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Author Topic: Why Do We Photograph?  (Read 12969 times)
EduPerez
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« on: July 29, 2013, 06:54:49 AM »
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"The problem for an amateur is that he/she has no reason to take a photograph" - Terence Donovan.

Sorry, but I could not disagree more: just because someone does not have a monetary incentive to take a photograph, it does not means he/she has no reason to do it; an amateur can put as much passion in his photography than a professional photographer.

Just my humble amateur opinion.
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stamper
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2013, 06:59:05 AM »
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An elitist statement imo. Someone who has risen above the "masses" and takes upon himself a sense of superiority. After all he must have been a mere amateur himself at sometime?
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2013, 09:42:58 AM »
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Yes, that comment by Donovan was lower than most of Ken Rockwell's worst blunders.
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Ray
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2013, 10:11:50 AM »
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Oops! It looks like some people's reading skills are lacking. This is what Alain wrote.

Quote
I like this quote because it points out one of the differences between amateurs and professionals. In the context of this discussion being a professional is not about making a living from your photography.  It is about being able to explain the reasons why you photograph.  If you know why you photograph, if you can give reasons why you do, you are a professional.  It’s as simple as that
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2013, 12:58:54 PM »
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Yes, that comment by Donovan was lower than most of Ken Rockwell's worst blunders.

Careful, Eric, that happens to be Rob's favorite quote too Wink
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2013, 01:17:44 PM »
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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.

I believe that what Donovan's words are expressing is this: a professional photographer starts his working day with a list of shots he must do. Therefore, the reasons that compel him to think photographic thoughts and produce actual images are all predefined and the steps follow as night doth day. Or vice versa, depending where you choose to start your countdown.

The amateur, on the other hand (he implies), is blessed with an urge, but not with a plan; he has to figure that one out each time the urge strikes. His task is the more difficult one, if anything, and worthy of respect when he produces something outstanding.

Nowhere does Donovan state that an amateur can't take a photograph, is incompetent to so do, nor does he in any way decry the amateur standing. To read that as being what he said, for his words to be considered an elitist stance, is testament to a vison skewed by class hatred where everything a very successful man does has to be wrong. You see what killed British industry?

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aduke
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2013, 01:54:09 PM »
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As an amateur, it seems to me that my problem is not that I have no reason to take a photograph, but that I have too many reasons to take a photograph, and the reason may change during the taking. The reason for taking a photograph may be to remember the moment, to commemorate the moment, to show the over-all structure of location, to show the relationship between two elements of the location, to show an element in an interesting and unique way, because I can, to see what it looks like in a photograph, ...


Alan
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Telecaster
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2013, 02:09:21 PM »
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In the context Alain gives, I think Donovan's quote is right on.

Why do I photograph? Because it heightens & sharpens my senses. The results--in terms of film frames, files on a card or prints--are secondary. Being there, with a crisper awareness of being there, is primary. Life isn't about artifacts but rather experiences.

I've sometimes considered signing up for one of Michael's Antarctic or Icelandic expeditions. I certainly intend to visit both locales before my atoms get redistributed.   Wink  But the possibility of ending up on a longish trek dominated by trophy hunters rather than experience seekers would be disheartening and thus has so far dissuaded me. (This is no knock on Michael or LuLa...I know and support what they're about.)

-Dave-
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2013, 02:51:46 PM »
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OK, folks, I was perhaps a bit hasty. But the misuse of the word "professional" by both Donovan and Briot is highly offensive, IMHO. And I am a great fan of Briot's photography and of most of what he writes, including much of the rest of the current essay.

I agree that it is useful for a photographer to ask him or herself why she or he is driven to photograph, but having a pat answer to that question is hardly the characteristic that distinguishes an amateur (one who loves the work) from a professional (one who does it for a living). If it did, we wouldn't see so much pretentious and impenetrable trash foisted off on the public in the form of "Artist's statements."  [/rant]
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EduPerez
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2013, 03:56:53 PM »
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Oops! It looks like some people's reading skills are lacking. This is what Alain wrote.
[...]

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".
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2013, 04:04:21 PM »
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... much less endorsing his definition of "professional photographer".

His definition, with all due respect to him, is the lamest spin I've heard recently. If all it takes is to find a reason for photographing to be considered a "professional,"  anybody and his mother could (and does) find it. Just check the Alain's long laundry list of reasons at the end of the article, and you would surely find one to fit you. Presto, everyone is a professional photographer (which would make Marissa Mayer quite right, ultimately)!
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2013, 06:13:54 PM »
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His definition, with all due respect to him, is the lamest spin I've heard recently. If all it takes is to find a reason for photographing to be considered a "professional,"  anybody and his mother could (and does) find it. Just check the Alain's long laundry list of reasons at the end of the article, and you would surely find one to fit you. Presto, everyone is a professional photographer (which would make Marissa Mayer quite right, ultimately)!
Hey, everybody! I just thought of a reason I might want to do open-heart surgery! So now I'm a "professional" open-heart surgeon, right?    Grin

Thanks, Slobodan.
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mezzoduomo
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2013, 06:50:40 PM »
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Professional? I'll take 'amateur' all day long.

amateur (n.) Archaic, 1784, "one who has a taste for (something)," from French amateur "lover of," from Latin amatorem (nominative amator) "lover," agent noun from amatus, past participle of amare "to love"
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John Camp
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2013, 07:18:57 PM »
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For me, a "professional" photographer is a guy who takes orders, in one way or another. There are lots of other kinds of photographers, and I'm one of them. In fact, I wouldn't want to be a professional photographer -- for all but a few dozen people in the world, it's a tedious, uncreative, unreliable, low-paid job. A professional photographer is the guy who takes direction from the assistant principal at the grade school while shooting class photographs. So if you're taking direction from an assistant principal, just how high up the status/salary/job satisfaction pole could you be? A professional is a guy who shoots scenic photographs that will sell to people who will thumb-tack them above the couch, and offers them in 22 different sizes, and printed Wile-U-Wate.

Some other designations besides "amateur" (I would consider amateurs to be knowledgeable photographers who shoot for their own pleasure, at nobody else's direction except perhaps the wife and kids, which is far, far preferable to being a "professional") include such things as "artist" or "technician" or "journalist." A photographic artist is really looking for the soul of things, shoots at nobody's command, may or may not make a lot of money without changing his/her status as an artist, and often makes his/her primary economic living doing something else, such as working as a teacher. I would be much more interested in this person's ideas than in the ideas of a "professional." A journalist might be considered a specific subspecies of "professional," but I never heard a journalist call himself a "professional," although I have heard a guy referred to as a "real pro," which is different than "professional" photographer. A "real pro" is a guy who is willing and ready to stick his face into any kind of situation, and is used to designate all kinds of people wiling to do that -- reporters, soldiers, etc. I consider myself an odd kind of technician -- I'm not much interested in photography per se, but use it to support my painting habit -- I take pictures of little bits and piece of situations in which drawing is not appropriate, from which I create paintings. So, I don't want to be a professional photographer, and I never wanted to be one, and don't understand why people seem to chase after that designation. Artist or journalist would be okay, and technician is just fine. For me, wanting to be a "professional" that would be like wanting to be a professional postal clerk. Nothing against postal clerks (my father was one), but it just doesn't seem especially interesting in any way at all.
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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2013, 08:00:58 PM »
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Hey, everybody! I just thought of a reason I might want to do open-heart surgery! So now I'm a "professional" open-heart surgeon, right?    Grin

Thanks, Slobodan.


There seems to be a slight flaw in your logic here, Eric.  Grin

It's understood that the first requirement in order to be considered a photographer, whether professional or amateur, is to actually take photos.  Wink
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2013, 11:13:13 PM »
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Of course, if one wishes to interpret any quote in a perfectly literal and logical manner, in accordance with its precise wording, then sometimes the quote does not make sense, or may simply appear wrong.

What springs to mind is Ansel Adams' famous quote, "There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

Regarding Terence Donovan's quote, "The problem for an amateur is that he/she has no reason to take a photograph", a literal interpretation just doesn't make sense.

It's difficult to imagine how anyone, professional or amateur, could take a photo without a reason, with the possible exception of an accidental shot. This is something I occasionally do when trekking. When the track is a bit rough, I might grab the body of one or both cameras around my neck, to stop them swaying or crashing into each other, and in the process accidentally trip the shutter, usually resulting in a semi-abstract, fuzzy image which is surely worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.  Wink
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2013, 11:17:07 PM »
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There seems to be a slight flaw in your logic here, Eric.  Grin

It's understood that the first requirement in order to be considered a photographer, whether professional or amateur, is to actually take photos.  Wink
You mean my Artist Statement isn't sufficient? How about if I buy a fancy certificate from an on-line school?  Undecided
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2013, 11:22:02 PM »
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Regarding Terence Donovan's quote, "The problem for an amateur is that he/she has no reason to take a photograph", a literal interpretation just doesn't make sense.
I understand what Ansel was saying pretty well, but I can't come up with any defensible reading (or meaningful paraphrase) for T Donovan's quote. To me it makes no sense, taken either literally or metaphorically. It's about as clear as "The problem with a Microwave is that he/she cannot run as fast as a Prontor shutter."  Huh  Shocked
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Ray
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« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2013, 11:35:58 PM »
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I understand what Ansel was saying pretty well, but I can't come up with any defensible reading (or meaningful paraphrase) for T Donovan's quote. To me it makes no sense, taken either literally or metaphorically. It's about as clear as "The problem with a Microwave is that he/she cannot run as fast as a Prontor shutter."  Huh  Shocked


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
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sdwilsonsct
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« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2013, 01:54:17 AM »
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Why do I photograph? Because it heightens & sharpens my senses. The results--in terms of film frames, files on a card or prints--are secondary. Being there, with a crisper awareness of being there, is primary. Life isn't about artifacts but rather experiences.

Well put, Dave.
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