shooting philsophy

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by mysteryscribe, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    You know over the years I established my philosophy about photography. It just was there one day. I have no idea what if anything was the basis of it. It just kind of happened. Now I find that through this and other forums where I actually interact with other photographers, I am seeing my own thinking more clearly. It isn't changing it, but made me more understanding of it all.

    I don't expect that understanding why you think or act as you do doesn't make much difference in the long run. It is nice to get it all straight in my failing mind. Getting all my defecation in one bag I guess.

    I heard a term recently uttered by a photographer, not here, about documentary as if it were a curse word. Got me thinking about how i saw things.

    So here it is, and of course I would like to hear yours since I am absolutely sure it will differ from mine.

    I believe a photograph is about the subject.

    It is my responsibility to show that subject, animal mineral or vegetable honestly and with as much skill as i can. It is not my place to change the basic subject by altering how it appeared in my camera when I see it.

    Now that leaves me with some basic things to reconcile. Even before photoshop we removed zits and stray hairs. I like to think that those were not part of the subject but rather temporary conditions. Which leaves lots of room for people to remove scars and straighten teeth I guess. I never have and probably wouldn't now.

    I always knew how to remove age lines or at least lighten them, but I never did more than shoot a slightly softer lens. Not much kindness in putting a super sharp lens on a 60 year old woman's face.

    Do you move a coke bottle from a landscape for instance. For me NO. For others there is no problem since it to is temporary. Not really part of the scene.

    I once owned a star filter. You know one of those that caused all the light to flare in a star patter. I used it twice then tossed it. Something about it just didn't seem right.

    I like flat light portraits that are all about the person in the shot. But again that's just me.

    So, I am an unrepentant documentarian. With a long list of exceptions of course. I never did get the zen of it all.

    So how about you, have you been able to define yourself yet. By the way it only took me thirty years to figure out a name for it. I always shot the same way just couldn't quite figure it out before.
     
  2. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    It came to me a couple of years ago.

    I want to photograph the way Neil Gaiman writes.

    Tim Powers would be another great example. Succinct, but for those not familiar with them...
    I want to create images that evoke mystery in everyday life. Sort of like ghost stories (not horror stories) and fairy tales. I've done a lot of images of children, and I like having them look cute and evoking the "awww..." response, but I prefer it when there is something else there too. Something a bit spooky or at least a bit unreal. This image is a perfect example. I don't want to show the world how people see it with their eyes. I want to try and show the world the way a child sees it, full of make-believe and potential.
     
  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If I ever get good enough to pull it off, I would like my photos to clearly describe Haiku.

    Sparse, stark, slight movement describing metaphor. Comfort and joy, private recognition.

    Hmph, maybe some day.

    mike
     
  4. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I believe that a photograph is about the photographers perception of the subject. My shooting style says Craig Blank. That is the most that I can hope for. I am successful because of the way I feel the subject should be handled. Sometimes flat light, sometimes contrasty. Sometimes spontaneous sometimes contrived. If I am not happy with the Coke bottle (that can mean a lot of different things) in the shot then I will move it. Most importantly I do not click the shutter without understanding all the elements in the frame and their part in the photograph.

    Same deal with my commercial work. I have the skills to produce exactly what the client wants. Do that and everyone is happy, but I always throw the Craig Blank shot in there. Proud to say the client picks the Craig Blank shot 8 times out of 10. Trying to get that up to 9 times out of 10... We like to say " would be a great job if it wasn't for the clients".
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree that would make me feel good as well. Sometimes it works in reverse. I'll tell you a story. I had an assignment to shoot some Alka Seltzer packages for Bayer. I spent the day recreating the story boards accurately and spent the time diligently correcting perspective with the view camera.

    That same day, a new lens arrived for my MF camera. Since I had the set ready to go, I used it to run a test roll in MF to make sure everything was working correctly with the new lens. Obviously, there was no perspective correction so we had keystoned packages in the images. I shot the roll with different apertures and different angles - hand held.

    By mistake, the test roll got into the envelope with the 4X5 chromes I sent to the art director. You guessed it, he ran with the uncorrected medium format images instead of the properly made 4X5 images. Just goes to show you. There really is no right and wrong - just differences.
     
  6. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ehhhh.... in my mind, that's the difference between "taking pictures" and "creating images."

    I feel confident that a landscape artist working in a different medium (let say... oil on canvas) would not paint in litter.

    I have somehow always known my job is to communicate in two dimensions. Sometimes I'm called to communicate absolut, precise reality, and other times... not so much.

    Pete
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    As I always say there is room in this craft for everyone and a good thing.

    To me the artistry is in what you see and how you honestly capture what you see. What you chose to include and equally important what you chose not to include. Bringing all the tools i have to the job is not anything I consider a big deal. I wouldn't expect a cabinet maker to leave his saw at home, or to forget how to use it.

    It's like my still life. I capture them just as I see them, if there is any artistry and it is certainly debatable there there is, it is in the objects themselves and the emotion they evoke.

    But I do not fault anyone for a different approach or a multitude of approaches. That's why there are horse races as well.
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Isn't this the technical, scientific part of our job.

    And this the artistic part?


    I think the two parts are distinct and separate. I found that once I learned to achieve a consistent, acceptable level of competence at the technical part, I was more free to explore the artistic aspect of the job.
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    A friend of mine also feels that capturing an image just as it was is very important. In my mind, it's impossible. Film choice changes that. Use Velvia? I don't think the colors really looked like that. Use b&w? That's not the world. Use a wide-angle or telephoto? That's not how the eye sees it and distance is distorted. There are so many choices to make that affect the image even before the image hits the darkroom or Photoshop.

    I think it's a fine goal to try and show the world as it is, but as in writing, I think it's important to recognize that much of the creator goes into the end product and influences it. Even the angle the image is shot from affects how the image is viewed by people and what it imparts. A photograph doesn't tell the whole story.

    I'm not ranting against this goal, but my frustration with it is part of what lead me to shoot the way I shoot. Realism is false. Photography isn't real life. I want to emphasize that. I tend to butt heads with anyone who thinks they are showing things as they really are.
     
  10. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Good story Fred. I have had similar situations and I love when that happens.
     
  11. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    For better or worse, I compose the shot in my head, read the light and go on auto pilot after. Probably not the best way to shoot pictures but it's how I have done it for twenty plus of my thirty plus years in the game.

    If I see an image I want to put on film, I just do it. I bring a lot of tools to the jobsite, I hope. That doesn't mean they are anything but tools.

    Barbara used to say, "Who cares what tools they used, the image is not about the paint and canvas."

    I learned what little I know about photography and composition, so that I could shoot as if I didn't do anything much to the image. And as those who have seen my work will tell you, it looks that way. They do look as if a novice shot them.

    The idea is to shoot the image just like someone would have shot it to get the one in a million everyday shot, but to get it as often as possible. I't not sure this will make any sense at all to anyone here but.....

    If you go through the family shoe box of pictures you will find one or two that are just super for the composition. There might be a hundred others that would have been if they had "come out"... if if you could see aunt Molly's face. Thats what I like to think I can do ...what I always tried to do ...make that 'one in a shoebox full' every time I went out.

    I started to post still life on a critique site for a while. It took about six images before anybody got it. After that the critique was almost always positive. I never explained an image. The viewer's just had to understand in a subconscious way what I was doing. At least that's what I hope happened.
     
  12. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sure but perhaps the issue isn't so much realism as it is credibility. Any of us could make a credible image of a subject and another that would be beyond credibility. That sounds like what our friend Mystery Scribe was talking about.

    If we're shooting products for a catalog and the client wants to show customers what they look like, then credibility is very important. If we want to decorate a wall with stunning and moving imagery, then credibility might be undesirable. None of it may be real but it can be realistic.
     

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