The "Why" phase

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by danalec99, May 15, 2005.

  1. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    I'm going through the "Why" phase at the moment. Why am I taking pictures? What are my intentions? Do I want to convey a story? Do I want to create a technically perfect work? or bit of both? Am I being influenced by the ohhs ahhs and/or the thumbs downs? Do I want to be part of a clique? Am I trying to solely please my viewer and in that process am I losing me or atleast part of me?

    Let me paste what Hertz commented in the Crit section:
    Excellent point, I have been thinking along the same lines lately. But how do we know the viewer has gotten what went through our heads while we created the image? I can show it to ten people and can probably listen to ten different interpretations.

    ::Reclines with a cup of tea:: :)
     
  2. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    Does the fact that the viewer gets something else out of the photo bother you?

    I try to please myself. But then again, I have a day job. The more I participate in critiques, the less I say about the work. The reaction good or bad by the viewers is for me the point. But everybody has their opinion.

    I know that everbody wants validation on their work, but not everybody is going to get it. Be your own worst critique, then what anybody else says won't bother you to bad.

    I am probably not answering anything, but this some of my philosophy on making prints.
     
  3. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    1. No, not at all.
    2. It is not the viewer's comments that I am worried about. The issue is me. Do I want to be myself or do I want to simply please the crowd. If the weight goes to the latter, then I do not see photography taking much space in my head.

    Thank you Kevin, for taking the time to respond. :)

    Daniel
     
  4. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    When you say please the crowd, does that mean commercially.$

    I have actually kicked the idea around of doing some "pretty shots" for some of the arts and crafts fairs around the area.

    I would not claim to think these shots would inspire, but if it means making money to invest back into my photography, man....I'm all over that. :wink:

    Maybe I'll use a different name for these. :D
     
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to my world.
    You touch on a problem that has been taking up a lot of my time for the past 15 years. I'm not anywhere near solving it - but that has never been my intention. I am solely interested in outlining the framework within which Photography occurs. That being said...
    You are getting yourself a little confused because you are actually confusing things. You are muddling up 'Why' and 'How' with 'What are my intentions' to start with. These to things are distinctly seperate.
    Firstly you should think about why you commit Photography. What are your intentions? Do you do it for a hobby? Relaxation? Because it's the latest fad? Because you want to become a professional? Because you have to?
    There are many reasons why people do things, and generally people rarely do things for just a single reason. You must try to be honest with yourself and try to work out the reasons why you do Photography. You don't need to tell anyone else, just be clear in your own mind. Knowing this will give you direction and inform you as to what you need to put in, as well as what you can expect to get out of the whole thing.
    You will now be in a position to ask 'Why?' as in 'why am I taking this picture?'
    For example: Why am I taking a picture of this tree and not that man digging his garden? What is it about the tree that makes me want to photograph it? (It also helps to ask 'what is it about that man digging his garden that makes me NOT want to photograph him?')
    Understanding the 'Why?' allows you to select the most appropriate techniques and approach to help communicate your answer. That is, to answer the 'How?'.
    To look at it another way, when you take a picture you are trying to solve a problem. The problem can usually be broken down into several questions so the picture can be seen as trying to answer those questions - of resolving them.
    Often the picture will only partially answer the questions, or just one - or possibly not answer any of the questions at all - in which case we are dissatisfied with the results. Knowing (even if you can't put it into words) what it was that you were trying to do in the first place enables you to look at the picture and figure out why it doesn't work.
    You don't have to do any of this when you take a picture if you don't want to (a lot of it is going on in your subconcious anyhow. Ignorance is bliss) - but if there comes a time when you start feeling dissatisfied with your pictures; that there should be 'something more'. Well, I've shown you the way forward.
    Getting away from the purely technical obsession, Photography becomes a constant questioning of the self - and the world around you. You will never come up with a wholly satisfactory answer to any of the questions you pose (if you did you wouldn't need to take anymore pictures) but it's a lot of fun trying.

    As for the viewer interpreting the image in the same way as the photographer.... This is a completely seperate, and very complex, question the principles of which will one day form the basis of my PhD :mrgreen:
     
  6. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for being part of tpf! :)
     
  7. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Oh! And I meant to add that it is entirely possible to do it for money, please the crowd and still be yourself. I know a lot of pros who did it - at one time I was in there too. You just have to be disciplined.
     
  8. ShutteredEye

    ShutteredEye TPF Noob!

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    Please the crowd if you like....get your work published, hung on the wall with a cheezy inspirational message under it, or as that ever sought after july spot in a calendar.

    But we all know what old magazines are worth, and how often we toss those silly posters away, and we all know what good old calendars are.

    I say, be true to yourself. People will know when you are not. And I for one hate being patronized.... Don't give people what you think they want, take a chance that they will appreciate the true you. For there is no risk in being yourself, b/c even if it appears no one likes you or your work, if nothing else you have your self, and your soul.

    An excellent example of staying true to one's self and following only what the art itself dictates (even though it's not photography) is Alison Krauss. Read about her, and listen to her music, and you will recognize a pureness that only could come from true self honesty.

    Great topic, btw.
     
  9. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Excellent thread. I believe that the technical side needs to become second nature. This will help produce results that you are proud of. Photography is a craft. Mastering that craft is important. Advancements in technology has made things easier, but the fact of taking your camera off of auto is still mandatory. Rules were meant to be broken. You need to control the rules before you can break them.

    Now the hard part is your vision. Have you created what YOU saw during the "decisive moment"? I believe that the best we can do is our own personal style. You need to make sure the viewer knows that DanAlec took this photo. Wether they like it or not is a different story. I also believe that we need to make all elements of the frame part of the photo. The belief that you can clone out the telephone pole and wires killing your shot is a bad habit to get into. Instead; incorporate them into the frame or find another angle.

    The moral of the story is: shoot a lot of photos and consider everything. Apply you passioin. View print and share. Check out art in all mediums daily. No one lives in a vacuum.
     
  10. ShutteredEye

    ShutteredEye TPF Noob!

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    You know, I'm glad this thread is here today. I found myself composing a post out of frustration earlier. Posted some pictures that I thought were the best I've taken to date, technically speaking, and :sigh: barely a comment either way. Even my family when seeing them was like, "mmm, nice. So, uh, what's for dinner...."

    Evidently I have a long way to go before really capturing the viewer, and drawing them in.

    Desperately trying to accept the lesson for what it is, and not lash out in frustration.

    Desperately. :meh: :meh: :grumpy:
     
  11. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I am glad that this thread is here as well. You have brought a couple of interesting points. On one hand the viewer may be the ultimate judge. The doctor or salesman viewing what you perceive to be art is actually an uninterested third party. He needs to be stimulated by your work. On the other hand an artist may say that the photo has a lot of merit. He has an understanding of the craft that may give the work different meaning.

    May be we should look at it in a different medium. Painting takes a trained eye. You are not going to drop 25 large for a piece because you like the way it looks. You need to understand his brush strokes and the relevance of his work. A guitarist can spew a technically amazing solo. Until I hear the familiar A, G, or E or chords I am going to think it is just guitar masturbation.

    Turn you frustration into passion. That will produce stronger results wether you know it or not. Create work that you think is strong. If the viewer digs it than chalk one up. If not that is ok. Hey; you can not please everyone all the time. Plus it is kind of ridiculous to try.

    Frustration is a part of every artists life. At least you did not commit murder or cut your ear off. On a side note: I have fallen for the I am burnt on photography; so I will put it on a shelf. Personally I was only kidding myself and I lost valuable time.
     
  12. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    I'm afraid I have to disagree with all of this. The reason being that it is cliche-speak. The vast majority of people who do Photography toss these phrases around but very, very few ever think about what they mean or the philosophy they enshrine. They just promote fuzziness.

    'Photography is a Craft': This is a very old argument that never gets resolved because it is actually dealing with vagueness. We know the difference between Art and Science, but Craft is a vague term.
    Photography can be a Craft - or it can be an Art and it can certainly be a Science. It all depends upon how you approach it. People should stop thinking about what Photography 'is' and start thinking about what it 'does'!

    'Rules were meant to be broken, etc....': Rules, by definition, cannot be broken. I have had this argument again and again. The bottom line is that people who say this do not actually know what the rules are.
    I have mentioned before that there are, in fact, only three Rules of Photography. I will start another thread on this shortly.

    Ah! The 'decisive moment'. So what, exactly, is the decisive moment? It is that point at which we decide to press the shutter, nothing more.
    I have never found anyone who uses this phrase who can actually explain exactly what they mean by it. Even HCB who coined it couldn't do it. On the few occasions anyone pinned him down about it he came up with different explanations. What he was actually doing was to try and imbue the camera with some kind of magic.
    Again, I will explain in more detail later.

    Please note: This is in no way meant as a personal attack against Craig so do not see it as such.
    What I am attacking is the cliche - the entrenched opinions about Photography that far too many people hold and are used to explain things whilst not actually thinking about the explanation.
    Another cliche that is counter-productive to serious Photographic debate is 'the camera never lies'. Think about it and why it, too, is nonsense.
     

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