Do photos need to "represent" something or have deeper meaning?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by davidbeckphoto, Aug 27, 2017.

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  1. davidbeckphoto

    davidbeckphoto TPF Noob!

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    I'm what some call a lifestyle photographer, meaning my images collectively portray and promote a certain way of being. A lot of my shots are candid, raw, unedited, and unapologetically in-the-moment which I believe adds to the believability and impact of the images.

    My number one critique from other photographers, on the other hand, is that my don't appear to be planned out - that they lack meaning or depth or theme. That I'm not hiding something clever in the layers. My position on that critique is that photos don't have to mean anything deeper than just being a photo of some stuff I like to be worthy of appreciation.

    Here's my portfolio - check it out before replying so you have some context. The best examples I can think of are the "upside down legs" photos and the cat photo (you'll know it when you see it - it's on the stickers page).

    [mod edit - link removed]

    What is your opinion on this?


     
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  2. john.margetts

    john.margetts No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My opinion - if you are going to photograph naked or nearly naked women get rid of the coy stars. Nipples are a normal part of naked women. Better still, get them to dress properly as the nakedness is contributing nothing.

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  3. davidbeckphoto

    davidbeckphoto TPF Noob!

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    I'm glad you brought up censors too - I think it's a really interesting topic. I've actually made a conscious choice to use censors at times as part of my aesthetic because of the prominence of social media.

    Hear me out. I'm not censoring because I'm protecting my viewers' sensibilities, or because I think I'm covering up something indecent. I use them because the vast majority of contemporary photography is shared through sites like Facebook and Instagram, and because those outlets require censors, that's become the way things look in 2017. It's part of the photo. There is no uncensored version - that is the photo.

    If it's hard to wrap your head around, just think of it as a multimedia collage and call it a day.
     
  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    One particular adjective that is often used on here is "snapshot-y", used pejoratively.

    While some people may accept and even like your style, the photographers who don't are doing something completely different, therefore they don't understand your style or simply don't like it. That usually works for you until you attempt to progress to a more widely-accepted style.
     
  5. davidbeckphoto

    davidbeckphoto TPF Noob!

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    I appreciate the reply, and I think it's interesting that you used the phrase "progress to a more widely-accepted style" because I actually used to shoot using what you might call a classic fashion style, and I've since moved on to (progressed, if you ask me) to my current flash/candid/snapshot style.

    Here are some examples of the old style:
    Instagram post by David Beck • Sep 10, 2014 at 4:44pm UTC
    Instagram post by David Beck • May 3, 2015 at 11:08pm UTC
    Instagram post by David Beck • May 13, 2015 at 10:31pm UTC
    Instagram post by David Beck • Sep 16, 2015 at 5:37pm UTC

    And I have my reasons. In the early days, I grew to a level of technical mastery that I was comfortable with. I'd achieved everything I cared to achieve in terms of lighting skill and complexity, composition, retouching - you name it - and I got bored. I was shooting caterpillars and cars and flowers and all that other boring **** everybody else photographs.

    So I said **** it all, I want to photograph something interesting and real in a manner that looks accidental. I don't want it to look like I'm "doing a photo shoot", I want it to look like this is what my life is like. And what do you know, it slowly became my actual life.
     
  6. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    and now youre shooting just like Terry Richardson.
     
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  7. pixmedic

    pixmedic The Mustached Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    because photographing mostly naked women is totally original
     
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  8. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I find no difference between shooting "caterpillars and cars and flowers and all that boring stuff" just like everyone, and shooting half naked women in unnatural poses just like everyone else.
     
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  9. pixmedic

    pixmedic The Mustached Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    honestly man, the vast majority of the shots in your link look exactly like you were "doing a photo shoot".
    its not that the shots are bad, but very very few give the impression of "candid".
    especially when its all naked women. it screams "look at me" shoot.
     
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  10. davidbeckphoto

    davidbeckphoto TPF Noob!

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    Yes and no. I get that our styles look the same because of the normal factors - lighting style, post processing, narrow aperture, high sync-speed - but the whole point of using that style is that it's a lack of a style. When you put everything on auto (not that I do that, per se), your job as the photographer is less about fiddling with technical settings, and more about creating an interesting scenario. The whole point becomes the context and the content. The lifestyle.

    So yeah, maybe my pics look like Terry's, but I could never shoot like Terry, and he could never shoot like me because we don't live each other's lives.
     
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  11. davidbeckphoto

    davidbeckphoto TPF Noob!

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    Something doesn't have to be original to be interesting. In fact, I'd say most things you'd consider interesting fall into at least one category containing other things like it. Most of the time it's the slight variation on the familiar that makes something interesting.
     
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  12. davidbeckphoto

    davidbeckphoto TPF Noob!

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    I do - one is interesting to me and the other isn't. But that brings me back to the point of this post to begin with. Why does a photo have to be some original thing nobody ever though of before? I mean does that even exist? I'm a big believer in the idea that everything you produce is a remix of the things you've observed.
     
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