybe, but I know a lot of 'artists', both with a fine art background and self taught and I don't think they always have a greater understanding of colour, or any other technical aspect. Their mark making is often intuitive, from within, so does that make it more or less art? I sometimes wonder if a lot of photographers (and watercolour painters) mistake technique and science for art, because IMHO they are very different. Ansel Adams was the ultimate technician, but that is not what makes his prints art. Henri Cartier Bresson's prints are relatively unremarkable (very little science in the printing?), but they are still art. Science can be art, but art is not science.

Rob C, regarding ImageBank etc, I don't think there are many photographers who can claim to have a genuine original style anymore. There are too many of us to be unique in any way. Although I did go to see an exhibition of Ansel Adams prints at the w/e and I've got to say, even 50years on, he was a genius and possibly unique? All I can really say about this, is that my style is a reflection of me, it is the way I see the world and at my very early stage in this journey, I'm happy to make photographs that match the way I see. Often, faced with a crushing dislike for life and the human race's desire to obliterate everything, beautiful images of my own and other photographer and artists are the only things that keep me sane. I'm not sure I can deal with challenging.

Finally, on my own journey through photographic styles, I'm currently spending a lot of time producing monochrome prints. No particular reason, it just feels right at the moment. I always thought of my colour work as feeling slightly monochromatic (yes, I know that is a slightly crap statement in reality, but it is how I feel) as I try to keep prints and colours very subtle in keeping with how I felt about the scene and how I usually previsulaise most scenes and I tried to place more emphasis on form and tone, rather than in your face colour and subject grandeur. But you never can tell. As one fine art student said to me one day "Your work has no composition at all" and then spent half an hour criticising it! C'est la vie.

The credit for my site, both design and SEO must go to my designer Brian Coult at www.scandinaviandesigns.co.uk. He sorted the all the tech stuff and he ensured that my chatty nature and need to be open and share information was part of the sites look and feel. I'm really pleased at the positive response to the site, and I love it, and the google ranking is worthwhile too. The term 'landscape photography' is actually not that popular a search when looking for photography. Have a play with keyword optimisation sites like http://www.submitexpress.co.uk/ to see for yourself.

ThomasK, what advantage is hidden within ExpressionEngine? This is surely a part of it, but fresh and relevant content and a few other tech things are also important.

I'm with Rob C on pricing. Too many people sell work far too cheaply which makes it hard for anyone who is trying to make a living rather than pay for another box of paper. But that's how it is, especially with digital. At once it allows more people to explore creative photography without worrying about the science/technical but the market is now flooded. I'm thinking in ten to fifteen years time there won't be as many stock agencies as the web will be awash with free high quality photography, just look at flickr. Yes, there is crap, but there is also a lot of good work with people happy for their work to be used commercially for a credit! Maybe if you want the best or historical then Getty et all will survive, but as for Alamy, I do wonder. As for art photography (or photography for decoration), I hope it will always be around. People always need something to spend money on and things to hang on their walls ;-)

I hope I've not sounded too defensive above. It is now really late and I've had a long day, so apologies for rambling on, grammar etc. At the end of the day if you like my work fine, if not also fine. There is always your own work to enjoy making and a myriad or other artists out there for us all to find someone who really speaks to us deep inside. Have fun in your search.

Mike

PS If you enjoyed David Fokos, check out www.josefhoflehner.com. I bought his new book Iceland and it's stunning. Great photographs, lovely printing and binding.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2008, 11:44:43 AM »
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Mike

I know you are absolutely right about the problem of finding a unique style as a photographer today.

Much of the problem, I believe, is self-created on two main levels: people look at too many pictures by other people and become influenced to a highly unhelpful degree which, once realised, leads them into the trap of thinking that they can simply work their way out of identity troubles by developing their own handwriting. I´m afraid I have to regard that second notion as futile: you cannot develop a style - it is formed of its own and it is either significantly unique that it is noticed in the marketplace, or simply a quiet little cul-de-sac into which nobody much cares to venture. It might also never arrive at one´s doorstep at all, the most usual outcome, I would think.

In the end, I think that a photographer who has removed himself from the normal jobbing routines of the general freelance operator has to be either very successful indeed to make a good living for himself and family or, possibly, he must be from the mental matrix which thinks that starving for your work is worth the pain. Having trod the path of the former with some good fortune, my hopes for a fling in the latter are not quite so daunting, but without a certain safety blanket, I think that depending on any of the arts for a living is not a decision sane people might adopt!

My point of view about charging a worthwhile price for one´s work in the world of print sales stems from my own experiences in commercial photography where to do otherwise is to stagnate, wither and die.

Ciao - Rob C
« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 11:45:43 AM by Rob C » Logged

MikeMac
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2008, 02:54:54 PM »
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Hi

It's a funny one with looking at the work of too many others. I enjoy the work of other photographers and artists, for the beauty of their work, to learn, to show me places I will never go or types of photography I will never do e.g. I love black and white nudes like Andreas Bitesnich (www.bitesnich.com) but I can't afford the models and my wife who is not normally jealous said she didn't want me to do this!
I read an article recently about the number of books that a photographer should have, books of photographers, not how to book, may have been here on LL. I dutifully counted all my books, said "yipee I've got 85 in my collection, I must be fab" and went to sleep happy. But I was thinking about this the other day and realised out of that 85, I could happily take 75-80 to the charity shop and not miss them. I think the point I was trying to make is that to learn it is only worth looking at acknowledged masters, whoever they may be.
But you are right Rob, it is easy to be influenced. To be at a location and look for the tripod marks and not look for yourself, not feel for yourself. To be finding your own interpretation of a location and ignoring others work can be very difficult, and there just aren't that many locations you can go that haven't been photographed before.  And that is sad spiritually as well as artistically.
It is a real paradox and I don't know how to resolve it.

The starving for your art doesn't seem too clever. I know a few fine artists in this position and it in itself provides another paradox. To make work that is commercially popular pays the mortgage and feeds the family, but is spiritually unfulfilling and arguably art made in this way is not art at all, back to the decoration discussion above. But who says artists are sane?
And it takes a long time to forge a reputation big enough to pay the mortgage. The advice I was given was allow 5-10 years! So I've a part time job that I can pick up during very slow months and my wife has a good salary so we get by. I'm guessing that your reputation from a past life as a commercial photographer has helped you?

Have fun.

Mike
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2008, 04:15:39 PM »
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Hi

It's a funny one with looking at the work of too many others. I enjoy the work of other photographers and artists, for the beauty of their work, to learn, to show me places I will never go or types of photography I will never do e.g. I love black and white nudes like Andreas Bitesnich (www.bitesnich.com) but I can't afford the models and my wife who is not normally jealous said she didn't want me to do this!
I read an article recently about the number of books that a photographer should have, books of photographers, not how to book, may have been here on LL. I dutifully counted all my books, said "yipee I've got 85 in my collection, I must be fab" and went to sleep happy. But I was thinking about this the other day and realised out of that 85, I could happily take 75-80 to the charity shop and not miss them. I think the point I was trying to make is that to learn it is only worth looking at acknowledged masters, whoever they may be.
But you are right Rob, it is easy to be influenced. To be at a location and look for the tripod marks and not look for yourself, not feel for yourself. To be finding your own interpretation of a location and ignoring others work can be very difficult, and there just aren't that many locations you can go that haven't been photographed before.  And that is sad spiritually as well as artistically.
It is a real paradox and I don't know how to resolve it.

The starving for your art doesn't seem too clever. I know a few fine artists in this position and it in itself provides another paradox. To make work that is commercially popular pays the mortgage and feeds the family, but is spiritually unfulfilling and arguably art made in this way is not art at all, back to the decoration discussion above. But who says artists are sane?
And it takes a long time to forge a reputation big enough to pay the mortgage. The advice I was given was allow 5-10 years! So I've a part time job that I can pick up during very slow months and my wife has a good salary so we get by. I'm guessing that your reputation from a past life as a commercial photographer has helped you?

Have fun.

Mike
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=179388\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Hi Mike

I´m sorry about your other half not being too keen on you doing figure work - I had the opposite experience: mine worked with me on fashion and also calendar girl shoots (we used quite a few of the Lichfield choices for his Unipart shoots) and when her friends expressed doubts about having a husband wandering off with much younger girls, she would smile and ask them how that girl was more dangerous than their own husband´s secretary whom he would see every day...

But that was all a long time ago and spending money on girls is not an option and I even wonder if that genre would work today in any serious art-photo business trying to make its way via print sales alone. The thing about a lot of these guys, and  Bitesnich is probably in the same boat as a host of others, is that they have a very real presence in both advertising photography and, by definition, with model agencies who see the advantage of pushing talent in their direction. Not only that, many photographer/model relationships develop in the business and money is not always what changes hands or makes the shots possible. The huge publicity these chosen few can create makes many things happen for them that are not on the cards for other people.

In my own case, past reputation in commercial work - if you can include fashion and girls in that grouping - has yet to play any part; this is because it is not really so long ago that I had the idea of having an experiment with photography as art product. And I mean product. I don´t really care if the work is self-motivated by love of subject or by the need to turn a buck: at the end of the day, when it is offered in the market, it is product, however unappealing that notion might seem to some sensitivities. Part of the reason for this interest is that I just love pictures and have to own up to looking at as many sites more than is good for me as anyone else! But, fortunately, all this internet stuff happened very late in my day and whatever style or mannerisms I might have developed were there long before I started surfing the web.

Having said that, there are not many photographers whose work has affected me that much - as far as I know - and of them, most have been in the fashion world. Though I did leave it eventually for mainly economic reasons - you have a connection with Scotland so you probably know how its fashion and knitwear businesses have been ravaged by Far Eastern competition - it was no hard step to move to calendars which, as with fashion, was more a matter of having some ability to get the models on your side. Also, I loved going to different countries and how better than on assignment?

But, if you really do want to do figure shots, the numero uno requirement is a great model with the ability to express herself with her body, just as a dancer can do. It has not everything to do with shape, though without it and a great face too, you are pretty damn limited where you can go with the pictures. Things might have changed in the almost three decades since I lived in Scotland, but the truth was that I had to shop in London agencies to find what I was looking for. Apart from looks, there is so much luggage in the mind... possibly in  mine too.

And then, the strange part of the thing is that it has little to do with any kind of sexual gratification; more, I´d suggest that it has the effect on the libido that I imagine many doctors must discover: nothing manages to retain much magic after a few experiences or revelations; the faults are what stand out the most. But, and but, the kick when you get something bloody marvellous to happen on camera is in itself bloody marvellous! Guess that´s where the real magic lies. There, and in the knowledge that you and the model have made something together that nobody else can do again, yourselves included. Not that that too doesn´t carry a certain sense of sadness, a sense of time having been there and moved on for ever, the moment alive only in representation.

But this is too much introspection to interest anybody other than myself, and as I already know all these things to the point of distraction, it´s best to say buenas noches and close the machine.

Ciao - Rob C
« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 03:19:47 AM by Rob C » Logged

MikeMac
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2008, 05:39:09 PM »
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Nice one, I think I get where you are at. Night night.

M
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