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Author Topic: George Barr's Latest Article Here  (Read 45106 times)
scott_L
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« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2008, 01:38:07 PM »
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I find George's essay and this conversation very reflective of where my mind spends a lot of its time. I did a lot of large format landscape photography in my youth, some 40+ years ago, including dye transfer printing, etc. I gave it up when I concluded, rightly or not, that most people didn't "get" my work, then after a 35+ year hiatus of career and raising a family, I found myself drawn back to take photography "seriously" again. In that interim, and since, I've become much more aware of the masters beyond Adams and Weston who were considered the gods of that era.

I took an extended photo trip two years ago, and indeed found it not to be worth the effort to photography cliches like Monument Valley or the Grand Tetons. When I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, I realized that the hundreds of "art" photographs I had seen for sixty some years were about as close to the real experience as a toy car is to a grand prix racer. While photographs of beautiful landscapes can be occasionally breathtaking, once I exhale I find there's rarely any substance, or meat on the bone, to stimulate or maintain my interest.

I got back into photography when I came across a Joel Meyerowitz photo of a farm field of dying sun flowers from his Tuscany work. It was like a light bulb turning on. It wasn't pretty, just remarkable. The other day I came across a postage-size reproduction of a Stieglitz photo of a steam engine in a rail yard that blows me away. Most of Ansel's work I find a bit tedious, but "Moonrise over Hernandez" I would put at the top of a list of great photographic art.

It seems to me that most great visual art includes a human element, directly or indirectly. I think the exceptions to this are far fewer than the examples. Of course there's nothing we find more interesting than our fellow man, be it to praise, curse, or just be amused by his/her actions and folly. Show me a photo of grand landscape and I may say "wow" for a moment, but include a foot path or telephone pole and I'll be engaged, perhaps for a lifetime.

I must acknowledge however, that occasionally I come across what I'd call a personal landscape which can also be engaging, and I think that's what Eliot Porter was a master of. These are almost intentionally un-grand, but display a deep level of nature's irony of complexity or simplicity or contrast of the two. George referred to this in his comments re moving to the close and middle ground.

Perhaps why photographing beauty is so difficult is because the subject is usually vacuous, almost freakish. It has little to do with what most people experience being alive on this small planet.
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John Camp
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« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2008, 01:42:58 PM »
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Peripatetic: I don't want to seem mean, but I have the feeling that you have no idea what we're talking about.

Ray: You said, "I feel a bit uncomfortable getting into discussions that centre around the age old question, 'What is art?' I sense there's usually a lot of snobbery and pretentiousness in such discussions."

You're right, but you equivocate with the word "usually," so you may sense that sometimes there's *not* snobbery and pretentiousness in such discussions. In fact, the hardest-nosed, most accomplished artists in the world (Picasso, for example, or Degas) spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the subject, because it seriously concerned them. If you want to be an artist, you *must* think about it.

I also pretty much agree with Bill Jay's view: there is tremendous value in doing the work, whether you're going to be a significant artist or a fine craftsman. And why do it at all if you don't want to be one or the other, or both? If you're really not interested, get a P&S, put the camera dial on "P," and there you go, you can actually get pretty good snapshots at Christmas. Most of my photography is in photojournalism and one thing that I know for sure is that if I haven't shot for a while, I won't do it as well, or even *think* about it as well, as if I've been shooting a lot. Then, there's always the example of Bach, with the "Well-Tempered Clavier," or Ansel Adams with his "Photograph" series -- some significant artists have also been significant theorists and technicians.

I don't really dissent from any of the ways of achieving various levels of technical expertise, but would suggest that you you can get to *any* level of technical expertise and not be an artist; on the other hand, you can be less than technically fine and still be an artist (Ralph Eugene Meatyard.) In the video "The War Photographer," James Nachtwey is shown working with his printer. There's no question here of who is the artist (Nachtwey) but there's also seems to be little question of who can print better (the other guy) -- this is one clear example of the difference between art and technique.

I wonder if this applies to people like Jeff Wall, though? I like Wall's work, but I wonder if he dreams of photography, or of his scenes, or views, or whatever he calls them, and that the camera is just an annoyance that he has to put up with?

JC
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Craig Arnold
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« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2008, 03:32:35 PM »
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Peripatetic: I don't want to seem mean, but I have the feeling that you have no idea what we're talking about.

JC
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I think I may have to invoke Poe's Law here.

Seriously though, there is something very different about photography. It is possible with a very good camera to accidentally take a great picture. It is also possible to take tens or hundred thousands of photographs and later edit down to a few great ones, the editing may not even be done by the person who took the picture.

These things are not possible with a paintbrush, chisel or a piano. There is no way to accidentally create great work in those media. You must spend years honing your craft, have "vision", and persistence and create something from nothing.

Every year now, I go to the annual competitions for portraits and photographic portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. I walk away from the painting competition thoroughly humbled and in awe. And I walk away from the photographic portrait competition increasingly convinced that by getting the art world to accept photography we have hoodwinked them.

The point I am trying to make is that I sometimes have the feeling that I really don't have any idea what we are all talking about, that it is much sound without significance. Sometimes I find myself right in there taking all this talk seriously and then I have a mind flip and think that we are discussing the cut and weave of the emperor's new clothes; if photography can be art at all it is the runt of the group, and we should know better than to try to accord it gravitas through these discussions.

How is the decisive moment visionary? How far ahead do you have to have this vision? A day, an hour, a split second, or not at all? Can we produce art by shooting from the hip and editing it down later? Does it matter if you sit there for days and plan and visionise away, at the perfect time I happen by and snap the same shot as you, quite accidentally pressing the shutter. Our pictures are the same. Doesn't that in fact mean that neither of us is an artist?
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« Reply #43 on: September 13, 2008, 08:26:45 AM »
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You're right, but you equivocate with the word "usually," so you may sense that sometimes there's *not* snobbery and pretentiousness in such discussions. In fact, the hardest-nosed, most accomplished artists in the world (Picasso, for example, or Degas) spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the subject, because it seriously concerned them. If you want to be an artist, you *must* think about it.
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John,
Didn't Picasso remark, upon seeing the 30,000 year old cave paintings at Altamira, that there had been no progress in art since that time (or words to that effect)?

Picasso's art seems to me to be a regression to primitivism. It has its appeal, although I confess I am not wildly enthusiastic about the art of Picasso, and I doubt that those 30,00O year old Neanderthal types would have appreciated it.

What we need here are some clear definitions of the term 'art' as opposed to 'craft'. A distinction I can see, is that 'craft' tends to be more concerned with technique as an end in itself, whereas 'art' is attempting to use technique for another purpose. The bricklayer does his job, as he's been trained to do. The architect calls the shots.
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Rob C
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« Reply #44 on: September 13, 2008, 12:13:47 PM »
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I guess we are not the first to have conversations like what we have above...see here...

It's just interesting to read how photo-manipulations influence the discussion of art versus craft...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220873\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]



So really, all we are doing today is keeping alive the dialogue of the start of last century!

Plus ça change etc......

Rob C
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« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2008, 02:02:04 PM »
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We seemed to have navigated quite a few twists and turns in this thread, which was originally a post from Jerry to say thanks to George for his article.  Anyone still remember the article?  

Anyway, I came across the following links today.  While they have nothing to do with photography they may be tangentially related to this discussion.  Dale Chihuly is a glass artist who has taken glass blowing to an entirely different level than has probably ever been done before.  If you're not familiar with his work, try this site: http://www.chihuly.com/

Now, whether or not you like his work, it's hard not to be impressed with the level to which he has taken 'glass art'.  OTOH, there was a review written by Kenneth Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle, here:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?.../DD9811I6MN.DTL  where he essentially says that Chihuly's work looks as though the gift shop has finally overrun the gallery.  Now he's certainly entitled to his opinion - we all must be or none of us are - but the question remains... is this craft, or art?

And if I'm taking this too far away from Jerry's original post, well, I still like George's article!

Mike.
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« Reply #46 on: September 13, 2008, 05:44:16 PM »
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Received Stephen Johnson's latest e-newsletter today (http://www.sjphoto.com/newsletterframset-9-08.html) and he has a short article that fits in with this thread:

"Reflections on Mastery

Looking ahead to 2009, even late 2008, I'll be on the road quite a bit. I'm working on an Alaskan workshop for early August 2009, perhaps even another Galapagos trip, definitely Iceland. In planning these trips the biggest thrill is the chance to show others some of the wonders I've seen. It is a very different sharing than the photographs themselves, but it is at the heart of teaching and encouraging inspiration.

Travel lately seems mostly about teaching, and therefore sharing, helping, nurturing and sometimes just plain old pep talks. Sometimes talks about slowing down and looking carefully. I always learn from my students, always end up seeing things my eyes alone would miss. It is a very rich experience. It's no wonder so many people want to do the teaching gig. It's a shame more of them aren't good teachers. I hear horror stories of indifference and self-absorption all of the time. I also hear great stories of wonderful experiences.

Many of the people teaching out there self-declare themselves to be Masters. Not only is this lack of humility rather shocking, it also seems that when self-declared it is almost never true. Mastery is never reached, it is only reached for, in my opinion, new and more distant aspirations keep pulling us forward, reaching, always reaching, for that perfect execution.

I am very suspicious of self-declared masters, or notions of mastery in general. It is a bit like the word genius, so overused as to almost lose meaning. I remember a story about Einstein getting some help in the early 50's at Princeton in an area which he knew little. In the middle of a rather detailed unload by the improvised lecturer, Dr. Albert said something to the effect, can you slow down, I'm not as smart as they say.

Photography is about vision and craft. Both can be made stronger in us, but they are very different. The image is non-verbal, often intuitive and always visual. The craft is care, experience, patience and detail. Meshing the two can be challenging, as they seem to draw upon different parts of the brain and personality. Both can be aided through teaching, but in very different ways. We are in age of craft defined as tips and tricks, and little discussion of vision at all. Craft is not tricky; it is plain hard work and care. Vision cannot be taught in and of itself, but sensitivities can be recognized and encouraged, as can strong design.

Neither my workshops, nor anyone else's, can make you a master. It is about the aspiration to master the medium of photography to your level of satisfaction, and perhaps go even a bit beyond. It is about intensive photographic experiences that challenge your mind, heart and soul to make art. My workshops discuss technical issues and procedures, but the emphasis remains on content and asking the most of your commitment to photography as art. But even that remains a journey, not a destination, the aspiration and seductions keep changing, growing, staying tantalizingly out of reach, but hopefully bringing ever more beauty and satisfaction to your craft and vision.

Of course making art always has its ups and downs. It's often a struggle to keep working, and impossible to feel good unless you are working. It's often lonely, and maybe has to be, as that is sometimes the only way to concentrate, to find that one instance that has to be held now, shared now, almost obsessively, certainly with a unique concentration and passion.

In those senses, it is not about mastery, it is about necessity.
   

Make the Art (a song from 1999)

I can make the art
I've got a vision to put out there
but it's fragile at its heart
and can fall to despair

Workin' all day and night
pourin' heart and soul
to keep those dreams alive
that blood pumped and flowin'

What is really at the heart of art
a passion struggle from the very start
I try so hard, so hard to see
try so hard to make it seen

There's rarely money
to ease your mind
no security over time
but a hunger to the core
seeking light like some mythic lore

I move around this great big world
see such beauty and intricacy
I want to hold it like some precious love
let another soul see and believe

Pushin, pushin' hard
light fallin' into form
reachin', always reachin'
for that perfect execution
   
Its instinct, it's drive
to shape the world through your eyes
you go way up, and way down
fighting for some faith and hope

Workin' all day and night
pourin' heart and soul
to keep those dreams alive
that blood pumped and flowin'

What is really at the heart of art
it's a passion struggle from the very start
I try so hard, so hard to see
I want so bad to make it seen

Out on a cliff, on the edge
earth and sky filling my eyes
the brush of a breeze
space like infinity

Out on the trail till you ache
the next horizon is too far away
but we gotta press on, we gotta see the dawn
from that hill way over there

What is really at the heart of art
it's a passion struggle from the very start
I try so hard, so hard to see
I want so bad to make it seen

-Steve Johnson"

Also in the newsletter is a recommendation for this book - "Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by  David Bayles & Ted Orland.  I haven't read it, but it sounds interesting...

Mike.
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« Reply #47 on: September 14, 2008, 03:36:55 AM »
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Thank you all for your kind comments.
All the best,

George
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Hi George, thanks for your article...you do touch on some of the issues I face daily. I feel you're right about not being able to recreate ones experience via a photo. I would never go to a show of landscape paintings or photographs to experience nature. And although humanity has created many amazing things I wouldn't go to a museum expecting to experience beauty. That is a vast subject in itself. What is beauty?

I don't agree with the writings here about what an artist, a real artist is or isn't compared to a craftsman. I don't think it's about ideas necessarily either. People have lots of ideas. It doesn't make them worthwhile or important.

My own feeling is that people are not personally responsible for 'original' ideas. I don't think the individual is the source. I feel it comes from 'without' and that people are just a conduit for the intelligence that's in the universe. I don't feel it's a matter of education or information either. So many educated people on this planet, so many libraries filled with information and humanity, as a whole, is as confused and chaotic as ever.

The human brain/mind is an amazing thing. It lives in the past, in the future, it can harness experience, information, ideas, etc. and turn them on its head, but I don't feel ideas are the source of 'art' or the 'new' as described here in this thread. Ideas or thought are based always on the old. I feel 'insight', something the human brain can't control or guide is the seat or starting place of the new. And that isn't dependant on ideas or education.

The human landscape is full of examples of people educated and not who have furthered our collective intelligence. Django Reinhardt is an example of an artist with no formal training. I guess one can't say if he had an 'idea' about where music should go, but my feel is he was living his life, doing what he felt, absorbing from everything around him, and the music, the style, the influence he had on others just happened. I don't feel he planned anything.

I'd go as far as to say that any 'significant' artist, those viewed as having had major influence in any field, was just doing what they were doing, living their life, and what they created was as much chance as 'will'. Sure, honing a technique, practice, will push toward a more developed product but the original seed was there. I'm not sure anyone can, as of today, say it was because of something in the way one's brain works, (thought/ideas), influence, genetics, or a combination of it all.

I guess I'm saying originality isn't planned, thought out, the fruit of an idea. If it is it isn't original. We are in a state of constant becoming and that's where I do my work, and my thinking, kvetching, and maybe the work will one day bring something new and maybe it won't. I do my work without worrying about the universal importance. I love what I do. I see what others do and try to learn every day. No matter if it's photography, music, writing, painting, or living life...there's always learning that needs to be done.

George, I feel all your suggestions are valid, all six, but it'll be an individual thing about what makes sense to one person versus another. I mean like question #3, that gets pretty abstract. I personally find #6 the most crucial for me because I don't know what the viewer might get from an image I create. All I can do is create something that makes sense to me, or baffles me in a way I find intriguing. I think the first five questions ask things I cannot answer. I guess my view of my photography work is that. Creating something that isn't the thing photographed. Does that make sense?...I mean it's like the images you show in your article, especially Badlands which I love. It's something abstract that's taken on a life of it's own. No one will experience it the way you did. And no one will equate your photo with the place and their own experience should they visit that same spot.

kind regards

M
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George Barr
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« Reply #48 on: September 14, 2008, 02:43:06 PM »
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M:

you raise an interesting point. You say that you wouldn't go to a show of paintings or photography to experience the landscape. Certainly no image is going to give you the same five sense experience as standing at the edge of the cliff in the warm evening light, looking down into the valley, with the river twisting it's way and the scattered trees casting long shadows.

On the other hand, I can imagine a painting (or a photograph) giving me the feeling of the light coming through the branches in a way that an overall representative image won't and I can imagine recreating that feeling every time I look at the image. I can imagine an image which uses a long lens to focus on those trees and their long shadows, at the edge of the twisting river, the twists emphasized with the long lens recreating the feeling of looking down into the valley.

I think that well composed, selectively framed images of some of the subject matter can express specific feelings even more strongly than standing there looking can do, even though they can't capture the entire experience.

I can imagine touring a gallery of great landscape images and in one being impressed with the majesty of a rock face - more than standing there at lunch time on a pleasant sunny day can do. I can see myself looking at the next image and admiring the fine tracery of some ferns perfectly composed by the photographer, in a way that walking down the trail and passing the ferns myself wouldn't do.

Photography lets us emphasize the things that many people, even other photographers, overlook, ignore or discount and unimportant and suddenly they have meaning.

I think this is why photographers who insist on showing the whole thing frequently fail - they aren't showing us anything new, there is no personal perspective, no interpretation of what is seen. Other than as an illustration, they fail to involve us.

George
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« Reply #49 on: September 14, 2008, 04:23:18 PM »
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Also in the newsletter is a recommendation for this book - "Art & Fear" by  David Bayles & Ted Orland.  I haven't read it, but it sounds interesting...

Mike.
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Art & Fear is very interesting.  It addresses many of the issues related to the difficulty of doing creative work, taking chances, expressing yourself, etc.  While we don't all face each and every difficulty addressed in the book, it is eye opening to see how far reaching this can be.

ALain
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #50 on: September 14, 2008, 09:11:19 PM »
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On the other hand, I can imagine a painting (or a photograph) giving me the feeling of the light coming through the branches in a way that an overall representative image won't and I can imagine recreating that feeling every time I look at the image.
George
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Absolutely. To use a photo that is sometimes called a cliche (though it isn't), I suspect 999 out of 1000 photographers would have driven right past Adams' "Moonrise" shot. Even if you go there, you don't get what's in the photo, because the photo seems to condense all the possibilities of the scene; it stands on its own as a work of art. I think that one great gift that significant artists have is that in their best shots or paintings, they make us see things that aren't really there for us in nature -- I mean they're *there,* but we don't recognize them. When they're pulled into a photo, we suddenly have the eyes to see them. But it has to be a radical shot in some way: when people become accustomed to certain kinds of shots (glowing aspens in the evening light, mountains reflected in lakes) then those shots are simply flicked away without any real consideration. They've become mental postcards.

JC
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Ray
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« Reply #51 on: September 14, 2008, 10:40:17 PM »
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Absolutely. To use a photo that is sometimes called a cliche (though it isn't), I suspect 999 out of 1000 photographers would have driven right past Adams' "Moonrise" shot. Even if you go there, you don't get what's in the photo, because the photo seems to condense all the possibilities of the scene; it stands on its own as a work of art. I think that one great gift that significant artists have is that in their best shots or paintings, they make us see things that aren't really there for us in nature -- I mean they're *there,* but we don't recognize them. When they're pulled into a photo, we suddenly have the eyes to see them. But it has to be a radical shot in some way: when people become accustomed to certain kinds of shots (glowing aspens in the evening light, mountains reflected in lakes) then those shots are simply flicked away without any real consideration. They've become mental postcards.

JC
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John,
I always find that example of Adams' Moonrise shot very illuminating. It's a fine example of a merging of 'art' and 'craft'. From memory of the story behind this shot, Ansel is driving along the highway, gets a glimpse of the moon rising over the township of Hernandez; car screeches to a halt; Ansel grabs his large format camera which has a filter attached for another purpose; has no time to remove the filter or take an accurate exposure reading with his lightmeter because lighting conditions are changing fast; makes a quick mental calculation of the exposure required, then takes the shot.

Not having had time to apply his 'zone' system, the shot is technically flawed, so he has to spend hours (or days) in the darkroom, manipulating and massaging the image in order to recreate that initial experience which inspired him to take the shot.

Have I got the story right?

To get back to Picasso, at some point in his career he began trying to paint what he felt rather than what he saw. We all know the result. His paintings gradually began to resemble less and less the real world as most of us see it, to the point where many of his painting of the human form could be considered more like representations of alien life.

This seems to me to be the quintessential element of 'painting art' which photography struggles to compete with.
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« Reply #52 on: September 18, 2008, 12:24:44 PM »
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M:

you raise an interesting point. You say that you wouldn't go to a show of paintings or photography to experience the landscape. Certainly no image is going to give you the same five sense experience as standing at the edge of the cliff in the warm evening light, looking down into the valley, with the river twisting it's way and the scattered trees casting long shadows.

On the other hand, I can imagine a painting (or a photograph) giving me the feeling of the light coming through the branches in a way that an overall representative image won't and I can imagine recreating that feeling every time I look at the image. I can imagine an image which uses a long lens to focus on those trees and their long shadows, at the edge of the twisting river, the twists emphasized with the long lens recreating the feeling of looking down into the valley.

I think that well composed, selectively framed images of some of the subject matter can express specific feelings even more strongly than standing there looking can do, even though they can't capture the entire experience.

I can imagine touring a gallery of great landscape images and in one being impressed with the majesty of a rock face - more than standing there at lunch time on a pleasant sunny day can do. I can see myself looking at the next image and admiring the fine tracery of some ferns perfectly composed by the photographer, in a way that walking down the trail and passing the ferns myself wouldn't do.

Photography lets us emphasize the things that many people, even other photographers, overlook, ignore or discount and unimportant and suddenly they have meaning.

I think this is why photographers who insist on showing the whole thing frequently fail - they aren't showing us anything new, there is no personal perspective, no interpretation of what is seen. Other than as an illustration, they fail to involve us.

George
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Thanks George...I think you're right on target with everything you say here...

M
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« Reply #53 on: September 19, 2008, 08:30:22 AM »
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These things are not possible with a paintbrush, chisel or a piano. There is no way to accidentally create great work in those media. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221090\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Mostly true - but it is possible to get serendipitous effects, especially with more fluid media like watercolours. And as an enthusiast for raku and woodfired pottery, that can very definitely be accidental in outcome - even though it's mostly thought of as a craft.
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« Reply #54 on: September 20, 2008, 01:29:36 PM »
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There have been several comparisons in this thread to painting, music and of coiurse the original scene itself.  What is art?  What is craft?  These are all valid questions and answers given within the thread.

However, to the original article and questions, I have a tremendous concern about what we self-proclaim to be "art".  Is a photograph taken at sunset from Hopi Point "art"?  Yes?  Are you sure?  What differentiates YOUR picture from the ones taken by the soccermoms with pocketcameras?  THOSE are snapshots, right?

Size is the answer.  YOUR photograph is "art" because the print is taken with a 21MP camera and printed with pigment inks on canvas big enough to cover a mattress!

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but what most of us try to pass off as "art" is nothing more than high-tech snapshots.

Give me an "original performance" (like a painting) or something compelling to look at.  Most of what we are showing in galleries and at art shows are no more exciting and original than a bunch of high-school kids jamming away in the basement trying to play a classic rock song.

Unfortunately, the majority of pictures WE ARE TAKING and PRINTING UP LARGE (yes I am yelling) are snapshots and no more interesting that Uncle Frank's slide show that we all had to sit through of his vacation to Gettysburg.

No amount of pixels are going to change this.  Save your money on that new Canon 5D Mk II.  The majority of us have already placed our orders for this camera in the hopes that it will somehow magically raise our snapshots to a greater level.  Sorry, it won't.  All it will do is allow us to make more technologically perfect snapshots.

I know, I've gone to medling.  We all know that the 5D Mk II is the answer to all our problems and will be the key to future success.

Ken
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« Reply #55 on: September 20, 2008, 02:47:26 PM »
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image66

You are, of course, bang on the money, but the point here is that there is always the exception that breaks the mould.

I agree that very little that is shown here or, for that matter, anywhere else, rings my chimes as art. This is quite sad, because despite what the art-selling sites tell you, I believe the monitor shows pictures at their very best; so much for the half-promise that things on paper will be so much better once you´ve paid your money and wait for your print. Really? I thought the difficulty was matching the print to the screen, not the other way around... bloody cynic, Rob C.

I have no idea if people really do spend big money in a progression of camera upgrades believing that the next one after this will make their pics better - it might be closer to the truth to say that people learn fairly soon whether they do or do not have the gift for photography, but feel compelled through peer pressure or something Jonesey to spend even more in a game of cosmetic oneupmanship - good for the camera companies, though...

Putting people through a slideshow is a bit much unless they really do push you to do the show. I had an uncle, R.I.P., that I connected with sombody wanting to sell a Leica IIIG or similar; he bought the damn thing and spent years going around Scotland shooting castles, giving us a slideshow whenever he came into our neck of the woods; when not castles, it was his two little dogs. Help! That is not to be cruel - just how it is (was). Perhaps some photography is best enjoyed as a solitary art!

But as I said, there is the exception every now and then, one such was a slideshow by Sam Haskins many years ago. Beautiful stuff, intimidating in its way, but also very inspirational. I can´t really think of another show like that, with the photographer there to answer questions, that I have been to see. Exhibitions are different, but even then, I remember being disappointed by Helmut Newton but thrilled by Don McCullin. I saw an exhibition in Hamiltons Gallery in London many moons ago - Mapplethorpe´s brother; sorry, not a lot to say about that either, other than I would not have gone to see the infamous brother´s work.

I suppose you have to take what you like and disregard the rest.

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 20, 2008, 02:49:58 PM by Rob C » Logged

George Barr
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« Reply #56 on: September 21, 2008, 09:28:49 AM »
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Several participants in this discussion have come down very negatively about photography as art, not because of an argument with the definition but simply because they have not seen a lot of (presumably current) photography that stirs them. I think there are several things going on here.

1) response to an image depends not only on the photographer but the life experiences of the viewer. Why is it that Pepper # 30 melts my insides while leaving my daughter entirely unmoved?

2) Even if you find a photographer whose images you like, you are almost certain to find only a small percentage that really move you, others you can admire, and not a few you "just don't get". This is normal. If we use the music analogy - not all Beethoven music will affect you to the same degree, or in the same way.

3) The vast majority of photographers do not go out of their way to study, acquire and understand a goodly variety of photographs, photographers, styles and genres. How many books of photographs do you own? Note that I'm not talking books on photography here.

4) I know for myself, I didn't get anything but landscape photography until I took a photograph appreciation course and it changed the way I look at an image and vastly increased my appreciation for all manner of photography other than classic landscape. I don't get jazz. I fully realize this is my deficiency. I suspect that if I took the trouble to take a jazz appreciation course, it could change that 180 degrees.

5) the more we know about photography, the higher our standards become and the less frequently an image will really excite or move us but those images are out there, they are still being made and intelligent people are being moved by them. If nothing else, check out some of the recommendations on Photo.Net. I have seen some surprisingly nice photography that way.

George
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #57 on: September 21, 2008, 09:51:45 AM »
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On Flickr there are probably about a billion different groups devoted to different subject matter, and they range from 'vacation' shots of the family to earnestly created images of varying quality to some very high quality images.  What is art is a very broad term, and of course user-defined, but when I go to Flickr and check out some of the images I do sometimes find inspiration there.  One group that I belong to is this one: http://www.flickr.com/groups/top_photography/ and the work there is usually above average.  These are not photographs that I own, but for me they suit the purpose that George refers to: "The vast majority of photographers do not go out of their way to study, acquire and understand a goodly variety of photographs, photographers, styles and genres. How many books of photographs do you own? Note that I'm not talking books on photography here."

Mike.

P.S.  I have several books of photographs too!
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« Reply #58 on: September 28, 2008, 10:39:30 PM »
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The link on the LL Main Page to George Barr's article seems to be broken.  Does anyone have an idea as to how I might access it?  (I also went looking on Mr. Barr's website but I was unable to find it there, either.  It links back to Ll.)
Tks!   -TomJB
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #59 on: September 29, 2008, 09:53:05 AM »
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The link on the LL Main Page to George Barr's article seems to be broken.  Does anyone have an idea as to how I might access it?  (I also went looking on Mr. Barr's website but I was unable to find it there, either.  It links back to Ll.)
Tks!   -TomJB
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Try [a href=\"http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/beautiful.shtml]this[/url] , from the "What's New Page" (September 7).
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http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
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