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Author Topic: Personal investment in photos  (Read 8794 times)
RSL
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« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2009, 04:17:50 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Studying the works of others can be as much of a hindrance as a help. For example, the work you are likely to study is a narrow selection of artists who have aggressively promoted their work, or had it promoted for mostly unknown reasons by family, associates, investors, etc. Even worse is that the artists' work has been vetted or "approved" by the wise and learned art critic community. Crap, I say.

Suggest an alternative?  Yes.  Learn on the street, from people on the street. The little people as it were, rather than the so-called masters. There are plenty of them around, and most of them have something to offer.  And think about it.  You're not on the Paris/London/NYC bigtime art gallery website now, you're on Luminous Landscape. Because the little guy has more to offer. Because it's alive here - not dead.

So the work of Eugene Atget, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Andre Kertesz, Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gene Smith, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Steve McCurry, etc., etc., is "crap?" Is that what you're saying, Dale? The only way you possibly could believe that is if you've never seen their work. Is that it?
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dalethorn
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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2009, 07:38:40 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
So the work of Eugene Atget, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Andre Kertesz, Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gene Smith, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Steve McCurry, etc., etc., is "crap?" Is that what you're saying, Dale? The only way you possibly could believe that is if you've never seen their work. Is that it?

Leave it to you to twist what I said.

Here's a *very* simple thought you *might* be able to grasp: Those guys are all dead. There are thousands of times that many who are alive and doing great, relevant art. By clinging so desperately to the past, you're denying yourself the present. And the future is the present.

I have a photo of myself taken in late 1948, which my parents gave to me in 1958.  On the back of the photo I wrote the date "January 9, 1958 - NOW." You see, it's always now, and there's no time to waste.  A study of the so-called masters may be a prerequisite for some, not for everyone, sorry.  But when it is, get what you can from it, then move on and do something yourself.  If those dead dudes were alive in some other dimension looking at you, they'd be saying "get out of the house, put down the big, heavy art books, and go take some photos."
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RSL
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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2009, 07:59:18 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Leave it to you to twist what I said.

Here's a *very* simple thought you *might* be able to grasp: Those guys are all dead. There are thousands of times that many who are alive and doing great, relevant art. By clinging so desperately to the past, you're denying yourself the present. And the future is the present.

I have a photo of myself taken in late 1948, which my parents gave to me in 1958.  On the back of the photo I wrote the date "January 9, 1958 - NOW." You see, it's always now, and there's no time to waste.  A study of the so-called masters may be a prerequisite for some, not for everyone, sorry.  But when it is, get what you can from it, then move on and do something yourself.  If those dead dudes were alive in some other dimension looking at you, they'd be saying "get out of the house, put down the big, heavy art books, and go take some photos."

No kidding? Steve McCurry is dead? Robert Frank is dead? I'm pretty sure they'd disagree, but who knows? Have you asked them?
« Last Edit: May 28, 2009, 08:06:36 PM by RSL » Logged

dalethorn
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« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2009, 09:53:35 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
No kidding? Steve McCurry is dead? Robert Frank is dead? I'm pretty sure they'd disagree, but who knows? Have you asked them?

They didn't ask me anything, why should I ask them anything?  And why would I want to emulate anything they do?  Next time I get to the Art Museum to see one of the dead dudes' collections, maybe one of these guys' stuff will be there too. Yawwwwwwn.
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RSL
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« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2009, 09:58:45 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
They didn't ask me anything, why should I ask them anything?  And why would I want to emulate anything they do?  Next time I get to the Art Museum to see one of the dead dudes' collections, maybe one of these guys' stuff will be there too. Yawwwwwwn.

Actually, you're right, Dale. The only reason you'd be interested in the work of those people, including the "dead dudes" would be if you aspired to become a serious photographer.
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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2009, 10:11:30 AM »
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Dalethron> Studying the works of others can be as much of a hindrance as a help.

I'm sorry but this is silly This is the kind of thing ones says when they feel cornered. I don’t believe you really mean it.

Dalethron > For example, the work you are likely to study is a narrow selection of artists who have aggressively promoted their work, or had it promoted for mostly unknown reasons by family, associates, investors, etc.

One is definitely subject to the influences of family and friends. The reason to go to libraries and take classes is to find variety and get guidance in a broad field of knowledge. Don’t you agree it would be a weak mind that grabbed a few random books based on recommendations of friends but never went beyond that? Would you agree that taking such a facile approach is probably not a route of success?

Dalethron > Even worse is that the artists' work has been vetted or "approved" by the wise and learned art critic community. Crap, I say.

I've never taken a class where the instructor didn’t know of nearly limitless sources of furthering one’s knowledge. But if I came across an instructor who actually had only an “approved” list and discouraged further study I would agree that they are crap.

Dalethron > Suggest an alternative? Yes. Learn on the street, from people on the street. The little people as it were, rather than the so-called masters. There are plenty of them around, and most of them have something to offer. And think about it.

This is actually a very good suggestion. Over the course of a career, it is best to draw influence from a wide variety of sources. Ultimately, there is no right and wrong, but there is more and less useful. It doesn’t have to be one kind of source or another, and should be many sources.

Dalethron > …you're on Luminous Landscape. Because the little guy has more to offer.

I agree that interacting with a community, in particular this community, is one of the better learning aids there is. And while LL is as good as they come, it would never replace the variety of experiences one would get by a formal education or earning a degree.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2009, 03:53:12 PM »
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Quote from: Justan
Dalethron> Studying the works of others can be as much of a hindrance as a help.
I'm sorry but this is silly This is the kind of thing ones says when they feel cornered. I don’t believe you really mean it.
Dalethron > For example, the work you are likely to study is a narrow selection of artists who have aggressively promoted their work, or had it promoted for mostly unknown reasons by family, associates, investors, etc.
One is definitely subject to the influences of family and friends. The reason to go to libraries and take classes is to find variety and get guidance in a broad field of knowledge. Don’t you agree it would be a weak mind that grabbed a few random books based on recommendations of friends but never went beyond that? Would you agree that taking such a facile approach is probably not a route of success?
Dalethron > Even worse is that the artists' work has been vetted or "approved" by the wise and learned art critic community. Crap, I say.
I've never taken a class where the instructor didn’t know of nearly limitless sources of furthering one’s knowledge. But if I came across an instructor who actually had only an “approved” list and discouraged further study I would agree that they are crap.
Dalethron > Suggest an alternative? Yes. Learn on the street, from people on the street. The little people as it were, rather than the so-called masters. There are plenty of them around, and most of them have something to offer. And think about it.
This is actually a very good suggestion. Over the course of a career, it is best to draw influence from a wide variety of sources. Ultimately, there is no right and wrong, but there is more and less useful. It doesn’t have to be one kind of source or another, and should be many sources.
Dalethron > …you're on Luminous Landscape. Because the little guy has more to offer.
I agree that interacting with a community, in particular this community, is one of the better learning aids there is. And while LL is as good as they come, it would never replace the variety of experiences one would get by a formal education or earning a degree.

Thanks for the detail here.  I tease a little sometimes, when I detect a dogmatic view of a subject.  However, some of the seemingly radical things I say I do mean.  For example, I have only about a year of college credit studying "new math" or whatever, but I bought the first personal computer and 20 or so engineering applications for it, and learned computing from that.  So I don't have a degree, but I've done pioneering work in the PC field, and my programming skills are second to none.  It is totally true, of course, that you won't become skilled as a photographer (or most anything else) unless you do the work *and* study the work of other acknowledged experts.  But I strongly resist dogma.  I do hang out with a lot of skilled photographers, but one thing I won't do is drop names, i.e. borrow from the reputations of other people to try to enhance my own.
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« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2009, 11:22:26 AM »
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Moving right along, and going back to Button's original post, here's another way to help judge your stuff, and, one would hope, help improve it.

I print and mat what I consider to be my best photographs in a range from 13 x 19 framed 20 x 26, 10 x 14 framed 16 x 20, 8 x 10.5 framed 12 x 16, and 4.5 x 7 framed 8 x 10, and hang them on my walls. At home I have 77 prints on the walls ranging over those sizes and in my office I have about 30.

When I make what I consider to be a good photograph I print it (in its size class), hang it alongside what's already there and look at it for several days as I pass through the room. If I finally decide it's better than one of the pictures already hanging, I take down the superceded picture and substitute the new one. Some of those pictures have been up for years. Others come down within months of going up. It's kind of like being a runner and working to better your time. I've found that at the least it's an interesting exercise, and at the best it helps me improve my work.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 11:59:13 AM by RSL » Logged

cmi
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« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2009, 12:59:03 PM »
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I havent read fully the last posts, only the start of the difference so maybe what I say has been said, in this case I apologize.

What Dalethorn and what RSL said is equally right, I dont see any contradiction.

Obviously I can learn from other masters, and thats a very good thing to do. Obviously I also could hinder myself by e.g. sticking to something or loosing myself into ideas of others. It just depends on my particular position and mindset. I dont always have to do/act like this or like that, or ONLY like that.

But beside this, this thread, esp. the first posts I liked very much. Was astounded that others seem to have these judgement-problems too


Christian
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« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2009, 02:03:24 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Moving right along, and going back to Button's original post, here's another way to help judge your stuff, and, one would hope, help improve it.

I print and mat what I consider to be my best photographs in a range from 13 x 19 framed 20 x 26, 10 x 14 framed 16 x 20, 8 x 10.5 framed 12 x 16, and 4.5 x 7 framed 8 x 10, and hang them on my walls. At home I have 77 prints on the walls ranging over those sizes and in my office I have about 30.

When I make what I consider to be a good photograph I print it (in its size class), hang it alongside what's already there and look at it for several days as I pass through the room. If I finally decide it's better than one of the pictures already hanging, I take down the superceded picture and substitute the new one. Some of those pictures have been up for years. Others come down within months of going up. It's kind of like being a runner and working to better your time. I've found that at the least it's an interesting exercise, and at the best it helps me improve my work.
I don't have quite as regular a system for rotating prints like you do, but I definitely agree that making prints is an important part of judging my work.  For me it's not really a photograph until it's printed, and if you can't get a good print from something that you originally thought had potential, there's probably something to be learned from that. Also as you say 'living' with images and looking at them over a period of time is a good test of their true staying power.
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RSL
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« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2009, 05:14:34 PM »
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Quote from: cmi
I havent read fully the last posts, only the start of the difference so maybe what I say has been said, in this case I apologize.

What Dalethorn and what RSL said is equally right, I dont see any contradiction.

Obviously I can learn from other masters, and thats a very good thing to do. Obviously I also could hinder myself by e.g. sticking to something or loosing myself into ideas of others. It just depends on my particular position and mindset. I dont always have to do/act like this or like that, or ONLY like that.

But beside this, this thread, esp. the first posts I liked very much. Was astounded that others seem to have these judgement-problems too

Christian

Christian, The difference Dale and I have been dealing with is the difference between photography as art, and routine photography -- what I'll call tourist photography. Dale’s convinced he can’t learn anything from the masters, and after exchanging posts with him for a while I tend to agree that he can’t. But if you’re willing to look at and learn from the work of people like Eugene Atget what you learn is that a really fine photograph conveys something more than information. Conveying information is what the "pros" do. When you shoot a wedding, what you're conveying in your best pictures is information for the bride and groom and the rest of the family about "the way we were at our wedding."

Conveying information is necessary and very useful. But when a photograph is a work of art it has an effect on you that goes beyond the information in it. Most novices think that if they shoot something beautiful, say a sunset or a pretty flower, they’ve produced a work of art. After all, these things are colorful and the sunset is the kind of thing you’d step out of your house to see. But the feeling you get when you step out of your house and look at the sunset doesn’t necessarily translate into a photograph – especially a photograph made by the kind of novice who’s refused to learn from the masters. If it does translate, it’s art, but that rarely happens. What I’m talking about is what Walker Evans meant when he looked at one of his student’s sunset pictures and said, “It’s a beautiful sunset… So what?” If you want examples, take a look at the User Critiques section in this forum. Occasionally you’ll run across something that gives you the kind of transcendental jolt I’m talking about, but that’s a very rare thing. Most of what’s there is routine – pretty flowers, pretty sunsets, sitting birds, rivers flowing through the woods, etc. A lot of it is quite competent in a technical sense, and any good artist has to master technique, but raw technique isn’t what produces art.

You, and Dale, seem to feel that if you look at the pictures of the masters, somehow their ideas will overcome and supplant your own, or, as you put it, you’re liable to “lose yourself in the ideas of others.” That’s not what happens at all. I guarantee that if you actually try to reproduce the work of a master photographer, you’ll fail. But it doesn’t hurt to try to copy the subject matter of someone like Robert Frank or Helen Levitt or Ansel Adams. When you do that you begin to understand the difficulties involved in producing the kind of work they produced. Once you’ve grasped the problems and tried a variety of approaches and, I think, developed a certain amount of humility before the task you’ve set for yourself, you’ll find your own vision. But if you want to be a photographer and you’re not willing to learn what the masters can teach you, you’ll almost certainly go through life as a shooter of tourist pictures – the kind who’s always ready to bore his neighbors with his shots from his last trip to Yellowstone.
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cmi
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« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2009, 08:41:27 PM »
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Russ,

what you say is true and I appreciate what you are writing. I agree that a good photo needs to be beyond the "pure facts" that are seen but has to contain an idea, should be done with an intention, or even vision, if I can come up with one. I have differing experiences with influences from outside. On the one hand exactly like you describe, learning from others. And sometimes I (try to!) close all doors, no external stuff, and then I also avoid looking at other work because it disturbs my ideas.

Christian
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« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2009, 09:10:50 PM »
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Quote from: cmi
Russ,

what you say is true and I appreciate what you are writing. I agree that a good photo needs to be beyond the "pure facts" that are seen but has to contain an idea, should be done with an intention, or even vision, if I can come up with one. I have differing experiences with influences from outside. On the one hand exactly like you describe, learning from others. And sometimes I (try to!) close all doors, no external stuff, and then I also avoid looking at other work because it disturbs my ideas.

Christian

Christian, I can agree that there are times when it's best to stick with your own thoughts and not look at anyone else's work, though those times normally shouldn't last long. But I think that once you've reached a point where your work really is your own -- a point where other people can look at a series of photographs and say, "Oh, that looks like Christian's work," -- then you should be able to sit down after a day's shoot, pick up a book of photographs by HCB or Steve McCurry or Garry Winogrand and have what you're looking at reinforce your own originality rather than detract from it. At that point you're absorbing differences, not similarities. But I have to admit that I say that from the point of view of someone who hates doing weddings or formal portraits, and rarely does photojournalism. When I go out to shoot pictures I don't go with "ideas." I try to go with an open mind, and when I see a picture that moves me I stop right there and shoot. If I were doing standard professional work, ideas would be more than important; they'd be critical.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2009, 10:02:08 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Christian, The difference Dale and I have been dealing with is the difference between photography as art, and routine photography -- what I'll call tourist photography. Dale’s convinced he can’t learn anything from the masters, and after exchanging posts with him for a while I tend to agree that he can’t.

This is a misinterpretation.  I certainly can learn from the "masters".  But that depends on who the masters really are.  Russ convinced me that HCB and others were good and talented photographers, and quite popular with their followers.  But with Russ' dismissal of Ansel Adams on several points, he lost credibility with me.  I know about art having been closely associated with award winning artists for many years.

So Russ has his feelings, but that's all they are after all, just feelings.
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cmi
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« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2009, 04:19:53 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
Christian, I can agree that there are times when it's best to stick with your own thoughts and not look at anyone else's work, though those times normally shouldn't last long. But I think that once you've reached a point where your work really is your own -- a point where other people can look at a series of photographs and say, "Oh, that looks like Christian's work," -- then you should be able to sit down after a day's shoot, pick up a book of photographs by HCB or Steve McCurry or Garry Winogrand and have what you're looking at reinforce your own originality rather than detract from it. At that point you're absorbing differences, not similarities. But I have to admit that I say that from the point of view of someone who hates doing weddings or formal portraits, and rarely does photojournalism. When I go out to shoot pictures I don't go with "ideas." I try to go with an open mind, and when I see a picture that moves me I stop right there and shoot. If I were doing standard professional work, ideas would be more than important; they'd be critical.

Russ, yes I guess thats how it should be, thanks for the heads up. If one is more robust regarding this thats better obviously. I have read the whole thread now. Very interesting to hear from someone experienced as you what you consider as go and no-go. It makes sense when I think about it and try to fit it into my picture. I have just glanced over your photos and found them awesome. Im doing ruins and landscapes currently, wanting to do people.

One question, could you elaborate on why do you think dissecting your creativity is not good? I mean self-reflecting isnt a bad thing, so you must be meaning something other. (I have also some thoughts about it, but I am just interested to hear you on this.)

Christian
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feppe
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« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2009, 05:11:03 AM »
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Like others, I've found just sitting on photos for a good few weeks is the best way to detach myself. When I get back from a shoot, I usually just upload them to my computer and back them up, and do my picks a few weeks later. After another wait, I go back to editing the picks.

Quite a bit has been said about learning from others, especially the masters. There are some, though, who disagree. Jorma-Tapio Valkama (in Finnish) is a well-respected artist in Finland who arranges a yearly Valkama Art Week, and he feels that even viewing other artists' work pollutes his own vision. While I'm quite sure that would not work for me, I can't even imagine reaching such heights as he has.

Point being, do what works for you. And as Dale said, reject any and all dogmatic approaches.

Quote from: RSL
I print and mat what I consider to be my best photographs in a range from 13 x 19 framed 20 x 26, 10 x 14 framed 16 x 20, 8 x 10.5 framed 12 x 16, and 4.5 x 7 framed 8 x 10, and hang them on my walls. At home I have 77 prints on the walls ranging over those sizes and in my office I have about 30.

When I make what I consider to be a good photograph I print it (in its size class), hang it alongside what's already there and look at it for several days as I pass through the room. If I finally decide it's better than one of the pictures already hanging, I take down the superceded picture and substitute the new one. Some of those pictures have been up for years. Others come down within months of going up. It's kind of like being a runner and working to better your time. I've found that at the least it's an interesting exercise, and at the best it helps me improve my work.

This is a great idea, I'll definitely try this!
« Last Edit: June 07, 2009, 05:16:48 AM by feppe » Logged

EdRosch
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2009, 09:22:12 AM »
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Quote from: button
I am constantly impressed with my inability to appreciate certain features within my own photos that I post, but yet I consider myself a decent constructive critic of other work posted here (based on feedback that my comments generate).  As has been mentioned before, divesting oneself of his/her work and critiquing it objectively is not easy.  How do you think we can get better at this?  What techniques do you use to better this skill?  

John

Hi John,

I've been reading the responses to this and agree with you as to the difficulty of critiquing your own work.  My suggestion would be to find other artists, not just photographers, whose work you respect, and ask them to critique your work.  This is not necessarily easy, the various difficulties range from finding such people who would be willing to take the time to dealing with egos on both sides of the conversation.  None the less, I think that , if you can do this and really think about what they're trying to tell you the growth opportunities would be great.

Ed
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dalethorn
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« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2009, 09:41:44 AM »
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Quote from: EdRosch
Hi John,
I've been reading the responses to this and agree with you as to the difficulty of critiquing your own work.  My suggestion would be to find other artists, not just photographers, whose work you respect, and ask them to critique your work.  This is not necessarily easy, the various difficulties range from finding such people who would be willing to take the time to dealing with egos on both sides of the conversation.  None the less, I think that , if you can do this and really think about what they're trying to tell you the growth opportunities would be great.
Ed

This is very good advice, which I've used in some applications, but it can be frustrating unless you're very patient and have a good (short!) story prepared to win your adviser over.
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« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2009, 06:20:09 PM »
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Quote from: cmi
One question, could you elaborate on why do you think dissecting your creativity is not good? I mean self-reflecting isnt a bad thing, so you must be meaning something other. (I have also some thoughts about it, but I am just interested to hear you on this.)

Christian

Christian, It's a fair question and I wish I had a really good answer, but this is the best I can do: Self-reflection, if it's the right kind of self-reflection, is good, though I've known people who practically beat themselves to death with what they'd call self-reflection. But I guess I'd say that the problem with trying to dissect your creativity is that it can degenerate into the kind of navel-gazing that makes your attention wander when you're actually doing something "creative." For instance, I think that if you were trying to dissect your creativity as a photographer you'd tend to ask yourself, as you're ready to shoot, "Is what I'm doing now creative? If so, why am I doing it?" I believe thinking of any kind at the moment you trip that shutter is deadly to the kind of result I'd call "creative," because thinking blots out the kind of intuitiveness that's essential to the creation of art. There's more to it than that, but that's really the crux of the matter.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2009, 07:26:19 PM »
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Quote from: cmi
One question, could you elaborate on why do you think dissecting your creativity is not good?

I seem to remember that Beethoven at one point was preparing to rewrite the 9th symphony and dump the choral part.  This, after rave reviews of the 9th in early performances.  Darby Crash of the Germs was quite a poet, yet his penchant for self-flagellation did him in eventually.

So, introspect away, you can't do worse than many of the great masters.
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