MY photographic hyerarchy

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by deudeu, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    So, to me (this is key here, I don't believe in absolute truth, just want to get people talking and have an inteligent debate) there is a difference in the skills that are required to take great photos depending on the subject.
    This is not my native language, so I am not really sure how to precisely explain this so, bare with me for a second.

    To me, the "easiest" type of photography is landscape and cityscape.
    Macro comes in second.
    Sports and wildlife is third, portraiture fourth, and the ultimate type of photography is photojournalism.

    Let me explain myself:

    First of all, this does not reffer to me, or any of us "normal photographers" but to the great photographs and the skills I feel like the photographer needed in order to take them. Also, this is not a judgement on the quality of the photos or on their artistic value, but on the skills of the photographers that take them.

    Now, Why did I put them in this order:
    Landscape and cityscape (most of what I do) is "easy" simply because the subject is still, unchanging, and offers lots of lines that can help for composition. Other than seeing the shot and proper use of the equipment(which are common to any picture), the photographer should get credit for waiting for the right light (Ansel Adams type stuff).
    For macro shots, the ideas are key in order to take a great photo. For those shots, the photographers need to have a vision that the common eye cannot see, but unlike landscapes, the photographer often needs to setup a lighting and you often don't get the easy compostion provided by a landscape (Edward Weston).
    For sports and widelife, great photographers should have a very good understanding of their subjects and the ability to adjust to often unpredictable situations (strangely the pictures of this category are not often considered on the same level as the others and no great name comes to my mind).
    Portraiture is so difficult, because you are dealing with people that usually have great expectations. For this type of photography, the personnality of the photographer is just as important as his/her skills. To me, the pressure associated with this type of photos is so much higher that it makes it a very difficult art (Richard Avedon).
    And finally, photojournalism, because it is a combination of all the rest (Cartier Bresson, and in General Magnun).

    This being said, it is strange to think that, as far as I am concerned, the greatest pictures ever taken were landscapes, more precisely, Edward Burtynsky's work.

    Now, what I am curious about, is whether I feel this way because of my personal sensibility (what I do is easy, what other people do is hard) or if, for exemple, some of you portrait people, feel like portraiture is harder than macro or landscape...

    Sorry for the long post, I will be looking forward to your input.
     
  2. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Portraiture, that would include fashion, glamour, car shoots, etc...I'm guessing anything posed, it more so about using light than your other examples. A photojournalist doesn't have to setup 15 lights with the correct modifiers to get the perfect shot he's seeing in his head. That's more about being in the right place at the right time.

    Then again, Macro is about knowing your equipment and how to use it. Some macro photographers take multiple shots at multiple focus points on a subject to combine them for a sugject that's almost totally in focus. That's something that would otherwise be impossible. When's the last time a photojournalist did a shot that combined 15 photos of the same subject together?

    When's the last time a photojournalist sat around for 12 hours waiting for the perfect angle of the sun to strike the landscape he was envisioning?

    It's not really something that you can say where one is harder than the other. When's the last time a photographer was killed shooting a football game?

    There's just too many aspects to really rank them by difficulty. Plus, your list is really short. What about stock, commercial, product, food, fashion, glamour, automotive, abstract, street, or any other type of photography you didn't mention?
     
  3. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    A Photograph is about more than just about a subject or a category. To say one type or category of photography is easier than another is ill informed. Sure, some nimrod with a camera can point it at a field and make photograph, but is it any good? It is not what you see, but how you see and there are few better seers than Edward Weston, and he certainly made no photograph that would be categorized as a "macro shot." His landscapes dwarf Adams and his portrait work is on par with or better than Avedon. Weston was simply a photographer, and not interested in catagorizing or being subject focused.

    ....
     
  4. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    True, but photojournalism is the only type of photography where you don't get a second chance. You don't get to play around, come back to that spot, rearange your lightboxes, ask the people to move around so that your composition is adequate... I also think that, at least for the great photographs, thinking the lights is something more complex than it seams. In my mind, I don't see someone like Cartier Bresson just walking around with a leica thinking "this looks cool, lets take a pic". I think he was more seeing a spot and light, and then waiting for the people to walk in the frame.

    This is pseudo macro work, and I was talking about great photographs... when was the last time you saw a picture of a quiche in an art gallery?

    This is portraiture, and street is photojournalism...
     
  5. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    I was just throwing exemples to characterize the type of photography I am talking about. I am in no mean qualified to judge art, nor do I feel like any one is. I don't think that it is possible to say that, when talking about such great work, one is better than the other. I am talking about the skills required to produce such great pieces of art.
    To me, there is two aspects to a great picture: The photographic skills, and the artistic vision. This thread is about the skills, not the art.
     
  6. Fox Paw

    Fox Paw TPF Noob!

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    Why would you want to establish a hierarchy, anyway?
     
  7. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    Although you do cite specific photographers I think you are not really examining the true quality work in these fields as exemplified by you comment on there not being a quiche in an art gallery.
    Macro work can be beautiful and creative and does nto need t be the typical insect, vegetable or flower.
    Landscape is a true artform in my opinion, you need to wait for the time to be just right to get a great shot you cant just go out and shoot a great landscape, the weather lighting and setting have to be perfect.
    Portrait work means you need to be a master of lighting be it artificial or natural as well as you need to be able to capture the true emotion of a subject, a shot of someone simply smiling typically does not fall into the category of great portrait work even if the lighting is superb.
    Photojournalism is like landscape where you ned to be in the right place at the right time. Although in landscape you slowly compose your shot while photojournalist set the camera to continuous and snap thousands of photos just to get that one perfect shot.
    If you are talking about skills then photojournalism should be the easiest(I do not agree with this but for the sake of argument I will pose this example). If Im at a place of interest and shot 10,000 images I am likely to get one fantastic one. In landscape I cannot make the clouds change or the sun set faster or the grass blow slightly in th breeze.
    Each type of photography is as hard as every other type I would not say there is any hiearchy to photography types at all.
     
  8. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    Personnally, this hyerarchy makes sense in the training that I am putting myself through.
    I am trying to learn photography. It is a hobby which I love, and when I love something I don't want to be mediocre at it.
    Right now, most of what I have done is landscape/cityscape stuff, because I feel like it is technically, "fairly easy" (Greatness is never easy, but easier than in other types of photography). As I feel like I improve, I gradually start touching those other type of photography that I felt like I could not do before. So I am now trying to put together some pseudo macro work (seeing my lenses, obviously real macro is out of the question).
    Now, because I have a camera, and because some of photos are ok, some people ask me to take pictures of them, to which I usually answer: "I am not good enough to do real portraits".
    I just wanted to know how other photography enthousiast/photographers (i personnally feel like i fit in the former category) feel about this.
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Could I point out that wildlife is also rather along the lines of one shot counts ;)
    especially when you are in the middle of the rainforest - your batters dieing - the solar cells runied through humidity and sweat beading down your face.

    I don't think it is easy to say one form of photography is easier or harder than another - clearly there are those that require different kit and also differnent understandings. I would expect a wildlife photographer to have a lesser understanding of stage lighting than a fashion photographer just as I would expect the fashion photographer to lack any lens reaching 500mm in their key kit.

    Its all about differences - macro is easy and hard, wildlife is, sports is - it all is
    the differences come with effort and skills
    edit - I = personally - think your approach is wrong. Don't try to work out which parts are hard and which easy. To master any is difficult (though a landscape lens is cheaper than a good 300mm tele). Don't bother with stuff you don't like just because you view it as easier - go for what drives you - what you want to take photos of.
     
  10. dEARlEADER

    dEARlEADER TPF Noob!

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    I see where your coming from Deudeu... and somewhat agree with your analogy....

    I find that non static macro to be most difficult for me..... especially handheld at 2.8 with little things that spook easy 6 inches away....

    I don't have the proper equipment to shoot sports or wildlife in any great capacity so I guess I'm not really qualified to make a sound opinion...
     
  11. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    I am 100% in agreement with you, but once again this is not what I am talking about. I am not judging the art, the aesthetics or the meaning of the images, just the technique needed to produce those photographs.
     
  12. deudeu

    deudeu TPF Noob!

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    Okay, apparently I was not being completely clear (sometimes pulling out abstract thoughts in English can be tricky) but let me put it that way.
    If I had the opportunity to be a photograph's assistant for three weeks, I feel like I would learn more from following around someone like ... say... Mikhael Subotsky, than I would learn from Burtynsky even though I like the art of Burtynsky better, because Subotsky has shown a larger range of quality work. I feel like it is so because he is also a photojournalist (though I have seen some of his portraits and landscapes)

    And this is whithout any consideration about the equipment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008

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