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Author Topic: Inspirational photography  (Read 13694 times)
dreed
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« on: July 12, 2008, 12:02:33 AM »
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After reading "The Clouds are Falling", one might be inclined to believe that various people are starting to believe that the art of still photography was not long for this world.  Additionally, more than once I've read comments in various forums where people make claims about how digital photography is cheapening the product and ultimately resulting in what we do see being of less quality.  Whilst picking up wedding photography might help save the bacon for those in the trade (and I must confess that I'm not), there are still beacons out there for the art in general.  And one of those must surely be rags such as The National Geographic Magazine.

Having had access to an archive of these magazines that surpasses my lifetime, I cannot think of a single magazine that didn't have at least one truely breathtaking or inspirational photograph in it.

Which tends to suggest that perhaps while some things are changing, some things are not changing at all.

So I've decided that "when I grow up (as a photographer), i want to take photos for The National Geographic."

Now maybe I'll never be that good, but I think that's a worthy goal

As I pause and think about how to end this, I'll add this...

The current period of time is seeing a large influx of people engaging in photography and wanting to compete with those who do it for a job - because it has become easy to take and share photos.  In the mid to late 1990s, there was a rush of people into various fields of IT to capitalise on the "booming" industry.  While the outcome is slightly different, what it did was to dilute the natural talent of those who wanted to be there. Rather than it being driven by genuine interest in the field, it became "this career path looks good."  And if I take a big enough view of what's happening with photography right now, I suspect that something similar is occuring (but I'm not a professional photographer, just a professional programmer.)
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2008, 02:43:02 AM »
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You are absolutely right, but the difference with photography today is that not only are there more wannabes than ever, but the fundamental market place has ALSO been effed.

It was one thing having more photographers than there were jobs for, but it is quite something else to find s situation where the buyers are now unable or unwilling to spend the sums of money that either good commissioned work takes, or the production of excellent stock demands. Over-supply of photographers used to mean that some never worked; todayīs scenario is different in that even those working are hit by lower cost expectations at a time when the actual production of photographs or the setting up of a photographic business have never been more expensive.

In other words, the print-me-for-20-cents photography ethos has produced a cancer that will probably be terminal.

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 05:24:29 AM by Rob C » Logged

dalethorn
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2008, 07:47:54 AM »
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Bad markets have opportunities.  Now is probably the time to open a store in West L.A., for example, as far away from Venice and Malibu as possible, since the buyers you want don't live there.  Get an investor, hook up for quid pro quo(sp?) with the local photo equipment dealers, and most important, be patient.  It will take 2 to 3 years to build a business there.  Some of the more conservative buyers may want "wall art", where every mat is cut the same way.  Be flexible.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2008, 09:57:14 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn,Jul 12 2008, 12:47 PM
 Get an investor, hook up for quid pro quo(sp?) with the local photo equipment dealers, and most important, be patient.

Yes, investors are just crawling out of the woodwork to invest in another photographer!

Dale, even in the good old bad old days it took superhuman effort to find an investor - never did - it ended up being a hard, slow and bloody painful slog at great family sacrifice and possibly a modicum of personal satisfaction. Yes, I can look back now, retired and wishing I were not, and thinking that I hadnīt been a wage slave ever since ī66, but I also look at the costs to family life and wonder about it all; was I just too stupid, too selfish or just following my star without any real say in whether or not I did so?

But then, I have always felt that being of an artistic bent is a very loaded set of dice... And if not of an artistic nature, what in hell is one doing in photography anyway?

Rob C
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dalethorn
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2008, 10:45:01 AM »
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Dale, even in the good old bad old days it took superhuman effort to find an investor - never did - it ended up being a hard, slow and bloody painful slog at great family sacrifice and possibly a modicum of personal satisfaction.
Rob C
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Yep - most of my experience has been the same.  You can't go looking for an investor the normal way, since all you'll find are scum.  But certain kinds of networking can turn up "magic" people, for lack of a better term.  I found one in '86 who helped me beat a competition lawsuit and then win another against the same folks.  He explained how easy it was to get almost any money you want with minimal concessions.  I have a feeling it can still be done, but you just have to insinuate yourself into the network the right way.  One of the components of that network I was in was Mensa.  Their parties and most of their meetings were boring, but once in a while they hosted a useful event.  If I had it to do over again, I'd get some photo events organized under that umbrella.  The main thing is you have to know who your audience is and how they can work for you.
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bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2008, 10:46:37 AM »
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Rob you did right by following that star.  In my old age I am starting to hear bitter confessions from those who traded in their star for a steady job.  Of course, many of those guys are richer than I am!  But a fair number are also serously zombified.  The special intensity of the fires that burn in our brains in those early years can not be reproduced later on, it's use it then or lose it.

While I probably couldn't sell a picture in LA to save my life, I am doing quite well in Albuquerque.  I have talked to others who have done well in similar off-the-path markets.
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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2008, 03:48:36 PM »
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Rob you did right by following that star.  In my old age I am starting to hear bitter confessions from those who traded in their star for a steady job.  Of course, many of those guys are richer than I am!  But a fair number are also serously zombified.  The special intensity of the fires that burn in our brains in those early years can not be reproduced later on, it's use it then or lose it.

While I probably couldn't sell a picture in LA to save my life, I am doing quite well in Albuquerque.  I have talked to others who have done well in similar off-the-path markets.
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Bill

Yes, I know what you mean about the loss of fire in later life, but I suspect that there are more rich men who never had any fire than there are rich, incandescent old guys who just didnīt quite fit in the way of the world too neatly! However, having sounded off a little blue earlier on, there is nothing that could replace the memories that both my wife and I can share of different shoots, here, there, and much of everywhere. Thereīs an irony in listening to those who tell one where they went on holiday, how much it cost etc. when one has been to the same places, probably at a higher level and at someone elseīs expense! Guess the downers were more than matched by the good - thanks for reminding me!

Ciao - Rob C
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dalethorn
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2008, 04:00:08 PM »
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While I probably couldn't sell a picture in LA to save my life, I am doing quite well in Albuquerque.  I have talked to others who have done well in similar off-the-path markets.
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Albuquerque is good - Santa Fe even better.  New Mexico has several good venues.
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lovell
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2008, 06:32:31 PM »
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Rob you did right by following that star.  In my old age I am starting to hear bitter confessions from those who traded in their star for a steady job.  Of course, many of those guys are richer than I am!  But a fair number are also serously zombified.  The special intensity of the fires that burn in our brains in those early years can not be reproduced later on, it's use it then or lose it.

While I probably couldn't sell a picture in LA to save my life, I am doing quite well in Albuquerque.  I have talked to others who have done well in similar off-the-path markets.
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I disagree that the "fire" subsides later in life.  More precise I think is that the spirit is welling, but the flesh is not.  In otherwords, the "fire" or spirit can still be there, but what limits us middle aged and older guys is that the flesh is not willing.

And for this reason I have takin up running again, in the hope it will increase my energy levels, bring more "willingness" to my flesh.  And after a few months thus far, 4 miles a day 4 times a week sees me 12 lbs lighter, and with a lot more "fire" too.

Old age does not have to be about lounging around wishing one could be blazing a 10 mile trail in the high Sierras with camera gear in tow.  If anything, the later years can mean having ones cake and eating it too....not only do I have more time, I have more money...
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After composition, everything else is secondary--Alfred Steiglitz, NYC, 1927.

I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens--Woody Allen, Annie Hall, '70s
Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2008, 05:45:30 AM »
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I disagree that the "fire" subsides later in life.  More precise I think is that the spirit is welling, but the flesh is not.  In otherwords, the "fire" or spirit can still be there, but what limits us middle aged and older guys is that the flesh is not willing.

And for this reason I have takin up running again, in the hope it will increase my energy levels, bring more "willingness" to my flesh.  And after a few months thus far, 4 miles a day 4 times a week sees me 12 lbs lighter, and with a lot more "fire" too.

Old age does not have to be about lounging around wishing one could be blazing a 10 mile trail in the high Sierras with camera gear in tow.  If anything, the later years can mean having ones cake and eating it too....not only do I have more time, I have more money...
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Si jeunesse savait et vieillesse pouvait!

Alain might wish to correct something there, but for me, it sums up the ultimate sadness of the human condition.

Jumping up and down on a trampoline or running my Nikes into the ground isnīt the problem and neither is it a solution. The problem is age itself.

You might think that it doesnīt matter because you could cite the examples of Avedon, Parkinson and Newton et al, but those guys worked in a very rarified world with very skilled and expensive models. The professionalism of those women and the very high sums of money involved in their world change everything.

For lesser mortals, where the aphrodisiac of the Ferrari keys is not an option, I would suggest that young women would not feel very inclined to give their best to old photographers - rather, I fear that instead of their minds running ahead of them and pushing the boundaries of their creativity ever further, the mind would be wondering just how long the damn job is going to run. Not exactly a very inspiring scenario, if a realistic one. And I am talking purely about work here.

Perhaps that fire in the older belly is best met with a bucket of water than with some more gasoline.

Rob C
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dalethorn
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2008, 06:21:20 AM »
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Perhaps that fire in the older belly is best met with a bucket of water than with some more gasoline.
Rob C
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Age can be a problem sometimes.  I'm in good shape, exercise and running etc., never get sick.  But that counts for little in the workplace or elsewhere.  When you're past 55, or even past less than that, you have to face the greatest prejudice/bias remaining in civilized countries.  Forget sexism, racism, etc.  Age is the death blow to new relationships, if you're thinking those might include younger people, unless you're a well-known go-to or guru in your field.  Even then, your limitations are not what you know or can do, because nobody really cares.  So probably the best bet is to teach and instruct when you can, and look for people who've been denied opportunities in life and help them get back on track.
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2008, 10:48:35 AM »
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2008, 10:57:24 AM »
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Donīt know what happened there, but the post went from Preview to zero in one fell swoop!

All I was trying to say was that it really does suck; that I can remember a time when experience counted for a lot and then, suddenly, everything changed.

Was it the swinginī60s; was it the changes in technology becoming too rapid for older heads? I donīt really think it has much to do with technology; more, I believe it to be part of the same malaise that makes women seem redundant after their mid-twenties, just at the time when they have learned about all the pitfalls in life and have a hell of a lot to offer society at large.

Guess itīs just the current fascination with youth, celebrity and skin, rather than the wine within.

Rob C
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BFoto
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2008, 08:30:22 PM »
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Join the que of 'all of us' who would love to grow up to be a NGeo photographer. I have dreamed of it since i was a kid flicking through their mag's looking at the images, yet not reading a word.

Will that ever happen? Who knows? I can only try to create my talent the way i envision it and if that's not enough then i wont give up my day job!
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tandlh
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« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2008, 03:50:56 PM »
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Hi,
   This string took an interesting turn along the way.  Here's a thought for the original topic and poster.   It is true that a great many people now have access to quality equipment and the sheer volume of photos taken today will tell you that eventually some outstanding images will be captured.  But I also think that as any businessman or photo artist will tell you, it's a long ways from a nice digital capture to a quality product on the wall, especially someone else's wall.
   On the assumption that a good image was captured, it is a very small subset of the camara toting population that has the ability to turn it into a great wall hanger.  How many of them have LR or Photoshop?  How many of them have a professional printer?  HOw many of them have calibrated their monitors, printers, papers, etc.?  Taking a nice image is relatively easy.  Getting it from the screen to the wall in that condition isn't.
    Another thought, snapping a digital photo is a technical action.  Press a button and series of functions starts that end with a file recorded on a disk.  Anyone can buy a camera and press a button.  Great images though are art.  Creating art requires study of composition and the abstract of light and dark.
    Sure, as I said, given the number of people with a camera there will be many good and some great images captured.  But, getting those few to a wall hanging condition is rare, and then getting them marketed and sold is even rarer.
   I'll still hang my hat on a professional who has studied art, mastered the technology, and is willing to get up at oh dark thirty to stand in rain or snow to capture a fleeting moment and then does the work to print and market it.
   Getting that picture that makes even yourself go 'wow' is special.  So yes, there are a lot of amateurs out there, and a lot amateur buyers who often can't tell the difference between a good and great photo, I believe that those who follow photography as an art form and capture and display quality work, and who are willing to put in the work to market it, will do okay.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2008, 02:28:07 AM »
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Donīt know what happened there, but the post went from Preview to zero in one fell swoop!

All I was trying to say was that it really does suck; that I can remember a time when experience counted for a lot and then, suddenly, everything changed.

Was it the swinginī60s; was it the changes in technology becoming too rapid for older heads? I donīt really think it has much to do with technology; more, I believe it to be part of the same malaise that makes women seem redundant after their mid-twenties, just at the time when they have learned about all the pitfalls in life and have a hell of a lot to offer society at large.

Guess itīs just the current fascination with youth, celebrity and skin, rather than the wine within.

Rob C
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Hmm. This is undoubtedly true in the bizarro world of fashion & glamour, but I don't think it's remotely the case for landscape photography. I mean, who are the best known or most successful landscape photographers these days? The folks coming to mind (Christopher Burkett, Robert Glenn Ketchum, David Muench, Joseph Holmes, Charles Cramer, Lynn Davis...) tend to be...of a certain age, shall we say. The development of the requisite skill, artistic eye, portfolio of excellent images and willing market all would seem to require time and perseverence more than youthful enthusiasm and a pretty face.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2008, 04:49:47 PM »
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Whichever way you go on this, I think networking is the key.  Join some photo clubs and find out which ones are tuned in to things that interest you.  You may have to join 50 to find 3 good ones, but the main thing is to build that database of names who know what they're doing, that you can benefit from in unexpected ways.
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JamesOtoole
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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2008, 06:51:59 PM »
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Going back to the original post from dreed, I think photography (and the business side) is undergoing a transformation which is not necessarily a 'dumbing down'.  Programmers may have  been earlier motivated by a love of programming rather seeing it as a career path, but the ones I've worked with who are genuinely good have a passion for it - and they're the ones you notice and who do well.

As tandlh said, there's a whole range of skills to master to create a great digital print - understanding channels, color management, HDR etc, just as film requires understanding paper, film type etc. - plus artistic skills such as an eye for composition.

James
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2008, 12:03:31 PM »
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As tandlh said, there's a whole range of skills to master to create a great digital print - understanding channels, color management, HDR etc, just as film requires understanding paper, film type etc. - plus artistic skills such as an eye for composition.

James
James O'Toole Photography
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Quite true, James, but the huge difference is that the required learning with film was very simple and depended, more or less, on oneīs ability to repeat basic lab procedures in order to eliminate variables.

With digital, not only does one have to master many more stages between exposure and final result, whatever that might be, but the shooting part of the process becomes ever more complicated too, as the thread about digital carts of bricks has indicated very well.

Simply put, there is no longer an almost organic bond between photographer and captured image, there is a more complex relationship with a gang of whatever number of people/skills thinks itself entitled to have an input. Intimacy has fled the roost. Maybe its the gang-bang approach to photography rather than the more personal and, dare I say it, romantic one.

A lot is made about the many skills that go into being a digital superman; wonderful, Iīm sure, but thatīs not the same as being in love with photography per se, and in my opinion, ever further from the love affair with the medium that brought some of us into it. I donīt knock anyone who has those many skills: I just say that it/they have clouded the issue more than somewhat, have re-defined it, in fact. I never wanted to have the skills that typesetters, transparency scanning pros or litho printers had - I just wanted to feel happy in the knowledge that I could produce good work on demand and that, should everything else fail, there would be something there purely because of basic pro know-how even if not much else happened to be going for the shoot at the time. I suppose it was the feeling that it was all down to me, that I was not just a bloody cog, though I do realise that all cogs are important.

But then, I guess that if I were still fighting the fight today I would just have adapted or died.

Rob C
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JamesOtoole
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« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2008, 08:11:00 AM »
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With digital, not only does one have to master many more stages between exposure and final result, whatever that might be, but the shooting part of the process becomes ever more complicated too, as the thread about digital carts of bricks has indicated very well.

Simply put, there is no longer an almost organic bond between photographer and captured image..
A lot is made about the many skills that go into being a digital superman; wonderful, Iīm sure, but thatīs not the same as being in love with photography per se, and in my opinion, ever further from the love affair with the medium that brought some of us into it. I donīt knock anyone who has those many skills: I just say that it/they have clouded the issue more than somewhat, have re-defined it, in fact.
Rob C
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That's an interesting perspective, Rob, which I hadn't considered.  I suppose I've been lucky enough to have been tinkering with digital imaging software since the early 90s, so to me it's given flexibility rather than complexity.   Do you think that it's becoming more 'pixelography' rather than 'photography' - writing with pixels rather than writing with light - which you seem to suggest by the loss of the organic bond between photographer and captured image?
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