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Author Topic: The next 10,000 post thread?  (Read 7847 times)
michael
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« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2012, 11:10:56 AM »
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My first 500 photos were all adventure and discovery. Today, it's mostly routine. So, what is it that makes photography "good"?

That's where study comes in. Buy books, visit galleries, go to museums. Study the work of photographers who you admire. Don't just look at pictures Ė study them.

Attend workshops and seminars. Take a night course.

It all depends on how motivated you are.

Michael
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RobSaecker
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« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2012, 12:34:26 PM »
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For every opinion there is always a counter...

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." (Shunryu Suzuki Roshi: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind)

If you think Suzuki Roshi was advocating never moving past the beginner stage, I'd suggest you've misunderstood.
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Rob
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« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2012, 12:46:45 PM »
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Itís very easy to imagine that, once into photography, it will provide its own reward and, thus, motivation. It doesnít necessarily do anything of the kind. I find that trying to enthuse myself into shooting stuff remote from pro days is both difficult and not really particularly rewarding of itself. I sometimes wonder if itís an inevitable reaction to growing older or whether the lack of financial reward somehow removes its validity, its payoff, as it were, though certainly I donít mean that in monetary terms alone. Either way, there appears little reason to justify the effort both in the mythical field as on the all too real typist chair at the frigginí computer.
  

I'm coming at this from a very different angle than you, having never made any money from photography. In fact, I made a conscious decision early on that I wasn't going to try to make a living at it, because I didn't want it to become a job that I ended up hating. In any case, I find the simple act of making a photo to be enjoyable; maneuvering around in three dimensional space trying to find some organization of elements that will be interesting in two dimensions is just plain fun. The fact that I sometimes manage to come up with an image that others enjoy is icing on the cake.
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Rob
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John Camp
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« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2012, 01:10:45 PM »
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Michael's right.

But going around pushing the button on your DSLR isn't practice, it's wasting time. You need engaging practice. And, sometimes, in some cases -- maybe like Rob C's -- you may have to decide to give it up. Just because you are a competent professional photographer is no reason to keep doing it, if you don't enjoy it or think it has little value.

I'm a professional novelist, but for twenty-five years or so, I was a professional journalist at The Miami Herald and at the St. Paul papers. As a reporter, I'd write every day; during a few years as an editor, I'd edit every day. When I was reporting, editors had no problem telling me when they didn't like something, either for the actual content or lack of it, or the way I expressed it. As an editor, I had no trouble telling reporters what I thought -- on a daily newspaper, there's just no time to fool around. I didn't know it, but what I was getting over all those years was a lot of practice in novel writing, which includes intense self-editing. I still had to learn some specific aspects of the novel-writing business, but the practice and daily life experience was just what I needed. In fact, it was absolutely critical. If you look at a lot of my peers in the thriller-wring business, you find that almost all of them have similar backgrounds.

I think perhaps if one wished to become a photographer/artist, a few years (but not too many) spent as a pro photographer would be pretty useful. "Creative" workshops are not so useful, I think, for a lot of reasons, but technical workshops are, if you need them. I took a technical workshop on lighting at Santa Fe Workshops and learned more in a week than I ever needed, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. But other than the occasional workshop, practice is the most critical thing -- but engaging practice, the kind that includes looking at your own work, and thinking seriously about it. You could go out and take a picture of a fire hydrant and learn something from it...or not. Taking a thousand shots and then desperately searching for a good one won't teach you much. Taking ten carefully considered shots, and then contemplating each of the prints could teach you quite a  lot.

It might even teach you that you're not interested in doing that, which is a great thing to learn, because you can move on to something else.

Edit: I just read over the other posts again, and think it's important to stress what Michael said in his last one. You do have to read and study. As a novelist, I picked out a book by one of my favorite writers, and tore it to pieces, and then tried to rewrite it, to understand how he'd done what he'd done, and why he'd done it. What I did was in no way publishable, but it was an invaluable experience: I began to see how pieces of the puzzle fit together, and to appreciate such things as rhythm. But if you really study the people you most admire, and think of how you can riff off them, you'll eventually find your own signature and will expand beyond what your models have done. The other thing is motivation. To become a serious artist, you really do have to be somewhat obsessed. Persistence is critical. If you're happy taking pictures of your family, or whatever, casually, that's just fine. But to become a serious, dedicated photographer, I think being a little nuts won't hurt. I don't particularly like saying this, because it sounds sycophantic, and Michael has enough people kissing his ass, but over all the years some of us have been on these forums, and all the posts we have done, we've seen at the top of the forum photo after photo by Michael, many of them extremely good. So he writes for the forum and does camera reviews and travels to Mexico, but every few days there's another pretty good photo up. Who else who is regularly on this forum does that?
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 01:24:36 PM by John Camp » Logged
Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2012, 02:49:23 PM »
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I teach photography in a local art school. I was working through a girls portfolio of work over the year and I expressed admiration for the fact that she has stuck to a subject and by working on it, created a really masterful set of images. She countered in a worried tone that she had taken many duds to achieve this final cut of good images. She was worried that she wasn't creating great images with every shutter press. I wonder who ever put that idea into her head?

Cartier Bressons contact sheets were a shining lesson of how many images it takes even one of histories best photographers to get a great image. AA said that if he got one good image a month he was satisfied. I have often mentioned in class that there are images which took me years of returning to the same spot to get the lighting perfect. As Michael says, as my photography mentor, an old crusty photojournalist always told me, you have to go out and shoot! No you aren't going to hit the 'one' with every frame and often not with every tens or even hundreds of frames. But when you work through and realise what went wrong with all the others , you will know better for next time and not bother hitting the shutter release with flat light or a boring composition and so on and so on. You can't learn only from books, from videos, from tutorials, etc. You have to go out there and just shoot till you learn from your mistakes.

In this golden age of photography, due to digital, this learning curve has greatly accelerated because of instant feedback. Many old timers bemoan how fast the newcomers are butting into their territory but the fact is that these newbies are intelligent, have a drive to learn and because they don't have to spend a fortune and so many years to learn from their mistakes, are able to leap forward in skill level at a rate that has never been seen before. The raw talent is there, the barriers to realising it are now wide open to those with a thirst and drive to achieve.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 02:51:00 PM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: May 24, 2012, 03:08:35 PM »
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I teach photography in a local art school. I was working through a girls portfolio of work over the year and I expressed admiration for the fact that she has stuck to a subject and by working on it, created a really masterful set of images. She countered in a worried tone that she had taken many duds to achieve this final cut of good images. She was worried that she wasn't creating great images with every shutter press. I wonder who ever put that idea into her head?

Cartier Bressons contact sheets were a shining lesson of how many images it takes even one of histories best photographers to get a great image. AA said that if he got one good image a month he was satisfied. I have often mentioned in class that there are images which took me years of returning to the same spot to get the lighting perfect. As Michael says, as my photography mentor, an old crusty photojournalist always told me, you have to go out and shoot! No you aren't going to hit the 'one' with every frame and often not with every tens or even hundreds of frames. But when you work through and realise what went wrong with all the others , you will know better for next time and not bother hitting the shutter release with flat light or a boring composition and so on and so on. You can't learn only from books, from videos, from tutorials, etc. You have to go out there and just shoot till you learn from your mistakes.

In this golden age of photography, due to digital, this learning curve has greatly accelerated because of instant feedback. Many old timers bemoan how fast the newcomers are butting into their territory but the fact is that these newbies are intelligent, have a drive to learn and because they don't have to spend a fortune and so many years to learn from their mistakes, are able to leap forward in skill level at a rate that has never been seen before. The raw talent is there, the barriers to realising it are now wide open to those with a thirst and drive to achieve.




Can't resist quoting myself, Ben:

"Yes, after a little while there's not much left to learn in photography - unless you insist in including all its history and a list of practitioners of high or low fame as being part of 'photography' at which stage it becomes a memory game rather than, with luck, an art. Of course, this presumption of rapid learning is based on film, where you took a lot of care to learn and understand what you were doing if only because of the cost of film; today with digi, despite the contradictory claims so often read here, you can click a million clicks and so what? what's new? what's learned if it costs nothing to make the same mistakes over and over again? So in a contemporary context, perhaps HC-B was right, but since he was speaking of and in other times, he was also mistaken."

So there you are - differing points of view/perspective at every bend of the road!

Rob C

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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2012, 05:04:43 AM »
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Don't think it's true though Rob. They are learning from their mistakes and fast. My wedding assistant shot his first frame 4 years ago. He is rapidly becoming my equal. He is learning incredibly fast. My class are art students not specifically photographers. For them the camera is just a means to an end to achieve their art and because the tool is now far easier to use, they are achieving incredible results at a rate that I never saw back when I learnt photography with film back when the AE-1 was the height of photographic technology.

There are those who will bemoan that the art of controlling the machines is lost. Personally I couldn't care less. The only thing that matters is transferring what is in your mind onto paper. Anything that goes in between is a necessary and annoying evil in my opinion and anything which helps learning and achieving the mastery of that tool can only be a good thing. The only ones who disagree usually are those who had it so much harder with their learning curve and resent the fact that others can match their decades of learning in years. Oh and those who worship the process rather than the art or the results. Lot of them around, they live on planet DPReview. Cheesy Cheesy
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 05:06:19 AM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2012, 05:39:17 AM »
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"The only ones who disagree usually are those who had it so much harder with their learning curve and resent the fact that others can match their decades of learning in years."


That's the bit I find unbelievable, Ben; the wet process is simplicity itself unless you want to do with wet photography what some people want, now (only on your planet DPReview?), to do with digital. And in terms of practical reality, there's no need for doing things like that unless your bag is making the easy difficult.

It took me a while to get au fait with PS6 because I live in a desert, so to speak, devoid of others with similar photographic interests and my learning of digi has been gleaned from the net; I find books (and I have them) well-nigh useless as teachers of anything technical. However, despite my very much less than expert savvy of the programme, I find that I can do pretty much anything that I want to do with a photograph - so far. Okay, having a 'primitive' version of PS prevents things such as correction of verticals etc. but then I see that as bad photographic practice anyway: I am of the school that says one should use the right tools from the start. But, insofar as the art of the single image is concerned, I neither seek nor really need anything more. Also, I believe that coming from a film background and doing my own processing all my life, I already know what I should look for in the great transition from original capture to paper reproduction.

I still believe that high quality photography is basically a very simple process, to do with the mind and eye and with technological mastery of a simple procedure (which one can choose to complicate to the nth degree, if one gets one's jollies that way) - or so it used to be...

Which is where I guess I came in. But then, as Cooter would say, I have no horse in this race.

Rob C
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 05:41:07 AM by Rob C » Logged

Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2012, 07:58:56 AM »
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To be honest I'm talking more about composition and lighting.
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2012, 08:14:18 AM »
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Problem solved!

I connected my G1X to an intervalometer and will soon have 10000 pictures! 
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Rob C
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« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2012, 08:52:50 AM »
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To be honest I'm talking more about composition and lighting.


Then you are treading on very doubtful ground, as far as I'm concerned!

Regarding composition, I always believed that to be instinctive and best left alone to the particular snapper to develop by himself, drawing upon the world of magazines, film and tv imagery for inspiration and guidance about what sort of thing appeals to him personally. That way, there is at play the automatic selection process of the individual's mind; with a real tutor, there is the unavoidable influence of the tutor's own mind at play - and I hardly buy that such a person can turn that off any more than I would be able to do.

Lighting? What's to teach that the same study of existing photography doesn't reveal of its own accord? I always will remember Vogue shooter Sante D'Orazio writing that whenever he came upon a studio set with lots of lights up, his first feeling was: oh! -oh! this doesn't augur well!

But I'm sorry, I suppose I'm just trying to score some useless points...

; -)

Rob C
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2012, 09:31:16 AM »
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Cheesy
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HSway
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« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2012, 10:29:38 AM »
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I wonder if the new home page quote
"Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst".  Ė Henri Cartier-Bresson
will inspire another 10,000 post thread debating the relevance of extensive practice in general, and that number in particular, to mastering an art or craft like photography.

I hope not ... but then again, maybe I just started it.


Let me tell you as if asking.

Do you know why you photograph? every single image? Is the vision one of the terms or you just canít help it? One look inwards replaces these (10,000) posts and 10,000 photographs alike. One of the relevancies that need no debating  Smiley


Hynek
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dturina
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« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2012, 01:10:15 PM »
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That's where study comes in.

Not for me. For me, routine and boredom came as a result of study. Photography, as studied, became predictable and boring. I learned too much stuff and it stands in the way of being creative and looking with fresh eyes. If anything, I think I have to un-study photography and forget everything everyone told me.
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Danijel
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2012, 02:13:48 PM »
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Looking back at my own archive, I see that I am nowhere near 10,000 photographs. Even including the stuff I shot for work, it can't be much more than 5,000 in the fifty-odd years since I started. And many of those were just routine site and building records.

No, the real stuff, the pictures that at the time I hoped meant something (but often didn't, and counting the failures as well of course) come to no more than about 1,500. In the last forty years, that is. And it is still far too bloody many.

I had hoped, and still hope in a way, to say something meaningful - and for that, perhaps ten or twenty really good pictures should do. I have those pictures in my mind's eye, but I cannot manufacture or invent them. They are waiting for me, out there somewhere at some particular time and light, and when I do see them I just hope that I am ready. There probably will be no more than ten or twenty, once all is said and done. Some of them I have already, some are still to come.

John
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 03:02:21 PM by John R Smith » Logged

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michael
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« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2012, 02:37:15 PM »
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Just to be clear, I'm certain that HCB didn't mean 10,000 "keepers". I imagine he meant all shots, including tests, experiments, and failures.

Bresson himself only had a few hundred top ranked images over the course of his carear, and maybe not more than a couple of dozen primos.

Michael
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Isaac
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« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2012, 03:00:55 PM »
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Can't resist quoting myself, Ben:

"... Of course, this presumption of rapid learning is based on film, where you took a lot of care to learn and understand what you were doing if only because of the cost of film; today with digi, despite the contradictory claims so often read here, you can click a million clicks and so what? what's new? what's learned if it costs nothing to make the same mistakes over and over again?"

Your premise -- if it costs nothing to make the same mistakes over and over again -- is false.

There are costs to photography that still exist with digital -- many people value their free time and have other things to do with it than photography, they can't afford to waste their time making the same mistakes over and over again.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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When everybody thinks the same... nobody thinks.


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« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2012, 03:14:07 PM »
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... If anything, I think I have to un-study photography and forget everything everyone told me.

Or, to paraphrase Miles Davis: first you learn everything there is to learn about music, and then you forget it all and play until you are dizzy.
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Slobodan

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Isaac
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« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2012, 04:19:44 PM »
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Or, to paraphrase Miles Davis: first you learn everything there is to learn about music, and then you forget it all and play until you are dizzy.

And that style of music provides a counter-example to --

Unlike with music, in the visual arts composition and performance are intertwined.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 06:14:26 PM by Isaac » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2012, 04:28:18 PM »
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Not for me. For me, routine and boredom came as a result of study. Photography, as studied, became predictable and boring. I learned too much stuff and it stands in the way of being creative and looking with fresh eyes. If anything, I think I have to un-study photography and forget everything everyone told me.


Best photo advice you'll ever hear; be pleased it comes from yourself.

Rob C
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