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Author Topic: Ageing and creative decline in photography  (Read 2735 times)
Isaac
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« on: June 05, 2013, 11:57:38 AM »
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Ageing and creative decline in photography: a taboo subject British Journal of Photography, June 2013
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RSL
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 12:23:29 PM »
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I'm not sure what was the point of the article. I didn't see any examples of "decline," or even a definition of what the article considered "creative decline," which, as it turned out, is what the article supposedly was about. It started out with a statement from a 19 year old girl. It's pretty hard to put your finger on "creative decline" when you're 19 because at 19 you haven't established anything to "decline" from. It then went on through people talking about "ups and downs" to a 100 year old man who ruminated about his travels and his luck. He concluded that he'd "had an interesting life really," but never told us whether or not he'd "declined."

Somebody once asked a photographer -- maybe it was Elliott Erwitt (sounds like him) -- what was his best photograph? He answered: "My next one." That's the right answer for any photographer who's serious and enjoys what he does.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 12:37:20 PM »
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Oh, no Isaac, you didn't! Grin

I mean, you surely knew the most active members here are old curmudgeons (yours truly included) and that such a provocative title would kick the proverbial hornet's nest.  Smiley

As my humble contribution to the debate, here is another quote from another famous photographer (the name of which is, wait..., nah..., never mind  Smiley) who, when asked what time he used for a particular photograph, answered: "1/100 of a second... and 40 years."
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 12:37:59 PM »
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I think there is some truth in this but in all creative enterprises-in that yuou tend somewhat to repeat what "works" as you get older. Except it appears differently maybe in architecture where it takes so long to reach a point where people finance and let you do "your thing" that in later years an architect may have his first chance to get some of his/her wilder ideas built. There are also notable exceptions like Wynn Bullock who started photographing when he was 42 and did some of the most innovative work of the time.
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Isaac
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2013, 12:41:35 PM »
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It's pretty hard to put your finger on "creative decline" when you're 19 because at 19 you haven't established anything to "decline" from.

"Photographer Behind New Ad Talks About Stars' Chemistry, Which Actor Was The Most Fun To Shoot ... 18-year-old Joey Lawrence"
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Isaac
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2013, 12:42:59 PM »
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I mean, you surely knew the most active members here are old curmudgeons...

Never, ever, crossed my mind! ;-)
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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2013, 12:56:20 PM »
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It's just another 'theme' that might sell a magazine...

Your life changes all the time; you can only deal with what comes up in front of your face. What you do today is different because what you meet today is different. It's crazy to say you were better then or are better now. You develop what talent you may have and then are free to go.

In my own case, for example: I spent three or four minutes playing with some garlic and shot a pic that seems to have elicited a certain amount of approval here. I've never been much interested in still life, so does that mean that I'm better now than I was when I shot models? Would I have been receiving AD awards if I'd shot whisky bottles instead? Some of those model pics also received a kind welcome, so am I just as good now as before? Is my garlic better than my girls? You see the problem?

What you read in magazines is now no more valuable than what you see in magazines: they are all desperately trying to make money. Catch a catch line, develop a thin story and hope for the best.

Rob C
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Harlem22
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2013, 04:23:08 PM »
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Photography hasn't any exclusive patent for creativity. I'm an computer engineer and believe it or not: you're our of business if you're not committed to innovation and creativity. I know unbelievable stupid youngsters and very smart silver-agers (vice versa). For me I've experienced that creativity can be forced by deliberately thinking out of the box and never be certain of anything. Physical energy may be decline but mental energy and creativity can be maintained as long as you're mentally o.k..
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2013, 04:33:24 AM »
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Photography hasn't any exclusive patent for creativity. I'm an computer engineer and believe it or not: you're our of business if you're not committed to innovation and creativity. I know unbelievable stupid youngsters and very smart silver-agers (vice versa). For me I've experienced that creativity can be forced by deliberately thinking out of the box and never be certain of anything. Physical energy may be decline but mental energy and creativity can be maintained as long as you're mentally o.k..



Why art you discounting the madness of genius?

Rob C
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Harlem22
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2013, 05:37:53 AM »
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Why art you discounting the madness of genius?

Rob C

Real ingenuity doesn't come with madness. Perhaps some dense nimrods may not recognize the genius and call him mad. But this isn't true at all.

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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2013, 06:00:26 AM »
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Can I just point out that my creativity hasn't decreased at all over the years. In fact, age & experience has enabled me to be incredibly more creative in generating excuses for not having done this, that or the other.

As for my photography - I was never particularly creative in the first place, so any decline is undetectable
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2013, 06:36:34 AM »
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I don't know if one's creativity declines with age however I do know that as I have become a bit older (not quite fifty yet) I care a lot less about what others may think about my (possibly) creative efforts.
If this allows me to exercise any creativity as a result, not being particularly concerned about adverse opinions, then maybe ageing may actually be helpful.

Tony Jay
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2013, 06:43:00 AM »
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I'm not sure what was the point of the article. I didn't see any examples of "decline," or even a definition of what the article considered "creative decline," which, as it turned out, is what the article supposedly was about. It started out with a statement from a 19 year old girl. It's pretty hard to put your finger on "creative decline" when you're 19 because at 19 you haven't established anything to "decline" from. It then went on through people talking about "ups and downs" to a 100 year old man who ruminated about his travels and his luck. He concluded that he'd "had an interesting life really," but never told us whether or not he'd "declined."

Somebody once asked a photographer -- maybe it was Elliott Erwitt (sounds like him) -- what was his best photograph? He answered: "My next one." That's the right answer for any photographer who's serious and enjoys what he does.


I'm not sure you can really tell much about the point of the article from the link - they are just short excerpts from the main article which is in the published magazine.  I do often think of the words you quoted from Erwitt though and that is what drives my photography.  I love some of the pictures I make - but they are never as good as the next one will be.  I think once you stop being excited by making pictures is the day when decline sets in.

Jim
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Isaac
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2013, 10:21:50 AM »
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Can I just point out that my creativity hasn't decreased at all over the years. In fact, age & experience has enabled me to be incredibly more creative in generating excuses for not having done this, that or the other.

I find it difficult to believe that you have become more creative "in generating excuses for not having done this, that or the other" than a child -- but easy to believe that your excuses have become more plausible and technically adept.

As for my photography - I was never particularly creative in the first place, so any decline is undetectable

Is an increase in creativity detectable? ;-)
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 10:31:21 AM »
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I find it difficult to believe that you have become more creative "in generating excuses for not having done this, that or the other" than a child -- but easy to believe that your excuses have become more plausible and technically adept.

Is an increase in creativity detectable? ;-)


You get sued more often.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2013, 10:59:43 AM »
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I love some of the pictures I make - but they are never as good as the next one will be.

But will the next one be the same sort of picture, taken in the same sort of way?
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2013, 11:34:06 AM »
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But will the next one be the same sort of picture, taken in the same sort of way?


Well, if you are a professional snooker snapper...

Rob C
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PeterAit
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2013, 11:41:58 AM »
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Quite an article. I don't recall having read more pseudo-intellectual claptrap in one place before.
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Peter
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2013, 12:10:26 PM »
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Quite an article. I don't recall having read more pseudo-intellectual claptrap in one place before.


Peter, you need to get out more. But not all is lost: you can do it sitting down by reading some of the Artists' Statements that abound on the Internet.

;-)

Rob C
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Justan
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2013, 12:27:18 PM »
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Its hard for there to be one general answer to this kind of question. Historically most artists work until the end of their lives or until they have achieved the ultimate disability which is roughly defined as having too much money to need to work.

Of course most art is not like the current state of photography which depends heavily on computer applications and cameras, which are both very complex to operate and master. The key detail in photography (imo) currently is the ability to operate a camera and one or more computer programs. Often the ability to work with computers for some becomes more challenging with age.

I guess the bigger general issue would be if there is a decline in cognitive skills, how that impacts creativity. Again, there is no one answer here however most studies overwhelming reflect that if people exercise their brain regularly, most potential declines in cognitive skills can be largely avoided until or unless other health related issues start to impact cognition. Accordingly, the best defense against a decline in cognition is keeping the brain stimulated. So it may follow that if one continues to attempt creative goals in their art and elsewhere, they will probably not suffer a decline of creativity until other factors get in the way of this process.
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