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Author Topic: Copyright and Great Masters  (Read 26669 times)
cocasana
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« on: April 16, 2012, 12:10:30 AM »
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Hi everyone
during my university I've been studying a lot of History of Art. One aspect that comes back to my mind quite often since I shoot photographs is related to the formation of artists between the 14th and the 20th century. In those times before even thinking having a personal style you had to be able to paint the way all the great Masters of your age and before did. That made me think that, for my very personal enjoyment, I would love to bee able to photograph as the great Masters did.
But I was considering that in those time they didn't, but in these times I can possibly have a copyright problem. What about if I try to get closer as possible to a portrait of Nadar, Karsh, Man Ray, Wharol...? Specifying that is after XXX? Would that be copyright infringement?
Thanks,
Carlo
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 09:04:08 AM by cocasana » Logged
bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 01:19:58 AM »
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As I understand it, if the original is still in copyright and you're trying to make money with an image that looks like a copy to a judge, you're in trouble.

But how similar do the shafts of light have to be in a picture of Antelope Canyon to be construed as a forgery of somebody's previous picture?  It's all very ambiguous and a can of worms.

OTOH photographs of people where there is no model release are a place where photographers actually do get into a lot trouble, so that may be a bigger concern.

And look you guys...I don't wanna see any attempts at personalized styles until you show me a perfect copy of "Moonrise Over Hernandez."   Grin  You're just gonna have to wait for those clouds and that full Moon.  I wonder if Ansel copyrighted that image, which was required at the time.
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cocasana
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 02:06:03 AM »
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Hi Bill,
actually I should have been more clear: I was thinking at portraits (this time at least).
Same lights, same position, different model (obviously).
And if you don't make money with the photos can you still expose them?
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bill t.
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 03:32:46 AM »
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Well I'd be in over my legal head to venture much further.  I think if you don't try to commercially exploit the piece you're OK.  But what if you give a copy to your friend and he sells it to somebody else, possibly representing it as a genuine original?  The mind boggles.  Obviously Nadar would be completely out of copyright.  But the famous Karsh Winston Churchill portrait may still be in copyright, so there's a sticky wicket.

Seems more sensible to me to try to improve on the classics, rather than copy them literally.  I'm trying to think how to redo the Karsh Churchill portrait substituting some recognizable contemporary person or thing for Winston.  Perfect and true to the original in every way, except for subject.  This is not without precedent.  Any nominations?  I think there is some fun to had there that would also serve as a true technical challenge no less difficult than a slavish copy, and a great deal more creative.
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cocasana
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 05:33:15 AM »
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I would, for sure, be happy being able to achieve a shot that has the punch of Karsh's Churchills's portrait.
I'm also confident I wouldn't be satisfied with a lavish copy. But at the same time I would find immodest being sure being able to get even better.
But that's where the fun is!!!

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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 09:04:01 AM »
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Strange thing, but I never felt enthusiatic about Mr K; have you seen his women shots? I don't think he understood anything about them or us. Trouble is, many people in the portrait business should have been in the still life one instead, and that holds very true today, as well.

Rob C
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cocasana
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 09:07:00 AM »
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Can't but disagree!!!
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 12:38:54 PM »
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Can't but disagree!!!


Nonsense; you can do anything you want to do! Even look up Mr K's ladies. On the Internet, I mean.

;-)

Rob C
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bill t.
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 01:45:28 PM »
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Did somebody say Karsh couldn't photograph women?  10 Pirelli girls in a row couldn't hold up a candle to this shot of Audrey Hepburn.




And while this portrait of Marilyn did not earn him a calendar gig, it's one fabulous image.


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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2012, 04:48:11 PM »
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Bill, they are terrible, IMO. In fact, are you certain about the Marilyn? I seem to remember Avedon shot something very similar at a down moment (hers), but he was notoriously cruel too, unless that's another figment of a heated brain. I particularly dislike the Bardot you can reference here:

http://www.photoicon.com/modern_masters/48/

which looks like he had been shooting a bust in a waxworks museum. Just look at the many shadows!

Rob C
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2012, 05:01:18 PM »
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That Marilyn shot must be the sole reason she killed herself!
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Slobodan

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bill t.
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2012, 10:32:16 PM »
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Each to his own.  Karsh had the ability to look deeply into his subjects' personalities, can't deny that.  And what you saw was sometimes not pretty but it was usually remarkable.  And he did not much alter his style or presentation for gender.  Women got pretty much the same treatment as men.  And nobody was asked to say "cheese" although they were free to do so.

Was the Marilyn photo cruel?  I don't know.  It sure was prescient.  Maybe she liked it, by that point in her career Karsh must have had to sign off on right of approval.  I think I recall hearing it was not released in her lifetime.

Nice Irving Penn quote...  "Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is one they would like to show the world. ...Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe."  In googling "karsh photo" I noticed the largest portion of smiling people in Karsh photos are comedians, cartoonists, and other photographers.  Ansel is only kind of smirking.

And seriously, Audrey Hepburn looks absolutely fab in that shot!  Dignified, intelligent, beautiful, elegant.  Not even trying to hide her nose.  Or maybe there are just too many naked women streaking around the web these days, and clothing is the new eroticism.

*********************************

Anyway, my apologies to the OP.  The idea of "copying the masters" is one that should get some airing here.  It's a grand tradition now largely held in disdain, but is there some value to it?
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cocasana
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2012, 12:02:46 AM »
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Copy not just to copy. Copy to get familiar with, and appropriating of the different techniques.
Looks to me like a way of "stretching" your eyes and your photographic skills...
At the end I don't even think one can copy without adding what he thinks are his own two cent...
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2012, 02:42:05 AM »
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Each to his own.  Karsh had the ability to look deeply into his subjects' personalities, can't deny that.  And what you saw was sometimes not pretty but it was usually remarkable.  And he did not much alter his style or presentation for gender.  Women got pretty much the same treatment as men.  And nobody was asked to say "cheese" although they were free to do so.



If you've seen the Annie L. docu Life Through a Lens you will see the 'personality' matter referred to with a lot of scepticism and added photographer disagreement. The reality they see is that 'subjects' project what they wish you to see, especially true for people in the public eye and with lots of practice in the noble art of PR (Mr K's subjects). You can imagine the Karsh subjects were naïve?

As for treating the genders in the same manner - demonstrates how limited and still life-based his psychological skills were. Which is where I came in, and will leave.

Rob C

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bill t.
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2012, 02:31:16 PM »
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Maybe this will bring some cheer.

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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2012, 08:44:47 AM »
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Thank goodness for the emancipation of the 60s/70s; never again (I hope) will boobs be subjected to such disagreeable confinement!

Was that an André de Dienes shot of our Norma J?

Rob C
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2012, 09:16:35 AM »
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Thank goodness for the emancipation of the 60s/70s; never again (I hope) will boobs be subjected to such disagreeable confinement!...

Ah, it must be your Euro-centrismn speaking... Here, they still are Sad
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Slobodan

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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2012, 10:50:34 AM »
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Ah, it must be your Euro-centrismn speaking... Here, they still are Sad


Okay, don't feel too bad with the hand you've been dealt: the generic garment is worn here, sometimes, but not of such mechanical construction as portrayed unless for really problematic case histories. That Outlaw movie certainly did spawn a lot of trouble even if, as I'm sure I saw her claim, Jane never did actually wear Mr Hughes' design.

But such mysteries are of the essence; they keep us curious, and where there is curiosity there is also, sometimes, life. I hope.

Rob C
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2012, 07:47:06 AM »
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Bill, they are terrible, IMO.

Glad you said it, Rob - they are poor.

If they weren't:

  • Of stars;
  • By a "star"; and
  • old

they wouldn't even get a scond glance. Indeed, by today's standards, the MM image is a Recycle Bin candidate on every level - soft, OOF, unflattering, badly-timed...
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2012, 07:50:21 AM »
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Each to his own.  Karsh had the ability to look deeply into his subjects' personalities, can't deny that.  

I can, and easily - you're imbuing his work with a quality it simply doesn't have, and giving far more credit to "snapshots" than they merit.

As you say, to each his own, but I sincerely feel that what we're discussing here is literally nothing "special" - nothing that could not have been done to an identical standard by anyone with a camera, the ability to use it, and access to the same subject matter.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 07:52:59 AM by Keith Reeder » Logged

Keith Reeder
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