The Importance of Repeatable Photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Jerry Avenaim, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Jerry Avenaim

    Jerry Avenaim TPF Noob!

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  2. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Another very good article and I could not agree more. Consistency, or repeatability, is key to a serious photo career.

    When looking at good photos on forums I always try and see more work by the photographer to try and figure out if the good ones are accidents or part of a consistent scope of work.

    I'll be opening my new studio in a few months and I'm not sure I will have a website. I absolutely believe in direct human contact which by the way is the reason for the studio. Former clients that I've always kept in touch with and who have been pestering me to do it.

    A big problem I see with websites (and other postings on the web btw) by newer photographers is that they contain photos that are not up to par. Newer photographers feel they have to show a lot they have done while not yet ready to be critical enough of their own work. And imo that is detrimental to the person. Maybe they will remember to update those postings when they go look for serious work but if they don't and editors do a quick search, that could be a problem.
     
  3. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for letting Jeff post this. Of course I agree with the the thoughts in the blog. My work photographing models is also quite methodical, which freaks some of the inexperienced ones out. Somehow you can tell they were expecting the continuos shooting environment.

    On the other hand I have been hearing this rant for years. It is inspirational which is always positive. None the less I wonder why we look at the past as the golden age. Personally I shot sheet film for years. The skills I learned are only theoretical at this point. Each move I make in photography is toward the future. The past is my foundation, but nothing to dwell on.

    Photography at this moment in time is in a very uncomfortable position. The craft of the past is being replaced by the access of super technology. If we are to figure things out let us concentrate on modern shooting methods. Together we can help define modern photography as opposed to romanticizing our past experiences.

    Love & Bass
     
  4. Jay DeFehr

    Jay DeFehr TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jerry,

    I agree that discipline is an important characteristic in the pursuit of excellence, regardless of the medium, or the tools used. I think you do a good job of describing how working with LF equipment demanded discipline, and its rewards, but I'm not so sure emulating those demands is the best way for digital shooters to learn the same lessons. I think there is a discipline implied by the specific tools of any medium. To try to superimpose the discipline implied by LF equipment risks the negation of the very advantages digital capture enjoys over LF film equipment. Your argument was made at the advent of miniature film cameras, when the "shotgun" ("spray and pray") approach of many of the miniature film camera generation was derided by the old guard, LF photographers, but I think few would use the derogatory terminology to describe the masters of the new equipment, like Henri Cartier Bresson, and not because he carried over the discipline of LF equipment, but because his discipline grew out of his specific equipment's demands, limitations, and advantages. Let's not hamstring a new generation of photographers with an artificial discipline, but encourage them to develop one that exploits to the fullest the advantages they enjoy. Vive la revolucion!

    Jay
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    In the mid-1980's I was an aspiring young photographer, interested in photojournalism, as well as other types of photography, like small product commercial product shots, which I have done off and on over the years. I recall very clearly a conversation I had with a much older mentor of mine, and he told me that, "Most new people in the generation coming up behind you will never be much of a threat in technical photography because they're being brought up on automatic metering and autofocusing cameras." At that time, 1986, Nikon had _just_ introduced autofocusing, and Canon was loudly trumpeting a new FD-mount camera, the Canon T90, which at that time, was like a Space Age, truly automated, marvelously rich "computer camera".

    I said, "Do you really think so--that new people won't learn any of the technical stuff?" and he answered my question with a question. He said, "How do you figure out the bellows factor for all these small product shots you're doing?" and I told him that I placed a ruler on the set, and then measured the size of the ruler on the back of my view camera, and I calculated the bellows factor by using the formula that image size divided by object size, squared, was the factor, and then I multiplied that factor by my film's ASA, and that gave me the new effective ISO, and then I entered that new ISO into my light meter.

    "Oh, you actually know how to do it!" he said. At that time, I could not afford loads of Polaroid film for tests, and processing each sheet of film cost $3.00 plus about $1.25 for the film,as I recall. So, it was about $8.50 for two shots, usually one right on, and the other about .4 stop under for a richer-looking chrome. Any excessive dinking around was just money down the tubes. In the mid-1980's one had to rely on his light meter, and pretty standardized E-6 processing,with push or pulling, and not much post work at all possible. Photography has changed dramatically since the mid-1980's,and I happened to read Jeff's post on Jerry's blog,and I noticed that one of today's young photographers was discounting the need for even owning a LIGHT METER when setting up mixed daylight/studio lighting setups, and I had a flashback to this conversation 25 years ago about the way younger photographers would come to view technical photography and simple ideas like careful metering and actually being able to compute an exposure, without the need for Polaroid,Polaroid,Polaroid--which today has been shifted to Guess-Shoot-Chimp-Adjust-Shoot-Chimp-Adjust-Shoot-Chimp-Presto!

    I dunno...I've seen the advances in methods...Polaroid is bankrupt now...
    we have digital capture now, no need to wait for an E-6 run...no need to absolutely know ahead of time if the exposure is right on or .4 off...I'm not sure we can ever go back to the mid-1980's. But I do think Walt was right--the people who came of age in the 1990's and later did not focus nearly as much upon technical photographic education as was done in the earlier years. Skill sets change, equipment changes, expectations change. A little nostalgia is nice, and I do think many people could try to see more, shoot less, as if they had only limited "film" with a real cost per shot.
     
  6. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    I read the comments before going into the article and I firmly believed I was going to side with the article's methodologies. I started photography 10 years ago, right before digital began to flourish. I loved film. I didn't do a lot of LF but I was trained in it and understand the process. I shot a lot of 35 and MF, and started out doing everything in darkrooms.

    It is difficult to understand who the article is written for. For emerging photographers, I feel they benefit more from being unrestrained with complicated processes, being able to working with digital, and being able to shoot a lot of images. They are not finely tuned machines yet, where they can place added pressure of trying to get it in one or two shots. If they get it in 8-10 shots, I don't think that is bad. I think as they naturally get more proficient, their ratio will naturally improve. If it doesn't they probably aren't getting better and have hit a wall, and probably won't be doing very high end work anyways.

    "Pray and spray" photographs probably can't product consistent results due to the inherent fact that they aren't quite sure what they want. There is a difference between that style and someone who takes a lot of pictures. I think the more pictures you take in a deliberate and thoughful manner, the quicker you gain experience and refine yourself. It's held by many that digital has revolutionized photography by giving you instant feedback on your capture (which is highly instructive) and allowing people to shoot many pictures easily. Of course there will be people overly-chimping and losing connections with their models or people engaging in "pray and spray" like a retarded Rambo. But in the hands of the new, talented photographs, it will allow them to grow faster imo.

    If it is for the high level professional, I don't think they need tips in methodology. They've worked out something already that is just as effective.

    I feel the article might be coming from a place of nostalgia, than more of a realistic look at where photography is headed. I don't think you necessarily need to be familiar with processes of the past in order to profoundly use the tools of the day. It sounds romantic and gives an added perspective, but at the end of the day I don't think it's that important.

    @ccloudwalker
    I don't see the advantage of not having a website if you have a business in this day and age. I don't think it has to be one or the other. You could create a gallery type website and ask people to call you to discuss projects, but to simply be off the map on the internet seems like missing opportunities for yourself. I know in the article Jeff feels that if he was trying to get international jobs today, he might be passed up because potential clients might breeze through websites and his would probably be clicked past fairly quickly. But, sure, that's what would maybe happen, but he still would have a website if he was in that position today, and I doubt the client would want him to fly out without looking at a sample of his work online. He's kind of presenting a paradox that isn't applicable.
     
  7. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    @kkamin: The not having a website part of my post is only for myself. One can only do so much work and the two clients that are putting up a nice chunk of the investment into the new studio will keep me pretty busy as it is. Also, from talking with other former clients, it is obvious they don't do much web surfing looking for photographers. They have enough of them visiting in person to find new talents. At this point I don't anticipate the need so why do one? But of course, one never knows what the future holds.
     

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