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Author Topic: On Critique  (Read 7464 times)
opgr
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« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2012, 06:13:07 AM »
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Quote opgr

I am a firm believer that if you are not willing to tell the truth, it will hamper change. And no change is no growth. And no growth is a premature death…

Unquote

Are you confusing opinion with truth? Whilst you may think what you are saying is the truth in reality it is only an opinion. Now what is the definition of truth?


Ah, yes, I didn't mean to refer to some universal truth. I meant to refer to being truthful about one's own feelings or opinion. I realize that what I wrote doesn't properly distinguish between the two. I also realize that for some people it can be hard to convey their true opinion, because they are either inept at accessing/forming an opinion, or inept at communicating that opinion.

But because of the inference mentioned, I believe that it is possibly a moral obligation to at least attempt to always remain truthful.
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amolitor
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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2012, 08:21:18 AM »
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Some random remarks.

First of all, I should say that my original piece was a response to Rob, and not intended as a rebuttal at all. It's literally a case of 'Rob said this, and then I thought this other stuff, and wrote it down.' I fully support Rob's right to his opinions and ideas, and I don't think he's wrong on any single point, here. We arrive at somewhat different conclusions, but I think we're  lot closer together than one might imagine.

Secondly, Rob IS throwing out a bit of a fallacy with the 'professionals don't critique' since what he means by 'professional' includes 'doesn't teach' which is.. dum dum DUMMMMM... Begging The Question. But that's ok, I see what he's driving at, and once again, he's basically right. Professional mathematicians don't teach, they're busy. That said, they'll probably offer an opinion if someone walks up and asks them for one.

Thirdly, the only correct response to being given a suggestion on how to shoot a thing better is 'That is the dumbest idea I ever heard!' but the value comes in the next thought, once the juices are flowing, which in the best circumstances is '... but, now, this OTHER thing.. that's a GOOD idea'. Bouncing stuff off people, and getting their idiot replies, can trigger the most wonderful stuff. When I offer critique, I fully expect you to lump it in to "another idiot reply" and I hope that, from time to time, I stimulate an original and good idea in you, that is fully your own.

Fourthly and last, I lied. I do disagree with Rob on one point. Commercial photographers are 99 percent a bunch of fad chasers, by necessity. There's no "critical eye" there, there's just endless evolutionary copying. The client doesn't want your damn original art, they want a bunch of photos that look just like Those Photos they saw over there, but a little bit different. Yes, yes, they SAY they want truly original stuff, but they're lying. This doesn't mean commercial work isn't real and worthy. It is, it's real work, it takes real talent and ability, and a fair bit of luck, to make it happen. But it's not the real home of the critically important thinkers. Maybe Rob is talking about the 0.01% of commercial guys who launch the fads, or something? I am willing to believe that there might be a small population of actually interesting guys in commercial work, but I haven't run across them.
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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2012, 08:22:37 AM »
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"There is only you and your camera.
The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are".

Ernst Haas



I rest my case; there's simply nothing left to add.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2012, 08:57:03 AM »
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How does one learn to make photographs, Rob?

Having taken some painting classes, I have a rough idea how that works. Surely you don't subscribe to a magical "it cannot be taught, you either have it or you do not" school?




My own way was simple: I read lots of magazines, went along to a guy's darkroom where he was printing a load of crap, saw how he was doing it, converted the family loft into a darkroom with paper and flour-paste walls, set up a baby bath as a sink, and away she sailed. Literally, that's how I began.

The most important parts came in two: I would buy lots of magazines I could hardly afford and there I formed clear ideas of the genres that interested me, and they, too, were two: travel and girls, the latter either as in fashion or pinup (I learned early on to eschew the word glamour which has long been corrupted beyond recognition, another of those endearing advantages of a lax lexicon some here applaud); the second part of the story happened when I was able to leap from the last stage of an engineering apprenticeship into the same company's photo-unit, where I learned the subtleties of b/w printing and colour processing, to the extent that, towards the end and until I left, I pretty much was the colour department.

External classes at night school, compulsory as part of my acceptance into the unit when I joined, were abandoned after I realised what yo-yos some of the teachers were: employed, failed commercial photographers doing additional work to stay alive. I droppd out, and to my relief, nothing was ever said about it at the unit. I've told this here before, but the final blow came when, on citing David Bailey as a great example of where fashion photography was at, the lecturer declared that were he to shoot like Bailey, he'd give up photography. I gave him up instead.

In a nutshell, you teach yourself, though others can certainly show you how cameras and techniques function; what you do with what you learn is totally up to you and the stuff in your head. Goddamit! There's only aperture, shutter speed, focussing and ISO to learn! How tough is that?

Now, Photoshop, to my mind, is something that every aspiring photographer owes it to himself to study as best he can - it's the new passport. Self-teaching, as in my case, takes forever and a specialist can show you things you never suspect exist. But that's not photography: that's another scientific art in its own right.

Rob C
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« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2012, 09:03:06 AM »
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Thanks, Rob. That was a very thorough and interesting discussion! I do note that it contains zero (0) instances of 'and then I asked someone to tell me what he thought of a thing I did' which is very much to the point.

In a way, a commercial guy does that a lot, though. They're implicitly asking for feedback from the clients, but that feedback takes the form of money rather than discussions of light and form Wink

EDIT: Also I agree that the technical side is basically trivial, and it is a source of endless annoyance to me that 99.9% of the discussion we see on these glorious internets is about those elements. Stupid nerds.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 09:05:23 AM by amolitor » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2012, 09:14:10 AM »
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Fourthly and last, I lied. I do disagree with Rob on one point. Commercial photographers are 99 percent a bunch of fad chasers, by necessity. There's no "critical eye" there, there's just endless evolutionary copying. The client doesn't want your damn original art, they want a bunch of photos that look just like Those Photos they saw over there, but a little bit different. Yes, yes, they SAY they want truly original stuff, but they're lying. This doesn't mean commercial work isn't real and worthy. It is, it's real work, it takes real talent and ability, and a fair bit of luck, to make it happen. But it's not the real home of the critically important thinkers. Maybe Rob is talking about the 0.01% of commercial guys who launch the fads, or something? I am willing to believe that there might be a small population of actually interesting guys in commercial work, but I haven't run across them.



If you want to to find the photographers whose input counts, look up the list of important photographers' agents. They're an international lot, working all over the globe. I have never heard of a single one who offers critique or lessons; they're too busy working or looking for work in a very rarified atmosphere.

That's why people try to find work assisting them: to learn by example and by doing the job. It's the only way.

Rob C
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2012, 11:14:39 AM »
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None of these people rates for much in my sense of definition about successful professionals. (Jay's been around so long he deserves a medal for that - also the exception that proves a rule).

In fact, it strikes me that they are mostly into the very business of teaching rather than of photography. Waite and Cornish have done some travel book illustration in the sense of commissioned work and then they have produced for themselves, but it's all aimed at the amateur photographer and not a lot to do with commercial photography, where the real business is, where the real critical eyes reside.

Noton seems much the same and the website is nothing more than a shop, and not one I'd frequent or pop on my 'favourites' either.

In other words, when someone steps into those tripod holes, they are not professional photographers they are professional 'art photographers' and teachers. A pro deals with clients, a teacher with students, and that's far easier.

Since you asked, that was my point exactly, much as Jennifer has pointed out in her reply before me.

Rob C

Rob, if none of these photographers fit your criteria for 'rating for much in your sense of definition about successful professionals.' And as you also seem to be agreeing with Andrew that "Commercial photographers are 99 percent a bunch of fad chasers, by necessity. There's no "critical eye" there, there's just endless evolutionary copying."

Can I ask for some example names of the real stars of photography that are 'non-teaching pro's' that you are referring to? Is it several people you are thinking about, or are we talking about a single individual here - sorry to labour the point, but you still have me confused as to what your point is and the facts you are basing this point upon.

Dave
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Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2012, 12:41:31 PM »
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Rob, if none of these photographers fit your criteria for 'rating for much in your sense of definition about successful professionals.' And as you also seem to be agreeing with Andrew that "Commercial photographers are 99 percent a bunch of fad chasers, by necessity. There's no "critical eye" there, there's just endless evolutionary copying."

Can I ask for some example names of the real stars of photography that are 'non-teaching pro's' that you are referring to? Is it several people you are thinking about, or are we talking about a single individual here - sorry to labour the point, but you still have me confused as to what your point is and the facts you are basing this point upon.

Dave


Dave, I was dreading you’d ask: I can’t find a way to copy and paste from my favourites list, so I have to do it the painful way - by hand.

http://www.agentur-linke.de
http://www.artpartner.com
http://www.gianfrancomeza.com
http://www.merekandassociates.com
http://www.julianmeijer.com
http://www.lundlund.com
http://www.mfilomeno.com

This is a tiny selection from what’s out there, even from the list that I already have in my computer, and as I’m sure you won’t accept any of it as proving my point, there’s little point in me going nuts trying to convert you. ;-)

These guys are as good as it gets; they rule the friggin’ world of photography and deservedly so.

Our French friend Fred works, on and off, with one of Spain’s equivalents and I envy him the opportunity. Even now, long after retiring, I’d love to work alongside any one of these photographers simply for the joy of seeing masters do their thing, revel in the magic of the creative moment, something that without having had personal experience of, nobody can ever quite understand. It’s nothing like that great view, that stunning moment of celestial pyrotechnics; it’s about the single thing that’s better than sex: creation of something absolutely transient but magical with a woman.

The rest is suds.

Regarding you statement that I “seem to be agreeing with Andrew…” I most certainly am not! That’s a total misreading of my position and I can’t quite see how you got there. Important, successful commercial photographers, by which I refer to those doing big-time advertising of whatever kinds, do not appear (to me) to be copycats. It’s the wannabes that have to do that.

I really don’t know what your photographic genesis was, but unless you spent time in the commercial world doing advertising or fashion or big time stock, its not likely you’ll know much about any of these people other than Bailey, who’s trotted out every time the Beeb needs a token snapper. These chaps are not public icons – usually.

Rob C
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amolitor
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« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2012, 01:04:14 PM »
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Thanks for the links, Rob. There's some interesting stuff in there.

I have some boring commentary on the work, but I deleted it.

I was also having a little trouble with the 'Rob is agreeing with Andrew' theory, but I was willing to accept it!

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popnfresh
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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2012, 01:09:32 PM »
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Anyone who makes a living by selling what comes out of their camera is a professional, imo. I respect professional photographers of all kinds because I know how hard it is to make a living that way. Whether you're a commercial photographer who shoots to satisfy the needs of a client or a fine artist who sells their work in galleries, both are dependent on marketing. Both depend on someone wanting to buy what they create. But it's the working grunt commercial photographer who earns my greatest admiration. For they're only as good as their last shoot. They have to prove their worth to the client every day on the job. They need to be able to turn on the creative juices on demand, not only when they feel "inspired". They're out there on a highwire without a net and any number of things beyond their control could happen that could ruin their business.
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« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2012, 04:19:42 PM »
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Taking us back a few postings to talk about the impact of group opinions of your work as art...I was reminded of something I read on Mike Johnston's website about forums and technical discussions, and I think it applies here:

Quote from: Mike Johnston
...
I might also gently point out here that forums aren't the right place to "decide" technical issues, because all they do is create group consensus. Short or long disputations end up with people agreeing to agree, or perhaps continuing to disagree with the majority helping to enforce the group's preferred determination or choosing to support the group's leader or leaders, or perhaps deferring to whomever has the best-sounding explanation (and I've seen examples of conclusions that were extraordinarily well-developed at great length and effort that were utterly, completely wrong) or even whoever's been hanging around the forum the longest (because they can say things like "we've discussed this many times before and here's what we decided"). Forums can often engage in long, fanatically detailed, partially researched, closely reasoned epic arguments that culminate in a strange "folk" conclusion that real experts simply roll their eyes at.
...
From this blog posting: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/07/ufos-in-the-sunset.html

You could almost replace "technical issues" with "artistic judgements."
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« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2012, 04:39:10 PM »
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Arriving at consensus on an artistic matter is a sure sign that something along the way has failed, be it the piece of the audience.
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« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2012, 05:12:35 PM »
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And how many top, professional (and still working) photographers do you know who want to, or have the time, to teach?

Rob C

I would imagine that at least some of these photographers have assistants who are with them because they want to learn as part of their own career path and that some of them may even have started off learning from someone else as their assistant. There is more than one way of teaching and it doesn't only happen in workshops. The studio system goes a long way back in the history of art and may be alive and well in commercial photography.
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« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2012, 05:48:23 PM »
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I would imagine that at least some of these photographers have assistants who are with them because they want to learn as part of their own career path and that some of them may even have started off learning from someone else as their assistant. There is more than one way of teaching and it doesn't only happen in workshops. The studio system goes a long way back in the history of art and may be alive and well in commercial photography.

Excellent point. Back in the 80's I worked for a while as an assistant to one of the highest paid commercial photographers in San Francisco and I learned a ton. But more valuable than what I learned about photography was what he taught me about professionalism and selling yourself to and working with clients. And even though I went onto to a career in a different field, that knowledge has helped me enormously.
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Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2012, 02:17:42 AM »
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I would imagine that at least some of these photographers have assistants who are with them because they want to learn as part of their own career path and that some of them may even have started off learning from someone else as their assistant. There is more than one way of teaching and it doesn't only happen in workshops. The studio system goes a long way back in the history of art and may be alive and well in commercial photography.

"Excellent point. Back in the 80's I worked for a while as an assistant to one of the highest paid commercial photographers in San Francisco and I learned a ton. But more valuable than what I learned about photography was what he taught me about professionalism and selling yourself to and working with clients. And even though I went onto to a career in a different field, that knowledge has helped me enormously.

(Quote from popfresh)"

---------------------


"If you want to to find the photographers whose input counts, look up the list of important photographers' agents. They're an international lot, working all over the globe. I have never heard of a single one who offers critique or lessons; they're too busy working or looking for work in a very rarified atmosphere.

That's why people try to find work assisting them: to learn by example and by doing the job. It's the only way.

Rob C"

-------------------- 
 

Exactly what I've stated all along.

That's not 'critique' and neither is it teaching: it's learning on the job by keeping your eyes peeled and ears open, as I described it.

Q.E.D.

Rob C
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kencameron
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« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2012, 04:58:51 AM »
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That's not 'critique' and neither is it teaching


It is certainly not 'critique' as practiced in online forums, but I would have thought some teaching might go on, in the ordinary sense of the word. What we are talking about is surely a version of the apprenticeship system, in which, assuming the apprentice is attentive and capable of understanding, the master consciously passes on some of what he or she knows. The internship system (eg see here) seems to be a modern variation which  might be open to exploitation but at its best could provide real benefits to both parties. More generally, I think there are plenty of great artists who have shown an interest in "teaching" and found it to be in their interest to do so as part of the quid pro quo for getting good help. I don't see why great artists who happen to be "commercial" photographers would be any different.
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #36 on: July 25, 2012, 09:50:09 AM »
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Dave, I was dreading you’d ask: I can’t find a way to copy and paste from my favourites list, so I have to do it the painful way - by hand.

http://www.agentur-linke.de
http://www.artpartner.com
http://www.gianfrancomeza.com
http://www.merekandassociates.com
http://www.julianmeijer.com
http://www.lundlund.com
http://www.mfilomeno.com

This is a tiny selection from what’s out there, even from the list that I already have in my computer, and as I’m sure you won’t accept any of it as proving my point, there’s little point in me going nuts trying to convert you. ;-)

These guys are as good as it gets; they rule the friggin’ world of photography and deservedly so.
Rob C


Ah I now see and follow your gist, you are referring to fashion photographers - sorry my fault  Smiley

Dave
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Rob C
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« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2012, 05:16:53 PM »
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Ah I now see and follow your gist, you are referring to fashion photographers - sorry my fault  Smiley

Dave



Fashion photographers, still life photographers, architectural photographers, industrial photographers, general advertising photographers, pretty much any category of professional photographer other than landscape photographer which, as much by its own definition precludes itself from allowing the term professional to apply to it if only because so few practitioners are able to earn their living from it; hence the need for the side-lines of teaching, mentoring, critiques, forays into books, prints etc. all of which really constitute no more than a fiddling around on the periphery of professional photography. I’m sure this comes not as news.

It’s a tough old world, photography; much kinder to the self to play for fun. But, should there be a nice bit of family bread available, then a great opportunity to prove the maxim: the best way to make a small fortune out of photography is to start with a big one.

;-)

Rob C
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WalterEG
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« Reply #38 on: July 25, 2012, 07:01:07 PM »
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Those who can, DO.  Those who can't TEACH.

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« Reply #39 on: July 25, 2012, 09:24:11 PM »
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Ansel Adams and Walker Evans both taught.

I'm just sayin'.
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