Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Caponigro on Composition  (Read 18070 times)
Osprey
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


« on: June 08, 2009, 06:46:31 AM »
ReplyReply

I'm sorry, I understand he's doing things differently, but to me most of J.P Caopnigro's stuff look like science fiction illustrations.  Not my thing at all.
Logged
colinb
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 47


« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 08:16:37 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Osprey
I'm sorry, I understand he's doing things differently, but to me most of J.P Caopnigro's stuff look like science fiction illustrations.  Not my thing at all.

I agree with your statement, but probably not with your sentiment. Michaelangelo's work has a bit more of a biblical focus than mine. But I think he  knew more about composition than I do. Perhaps the same is true of JPC.

c
Logged
Schewe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5499


WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2009, 11:07:07 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Osprey
I'm sorry, I understand he's doing things differently, but to me most of J.P Caopnigro's stuff look like science fiction illustrations.  Not my thing at all.


Uh huh.. . .guess you didn't bother to read the article huh? It was about composition which kinda goes well beyond photographic subject matter, right?
Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2009, 02:30:50 PM »
ReplyReply

Guys, guys, nobody can teach you art, and if composition isn´t part of that, then nothing is.

Ciao - Rob C
Logged

dchew
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 574



WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2009, 06:14:45 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Rob C
Guys, guys, nobody can teach you art, and if composition isn´t part of that, then nothing is.

Ciao - Rob C

Perhaps, but articles like this can help some of us focus on what to practice.

Dave
Logged

Kirk Gittings
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1550


WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2009, 06:26:11 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Rob C
Guys, guys, nobody can teach you art, and if composition isn´t part of that, then nothing is.

Ciao - Rob C

True, but a good teacher can make you think critically about issues like your composition.
Logged

Thanks,
Kirk

Kirk Gittings
Architecture and Landscape Photography
WWW.GITTINGSPHOTO.COM

LIGHT+SPACE+STRUCTURE (blog)
John Camp
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1259


« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2009, 07:12:01 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Rob C
Guys, guys, nobody can teach you art, and if composition isn´t part of that, then nothing is.

Ciao - Rob C


I don't have that strong a background in photo history, but I do have a background in painting history, and with a couple of exceptions, virtually every great painter had extraordinary instruction. If you have, say, a 98% correspondence between strong teaching and great artists, I think you might at least  suspect a connection.

JC
Logged
russell a
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 389


WWW
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2009, 12:11:42 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: John Camp
I don't have that strong a background in photo history, but I do have a background in painting history, and with a couple of exceptions, virtually every great painter had extraordinary instruction. If you have, say, a 98% correspondence between strong teaching and great artists, I think you might at least  suspect a connection.

JC

I don't believe this is the case at all.  Read Why Art Cannot Be Taught by James Elkins.  What happens, in fact, is that connections are fabricated, usually by outside parties, in order to support pet hypotheses regarding "artistic lineage".  Elkins demonstrates how art schools are quick to cite students who have become successful as validating their programs, when, in fact, many of these students were drop-outs.  In the case of photography, starting with Callahan, many "name" photographers turned to teaching rather than commercial work for their income.  It then became a convenience to say "I studied with _____" as a way of claiming legitimacy, whereas the actual connection is suspect at best.  I've done that myself.  Callahan himself had grave doubts as to the efficacy of teaching.

Let me expand a bit on this.  Prior to the Modernist period (roughly from Manet on, opinions differ on either side, but Manet is a good median), there was a strong tradition of craft (grinding pigments, cooking up and preparing grounds, drawing from plaster models and life, etc. etc.) which was arguably a necessary prelude to creating a painting that wouldn't self-destruct in a generation.  The academies were not loci of strong creative influences but tech schools.  Apprenticeship was a possible opportunity for an acolyte to learn from a strong master and there may be cases where this can be demonstrated.  That, however was then.  The modernist period was supported by ready-to-go technology - portable tubes of paint, commercially prepared canvases, etc.  This had the effect of helping to unhook painters from the academies, which for the aims of Modernism, were increasingly regarded as onerous and unnecessary.  Artists were increasingly essentially self-taught and if exposed to a strong teacher, were as likely to take an antipodal position as not.  So, if one goes down the list of "great" Modernist painters it is hard to discern influences since, by definition their work was characterized by a violent break from the past.  Who then taught Picasso Cubism?  Mondrian De Stijl?  Who was Van Gogh's mentor?  Can one really find traces of Thomas Hart Benton in Pollock's drip paintings?  One could go on.  In today's art education practice, Elkins, cited above, is hard pressed to find anything that students learn from their teachers.  Maybe, if the school is marketing savvy, how to chat up influential people about art.

As regards composition in particular.  There exists an academic practice (rules, non-rules, koans, and superstitions)  that seems to have its center of gravity in commercial photo schools and which is preserved by camera clubs and individuals flogging workshops.  I remember flipping through a book of ~50 years of Magnum photography and not finding a single example of "the rule of thirds".  These rules break down in street photography practice, are irrelevant in post-modernist practice, have nothing to do with success in the marketplace, and are not even useful when the bounds of the frame move from the roughly rectilinear, as in panoramic presentation.  Having said that, it's quite alright for an individual to develop a personal sense of what composition means to him/her, to sample from the plethora of "rules". etc.  It's quite uncertain if "this" represents somethings that can be taught.  It would seem that the individual develops a personal relationship in the realm of what we call "intuitive".  What is nearly certain is that the results of a given image will violate someone's sense of "composition".  The reactions will range from "boringly predictable" to "wildly unbalanced".  Keep shooting, y'all.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 09:36:46 AM by russell a » Logged
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8900


« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2009, 07:14:35 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Rob C
Guys, guys, nobody can teach you art, and if composition isn´t part of that, then nothing is.

Ciao - Rob C

Rob,
Are you implying that composition cannot be taught?

On the other thread started by James Russell, you provided a link to a site of mostly fashion shots which inspired you. The first image I clicked on was by Nick Clements.

It was totally banal, yet the composition saved it. The composition is very simple and so strong that it dominates, and compensates for, its banality. In fact I preferred it to all the female fashion shots.

Am I allowed to reproduce it here? Surely he won't complain about the publicity.

[attachment=14405:Nick_Clements.jpg]




Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2009, 08:35:20 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Ray
Rob,
Are you implying that composition cannot be taught?

On the other thread started by James Russell, you provided a link to a site of mostly fashion shots which inspired you. The first image I clicked on was by Nick Clements.

It was totally banal, yet the composition saved it. The composition is very simple and so strong that it dominates, and compensates for, its banality. In fact I preferred it to all the female fashion shots.

Am I allowed to reproduce it here? Surely he won't complain about the publicity.

[attachment=14405:Nick_Clements.jpg]



Ray, the link was to the general photographers´agency; the intended one was, I think I mentioned, reached by bringing up the photographer list and clicking on Hans Feurer.

Unless I am  missing a veiled agenda, then I shall take your first question literally: yes, I do say that you cannot teach composition. You have a sense of visual balance or you do not; for another to try to "educate" that is for him to substitute it with his own, which can happen where there is already artistic ability but not where there is none to be found or corrupted, in which case a good time was had by all, and some departed a few bucks lighter in pocket. Seems fair.

I am not sure whether you are suggesting that I am understating, even denying, the importance of composition, design, balance, dynamism or whatever term rings your chimes for the same emotion; if you think that, I have either taken leave of my senses and am writing other than that which I believe, or you are simply playing devil´s advocate! The latter, I hope! My point in raising the profile of Feurer had nothing to do with the subject of composition but everything to do with that of beauty, though one does often depend on the other.

Rob C
Logged

Bronislaus Janulis
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 28


WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2009, 08:38:07 AM »
ReplyReply

The so called "rules" of composition, are like most technical aspects of art or craft, basics that can and should be taught. Art comes from knowing when and how to ignore the "rules" in the interest of having something to say.

Being somewhat of an autodidact, I'm ambivalent about education, though I have to acknowledge any number of mentors. Some benefit, others rankle under external discipline; intense interest and a willingness to "listen" ( and all that that implies ) is probably of more value than who the mentor or master is.



P.S. The article is a good one.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 08:48:18 AM by Bronislaus Janulis » Logged

Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2009, 08:45:51 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: John Camp
I don't have that strong a background in photo history, but I do have a background in painting history, and with a couple of exceptions, virtually every great painter had extraordinary instruction. If you have, say, a 98% correspondence between strong teaching and great artists, I think you might at least  suspect a connection.

JC


John, there is little conflict between the position you hold and my own; of course great instruction helps, but that is technical, not artistic. The artist already lives or exist within himself; the best that the outer influences can do is teach the mechanics, which is why I believe it so important that photo schools concentrate on the things that CAN be taught: Photoshop expertise, for one! Providing part-time work for pros is not a great idea other than for them. Where the pros can help, if they think it suits them, is via providing employment to future rivals, ever a delicate notion to swallow, especially as the most important thing they can give the student is the contact with the market, the pro´s own market.

Rob C
Logged

adam z
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 130


« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2009, 08:51:45 AM »
ReplyReply

I studied art at university for a year. You cannot teach someone without the natural ability to be a great artist IMO, but you can teach them enough for their work to be ok. Someone with natural talent can go "all the way" without training, but their skill will develop much more rapidly with a good knowledge base learned from studies. I learned a lot in that year - more than anything else, I learned about how we communicate through art. Not surprising as the name of the course was Bachelor of Visual Communications. What study does is takes years of stumbling around on your own to come up with ideas that many others already know which will enhance the strength of your image in communicating what it is you are trying to say through your work. Composition is one of these many things. Once you learn about composition (or any other artistic element in an image), you can then manipulate the commonly used conventions/rules to more effectively show your intent in your work, be that a photograph, a painting, or whatever. Hope that all makes sense!
Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2009, 09:02:36 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: russell a
I don't believe this is the case at all.  Read Why Art Cannot Be Taught by James Elkins.  What happens, in fact, is that connections are fabricated, usually by outside parties, in order to support pet hypotheses regarding "artistic lineage".  Elkins demonstrates how art schools are quick to cite students who have become successful as validating their programs, when, in fact, many of these students were drop-outs.  In the case of photography, starting with Callahan, many "name" photographers turned to teaching rather than commercial work for their income.  It then became a convenience to say "I studied with _____" as a way of claiming legitimacy, whereas the actual connection is suspect at best.  I've done that myself.


I have to second that about `drop-outs´as I suppose I must have been one myself. And I can remember the man and the night in the college when I personally saw the disconnection between the teacher and the greater world out there. We were doing something pointless in the class, such as shooting a portrait with a wooden 4x5 (in the days of the Hasselbald and Mamiya and Rollei, even!) whose lens had no shutter - expose via cloth cap from head of peasant - and I happened to mention my admiration for my contemporary, David Bailey. To my utter astonishment, the guy scoffed that, should his photography resemble Bailey´s he give up photography. Instead, I gave up on him and his benighted classes. Some years later, the studio where he had his day job folded, I did not.

A similar thing happened with my very last employer: once, pissed off over something I did not know, he told me I wouldn´t last six months on my own. Some years later we bumped into each other at a reception/slide show by Sam Haskins in a Glasgow hotel, courtesy a colour processing lab. The guy asked me how I was managing... I told him about having just come back from shooting a calendar in the Bahamas and how I was about to go off to Spain to do another within the week; funny how people mutter when they can´t allow themselves to say anything nice to you.

Rob C
Logged

Bronislaus Janulis
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 28


WWW
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2009, 09:05:03 AM »
ReplyReply

The illustrator, Andrew Loomis, in the book "Creative Illustration" has a very good, clear treatise on basic composition. For those "artistes" who can see past his being an illustrator.
Logged

Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8900


« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2009, 10:18:40 AM »
ReplyReply

Did someone once say that an artist paints or takes photographs because they have to, need to, want to. You can pontificate all you want about the merits of the results. It's only of concern if you need to make a good living with a good cash flow from your artistic endeavours.

In my view, there's a distinction to be made between catering to an audience, to sell a product for example, and simply doing what most interests you.

Logged
John Camp
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1259


« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2009, 10:34:01 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: russell a
I don't believe this is the case at all.  Read Why Art Cannot Be Taught by James Elkins.  What happens, in fact, is that connections are fabricated, usually by outside parties, in order to support pet hypotheses regarding "artistic lineage".  Elkins demonstrates how art schools are quick to cite students who have become successful as validating their programs, when, in fact, many of these students were drop-outs.  In the case of photography, starting with Callahan, many "name" photographers turned to teaching rather than commercial work for their income.  It then became a convenience to say "I studied with _____" as a way of claiming legitimacy, whereas the actual connection is suspect at best.  I've done that myself.  Callahan himself had grave doubts as to the efficacy of teaching.

Let me expand a bit on this.  Prior to the Modernist period (roughly from Manet on, opinions differ on either side, but Manet is a good median), there was a strong tradition of craft (grinding pigments, cooking up and preparing grounds, drawing from plaster models and life, etc. etc.) which was arguably a necessary prelude to creating a painting that wouldn't self-destruct in a generation.  The academies were not loci of strong creative influences but tech schools.  Apprenticeship was a possible opportunity for an acolyte to learn from a strong master and there may be cases where this can be demonstrated.  That, however was then.  The modernist period was supported by ready-to-go technology - portable tubes of paint, commercially prepared canvases, etc.  This had the effect of helping to unhook painters from the academies, which for the aims of Modernism, were increasingly regarded as onerous and unnecessary.  Artists were increasingly essentially self-taught and if exposed to a strong teacher, were as likely to take an antipodal position as not.  So, if one goes down the list of "great" Modernist painters it is hard to discern influences since, by definition their work was characterized by a violent break from the past.  Who then taught Picasso Cubism?  Mondrian De Stijl?  Who was Van Gogh's mentor?  Can one really find traces of Thomas Hart Benton in Pollock's drip paintings?  One could go on.  In today's art education practice, Elkins, cited above, is hard pressed to find anything that students learn from their teachers.  Maybe, if the school is marketing savvy, how to chat up influential people about art.

I have read most of Elkins -- not just the book you cite -- and find him to be largely unhelpful, to say the least. It's mostly intellectual rumination in search of a controversy.
If you go down the list of great modernist painters, what you mostly find is strong influences from teachers. Van Gogh (besides being an art dealer for several years, a fine draftsman, and an articulate intellectual ) painted side-by-side with Pissarro, and that influence vastly changed Van Gogh's style; Pissarro, who also painted with Gauguin (who also painted with Van Gogh) and with Cezanne was credited as being a powerful teacher in addition to being a master in his own right, and even Cezanne, who was tight with credit, said so. Picasso's father was an art teacher, and Picasso was drawing under his father's eye, and later in formal art schools, almost until he was twenty -- in fact, by the time he was twenty, he'd essentially had fifteen years of art schooling; nobody exactly taught him Cubism, which he developed with Braque, but it began to develop after he saw a big exhibition of Cezanne paintings, and Picasso called Cezanne "The father of us all." Renoir was taught glass-painting as an apprentice; and he and Monet both spent time at academies, and painting together, as did Degas, who after spending time at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, spent several years studying in Italy. Modrian's father was a drawing instructor, his uncle a painter, and Modrian himself an art teacher. Pollock himself gave great credit to Benton. Just because a student doesn't replicate his teacher (and most great painters don't, which is why they are great) doesn't mean that he didn't learn anything. Rather than read somebody like Elkins, who writes polemics, it's very helpful to actually read art history and see who did what.
Logged
russell a
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 389


WWW
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2009, 11:02:52 AM »
ReplyReply

John:  Kudos to you for having facts to cite and not just opinions.  I would differentiate teachers and influencers, that painting side by side with someone is a different process than the student-teacher relationship.  And, I still say that it's a stretch to find much connection between their education and the signature styles of Modernist painters.  And, BTW I did graduate work in Art History and Philosophy until I discovered that these two camps dialog rarely and often badly.  And, yes, Elkins has been responsible for some utterly worthless endeavors, but I think he's on the mark with "Why Art Cannot Be Taught".
Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2009, 11:39:57 AM »
ReplyReply

[quote name='John Camp' date='Jun 9 2009, 03:34 PM' post='290037']
 


"Van Gogh (besides being an art dealer for several years, a fine draftsman, and an articulate intellectual ) painted side-by-side with Pissarro, ..."

And I always thought it was Theo was the dealer!

Shows to goyou!

Rob C
Logged

joedecker
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 142


WWW
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2009, 11:44:05 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: Rob C
Unless I am  missing a veiled agenda, then I shall take your first question literally: yes, I do say that you cannot teach composition. You have a sense of visual balance or you do not; for another to try to "educate" that is for him to substitute it with his own, which can happen where there is already artistic ability but not where there is none to be found or corrupted, in which case a good time was had by all, and some departed a few bucks lighter in pocket. Seems fair.

I really can't agree with you here, watching my experiences both as a student and teacher over the years. I do think you can guide students to better composition. I'm pretty dismissive of top-down analyses of compositional rules, while I think one can and should mention visual balance, how our eyes gravitate to highlights, that's not what I mean by teaching composition. I believe instead what you do is work with a student, or better yet a group of students, by having them create work and then discuss it. On the most simplistic end, I recall one instructor projecting and criticizing 150 images in a session at one point and demonstrating that a tighter composition would have been more effective on 90 or so of them, I remember as well how many fewer such examples there were the next day.  I'm sure that this simple example, by itself, will only seem to confirm your point, though, but there's more to it than that. Once people are through a few consistent sort of basic mistakes, something else quickly becomes apparent in my experience, the enormous differences between people's photographic eyes.  Effective teaching of composition can and must begin with that understanding, and then seek to mentor the artist without overruling her or him on how to better realize their vision, but quite a bit can be learned as well by watching other students go through the same process.

My own students regularly produce good work that wouldn't be a type of "good work" that I'd ever produce, the same has been true for some of the few very effective teachers I've studied under.   Some of my students have, as well, been clearly "better than me" in some ways.  I believe it's easy for a teacher's eye to end up overruling a student's (and ego is a huge risk here), but I strongly disagree that that's always true, and I suspect we'd both agree that it's not desirable.  This takes not only a gentle hand at the controls, but also discussion of work with the student and preferably other students starting from "what were you trying to do hear", engaging the students Socratically, and then facilitating the translation of often difficult-to-communicate responses of myself, the student, and other students into concrete advice.

Anyway, my two cents.  
Logged

Joe Decker
Rock Slide Photography
http://www.rockslidephoto.com/
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad