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Author Topic: Why Do We Photograph?  (Read 10964 times)
stamper
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« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2013, 03:01:03 AM »
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Quote Rob Reply#5

Still is Slobodan, and despite attempted political incantations being aimed at its virtue, it is quite accurate, IMO.

Of course, it's well known in West of Scotland, Red Clyde circles that anyone who escapes its physical grime and the ethos of mental greyness is a mother to eff all mothers, but there you go; Donovan was none the less correct.

Unquote

Congratulations Rob. As early as post 5 you have tried to turn the post into a political one despite there not being anything there that is political. The statement by Donovan could have been taken out of context but as it stands it could be construed as offensive to the bulk of photographers. As I stated previously Donovan must have been a mere amateur once. So what was it that motivated him when he was one?
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Rob C
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« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2013, 03:13:50 AM »
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Heysoos, this site is becoming depressing.

First we have threads where political madness takes over from common sense, and now we define photographic professionalism by the level/status of a school or wedding photographer. The creative aspect of professional photography, where it becomes the difference between the snapper making or not making big bucks, fails to enter the discussion, and the least competent of amateurs in now raised to fourth member of the previous Trinity.

If anything, for anyone to become pro demands as much - if not more - amateurism (love) of, and devotion to, the medium than it requires of the non-pro: the pro has to make his living from it, devote his entire life to it, which is a damned sight harder than working in a bank, a shipyard, restaurant kitchen or some friggin' school.

Citing 'art' photographers as professional photgraphers, including the farce of artists' statements as part of the baggage of professional photography shows me one thing: some here haven't the slightest idea of what a professional snapper is. Those people flogging silly self-portraits or huge, blank apartment-block images are not professional photographers - they are 'artists' using photography as their chosen medium of self-expression and adventure into public gullibility.

Donovan wasn't mistaken; nothing written against his belief here has shown me otherwise, only that his words fail to be understood and are simply being used as ammunition to attack any professional who might actually be doing his thing very succesfully, enjoying it, and with a definable purpose. Donovan had no reason to fear, dislike or disapprove of the amateur; they couldn't begin to touch his world. But it sure looks as if some of them are nonetheless only too happy to attack him simply for the hell of it.

I read no love of photography here; I read a lot of bitterness and lack of self-belief. It's the photographic moral equivalent of having or not having a Rolex or a lizard skin camera, and when you don't, you attack those who do " 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me."

Rob C
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stamper
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« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2013, 03:54:22 AM »
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Assuming Donovan's quote is true and not taken out of context then it looks as if he is the one "attacking" the amateurs who he was previously one? It has often been said that there are amateurs that are better - a subjective phrase - than some of the "professionals" plying their trade. As to the rest of the above post/rant then I won't comment other than to state it must be rather sad to be a retired professional no longer a professional but back in the amateur ranks. Sad
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SunnyUK
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« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2013, 03:59:39 AM »
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After having read the article, I still find the dictionary definition of "professional" to fit reality better than the one proposed by Alan.
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Harlem22
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« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2013, 10:17:02 AM »
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I wonder why so many amateurs want to compare themselves with professionals. Isn't that crazy talk at all? I don't know the reason why a pro takes a picture and to be honest, that doesn't bother me. And I don't see any reason why I should ponder on the reason why I make pictures. Hey, I'm a free man and I may do what ever I like. So if somebody asks me why I do photograph then I usually answer with George Mallory's well known retort to the question "Why do you climb Mt Everest?" - "Because it's there." I'm fine with that.
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SunnyUK
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« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2013, 10:38:43 AM »
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And I don't see any reason why I should ponder on the reason why I make pictures.

Alain's point is that if you understand the why you can improve on your skills.

But that, of course, might simply lead to the follow-on question "if I'm happy with what I'm doing, why would I want to improve?"
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Harlem22
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2013, 11:00:32 AM »
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Alain's point is that if you understand the why you can improve on your skills.

But that, of course, might simply lead to the follow-on question "if I'm happy with what I'm doing, why would I want to improve?"

I've read that article but I don't agree on Alain's statement. Of course I want to improve on everything I do but I strongly believe that I will improve much more by exercising than by pondering. For me photography is a sensual experience and I don't want to disturb this precious feeling by thinking too much. Wink

Harald
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daws
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« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2013, 11:09:16 AM »
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From the Oxford Online Dictionary:

professional adj. 1. [only before noun] connected with a job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education; 2. (of people) having a job which needs special training and a high level of education; 3. showing that somebody is well trained and extremely skilled; 4. suitable or appropriate for somebody working in a particular profession; 5. doing something as a paid job rather than as a hobby; 6. (of sport) done as a paid job rather than as a hobby.

Opposite: amateur.

amateur n. 1. a person who takes part in a sport or other activity for enjoyment, not as a job; 2. (usually disapproving) a person who is not skilled.

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From the MacMillian Online Dictionary:

professional adj. 1. relating to work that needs special skills and qualifications, a. showing a high level of skill or training, b. behaving in a correct way at work and doing your job well; 2. relating to a profession and its rules, standards, and arrangements, a. working in a profession; 3. relating to your work or career; 4. playing a sport or doing an activity as a job rather than for enjoyment.

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From the Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

professional adj. 1. a: of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession; b: engaged in one of the learned professions; c (1): characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2): exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.
2. a: participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer>; b: having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier>; c: engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>.
3. following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>.

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From Wikipedia:


Professional

A professional is a person who is engaged in a certain activity, or occupation, for gain or compensation as means of livelihood; such as a permanent career, not as an amateur or pastime. The traditional professions were doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to nurses, accountants, educators, scientists, technology experts, social workers, artists, librarians (information professionals) and many more.

The term is also used in sports to differentiate amateur players from those who are paidóhence "professional footballer" and "professional golfer". Many companies include the word professional in their store name to imply the quality of their workmanship or service.

In some cultures, the term is used as shorthand to describe a particular social stratum of well-educated, salaried workers who enjoy considerable work autonomy and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work.

Due to the personal and confidential nature of many professional services, and thus the necessity to place a great deal of trust in them, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations.


Definition

The main criteria for professionals include the following:

1. Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practising professionally.
2. Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession.
3. High quality work in (examples): creations, products, services, presentations, consultancy, primary/other research, administrative, marketing, photography or other work endeavours.
4. A high standard of professional ethics, behaviour and work activities while carrying out one's profession (as an employee, self-employed person, career, enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc.). The professional owes a higher duty to a client, often a privilege of confidentiality, as well as a duty not to abandon a genuine client just because he or she may not be able to pay or remunerate the professional. Often the professional is required to put the interest of the client ahead of his own interests.
5. Reasonable work morale and motivation. Having interest and desire to do a job well as holding positive attitude towards the profession are important elements in attaining a high level of professionalism.
6. Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Consideration should be shown to elderly, junior or inexperienced colleagues, as well as those with special needs. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one's business without doing it harm.
7. A professional is an expert who is a master in a specific field.


Criticisms

Although professional training appears to be ideologically neutral, it may be biased towards those with higher class backgrounds and a formal education. They are more likely to have conservative political opinions and are unlikely to challenge the orthodoxy of the profession. In his 2000 book, Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes Their Lives, Jeff Schmidt observes that qualified professionals are less creative and diverse in their opinions and habits than non-professionals, which he attributes to the subtle indoctrination and filtering which accompanies the process of professional training. His evidence is both qualitative and quantitative, including professional examinations, industry statistics and personal accounts of trainees and professionals. A study on journalistic professionalism argued that professionalism is a combination of two factors, secondary socialization of journalists in the workplace and the fetishization of journalistic norms and standards. In this way, undesirable traits in new employees can be weeded out, and remaining employees are free to cynically criticize their professional norms as long as they keep working and following them. The latter concept adapted from philosopher Slavoj éiěek and his concept of ideology.

The etymology and historical meaning of the term professional seems to indicate an individual whose philosophy and habits have been conditioned by a professor. So, a professional is the follower of a professor. Plumbers are therefore not considered professionals. While they certainly make a living doing what they do, with a particular expertise, and with a certain expectation of manners, plumbers do not acquire their skills through a professor, or even through a professional professor. They learn from private firms that distribute the knowledge, or they learn from friendly association with a master plumber.


« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 11:38:23 AM by daws » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2013, 12:09:07 PM »
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I see. How about I modify the quote just a little, by adding a couple of four letter words.

"The problem for an amateur is that he/she may have no good reason to take a photograph."

Is that better?  Grin
That makes sense only if the only "good" reason for taking a photograph is to sell it for money (which reason would make him/her a "professional.")

Taking the quote loosely, as you seem to prefer (i.e., in the sense of "what he meant to say" rather than "what he said"), the same problem could apply to professionals as well, and certainly is in no way limited to those who "love to photograph" (i.e., amateurs -- and that's a pretty good reason, IMHO.)

But as I suggested earlier, I find the quote offensive, but Alain certainly makes some other very good points in the essay. I might loosely summarize them by saying, "If you want to improve your photography, increasing the clarity of your understanding of your own motives can be very helpful."

I can agree with that wholeheartedly.
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Rob C
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« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2013, 01:02:00 PM »
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But as I suggested earlier, I find the quote offensive, but Alain certainly makes some other very good points in the essay. I might loosely summarize them by saying, "If you want to improve your photography, increasing the clarity of your understanding of your own motives can be very helpful."

I can agree with that wholeheartedly.




Eric,

As I perceive you as one of the more reasonable and clear-headed members of the forum, I ask you this: are you objecting/referring to the brief sentence that Donovan is reputed to have articulated, or do you refer to its use in the Briot article (which I have not read and donít intend reading)?  Donovanís words must be allowed to stand alone or, failing that, are simply being used by others as argument for its own sake, and retaliatory exception to that must be offered to the new user, not to Donovan.

I have attempted, vainly, to spell out to another person on this circuit that Donovanís words offer neither threat nor implied threat to the ability or worth of the amateur; he speaks simply of the difficulty faced by the amateur when it comes to making an image, not technical difficulty, but motivational difficulty. The difficulty springs from the problem that total freedom of choice offers everyone, pro or am, for the same reason: remove the clientís requirement, and you are on your own, facing too many routes without a compass. That, my friend, was the single biggest obstacle in the production of sellable stock photography: what the hell do I shoot? I can do everything, technically, that I want to do, but apply it to what? As the majority of professional photographers of the day did not often work off their own bat but to assignment of some sort, they would not face the uncertainty of the next step after loading a camera, and thus be automatically excluded from the quotation; that there were indeed exceptions doesnít change the rule.

I honestly find it impossible to read anything malicious into Donovanís words.

As remarked earlier, it is only Donovanís quotation that concerns me Ė Alain can write whatever he chooses to write, and that should not influence the Donovan script. When I quote Donovanís words, as I do, it has never been done as a put-down of the amateur. There are indeed wonderful amateur snappers out there who never think about money and photography as having a connection, but simply produce stunning images.

Those who attempt to create a false war between pros and amateurs of Donovanís era Ė a mainly pre-digital era - are either pretty uninformed Ė most likely Ė or just incapable of rational thought, the latter also pretty likely in some cases.

I repeat: I can find absolutely no malice or slur towards any amateur in that Donovan quotation.

Rob C


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Rob C
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« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2013, 01:14:08 PM »
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Assuming Donovan's quote is true and not taken out of context then it looks as if he is the one "attacking" the amateurs who he was previously one? It has often been said that there are amateurs that are better - a subjective phrase - than some of the "professionals" plying their trade. As to the rest of the above post/rant then I won't comment other than to state it must be rather sad to be a retired professional no longer a professional but back in the amateur ranks. Sad


1. stamp, you still can't read, or if you can, understanding what you read without clouding the gist of it with your personal prejudices renders the task impossible for you.

2. You make retirement sound sad; in many ways it is, but it's still preferrable to have had a damned good run at something than never to have raced at all. Obviously, this you must take on trust.

Rob C
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2013, 01:30:52 PM »
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... one of the more reasonable and clear-headed members of the forum...

Rob, as another one of the kind (I hope, although not everyone would agree), and your forum friend, I must finally say this:

I, like many others, find the Donovan quote, and your interpretation and defense of it over the years, condescending. dismissive, and offensive. That you find us either "uninformed" or "just incapable of rational thought" is equally so.

Quote
... The difficulty springs from the problem that total freedom of choice offers everyone, pro or am, for the same reason: remove the clientís requirement, and you are on your own, facing too many routes without a compass. That, my friend, was the single biggest obstacle in the production of sellable stock photography: what the hell do I shoot?...

That, indeed, is sad. That you need someone else to tell you what to shoot. That you have no inner source of desire and need to photograph, like we, lowly amateurs, do. That, in itself, to reverse the table, is the single source of disdain most amateurs feel for most pros. Those pros that are ultimately successful (and adored by amateurs) are so precisely because they have risen through the ranks of amateurs, because they always had that inner need to photograph. They just found someone to pay for it, rather than the other way around.
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Rob C
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« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2013, 02:12:17 PM »
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Rob, as another one of the kind (I hope, although not everyone would agree), and your forum friend, I must finally say this:

I, like many others, find the Donovan quote, and your interpretation and defense of it over the years, condescending. dismissive, and offensive. That you find us either "uninformed" or "just incapable of rational thought" is equally so.That, indeed, is sad. That you need someone else to tell you what to shoot. That you have no inner source of desire and need to photograph, like we, lowly amateurs, do. That, in itself, to reverse the table, is the single source of disdain most amateurs feel for most pros. Those pros that are ultimately successful (and adored by amateurs) are so precisely because they have risen through the ranks of amateurs, because they always had that inner need to photograph. They just found someone to pay for it, rather than the other way around.


Jesus, Slobodan, you still donít understand my point, refuse to so do, or Iím apparently incapable of expressing it well enough. I have certainly attempted to make it clear and unambiguous!

ďThat you find us either "uninformed" or "just incapable of rational thought" is equally so.Ē

The above, I had thought obvious, held no connection to you but to another, particular person in this thread to whom I find myself incapable of ever responding again: whipping the fog is also a waste of time.

But forget him, and letís move on.

In my own case, I donít need someone to tell me what to shoot, I need someone to tell me what to shoot that they are willing to pay me to shoot. Not the same thing.

Do I have any great desire to make images without contract? No.

Do I have any great desire to make them on assignment? Yes.

You donít see a difference? The desire to fulfil a brief is ever there; the desire to waste time shooting stuff that has no business legs has long bored the hell out of me Ė if it ever existed. That was basically the problem with stock that wasnít about girls: I just didnít feel motivated to shoot couples, babies, dogs, pretty little kittens (though we had over twenty-plus at any one time), plates of spaghetti, glasses of champagne (rather did we drink it), fruit on the branch or vine, monuments, mountains nor miracles.

From the beginning it was a desire to get into the glamorous world of advertising imagery and fashion; the calendars followed when the fashion business in Scotland went the way of the dodo, a blessing in disguise, as it turned out, but a great apprenticeship nonetheless. So in effect, I got pretty much exactly what Iíd hoped Iíd get; from trips for British Vogue to calendars in the Bahamas. The only glitch was that it couldnít fly for ever. It seldom does, and there really are no substitutes for the real thing.

To be as simplistic as I can be: I am technically able to shoot anything that pleases me; in order to do that I need a client to make it financially viable and personally exciting enough to be worth the hassle. Think the infamous supermodel quotation about getting out of bed. They werenít crazy.

Rob C

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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #33 on: July 30, 2013, 04:17:45 PM »
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Eric,

As I perceive you as one of the more reasonable and clear-headed members of the forum, I ask you this: are you objecting/referring to the brief sentence that Donovan is reputed to have articulated, or do you refer to its use in the Briot article (which I have not read and donít intend reading)?  Donovanís words must be allowed to stand alone or, failing that, are simply being used by others as argument for its own sake, and retaliatory exception to that must be offered to the new user, not to Donovan.

I have attempted, vainly, to spell out to another person on this circuit that Donovanís words offer neither threat nor implied threat to the ability or worth of the amateur; he speaks simply of the difficulty faced by the amateur when it comes to making an image, not technical difficulty, but motivational difficulty. The difficulty springs from the problem that total freedom of choice offers everyone, pro or am, for the same reason: remove the clientís requirement, and you are on your own, facing too many routes without a compass. That, my friend, was the single biggest obstacle in the production of sellable stock photography: what the hell do I shoot? I can do everything, technically, that I want to do, but apply it to what? As the majority of professional photographers of the day did not often work off their own bat but to assignment of some sort, they would not face the uncertainty of the next step after loading a camera, and thus be automatically excluded from the quotation; that there were indeed exceptions doesnít change the rule.

I honestly find it impossible to read anything malicious into Donovanís words.

As remarked earlier, it is only Donovanís quotation that concerns me Ė Alain can write whatever he chooses to write, and that should not influence the Donovan script. When I quote Donovanís words, as I do, it has never been done as a put-down of the amateur. There are indeed wonderful amateur snappers out there who never think about money and photography as having a connection, but simply produce stunning images.

Those who attempt to create a false war between pros and amateurs of Donovanís era Ė a mainly pre-digital era - are either pretty uninformed Ė most likely Ė or just incapable of rational thought, the latter also pretty likely in some cases.

I repeat: I can find absolutely no malice or slur towards any amateur in that Donovan quotation.

Rob C



To refresh, here is Donovan's quote, as presented by Alain: "The problem for an amateur is that he/she has no reason to take a photograph"

My objection is purely and simply to Donovan's assertion and not to anything else Alain has to say.

To parse my objection simply:
1.   I am an amateur photographer (yes, I have been photographing for about sixty years, but I have never made my living from photography, so even though I have sold photographs in various forms from time to time over the years, I have never been a professional photographer.)

2.   Given my first point, Donovan is telling me that for all of these sixty years, I have had "no reason" whatever to take a photograph.

3.   I take offense at anybody who knows nothing about me at all (except, perhaps, that I am an amateur photographer -- which means I love photography) telling me that I have "no reason" for doing anything whatever (whether it be visiting the LL website, buying a Hassy Lunar camera, watching a Woody Allen movie on my TV, or taking a photograph).

Now if  Donovan had said "The problem for some amateurs is that they have only the fuzziest notion of why they take photographs," then I would have no quarrel with him. The sweeping generalization implied by "the problem for an amateur..." is very off-putting, to me.

I also would not have objected if Donovan had said "There is an amateur that I know well who has no reason to take a photograph," mainly because I would be pretty certain that his amateur was not any of the hundreds of amateurs that I have met in my lifetime.

I hope that clarifies my position for you, Rob.

Eric M.
(Occasionally curmudgeonly old amateur geezer)
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #34 on: July 30, 2013, 04:25:28 PM »
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I should add that for those of us (i.e., most amateurs) who have the freedom to shoot whatever the heck we want, not bound by the wishes of any client, there are indeed a great many reasons to take photographs, and Alain provides a nice list of possible reasons to consider, if you are not comfortable in your own views.

I have never thought of photographers as being in any way like a trained dog, who just sits there with no idea what to do until a command comes from his/her "master" (client?). Even an untrained dog can find good, amateur amusements, such as chasing its own tail (for what reason? Because it's fun!).

 Grin
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« Reply #35 on: July 30, 2013, 04:39:04 PM »
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Do I have any great desire to make images without contract? No.

Do I have any great desire to make them on assignment? Yes.

Do I have any great desire to make images on assignment? No, but I did so for more years than I care to remember in pursuit of money.

Do I have any great desire to make images without contract? Yes, I do so for the joy of making images.

Each to their own.
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Ray
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« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2013, 08:17:36 PM »
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You donít see a difference? The desire to fulfil a brief is ever there; the desire to waste time shooting stuff that has no business legs has long bored the hell out of me Ė if it ever existed.

Hi Rob,
The above seems to encapsulate your views, and I'm guessing that this is also what Donovan really meant in his quote about the amateur.

To put it another way, you seem to be saying that you have no great interest or motivation to do anything unless you are paid to do it. Isn't that a bit sad?

Now, I understand that the reality for most people is that they are compelled to do a job to earn a living, and that job may often not be particularly interesting, in fact, sometimes it may be completely boring.
You were lucky if you found a job as a photographer which you found challenging and rewarding. You can congratulate yourself that you've had an interesting and fulfilling career.

However, I believe there are some folks who like their job so much they would be prepared to do it for nothing.

In a sense, as an amateur photographer, I am my own client. I produce images to meet my own standards, and I'm often disappointed with the result. But I always enjoy the process and the challenge.
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Rob C
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« Reply #37 on: July 31, 2013, 02:58:47 AM »
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Hi Rob,
1.  The above seems to encapsulate your views, and I'm guessing that this is also what Donovan really meant in his quote about the amateur.

2.  To put it another way, you seem to be saying that you have no great interest or motivation to do anything unless you are paid to do it. Isn't that a bit sad?



1. I think you are correct; he could only truly see it from a professional careerist point of view: we are where we are.

2. For myself, as the relative simplicity of photography has rarely felt a challenge, the buzz (for myself, again), is as much, if not almost totally so, in the professional validation that getting hired gives. Possibly even greater than in the cheque at the end of the shoot - very long after the end of the shoot, usually!

When there's no challenge in the mechanical shooting, the buzz has to lie in beating your competitors to the prize.

As for it being sad, not at all. It's inconvenient because without clients not a lot's going to hapen, but not sad. Yes, I could shoot many other genres if I really felt obliged, but after tinkering with a few, they all fell by the wayside, mired in that gutter of substitutes. Like women, too, it has to be the one or forget it.

Retirement from some occupations is sad, though, because it pretty much precludes any further, desirable action. But like many aspects of earning a living, nothing remains constant for long for most of us, and of the great stars, I can think of Norman Parkinson and Richard Avedon as two who died in the saddle. There are and probably will be more, but their names escape me this hot, humid morn.

Thanks for having a clear grasp of where my mumbling was attempting to lead me.

Rob C


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hjulenissen
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« Reply #38 on: July 31, 2013, 03:02:27 AM »
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Well, I must admit that, as I grow older, my capacity to pay full attention to some articles goes down; call it "attention deficit disorder", call it "bullshit intolerance syndrome". But I am afraid that this not the case here: I used the title from Alain's article just to contextualize why I was bringing Terence's quote into the table; by no means was I commenting on Alain's article, much less endorsing his definition of "professional photographer".
I dont think this is connected with your age, but a general societal response to the invention of HTML.

-h
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Rob C
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« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2013, 03:04:12 AM »
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To refresh, here is Donovan's quote, as presented by Alain: "The problem for an amateur is that he/she has no reason to take a photograph"Eric M.
(Occasionally curmudgeonly old amateur geezer)




Ah! I think I see your difficulty.

AFAIK, the actual quotation was, rather, "the problem for an amateur is finding a reason to take a photograph."

That is something very else, and exactly where I currently fit. Semantics do count, greatly.

Rob C
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