Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: « 1 [2] 3 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: What makes an image memorable?  (Read 6467 times)
Chairman Bill
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1594


WWW
« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2011, 04:55:34 PM »
ReplyReply

Yes, but the 'Western' attitude has been a varied one. True, the advent of christianity had a negative effect (amongst many) on some attitudes towards the natural world, but the perceived 'ensoulment' of nature, concepts of genuis loci, sacred spaces, sacred landscapes & such like, points to a relationship with a land that was in may ways far more positive. That said, the natural world could be brutish & deadly too, and such things were also no doubt reflected in humanity's attitudes to nature & the land. I think our historical stance vis a vis landscapes has been far more nuanced than some might suggest.
Logged

feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2909

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2011, 05:12:29 PM »
ReplyReply

"We" in the original quote has turned into "Western," "Christian" and/or "European," which I believe actually means "western European" given the examples above. This is an all-too common view, unfortunately ignoring the views of vast majority of global population throughout history, majority of mythologies and religions, and perhaps most importantly, temporal aspect, given Christianity has been around for barely 2000 years. Making sweeping generalizations of how the world views nature based on a small subset of it is doomed to failure.

Granted, Christianity incorporated many of the beliefs (and much much more) from religions before it, thus representing the beliefs of a wider population than its numbers would suggest. Nevertheless, we would still ignore entire (sub) continents which have had no significant interaction with Christianism or its predecessors until 1400s or later.

I might be perceived as being pedantic, but cultural absolutism is a pet peeve of mine, of which I see hints of in the posts above. Regardless, claiming that "we" (as in humanity) have viewed nature as demonic and ugly until Enlightenment is a bold statement, and as such statements go, they require extraordinary proof.

Very interesting subject, though, I might do some research on the non-Christian part when I'm back from vacation.

edit: quick googling turned out this, segment "Images of Hunting and Farming in Prehistoric and Classical Art" is most relevant. The author describes art from those eras using words such as bucolic, naturalistic and mythical, and observe that nature was even relegated to "accessory status" in some Hellenistic art - hardly a demonic view of nature in the pre-Enlightenment cultures he mentions.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2011, 05:32:49 PM by feppe » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 6183


When everybody thinks the same... nobody thinks.


WWW
« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2011, 06:17:41 PM »
ReplyReply

... I might be perceived as being pedantic...

Ya think?  Wink

Generalizations need context to be properly understood. Given that a vast majority of the forum members (at least the active ones) belongs to the Western civilization, it is not unreasonable to use "we". In that sense, I do not think any of us used "we" to mean "humanity".

Given further that the site has "landscape" in its name and the subject of the discussion is landscape, it is not unreasonable to assume we are talking about nature and landscape art.

By the same token, it is not unreasonable to understand the reference "until fairly recently" in Russ' original statement in the above context too, meaning "until 19th century", the century in which landscape art was established as an independent genre for the first time in history. To quote Kenneth Clark again (and to add some weight behind "my" bold statement): "...landscape painting... was the chief artistic creation of the nineteenth century..."

As a side note, I think that the concept of "quick qoogling", as a substitute for what scholars used to devote a lifetime to understand, and its impact on our understanding of the world, deserves at least an academic dissertation of its own.



Logged

Slobodan

Flickr
500px
Steve Weldon
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1476



WWW
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2011, 08:17:51 PM »
ReplyReply

Steve, You and I agree that nature can be beautiful, but our fairly recent ancestors didn't. The idea that nature is beautiful is something we learned from poets and painters, and, as I said, the lesson began around the time of Rousseau. As Casey said, "You could look it up."

I can't help but think context is key in a discussion of this type.  I tried to say this in a more subtle way but it didn't take. 

Sure, if we go back and read an academic take during certain periods of history I'm sure you would be correct.  Yet, the people who are viewing my photographs live in todays world and their experiences in reference to 'nature' are seen through a modern frame of reference.  And like I said, I've never had a client or student refer to nature as ugly or demonic.  So I don't think they're thinking this when looking at photographs from any period.  Technology, modern conveniences, etc, isolate them to a degree which allows the way they interpret nature to be much different than that of our ancestors.

As photographers we can certainly learn through history and I value these threads and the subsequent discussions for the knowledge those like you share.  But we must remember most of our audiences are modern and their frames of reference much different.  Who can choose our audience, and they can choose us.  I'd prefer they matched.
Logged

----------------------------------------------
http://www.BangkokImages.com
RSL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6514



WWW
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2011, 08:44:19 PM »
ReplyReply

I rarely agree with Russ on matters of landscape, but this is an exception

Slobodan, I suspect we agree more often than our exchanges would indicate, but if everybody agrees you can't have a good argument, and argument is the best teacher.

Thanks for pulling up a more convincing response than I was able to locate. I've been rushing around trying to heal the results of our flood and it drives me nuts when I can't lay my hands on a reference I want.

As a side note, I think that the concept of "quick qoogling", as a substitute for what scholars used to devote a lifetime to understand, and its impact on our understanding of the world, deserves at least an academic dissertation of its own.

See, there's another place where we agree completely.

I can't help but think context is key in a discussion of this type.  I tried to say this in a more subtle way but it didn't take. 

Sure, if we go back and read an academic take during certain periods of history I'm sure you would be correct.  Yet, the people who are viewing my photographs live in todays world and their experiences in reference to 'nature' are seen through a modern frame of reference.  And like I said, I've never had a client or student refer to nature as ugly or demonic.  So I don't think they're thinking this when looking at photographs from any period.  Technology, modern conveniences, etc, isolate them to a degree which allows the way they interpret nature to be much different than that of our ancestors.

As photographers we can certainly learn through history and I value these threads and the subsequent discussions for the knowledge those like you share.  But we must remember most of our audiences are modern and their frames of reference much different.  Who can choose our audience, and they can choose us.  I'd prefer they matched.

Steve, I'm not sure what this has to do with the discussion underway. We've been talking about the history of art, and specifically landscape art, though, I'll admit, that's not the subject of the thread. Yes, since the Romantic period Westerners have enjoyed the beauty of landscape. (Though that doesn't make landscape photographs memorable.) Incidentally, when the Impressionists had their early shows polite Parisian society felt that pictures of landscape and genre scenes, some even painted outdoors (ugh!) instead of in a studio were gross and unseemly. How long ago was that? About 150 years. They were kids, but my granddads were around in those days.
Logged

dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1277


« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2011, 10:49:56 PM »
ReplyReply

What makes an image memorable has nothing to do with its visual components by themselves.  Memorable pictures are ones that stimulate pre-existing emotional programming within the viewer's mind.  That is why cliches are highly memorable, some level of receptive programming is already in place in the grey matter, what an advantage for the cliche artist!

It's about lighting up memory circuits already present in the beholder's brain.  Successful photographers do not stagger around on mountaintops with their walkabout lenses, but rather plumb the depths of the human psyche for clues that will lead them efficiently to the Perfect Memorable Shot.

Bottom line, those MIT guys are trying to measure memorability just because it's something sufficiently well defined to be measured.  Would appreciate it if they would up the bets and give us a map to greatness or at least saleability, that would interest me a lot more.

Is a memorable picture more or less saleable than one that isn't?

As a random selection, one "memorable" picture that's landscape is the photograph of a lightning bolt hitting a tree outside someone's house. Pure chance. I can't find it quickly with google. If you've seen it, you know which picture I mean (they did a double-page spread of it once.) Another picture that sticks in my mind is the winter shot of Yosemite on NPS's website. Another more recent is of the tsunami from Japan as the wave moves through the San Francisco Bay Area. The latter isn't at all saleable, but perhaps because it is tied to a major event and is remarkable, the memory of it has stuck with me more than any other photo of the Japanese earthquake earlier this year. The Yosemite one, perhaps has a dollar value because it is tied to something famous.

Of all the photographs Michael has posted on his website, the one that I often remember most is that from when he was in Spain, testing out a camera and took a photograph of women's hats. That and one from Antartica of the huge jellyfish in the water with the penguin above it. Are either of those big money earners for Michael? You'd have to ask him but then those are just what's memorable to me. I'd be really interested if someone like Michael submitted a selection of well sold and non-well sold photo-prints to see how they measure under the algorithm being developed by MIT.

To reflect on comments from Alain Briot, in one of his earlier essays on selling photographs at the Grand Canyon, what enabled him to do well was the location of the prints being sold (in a/the hotel.) I'm pretty sure I recall him mentioning that he sold a lot of prints at the end of the day to folks that had been out walking, were tired, and wanted to take something home that reminded them of where they'd been. In his further comments on that topic, he mentioned it was 16 years from when he started out to when he took a photo that went on to be his best seller. If he's got a data set there (of photos across the 16 year period that he took trying to work out what people wanted) then putting that type of material in the hands of researchers such as those at MIT might enable them to come up with an algorithm that at least works out what makes a good welling Grand Canyon photograph.

It will be interesting to see if any photographers from the digital age get involved with researchers in providing data in the form of pictures and sales to enable research on "what makes a good selling photograph."
Logged
Steve Weldon
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1476



WWW
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2011, 10:14:32 AM »
ReplyReply


Steve, I'm not sure what this has to do with the discussion underway. We've been talking about the history of art, and specifically landscape art, though, I'll admit, that's not the subject of the thread.
This is why I stated context is key.  YOU were talking about the history or art, and so were a few others.  But several of us were talking about "What Makes An Image Memorable" which is the topic of the thread, and we picked up snippets of your art history discussion and perhaps not recognizing the new 'art history' angle right off, responded.  If you want to limit this discussion of what makes an image memorable to the area of art history.. then sure go ahead.. but please don't limit the rest of us.  If you expect others to be open to your 'frame of reference" then try to be open to ours. 

Perhaps your knowledge on the area would allow you to juxtapose a historical over a modern view which might benefit us all.

This following comment isn't talking about you specifically, but I've noticed a trend in this forum where some posters are adamant almost to the point of being hostile to sticking exactly to the original thread topic (as they see it) or even a topic as they interpret it, to the point where it makes others feel unwelcome to respond.  Some even try to make those who think differently feel 'less' in some way for responding.   In my personal opinion, only those who try and limit should feel less.  The result is we have the same cliche of people participating in most of the threads with very little new blood.   And nothing could prevent discovery or new learning more.

Something else to think about:  Perhaps this is why so many (I'm tempted to use the words "vast majority") of modern viewers find so many landscapes boring and uninspiring.  A fresh perspective based on fresh views 'might' result in wider audiences.
Logged

----------------------------------------------
http://www.BangkokImages.com
RSL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6514



WWW
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2011, 10:59:29 AM »
ReplyReply

Steve, Fair enough. And I apologize for expanding so far on what's really an offshoot of the original question. But if you look back you'll see that the offshoot began when we started talking about what makes landscape memorable as opposed to what makes an image memorable.

The answer to the original question is fairly obvious if you look at the history of photography. Landscape was fairly popular during the heyday of the Pictorialists, but even then pictures that included people were much more common than pure landscapes. Time is the great filter. It drops things that are less memorable and hangs on to things that are memorable. In fact, time's filter is pretty much the definition of "memorable." The photographic history books in my library contain a lot more pictures of people than of landscapes, and the pictures in those books are the ones that time has tested and retained, and therefore that can be called "memorable." Unless you're limiting memory to a very short time span, to call any contemporary photograph "memorable" is to make what my military contemporaries used to call a "wag."

As far as adamant posters are concerned, I'd much rather see someone argue his opinion than see him wussily back off when an alternative opinion pops up. You often learn things in the midst of a strong clash of opinion. On the other hand, not only are ad hominem attacks ugly, they tend to be counterproductive. I assume it's ad hominem attacks you object to.

Regarding "fresh views" in landscape, I'd suggest there aren't any, though I'm sure I'll be challenged on that opinion.
Logged

dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1277


« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2011, 12:53:22 PM »
ReplyReply


Regarding "fresh views" in landscape, I'd suggest there aren't any, though I'm sure I'll be challenged on that opinion.


Well, suffice to say that you're unlikely to discover or create a fresh view in landscape if your tripod is one of 30 or more at Oxbow Bend in Wyoming at dawn (a comment to this effect was made by someone else in a LuLa forum.)

But what do you consider to be a "fresh view"? A style of composition? New subject matter? Or...?

If it was to be subject matter, then I'd argue that "fresh views" require being as much an explorer as a photographer and digital cameras have not yet been everywhere on this planet.

If it were to be composition, then perhaps it requires a more creative or alternative thought process - being more artistic.
Logged
RSL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6514



WWW
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2011, 01:08:06 PM »
ReplyReply

But what do you consider to be a "fresh view"? A style of composition? New subject matter? Or...?

You're asking the wrong guy, Dreed. Try Steve. I'd be interested to know what he has in mind too. There probably are some boring stretches of prairie or jack pine out there that haven't been photographed as landscapes, but it seems to me all the "memorable" landscape features have been done over and over.
Logged

dreed
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1277


« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2011, 01:57:58 PM »
ReplyReply

You're asking the wrong guy, Dreed. Try Steve. I'd be interested to know what he has in mind too. There probably are some boring stretches of prairie or jack pine out there that haven't been photographed as landscapes, but it seems to me all the "memorable" landscape features have been done over and over.

There's at least two wildcards here that I think you're ignoring.

The first is weather - in particular, stormy weather that is unpredictable.

The second is nature - volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, animals, etc.

To me it sounds like you're equating "memorable landscape feature" with "popular tourist attraction" - or something close to it?

Actually, to mention animals brings another photograph to mind - in one of the stores in Yellowstone, there is/was a picture of a bison standing its ground, surrounded by wolves. It leaves you wondering, "what happened - did the bison survive?" Is a photograph with an unanswered question more memorable?
Logged
RSL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6514



WWW
« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2011, 02:33:27 PM »
ReplyReply

So you define pictures of storms, volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and animals as "landscapes?" That's an interesting twist on the definition, but I don't think it holds up very well. Weather, maybe, though there are thousands of landscapes that include weather, including many of St. Ansel's. But I'd define the others more as photojournalism or wildlife shots than landscape, especially pictures of bisons being attacked by wolves.
Logged

Steve Weldon
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1476



WWW
« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2011, 12:54:18 AM »
ReplyReply

I do enjoy these discussions.  I learn a lot from them.

I don't have a art history library or the knowledge to go with it, but I do know what I like and I fear if I had a certain level of education in this area I'd miss out.. or rather lose out on whatever fresh perspectives I'm personally capable of producing.

I write some short pieces for my site on the subject, not the 'educated' view you're knowledgeable with, but areas of art I think many miss out on for one reason or the other.

For instance, I regularly 'preach' (for lack of a better word), that when everyone climbs off the bus and points their camera at a popular scene, that perhaps it would be better to take just one or two snaps to say you've been there, but then to look around for what they're not pointing their cameras out.  To look for what the others aren't seeing, or paying attention to.  If a new landscape is to be had, chances are it will be had this way.

Also, weather was mentioned.  I write a lot about using weather as a compositional element.  When most people are home staying dry during monsoon season I'm loading up the truck in search of those few moments when the sun shines through a cloud break from behind or the side and produces a scene rarely seen.  Weather to me, is just as important as the actual subject.

A loose analogy would be writing styles.  Way too many 'decent' authors I know dedicate an inordinate amount of time following rules and guidelines by several writing greats.  I think this is great for them.  But if you're so consumed with following what those before you profess to be 'good writing', are you really leaving yourself free to discover and develop your own style of writing which 'may', talent providing, turn out every bit as good or better.  Or perhaps turn out a fresh perspective that many others will enjoy reading on a regular basis more than just another rendition of the "same old thing."

I think there is no right or wrong between the two, well.. not unless someone insists.  But I do think there is "interesting" reading and "not so interesting" reading.. as evidenced by the raw numbers.

Samuel Clemens was no slouch as a writer, and he was surely schooled in the classics.  So was Edgar Rice Burroughs (some considered him a hack).  Yet, when they set themselves free to look the other way from where everyone else was pointing their cameras.. their fresh perspectives produces novels I've never tired of reading.  They became forever memorable to me.

What has any of this to do with your original point?  Granted, not much at all.  I just think "art history" has it's place and it's valuable knowledge and I thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.  I just think there is more for the modern audience.  I'll never find a place amongst the classic landscape photographers of yesterday.  But just maybe, with a bit of luck and a free mind.. I might find a small niche with a modern audience.  And knowledge such as yours is immensely helpful in my getting there.  If I'm ever to get there.. ;o)

Thank you for the discussion.
Logged

----------------------------------------------
http://www.BangkokImages.com
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2011, 02:24:24 AM »
ReplyReply

Apart from a variant on the +1 ethic, I've remained out of this one for a simple reason: it's never going to come to a conclusion. An end, certainly, but never a conclusion.

As to writing styles and whether they may have a negative effect when photography is treated in a similar manner, well yes, I think it's a fair point. There can't be any more Seinfeld nor even Friends with different chemistry, as House would be doomed without House. Hence the futility of apeing St Ansel or anyone else of note. What doesn't come naturally is forced and it shows, even if close. The only thing you can/should do is be yourself. That's why, to brandish my old Excalibur, stay away from gurus, all of them.

Rob C
Logged

feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2909

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2011, 03:20:08 PM »
ReplyReply

As a side note, I think that the concept of "quick qoogling", as a substitute for what scholars used to devote a lifetime to understand, and its impact on our understanding of the world, deserves at least an academic dissertation of its own.

Indeed, practically zero cost of access to knowledge in terms of both money and time must be scary to many, especially the elite who previously were the only ones with the means and who could afford that access.

Then again, they probably have nothing to fear given what people actually spend time on.
Logged

Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2011, 04:33:06 PM »
ReplyReply

I don't think that's quite fair, feppe. After all, the old-fashioned way meant that one actually learned something, whilst the modern, instant acces trick only allows one to score a point, probably badly, because of lack of deeper knowledge of the subject being debated...

Don't think I can find an example, but I have sometimes felt that some replies here show exactly the instantly found fact without a deeper sense of its meaning and/or relevance to the matter at hand. Context and content are more than surface.

Rob C 
Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 6183


When everybody thinks the same... nobody thinks.


WWW
« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2011, 05:41:00 PM »
ReplyReply

... zero cost of access to knowledge in terms of both money and time...

Hey, what happened to the saying: "you get what you paid for"?  Wink

I am looking forward to my next surgery, done by a guy who googled how to do it... it will be extremely cheap though Grin
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 06:49:46 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

Slobodan

Flickr
500px
feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2909

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #37 on: June 13, 2011, 06:35:02 PM »
ReplyReply

Don't think I can find an example, but I have sometimes felt that some replies here show exactly the instantly found fact without a deeper sense of its meaning and/or relevance to the matter at hand. Context and content are more than surface.

And some replies on LL show an appalling ignorance of facts accompanied by statements unsupported by any research whatsoever. Plenty of examples of that, pretty much any discussion on politics, finance or economics is full of those.

Not that it's limited to LL - it's much easier to rely on familiar notions no matter how wrong they are, rather than constantly challenge oneself.
Logged

RSL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6514



WWW
« Reply #38 on: June 13, 2011, 08:49:14 PM »
ReplyReply

Rob, I think there are two kinds of quick Googling. There's the guy who has absolutely no knowledge of a subject, does a quick google, copies a couple of quotes that appear factual, and then presents himself as an authority. Then there's the other kind of guy who does two things with a quick google: (1) he refreshes his memory of something with which he's already familiar but of which he's lost specific details, and/or (2) he's getting old and can't bring up names -- of people or of things. I fall into category (2). Can hardly remember my own name, not to mention the names of my 17 grandchildren or my 4 great-grandchildren. Old guys google.
Logged

Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2011, 03:13:41 AM »
ReplyReply

Rob, I think there are two kinds of quick Googling. There's the guy who has absolutely no knowledge of a subject, does a quick google, copies a couple of quotes that appear factual, and then presents himself as an authority. Then there's the other kind of guy who does two things with a quick google: (1) he refreshes his memory of something with which he's already familiar but of which he's lost specific details, and/or (2) he's getting old and can't bring up names -- of people or of things. I fall into category (2). Can hardly remember my own name, not to mention the names of my 17 grandchildren or my 4 great-grandchildren. Old guys google.



Or goggle! I remember my wife saying to me, once or twice after we'd passed a buxom lady on the street: okay Rob, you can pull your eyes back in now.

She seemed to find it quite amusing.

I'm relieved that you have difficulty with remembering names. I can't remember the names of any of my brother-in-law's grandchildren, nor can I guess at their parents' addresses. Even my two granddaughter's birthdays remain a mystery to me. Neither do I send birthday cards nor wedding anniversary greetings to anyone else: it isn't out of discourtesy, but that such things simply don't register on my mind. Even my own birthday escapes me most of the time, but I consider that a mercy.

Rob C
Logged

Pages: « 1 [2] 3 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad